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Author Topic: A Warrior's Family  (Read 31156 times)

DOC_Agren

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #210 on: 25 June 2021, 20:55:37 »
King Crab = 'Kerensky's 100 ton fever dream of a command mech that can kill anything smaller than it in one salvo';D. I'm going to have to use that in the future

At least you won't have to deal with a clanbuster model
« Last Edit: 26 June 2021, 08:37:34 by DOC_Agren »
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

Intermittent_Coherence

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #211 on: 26 June 2021, 08:24:48 »
Smaller than it?
It could strip out all the center torso armor of another 100-tonner with one salvo. With enough left over for an engine or gyro hit.

Elmoth

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #212 on: 26 June 2021, 17:46:10 »
And there is the 4th surprise mech waiting somehwere. I am going to prepare more popcorn.

Dave Talley

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #213 on: 26 June 2021, 21:15:30 »
nah its a plant lance from Comstar
2 crockets and a black knight are  hiding
Resident Smartass since 1998
“Toe jam in training”

Because while the other Great Houses of the Star League thought they were playing chess, House Cameron was playing Paradox-Billiards-Vostroyan-Roulette-Fourth Dimensional-Hypercube-Chess-Strip Poker the entire time.
JA Baker

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #214 on: 17 July 2021, 01:52:39 »
Chapter 65

Anastasia followed Hap into the port-side 'mech bay. Mike was surrounded by Maja, Taja, and several of the assistant techs. He had laid out the equipment needed to make drop pods and had one of the base plates in the cramped space of the dropship's mech bay. He was explaining to the techs the procedure for putting the pod together and building the "cocoon". Anastasia glanced up to see that Hap's already had the base plate under his Griffin and the drop pod struts were place making a cage around the medium 'mech. It just needed the ablative walls put up and the cocoon spun around it.

"Good the mechwarriors are here. Once they are 'comfy' in their command couches we can get the drop pods closed up and ready." Mike said.

"Yeah, give us a moment." Harold said as he turned to Anastasia.

Anastasia reached for Harold's hand, and they kissed. It wasn't as powerful as their first kiss months ago, but she could feel his affection for her. The less "intoxicating" effect didn't bother her, she knew that their relationship was maturing, and so the novelty of a kiss had loss some of its impact, especially as they had been doing a lot more than just kissing.

The techs gave a few cat calls as Mike grumbled, "Alright, if you were going to do that you should have stayed on your deck." Hap pulled her closer and put his hand in her back and pushed her into him. To her surprise she felt a sudden rush of excitement as Mike yelled, "Hey, no time for that, get in yer 'mechs." Hap held up one finger and continued to embrace his wife, then let her go.

Harold wore a mischievous grin and Anastasia couldn't help but smile as her face burned.

Anastasia climbed the ladder to her Valkyrie and got herself situated in the command couch. She carefully unrolled the cables for her neurohelmet, plugged them in, and began the startup sequence. The reactor came out of standby mode and several systems began flashing as they went through their initial test processes.

A female voice reported, "All systems nominal"

The mech's security system flashed, and Anastasia hit the unlock button. Her father's voice filled the cockpit, as she put her hand on heart.

"Why do you fight ma petite Countessa?" Her father's pre-recorded voice asked. There was a family joke here, both in her family name of being the "little Countess" as well as the way her father intentionally butchered the French language.

"Liberte, egalite, fraternite" Anastasia said in proper French

"And what else?"

"For the nobility and people of the Federated Suns, House Davion, and the enduring freedom of my people, the people of Hazelhurst."

"Come home safe, ma cherie." Her father's disembodied voice told her. Anastasia felt a lump in her throat. She had been tempted to change out the security system's challenge sequence, but it was one of the few things she had of her father. She had already copied the audio files onto her noteputer, but it seemed wrong to change out the security files, especially since it was tied to the sensor and targeting system he had made. She reached out to the small picture of her with her parents that was adhered next to the sensor screen.

The security system light changed from red to green and the rest of the systems completed their initial startup processes and went into ready mode.

Anastasia dug into her coveralls and pulled out a picture of her and Harold from their wedding day. It was in a protective transparent sleeve with an adhesive backing. She peeled off the backing's protective film and carefully put it next to her family photo. As she was rubbing the picture to ensure it would stay, Taja and Maja climbed up onto the catwalk for the Valkyrie.

"Hello." Anastasia called out. She felt she could almost tell the twin sisters apart. Taja seemed to have a slightly square jaw, and Maja's voice was a little lower, but Anastasia wasn't confident enough to try and call them by name without making sure.

"Hi Anastasia." One of the twins said. They were wearing light environment suits so she didn't have a name tag.

"I'm going to start rigging it up so we can get the base plate under the mech." Said the twin with the lower voice, so Anastasia assumed it was Maja."

"I'll run the pre-combat checks." Taja said as she plugged in a diagnostic computer and looked over Anastasia's instruments. "Everything's looking good." Taja said more to herself than Anastasia.

"How many drop pods have you and Maja put together?" Anastasia asked.

"This is our first." Taja said, "How many times have you used a drop pod?"

"I did a few drops back at the academy, but this will be my first combat drop."

"So you won't know if we've done a bad job until it's too late." Taja said with a nervous laugh. Anastasia wasn't sure if she was kidding.

"I do know most of the pod is going to burn up as I enter the atmosphere or get destroyed during the controlled crash, so as long as you do an acceptable job, I'll be fine." Anastasia said.

"Get clear Taja." Maja as she stepped over to the winch controls. Taja unplugged the diagnostic computer and stepped back and Anastasia felt her mech rise about a meter.

"Hey Anastasia, speaking of first times…how was your wedding night?" Maja asked.

Even under the neurohelmet Anastasia was pretty sure both techs could see her blush, "It was very nice. It was everything I'd hoped for, and likely everything you've heard a wedding night should be." She said.

"Everything I'd heard?" Maja said a mischievous grin, "Well I'd heard sex is usually better before you married. Which brings up another question."

"Well I've really only been with Harold." Anastasia said, "I had also heard that the quality of sex seems to decline after marriage, but I was reading up on marriage and relationships in general and several authors concluded that the reason that the quality of sexual intercourse seems to diminish in long term monogamous relationships had to do with multiple factors."

"What I read indicated the reasons were various. They included the comparative excitement and novelty of multiple unfamiliar partners, the regular psychological response of exaggerating the intensity or quality of something you rarely receive, but losing appreciation for something once you receive it regularly. There was also the fact that when two people are comfortable with each other they are less prone to try or perform at a level they might have when they were courting. Also some couples, as they seek to have children, may focus more on sex for purely procreative reasons, and that can make things very mundane."

Maja looked at Anastasia for a long moment, "That wasn't exactly what I was asking."

Taja punched her sister's shoulder, "Who cares what you were asking, we need to stop listening to those brain-dead morons that try to give us advice on love and start asking Anastasia questions."

"Brain-dead morons like Mike and Dad?" Maja said.

"Those two especially." Taja said.

"Hey" Mike shouted and both women jumped

"You two, get that Valkyrie buttoned up and get to work. We need to get the drop pod welded together and the cocoon spun, this shouldn't take more than ten minutes, twenty tops."

Taja rolled her eyes as Maja closed the canopy and turned the armored locks. Anastasia pulled out the laminated cards she kept in a pouch of her cooling vest. The cards were designed to be checklists or review notes for significant non-routine events or combat emergencies. They included emergency shutdown, safe emptying of ammo magazines, how to handle loss of a 'mech's limb or a major system, call for fire, 9-line medevac, and other similar items.

Anastasia shuffled through the cards till she found, "Actions to take for catastrophic failure of a drop pod." She glanced down at the card. There was little she could do if the drop pod either burned up in entry or if, in the unlikely event, the pod was dropped too high and at the wrong angle and it bounced or skipped off the planet's atmosphere. The situations Anastasia could influence concerned events like the drop pod failing to open, or a problem with her 'mech's jump jets.

Anastasia studied how to perform a field expedient emergency clear, realign, and resync the jump jets. It seemed like a lot to do while the 'mech was falling at terminal velocity. As she read she was reminded of one of the NAIS instructors who had been disposed and spent some time in the jump infantry. When they were doing drops over New Avalon's moon he joked if you were doing a drop and your mech didn't have jump jets or the jump pack failed, the best thing to do was to do what the Jump Infantry are told, "keep your feet and knees together, and try to do a dynamic jump pack landing fall."

Anastasia glanced at her system diagnostic display and confirmed her jump jets were green and fully operational. She opened up further details on the Norse Industries 3S and saw they were fully primed, and had seen recent maintenance. She made a few notes on her knee board and noticed the flashing light on her radio. She smiled as she saw it was on her and Hap's private channel.

"What are you doing over there?" Hap asked

"I was going through the procedures for a jump jet failure at high altitude. Have you ever seen a drop pod fail or related problems when you used drops during training or combat?"

"Not in training, at least not personally. I remember one of the guys from another company claimed his drop pod didn't open up and he had to punch and kick his way out of it, but that guy liked to tell stories. I did see a few guys "burn-in" when we were jumping into Klathandu but we had Kuritan aerospace fighters shooting at us. It was a real shit-show."

"Reported failure rate on a drop pod is low, however I was curious if you had any anecdotal experience." Anastasia siad.

"I also get nervous every time I get welded into one of these things, but so far, so good. Generally I try not to think about any of it. I usually try to think about other things before I get rocketed at a planet." Harold said

"Oh?"

"Well, for instance I was thinking about your wedding dress."

Anastasia put away her cards, talking about the wedding was much more important than emergency life saving operations. "What were you thinking about my dress?"

"I was thinking how I liked all the pearls and embroidery on the front piece."

"The pearl and silver embroidery on the bodice? I particularly like that as well. Mother's wedding dress had a very similar design. It was one of the features I was quite fond of. I was pleased she included it when she had the dress made. I'm also pleased to hear that you like it as well."

"Yeah, your wedding dress was nice, except for the fifty buttons that we had to unbutton."

"Harold, it wasn't fifty, it was exactly thirty-seven." Anastasia watched the techs seal the drop pod around her mech. The cockpit became dark and Anastasia rested back in the command couch. She closed her eyes as they start to weld the corners. "Besides, when you had finished unbuttoning all those terrible buttons you were rewarded with the perfect feminine form."

"Well" Harold said, and Anastasia could hear the smile in his voice, "I'd say I was presented with a near perfect feminine form"

"Beg pardon? Near perfect?" Anastasia responded with mock anger.

"I mean you're certainly gorgeous and everything is perfectly proportioned but you're a little short. I would think the perfect feminine form would be taller."

"You were thinking that on our wedding night?"

"No, no" Hap quickly back peddled, "I was thinking about a lot of other things that night and I assure you I liked everything under the dress, but I think we can both agree, if you're going to say perfect-"

"Harold, we've been through this, I'm the perfect height. I'll concede I barely met the minimum standard for a mechwarrior, but had my mother not threatened and cajoled the NAIS training cadre into making me a mechwarrior, they would have gladly offered to train me to be an aerospace pilot. Further, I think we both can agree that when we hold hands, or you hold me at night we fit together perfectly."

"I can think of something else we do where we fit together perfectly."

"Exactly, so if we fit together perfectly in those instances, and you already admitted I'm perfectly proportioned, then my height must be perfect." Anastasia said.

"Wait, that's not…damn. How'd I walk into that?" Hap asked.

"I'm learning you're easily baited with sex." Anastasia said.

"10 minutes to drop. Tech crews check the drop pods and clear the mech bays." Hawkins' voice came across the Leopard's 1MC.

"You know I'm not that easily baited with sex." Hap said.

"We'll see," Anastasia said as the lance channel flashed. "Looks like Fiona wants to talk."

"We'll talk more about this later." Hap said.

"I'm certain we will do more than talk." Anastasia teased.

Anastasia switched the radio channels as Fiona said, "Kate, say all that again."

"What I said is, we're alone up here. What I mean is there isn't another dropship up here. There are a few rece and comm satellites but the Immortal's bird isn't up here circling the planet." Kate said.

"We'll do a scan once we're in orbit, we should be able to see most of the planet's major hemispheres." Hawkins added.

"Pod's 1 and 2 all okay. Port side 'mech bay clear." A tech reported over the 1MC.

Anastasia heard the distant sound of one of the techs banging on her drop pod. She knew this was done to assure her they were actually checking their work. A few seconds later Mike came on the 1MC, "Pods 3 and 4 all okay. Starboard 'mech bay clear."

"Acknowledge. Standby." Hawkins said over the 1MC.

There were a few moments of quiet. Then the ship shuddered and Anastasia could feel the shift in the Leopard's inertia and pseudo gravity as it entered the planet's orbit. She could feel the weightlessness as she floated slightly against her command couches restraints. The ship stabilized as it entered into orbit.

"I got her, there's the Huma Bird. That's the Immortals shuttle." Hawkins said. "It's a couple clicks north of that town. Close to the warehouse area where that King Crab is waiting for you."

"I wonder why the St. Ives-ians haven't harassed the Huma, and when the 'mechs went to respond they could make a run for their supplies." Crow said. "No Leopard crew likes to sit around when a bunch of crunchies show up with SRMs, Infernos, and crew serve weapons."

"Don't remind me." Hawkins said. "that was a bad day."

"I'd reason they either lack the weapons and manpower or the discipline to successfully execute that." Anastasia said.

"I'd reason that Sang Wei Zhang should explain this." Fiona said, "get him on the line before we drop."

"Wait one." Kate said.

Hawkins came up on the 1MC "Clear the bays, and standby."

Anastasia felt the pod start to move as Sang Wei Zhang's voice came across the Radio, "What is it now?"

"We're seeing the shuttle for the OPFOR is just a few kilometers north of town, why haven't you attacked it to create a diversion for getting your supplies. If your situations as desperate as you say-"

"It's protected." Sang Wei said like it was obvious, "I am busy man, Mercenary-"

"Protected by what?" Fiona asked.

"A Stalker." Sang Wei Zhang answered.

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #215 on: 17 July 2021, 01:53:15 »
Chapter 66

"An STK 3F Stalker Battlemech?" Fiona asked, "You didn't think this important to mention?"

"I can't speak to the actual variant of the Stalker, and since it stayed in the vicinity of the shuttle I did not see how it was your concern."

"Sang Wei Zhang," Fiona said, "If you expect us to drop I need you to be 100% honest with us. Is there any other mechs associated with the lance that has seized your supply depot."

"Not to my knowledge."

"If we are going to take out this lance, I'm going to need you to rally together enough of a force to either ambush that Stalker or run a feint at that shuttle to keep the Stalker from getting into the fight."

"I will consider it." Shang Wei Zhang answered implying he wouldn't.

"You'll consider it?" Fiona said in a voice void of emotion, "We'll we're going to stay up here until you have an answer. If your answer is 'yes', then we'll drop and solve your problem, if it's 'no' then I'm going home and filing a breach of contract for 'intentional deceptive and misleading intel, and unacceptable and radical change of mission parameters'. I'll also be sure to let my colleagues and peers in other companies know about our interactions and you'll have a hell of a time hiring other mercenary companies to help your fledgling little nation defend itself from everyone else."

There was a long pause, "I will personally see to it that you receive assistance you requested."

"Thank you Sang Wei Zhang." Fiona said in a tone that almost sounded like a threat.

"Now I must go and attend to preparing my soldiers to help you with the job you were hired for. Zhang out."

The radio beeped as Sang wei's system exited the net. Fiona cursed in German, Gaelic, and Norwegian. When she had finished Hawkins asked, "We still doing this drop?"

Fiona said a few more obscenities in Japanese, "Yes. But be ready for a quick extraction, if Sang Wei decides not to assist, or if things go sideways we're not sticking around."

"Uh Fiona, if this is the Immortals and that's a Stalker, that's likely Ahmed's son, Ebrahimi."

"I know." Fiona sighed, "Hawkins, go ahead and crater us."

Anastasia heard a quick succession of explosions then felt the straps of her command couch cut into her along with the gut-wrenching sudden drop of the pod. In spite of the insulated cockpit Anastasia could hear the roar and feel the heat as the pod cut through the planet's atmosphere. After a few moments she thought she could see the inside of the drop pod turning from black to a dark cherry red. She glanced at the corner welds and could see bright white spots that were already struggling against the heat and friction.

There was another explosion and the drop pod broke apart into multiple sections. Anastasia was blinded for a moment by the sunlight. She let her Valkyrie fall with the pieces of the drop pod for a moment to ensure anything that might be targeting the pod wouldn't target her. She watched her altimeter rapidly count down hundreds meters before she fired her jump jets. As the jets burned she watched the altimeter stop for a moment then slowly climb. She let the 'mech' resume falling and then feathered her jets until she gently and safely landed next to Harold's Griffin and Crow's Catapult.

Anastasia was the last 'mech down and took a moment to get her bearings and ensure her NAV system was working properly. The lance was in a manmade open gravel pit. The pit was several hundred meters across and tiered with an earth ramp. The bottom of the quarry was flooded, with a small clear pond. Fiona's Jagermech dropped the disposable jump pack as she keyed the radio, "Hawkins, we're all down, good grouping, no damage."

"Good copy. Kate and I will put in our logs. We'll be up here standing by." Hawkins said.

"Let's move out" Fiona said, "Anastasia, show me how these 'enhanced scanners' can find our enemy before they can find us."

Anastasia activated an initial scan as she explained, l "I'm executing a broad-spectrum scan now," She waited a moment as the scan found nothing, "There doesn't appear to be any 'mechs or vehicles near us, nor metallic mines."

"Good." Fiona said, "Move up and try to find them so we can set up an ambush. I'm sure someone is coming to meet us, and they're trying to catch us with our pants down."

Anastasia used her jump jets to propel her 'mech out of the quarry and onto the outskirts of the city. She maneuvered her mech around a wall and walked down an alley behind a few tall buildings. She used her jump jets again to ascend to the top of a large reinforced building. She kneeled her mech down as she tuned sensors and set it to start searching for the enemy.

