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Author Topic: A Warrior's Family  (Read 31157 times)

Elmoth

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #240 on: 22 December 2021, 16:25:50 »
Nice. Let's see that raid. And what's going on with Mags....

PsylockeSmythe

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #241 on: 04 January 2022, 14:55:08 »
Great update.  Can't wait to read more.

Psy

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #242 on: 06 February 2022, 23:43:24 »
Chapter 74
Daniels
March 3030

Hap flipped through his copy of the order for the Necromo raid until he came to TO&E appendix.

Operation Righteous Cloak Tailored Force Package
Overall Commander: Colonel Edward Norton

Primary Effort: Detachment 3
Mission: Seize and secure objective
Commander: Poityr Wojski
Special Forces Operation Squad (10 man)
Flight Crew (3 man)
Karnov UR Transport – Pilot Commander (PC): Jarred Erving

Supporting Effort: 1: McFinnigan and Sons
Mission: Conduct feint, escort Primary Effort
Commander: Kelly McFinnigan
Reinforced 'Mech Company (4 Lances and Aerospace Flight)
DropShips: Excalibur class "Tir na nOg"
Leopard class "Phaidin"

Assault Lance "Anvil"
HGN-733 Highlander - Pilot: Kelly McFinnigan
CP-10-Z Cyclops - Pilot: James "Fletch" Fletcher
AWS-8Q Awesome - Pilot: Yorik Tomax
STK-3F Stalker - Pilot: Jin-seon Jessica "Ajumma" Lan

Pursuit Lance "Dullahans"
DRG-1G Grand Dragon Pilot: Patrick "Shillelagh" McFinnigan
WVR-6M Wolverine Pilot: Gerald "Grizzly" Villon
KTO-18(Modified) Kintaro - Pilot: Tatyana "Volchitsa" Fletcher
SHD-2H Shadow Hawk - Pilot: Conner MacRaith

Fire Support Lance "Hammer"
JM6-A JagerMech - Pilot: Fiona "Guardian Angel" McFinnigan
CPLT-C4 Catapult - Pilot: Eugene "Crow" Harrison
TBT-5N Trebuchet - Pilot: Rolph Horsteng
DV-6M Dervish - Pilot: Dillon "Big D" Rowel

Recon Lance "Coyote"
GRF-1N Griffin - Pilot: Harold "Haphazard" Calahad
VLK-QA(Modified) Valkyrie - Pilot: Anastasia "The Professor" Capetian-Calahad
FS9-H Firestarter - Pilot: William "Joker" Cameron
JR7-D Jenner - Pilot: Marietta Marie Rose "Mags" Camacho

Banshee Flight
STU-K5 Stuka – Pilot: Kate "Giggles" Berlin
STU- K5 Stuka – Pilot: Bob "Swanky" Doggett

Supporting Effort 2: Willards Armored Cavalry
Mission: Screening and Indirect Fire Support
Commander: Charles "Wildman" Willard
Combat Vehicle Company

Recon Lance
Condor Heavy Hover Tank – Tank Commander (TC): Michelle Moore
Pegasus Scout Hover Tank – TC: Jack Larson
Pegasus Scout Hover Tank – TC: Tim Webster
Harasser Missile Platform – TC Suzanne Marks

Strike Lance
Patton Heavy Tank – TC: Charles "Wildman" Willard
Hetzer Wheeled Assault Gun – TC: William Cranston
Manticore Heavy Tank – TC: Brandon "Tex" Horst
Schrek PPC Carrier – TC: Jon Fredericks

Fire Support Lance
LRM Carrier – TC: Richard "Ricky" Robinson
LRM Carrier – TC: Ashley Torski
SRM Carrier – TC: Havier Ortega Guzman
Mobile Long Tom Artillery – Crew Chief: George Luther

Supporting Effort 3: White Tails Aerospace Squadron
Mission: Escort Dropships and provide close air support
Commander: Thomas Wildermmer
Light Aerospace Squadron (2 Flights)

White Flight
CHP-5W Chippewa Fighter – Pilot: Thomas Wildermmer
CHP-5W Chippewa Fighter – Pilot: Donny Elfens

Blue Flight
CHP-5W Chippewa Fighter – Pilot: Ken Lee
CHP-5W Chippewa Fighter – Pilot: Adam Comparta

Hap folded the order and tucked it under the other papers on his knee board. At that moment Hap and his lance were 500 miles above Daniels in the McFinnigan Company's Leopard Drop Ship Phaidin. They had been on Daniels for three days. The first day was spent meeting the other companies, listening to briefings for the raid and Necromo, and settling into the facilities they were provided. The next day they started the rehearsals for the raid.

Colonel Norton and his team had created an extensive rehearsal range. It was a complex setup designed to replicate the objective on Necromo. It had a mockup of the target facility, an assortment of pop-up targets, virtual sensor targets and remote mechs and drones. It was a very impressive and expensive setup. Whatever the Capellans had, it was obviously worth a lot.

The command channel crackled in Hap's neuro helmet. "Alright commander we're disembarking the Excalibur now, give us five minutes to get the Long Tom in position and the kill box established." The voice had a strange twang to it. Hap recognized it as Charles "Wildman" Willard the commander of Willard's Armored Cavalry, the armor company assisting hired to support the raid.

"Ye have two if we're going to meet the timeline. Mr. Willard. Move yer iron turtles." Kelly replied.

"Iron Horses, Mr. McFinnigan." Willard replied, "You heard 'em boys, Getty-up! Move your asses."

Hap could hear the annoyance in Kelly's voice. Willard was a "larger-than-life" type of commander and wore an ancient style cavalry hat, tall, highly polished boots, and was generally loud in everything he said and done. He acted like some character out of a holo about the North American west. It also didn't help that everyone was on edge. This was the second or third time today they had rehearsed the raid. The previous two days had also been filled with rehearsals. To add to the frustration they were struggling to execute the operation on the Colonel's timeline.

"Damn." Joker said, "how many times have we done this, and Wildman and his team still can't get their crap together."

"This will be the fifth time we have rehearsed this operation. Based on Colonel Norton's rubric we're not improving." Anastasia said in her quite professional voice.

Colonel Norton had a scoring method for the major phases or activities of the operation. It was based on achieving an objective by a certain time. Every time they missed a suspense the Colonel would assess a point penalty and when they accrued enough points he would take away an asset or change the exercise to make it harder.

"Hey, hey Ricky, you boys ain't drivin' a hover tank, watch the edge of the-" Willard cursed under his breath, "McFinnigan I got one of my LRM carriers high centered on the Dropship ramp."

"That's five points." Colonel Norton droned, "I'm taking away one of your LRM carriers."

"It's blocking the Long Tom and the ammo trucks." Willard added, "I'm going to need more time to get the kill box established."

"Commander McFinnigan, your artillery is frustrated on the ramp of your Drop Ship, what do you want to do?" Colonel Norton said.

"What do I want to do?" Kelly asked, "I want to go clear the ramp by throwing tanks into the darkest pit I can find, but fer the mission, Hammer Lance light up TRP 1."

"Acknowledge Commander." Fiona said. Hap glanced down at his knee board. TRP 1 was one of the outmost point defense turrets for the fortress.

"White tails, you lads in position?"

"Affirmative commander. You have air superiority, and we're stacked for CAS." replied an almost sarcastic pilot. The White Tails were the company of aerospace fighters hired for this job. They were four CHP-W5 Chippewa fighters. Hap didn't know much about aerospace fighters but Kate assured him they were a good star league era craft. They were light on armor, but they combined speed, with a lot of fight power.

What Hap did know was the White Tails were a strange company. Their company icon with a white falcon on a blue background, but they didn't paint any livery or other markings on their aircraft. Colonel Norton saw it and decided it was a good idea that everyone participating in the raid would paint their equipment white with no other markings.

Anastasia commented that it violated the Ares Convention rules on "Combatants being clearly marked, carrying arms openly, and being identifiable for the nation they represent." To no one's surprise she received Fletch's "Ares Suggestion" speech followed up by Colonel Norton reminding her that they were conducting unconventional warfare and there would be no Ares Conventions protections. He might quite a point to her about the lack of prisoner protections.

"Banshee flight?" McFinnigan asked.

"Banshee flight is ready to escort." Kate said. Banshee flight's mission was to protect the Phaidin. Just before leaving Monhegan Kelly had hired another pilot Bob "Swanky" Doggett. In spite of his name he seemed more like the quiet introvert type. In addition to the new pilot the company had also acquired another Stuka. Hap was pretty sure it had been previously owned by the mercenary pilot that had tried to renegotiate her contract mid-battle.

Doggett had brought his wife and small child with him when he signed on to McFinnigan and Sons. He generally kept to himself, although his wife was usually helping out around the galley and seemed to like the company. She was very outgoing and a contrast to her introverted husband.

"TRP 1 Destroyed." Fiona reported, "we'll need to relocate to hit the second TRP."

"We got contact from the front gates." Patrick reported, "Looks like OPFOR is moving out."

"Move the Dullahans to engage and push them toward the Anvils." Kelly responded, "Detachment 3, Coyotes, yer up." Kelly said, "Mr. Mitchellin get yer payload on the objective."

Detachment 3 was the special operations unit that Colonel Norton selected for this mission. They were a ten man special ops team, and they had a three man flight crew for their Karnov transport. The Karnov was a unique Vertical Take Off/Landing aircraft. The prop engines of the Karnov could rotate 90 degrees so it could take off vertically and then they would move into a conventional flight configuration. It could internally carry six tons, but Hap had heard stories of them lifting light 'mechs.

"Jah, Commander. Ms. MacGregor go ahead and lets take her down."

Hap groaned. Sarah MacGregor was a very junior pilot. Hap respected Kelly's efforts to "build the bench" and letting her get some flight time, but it was just making the tedious rehearsals worse.

The leopard started to rock and shake as it descended. The drop ship lurched hard to port and Hap wanted to reach his Griffin's hand out to steady himself, but his 'mech was still locked in the transit harness. He instead leaned in the opposite direction against his command couch as the straps locked. Through his cockpit window Hap could see Mike trying to brace himself and not fall off the catwalk as he stood at the gantry controls.

"Fruelien, as we enter the atmosphere we must use the auto-trim." Mitchellin said.

"But you told me a good pilot didn't need auto-trim." Sarah said as she overcompensated, and the Leopard banked hard to starboard and the nose dipped.

Mags cursed in Spanish as Mitchellin explained, "Jah, but at your level of experience-"

Hap watched Mike struggle to regain his balance as Joker yelled, "Use the damn Auto-trim."

There was a jolt as the Leopard drop ship righted itself and continued a turbulent but level descent.

"Phaidin, this is Banshee 2, your heat shielding and armor are still intact, but I wouldn't try that again."

"Jah, bitershein Banshee 2." Mitchellin said. Hap wondered if Mitchellin's heavy German accent was hiding his sarcasm. .

"That's 2 more points." Colonel Norton said.

"Hap, boss, I'm starting to get that feeling like right before I shoplift at the exchange." Joker said.

"Coyote 4, say again, over." Yorik said.

Hap switched over to his personal channel with Anastasia, "How are we doing for points?"

"Colonel Norton has deducted a total of…" Anastasia hummed to herself quietly, "23 points, or at least that is what he has verbally indicated. This means we're at 77 points. He generally takes away a 'mech at 80 points, armor at 75 points, and another system at 65, and then declares us failures at 50 points.

"How do you think we'll do this time?" Hap asked.

"Well, Colonel Norton took away an armor asset instead of a 'mech, and we're ahead of schedule by ninety seconds" Anastasia said, "but we also lack artillery and Mags and Joker have done this exercise to the point of complacency and annoyance. I suspect we'll lose at least three points coming off the drop zone, and Colonel Norton likes to make me the 'mech he takes away from you."

"I noticed that, I think he's trying to annoy me by not 'notionally' killing Joker." Hap said.

"I believe he is reiterating the risk I'm taking in participating in combat operations." Anastasia said.

"That had occurred to me too." Hap said.

The drop ship doors opened, but the locks on the mechs were not released. This was the false insertion for the mech's, but the place where the drop ship would release the Karnov UR Transport. The VTOL would be lowered from the Leopard's aerospace bay with a specially made crane system installed for this operation. The Karnov would then get clear, and the Leopard would move forward another 400 meters and insert the 'mechs. It all had to be done in roughly thirty seconds. If there were any enemy present or if Banshee flight couldn't protect the Karnov the 'mechs would deploy here.

"Looks like we need to start paying attention again." Hap said.

Anastasia sighed, "Well, I hope I make it off the drop ship, I'm starting to get motion sick." Anastasia said as they switched back to the main command channel.

"Detachment 3 has deployed." Mitchellin said. Hap could see the Karnov move up and forward and then the tilt wings shifted so the transport could fly like a conventional fixed wing aircraft. It began to bank as the leopard lifted off again as Mitchellin said, "Mechwarriors stand by for insertion." The locks released and Hap could feel his 'mech sway slightly.

The leopard got up to altitude and then the engines kicked in hard.

A moment later the leopard pulled hard and banked to starboard as a female voice said "Oh shit!" following by Mitchellin addiing, "Shizer!"

Mags cursed again, "Jefe, I'm out."

Before Hap could say anything Joker added, "yeah let's bail"

"That would be-" Anastasia said, but she knew it was too late, "unwise".

Hap glanced down at his tactical display, the Leopard, the Karnov, and one of the Stukas were all in the same air space and almost on top of each other.

"Jenner pilot, what the hell! Don't-" the desperate voice of the Karnov pilot could be heard over warning klaxons as some yelled behind him, "Watch that Firestarter."

"What just happened?" Colonel Norton yelled.

"Colonel, this is Banshee Two, this is my fault." Swanky said, "I saw one of the virtual bogies moving to attack the Karnov, as I altered course to intercept I came too close to the Leopard, uh, the Phaidin."

Kate cleared her throat, "Two mechs performed an emergency egress from the Phaidin. One caused the Karnov to take evasive actions. The Karnov transport was not struck and is still flying. All aircraft and 'mechs operational. I say again, all air and ground assets operational."

"Pilot Erving, are you and your crew okay?" Colonel Norton asked.

"Roger Colonel, may need to change my flight suit before the debrief, but we're good to Charlie Mike."

"Negative you will not continue mission. ENDEX. ENDEX. ENDEX. Rehearsal over. We're executing a twenty-four hour safety stand down. I want all the leadership from each company to report to the Ops center for a debriefing."

The drop ship slowed down, leveled off and turned.

"Hey, is the drop ship gonna pick us up?" Joker asked

"Negative" Mitchelin replied, "you have bailed out, so you may walk home."

"Jenner and Firestarter, when you get back to base, come see me." Pilot Erving said.

"Belay that." Yorik snapped, "You two clowns come see me first, and whatever is left of your sorry asses can go and apologize to our esteemed colleagues."

Mags and Joker gave a muted acknowledgement as Hap watched the prairies of Daniels roll beneath him. The mech bay doors were still open and Hap enjoyed the rugged and open vista. Colonel Norton had put them in the middle of nowhere on Daniels. They hadn't seen any of the planet locals since they arrived. When they conducted their first "mock raid" the local magistrate called the Ops center demanding to know what was going on, but Colonel Norton handled him. After that it was almost like being on an uninhabited planet.

The Leopard landed and Mike came to help Hap out of his Griffin. Mike was favoring his left arm as he struggled to release the armored hatch controls. When he and Hap had got it opened Hap asked, "Did you sprain your arm during the flight? You need help getting to the clinic?"

Mike shook his head, "Maybe if I were a weaker man, I might need some help, but I'm a mech tech, not some pansy ass mechwarrior always complaining every time they get a little shaken up in the cockpit."

"True, but you nearly got tossed off the catwalk, not just knocked around a plush command couch." Hap replied.

Mike rubbed his elbow and nodded as he helped Hap from his 'mech. Hap climbed down the ladder and joined Anastasia. As they walked to the ops-center they fell in step behind Commander McFinnigan, Fletch, and Commander Willard.

"Kelly, you need to get your flight crews in line." Willard said loudly.

"When yer drivers can drive in a straight line for more than a few meters, and get to their objective on time, ye can talk to me about how I'm managing my flight crews Mr. Willard." Kelly said.

"My boys are having to hurry off the ramp because your drop ship crews are taking there sweet-ass-time landing these birds."

Before Kelly could respond they arrived at the Operation Center. Ops was a Mobile Headquarters truck. Everyone got quiet as they climbed into the cab and walked into the communication's room. The Colonel's Mobile HQ looked nearly pristine which implied to Hap the importance of the mission, or the clout of Colonel Norton.

Anastasia and Hap took their seats. Hap watched Anastasia look around and he knew she was trying hard not to touch things and start playing with the comms system. It all looked like stock, almost star league era equipment. The other lance leaders, and pilots filed into the comms room and found a seat around the large table with a built in Holo projector. Hap noted that Kate made a point to sit by Anastasia. .

Colonel Norton looked around at the assembled leaders, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we need to talk about the mistakes we're making. We'll start with mine. I concede I've been pushing each of you, and your teams, too hard. I need this operation executed nearly reflectively, but making you rehearse until you kill each other isn't the way. We'll slow down the pace and reduce the number of daily rehearsals."

"I think you may have overly complicated the operation too." Fletch said, "Inserting the Karnov, in one location and the 'mechs in another seems unnecessary. If I may, I suggest we just land the Phaidin at the primary LZ unload mechs and transport together and have them proceed to the objective from there."

Colonel Norton seemed to be considering the idea, "The reason I had the staggered unloading was because once it's in flight the Karnov is much faster than the 'mechs. I thought giving the 'mechs a head start would be good, but I get your point. If you could have your team re-write the execution of that phase of the operation, I'll look it over and consider your suggestion."

Fletch looked at Hap and Anastasia, "Conveniently I got a couple AFFS trained officers that could use some staff work experience. I'll have it for you later today."