She noticed that the city had a few commercial radio stations. She let her systems run through the stations until she found a song she liked. Her cockpit was filled with a classical orchestra piece that was accentuated with synthetic instruments and an added exaggerated bass beat. As the music played she set her systems to look for any large moving interference in the city's commercial radio frequency band.

Harold landed his Griffin behind her building as she detected the first anomaly. Her systems indicated an object approximately 10 meters tall moving a kilometer away from their location. The sensors showed a hazy silhouette of dome shaped armless mech.

"How's it going darlin'?" Harold asked.

"I think I've located the UrbanMech." Anastasia said, as her systems indicated there was a 15 meter tall anomaly close to the UrbanMech. "and I believe the Kintaro is with it." She tried to tune her scanners to sharpen the hazy silhouette of the chunky humanoid 'mech. "They're about a kilometer north of us and headed in our direction."

"Awesome." Crow replied, "What are you listening to?"

"I believe it's Audra's Post Modern Neo Classic Ultra version of Andre Rieu's Bolero. It's on 104.2 Mhz." Anastasia said, then explained, "I'm using interference from the local radio stations to locate the OPFOR. As they walk around it creates a mech shaped interference pattern my sensors can detect. It's a passive method that will prevent our detection. As the OPFOR get closer I'll get more information and use more active, but detectable, means to collect on them."

"Cool, cool. 104.2 right?" Crow said as Anastasia started to hear the same music as Crow spoke.

Fiona's Jagermech was just coming out of the quarry. "Have you located the King Crab?"

"I don't think so." Anastasia said, "Honestly I can't confirm exactly what we're looking at until they get closer." She glanced around her scanners to see if there was any other anomalies. "And if they're not moving I'll have to use active scanning to detect them. They'll likely know we're searching for them."

Anastasia watched the 15 meter tall 'mech easily move a quarter of a kilometer in a dozen seconds. "I can confirm I have located the Kintaro and the UrbanMech, both are headed toward us." Anastasia glanced down at the map of the city she had folded on her knee board. "It looks like the Kintaro is on the street that runs north to south and the UrbanMech is picking its way through back allies."

"We need to take down the Kintaro first." Fiona said, "The Kintaro's bigger, faster and packs more punch than the Urbanmech."

"I think that Urbanmech is a UR60L. From the pictures it looked like the big boar version." Crow said. "Because they skimmed off the armor due to the weight of the AC-20 Rolph calls it a 'glass cannon'."

"You can tell the difference in UrbanMech from those low-res pictures we received?" Anastasia said.

"Well Rolph has a bunch of UrbanMech pictures hanging up in his berthing area, with all the different versions labeled. It's sort of like how Joker has all those pictures of naked ladies." Crow said.

"It may be vain" Anastasia said, "but I suspect Joker decorated his walls with that obscenity in order to annoy me."

"While that's an added benefit." Harold said, "there's a much more utilitarian reason for it."

"Mags finds it quite odious as well." Anastasia added as her sensors confirmed a 55 ton 'mech. "The Kintaro will be in LRM range in about 30 seconds, he should be able to detect us shortly after that." Since both 'mechs were in her enhanced sensor range she stood up and used her 'mech's jump to get behind the building next to her lance mates before they could see or detect her.

"Let's get back to the task at hand." Fiona said, "When the Kintaro gets in range, Anastasia, I want you to sensor lock him, the rest of us will hit him with a full barrage. It probably won't neutralize his mech, but it will soften him up and hopefully break a weapon system or two. The Kintaro pilot will have to choose to charge at us, hoping that we're all missile platforms and weak to the sort of close combat a Kintaro excels at, or he can run and hide and hope to jump us in some dark alley."

"Seems likely he'd run" Harold said.

"If it were any other unit I'd give you 50-50 odds, but since it's the Immortals, most stupid and aggressive, is most likely." Fiona answered, "This means Hap you'll need to get out on that main avenue and start engaging him directly. When he wises up and tries to run I'll start putting missiles in his back. Anastasia while Hap and I are ruining the Kintaro I'll need you to put the UrbanMech in sensor lock again

and Crow I want you to bring him down. With any luck Crow's right about it being a glass cannon."

The mechwarriors acknowledged as the channel for the client's radio channel flashed. Anastasia could sense the palpable hesitation as everyone changed channels. Sang Wei Zhang, said, "Mercenaries, I demand you meet at the location I am sending over this channel." As he spoke a nav-point showed up on the NAV computer about half a kilometer east of their current location. The location was half a kilometer east where the primary multi-lane highway came into town.

"Acknowledge." Fiona, "We are currently establishing an ambush, let us complete-"

"Negative. I demand you attend to me now."

Fiona sighed heavily, "Sang Wei Zhang, we had an agreement, you would address the Stalker and allow us to neutralize the rest of the lance. What changed?"

"I considered your request and decided it would be better to pool our resources so that I could assist you in achieving the mission you were hired to perform seeing as how you lack the necessary will and tactical acumen."

Anastasia glanced back at her sensors. The Kintaro was less than thirty meters from being in LRM range. "Fiona the Kintaro is coming into range, he'll detect us in the next ten to twenty seconds."

"We'll 'attend' to you in a moment." Fiona said coolly.

"No. You will learn that I am not to be kept waiting." Sang Wei Zhang snapped.

There was a long pause as Anastasia watched the Kintaro edge to meters within range of the weapons. Then, without warning, both the UrbanMech and the Kintaro stopped, then started moving east. Anastasia glanced down at her sensors and then her city map. When she looked up she noticed the light next to the guard channel was flashing.

"Oh you're shitting me." Fiona groaned.

Anastasia turned the guard channel to hear Sang Wei Zhang "I say again mercenaries, I demand you meet me at the location I am sending out on this net. Do not keep me waiting."

Anastasia saw the navigation point was resent to her NAV system. She canceled the request to overwrite as it became obvious the Kintaro and UrbanMech were moving east toward the nav-point.

"Sang Wei Zhang what is wrong with-" Fiona stopped herself "We're moving to your location."

Anastasia kept her eye on the enemy mechs as her lance started moving to the point marked on the edge of town. The McFinnigan lance was moving along a back road that ran between the city's defensive wall and the buildings, lots, and structures on the southern edge of town. Anastasia could see the Kintaro and UrbanMech picking their way through a few alleys and by-streets headed in the same direction. The Kintaro got onto a major east-west avenue, and when the street curved north, he walked out of Anastasia's sensor range.

As they approached the nav-point Anastasia's sensors picked up a Vindicator and Blackjack Battlemechs, two tanks and a flatbed truck coming up the road. Anastasia switched her radio back to the lance channel, "I think Sang Wei Zhang's lance is coming up the road from the south. It's a Vindicator, a Blacjack, and Vedette and Bulldog tanks. They appear to be escorting a flat-bed transport."

Crow jumped his 'mech around a dog-leg bend in the road and over the city's protective wall. "Yeah I'm seeing them, and they look like they've been skipping maintenance bay time for more combat."

The navigation point was at the place where the major highway enters the town. The highway was on an overpass and the street that the McFinnigans were on went under the overpass. Fiona, Hap, and Anastasia stopped behind a few buildings just below the highway. As they came to a stop Sang Wei Zhang and his lance came into view. Even without her scanners Anastasia could see that Crow was right the battlemechs looked to be in ramshackle condition.

"Alright Sang Wei Zhang, we're here now, and you've sent our location to the enemy. If I'm lucky you've just set us up to have a head on fight with the King Crab, and after that stunt I'm not sure why I shouldn't push you in front of his twin autocannons. Seriously, what do you hope to do?"

"Not, hope, I will defeat my enemies, and resupply my forces." Sang Wei Zhang said, "You will escort-"

"No." Fiona said flatly. "That is too far outside our mission parameters."

Anastasia watched as the UrbanMech started to work its way through back alleys, parking lots, and yards to set up its own ambush. Anastasia knew it was on the periphery of sensor range and wasn't sure if he could detect them. She assumed the UrbanMech would hide itself in some building or underground parking garage and wait for them to pass.

"You were hired-"

"We were hired to give mobile artillery support. You requested we change that to a hunt and kill mission, which has some overlap with mobile artillery support, at least as far as I'm engaging targets how and where I like them. Escort duty requires us to put ourselves in harm's way, so no."

"Fine, we will escort the supply vehicle, but I will not engage the Stalker as you requested, and I demand you provide fire support when and where I request it. You will also-"

"So you have come." A rich baritone voice said across the guard channel, "Which of McFinnigan's whelps will I be killing today. My Stalker is ready to destroy all of you."

"Hey, Ebrahimi, is that you? Man, we thought you were dead." Crow said.

"No. I am not dead." Ebrahimi sounded almost surprised, "I had been seriously injured, but the gods saw fit to bring me back to help father finish his struggle against you murderers. Had I been with him on Monhegan that battle would have gone much differently, we would have routed your whole wicked company."

"You know these mercenaries, and they are your friends are yours?" Zhang shouted.

"Friends would be the last word I would use to describe our relationship." Fiona said coolly.

"Yeah, our relationship is sort of like the hate that ex-lovers have for each-other." Crow said.

"What?" Sang Wei Zhang and Ebrahimi said in unison.

"Look, I know your dad has some blood oath, death pact, jihad, promise of mutually assured destruction against us, but I feel like I've known you longer than I've known some members of my own company. I appreciate having this 'other-side-of-the-battle-field' relationship we have." Crow said.

"Crow, mute yourself." Fiona said in almost a whisper. The UrbanMech disappeared from Anastasia's scanners. She assumed it had shut down and was going to wait for them to pass. She quickly made a TRP where it was last on her scanners.

"Be that as it may, Crow. The gods have favored us with a new and very powerful patriarch." Ebrahimi said, "They have promised to help us rebuild our losses. They hate you with a fervor that is second only to ours. They asked only one small favor of us, that we ensure the death of the Valkyrie Pilot Anastasia Valois. Is she among you? If you surrender her we may just leave this planet in peace."

Anastasia's blood went cold as Sang Wei Zhang answered, "You are asking which mercenary is here? I will tell you, mercenary whore, you are all the same to me. I am trying to defend my people from the likes of scavengers like you. If you have a fight with this company, take it off my planet."

Ebrahimi laughed, "No. Our 'mysterious benefactor' was quite insistent we destroy both this mechwarrior Valois and McFinnigan and Sons completely. Mechs, drop shuttles, support staff, all of them should be executed for the treacherous murders and all their accomplices wherever we find them. We have been promised rich rewards."

"You know most of our support staff are the dependents of our 'mech warriors? Of course it doesn't matter because killing women and children to avenge the fair and possibly accidental death of your brothers is something I'm sure your father would consider righteous and just." Fiona said.

Ebrahimi ignored Fiona, "Even if this Valkyrie and the mechwarrior Valois are not among you l must still fulfill my obligation to destroy the members of McFinnigan and Sons wherever I find them."

"You sure this mysterious benefactor is really helping you?" Crow asked, "Have you ever heard the legend of the monk and the scorpion? Because, if you're not sure if you're the monk or the scorpion, your ass is probably going to get stung."

"I do not have time for your foolish riddles." Ebrahimi said. "Capellans, or confederates, or compactions, whichever you imagine yourself to be, if you desire not to be destroyed then I suggest you walk away."

"I will not walk away in the defense of my planet." Sang Wei Zhang snapped.

"Then prepare to be destroyed." Ebrahimi laughed.

EAGLE 7

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #216 on: 17 July 2021, 10:43:20 »
HFC05,

   Great set up, looking forward to.more of the story.
“ My Clan honor is bigger than your Dragon honor, and comes in 18 clan flavors.”

Elmoth

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #217 on: 17 July 2021, 15:42:17 »
I would have left the contract quite a few minutes earlier.
Now, popcorn time.

DOC_Agren

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #218 on: 17 July 2021, 19:49:00 »
Zhang, is in way over his head and skill level and going to get people killed
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

Intermittent_Coherence

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #219 on: 17 July 2021, 20:48:27 »
Hell of a way to illustrate that for all that the top leadership has changed, the rank and file of the Compact and Confederation all went to the same schools taught by the same douchebags and marinated in the same douchey attitudes.

ThePW

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #220 on: 17 July 2021, 22:40:14 »
Plot Twist: The King Crab is Comstar provided and driven...

Elmoth

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #221 on: 18 July 2021, 03:43:14 »
Remember the last comguards we saw in the story. Far from 1/2 pilots there...

DOC_Agren

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #222 on: 18 July 2021, 19:24:34 »
Plot Twist: The King Crab is Comstar provided and driven...
still doesn't mean great pilot, Comstars still working on getting there...
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

snakespinner

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #223 on: 18 July 2021, 23:32:52 »
At this stage i think Comstar only had pirates and crap mercs like Brion's Legion available.
Average level mechwarriors.
I wish I could get a good grip on reality, then I would choke it.
Growing old is inevitable,
Growing up is optional.
Watching TrueToaster create evil genius, priceless...everything else is just sub-par.

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #224 on: 17 August 2021, 03:06:15 »
Chapter 67

"You are the one who will be destroyed." Sang Wei Zhang snapped. "Mercenaries, move forward and kill them."

"Let's switch back to your command channel and discuss our strategies where our enemies can't hear us." Fiona said.

Anastasia saw the Kintaro walk back into sensor range for a moment then cross over the main highway and walk north on another side street and then disappear from her sensors. She switched over to the Compact forces' command channel.

"Mercenary, I cannot believe you would attempt to embarrass me in front of the enemy by-"

"Well buckle up Sang Wei," Fiona said. "because if you want to live through this, you'll get your head out your ass, get your mechs and vehicles off that highway and start listening to me. You're an arrogant fool and your 'mechs desperately need maintenance and repairs, and, in case you haven't been paying attention, we're outclassed and under-weight in this fight."

There was a long pause before Sang Wei spoke, "Vehicle crews take the next exit and join me and Soa Wei Mung with the other mechs." As he spoke the Blackjack used its jump jets to propel itself off the elevated highway and landed near Fiona's Jagermech. The Vindicator seemed uncertain for a moment before the pilot jumped down to join the other mechs."

They waited as the tanks drove off the highway and then had to maneuver around a few streets before driving under the overpass. Anastasia watched her sensors waiting for the UrbanMech or the Kintaro to show up again.

"What is this TRP you have marked?" Sang Wei Zhang asked.

"It was the last known location of the UrbanMech." Anastasia answered. "The mech mysteriously disappeared from my scanners there. I believe we should check the area before firing though."

"I agree. There are parts of the city that are built over other streets." A quiet feminine voice explained, "It has created subterranean portions of the city, large enough for smaller 'mechs to move through.

"Mung, since you know this city, move forward and locate that UrbanMech." Sang Wei Zhang said.

The Vindicator started to move and Anastasia chose to follow her as Fiona said, "Hap, Professor, move with her. Keep us informed what you find. We'll wait here before advancing."

"Time is of the essence." Sang Wei hissed. "We should continue as they screen."

"Crow, explain to the Sang Wei how slow is fast." Fiona said idly as she watched Anastasia, Hap and Sang Soa Mung moved forward toward the UrbanMech's former location.

"It ain't Sun Tzu, but slow is smooth, smooth if fast, fast is slow, man" Crow said. "Let the Professor find your enemies, we'll destroy them from here, and then move up nice and smooth. It will go way faster than getting ambushed. "

Anastasia smirked as she imagined Sang Wei Zhang seething in his cockpit as Crow dispensed his unique "philosophies". The Valkyrie, Griffin, and Vindicator rounded a corner and walked between two tall brick buildings to come to the TRP Anastasia had marked. It was abandoned lot with children playing ball and running around. At the end was a pile of rubble that had been a building and a ramp leading underground.

Anastasia took in a deep breath as she realized she had marked a children's play area as a TRP. Soa Wei Mung moved her Vindicator forward and activated her external speakers to speak to the children in Chinese. Most of the children immediately scattered, but a few of the younger children stared at the 'mechs until their older siblings escorted them to safety.

"Fiona, we've found the entrance to the sub-city." Harold said, "No sign of the UrbanMech. We're going to attempt to re-establish contact." As her husband spoke Anastasia was fixated on a forgotten ball that a child had left before rushing off to what she hoped was safety.

"Acknowledge." Fiona said. "We'll proceed to your location and wait for you. Keep moving nice and smooth."

Anastasia approached the ramp leading down to the sub-street. The surface street was so thick it was obvious why her sensors had lost the 'mech. This portion of the city had also been left to deteriorate or had seen some military action, or likely both. There were several burned out buildings and structures that were little more than rubble, but the street was thick enough that there were no holes to let sunlight into the dark underground.

She walked her mech down into the gloom of the sub-street. She had to change to a low light vision mode to see deeper into the shadows. Anastasia also had to retune her scanners to work through the clutter and interference of the old construction. She still couldn't detect anything. She activated another broad-spectrum scan.

The scanners did not detect any 'mechs or vehicles. Anastasia looked around and could see what looked like an underground city. Most of the buildings were under three stories, but the taller buildings appeared to run into the "roof" or the street above. There was scattered electric street lighting, and a few random burning barrels but the under-city was filled with shadows and dimness. There were a few feral animals scurrying around, but Anastasia didn't see any people. Just the twisting labyrinth of random streets and walkways.

Hap followed the Vindicator down the ramp to join Anastasia in the underground streets. "Soa Wei Mun, Hello. This is Hap the Griffin pilot, and you got the Professor there in the Valkyrie. If you were piloting an UrbanMech trying to ambush a convoy headed to your supply-depot, where would you go?"

"Hello Hap and the Professor." Soa Wei answered she seemed almost amused with Hap's introduction, "Please call me Chyou. If I were an UrbanMech pilot…" She paused to think…"I would either try to hide among the heavy equipment in the industrial area or I would find some rubble and burned out buildings that would make it difficult to detect me. Both can be found north east of here."

"Thank you Chyou, and it's good to meet you. Would you mind leading the way?" Harold asked.

"I will try, though I must confess that I am unfamiliar with the under-city, and as you see the streets above are not reflected here below." Chyou started walking her Vindicator down a wide street.