"That brings us to you Commander McFinnigan." Colonel Norton pointed to the personnel files on his computer. "For the last few rehearsals, you've been using Penny and Sarah MacGregor as your primary pilots for both of your drop ships, but between them these girls have just a few dozen hours and most of that is in simulators."

"Aye, I figured it was pretty routine drops, and I could get the young ladies some experience outside ah simulator. If ye think it's causing problems I can have them resume the co-pilot role, and have Mr. Mitchellin and Mr. Hawkins be the lead pilots." Kelly said.

"Please do." Colonel Norton said, "Commander Willard, your tank crews have troubles with the roll-off phase of the operation. I'm starting to suspect at least one of your LRM carriers has an alignment problem."

Willard scratched the back of his head, "Yeah, I was going to use the safety stand down to have my boys look into that."

"See that they do." Colonel Norton said. He looked around at everyone, "Is there anything else anyone would like to add?" He paused and waited, "Alright. I appreciate your professionalism. Let's talk about some of the things you are doing right."

As he reviewed the previous rehearsals it became obvious Colonel Norton favored Detachment 3. They were the priority effort for the operation, so the Colonel's preference made sense. Hap suspected the Colonel had worked with them in the past. The members of the detachment looked like they were from all over the Inner Sphere, but given the Colonel's reputation it seemed likely they were all ex AFFS special forces.

When the meeting concluded Fletch pointed at Hap and Anastasia and indicated they should stay right where they were as he talked to Kelly and moved around the table.

Hap turned to Anastasia, "It looks like we're going to be re-writing an order this afternoon. That sounds about as fun as filling out paperwork."

Anastasia stopped looking at the comms gear, "Oh! It's better. With paperwork I'm constrained to request whatever the paperwork is for, but with orders, I can move the resources of a planet with just a few words."

Kate snorted as she stood up, and squeezed Anastasia's shoulder, "God bless you, you merry little bureaucrat. Hap, try not to let her use her powers for evil."

"You know well written orders are an art form. I heard Operation Roland's Horn was written on just three sheets of paper" Anastasia said as Kate gave a final wave and exited the vehicle.

Fletch shook his head as he pulled out a cigarette pack from his first aid kit. "Art or not, the base order for Operation Roland's Horn might have been written on three sheets of paper, but, sure as hell, the annexes were like a set of encyclopedias." Fletch held up the cigarette and looked at Colonel Norton. "Am I good to smoke in here?"

"Not in my HQ, Mr. Fletcher. Everything here is almost irreplaceable." Colonel Norton replied. "And your both correct. The base order was concisely written on a few sheets of paper, but the complete OPORD was probably close to two sets of encyclopedias."

"Alright, we'll take this over to my Cyclops. Some of the best plans and orders were written on the foot of a 'mech or on the hood of a combat vehicle." Fletch said as he led Hap and Anastasia out of the Mobile HQ.
« Last Edit: 07 February 2022, 00:17:39 by HFC05 »

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #243 on: 06 February 2022, 23:44:08 »
Chapter 75
Hap walked back to the McFinnigan portion of the Life Support Area. The LSA was setup in a neat gridwork of military six-man bubble tents. There were enough tents for all the mercenaries, including the support staff. The accommodations were spartan, but it was better than a Drop Ship's berthing area.

The different Mercenary companies generally kept to themselves as they settled into the LSA. Hap and his lance shared a shelter, and they were close to the other single mechwarriors and some of the support staff like the twins John and Mark.

As Hap found his shelter he noticed that the common area now had a fire pit. Rolph and Grizzly had a roaring fire going and were drinking beers as they sat in camping chairs and discussed the armor company's troubles with fixing their LRM Carrier. Rolph and Crow greeted him.

"You guys build a fire pit?" Hap asked.

"Nope. It was here when we got here." Grizzly replied. "Probably John and Mark's work. Where's your lance?"

"I was going to ask you guys if you've seen Joker or Mags." Hap said.

"We just got out here." Rolph looked at the liquid in his bottle, "about half a beer ago. Where's Anastasia?"

"Fletch had us do some paperwork, and she went to put the finishing touches on it." Hap held up the two to-go trays he was holding, "I went to the DEFAC to grab dinner before it closed. She was going to meet me here."

"Maybe she's in your tent." Grizzly said before finishing his beer.

Hap walked into the Coyote's tent to find Mag's sitting on her cot using her personal holo-viewer to look at pictures. Hap sat down across from her on his cot. He realized he had not really had a chance to speak with Mags in over a month. When they left Monhegan he hadn't seen her for weeks, and during the flight to Daniels he just didn't find a quiet moment to take her aside.

Hap sat the trays on the edge of the double thick inflatable mattress that Anastasia had managed to "acquire". Hap cleared his throat, "What are you looking at?"

"Family pictures."

"Yeah? How's your dad doing?"

Mags looked up, "He's dead."

Hap frowned, "Damn! I'm sorry I didn't know."

"I didn't think you did, Jefe." There was an awkward pause, "I'm not good at sugar coating things."

"Yeah I've noticed that." Hap nodded, "If you don't mind me asking, How'd you find out?"

"My cousin sent me a message, but I wasn't surprised." Mag said as she closed the picture she was looking at, and started to go through the video selections. "We share a bank account, I put money in it every pay day. He hadn't touched for weeks."

"Maybe he moved in with family and was saving money."

"Not the way he drinks." Mags said she got off her cot and sat down next to Hap, "Then there was this message." She loaded a holo of a very old looking man that mumbled and looked exhausted. It took Hap a moment to realize this was Mag's father. He looked thinner and somehow shorter than in the other pictures Mags had shown him of her father. Mag's dad spoke quietly in fluent Spanish.

"What's he saying?" Hap asked

"He's lonely and complaining about everything." Mags said, "It's not like how he usually complains though. My uncle, his brother was dead when got back home and my nephews didn't show him the respect he thought they should have. They knew he paid a lot of bills for the farm and was family, so they tolerated him, but he knew they didn't like him. My aunts are too busy with their own lives and children. He's just very lonely."

"Wow. It's too bad he couldn't come back here. Everyone seems to like your dad." Hap watched the old man talk and thought about some of the stories he had heard of Mag's dad, "Maybe it's more accurate to say everyone respected him here."

Mags nodded and whispered, "everyone respected him here, true." She stopped the video and changed to a still holo of her and her dad. The picture was taken in a bar with Mags and her dad posing with beers in front of a Cerillos flag. Mags didn't look different, but her father seemed years younger, and they both looked happy.

Hap pretended not to see the tears in Mag's eyes, "That's a good picture, when was it taken?"

"When I was sixteen. Can you believe it was only a few years ago?"

"It looks like a very good memory. Does Kelly know your dad is dead? Do you want do something for him?" Hap asked.

"He knows." She said, "Kelly said some nice things for him while you were on St. Ives. Hung his picture in the galley too."

Anastasia opened the tent flap and pushed her way in, "Oh good Harold, and Mags. What are you two talking about?"

"Mags dad." Hap said.

"Oh? Did you tell Harold about your father?" Anastasia asked.

"Yeah." Mags said.

Hap looked up at Anastasia, "You know Mags dad had died? Why didn't you tell me?"

Anastasia gave a little shrug as she sat down and cozied up to Hap, "Mags is a private person. I figure it was best to let her tell you when she was ready."

"There was a funeral, so apparently I was the only one that didn't know." Hap said, then quickly added, "I'm sorry we missed it, Mags."

Mags shrugged, "You didn't know him."

"Yes but often what we do for the dead is for the living." Anastasia said.

Mags gave Anastasia an odd look. "What Anastasia is saying is, we wanted to be there to support you. I'm sorry we weren't there to support you, and I'm sorry I didn't know about this until now." Hap paused, "I'm also kinda surprised Joker didn't say anything when we got back to Monhegan."

"Are you really that surprised?" Mags asked as she shutdown the holo viewer.

"He came and talked to me. He said you were acting weird and…yeah actually I don't know why I'm surprised." Hap said.

Mags gave Hap a knowing look, "When my dad died, and I thought about how lonely and angry he was I realized I didn't want to be like that. When I die I want to be surrounded by my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren."

"Knowing Joker I'm going to guess that spooked him." Hap said.

"He thought I was kidding, I guess. He made some jokes that pissed me off."

"I find that unsurprising." Anastasia said.

"Where is Joker?" Hap asked

"John and Mark came by and wanted him to help with something." Mags said.

"So what's going to happen with you and Joker?" Hap asked.

"I've decided I'm probably going to forgive him eventually." Mags said.

"That's generous of you" Hap deadpanned "When do you think that will be?"

"Maybe when I'm ready to have children." Mags said.

"With Joker?" Anastasia asked

"Might as well be him." Mags gave a wry smile "At least once he starts acting right. When I told Bill," Hearing Mags use Joker's actual name made Hap and Anastasia exchanged glances, "I wanted to have children he asked me if I was high. I told Bill to watch his mouth or I'd cut him, and he'd told me that sounds exactly like how the galaxy's best mother would talk. I knew he was right, and that pissed me off even more."

"Joker, tends to talk before he thinks." Hap said. "He knows he messed up, I think if you give him a chance he'll apologize. I also think You'll be a fine mom, Mags, if you give yourself a chance."

"As long as you don't threaten your children with corporal violence." Anastasia said

"Yeah I have a some growing to do." Mags stood up and put her holovid carefully on her cot. "I guess right now I'm too wild, like everyone says. I think I'll go out to the fire pit."

"You want to take our dinner to the fire pit?" Hap asked Anastasia.

"I think it's wise to eat outside the tent. I'd prefer to not attract vermin." Anastasia said.

The sun was starting to set and Rolph and Grizzly had been joined by Dillon, Crow, and Fiona. Mags found a chair and dragged it over to the fire. Hap and Anastasia took a bench made of wooden missile crates, and settled in to eat their meal.

Patrick walked out his tent with a case of the McFinnigan home brew, "Hap, Professor, were ye able to fix the plan?"

"Wait. What changes do you make in the plan?" Grizzly asked suspiciously as he grabbed a beer.

"Fletch suggested they change the part where Mags and Joker try to jump on the Karnov." Fiona said.

"That was never part of the plan" Mags grumbled, "we had to bail because someone let Penny or Sarah MacGregor fly the Phaidin."

"Oh. I don't care about any of that." Grizzly said, "That's a Coyote problem."

"Indeed." Anastasia said, "And yes, per the XO's guidance, we modified the 'back door' phase of the operation so that the Phaidin only does one insertion. Also Colonel Norton ordered me to add that I would protect the Phaidin and not leave the drop zone."

Hap frowned, "That takes the Coyotes down a 'mech, that some combat power."

Anastasia nodded, "Colonel Norton feels we're more likely to meet resistance on the ex-fil, so having a 'mech in a vanguard or overwatch position may be beneficial. Especially while loading up the Karnov."

"It also keeps you away from the main fight." Hap sighed. "Between Colonel Norton and Major Braun I'm starting to suspect you're the key to the whole NAIS weapon's program."

"Unlikely. They might be struggling with my father's research areas, but there is a cadre of other scientists and researchers that could probably continue his work." She stared at the fire for a moment, "probably. Though my father was quite brilliant. Perhaps they do need my assistance."

"Don't they have that Team Buckaroo or Bananas or something?" Grizzly asked as he passed Crow a beer.

"Team Banzai. Yes." Anastasia sighed, "They're certainly brilliant, and eccentric, but they're also generally allowed to research whatever appeals to them at the moment. They create amazing things, if it interests them. That could be the main reason AFFS High Command want me back. They're looking for additional scientists that will actually work on the projects they want done." Anastasia snuggled up to Hap. "They can wait though, I'm pretty happy right here though."

Hap laid his head on hers. "Was Fletch there when Colonel Norton changed the plan?"

"Yes, Fletch argued against it, but Colonel Norton was adamant. Colonel Norton said he had been thinking about this for a while, and so if we were going to change one thing, we may as well change two." Anastasia said. "Fletch agreed eventually. He told me to try and figure out a way to help out. He suggested I coordinate the air support."

"That's good, someone needs to do that," Fiona said, "You can start by ensuring there is a clear flight path for the Karnov. Try to make it so no one jumps on the poor thing."

"Everyone thinks they're so damn funny until their in a drop ship with open doors and a bad pilot."

"Oh Mags, lighten up. We've all had at least one bad drop." Fiona replied.

"Aye, ye should ask Fiona about the drop when she thought her jump pack wasn't working " Patrick said.

Fiona gave Patrick a murderous look, "You shut your damn drunk mouth Patrick. We were jumping a gas giant and you try being dependent on the those limited single use jump packs when your falling from low atmosphere."

"Is that why they used to call you 'Screamin' McFinnigan'?" Crow asked.

"You really want to be part of this conversation?" Fiona said.

"Oh, lighten up Fiona." Patrick said, but before she could answer, John, Mark, and Joker walked up to the crowd sitting around the fire. Joker was carrying a small dog.

"Where have you guys been?" Hap asked.

"Well, Kelly noticed that there were wild dogs getting into the dumpsters behind the DEFAC, and he was worried that these dogs might hurt or attack someone." John said.

Mark added, "So he told us to get rid of the dogs. At first we thought he meant to shoot them."

"But the pack was damn near thirty." John said. "So we decided to try somethin' else."

"We happened to know where to find a couple o' cases of expired rations that were no longer fit for human consumption so we figured…" Mark explained.

"You lads didn't poison these poor dogs?" Patrick asked.

"Nay. We baited 'em into the back of the utility truck. Then we drove about a hundred kilometers west of here, where there's a landfill for some local settlements." John said.

"We fed them some expired rations and then tossed the rest out into the landfill." Mark said. "We figure they'd jest pick around the landfill or try their luck in the settlements.

"Yeah, also I think they're Coyotes, so I kept one." Joker said holding out the small dog which Hap could now see it clearly. It was a tawny lanky puppy. It had small but erect ears and a long tail. The pup's brown eyes were alert and curious.

"Joker we can't keep this dog or Coyote." Hap said "There's no way we can take it on the drop ship. Yorik or Fletch will have my ass."

"Oh, now before ye dismiss this poor girl, ye should hear how Joker had to bargain for her." John said as he took the puppy and passed her to Anastasia.

"Who did you bargain with?" Hap asked.

"Alright I know this sounds weird, but, no shit, here's how it happened. We got the coyotes into the back of the five ton, drove them out to the trash hole and then we started mading a pile of the rotten rations."

"How'd you know they were rotten? Most rats smell like they've gone bad." Grizzly asked.

"Because the tag on the boxes said 'best before Second Succession War' and had been signed by Kerensky himself." Joker said, "Shut your ration hole Grizzly."

"Yeah shut the hell up Grizzly." Mags added.

Grizzly grumbled as Joker continued, "So the coyotes got out and started sniffing around, and we start throwing around the rations and the coyotes start tearing into the boxes and eating."

"Then I saw this little bitch." Joker said motioning to the coyote Anastasia was holding and Mags was petting, "and I decided to keep her. When I went to grab her this biggest Coyote stepped between me and her and just stared at me. I could tell she was smart so I thought maybe I'd offer her a ration."

"How'd you know it was a 'her'?" Fiona asked, then quickly added, "Nope. Don't answer. So the great Matriarch of the coyotes is staring at you. Please, continue."

"Right I could tell she was super intelligent so I told her, 'I'll give you this ration for that puppy.' And I swear she stared at me for a moment, blinked her eyes, shook her head and then walked over to the palette of MREs and tried to pull a case off the palette." Joker waited for someone to comment then continued, "So I grabbed the case took it away from everyone and opened it up for her. Then I picked up the puppy, and hand to god, she looked at me nodded."

There was a pause and no one said anything for a few moments. Then Grizzly laughed, "Bullshit!"

"Oh ye had to be there." John said.

"Aye, Joker made a real connection with 'the great coyote matriarch' I thought he was going to try ask fer her paw in marriage or somethin'." Mark added.

"Joker, none of this really matters because there is no way we can keep a dog." Hap said.

"Coyote." Fiona corrected. "And uh, your in more trouble than you know." Fiona moved her hand out from under the blanket she was sharing with Crow and pointed at Anastasia.

Hap looked over as Anastasia lovingly cuddled the small canine in her arms and whispered, "oh bebe" as the coyote yawned. Anastasia passed the pup to Mags, "I think we should name her Athena, after the Greek goddess of war and wisdom."

Mags scrutinized the coyote as she held it, "What about Ixchel? She's the Mayan Goddess of the moon, fertility and medicine."

Anastasia gave Mags a questioning look, "Why the moon?" As if on cue there was a distant howl from several miles away followed by another that sounded like it was just a hundred meters away. The coyote puppy looked around for a moment looked like she was going to howl, but just yawned again.

"Perhaps Selene, after the Greek moon goddess." Anastasia said.

Mags nodded as the coyote settled in her lap, "She looks like a Selene."

"Anastasia, you told me you didn't want vermin in the tent." Hap said.

"Selene isn't vermin" Anastasia answered. "At least no more than Joker."

Hap sighed and put his arm around Anastasia's shoulder. "I'm still not sure how we're going to sneak Selene onto the Phaidin."

"Oh it's pretty simple mate, First you have Doc Leslie Morgan look her over." Patrick said. "Les loves animals and will make sure she's healthy, and give her whatever shots she needs. Once that's done Fletch and Yorik can't say that's she some mangey disease bearing mongrel. At least no more than Joker."

"Hey! I do a nice thing, get us all a cool pet, and everyone is giving me shit." Joker said.

"Yer right mate, have a beer." Patrick held out a bottle that Joker eagerly accepted, "So once that's done, you'll just need a crate to keep her in, and that's something any of the tech's can weld together for you, if ye askin' em nice enough.

"Yeah there's enough scrap to throw something together." Rolph said as he finished his beer, belched, and grabbed another bottle from Patrick's case.

The conversation continued to a complete plan to sneak Selene on the drop ship and then more discussion on the operations and the other mercenary companies.