"Why is that?" Anastasia asked as she followed Chyou. "Why does this place even exist?" As they walked Anastasia examined her knee board map, as Chyou said, the streets they were traversing didn't line up with the streets above. Anastasia looked at the street they were walking. It appeared to be former store fronts that had seen better days. There was broken glass and graffiti but several of the signs appeared to advertise apothecaries, restaurants, and stores. At least Anastasia guessed what the signs meant. The signs were in Chinese but the general symbols and presentation seemed universal.

"Several hundred years ago the Mandrinn of this city heard or read the Chancellor's teaching on planned cities where each city was purpose built for efficiency. The Chancellor stated an ideal city should be designed to have intentional areas for living and shopping, easy access routes for goods and shipping, quality public transportation and easy access for law enforcement. Wherever there was a portion of the city that could not conform to these standards the Mandrinn would simply pave over it, thus creating an upper and lower city. If a building was outside the bounds of the Chancellor's teaching, he would cut it off at the third level and build the 'proper' streets and infrastructure in its place. Eventually he made the city in the model of the Chancellor's vision." Chyou said.

"Did it work? Did it create the perfect city that the Chancellor described?" Hap asked.

"In some ways yes." Chyou said, "but this also created black markets and a place for them to flourish." They continued traveling through the subterranean streets. Anastasia felt slightly claustrophobic as her scanners struggled to penetrate the electro-magnetic muck of the lower city. Chyou had to backtrack a few times before finding a ramp that was built into a large empty warehouse.

Harold followed behind Chyou as they came out back onto the main street. "McFinnigan 1, this is McFinnigan 3, we traveled a portion of the sub-city and were about…a kilometer north-east- shit. The Kintaro is a block away. Chyou, Anastasia, I'm going to jump over these buildings. When he engages me, jump behind him."

Anastasia hurried up the ramp to join them in a large parking lot surrounded by tall buildings. There was a street that ran north to south in front of the warehouse. It was lined with tightly packed buildings of different styles and materials ranging from brick, reinforced concrete and steel, and even a few wood frame structures that were squeezed into the spaces between the other buildings.

Anastasia's scanners immediately registered the Kintaro coming down the street under full throttle. It also indicated the UrbanMech was perched on top of the building. Before she could warn anyone of the UrbanMech the Kintaro crashed through one of the shabby wooden structures, and let loose a barrage of SRMs and lasers at Anastasia and Chyou.

Harold performed a backwards leap up to land on the roof of the warehouse. Anastasia instinctively knew this was the tactically best response since his 'mech had all long-range weapons. She heard Harold curse again as he discovered the UrbanMech.

"I got eyes on the UrbanMech." Hap said. "Confirm Crow was right, glass cannon."

"Thanks brother, I'm headed your way." Crow said.

Anastasia started to move to attempt to flank the Kintaro. As she ran the collision detection klaxons sounded. Instinctively she side-stepped and swiftly pivoted her 'mech on her right foot and stepped back with her left as the UrbanMech slammed into the ground beside her. The UrbanMech's right leg took the brunt of the damage from the fall. Armor shattered and broke away from the leg and shredded the foot actuator. The pilot tried to keep his footing but the UrbanMech collapsed onto its back.

Anastasia's mech had bowed as she spun around and the time seemed to slow as her sense of balance and the Valkyrie's gyros brought the mech to stand upright. She could see the prone UrbanMech was missing its autocannon and had a gaping hole in the right torso. Sparks sprayed from the hole and smoke billowed from various gaps in the 'mech's armor.

The cross hairs seem to track slowly as Anastasia used one smooth motion to activate the LRM's safety override to hot load her missiles. She pulled up gently on the targeting control stick and just before the cross hairs lined up with the twisted metal and gap in the UrbanMech's armor she launched missiles and laser. The ruby beam of her medium laser melted the armor around the gap in the UrbanMech's chest as missiles struck the UrbanMech's side and a few disappeared into the gap.

There were a series of flashes inside the 'mech as the missiles found the auto cannon magazine. Then there was an explosion as the cylindrical mech burst from the inside out. The new hole billowed out thick black smoke before there was the brilliant flash as the fusion reactor's shielding exploded.

"UrbanMech neutralized." Anastasia said.

Anastasia glanced up as Chyou said, "It would be appreciated if you could assist me with this Kintaro." The Kintaro was too close for the Vindicator to use her PPC and LRMs, so Chyou struck his chest with the barrel of her PPC as a beam from her small lasers carved into the Kintaro's arm. The Vindicator appeared to be in worse condition than when they had started, but it was still up and functional.

"Hap I'm directly south, I should be in range in a moment." Crow said.

"Copy Crow, we have a Kintaro, in the open." Hap said.

"Think I got a solution for that." Crow said.

Anastasia glanced at Crow's position and considered the Kintaro's orientation, and how they needed to get the pressure off of Chyou. As if he was thinking the same thing Harold jumped down to the left of the Kintaro and put a PPC bolt and ten missiles into the 'mech. Anastasia jumped over a few low buildings onto a side street the Kintaro had been sprinting down. She tried to angle her 'mech into the rear arc of the Kintaro, but she wasn't quite there.

Anastasia sent ten missiles over the buildings and into the flank of the Kintaro. They didn't hit the thinly armored rear of the 'mech, but enough of them struck the Kintaro's side to get the pilot's attention. He stepped back from Chyou to position himself so that Hap, Chyou and Anastasia were generally in front of him. As he moved he lobbed a brace of five LRMs at Anastasia and split his SRMs and lasers between the Griffin and Vindicator.

"Splash over." Crow said.

Anastasia smiled to herself and sat up a little taller as she saw that she and Hap had pressured the pilot to put his back to Crow. Crow's CPLT-C4 was equipped with two Holly Long Range Missile 20 Racks. It was a good weapon system that would, on average, destroy a ton of armor in one salvo. Anastasia knew that Crow was an exceptional gunner, and doubted the Kintaro could afford to lose two tons of armor from his thinly armored back. She also knew even if it didn't destroy the mech it would be a struggle to stay upright under that barrage. Hap or Chyou could easily deliver a coup de grace to the prone mech.

The forty missiles fell from a high angle and struck the Kintaro's back and shoulders. Anastasia could see the smoke and explosions, then head exploded, and it took Anastasia to realize it was the pilot ejecting.

"Splash out." Hap said, "Good contact. Kintaro neutralized, looks like the pilot ejected."

"Good copy, Hap. Hold position there." Fiona said. "Professor, try to use your advanced sensors and locate those assaults. I want us to have them jump on them."

Anastasia jumped her 'mech over the buildings so she could get to the top of the warehouse and use the elevation to get stronger radio signals. She kneeled her mech down to reduce her profile and settled into her work. After a minute she started to get something in the general vicinity of the supply depot

The Valkyrie generally ran cool, but this was part in the operation between fire fights were her skin felt sticky and uncomfortable and looked forward to a shower. She thought back to her honeymoon and showering with Harold and how he would alternate between massaging and caressing her before things led to greater intimacy. She was disappointed when she realized that the shower facilities in the drop ship were just for one and water had to be rationed, and a field shower was barely effective for washing her hair and getting clean, let alone getting dirty. She smiled mischievously as she decided she would tease Harold with talking about enjoying a shower and reminding him it wasn't available.

As she reached to turn her radio to the private channel she shared with her husband Hap asked Chyou, "Chyou, are you okay, you're 'mech's looking…it looks like it needs repairs."

"It does need the armor replaced." Chyou answered, "But fortune has favored me and I have only lost one major system."

Anastasia leaned over to see that Chyou was holding up her 'mech's left arm and there was a large portion of the small laser missing. Anastasia could also see the mech's hand actuator had been damaged from missiles. There were several places on the Vindicator where internal structure or internal systems were visible through holes or just missing armor.

"We'll have our 'mech techs see what they can do to help out." Hap said

"That will not be necessary." Sang Wei Zhang said as Fiona's Jagermech, Crow's Catapult, Sang Wei Zhang's Blackjack and the vehicles came into view. "Our own techs are sufficiently skilled."

"You may want to actually let them do their job then." Crow said.

"If you would perform your job perhaps, they would not have to work so hard." Sang Wei Zhang said.

"What do you mean?" Crow asked.

"Look at how Sao Wei Mung was forced to fight the Kintaro alone, while these two ran away." Sang Wei Zhang said.

"Yes, it would have been better had they 'held the line' so the UrbanMech could shoot them in the back." Fiona said as she kicked the UrbanMech. The Mech rolled over exposing the left torso and the Capellan green triangle with a mech fist wielding a sword.

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #225 on: 17 August 2021, 03:06:53 »
Chapter 68

"Sang Wei" Fiona said, "What do you see on the chest of the Kintaro? Do you know that symbol?"

Ansatasia carefully stood up to glance at the broken Kintaro. It was missing both arms and part of it's right shoulder, but the Immortals sigil was still recognizable. "I am not familiar with that symbol, but it appears to be a winged lion." Sang Wei Zhang said.

"It's Ahmed's Immortals. They're a small-time mercenary unit and that's their insignia. The important thing is they're mercenaries. As you've pointed out, mercenaries are here to make money, not get involved in the client's politics. Unless they're under a long term exclusive contract, most mercenaries won't put a house's symbol on their 'mechs."

"Your point?" Sang Wei Zhang said.

"This UrbanMech doesn't have an Immortal's symbol, it has the Capellan Confederation sigil."

"So?" Sang Wei Zhang said. "It's obviously Capellan."

"Did your insurgents move into the city? Are they working with the Immortals?" Fiona asked.

"We had moved our operations away from the city in the hopes of luring the partisans away." Chyou said, "It worked for a while. The attacks decreased, though, once the other mercenaries arrived, we had only limited raiding, while the cities with our supply hub became inaccessible to us."

"So, again, the intel is incomplete." Fiona said, "What the hell Zhang?"

"I do not know what intel you were given by the Federated Suns." Sang Wei Zhang said dismissively.

"Snag Wei Zhang, you're the source of my intel. You keep giving me nothing but shit, and I'm trying to do my best to help you here, but you're either going to get us killed because you're stupid, or I'm starting to think you're trying to get us killed."

"You keep complaining, why are you still here?" Sang Wei Zhang said.

"I'll explain this to you, one time, in the hopes you stop calling us whores. Kelly McFinnigan believes that the reputation of his company is the key to his success." Fiona said, "He has a few simple rules to maintain and improve our reputation. First, if we agree to a contract, we follow the contract, unless it is absolutely impossible. Second, we get paid. If we are going to risk life and limb for the client it's going to cost them something. This leads us to the third rule, we try not to die in the process of getting paid. Fourth, we do all of that while turning profit." Fiona said.

"His priority is off." Sang Wei Zhang said, "Survival and profit should be all that matters."

"You don't get it, brother." Crow said, "Being a mercenary is almost as much about reputation as it is about making a profit. If you have a good reputation, you get good jobs. You can talk some enemies into surrendering. You get the help you need. It all comes back to making sure the client understands your value, not taking stupid risks, but remembering the work is inherently dangerous. Finally it's still a business, but if you're doing the other things, the business part always works out."

"I think I understand." Sang Wei Zhang said, "Mercenaries are whores that take pride in whoring."

"I'm really not sure you know much about whores, man. You ever been with a woman?" Crow said.

"How dare you. I have a wife. I have three children" Sang Wei Zhang snapped.

"Logically those children only represent her liaisons." Anastasia said as her scanners showed a large hazy battlemech shaped anomaly. It was tall, close to fifteen or sixteen meters, but it seemed more humanoid shaped than the hunched over bullet shaped Stalker or King Crab mechs.

"What are you trying to say about my wife?" Zhang snapped

"The same thing you keep saying about mine." Harold replied. "Zhang, I don't give a damn about your opinion of mercenaries, but you call any member of this company a whore again, and you and I will have words after this operation, and I gauren-damn-tee you won't like it."

There was an uncomfortable silence. Anastasia was glad Harold said something. Harold wasn't easy to provoke, but she was glad he had enough of Zhang's rudeness. She watched the hazy image of the mech move and she started to see more a hunched over almost crab like shape. She could almost make out the large claw like arms that held the AC 20s. "I think I've found the KGC-000."

"Alright, remember if we're lucky we hit his left side hard, touch off his LRM or AC20 magazine and then we just have to deal with Ebrahimi." Fiona asked. "Keep looking for Ebrahimi's stalker."

Anastasia could see something large causing interference but she couldn't identify the 'mech. "There is something else large causing interference, but I can't definitively identify it.

"Professor, Hap just keep pushing forward, nice and smooth, I want to detect that King Crab first. Zhang, once we neutralized the King Crab you get your team up and get what you need, understand?"

"Yes." Sang Wei Zhang said slowly.

Anastasia stood her Valkyrie up and jumped down next to Hap. Without speaking they started to trace a path through side streets. As they walked Anastasia could see Fiona, Crow and the Compact units following roughly a hundred meters behind them. Being on the street level and moving made it difficult for her sensors to use the radio wave interference, but she could still see the large objects near the supply warehouse.

"Chyou, I am detecting a lot of interference around the supply depot, is there something unique about these buildings or that area?" Anastasia asked.

"Those buildings extend into the sub-city, and they were hardened during a previous war to withstand aerial bombardment or direct mech and armor combat." Chyou said.

As they moved Fiona asked, "Chyou, or Sao Wei Mun, what do the resistance forces normally field?"

"Harassers and Pegasus hover tanks and loudong 'mechs." Sao Wei Mung said.

"Loudong?" Crow said.

"Loudong means bug, as in 'bug' mechs. Locusts, and wasps, these miscreants also field a few spiders, and cicadas. Fast but thin skinned 'mechs." Sang Wei Zhang said.

"Oh now you want to give us good intel." Crow added.

"Crow don't start. Thank you Sang Wei Zhang. So loudong mechs and hover tanks, What about UrbanMechs?" Fiona asked.

"They were reported in urban areas and on a few vanguard details." Sao Wei Mung said.

"So we got the Immortals and your Capellan insurgents operating in the city. Hap, Professor no more wandering underground. Stay close."

Anastasia concurred as her sensors indicated a 100 ton 'mech. She motioned with her Mech's hand for everyone to stop. Her sensors also highlighted a few other inconclusive items of interest. She waited a moment before sensor locking the King Crab. The Mech was facing them but Hap ran his Griffin to the left jumped to the top of a building, and launched a salvo of missiles at the assault 'mech.

The King Crab turned slightly and answered Hap with its own volley of fifteen missiles. As it repositioned and started to move to bring its large bore, but short range, autocannons into range Crow and Fiona dashed down a side street and launched their combined full barrage of seventy missiles. Anastasia could see they had the left side angle on him, and watched as her sensors registered significant damage to the left arm and torso.

Hap watched from his building top perch. The King Crab pilot tried to raise his arm to fend off the missiles, realized that wasn't helping and tried to keep his balance. Hap could tell this pilot was a novice. A more experienced pilot would have half-crouched to drop the 'mech's center-of-gravity, and maybe even leaned into the barrage. This mechwarrior seemed confused. The 'mech started to slip and the pilot took a half-step before it slipped to the side and collapsed into a building.

"Good contact, target is down" Harold said, "but all weapons still intact. No joy on hitting the magazine. Repeat fire."

"Acknowledge stand by for repeat-" Fiona said as multiple red icons appeared on Anastasia scanners. "Shit. Where were these hiding?" Fiona cursed.

"The under-city" Sai Wei Mun answered grimly.

Anastasia's sensors warned her of multiple contacts including a Cicada CDA-3C in her rear arc. She swung her mech around and put the cross hairs on the oversized cannon in the mech's right torso. A hurried shot from her medium laser lanced across the barrel as her missiles impacted around the cannon and the 'mech's chest. There was a flash of explosions and sparks as cannon and the 'mech's arm and machine gun were blown off the 'mech. The Cicada continued to charge her and used it's secondary machine gun to chip off armor and paint on Anastasia's left torso.

Anastasia saw a Wasp in her peripheral vision. She tried to reorient her Valkyrie as the Wasp's medium laser carved a furrow in her left leg and a short-range missile hit her arm. Before she could react there was an electric blue flash and the Wasps head and cockpit evaporated. Harold jumped his Griffin next to Anastasia's Valkyrie. A small trail of smoke rose from his PPC.

"Fiona, we're getting overrun." Harold said. Anastasia's scanners told her a Locust and Spider near the fire support 'mechs and multiple hover tanks was racing down the street and headed toward them.

"Same problem here. Fall in on my position" Fiona said, "Sang Wei Zhang get your lance in a defensive formation and protect your vehicles. Crow, get eyes on that crab and crack its-"

"I will defeat the King Crab." Sang Wei Zhang said as he jumped his Blackjack on top of a building and sighted down the prone assault 'mech, "Sao Wei, move the vehicles to-"

"Zhang, you son of a hundin, nicht-" Fiona said more in German then her tirade interrupted with " Shizer!" Anastasia's sensors indicated the Locust was destroyed, "Zhang, get your ass back in line."

The Cicada tried to flank Anastasia as it sprayed her left arm with machine gun fire. She jumped her mech to a roof top as she spun her 'mech around, put a medium laser and over half a dozen missiles into the 'mech's ruined right side. More of the mech's center torso and internal structure were ruined, but it didn't seem to affect any major system.

A Harasser tank went rocketing around Harold and raced in the direction of the Compact units. As it sped by it launched a dozen short range missiles at Harold's Griffin. A few of the missiles hit his leg as the vehicles passed. Harold took a moment to aim and put a PPC bolt directly into the rear of the vehicle. Flames and thick black smoke poured out of the rear of the vehicle as it started to fish tail and ultimately crash into a building.

Harold also peppered the Cicada with missiles from his LRM 10 rack. The missiles struck around the cicada's center torso. The 'mech swayed to its right and the pilot had to fight to keep the mech upright.

Anastasia glanced around from her new perch on top of the building. She was closer to the supply depot than she wanted to be. She could see Fiona's Jagermech and a broken Locust about a hundred meters from her. Crow was on another building with the Capellan Spider hopping around him. Sao Wei Mun's shot a PPC at the Spider and struck its left leg. Crow kicked the mech which seemed to snap the light 'mech's leg in two. The Compact tanks were close to the flatbed truck and exchanging fire with a Pegasus hover tank as another Harasser came to the Pegasus's aid.