Everyone generally liked the tank company even if their commander was a little too bombastic for their tastes. The tankers seemed like a good fit with McFinnigan Company, and Rolph and Crow even suggested inviting them next time they found themselves around the fire pit.

No one had much of an opinion on the White Tails. The pilots generally kept to themselves and given how highly regimented their duty and sleep schedules were it was unusual for the MechWarriors to mingle with their own flight crews, much less pilots from another company.

The special forces detachment, Det 3, was different altogether. They kept to themselves, and they were usually in full kit with their faces covered. They generally ignored anyone's attempt to be friendly or sociable. Everyone felt they were actively trying to not to be social. It felt like they were too good to talk to the companies.

Patrick wished they had been able to trade them out for his cousin Brandon's outfit, Robert's Rangers. Patrick told several stories of his cousins daring exploits, some of them were youthful criminal mischief that Patrick participated when they were teens. Other stories were outright suicidal military operations that were only successful because they were so unexpected and conducted with aggressive speed and violence. The failed plan to steal a drop ship by driving up into it and rushing from the loading deck to the bridge sounded like it would have been an average "day at the office" for the Rangers.

The fire died down and slowly everyone peeled off to their own tent. Eventually only the recon lance remained. Hap gently tried to rouse his napping wife so she didn't wake the small coyote curled up in her arms. Wordlessly he reached out to Mags who was staring at something just beyond the fire light. Hap followed her eye line to see a large dog watching them.

The dog moved, and for a moment Hap thought it was a wolf, but when the animal walked silently into the fire's dying fire light Hap could see it had markings and coloring like Selene. The large Coyote approached Anastasia and Selene and gently touched noses with the sleeping pup.

"Oh shit." Joker whispered, "That's her. She came back for her girl. Maybe she thought I just wanted to borrow her."

"Or-" Anastasia stopped herself as she locked eyes with the coyote. Hap knew Anastasia was going to tell Joker there was no way a feral beast could understand the idea of bartering, but now that he was looking at the coyote he understood Joker's point. It did seem to have a strange intelligence.

"No." Mags whispered, "I think she wanted to make sure we were taking good care of her daughter."

The Coyote broke eye contact with Anastasia and glanced down. She noticed Anastasia's to-go tray still had a large piece of chicken breast in it. The coyote helped herself to the meat before silently leaving. After she disappeared there were a few more howls of various distances, followed up by one that sounded like it was just behind the tents.

"Alright, I know a wild animal can't actually know what it means to trade a ration for a puppy, but how do you explain that?" Joker asked.

Anastasia stood up, "Whatever she understands doesn't exactly matter. Every time we terraform a planet or introduce species to a new world, they adapt and sometimes they don't act in ways we are used to." Anastasia looked over at Mags, "What's important is, even though she's wild, she's clearly smart, and a good mother."

"Uh, okay." Joker looked over at Mags, "you know what the professor is talking about?"

Mags nodded. "Let's take a walk."

PsylockeSmythe

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #244 on: 07 February 2022, 15:25:05 »
Another good update, can't wait to read more.

Psy

Elmoth

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #245 on: 07 February 2022, 17:53:57 »
Nice. Now we have a pet coyote

David CGB

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #246 on: 07 February 2022, 19:47:27 »
Nice. Now we have a pet coyote
always nice to have something to play with, pet wise
Federated Suns fan forever, Ghost Bear Fan since 1992, and as a Ghost Bear David Bekker star captain (in an Alt TL Loremaster)

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #247 on: 26 March 2022, 03:36:13 »
Chapter 76

Necromo System
Leopard class Drop Ship Phaidin

April 3030

Anastasia walked across the galley carefully holding her tray of food. She glanced down to make sure Selene was still with her. Dutifully the little coyote was following right at her heels. In addition to Anastasia's breakfast the cooks had given her a metal bowl with some of the meat scraps and leftovers from the previous night. Anastasia sat down in the galley booth across from Mags and Joker. Hap slid onto the bench beside her.

Selene weaved her way under the table as Anastasia held her bowl out. Anastasia made Selene wait a moment before setting the food dish on the deck. The coyote pup immediately pounced and greedily began to devour everything in the dish. As the coyote ate her breakfast Anastasia cozied up to Hap and looked at her plate. Today's breakfast was biscuits with a thick cream gravy made with black pepper and spiced pork. She took a bite as Mike walked up.

"Where's Selene? I got this overcooked bacon." Mike asked, holding out a piece of blackened bacon. The Coyote stopped eating and moved just far enough to peer out from under the table. Selene sniffed at the bacon in Mike's hand, and then snatched it before quickly retreating under the table. She laid at Anastasia's feet and crunched on the crispy bacon.

"Oh Mike, I'm sorry she shouldn't snatch like that." Anastasia said, as Mike gave a dismissive wave as he smiled and leaned back to see the coyote.

This had been the biggest surprise of getting a coyote for Anastasia. It began with an argument between her and Joker about Anastasia's desire for Selene to be an obedient and well-behaved pet, and Joker's desire that she be allowed to be herself, or at least that he not train her. Mags said she would help train the coyote, but Mags had little patience. Hap kept finding other things that "needed" his attention. The result was that Anastasia found herself alone trying to train and domesticate a coyote. After a few frustrating days Anastasia happened to bring Selene down to the 'mech bay to show her to Maja and Taja. Mike saw Selene and took an immediate interest.

Anastasia quickly learned that Mike liked dogs and knew a lot about training them. He talked to her for several hours about how to train Selene. Anastasia was even more surprised when, while they were talking, Mike got the coyote to sit and stay, and almost got her to roll over. He gave Anastasia an extensive workshop in training techniques for dogs. The biggest surprise was he didn't insult her or interject one of his clever backhanded insults.

Mike watched the coyote for a few more minutes and then went back to go get some food, and probably something else for Selene. Anastasia began to eat her breakfast as she looked about the galley. They were a few hours from the mission and this was their last meal before the operation started. They were also going to have a tight beam two way teleconference with the rest of the raiding force. The teleconference would be the final mission brief.

This meant the galley was full. The Detachment 3 team, their three man air crew, and members of the McFinnigan support staff that weren't directly flying the Drop Ship were all eating their breakfast and waiting for the mission brief.

Rowyena was also on the Phaidin. Anastasia assumed it had something to do with having non-company members on the Drop Ship, and if things got weird she could assert some claim of ship ownership for the company. Roweyna had explained some of the Best Business Practices that she was usually doing for her Father, or convincing him that he needed to do them. Anastasia was surprised at how much running a mercenary unit kept coming back to legalities. The business angle seemed obvious but maintaining the fine line between state sponsored military contractor and military adventurer took up a surprising amount of Roweyna's time.

Anastasia turned her attention to the special operations unit. This was the first time she had really seen the Detachment 3 group without their full kit. They had taken over one of the long tables in the galley and it looked like they spent most of their time there. There were weapons and personal items scattered on their table. The Coyotes had spent almost all their time in the "warrior lounge" or the 'mech bays. For whatever reason neither group wanted to mingle with the other and both had actively avoided each other.

Anastasia noted that Det 3 seemed to be a cosmopolitan group. There was a tall stocky blonde-haired man that looked like he came from the Rasalhague area of the Draconis Combine. The co-pilot for the Karnov was a petite woman of Asian descent who looked like she came from the Cappellan confederation. There were two darker skinned men who would have fit into Free World's league populations. The rest of the men could have come from anywhere in the Lyran Commonwealth, Federated Suns, or the periphery states that surrounded them.

Anastasia wondered how the group came together. It was possible they came from one unit or organization, such as an AFFS special operation unit. Every successor state had a majority ethnic group, but most of the nations had members of every race so it wasn't uncommon or impossible for a collection of individuals like this to be in the same unit. Besides, Anastasia reasoned to hereself, Det 3 was also mercenaries, just like McFinnigan and Sons It was normal for mercenaries to draw from all the nations.

As Anastasia considered the other mercenary unit. Mags got up and picked her tray, "Anyone need anything?"

Anastasia reached for Selene's food dish. Even though it was empty the Coyote reached out with a paw to try and keep the metal bowl. Anastasia gently reprimanded the puppy and wrestled the dish from her. Anastasia passed it to Mags and asked, "Would you get some water for Selene?"

Mags nodded and turned to walk across the galley. Selene got out from under the table, caught a glimpse of her food dish and followed Mags. When Anastasia tried to call her back Mags stopped, looked down, and told Selene to go back. The Coyote looked confused and jumped up and Mags stepped back while telling her to "get down."

As Mags stepped she turned and walked directly into the stocky blonde from Det 3. Her tray was upended onto the man and she bounced off of him and fell down. Instantly she was on her feet again, and yelled, "Hey, Look where you're going."

"You ran into me, maybe you should stop playing with your dog and pay attention." The man said.

"Sorry," Mags shouted, "but you need to watch out".

Hap got up and jogged to get between Mags and the tall man. The commander of Det 3, Poityr Wojski, also moved quickly to help separate the Mags and his subordinate. Mike silently slipped in between Hap and Mags. With one hand Mike motioned for Selene to sit, which she did, and his other hand rested on the hilt of the long J shaped knife that he used for cutting through 'mech myomer, cables, and electrical wiring.

"Alright, Mags, why don't you go put your tray away." Hap said then he turned to the tall blonde man, "She said she was sorry, it was an accident. Let me put your tray away, maybe I could get you a cup of coffee. You can go back to your seat, get ready for the brief."

"I was going to get more food." The man told Hap then looked over at Mags, "And you need to watch out, I'm a dangerous man."

"We're all dangerous here." Hap said quietly, "We've all been in combat, we've all fired our weapons in anger. We've all seen some shit."

"Really?" The man turned to face Hap and stood taller, "You ever stab a man in the chest, feel the knife go through heart and lungs and then cradle him like a mother as his blood pours out and life slowly leaves him?"

"Sjorberg enough." Wojski barked, "Go sit down." Wojski turned to Hap, "I apologize my men are impatient right before the operation."

Hap nodded, "Mine too. Once the brief is over we'll load up in our 'mechs, hopefully after the operation we can mingle a little, get to know each other, prevent a repeat."

Wojski shrugged, "Or go back to keeping everyone separated, that worked."

Hap nodded, "It did, but-" As he spoke Wojski turned and went back to sit with his unit.

Hap returned to the booth with Mike and Selene at his heals. Hap sat down beside Anastasia again and pulled Selene up and passed her over to Anastasia. Mike stood over the table and spoke quietly, "Hap I don't trust those ******. They're a bunch of psychopaths."

"Yeah I was thinking that when he asked about my experience stabbing people," Hap sighed, "I can't think of how that could have been weirder or more uncomfortable."

"Oh I can." Joker said, "Imagine if he told you that while you were in that big shower trailer we had back on Daniels. There you are naked, getting ready to lather up and that guy comes up, also naked, and says-"

"What would make you think any of this?" Anastasia asked

"I was using the shower, and Mark and John came in and we started talking about the weirdest shit we've heard in the shower." Joker said, "So I've been thinking lately, what is the most awkward thing-"

Mags came back and sat down next to Joker, "You're not telling them about playing grab-ass in the shower are you?"

"We weren't playing grab ass, we were talking, just three normal guys talking."

"In the shower?" Anastasia said, "Do guys normally talk in the shower?"

"Not usually" Hap started to say.

"When I'm in shower I try not to make eye contact, clean myself, wash my hair and go." Anastasia said.

"That's how you do everything. You just try to not make eye contact, do your business and not be noticed, but you're weird. I know for a fact most women ask the girl next to them to wash their back, help them with their hair, and then usually-"

Anastasia shook her head, "What do you base that on?"

"I saw it in the movies." Joker replied

"What movies are you watching?" Mags asked suspiciously.

"Oh, uh, you know, the movies, like the ones with Brock Armstrong, and-"

"No." Said Anastasia, "I've seen the entire catalog of Brock Armstrong movies and there is no scene like the one you described, and, knowing you, if there was you would insist, we watch it regularly."

Mags looked from Anastasia back to Joker, "Yeah, what movies are you talking about, William."

"Uh…I think it might have been an episode of Brave Sister Sniper"

Mags didn't look amused, "No, I don't think so. I thought we agreed you wouldn't watch those movies anymore. "

"Well just because I stopped watching those movies, doesn't mean I forget what I saw. Besides whats wrong with me-" Joker said.

"You need to stop talking now." Mags said.

Joker and Mags stared at each other, and Mike cleared his throat, "As much as I want to watch Mags and Anastasia tear Joker apart. I need to go sit down. But I'm serious Hap, watch your back with those guys. There's something wrong with them."

The 1MC clicked on, "Standby for the connection with the Tir na nOg." Hawkins said. The screens around the galley turned on and in a moment they resolved to show a split screen with the galley on the Tir na nOg one one side, and Colonel Norton from the bridge of the Leopard on the other. Someone dimmed the lights to make the screens easier to see.

Anastasia nestled up to Hap as Selene sniffed her plate and sampled the leftovers. Everyone in the galley got quiet as Colonel Norton began to speak, "I'd like to thank all of you again for your participation in this operation. We're a few hours from the drop and I'd like to review the mission parameters one more time, ensure everyone is clear on their task and purpose and answer any last-minute questions."

Colonel Norton reached off camera and the screen was filled with a topographical map showing icons for all the forces in the operation. "Starting with weather we'll have clear skies, complete visibility and the ambient temperature will be between 15 and 18 degrees."

As the Colonel continued his brief Selene started eating from Anastasia's plate. Anastasia tried to stop her, but Selene resisted and started to push the plate around. Anastasia gave up, put plate and coyote on the deck and tried to focus on the mission briefing.

"I say again. Mission: the combined task force will conduct a raid on the Necromo research and development center located on the planet Necromo vicinity of 38.73 N, and 194.88 W, on 110300ZAPR3030. Moving onto the execution of this raid."

There was the shuffle of papers as a few people with printed copies of the order followed along. Hap had a printout. Anastasia had made a knee-board size checklist of the operation's phases with the responsible organization, and the suspense times. She was verifying her checklist as the Colonel went through the execution of the raid. Anastasia was also comparing her notes to Hap's copy of the orders.

As the Colonel continued Selene hopped back into Anastasia's lap and curled up to take a nap. Her fluffy bulk covered up Anastasia's kneeboard. Anastasia thought about trying to move the coyote puppy, but she might choose to play, and if she napped now she'd be less of a distraction.

Anastasia also realized she didn't have much reason to care either way. Her "task and purpose" for this operation had been reduced to overwatch and securing the drop zone. This meant she was going to take half a dozen steps off the drop ship, stand around in its shadow, and maybe fire a few parting shots as everyone loaded up. She realized the Karnov could go significantly faster than Mag's Jenner so maybe having her there to discourage anything that might be quick enough to chase it was a good idea. It still frustrated her though. She tried to soothe herself by petting her coyote and snuggling up to Hap.

Anastasia glanced across the table to see that Joker was writing on his checklist. She had made copies for everyone in her lance and she was pleased that he was taking things seriously and using the list. Then she realized he had turned it over and was drawing crude pictures on the blank side. Because the lights were dim and it was upside down Anastasia couldn't tell what Joker was drawing but she had her suspicions.

The Colonel finished the briefing and turned the camera's back on to the split screen between the Phaidin's bridge and Tir na nOg's galley. "That completes the mission brief, are there any questions?"

"I got a question." Wildman Willard said. Anastasia always thought he was shouting when he spoke, and it seemed worse with the camera zoomed in on his table on the galley of othe Tir na nOg. "Actually, I got one question for each of the other commanders. Let's start with you Wojski, how do you think you boys are going to do on this operation?"

Colonel Norton looked annoyed, "What's your point, Willard?"

"Me and the boys were talking. We were trying to figure out what sort of Mercenaries were fighting with. We want to make sure we're not doing a job with folks that will cut and run, or that are in incompetent. So it got me thinking, maybe I should just ask. So Wojski, how do you think you and your boys will do?"

"This seems like a question that should have come up before we were hours away from landing on the target planet." Colonel Norton said, "Further, I would think after the isolation and training period you and, 'your boys' would know the mettle of men and women on your left and right."

"Sometimes you think everything is good until you're minutes from first contact." Willard said.

"Tell 'your boys' we'll accomplish our mission with acceptable losses." Wojski said. "That should be all that matters to them."

"Acceptable losses? You plan to lose some of your boys?" Willard asked back.

"I don't 'plan' to lose any one, but this is war. People shoot back and try to kill you. You're a mercenary? You know this? Yeah?" Wojski said.

"Sure, but when you're good you don't spend time thinkin' about acceptable losses. Am I right, Tommy?"

Thomas Wildermmer was the leader of the mercenary aerospace Squadron. Commander Willard like to call him Tommy and it was obvious he hated it. The camera turned to the whitetails table.

Thomas sighed deeply, "I've been doing this business long enough to know, it's not about vectors, or logic loops, or barrel rolls, it's the quickest finger on the trigger. Me and my pilots are the quickest. I can't speak for you and your crews, but I don't spend much time thinking about losing. We just line up the shot and fly home."

"Fair enough, Tommy. What about your Mechwarriors, Kelly? How'd you think this fight is going to go?"

Patrick and Kelly looked at each other from across the galley, then Patrick began to bang his fist on his table in a slow rhythmic almost drum like beat. He started to sing out slowly and hauntingly, "'Se mo laoch mo ghile mear". He continued to keep time as he sang the strange and beautiful Gaelic tune. When he finished the first verse he paused for a moment.

"What the-" Willard said.

Patrick started the chorus and the entire McFinnigan company began to sing along including the members in the galley on the Phaidin. The hairs on the back of Anastasia's neck stood up as they sang. Anastasia didn't speak Gaelic but she knew this song. Mo Ghile Mear was one of Elinor's favorite songs.