Anastasia could see Sang Wei Zhang firing his sub-caliber class-two autocannons at the King Crab. One round hit the mech's ruined right torso and the other seemed to harmlessly bounce off its center torso.

"I was not able to hit the King Crab's magazine." Sang Wei Zhang said, "I will close with the 'mech."

"Damn it Zhang, get back here." Fiona said as she stomped on a Harasser tank.

Anastasia watched as Zhang jumped his Mech down and approached the gigantic prone mech. The pilot was struggling to right his Mech. Anastasia's scanners indicated there was an 85 ton mech in one of the large buildings near the supply depot. Her sensors seemed to be picking up an anomaly but it couldn't resolve the 'mech type. Even more disconcerting it would periodically indicate there were two assault mechs or nothing there.

Harold destroyed the Cicada and jumped to a building near Anastasia. The building was fire-gutted, but was still holding the Griffin's weight. She was glad to have him near her so they could cover each other as they bounded back to Fiona's position. "Zhang, brother, this is foolish." Harold said.

"Sang Wei Zhang, you're in danger, I'm detecting another 'mech in the building west of your location." Anastasia added.

"Valkyrie sensors are notoriously unreliable and prone to show 'phantoms'." Sang Wei Zhang answered as the King Crab leveled it's weapons and fired his massive cannons and large laser. The first autocannon round hammered the BlackJack's shoulder while the large laser cut through the armor on his leg. The second autocannon round went wide and struck the building Harold was standing on. The King crab launched a flurry of missiles but most of them hit the building Harold was standing on.

Beyond reason Sang Wei's mech was still fully operational. Anastasia could see holes through his armor from back to front, but her sensors indicated all his systems were still operational. It took her a moment to notice the cloud of dust and debris as the building Harold was standing on collapsed. She jumped and felt her command couch straps lock as she watched in horror as the building folded in on itself and her husband and his 'mech fell several stories to crash on the ground. She sat back down and turned her 'mech to see Harold's mech sprawled out in the rubble of the basement of the building.

Zhang shouted in triumph as he fired his four medium lasers at the King Crab's exposed flank. The lasers carved into the internal structure and melted the metallic bones severing the shoulder and arm from the 'mech. It may not have been the dramatic explosion of an ammunition magazine, but it did significantly reduce the combat effectiveness of the 'mech.

Before Anastasia could jump down near Harold a Stalker emerged from the building next to Sang Wei Zhang. As it came into view the Stalker fired its complete complement of weapons. Missiles and lasers engulfed Sang Wei Zhang's Blackjack. Whatever luck Sang Wei Zhang had enjoyed against the King Crab was now gone and his mech was knocked backwards as critical systems and weapons were destroyed.

"Sang Wei Zhang's mech is destroyed, and Harold is down." Anastasia said robotically. "Ebrahimi's Stalker has entered the field."

Before she could say anything else Crow's Catapult's two LRM 20 racks rained down missiles on the Stalker. The 'mech's armor easily absorbed the damage, but it was now thinned in key areas and it wouldn't be so fortunate if it came under fire like that again. Fiona fired her own salvo of thirty missiles. These struck the mech's shoulders and a few even hit the Stalker's cockpit. The 'mech's pilot fought to keep his mech upright as missiles tore into it's left arm and destroyed an LRM.

Anastasia lined up her crosshairs on the Stalker hoping to tip him over with her own missiles. She saw the King Crab stand up and begin walking. At first she thought it was approaching her but then it became clear it was headed directly toward Harold. She was dismayed as he leveled the autocannon directly at Harold's cockpit.

Anastasia swallowed hard as she switched over to the guard channel, "I am Anastasia Capetian Calahad, nee Valois. Daughter of Je'anne Capetian Valois, High Lady and Protector of Hazelhurst, Countess of Calais Parmi Les Étoiles, and heir to the same. I am piloting the Valkyrie."

The moment she said 'Valkyrie' the King Crab immediately fired on her with his cannon and laser. She was out of range from the autocannon but it struck the building she was standing on. Anastasia had to lean her mech back to dodge the laser. At the same time a large humanoid 'mech emerged from the building the Stalker had hidden in. It fired twin large lasers and autocannons at her as she jumped down from the building. The lasers missed her, but the autocannon struck her 'mech in the shoulder.

Anastasia landed heavily in a side street, she could see the King Crab was moving under full throttle to her position. The second mech was also moving as quickly as it could. She glanced down at her scanners and it seemed to be struggling to identify the mech. She pushed her mech away from the two assault mechs chasing her as her scanner finally reported, "CRK-5003-0 Crocket."

Elmoth

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #226 on: 24 August 2021, 14:19:15 »
And this is why you need good intel and no plan survives first contsct witu the enemy. Good battle scene, evennif tue cappies seem to have forgotten 3000 years of history. Not a rpoblem of thos specific history (i love it)  but the total briandead tactics used by mech pilots in the fiction has always irked me somewhat xD

And it seems that comstar did not understand the message the McFinnigans left them the last time they crossed paths.

DOC_Agren

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #227 on: 24 August 2021, 17:03:15 »
And it seems that comstar did not understand the message the McFinnigans left them the last time they crossed paths.
It was kinda fuzzy and maybe you know it could have been left for anyone..  it wasn't quite personal enough 8)
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

Elmoth

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #228 on: 24 August 2021, 17:11:50 »
This is why it came with an IKEA booklet saying "There be Heimdall. Piss them off at your own risk". Bu yeah, it wasn't personal enough.

Now I have to check when the next C* Primus is due to change in the official timeline...

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #229 on: 22 September 2021, 16:23:35 »
Chapter 69

What the hell is a ‘Crocket’. Crow asked.

“Specifics don’t matter, it’s another target right now” Fiona said. She saw Anastasia’s marker clear a building land in a street and bound up another small building. Both the Crocket and the King Crab were chasing after her as quick as they could. Fiona shook her head. The tactical situation was rapidly devolving.

“Harold are you okay?” Anastasia asked.

“Yes” Hap replied. “I’m digging myself out. Give me a moment to help get the pressure off of you.”

“It would be best if you did so quickly, my love.” Anastasia said.

Fiona could see Hap’s ‘mech finally started moving. It paused for a moment and her sensors recorded weapon fire before he jogged down an alley.

“I put another PPC bolt into the Crab. I hit it’s internal structure, but it didn’t seem to notice.” Hap said.

“As I told you, that ‘mech was built to ignore punishment.” Kate said

“Do you know anything about that Crocket?” Crow asked as he jumped to another building headed toward Anastasia’s position.

“Yes, it’s um,  well it’s like a Stalker” Kate said, “85 tons, of hate and steel. The weapons loadout is similar, but the engineers downgraded the medium lasers to small lasers, and took off the LRMs and gave it an AC 10 and more armor.” Kate said.

“That sounds lovely.” Fiona said as she watched the Crocket jump onto the roof of a small building and shoot lasers and autocannon at Anastasia. The King Crab joined in with its large laser. Fiona wasn’t sure if they scored any hits, but Anastasia sent a brace of lasers back at the Crocket.

“As you can see it has jump jets too.” Kate added.

“And today just keeps getting more interesting.” Fiona said. She was glad Anastasia was fighting back even if it seemed like a token gesture. Over matched and under gunned her response was to let the enemy know she wasn’t going down without a fight. Fiona smiled, that’s how the family did business.

“Crow start putting some hurt on that Crocket.” Fiona glanced again and noticed Ebrahimi’s Stalker hadn’t moved, “Hap what was Ebrahimi doing while you getting off your ass?” 

“He seemed distracted that his half his lance had ran off after Anastasia.” Hap said, “I’ve broken contact with the Crab, and I’m coming up behind the Crocket. Kate is correct, the Crocket is a beast.”

Crow continued jumping from building to building. When he got within sight of the Crocket Fiona sent a barrage of thirty missiles at it. Crow stabilized himself on a building and followed up her barrage. Fiona didn’t bother to look at the damage, she was confident in her lancemates ability and needed to focus on her own task.

Fiona glanced down at her ammo counter as she listened and felt the missile reload mechanism rearm the LRM racks. 5 reloads remained. Fiona considered her options. Going head-to-head with a Stalker was never easy, and she was grossly overgunned, especially at close range. However, the Stalker had also been damaged.

“McFinnigan 1, Ms. Fiona, hello. What shall we do?” Chyou asked.

“First call me Fiona please. Second, let’s wait a moment. Anastasia has done this before. The boys are going to use the buildings to engage the Crocket while they out maneuver the King Crab, at least until he starts crashing through buildings-”

“That would be unwise.” Chyou interrupted, “while many buildings were cut off to make the sub-city, not all were. A ‘mech could easily fall several stories, putting them at a great disadvantage.”

“That’s interesting.” Fiona said thoughtfully. She glanced down at her nav computer. She was still on the main road that led from the area where the team had been ambushed after leaving the undercity. She noted several side streets and alleys that weaved around the main road.

Chyou interrupted her musings, “Yes. I apologize, but I must insist we continue to the supply depot. I believe you and the Catapult pilot have significantly damaged the Stalker, perhaps we should attack him directly, now, while he is alone.“

“Why the hurry?” Fiona said. Fiona looked at Chyou’s Vindicator then glanced down at her sensors, the Vindicator’s left arm was damaged and her small laser was destroyed, her left leg lost an actuator, and internal structures was exposed in multiple areas. After going toe-to-toe with the Kintaro and defending her tanks from a Pegasus she had done a remarkable job of keeping it together, but if she got within sight of the Stalker she’d surely be destroyed. A frontal seemed like the last thing they should try.

Fiona would rather force Ebrahimi into a fight he didn’t want preferably with missiles at a distance. Fiona also had to consider there could be another “surprise” he had planned for her. She glanced at her nav computer again, It would be much better if she could surprise him. 

“Sang Wei Zhang and I were told it was imperative to get the medical supplies as quickly as possible, this is why I believe we should hurry.”

“Yeah I sensed Zhang was getting impatient, but he was pissing me off, so I was taking my time.” Fiona answered

“His leadership style is generally to intimidate and he rarely displays patience. However, the speed of our mission was because we were told that Sao-Shao Liu and many others required medical supplies soon, or their conditions would deteriorate.”

Fiona sighed, “I don’t know Sao Shao Liu, but she seemed like an honest and good leader, and I don’t want any more of your people getting hurt or suffering today. I apologize. I probably shouldn’t have been moving slowly.”

“You appear to have made wise tactical decisions, in spite of your motivations.” Chyou said brightly

“Being slow and deliberate can look like that.” Fiona said, “Alright I’m going to bait Ebrahimi to come after me. When he does, slip around behind him, get your supplies and help out your people.”

“How will you bait him?”

“Shit talking on the guard channel.” Fiona said. “I assure you it’s more effective than you’d guess.” Especially with the Immortals Fiona thought to herself.

Before she could change channels she heard Hap said, “Look out Crow!”

“Oh damn, he just tried to shoot the building out from under me.” Crow said.

“I believe he’s was trying to set you up to be engaged by the King Crab.” Anastasia said.

“Yeah, we need to get more distance for him. Also I’m close to running dry on missiles and that Crocket just won’t go down.”

“As previously mentioned, more armor than the Stalker.” Kate repeated

“Hey Kate, how do you know so much about these ‘mechs.”

“In the Hussars we had a Standardization Officer that found a Tech Readout 2750 and would quiz us on the most arcane and weird ‘mech’s he could find. The C.O. asked him what he was thinking and he said he wanted us to be able to recognize rare and exotic ‘mechs.”

“What a dick move.” Hawkins said. “Holding lift tickets hostage based on trivial information.”

“That’s exactly what we said.” Kate said, “Actually we said, ‘stop being an ass.’ But it’s what we meant.”

Fiona switched her radio to the guard channel. “Ebrahimi.” There was no response. “Eee-brahimi.” Still nothing. She said his name a few more times putting emphasis on different syllables and saying his name in different ways.

“What! What do you want witch daughter of McFinnigan.” Ebrahimi yelled.

“Actually, you’re going to have to try harder. I’ve been called far worse by the client today, and I’m not actually Kelly or Llewyn’s daughter. I’m not really related to either of them at all, I just happened to have the last name of McFinnigan.” Fiona said, trying to annoy him.

“I don’t care. I have more important things to consider than your life story.” Ebrahimi snapped.

“Right, I see your using Assault ‘mech’s to chase down a light mech. Is that what you were hired to do?”

“I will not discuss my contract with you, and even if I did you would not understand.”

“True. It’s hard for rational people to understand madness.”

Ebrahimi snorted. “You don’t understand the deal my father has made and how it will lead to the death of your family of murders.”

“Here we go again, listen if you kill us because we killed your brothers in fair combat, our children are just going to do the same. Where will the cycle end?”

“It will end with me and my father. We will kill all of you. Capture your cursed drop shuttle-“

“Before you start talking about enslaving and murdering support staff and children I’d like to remind you that Kelly and Elinor have other daughters and nieces on Donegal with their own children, plus several other members of the McFinnigan clan serving in the Donegal guards. Even if you somehow wipe out the Company you’ll still have to contend with them.

“Then tell your kin that when we’ve finished with you we’re coming for them.“

“Yeah, you go ahead and bring a hostile ‘mech company to Donegal and see if the Guards let you land, let alone leave with your lives. If you think you can just walk into the McFinnigan Clan ancestral grounds and take them on man-to-man you’ll be fighting with generations of people who only value four things: Making and raising children, drinking, fighting, and getting to Mass on Sunday to beg forgiveness for how they did the other three.” Fiona stared at the unmoving 85 ton ‘mech marker on her sensors that represented Ebrahimi. She debated trying to fire at him indirectly without weapons lock. Five reloads made her think again.

“I will at least kill one of them today.” Ebrahimi said, “Why don’t you come and fight me face to face? Your missiles have damaged my ‘mech, why not try to finish me off?”

“Because I’m a patient girl.” Fiona answered, “I’m pretty sure my boys are going to finish off yours, then I’ll sit right here and rain down missiles on you. It’s safer for me, besides, why don’t you come to me?”

“I don’t think you understand who they’re fighting. My father has found a very powerful benefactor that will ensure we have the ‘mechs and pilots to destroy all of you. Your ‘boys’ are out classed by men with better skills and equipment.”

“We’ll see about the skill.” Fiona answered, “So why would anyone help your father?”

Ebrahimi laughed, “They hate McFinnigans almost as much as we do. They especially hate the Valkyrie pilot though. They have promised to give us intel and support necessary to destroy all of you. All they asked in return was that we made very sure the Valkyrie pilot died.” Ebrahimi laughed again, “I was wondering if you could tell me why they hate her so?”

Fiona wondered what it would take to move Ebrahimi. She was tempted to have Chyou move up and sensor lock him, but she wanted Ebrahimi’s focus on her. “Would it matter? To be honest I’m glad Ahmed found this new benefactor. I had felt bad for him after the last fight. Most of his forces seemed only good at ejecting and surrendering. Until today I had thought you were too embarrassed to show up. It was so bad your dad tried to hire our air wing out from under us.”

“I was injured.” Ebrahimi corrected Fiona, “My father is a clever negotiator and cunning tactician, and our warriors are skillful and fierce.”

“If you say so. I was protecting the principal. But I can tell you at the end of the day we had rounded up half the company. They asked Elinor for Lancashire Hot Pot like she was their mom and they had just come home looking for their favorite dish.” Fiona added. “It would’ve been funny if it wasn’t so sad.”

“I doubt that.” Ebrahimi said darkly.

“I’m telling you, it was such a desperate time for you dad, he was begging our pilots to turn on us.”

“As I said, I doubt-“

“It’s true. I was one of the pilots he tried to hire,” said Kate dryly, “He was crying like a bitch. I felt so bad I just landed. The McFinnigans had beaten him and I couldn’t bear to hear a man wail like that.”

“Who is speaking? Who dares?” Ebrahimi demanded.

“That’s our new pilot. Don’t be mad. We all agree your dad needed new mechwarriors and new ‘mechs. Quite frankly we’ve been hoping for a better challenge for awhile.” Fiona added. His sensor icon seemed to move a little like he was debating how to respond to insulting his father..

Fiona adjusted the grip on her control sticks, “Patrick also pointed out something that made your father quite angry.” She could see the 85 ton stop moving. “I had never noticed until Patrick said it, but your younger brother looked a lot like Llewyn McFinnigan.”

“What are you saying?” Ebrahimi whispered and Fiona actually felt a cold chill.

“Well given the resemblance, it made us wonder if maybe your Mother and -” Fiona said

“You will shut your witch mouth.” Ebrahimi hissed as he began moving his ‘mech to the main street.

Fiona nodded to herself. Good he’s moving. No more surprises. “It seems unlikely, but when Llewyn died he had a picture of a dusky skinned woman none of us knew. I always thought it was odd-“

“There is no way that was my mother.” Ebrahimi’s mech was now running.

“Are you sure? She was pretty fat.” Fiona said. 

Chyou let out a startled “oh!” and immediately turned her ‘mech. Her vehicles followed her down a side street and quickly away from Fiona.

Fiona could see Ebrahimi was about to come into view. She raised her mech’s arms and waited a moment for him to step into the street and turn toward her. As he turned she saw the flashes of lasers and the cloud from his remaining long range missile launcher. Fiona knew she was outside the range of medium and short-range weapons as she lined up her highly accurate autocannons on the Stalker’s cockpit and fired. She followed up with a round of missiles. The Stalker’s lasers melted armor off her arms and the missiles peppered her legs.

Ebrahimi grunted. “Such a weak weapon, it barely cracked the cockpit canopy. Do you think you can defeat me with children’s toys.”

Fiona stepped down a side street before Ebrahimi could close with her. She took a few more steps and guided her mech down another alley. “I’m sure after you flee you’ll tell everyone how I had class ten autocannons but somehow you managed to run to your dropship in an open cockpit.”