Anastasia asked Elinor and Rowyena what the song meant, and Roweyna and Elinor had conflicting opinions about it. The song was written several thousand years ago and was a combination of even older poems. The literal translation that Anastasia made implied some unrequited love, the sad tale of a man that journeyed to find better economic options and never returned, and the mourning of a great hero or king. When Elinor or Rowyena talked about the song it was about romance, but now that Patrick was singing it felt like it was about the fallen champion.

The song ended and Anastasia realized even Mags was part of the ad hoc choir. Anastasia sat up a little taller. In spite of her diminished role, she felt proud to be part of the company and participate in the mission. She understood Patrick's point, the McFinnigan's were fighting for love and glory.

Willard seemed confused, but spoke anyway, "Alright, so Det 3 is fighting to achieve the standard, the white tails plan to be the slickest and quickest fingers on the trigger, and the McFinnigan's have a battle hymn. Boys I think-"

"That's not a battle hymn, it's the requiem for a great warrior" Anstaisa said.

"What was that?" Willard asked. The lights in the galley came back up and Anastasia could see one of the cameras for the teleconference system was focusing on her table.

"It's not a battle hymn, it's a song singing the praises of a fallen hero." Anastasia said.

As Anastasia spoke Willard could be heard talking to his fellow tank crew, "Who is that? Which one is the professor? That short little glass of sweet tea that pilots the Valkyrie?" He looked directly into the camera, "Professor, I'll tell you what, when we get this all said and done, we'll see if Kelly's singin' fightin' Mechwarriors can make some dancing' music, and you and I will dance the night away."

"The McFinnigan company has many musically talented members that can play and sing a wide variety of songs to include what they refer to as 'dancing reels and jigs', and after this operation I will dance the night away, with my husband." Anastasia corrected.

"Well the McFinnigan has some other winsome young ladies. I'm sure I won't have trouble finding another partner. Where's that little blonde that's usually with McFinnigan?" Willard looked around the galley.

Anastasia glanced over at Rowyena, she smirked her lips and looked annoyed. One of the women at the table leaned over to her and seemed to be teasing her about Willard's proposal.

"Mr. Willard." Kelly said, "If yer referrin' to my daughter, I'd suggest ye think less about her, and more about the task at hand, and prepare for the operation." Kelly's look of annoyance mirrored his daughter's expression.

"And suddenly I miss Kitty." Fiona said. The camera automatically skewed to another table with Fiona, Crow, Rolph and Dillon. Anastasia suspected Fiona didn't realize she was on camera as she continued to talk to Crow. "She'd usually go on the hunt for a new man during an operation. I suspect this would be her moment."

"Yeah" Crow agreed, then looked at the Camera "Hey, Anastasia have you heard anything from Kitty?"

Anastasia paused for a moment waiting to see if the Colonel would take control of his meeting, "Not really." Anastasia paused again, "Mother's note said she was becoming a perfect personal assistant, but she didn't go into any details."

"Oh that's too bad." John said as the camera focused on another table on the Tir na nOg, "I wonder how she's doing. I remember the last thing I heard Kitty say."

"Was that when the Countess asked her if she kept vibroswords under her ballgown, and Kitty said, 'nay, but I'm not opposed to it.'"? Mark asked

"No it was…actually that might have been it." John said. "I was thinking-"

"Alright enough" Colonel Norton snapped. "Does anyone have any questions that are relevant to conducting the raid, or the execution of this operation? No. Then I suggest everyone prepare for the drop. This concludes the briefing."

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #248 on: 26 March 2022, 03:36:47 »
Chapter 77

Planet Necromo

Anastasia's Valkyrie stood next to the Phaidin. They were on the drop zone designated a kilometer south of the Necromo aerospace research and development facility. In front of Anastasia was a sparse forest with a trail leading up to a mountain pass. Among the trees and hills she could see the smoking remains of a defense tower that she had just helped her lancemates destroy. The breaks in the trees revealed a few sections of reinforced wall. Occasionally she caught a glimpse of her lancemates moving through the pass or jumping over a terrain feature.

Anastasia could see the battle unfold around her from her scanners and tactical display as she listened to the command net. Her lance mates were tracing their way through the mountain pass. The rest of the task force was engaging the enemy north of the Capellan R&D facility. She was nowhere near any of them.

After ten days of grueling rehearsals, a harrowing jump into a Pirate Jump point and days of flying on a cramped drop ship with a bunch of psychopaths and a coyote it all came to this. Anastasia was waiting in the drop zone while everyone else fought. Anastasia couldn't wait for the operation to be over. She tried to make the time go quicker by watching the combat on her tactical display and listening to the radio.

The radio crackled, "Hammer lance, I got an Archer and Rifleman setup on the ridgeline given us a lot mischief." Patrick said.

"Give me a grid or a sensor lock, and I'll make it feel like they got a bag hammers dropped on them." Fiona replied

"Wait one. Dullahan four, move forward into that draw and try to get a sensor lock on the Archer."

There was a nervous affirmative from Connor as Anastasia watched his Shadowhawk's icon move forward and turn slightly to follow the terrain feature.

"This is Coyote 1, we're coming up on phase line gold and objective lion. Request artillery on the following lat/long. Target is a hardened military wall and 'mech gate." Hap said. Anastasia could see the quadrants flash across her system and a TRP showed up on her tactical display. According to the plan this should be the back gate for the compound.

"Copy Coyote 1. I see TRP and target is hardened construction. Splash over." Luther, the commander of the Long Tom gun crew. answered Hap. The raid had been rehearsed so many times Anastasia was certain that Hap could have just put the TRP up and the gun crew would have done the rest. There was a pause followed by a small trail of smoke from the north and then Anastasia could see the impact and the ground shook a little.

"Splash out, good contact, repeat" Hap said.

"Splash over." Luther said, and the process started again with the same trail of smoke followed by a ground shaking explosion.

"Splash out, good contact. Target destroyed. Coyote and Det 3 are crossing phase line-"

"Oh shit there's two Rommels back here." Joker yelled over the net.

"Luther, Same TRP, Adjust fire 100 meters north, tank in the open." Hap said. Anastasia wasn't surprised as she watched Hap's mech move to take cover, she could almost hear his PPC fire as she saw him skillfully moving his Griffin in her mind's eye. This wasn't rehearsed but everyone knew there would be some resistance at the rear of the compound.

"Two Rommel tanks?" Kelly said, "Oh, Colonel Norton, yer intel had been golden till jest now."

"Honestly this is still some of the best intel we've had for any job, ever." Fletch said, "Most clients usually just give broad guesses and it's often laughably wrong." Fletch paused then added, "That recon lance is trying to skirt us and move around to the artillery section. Fiona get ready for some company."

"I am starting to think Colonel has man on inside." Tatyana said.

"Something like that." Colonel Norton said. "What's important is you are all doing well and we're on the glide path for success. Keep focused."

"Guzzy, you see that Cicada on your sensors?" Willard asked, "Move your SRM carrier down the hill and when he comes around you give him a wall of SRMs to run into."

"Dillon follow in your Dervish, that Locust is right behind the Cicada, and that gun crew may need a little breathing space." Fiona added.

Anastasia watched as a Dervish and SRM carrier moved to intercept the Cappellan Cicada and Locust. The Cicada moved around the hill where the artillery lance and fire support vehicles were set up. It was destroyed almost instantly. Anastasia was certain it had met a "wall of SRMs". The Locust managed to score a few fits on the Dervish before it was also neutralized.

Anastasia sighed. She felt annoyed that she couldn't do more to contribute. She had left Selene with Mike and the other techs, and now she was wishing she could have been playing with her coyote. It was obvious she had nothing better to do.

"Colonel we got marks coming from the north, looks like a squadron of TR-7 Thrushes. They're coming in real fast." Thomas said.

"They're a little behind schedule, looks like the gamble on pirate jump point is paying off." Colonel Norton answered, "Banshee flight need you to assist White Tails. Need these taken down quick before the next wave of aerospace fighters arrive."

"Affirmative Colonel." Kate said.

Anastasia adjusted her sensors to get a better look at the air picture. She had to zoom out her view and move it north and east before the red triangles representing the enemy fighters were revealed. She watched for a moment as the six fighters changed their formation and angle to engage the White Tails and Banshees.

The Thrushes were a very fast and lightly armed and armored aerospace fighter. According to the brief this would be the first wave of aerospace defense. They wouldn't be a challenge, but it meant the rest of the planet was now aware of the raid and were starting to organize a response.

Anastasia started to recenter her scanner and zoom back in on the local area when she noticed three red triangles to the south. They were several kilometers away so she tried to retune her long range sensors but all they could reveal at this range was three 50 ton aerospace fighters.

"Ops, be advised, I'm tracking three aerospace fighters approaching from the south." Anastasia watched the fighters move and tried to calculate how quickly they would be within range.

"Oh?" Colonel Norton said sarcastically.. He paused, "Coyote 2, you're correct.. I confirm three 50 ton fighters. Not sure where they're coming from. Banshee Squadron break contact with the thrushes, and move toward Drop Zone Beta. I'll vector you in as you get closer."

"Affirmative Colonel." Kate said.

"Subaltern Vallois, try to keep those fighters away from the drop ship, try bull fighting." Colonel Norton added. Anastasia could hear Hawkins talking in the background to his co-pilot, Sarah, about the Leopards defensive weapons.