“You are half right, I will be the one telling the stories, since you will be dead.” Ebrahimi said.

“You think so?” Fiona answered as she got on a side street leading uphill and south. She ran about two hundred meters and then slowed and turned.

“You don’t understand, with the assistance my father has secured, we will win. We will defeat you, and your company. I will personally kill you. Every time you think you defeat us, we will come back stronger.  We are immortal.” As he said immortal he crashed through a building. Fiona sent a brace of LRMs at him before she jogged to another side street as a large laser caught her in the shoulder.

Fiona jogged up the side street and turned up another street running south, and took a moment to glance down at her diagnostic systems. She had lost most of the armor on her arms and left shoulder. The JM6-A had more armor than a stock Jagermech, which was good, but she still had to make sure she kept her distance. She saw another side street leading back to the main road. She flipped her arms around to fire in her rear arc as she tried to get closer to it before Ebrahimi came in view again.

“I have a question for you.” Ebrahimi said, “Do you remember the prisoner exchange on Harvest?”

“Maybe, returning your men to you happens so often they all start to blur together.” Fiona answered

“One of my men told me that he overheard your doctor telling you that you would likely lose your child.” Ebrahimi said as his Stalker came into view. “Did you?” He laughed, “Did it happen when the immortal recon lance surprised your lance and knocked you down? Did we kill another McFinnigan?”

Fiona almost took her hand off her left arm weapon stick to grab her belly. It was true, she had been pregnant, and the operations on Harvest was going to be her last. She had learned of it during the pre combat physical. She reasoned that her lance was far enough away from the action it seemed like an acceptable risk.

When she talked to Kelly he agreed, and, since the operation with the Donegal Guards, they had even discussed getting a ride with them back to Donegal to be with her family. This immediately led to an argument with her and Crow. He wanted her to stay with the company, but she couldn’t bear to watch someone else lead her lance while she “helped out” around Ops, and she knew it was a burden to Kelly to pay her base pay while she was on maternity leave.

Losing the baby made it all academic though. She had tried to take some time to come to terms with it. She made the choice though, as Kelly told her it was the classic mercenary dilemma of “one-more-job”. It was cold comfort then, and even now it still hurt. Hearing Ebrahimi taunt her turned her general irritation with him to hate. She had to remind herself to stay focused on the task on hand.

“That was my poor judgement.” She replied. Whatever shred of professional respect she had Ebrahimi finally melted away. She felt, no matter what Kelly said about “mercenary ethics” Ebrahimi was likely telling the truth. He would never stop until he murdered her friends, family and future children, but the way he was talking about her miscarriage was too far.

“Doesn’t matter, I will see you all dead. I would have killed your child one way or the other.” Ebrahimi laughed. “We are the immortals we will continue to fight long after you are dead and gone.”

The Jagermech’s targeting computer confirmed the weapon lock. Fiona wanted to aim, but chose to let the targeting computer do the work. She fired missiles and autocannons as the Stalker responded with missiles and lasers. Ebrahimi grunted as Fiona’s ‘mech lurched forward.  She caught more missiles and another laser. She glanced at the targeting computer’s rangefinder and could see that he was almost in range of her medium lasers. She needed to get further away from him before they traded salvos again. She dived down an alley and sprinted to the main street.

“We should end this”, Ebrahimi announced.  He plowed his mech into another building. As he pushed the 85 on mech into the structure he cursed and for a moment Fiona’s sensors lost track of the ‘mech. She could hear the sounds of the cockpit slamming into a wall or floor. Fiona turned her mech hard and walked to the collapsed building to see where Ebrahimi had fallen into the subterranean city.

As Fiona approached the broken building and gaping hole she could see the Stalker laying face up on the street below. The right torso was bent up and the right lasers and missile racks were ruined. Ebrahimi gave a wet cough, “What just happened?”

“You just fell three stories to your death.” Fiona said as she lined up her crosshairs on the cockpit.

“I’m far from death.” Ebrahimi laughed, “I’m Immor-“ He screamed as Fiona activated her lasers and destroyed the cockpit. One laser melted through the cockpit and the other reduced the armor in the center torso. When the weapon recycled she said, “You still there Ebrahimi, are you immortal?” she fired again, this time both ruby beams melted what remained of the cockpit. She waited for the weapon to recycle and fired at what remained of the ‘mech’s head scorching the concrete behind the mech..

“Miss Fiona, what are you doing?” Chyou asked.

“Re-calibrating my lasers.” She said as she fired again.

“This seems like the wrong time to do that.” Chyou said.

“Actually, it’s been a long time coming.” Fiona said coldly.

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #230 on: 22 September 2021, 16:24:51 »
Chapter 70

Hap flipped up the welding mask and inspected his work. They had taken the left arm from the Capellan Wasp to replace the arm of Anastasia’s Valkyrie. The Crocket had destroyed the Valkyrie’s arm above the elbow. Hap had stripped down the Wasp’s arm and welded additional strips of titanium steel alloy to the “bones” and the connection point to reinforced the smaller ‘mech’s arm so it would be able to handle more armor and myomer muscle.

This was the first time Anastasia’s ‘mech had taken significant damage, and could no longer be considered pristine, but once the new arm was done it wouldn’t be noticeable, or hurt the ‘mech’s effectiveness. It wasn’t uncommon to replace a damaged ‘mech part with a similar part from another ‘mech. Usually it was ‘mech that shared characteristics. The Valkyrie was a beefed-up Wasp, so taking a component form a Wasp for a Valkyrie might require a little modification but it wasn’t a major feat in engineering. Hap’s dad had even mentioned in a pinch a Stinger would also work. Sometimes though, necessity created some innovation. Hap had seen a Rifleman from Prince Hansen’s own Rough Riders marching in a parade that had been fitted with the legs of a Warhammer.

Hap glanced over at Anastasia. She was working on the Vindicator’s small laser. The Compact forces didn’t have a spare Hessen IX Small Laser for Chyou’s ‘mech so Anastasia was using the parts of the UrbanMech’s Harmon Light Laser to replace the components that had been destroyed during Chyou’s fight with the Immortal’s Kintaro. Like the Valkyrie, the Vindicator was lying on its back with the arm outstretched. Anastasia was standing at the laser. Next to her was the arm and small laser removed from the UrbanMech.

Rebuilding a weapon like that was less common, but it seemed to Hap every settlement or unit had at least one tech that could do something like this, or would at least be willing to try. In Hap’s experience it was easier to drill holes to mount an odd weapon system and modify the power connectors, but that wasn’t always possible, and sometimes the weapon wouldn’t work, or would have trouble interfacing with ‘mech’s targeting or firing systems. Hap also knew that Anastasia was probably enjoying solving the complex problem of rebuilding a laser with spare parts.

What Anastasia probably wasn’t enjoying was the crowd around her. Several of the Compact techs were watching her every move trying to learn exactly how she could take a capacitor or focus assembly out of one weapon system and put it in another. Chyou was also there translating what Anastasia was doing into Chinese for the techs, and translating the techs' questions for Anastasia. Hap was certain his introverted wife would eventually find this situation exhausting.

Tasja and Maja carried a large bundle of myomer on their shoulders. “Hap, is the arm ready for the myomer?” Taja asked as they dumped the bundle next to the arm.

Hap looked over his work again. He stood up and gave the ‘mech skeleton a few good kicks. “I think the welds will hold.” He glanced down around him, aside from the myomer were the actuators, struts, and other components they had either salvaged from the ruined arm or were taken from the Wasp. It was probably a couple more hours of work before the arm would be ready for mounting armor.

A large cargo truck rumbled to a stop between the Valkyrie and Vindicator. Fiona, Mike, and Doctor Jackson Morgan climbed out of the vehicle. Fiona called up to Hap and he got down and walked over to them. Dr. Jackson watched him as he approached. The doctor motioned to him.

“Hap, you okay from that fall you had?” Doctor Morgan pulled out a pen light.

“Yeah, it wasn’t like last time.” Hap said as the doctor shone the light in his eyes. “It was less like falling and more like my ‘mech slid down the building until me and the building came to a rest on the street.”

Doctor Morgan nodded, “Sure. Look up. Now follow my finger.” The Doctor moved his finger left to right, up and down and then touched his nose and pulled it back. “You look fine. Sorry I couldn’t check you out before you left the cockpit and make sure you didn’t suffer anything serious. When we landed the Compact forces asked for any additional medical support we could give them, and you reported you were fine.”

“I think I am.” Hap answered

“I do too, but rules are rules, you’re on observation for the next couple days and you can’t take your ‘mech back into combat till I clear you. I’d say you should be on light duty, but that doesn’t look possible, so try to help out where you can, at least until we get the drop ship loaded.”

“How was your meeting with the Compact high command?” Hap asked Fiona.

“Good, we had a pretty lengthy discussion.” Fiona said

“More like a three hour-long dickering session over salvage.” Mike grumbled.

Hap noted that Fiona looked tired, “Most of it was over the salvage.” Fioana looked around, “I see the wasp's arm, which is fine, we had discussed that before I went to finalize our salvage claims. What are we doing with the UrbanMech’s small laser?”

“Anastasia is using it to fix the small laser on Chyou’s Vindicator.” Hap said.

“Anastasia can fix things?” Fiona gave Mike a questioning glance.

Mike shrugged and grumbled to himself and everyone followed him. They rounded the Vindicator’s arm to find Anastasia giving a class on the small laser. She had removed what was left of the laser's outer housing and the broken armor that had protected the laser’s internal electronics. She had several pieces of testing equipment still attached to certain components as well as a noteputer plugged into the laser's diagnostic jack. Hap could sense Anastasia was frustrated as they approached.

One of the Compact tech’s held up a large black cylinder and spoke to Chyou in Russian.

“Technician Solkovski says you still need to incorporate this part and several others like it.” Chyou said.

“That is one of several capacitors required because the UrbanMech is so woefully underpowered.” Anastasia answered as she picked up the noteputer, pressed a few buttons and the laser emitted a very slender ruby beam. The laser ended at a pile of discarded mech armor pieces nearly 100 meters away. The remains of the laser’s casing were also in the pile. As she worked, Chyou translated into Chinese.

Anastasia picked up a copy of the UrbanMech Technical Manual. It was in Chinese but the technical data for the laser had enough mathematical and engineering symbols and numbers that it was almost universal. “According to the manual this much energy is required to the emitter before it goes through the undulator. As you can see” Anastasia held up the multimeter next to the tech manual “we have the prerequisite energy required for the emitter in diagnostic mode.”

Chyou looked at the manual and the testing equipment as she nodded and then spoke again in Chinese. The tech dropped the capacitor, took the manual, and glanced at the multimeter as he compared it to the manual. He pointed lower on the page and handed it back to Anastasia as he spoke again in Russian.

“Technician Solkovski states the manual indicates you only have 10% of the necessary power.”

“Yes.” Anastasia said, “This is diagnostic mode. You’re referencing the power level required for regular operation of the laser.” She took the tech manual back and pointed back to the original section before she tossed it on the Vindicator’s wrist.

Chyou translated as Anastasia picked up the noteputer. Mike pulled out a cigar from his coverall’s breast pocket, and held it in front of the underpowered beam. He examined the cigar as it smoldered. “Wait.” He said as he put it in his mouth and sucked on it trying to make it catch, “How much armor do you have over there.” Mike motioned toward the pile of armor the laser was aimed at.

Anastasia looked up, “Approximately a quarter ton.”

Mike studied the trees behind the armor and seemed satisfied there was nothing important there. “Put it at full power.” Mike said as he stepped back and motioned to Hap to give him his welding mask.

Anastasia nodded as she pulled off her test equipment and then pressed a few buttons on the noteputer. The laser beam thickened and the heat caused everyone to step back. Mike looked at the lasers internals. After ten seconds the laser shut off. The pile of discarded armor had a clean hole burned into it, and the tech manual, that had been on the ‘mech’s arm was on fire.

Mike flipped up the welding mask and grabbed the burning tech manual, “That checks out.” He said as he rolled up manual and used the flames to light his cigar, “I’d take that weapon into combat.”

Chyou explained that Mike was the mercenary’s master technician and translated his statement. Solkovski still looked puzzled but the other two technicians nodded and clapped. 

Mike exhaled a large cloud of cigar smoke, “But I still wouldn’t trust her to hang armor.” He said to Fiona, as he dropped the burning tech manual and stamped it out, “And Hap you need to talk to your girl about work site safety.”

“I’m his wife.” Anastasia corrected.

“Oh yeah, congratulations.” Mike said as he took another long draw on his cigar.

“Uh, thanks.” Hap said.

“Not you, her.” Mike answered

“What?” Anastasia said.

Chyou walked between Anastasia and Mike, to approach Doc Morgan, “Pardon me doctor. Were you able to say you assist our medical staff?”

“Yeah.” Doc Morgan said, “That MechWarrior your team brought is going to be fine. He got scuffed up a little when his ‘mech got destroyed, but he’ll pull through.”

“That is good, the Compact needs every warrior.” Chyou said unconvincingly, “However, I was more interested in the condition of Sao-Shao Liu.”

Doc Morgan nodded, “Your commander? I actually assisted with part of her surgery. Your docs think she’ll keep her hand. I was impressed by those guys. What they lack in, well damn near everything, they make up for in sheer determination.”

“Increasingly that has become our way.” Chyou answered. “Thank you doctor, this is good news.”

Crow walked up to the group. “I think I got the LSA done.

Fiona’s eyes flashed “The what?”

“Life Support Area. You know setting up sleeping tents, designating one place to eat and another to shit”

“I know what an LSA is. Why are you making an LSA? We should be leaving here.”

Doctor Jackson pulled Fiona slightly away from the group, “Your primary flight crew came to the end of their duty day waiting for you to finish with the Compact leadership, and we didn’t have enough qualified secondary crew members to operate the ship. They need an eight hour mandatory rest. Before you start bitching at me, that’s not my or your uncle’s rules, it’s the MRB and our insurers rules.”

Fiona looked like she was about to strangle the doctor. She took in a deep breath, let it out and said, “Very good. Anastasia, make a guard roster, put Crow and me at the bottom. I’m going to take all the anger I’m feeling right now and hold onto it for a few hours.” Fiona looked across the area where the pilots were setting up a sleep shelter and her eyes narrowed. “I’m going to use it to motivate all of you to get off-world in record time.”

One of the shuttle crew approached Fiona, “Ma’am Loadmaster Seyton “happened” to find a crate of Range-Bull ribs in our food stuff. It’s hard to cook properly in the galley, so we were wondering if we could setup a smoke pit-“

“No.” Fiona said flatly, “We’re still in the middle of the Compact’s…” Fiona glanced over at Chyou, “fight for freedom.” Fiona glanced around her and raised her voice, “Listen everyone, the Compact’s intel is saying the Capellan forces are “sufficiently marginalized” and they’re going to relocate in the morning.”

“This is also good news.” Chyou said smiled faintly.

“If you heard that, it’s not a rumor, but at the same time the Compact has been fighting a guerilla force. Small units that like to sneak up and slit throats and steal from soldiers while they sleep. Drunk mercenaries sitting around bonfires eating luxury foods is going to be a tempting target to them, especially since we have the only operational ‘mech’s in the area. The Professor is going to put out a guard roster. I need everyone to stay sharp and generally sober. We’re packing out at first light.”

Chyou gave Fiona a questioning look, “You are skeptical of our intel’s assessment?”

Fiona put her hand on Chyou’s shoulder, “I’m naturally skeptical of anyone that “bets my life” on whatever models, simulators, guesses, ‘gut feelings’, and the tea leaves and chicken bones that a good intel analyst uses. I’m super skeptical when they use squishy language like ‘sufficiently marginalized’, and I haven’t been exactly impressed by what I’ve heard from your intel. If I were you, I’d only trust the weapons in your hands and the men or women on your left and right.”

Chyou nodded, “Thank you.”

“Unless the guy on your left is Zhang.” Crow said. ”That guy’s a real ass clown.”

Fiona gave Crow a reproachful but he said, “His ass clowning nearly got Hap killed.”

Fiona turned back to Chyou and squeezed her shoulder, “That said, if this revolution doesn’t work out for you, come find us. We’re always looking for good warriors.”

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #231 on: 22 September 2021, 16:29:24 »
Chapter 71

A few hours later Hap found himself sitting around a fire with his friends. It was twilight on a cool and crisp evening. The stars were just coming out As they finished a meal of canned stew and pre packaged bread. Fiona allowed everyone to have two beers, which seemed to raise the morale enough to stop the general grumbling. Chyou and her techs had accepted the invitation to stay and eat with them.

Everyone had split apart into their own groups. Hap could see the Compact techs with Mike and the mercenary techs around their own fire a dozen meters away from him. On the other side of them was a few members of the flight crew also with their own fire, but most of the flight crew had retired for the evening. The furniture was a mix of camp chairs, stools, logs, ammo cans, and equipment crates.

Hap enjoyed the paradox of being almost uncomfortably warm from the fire in front of him but his back nearly freezing. Hap took a sip from his weak coffee as Crow told everyone about how he, Anastasia, and Hap had taken down the Crocket. From Hap’s perspective it was an uninteresting fight, but Crow’s performance was at least entertaining.

“Then I jumped to the left” Crow said, “landed on a building , barely dodged the King Crab’s large laser, and launched a salvo at the Crocket. As I jumped again I felt the reloads go in then heard the tell-tale click of the loading chains stopping short.  Then the computer tells me, “LRM magazine empty’.”

“As I’m getting my final shot lined up, Hap jumps to where I was at. The Crocket gets ready to use his Autocannon and lasers on Hap’s Griffin, but this is where he had made a mistake. See Anastasia had stopped firing missiles for a couple minutes. I thought, and I’m guessing Hap thought she was out of missiles. “

Hap realized he should “play along”, “Oh yeah, I, uh, thought she was out of missiles too.”

Anastasia blushed, as Crow continued, “So the Crocket pilot is thinking Anastasia is Winchester on LRMs so he ‘squared off’ to hit Hap. But, when he puts his back to Anastasia, she puts ten missiles into him, blowing off his right torso and all his ammo. It was a pretty big explosion so I’m thinking the Professor found his autocannon magazine. Whatever she hit, it meant the poor bastard only had one large laser and a couple small lasers, and his engine shielding was showing.”

“Wait, Anastasia hit the AC mag and it didn’t blow his mech to hell? How’s that possible?” Fiona asked.

“He’d been firing his Autocannon non-stop for most of the engagement. Given his accuracy and the way he kept alternating between the three of us, I’d say he was a very inexperienced or poorly trained pilot.” Anastasia said.

“Which gets back to the story, after taking that damage the Crocket seemed confused for a moment, and tried to back away from us. I guess he forgot we were loaded out with long range weapons.”

“I presumed he was trying to close with his SRMs and so losing them caused him to have to reevaluate his strategies.” Anastasia said.

“Yeah, maybe, I think he was surprised he wasn’t dead.” Crow said, “Anyways he jumps backwards, takes a moment to get his balance, evaluate his tactical situation, and let Hap shoot him right in the fusion reactor. As the Crocket’s reactor goes critical and explodes-“

“That’s a common misconception.” Anastasia interrupted, “A fusion reactor will automatically and quite rapidly shut itself down once the reactor shielding is breached. The bright flash of light and explosion is the super-heated plasma rapidly cooling as it contacts the air and the external portions of the reactor. The explosion is not due to a criticality of fissionable materials rather it’s thermal expansion.”

“Hey professor, I’m telling a story here, and you’re killing the flow of my narrative.” Crow said in his characteristic laid back tone. Hap wasn’t sure if he was annoyed or just pointing it out for everyone else’s benefit.

“Oh, sorry.” Anastasia said.

“It’s fine, that was most of the good stuff. The King Crab had spent the whole engagement trying to catch up and taking pot shots with his laser when he got a rare opportunity to put one of us in his crosshairs. Since we had finally stopped he hoofed it around a building and exposed his open right flank to me. So I followed Hap’s lead and dumped forty missiles into his reactor.

Which-“ Crow looked over at Anastasia, “Caused a breach in the shielding around his reactor core, that in-turn allowed superheated plasma to be exposed to relatively much-colder oxygen and portions of the engine. This extreme interaction resulted in a brilliant flash of light as well as catastrophic destruction to the reactor. This transfer of energy also caused excessive damage to the King Crab’s internal structure and key components located in and around the ‘mech’s center torso.” Crow gave Anastasia a wink. “Did I get it right that time.

“Again I apologize, and yes, that was a text book description of what a breach of a ‘mech’s fission reactor does. I see how it hurts the narrative structure of a good story.” Anastasia said.

“Naw I think it’s good.” Crow said, “People might actually remember I graduated from Somerset.”

“You graduated from Somerset?” Fiona asked. “And to think I was going to let you get lucky tonight.”

“You girls from Nagerling are all the same.” Crow said as he shook head. 

“I went to the Martial College of Donegal, sir.” Fiona said with mock anger.

“They have a MechWarrior program? I thought they only taught space sailors.” Crow said.

“You and I are about to have an ‘extreme interaction’.” Fiona said.

“Does that mean I am getting laid tonight?” Crow said.

Fiona rolled her eyes, “Chyou you see what I have to work with? I’m certain you’re starting to question Crow’s entire story.”

Hap glanced at Chyou, she, like Anastasia, sat with perfect posture, and the exotic but placid features of her Asian ancestry made it hard for Hap to guess her feelings. She maintained a faint smile and looked down into the fire as she said, “I must confess there are portions of Crow’s story I find unlikely, but your companions prevailed today, so there must be some grain of truth in it.”

“It’s a pretty damn small grain of truth.” Fiona said, “but they are here, and you and I survived our little piece of the engagement, and ultimately that is all that matters.”

“How did you survive the encounter with Ebrahimi and the Stalker?” Anastasia asked.

“By being smarter than him.” Fiona took a sip from her canteen cup. She related her conversation with Chyou and how she had pointed out that some of the buildings had sub-basements that reached into the undercity. She guessed if she went back to where Chyou, Anastasia, and Hap had traveled through the undercity she might be able to trick Ebrahimi into pushing his ‘mech through one of those buildings. She explained how she had goaded Ebrahimi into chasing her while Chyou moved around to secure the necessary supplies and help Zhang.

As Fiona recounted her story it differed from Crow’s in that Crow focused on the action, and even though he had a laid back, lackadaisical, almost sarcastic way of talking he came alive as he regaled everyone in the destruction of the Crocket. Fiona focused on her thoughts and feelings. Defeating the Stalker was an academic exercise for her, keeping him at range, trying to take his ‘mech apart as she tried to force or goad Ebrahimi into making a mistake.

Fiona stared at the fire as she spoke, “I know I had started the shit talking, and generally speaking if you can’t take it you shouldn’t dish it out. Usually Ebrahimi or Ahmed or other Immortals will go on and on about how they will kill us, destroy our equipment, abuse our spouses, enslave our children, kick our pets, eat our lunch, whatever terrible thing they can imagine.”

“Why does this company hate you so?” Chyou asked.

“Ahmed had three sons.” Fiona said, “All three have now died at engagements with McFinnigan and Sons mercenary company. The first son died in some run-of-the-mill engagement in Marik Space. I think we were doing a raid on…damn it’s been so long… I think Calloway VI, wherever the Earthworks factory is. The mission was to escort a team of Loki operatives to steal Marik Stingers so they could go and use in some likely terribly planned and brutal operation that I desperately hope was in Free World Space.”

“We blew through the Etherworks factory security and got the Loki operatives to the ‘mechs, and that’s when the Immortals show up. The Immortals engaged us directly and the Loki operatives, being Loki operatives, couldn’t care less about what happened to us so they steal their ‘mechs and rush off to do whatever evil Loki does in the dark. Since our client wasn’t going to help us we concluded we were mission complete and started to disengage.”

“Now this is where stories differ. Llewyn, Kelly’s brother, was in his Victor laying down covering fire so we could retreat. As we were trying to break contact an Immortal Grasshoppers was harassing us. It nearly cored one of our Wolverines and Llewyn took the Grasshoppers head off with his AC. Once that happened Ahmed started requesting to disengage and suing for us to stop military operations. By that time we had a clear path to the LZ so we kept radio silence and departed.”

“According to Ahmed he had requested an end to the engagement before Llewyn shot his son. He even appealed to the MRB, but the MRB investigator couldn’t figure out who was telling the truth, and considered the matter hearsay. They ultimately refused to punish McFinnigan and Sons.” Fiona said.

“I see why this would infuriate Ahmed.” Chyou said

“Oh it gets worse. Ahmed started to somehow find himself taking jobs that would pit McFinnigan and Sons against the Immortals. A few years later we took a job that was basically a classic “train robbery”. We had to snatch a few train cars that allegedly had lostech the Kuritans were trying to steal or sneak away from House Davion. Kelly thought the job would be a pretty straightforward ‘smash and grab’.”

“The train had to cross a large chasm and the bridge seemed a logical place to ambush the train, so Kelly decided to avoid that, and ambush the train in the open. We did an orbital drop and had to grab the train cars and sprint to the LZ while the drop ship landed a few kilometers away from our ambush site. The Immortal’s were waiting in the chasm so they had to guess where our LZ was and try to ambush us before we got away. Because lostech was involved two other mercenary companies showed up to try and capture our prize, and a regular Davion unit was offended that mercenaries were hired for such an “important” job so they also decided to participate in this operation.” 

“From the moment we burned in, till we got to our drop shuttle it was a non-stop running gun fight. We had to neutralize the Kuritan escort as two other mercenary companies showed up trying to poach the lostech. Then the immortals tried to out flank us, and a company of Davion dropped on our heads. Meanwhile our ride home is watching Kuritan fighters trying to vector on them. If we weren’t at the LZ before the aero fighters got in range we might not have had a ride home.” 

“Somewhere in the middle of this shit show Ahmed’s other son ejects, and gets trampled by somebody. It was night, it was raining, and you had multiple opposing forces fighting over train cars that allegedly contained lostech. I have no idea who stepped on him, or if he even survived the ejection. Honestly, it was so damn confusing he might have even been hit by the train, but Ahmed blamed us for his death.”

“Was it actual lostech?” Chyou asked

Fiona stared at the fire as it hissed and popped, “That’s the funny thing, the train cars were full of  concrete and a bunch of tracking equipment. MIIO was investigating the Davion commander and the entire operation was set up to implicate him in stealing military equipment or something. We were never supposed to get off the planet with the train cars. MIIO had leaked the operation was lostech and expected their dirty commander to show up with the biggest force and walk off with the prize. Once we figured out that our client had intentionally created an impossible job to hurt a third party, Kelly demanded quite a lot of MIIO before he returned their evidence.”

“Wait. How did MIIO convince the Draconis soldiers to be part of the operation?” Chyou asked

“The Dracs in this case were probably MIIO.” Crow said.

“When you’re a mercenary you try not to think too much about the hows and whys of what your client is doing. It’s best to just do the job you’re paid to do, take your money, and speculate over drinks on the long ride to the next job.”

“Or just drink.” Crow added. “Otherwise you’ll start to think things like MIIO must have hired the Immortals too, knowing how they hated us.”

“Responding to this sort of mystery with alcohol seems unhealthy, and worse, intellectually disingenuous.” Anastasia said.

“I’ve been doing this long enough to assure you, Crow’s right.” Fiona said, after a pause she added, “Back to your question Chyou,  that’s how we earned the unending animosity of Ahmed’s immortals, but don’t cry too much for them, Ahmed personally killed Llewyn in a brutal ‘mech-on-‘mech slug match, that Kelly swears ‘was only business’ and when Kelly’s son, Richard, died Ahmed made sure to mention it was a sure sign the gods hated him and were on the side of the Immortals. It was always annoying, but Kelly kept us from sinking to their level because he felt that wasn’t how Mercenaries should treat each other.”

“It does seem that this is more personal and less business for this Ahmed.” Chyou said.

Fiona nodded, “The Immortals became an inconvenience for us. They had a nasty habit of showing up often, but Ahmed was so angry at us, and had lost so often that he was running into a “diminished returns” problem. He’d hit us too often and lose and then have less mech’s and material next time. A few times when he caught us in a bad position he didn’t have the capacity to exploit it. After awhile he wised up and would go and do some work to rebuild, but he never seemed to be able to get his company FMC.”

“Last time we fought I think even Kelly was sick of the nonsense so he tried to make a run at stealing his drop ship so we could finish them off once and for all. It didn’t work out, but this feud has gone on too long even if the Immortals were generally on the losing side of it. Then Ebrahimi started talking about how they had a rich patron that would help them reconstitute. That could turn the feud into their favor, especially if it was mechs like the King Crab or that Crocket. As I was mulling that over Ebrahimi started needling me about losing a child.

Crow put another log on the fire and used a pry tool to adjust the burning wood and stir the fire. “That’s a pretty low blow, even for Ebrahimi.”

“Well I sunk to their level and decided it was time to start taking away something Ahmed couldn’t replace, namely his son.” One of the logs in the fire broke and kicked up more sparks and flames, “and I don’t feel any remorse.”

“It’s a dangerous business we do.” Hap said, “He could have been killed any number of ways-“

“Had he ejected I would have activated my anti-air target and tracking system and used his ejection seat for target practice. I was determined he wasn’t leaving the battlefield alive today. Part of the reason I was so late getting back from my talk with the Compact high command was because they wanted to give us what was left of the Crocket if we agreed to let them have all of the Stalker and King Crab salvage.”

“The Crocket was such a rare ‘mech the Compact did not want to waste energy trying to find what they needed to get it repaired. They are pretty sure they can get the Stalker up and running and have a good chance at getting the parts they need for the King Crab. I preferred to have the Stalker, because I wanted to drop the broken and headless hulk onto the next battlefield where we encountered Ahmed and watch him lose his shit. Then I realized I was being a jackass and wasting time so I took the Crocket and thanked them for the generous offer.”

“So what happens next time you meet Ahmed in open combat?” Hap asked.

“I get Kate to tell him that I killed his son while he was crying like a bitch, and then when he runs his Battlemaster full tilt at me I have my lance take him apart with LRMs.” Fiona said.

“I’m sorry I caused this.” Anastasia said.

Fiona was silent as she  stared at the fire. “This isn’t your fault. Honestly as much as I respect Kelly’s idea of a professional mercenary ethic, I think Ahmed and his sons took things too far and Kelly should have addressed it directly.”

“I am sorry, how is this Anastasia’s fault?” Chyou asked.

“It’s a long story” Fiona said quickly, “But, as I explained it to your high command, the gist of it is that Anastasia’s mother is a Countess ruling a planet on the other side of the Federation, and her father was a weapons expert industrialist. As near as we understood, it seems a rival company or a political rival killed her father, and has put a kill/capture bounty on Anastasia.”

“Ah, I see.” Chyou said. “This seems like it would be a liability of mercenaries.”

Fiona nodded, “It creates some problems, but as you can see we find ways to turn it to our advantage. Your leadership is reaching out to hire our company, and requested we stay until they receive confirmation and the rest of our company joins us. While that sounds nice, I’ve been doing this business long enough to know that we could easily become hostages in the negotiation process.”

I politely declined to stay. Your command was hesitant to let us go, but between our dependence on missiles, which are apparently in short supply, and the fact we’re likely to attract more hostile forces, they choose to allow us to leave the planet.  Of course, I want to leave before they change their mind.” Fiona said.

The conversation died down for a moment. Hap watched two young techs, armed with federated long rifles, doing their patrol of the bivouac area. Hap saw one of them pause, shoulder his rifle, and scan the area with his starlight scope before continuing his patrol just outside the fire light. Hap glanced up at the stars and was glad it was a relatively clear night and the planet’s one moon was mostly full. It was cold but it would be easy to walk around and it would be difficult for anyone trying to sneak up on the camp.

“Chyou, you seem to know a lot about this area, are you from around here?” Crow said. 

Chyou nodded slowly, “My father was the Mandrinn of this area, we lived outside the city.”

“How does your dad feel about you fighting for the St. Ives Compact?” Anastasia asked.

“My father has no daughter.” Chyou said quietly, “I believe he has returned to Capellan space and is waiting for the ‘treasonous rebel dogs’ to be put down so that he may return to his holdings. He likely contributed money to support some of the people we fought today. When I listened to Lady Candace speak I wanted to follow her, and I believed she would lead the people of the St. Ives fairly and kindly. The Capellans have historically not looked out for our interests, but Lady Candance, I believe, would change that. My father said she was a ‘disrespectful and selfish child that was the shame of her father’.” 

“From what I’ve heard Lady Candace has been very successful at liberating the Compact, and the rest of the Capellan forces are too weak to try and reclaim the worlds of the world she has liberated. Perhaps as she consolidates her power she’ll make you the new Mandrissa in your father’s stead.” Fiona said.

“Perhaps,” Chyou said with a faint smile, “Perhaps she will give that honor to another who is more worthy. For now, I simply wish to serve the Compact as a mechwarrior.”

The fire popped and hissed as everyone got quiet again. Hap looked over at Anastasia. She was sitting in a camp chair and looked warm under his poncho liner. Their eyes met and he reached for her hand. With a gentle tug he got Anastasia to move over to him. Wordlessly she stood up, sat on his lap, and covered them both in his poncho liner. 

As Anastasia and Hap settled Chyou asked Fiona to tell her more about the McFinnigan’s train robbery operation. Fiona related to them the epic raid and that only Kelly McFinnigan could conceive and execute. As she spoke Hap looked around again. He was among friends enjoying a fire on a cold crisp night. He glanced again at Chyou and while he admired her noble motivations, if he were being honest, he was probably more like Fiona or Crow. He fought for the men and woman on his side.

Hap was glad he still had his commission and was part of the Armed Forces of the Federated Suns.. His experiences on the Draconis March, and now in former Capellan space, confirmed that the Federated Suns way of life was better. Still with the nobility being what it was, a planet or even the Federation was  only one or two leaders away from similar problems. Hap hugged his wife. Ideals were good and sometimes when you’re lost they guide you to the right decision, but when bullets started to fly or when it was cold and dark it’s the people around you that are going to help you survive.

DOC_Agren

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #232 on: 22 September 2021, 19:51:39 »
nice story
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

EAGLE 7

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #233 on: 22 September 2021, 19:59:46 »
but when bullets started to fly or when it was cold and dark it’s the people around you that are going to help you survive.


Great job building your characters, both big and small.
“ My Clan honor is bigger than your Dragon honor, and comes in 18 clan flavors.”

ThePW

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #234 on: 22 September 2021, 21:14:58 »
The end is soon... and we wait with bated breath...  :(

PsylockeSmythe

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #235 on: 23 September 2021, 13:14:09 »
Great update and I can't wait to read more.

Psy

Elmoth

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #236 on: 23 September 2021, 17:06:53 »
Great update! Thanks for sharing!

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #237 on: 18 December 2021, 16:57:54 »
Chapter 72
Monhegan
March 3030

Hap looked up as Fiona walked into the leopard dropship's warrior lounge. She walked around the couch and held up a holo disk. "Alright I just checked all decks. Everything is generally ready for landing, but we got another hour or so before we hit Monhegan's atmosphere. Which gives us time for a holo."

Crow made a space for her on the couch, "What did you have in mind? I thought I saw Mags give Anastasia the newest season of Brave Sister Sniper before we left."

Fiona shook her head, "I've seen enough of Yolanda crying, flashing her breasts, or stabbing men in the back to get her way for a while. Honestly, the last season Yolanda had become a one trick pony."

"Yeah ever since Jaunita Torres-Bashier got that boob job the writers have gotten a little lazy."

"I wouldn't call it lazy." Fiona said. "Which is why I have something more educational in mind."

Anastasia looked up from her book of logic puzzles, as Crow grimaced, "Tell me it's not another documentary."

"It's a documentary on the Tripitz affair." Fiona answered. "It good for you, it'll improve your mind, and I'm going to bet it's chocked full of a lot of interesting and compelling theories."

"Oh man, not another conspiracy theory show." Crow groaned, "Did Rolph recommend this?"

"Nope." Fiona said as she put the disk into the holo.

"Was it our Capellan spooky? There is no end to the madness she'll believe." Crow said

"Tatyana had access to a lot Capellan intelligence. She probably does know a few things that you and I think is unbelievable." Fiona said.

"I get that, but sometimes she says things and I think 'that's impossible' like the Capellans having the technology to replace other Inner Sphere lords with clones."

"While that seems unlikely." Anastasia said, "After you see or discover a large quantity of things that others consider 'impossible or unlikely' you may be prone to believe things that really are fantastic."

"Thank you, Anastasia." Crow said. "See Anastasia gets it"

Hap glanced at Anastasia, "Really?"

"Oh yes. Mother and I had to watch daddy. He had a lot of strange pet theories and tended to believe a lot of conspiracy theories, particularly regarding the Kerensky's lost military forces, SLDF, and lostech. The problem with father was he tended to routinely do things other told him were impossible, so if we told him something was 'impossible' he would remind us of things he had done that had been 'impossible'. "

"What was your Dad's take on the Tripitz?" Fiona asked as she setup the holo.

"Daddy wanted to see the remains of it. Even as a burned-out hulk he wanted to look at the comms system. He believed the SLDF had Hyper Pulse Generators on some warships. He thought if he could see even the broken pieces of it would help his work. But the Tripitz was lost, so he was out of luck."

"Lost? I thought the Taurians towed it to some floating space station repair facility where they've been trying to fix it." Crow said.

"No, it was crippled and left to crash into a planet in the New Vandenberg System." Fiona said.

"Daddy always thought somehow the Capellans ended up with it." Anastasia said.

"Hap you got a theory?" Crow asked.

"I'm not actually sure what the Tripitz affair is, so no." Hap said.

"Well after this you'll definitely have one." Fiona said as she hit play.

"What makes you think I'll have a theory after watching the holo?" Hap asked

"The entire episode is so mysterious it spawns conspiracies." Anastasia spread a blanket over them.

"What if I just choose to not believe in it?" Hap teased.

"Still a conspiracy theory." Crow said.

The holo started and the Mechwarriors settled into watch the documentary. It was part of a series of documentaries called Searching For, which was in the title of every episode. The next episode was entitled "Searching For the Minnesota Tribe." The documentary was narrated by the actor who played the Science Office from the old ComStar Explorers Corps show Hap had watched as a kid.

The documentary told the story of how a Star League era warship, the Tripitz, was discovered in Taurian space. The Tripitz appeared to be an abandoned derelict ship, but still intact. The documentary explained a warship was an armed jump ship that could push through space defenses and carry dropships. With its hardened jump drive and superior armament a warship could spear head decisive attacks anywhere in the Inner Sphere and could virtually hold at risk all but the most heavily fortified planets. Any nation with a warship would have a decisive military advantage.

Such a prize was worth any cost. This enticed the Taurians, and according to the documentary, the Capellans to mount immediate salvage operations. When the Taurian's attempted to access the warship mysterious white aerofighters appeared from nowhere and destroyed the vessel. All the Taurians could do was helplessly watch as the ship was ruined.

As Hap watched the holo he realized he had heard bits and pieces of this legend before. He knew of the White Wings, the legendary phantom aerospace fighters that were painted all white and had no house livery or unit markings. The documentary had several theories of the identity of the White wings.

The documentaries theories of the White Wings starting with the most practical and going to the most outlandish. It started with an obvious Federated Suns bias and general implications of Taurian incompetence that would allow pirates to destroy the warship, or an unskilled salvage crew destroying the warship and inventing the story. The more unproveable theories included lost star league era colonies, Kerensky's lost forces, and even an unknown race of aliens.

As the credits started to roll Fiona glanced over at Hap, "So now what are you thinking about the Tripitz and the mysterious White Wings?"

"I think I'm leaning toward the more practical theories that the Taurian salvage team made a mistake or periphery pirates came through and they invented most of this story to cover it up." Hap said.

"Have you ever fought the Taurians?" Fiona asked, "They're not incompetent, they're actually quite fierce, and if you trespass in their space they'll-"

"Show up with a combined arms corps and tell you, 'hippity hoppity get the hell off our property'." Crow interrupted. Fiona looked like she was about to correct Crow but just nodded.

"A rag tag band of aerospace pirates is unlikely to be operating unopposed in Taurian space?" Hap said.

"Probably." Fiona shrugged, "Maybe the salvage team screwed up, but I doubt it. I've always preferred the lost colony theory. I assumed they had used the Tripitz to get out to their colony, and had the thing in orbit or mouth balled on a moon, or something, but somehow they lost control of it, and when it was found they realized they would be discovered so they chose to destroy it then disappeared."

"So why didn't the Taurians find the colony? It seems evident they had star league tech." Hap said. "I'd think the Concordant would want to talk to these people."

"That's what makes the whole thing so damn interesting." Fiona said, "Every answer just leads to more questions. What's your take Anastasia?"

"Daddy also favored the lost or hidden colony theory, so I suppose I did too. Although he didn't discount the idea of non-humans."

"The documentary said the Taurians claimed the White Wings had star league era aerospace fighters." Crow said. "Wouldn't space aliens have alien aero fighters?"

Anastasia shrugged, "There are a couple explanations for that."

Fiona rubbed her hands together gleefully. "This is why I love conspiracy theories, when you think you've come to the end, it just goes deeper."

Anastasia nodded, "The explanation was that the aliens didn't want to reveal themselves so they used conventional human aerospace fighters, or there is a federation of aliens that included humans and they were tasked to interact with other humans."

Crow raised a curious eyebrow, "Why wouldn't the aliens want to reveal themselves?"

"Humanity writ large is on our fourth succession war." Anastasia said. "After centuries of non-stop death, destruction, and mayhem, would you want to deal with the lot of us? Daddy generally felt most intelligent life would probably be hesitant to interact with us, unless they wanted a fight."

Crow nodded, "That makes sense. I'm starting to like the alien theory now. I like the idea of a federation of aliens that aren't looking for trouble."

"Really?" Fiona said, "You don't believe in Land Air Mechs even though you've seen one, but the idea that space aliens exist, because you haven't seen them, is all the proof you need?"

"I didn't see a LAM. I saw a mech run out of sight behind some hills and then an aerospace fighter flew out of the same general area. It doesn't make it a LAM. Besides, the idea that space aliens would refuse to deal with the majority of humanity seems more likely than them not existing at all."

"I'm not going to try to prove a negative even though we've colonized trillions of worlds and never found intelligent life, but don't try to deny you saw you a LAM."

"I told you what I saw. There was a Phoenix Hawk running down the road then there was an aerospace fighter rocketing toward space. Honestly I'm not exactly sure it was an aerospace fighter."

Fiona punched Crow in the shoulder as Hap glanced at Anastasia, "So that's your Dad's theory or theories. What's yours?"

Anastasia took a deep breath, "After everything we've seen and given what Mother said-"

The 1MC cracked to life and Kate said, "All crew, be advised, we're about five mikes from entering Monhegan's gravity and atmosphere, so if you, or your crap isn't locked in, strapped down, tied up, or secured, you'd better get it that way."

There was a flurry of activity as the four mechwarriors quickly went around the lounge and the berthing area to get their personal effects and other odds and ends put away. They got back to the couch and buckled the harnesses just as the ship started to shake and shift as it changed its flight profile and entered the Monhegan's atmosphere.

In a few minutes the leopard had touched down. Hawkins came onto the 1MC, "Welcome to Monehegan. Local time is 1205. Temperatures are a balmy 16 degrees."

The mercenaries grabbed their personal effects. They met up with Hawkins and Kate at the crew ramp. Hawkins opened the door and bright light spilled into shuttle nearly blinding everyone.

Crow and Fiona cursed as Hawkins and Kate pulled out aviator sunglasses. "Probably should have warned you how the virtual cockpit and windows protects from the glaring sun." Hawkins said.

The mechwarriors squinted as they walked off the ramp. Anastasia asked, "Hap, have you seen my sunglasses?"

Hap said no as he looked around. The company had setup a field kitchen and had set out long tables and benches in the light of the unseasonably warm spring day. There was a carnival feel, as people moved around getting food, talking, eating and drinking.

"Nice. We made it back in time for fish fry Friday." Crow turned and gave Kate a fist bump.

"You know I was thinking I wanted to rack out, but I could go for some fried fish." Kate said.

"I doubt you'll have time to rack out." Fiona said, "Our garrison duty is over, and we need to pack up." Hap could also see pallets of equipment and cases stacked around the air field. The few company members who weren't participating in the fish fry were operating loaders and getting the containers ready to put on the dropships. It was obvious the mercenary company was preparing to leave the planet.
« Last Edit: 07 February 2022, 00:18:33 by HFC05 »

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #238 on: 18 December 2021, 16:58:43 »
Chapter 73

Hap followed Fiona as she went directly to Kelly. Kelly was standing with Fletch and Rowyena near a field desk holding a chaotic pile of papers, folders, and a tea service. Next to the desk was a large field comms suite next to it. Fiona sat at her desk on a camp chair looking at her noteputer. Kelly and Fletch were standing at the desk looking through a folder.

The men seemed to be having a disagreement. Fletch shook his head as he flicked his cigarette, "Boss, nothing shouts, 'we're hiring you to fight a desperate battle against impossible odds in some politically and likely morally reprehensible situation' like a Non-disclosure agreement just to get the preliminary intel and basic mission parameters."

"Aye, it's likely nothin' quite so desperate as all that." Kelly said. "Now the payout may imply some risk."

"Yeah, the payout is almost enough to buy another lance, that implies a lot of risk, and the fact the Federation is sending a rep to brief us directly, means it's going to be some shady shit. I can almost guaran-damn-tee no fool in this company is going to want to do this job."

As he spoke Grizzly walked by with a plate full of greasy fried fish and potatoes, "Did you just say we're going to get in a desperate battle against incredible odds? Rolph and I were just talking how we hadn't been nearly killed in a while and were missing the high you get from a near death experience."

Fletch stared at him coldly and then said, "Go eat your damn fish and then get your shit on the bird."

Grizzly took a bite of fish and then shouted to Rolph as he chewed and walked, "Hey the boss has got a new job lined up, sounds like a good one, near death and everything."

Crow followed Grizzly, "You want to talk about near death, brother, we just got in a fight with a Kintaro, a Stalker, a King Crab, and a Crocket. Plus a bunch of tanks and what the Compaction's call 'Loudung' mechs."

Rolph continued eating but nodded as he made space on the bench and motioned for Crow to sit.

Kelly looked a little confused, "Ye saw a Crocket? Yer going to have to tell me more about that."

Fiona nodded, "We ran into Ebrahimi leading a lance with a Crocket, a King Crab, his own Stalker and a Kintaro. He wouldn't stop talking about how his dad had some new rich patron or investor that had gotten them some heavy hardware."

Kelly calmly cleaned his pipe, filled the bowl with tobacco and lit it as she talked. Fiona frowned, "You don't seem particularly surprised by this."

"The Immortals showed up here too. Same deal. They had reconstituted with almost two lances of assaults and a new recon lance. Some exotic shit too, not only did they have a Crocket, they even had a Mercury." Fletch said.

Kelly lit his pipe and nodded, "And that old sinner might have even given us trouble, but the Lexington Combat Group was jest back from leave and their commander wanted to get his boys some experience and maybe even earn a little of that money Prince Davion throws at them."

"Oh? Did we finally defeat the Immortals." Fiona said, "Because our engagement was pretty decisive."

Kelly gave Fiona look like an appraiser, "How decisive?"

"We engaged with and destroyed the Immortal's assault lance, supported by a mixed vehicle and light 'mech lance. All mechs and tanks were destroyed, three out of four of the Immortal mechwarriors died during combat. We were supported by the Compact's forces so they got the pick of the salvage. We were given the remains of Crocket, and whatever we needed to effect repairs. For all intents and purposes that lance no longer exists." Fiona reported, then after a pause added, "and I killed Ebrahimi."

Fletch gave Kelly a worried look as Kelly's eyebrows shot up.

"Did anyone see you? Did ye properly dispose of the body?" Roweyna asked as she lazily tapped on her noteputer, "Because, legally speaking, it's really only murder if someone has proof. Otherwise it's jest idle speculation and hearsay. Any first-year law student can tell ye that."

Fletch looked surprised then pointed the two fingers holding his cigarette at Roweyna, "This is what I was talking about. When Elinor leaves your moral compasses starts to drift."

Fiona rolled her eyes, "Roweyna, I didn't poison his tea. I killed him during the combat operations."

Kelly exhaled pipe smoke, "If ye accidentally killed him in fair an' open combat-"

"It wasn't an accident. He was prone and I shot the cockpit of the mech. Then I made sure the cockpit was destroyed. Just for good measure I destroyed concrete behind his cockpit."

Kelly smoked his pipe and looked at her like a disappointed father, "Ye let him goad you into all that?"

"He was talking about how he was going to kill us and our families."

"How is that different from any other time we've taken the field against them?" Kelly asked

"He told me about how happy he was that I had miscarried and that his men were responsible for it."

Roweyna's eyebrows shot up and she looked at Fiona, "I'd have done more than poison his tea for that."

"Child" Kelly said softly, "I've been trying for over a decade to deescalate this feud that Ahmed thinks we have with each other. Now ye've added another complaint and another sad chapter. We're all mercenaries here, we need to keep it business and not let it be professional."

"I respect your professional ethic," Fiona said, "but this has gone too far for too long. We should just give him the feud he wants and end his whole damn company and that's what I thought you intended to do when we fought the Immortals last year and we tried and steal his drop ship."

"I wanted to keep it professional though." Kelly said, "Force him to stay and fight, finish him off in a pitched battle, behave like warriors, not grieving parents. This sort of thing never ends well, Fiona."

"Well now he's found some benefactor to take his side and it's going to get harder for us. I think we need to stop 'being professional' and just annihilate them." Fiona said

Fletch nodded, "Yeah, someone at the port authority let them land their dropship in a nice secluded industrial area and unload and deploy their mechs before we understood what was happening. We thought it was the LCG, the LCG thought it was us. It wasn't until their recon lance came barreling across the air field that we realized the Immortals had shown up. Thankfully that kept the battle in the industrial district and away from the civilian center, but it was still destructive. It was good the LCG was here to help us push them back, but Fiona's right boss, Ahmed is either getting more lucky, or he's getting the help he's always needed."

Kelly quietly smoked his pipe and stared at them. After an uncomfortable moment Hap cleared his throat, "Sir, you were talking about our next mission when we walked up. If I may, can I ask what it is?"

"We were talking about a potential next contract." Fletch corrected, "One I'm hoping we turn down."

Kelly ignored him, "It's good ye asked lad since we'll," he paused and Fletch, "Likely be doing a job for the Federated Suns. The nature o' the job is a bit sensitive, so they're sendin' a rep to talk to us in person. I suspect they'll want to speak with you and miss- er- the misses."

"Do we know when he'll be here?" Anastasia asked as she patted down the various pockets of her coveralls.

Roweyna continued to absent mindedly scroll through items on her noteputer, "Colonel Norton will be here shortly. Ye may jest have time to get some fish an' chips."

Hap looked past his wife at the line of mercenaries waiting to get fried food. "That seems unlikely."

Fletch looked around and called out, "Noah, Conner, come here." The boys looked startled when he called out, and one of them gestured to himself. Fletch nodded, "Yeah, both of you, Kommen sie hier bitte".

The two young mechwarriors, each holding a tray of food sheepishly came to the XO. Fletch asked them, "Is this your second or third serving?"

"Uh…fourth, maybe." Conner said quietly.

Fletch took the trays and handed it to Hap and Anastasia, "Go get in the loader mechs and get those ammo crates secured on the Tir na nOg."

Hap looked down at the tray of fried fish and potatoes and squishy peas. "Thanks we'd better eat this quick."

"I would." Fletch said.

Hap led Anastasia to a nearby empty table. As they walked she sniffed the food. "It looks so oily and I think Connor put vinegar on the fries."

Hap shrugged as he sat down on a bench. "I prefer ketchup, but vinegar is what some people consider the proper condiment for fries."

Anastasia sat next to him and shook her head, "non, mayonnaise pour pommes de terre."

"You want some mayonnaise?" Hap asked looking at other tables for condiments.

"Hey! You guys are back." Joker said as he sat down across from

"Hello Joker." Hap said, "You know where I can get some mayonnaise?"

"Uh, no. But can I ask you a question? Do you think I'd make a good father?"

"Absolutely not." Anastasia said then turned to Hap, "Actually what I really want is my sunglasses. Have you seen them? One of the Barons from Bastrop had twin daughters that Mother called 'Freckles and Squints' because they spent a lot of time outside and never wore hats, sun screen, or sunglasses. You've seen how my hair-" Anastasia pulled out her braid and then looked over at Joker. He looked surprised and hurt.

"Why-" Anastasia started to say, "Where's Mags? I suddenly sense her and I should get reacquainted."

"We were eating at the table with Grizzly and Rolph." Joker said pointing to one of the other tables.

Anastasia stood up and took a few steps away then turned around and leaned over Hap, and reached into the inner pocket of his jacket. As she leaned on him Hap felt her weight on the back of his neck, and her hand caress his chest as she pulled out her sunglasses. She rested her head on top of his, "I remember I left my sunglasses in your jacket."

"Why were your sunglasses in my jacket pocket?"

Anastasia put on the large oversized designer sun glasses. She gave hap a coy look, "They're sort of big and didn't fit neatly into any of my pockets, so, your jacket seemed a better place to keep them. That is until I forgot they were there. Honestly I'm surprised you didn't notice they were there."

Hap gave her a playful shove as she turned around and called out to Mags. Hap shook his head as he got comfortable and took a piece of fish off his tray. "What's going on with you and Mags?"

Joker grabbed a fried potato from Anastasia's tray, "I don't know she's been acting weird lately."

Hap ate his fish and looked at Joker waiting for more information.

"Man I think Anastasia put too much vinegar on her fries." Joker said as he reached for another potato.

"Why do you think Mags is 'acting weird'?" Haps asked.

"We've been having a lot of sex, like a lot of sex, and we weren't always wearing protection."

Hap held a piece of fish just millimeters from his mouth, "Is Mag's pregnant?"

"Well see she thought she was, and when she told me about it, I, uh, I might have said something stupid, but I've been trying to make it up to her since."

"But she's not pregnant."

"No. At least she told me she wasn't." Joker said, "At first Mags seemed mad at me, but then she decided she wanted to have kids."

"Kids?"

"Yeah like I don't know if you know this, but Mags has like twenty cousins, and I guess she always wanted brothers and sisters or something because she wants to have lots of kids."

"Alright." Hap ate his fish for a few minutes. "Are you and Mags going to start having kids?"

"I dunno. She, um, as you would say 'wasn't impressed' with my response when she thought she was pregnant so she told me to figure out what I wanted out of our relationship and then come talk to her."

"Mags said that?"

"Sorta. She told me to 'stop being an ass hat' and threw this at me." Joker reached into his back pocket and pulled out a rolled up magazine with a female holo star on the cover and advertisements for a quiz to know how compatible you were with your lover, a diet guaranteed to give you the perfect thighs, and articles on improving lovemaking. "I read this whole damn thing and I'm still not sure what she wants."

"What do you think she wants?"

Joker followed Hap as he left the barracks "I dunno, I guess she's ready to settle down and have kids and wants me to make sure that's what I want too. At least I think that's what she wants. You ever read one of these magazines? I don't know if I know this but girls got a lot of weird plumbing down there." As he spoke Joker thumbed through the magazine and tried to show Hap one of the illustrations.

Hap pushed the magazine back toward Joker, "I think you're trying to change the subject. So what are you going to tell Mags?"

"I was hoping you could tell me. I like Mags, and I like what we do together, but sometimes… I wish Mags wasn't such a… It's hard to explain. I see the way Anastasia looks at you, and it reminds me of how my mom looked when she talked about my dad. Another thing, when someone starts talking shit about you, Anastasia gets real angry and she'll bite their head off. Mags doesn't look at me that way and if someone wants to trash talk me, she'll probably join in."

Hap stopped eating and looked at Joker. It was clear to Hap that he was serious. "Look, Anastasia isn't perfect, she tends to annoy a lot of people, and…"

"No. I hear you boss, I know Mags is kind of psychotic, and she'll probably kill me if she thinks I'm even looking at another woman. I know she's the best woman I've ever been with, and I probably can't do better, but I just wish she…help me out here boss."

Hap was quite for a moment as he took another bite, "I can tell you Mags may never give you looks from across the room. But when the locals tried to slip something into your drink-"

"They were actually trying to slip something into Anastasia's drink."

"I heard Mags cleared the table and dropped one of the townies before anyone knew what had happened." Hap said.

"She likes to fight." Joker said

"Alright she likes to fight. She's prone to violence, but you know you can depend on her. She's loyal to her family, this company and you. I've seen you in a lot of dumb relationships, like you said, she's the best you've been with. Don't compare her to other girls."

Joker scratched the back of his head, "Hap, how do you get a girl to give you that look?"

Before Hap could answer a shadow passed over the table Hap glanced to his side to see a man in in AFFS dress uniform standing beside him. Hap did a double take as he saw the two thick stripes on his epaulette marking the man a Colonel. Without thinking both Hap and Joker stood and saluted.

The Colonel gave a crisp salute, "At ease men."

As he relaxed Hap could see he wasn't a mechwarrior. His rank epaulet was infantry green, and he didn't wear spurs on his boots. At the same time he had some of the highest awards of the AFFS military. He was also a tall thin man with sharp blue eyes. He exuded professionalism.

"Gentlemen, I'm colonel Norton, I'm here to meet with Commander McFinnigan and his senior staff." As he spoke he studied Hap's and Joker's coverall. His eye fell on the AFFS patch and rank on Hap's uniform, "Captain Calahad? I need to speak with you and Subaltern Vallois as well. Would you mind taking me to the company commander and summoning her?"

Hap nodded, "Yes Sir. The commander is expecting you, and Anastasia and I were told we would be part of that brief."

Joker was quick to volunteer, "I'll take care of these trays and go grab the Subaltern." He moved quickly to get away from the AFFS officer.

Hap nodded to Joker, then turned to the Colonel, "Right this way sir". He led him back to the mercenary leadership. Mark and John were packing up Fiona's desk, and she was standing with Fiona, Fletch and her father. As they approached Hap and the Colonel could overhear Fiona talking.

"So this little shit Capellan-" Fiona started to say.

"St. Ives" Fletch said as he lit a new cigarette.

"Right." Fiona nodded "So in true Capellan style, I got this St. Ives Sang-Wei calling us 'whores' because we took a whole week to travel between systems. About the time I'm about to lose it, The professor comes across the couch and starts lecturing the Sang-Wei on basic physics and shit talking the Capellan education system."

"Oh no." Roweyna laughed.

"Oh yes." Fiona said. "It gets better. First though you have to picture it. We're in the Leopard's warrior lounge, we just rolled out of bed, Hap and I are in our coveralls, but Anastasia is in this silk robe, and she has hair up in a ponytail or a braid. It looks like we had brought our little sister from her slumber party just to talk the client in science and proper military doctrine."

Kelly knocked his pipebowl on the desk before John and Mike carried it away. "Military doctrine?"

"The change of mission was to help the St. Ives forces reestablish their logistics lines. So the Sang-Wei is demanding we alter the mission while he's calling us whores and bitching about time and space. So after Anastasia insults the Confederacy's education she tells him he can't get mad at us because he doesn't understand the importance of logistics."

"Glad she's using that NAIS education." Fletch said as he took a long drag.

"That's not the best part. The professor starts quoting Clausewitz, and the client looks like his head is about to explode, and he screams, 'what!' and," Fiona had to try and stop laughing, "So, hand to god truth, Anastasia replies, 'I'm sorry I forgot you were educated by Capellan's all you know is Sun Tzu', and then she starts quoting Sun Tzu."

Fletch half laughed, half coughed and beat his chest as he tried not to choke. When he finally caught his breath he said, "Yer shittin' me, the professor is lecturing Capellans-"

"St Ives" Fiona interjected

"Same damn thing," Fletch said, "So the professor was lecturing them on Sun Tzu. How'd the Sang Wei take an impromptu class on the Capellan's favorite philosopher of war and business?"

"It really pissed him off." Fiona laughed. "Normally I'm all for treating the client with respect, but even his own people thought the Sang Wei was out of line."

"Oh damn I would have loved to seen that." Fletch shook his head and looked over at Kelly, "I'm going to miss the professor when we have to give her back to the Federation."

"If only I could weaponize her lecturin'" Kelly said as he wiped a tear away from his eye.

"Is the 'professor' Subaltern Valois?" Colonel Norton quietly asked Hap.

"Yes Sir." Hap replied.

Colonel Norton cleared his throat, "I believe 'weaponizing her lectures' is the reason High Command would prefer she was doing research and development at NAIS where she can take her notorious intelligence, and apply her knowledge and understanding of science to make the Federation some cutting edge weapons."

"Oh! I apologize Colonel, I didn't see ye standing there." Kelly said, "I didn't mean to keep ye waiting. Hap, ye should have said something."

"Quite alright commander. I'm glad to hear our liaison officers are integrating with your company, and I'd like to hear more about your operations with the St. Ives later. However there is another matter I'd like to discuss with you in private."

"Aye, we have our conference room in our dropship, the Tir na nOg. Fiona make sure they boys are properly loading those missiles. Colonel Norton, If ye'll follow us," Kelly motioned toward the Excalibur class dropship. As they walked Anastasia fell in step with them. Hap got close enough to her to ask, "How are things with Mags?"

"We will have much to talk about later." Anastasia said.

"I was afraid you'd say something like that." Hap said as they started climbing the stairs to the upper decks of the drop ship.

In a few minutes they were on the executive deck and Kelly led them into a room with a long conference table and a video screen on the wall. Hap hadn't noticed it before, but Colonel Norton had a briefcase. Colonel Norton stood at the head of the table and opened his briefcase, "Before we begin I'm Colonel Norton. I'm not a mechwarrior, rather I am an expert in unconventional warfare."

Kelly motioned around the room, "I'm Kelly McFinnigan, the commander of this company. This is Roweyna, our legal adviser and Mr. James Fletcher our executive officer, and ye know yer AFFS laisons."

Colonel Norton nodded as he opened his briefcase. Hap was surprised to see that the brief case's handle was actually the carrying handle for a compact submachine gun. The lower portion of the brief case contained the submachine gun. It looked like it was designed so that it could detach from the case without having to open the case, giving the briefcase holder instant access to a weapon. The briefcase also had additional magazines for the submachine gun, a few grenades, as well as a nasty looking knife. "Now that introductions are out of the way, before we begin, I'll need everyone to sign non-disclosure agreements."

"You expecting some trouble colonel?" Fletch asked nodding at the case of weapons.

The colonel pulled out a folder from the case's top pouch, and began to shuffle papers, "I've done special operations for the Federated Suns across the Inner Sphere for over 30 years. I've made a lot of enemies, and there are a few bounties on my head. I've also had to improvise my way through enough situations to know it's better to come as prepared as you can."

Hap again felt naïve as he realized that some stranger in an AFFS uniform approached him and he happily took him straight to the commander oblivious to the fact he was heavily armed. It was another lesson in being more careful and less trusting. If he was a ComStar assassin he could have easily ordered him to bring his wife to him and execute her.

Colonel Norton pulled out several sheets of paper, "I'll need each of you to sign these forms. If you choose not to take this contract you'll still not be allowed to speak of it for twenty-five years or until you're contacted by an authorized foreign disclosure officer of the Armed Forces of the Federated Suns."

There was a general murmur of acknowledgement but everyone in the room watched Rowyena as she scanned the form then nodded to her father before signing. Once everyone had signed and passed the forms back to the Colonel he started taking out pictures, maps, and diagrams.

"Commander, we'd like to hire you to support a raid on the planet Necromo." Colonel Norton said.

"This is a lot of money for a raid, also what is of strategic value on Necromo? We hit their long range listening post, I've never heard of anything else being there."

Colonel Norton nodded like he had expected this, "Indulge me while I explain a few things, Mr. Fletcher. McFinnigan and Sons is one of several companies being hired to perform this raid. In addition to your enforced company, there will also be an armored company, two additional aerospace flights, and a special operations team. Your Excalibur and Leopard dropships will be used to move the additional personnel and equipment for the raid. This, plus what is likely to be the extreme risk of the operation is why you are being offered so much."

As Colonel Norton spoke he slipped several TO&Es to Kelly and Fletch. Kelly picked up one of the sheets, "Aye, this unit, Willard's Armored Calvary, this is all light armor, and those LRM carriers won't survive contact with even the lightest of 'mech lance. I cannot guarantee their safety."

"All assets considered disposable for this operation." Colonel Norton replied.

"That's reassuring" said Fletch as he looked over the TO&Es. "Also looks like all assets are mercenary."

Colonel Norton nodded, "Regarding strategic value of Necromo, the system has the Capellan's dropship repair facility as well as ship yards and aerorspace research facilities. It is of extreme value to the Confederation, so much so they placed the system under strict restrictions to prevent the secret from getting out. You didn't hit a long range listening post, you hit their early warning station."

Kelly glanced over at Fletch, "Have ye ever heard of any of this?"

Fletch shook his head, "No, but I'm married to a former Maskirova agent, so I can assure you, if anyone can keep a secret it's the Maskirova."

"So what are we taking in this raid?" Kelly asked as he glanced through the papers

"The actual raid will be conducted by the special operations team, Detachment 3." Colonel Norton motioned to the company's TO&E. "We may need one or two mech's to move the objective onto their transport vehicle, but the primary responsibility of the raid falls to this team of operators."

"So ye just need a few mechs to pick up a, a thing?" Kelly asked

"The primary role of your company, and the armor company, will be to conduct a frontal assault on this research facility." The Colonel pointed to a photo of a high walled fortress built into a mountain pass. "Once the defenders are drawn out, a team of your 'mechs will escort the special ops team to the rear of the facility. From there you'll assist in seizing the objective, securing it, and getting off planet."

"Sounds simple enough." Fletch said. "Any idea what the OPFOR looks like?"

The colonel produced another TO&E, "Aside from these turret mounted point defenses, the facility has a mixed company of 'mechs and armor, but the longer the fight goes on they will pull more resources from the planet. Necromo has roughly a Battalion size garrison of ground forces, and a Wing of Aerospace fighters, plus additional anti-air assets around the shipyard repair facilities."

"I see why all assets are considered disposable." Fletch said leaning back and crossing his arms. Hap could tell from his body language that he didn't want to do this mission.

"We've done riskier things against worst odds. And I'd add, fer less money." Kelly said as he studied the fortress. "Tell me again what the objective is?"

"The objective is simply something the Capellans have that we want." Colonel Norton said. "I hate to be secretive like this, but I can't reveal much more due to security. I will tell you it's nothing biological, nuclear or chemical, and it doesn't present any inherent risk to your company. I'll add it's high-end military tech that few know the existence of. None of you are cleared to know anything more."

"If it's high-end tech, I'm certain I'm cleared to know." Anastasia said.

The Colonel fixed her with a cold stare, "No."

Anastasia frowned and pulled out her ID chit, "Sir, scan my chit. I'm cleared to work in the NAIS high security areas. I have-"

The colonel shook his head, "I said, no. I'm aware of your credentials, but if the Capellans learned that we know of this facility and what it contains we would jeopardize a very sensitive and exquisite information source. For that reason, you aren't cleared. Which is more if you, Subaltern, are captured you should strongly consider using this." Colonel Norton reached into his briefcase, opened a compartment next to the gernades and pulled out a blue vial. He rolled it across the table to Anastasia.

"Is this poison?" Anastasia asked

"Yes. Bite down on the vial and you'll be dead in seconds. The things you know and your abilities cannot fall into the hands of the Federation's enemies. If you're going to insist on conducting operations on the front lines, you had better be prepared to protect what you know by any means necessary."

"I don't think this will be necessary." Kelly said as he pushed the vial back towards the Colonel.

The Colonel didn't take back the poison, He instead continue to give Anastasia a cold stare "I know there are a lot of people impressed that you would volunteer to serve, being a noble and having the option of staying on New Avalon. I, for one, would prefer you were using your talents to recover lostech. However, you and your mother have made your choice, so I can only make my recommendations."

"Colonel, perhaps we should further discuss the operation. Say I'm inclined to take this job." Kelly said.

Colonel Norton turned to look at Kelly, "Your company would immediately travel to the planet Daniels for a ten day preparation and training period with the other companies hired for this operation. We've established an isolated training area and mock-up of the Necromo facilities."

"Well this all sounds in order, now about our fee." Kelly said.

"I'm not here to negotiate contracts Commander." Colon Norton said.

Kelly looked over at Roweyna, "Perhaps we can get Lady Cunningham on the line. Seems it's been donkey's years since we talked the AFFS Mercenary liaison."

"We don't have a lot of time commander. The Capellan confederation is in disarray and the St. Ives compact is trying to consolidate power. The sooner we strike the better our chances of success. I'd prefer to avoid spending a few days going back and forth with the AFFS bureaucracy. I've been authorized to increase your pay out by 5%."

"Well that sounds good, but now that I know I have to carry everyone about it means I'll be feeding them too, so I was thinking more like 15%."

As Kelly and Colonel Norton began to haggle Hap turned his attention to Anastasia. She was staring at the vile of poison. She looked tired. Hap glanced at his watch. It was still on the shuttle's time. Hap realized they had been awake for almost twenty hours. Hap started to feel tired himself. He reached over and kneaded the base of her neck. She glanced over at him and gave him a tired smile. Hap knew no matter how tired they both felt she'd want to have a long talk after the meeting was over.

The Colonel handed the contract back to Kelly, "Alright I can get you 8%, and pull another 3% from one of my black budget funds. We'll reimburse you for food and class six supplies you give to the other companies during transit. That is the best I can do."

Kelly reached out his hand, "11% increase, and ye reimburse food and personal consumables. Very good we have a deal."

The Colonel shook Kelly's hand, "I'll have new contract drawn up and you can sign on it on Daniels. Do you have any other questions."

"I think we'll hold our questions till we get to Daniels and start working through the operation with the other companies." Fletch said.

Colonel Norton turned to Hap and Anastasia, "My flight off-world leaves soon, but before I go, do either of you have any questions for me."

Hap glanced at Fletch and Kelly, there response had implied tactical and operational questions would wait. Anastasia was giving the Colonel her own cold stare. If she had been Mags or Joker they probably would have been asking about where he'd like them to shove his poison. Hap decided to break the tension, "Where do I get a case like that?

Colonel Norton looked from Anastasia to Hap and raised a surprised eyebrow

"You said Anastasia should protect herself 'by any means necessary', having a case like that might allow us to turn a bad situation, into in a minor inconvenience."

Colonel Norton nodded, "That's not precisely what I said, but I get what you mean, and I do like to encourage sudden and decisive overmatch." He looked around the case for a moment, then carefully pulled out the tray with the grenades and had to disconnect the section with the knife that made it also accessible from outside the case. He found a small fabric tag and ripped it of the lining.

Colonel Norton handed Hap the tag, "Here this has the NSN and stock numbers, have your supply officer request it through your AFFS equipment supplier. You'll need to get a bull pup rifle, or a submachine gun that can mount a federated standard rifle carrying handle, whichever you prefer."

Fletch glanced over at Hap, "Order two. Tatyana's birthday is coming up, and she loves that sort of thing."

ThePW

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #239 on: 19 December 2021, 12:26:44 »
*giggles* Even several years in the future, SK's (or the army version of the SK) rule through the dominance of that evil NSN... a billion-part numbers/CAGE numbers but one (apparently) NSN to rule those part numbers... until that PN also appears on a dozen different NSNs...

FASAnomics would have been even more hilarious if they included CAGE numbers with edge company that builds mechs, parts, etc...

 

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