"Sir?"

"I need you to 'bull fight'" Colonel Norton said. "An aerospace fighter is going to strafe, and if you're paying attention you should be able to dodge them as they come at you. It's like they way a matador waves his cape at a bull and steps out of his way. Most aerospace pilots can't resist a 'mech in the open. Besides, if you don't do it, we might not have a way home."

"Acknowledge, Sir." Anastasia replied as she moved her 'mech away from the Drop ship. She scanned her topographic map looking for a terrain feature or something to help her. In spite of what the Colonel said, the likelihood of her surviving more than one strafing run seemed small. She could see nearby rock and hill formations that would provide her some cover and make it hard for an aerospace fighter to easily engage her. She'd still need to get their attention though, and then she'd have to survive until air support arrived.

Anastasia started to make a plan, and review her NAIS training. The colonel was right, a strafing aerospace fighter would create a 100 meter wide by several kilometer long avenue of destruction. They would hit anything in that avenue with all a hellacious barrage of lasers, but it was only in that narrow avenue. If she could wait till the fighter started its run and clear the avenue, there was a chance she could probably make it to the cliffs and rocks.

Her scanners gave an alarm and Anastasia looked over as her displays showed her two CSR-V12 Corsairs and a Phoenix Hawk LAM. Anastasia looked long and hard at the sensor read out. She knew this had to be the same Phoenix Hawk LAM that had been in the ambush on Monehegan and she was almost certain it had been the lead 'mech for her lance back in Klathandu. On Klathandu this 'mech's pilot, Captain Shaffer, had ordered her other lance mates to abandon her. The Phoenix Hawk was too rare of a 'mech for this coincidence.

The two fighters and the LAM barrel rolled and formed up side by side. Anastasia realized they were going to do a side by side strafing run. This created a much wider avenue of destruction. She needed to move now to escape the strafing avenue. She had her 'mech nearly spin on the balls of its feet as she turned hard to the right and began to sprint.

The aerofighters flew close to the ground and Anastasia could feel the multiple laser blasts pounding into the ground burning vegetation and scorching rocks and earth. She saw the trio of fighters pull up and break formation. The Phoenix Hawk banked hard to line up another strafing run as the Corsairs continued to climb. Anastasia considered they were either trying to cut her off from cover, or they were going to dive bomb her.

She touched off her jump jets to alter her Valkyrie's course. She made her 'mech zig-zag toward the rocky area. She jumped slightly to the right for 90 meters. As she turned her 'mech her firing computer confirmed a lock for her LRM. She confirmed it was on the Phoenix Hawk and fired as she turned her mech back to the left and jumped for another 60 meters. As she leapt one of the Corsairs dived and dropped two bombs.

The first bomb hit in the area she had just bounded from but the second bomb impacted as she jumped and the explosion destroyed the armor and part of the internal structure on her 'mech's left arm.

"Banshee flight, this is Coyote 2, I could really use some air support." Anastasia said.

"Keep 'em distracted kitten, we're almost there." Kate said

"If you could down that Phoenix Hawk I'd be most appreciative." Anastasia said as she sprinted for the rocky outcropping.

"Need to prioritize the Corsairs, Coyote 2." Swanky said, "Those bombs are a bigger threat to the Leopard drop ship."

"Did Giggles just call the professor 'Kitten'?" Joker asked.

Anastasia altered her mech's direction as the Phoenix Hawk descended on another strafing run. Anastasia realized too late she wasn't going to dodge the attack this time. She let out a surprised "oh!" as her 'mech's right arm, torso and center were struck by a barrage of laser bolts. She locked her missiles onto the LAM's afterburners and let a salvo fly as her laser melted armor off the nose of the LAM. She hurried to the cover of cliffs.

"Coyote 2 you need help? I can have Coyote 4 there as fast as Jenner will go."

"Belay that Coyote 1." Colonel Norton said. "Banshee flight has just closed with the new bandits. Continue Mission."

Anastasia saw a flashing light on her radio, and flipped her radio to the private channel she shared with Hap. "What's happening?" Hap asked

"Three fighters came from the south. I'm trying to keep them away from the leopard by making myself an attractive target. Which, once more, I'm finding catastrophic success."

"Well you are attractive and successful." Hap said. Anastasia could tell he was worried, but he was trying to hide it by flirting.

"You might be putting that on my gravestone." Anastasia glanced down at her sensors. The Phoenix Hawk and the Corsairs were circling back around but they seemed to be turning at different rates. She assumed they were going to try to attack all around her in a staggered pattern to prevent her from dodging again.

She turned to face the first Corsair that was coming toward her. It was trying to gain altitude to dive bomb her. She looked at her sensors and tried to calculate what the other two aerospace fighters were going to do while she lined up the shot. Before she could get the crosshairs lined up the aerospace fighter side exploded as lasers and missiles pounded into the wings and fuselage.

Anastasia felt relief as two all white Stukas flew overhead. The damaged Corsair pulled hard away from the Stuka, but still had enough control to climb for higher atmosphere. Anastasia watched as the Stuka's pulled up in response. The large 100 ton Stuka seemed to almost float as it pursued the 50 ton fighter. They had no problem keeping pace with the smaller craft, but the Stukas were so large they seemed to moved with an illogical gravity defying indifference as they chased the smaller fighter.

Anastasia remembered she was still on the wrong side of the fighters. She glanced down to confirm the other Corsair was also gaining altitude in order to better engage the Stuka, she also saw the Phoenix Hawk was now barreling down on her. She jumped her mech up and over a rock formation and found another narrow spot in the rocks as the Phoenix Hawk went screaming by narrowly missing her as its lasers scorched rocks and burned vegetation.

"Well my fortune just changed. I'm still in a fight with a 'mech that out classes mine, but at least it's a one-on-one competition." Anastasia watched as the Phoenix Hawk dodged a few of the larger rocks and hills. The LAM pulled its nose up and started to rapidly climb. As it came out of the cliff area the LAM was struck by a LRMs as it barely dodged multiple large lasers.

"The LAM just took a broadside from the Leopard. Which is likely a mistake she won't make again."

"Think the LAM will transform and just attack you 'mech-to-'mech?" Hap asked.

"That's what I would do." Anastasia glanced down at her 'mech's system monitor. She had lost a lot of armor from her right side, and her left arm was hanging on by a few skeletal steel threads. Her targeting computer indicated the Phoenix Hawk had sustained similar damage, but it still was going to be a challenge. "The LAM is damaged but I'm still outgunned."

"When the aeromech transforms you should get a free shot."

Anastasia studied her tactical display, "I'm not sure a free shot will be enough."

"I'm sending Mags, the Colonel will chew my ass, but this is stupid. Stay alive till she gets there."

"I'll certainly try." Anastasia could see the LAM was moving into position for another strafing run. It had taken a long turn to steer clear of the Leopard and kept low altitude to avoid the Stukas. Anastasia positioned herself near a low cliff and waited till the Phoenix Hawk LAM weaved into the canyon and started to strafe.

Anastasia used her jump jets to rocket to the top of a low cliff and then made a short hop to get to a higher point as the Phoenix Hawk jetted past her. As the LAM entered an opening in the canyon it took a hard turn and spun around as the legs dropped out of the Aerofighter fuselage and the wings half swept back to reveal the arms.

The LAM transformed into an air-mech hybrid. It took the form of an aero-space fighter with arms and legs, as illogical and absurd as it looked it was still effective. In this configuration it could hover around on its jump jets for long distances and bring all its weapons to bear on Anastasia.

Anastasia knew the LAM was an engineering marvel and represented some of the height of star league technology and ingenuity. She also knew it created a mech and an aerospace fighter that were slightly inferior for their weight. Further, it required extensive training and production facilities to reap a few niche tactical advantages. It was in the category of "things engineers can do, but probably shouldn't". Still she hated to do what she was about to do.

Anastasia fully gunned her jump jets and sent her 'mech in a high arc right toward the LAM. The LAM pilot had just pulled a high-g turn and it would take her a moment to recover the ability for her blood to pump properly, and the mech's change in posture and configuration would also keep her distracted. Anastasia locked her 'mech's heels and brought them down on the long aerospace fighter nose and cockpit. The 35 ton Valkyrie struck the cockpit and drove the nose of the LAM down into the dirt.

There was a disconcerting crunch and Anastasia could feel the 'mech break under her. Anastasia's own 'mech was warning her of damage to the feet and she could see that her leg armor was now compromised. She also had to backpedal quickly to keep from falling over. After she regained her 'mech's balance and the dust settled she could see the LAM was kneeling awkwardly and its nose was bent resting on the ground. The Valkyrie's targeting systems confirmed the 'mech was no longer functional.

Anastasia kneeled her own mech down and tried to peer into the ruined LAM's cockpit. The aerofighter's canopy was too darkly tinted and badly cracked for her to know for sure. She quickly popped the quick egress hatch on her mech and disconnected her neuro helmet. She reached for her go-bag and grabbed the combat survival ax as she climbed out of her 'mech. Soon she was sprinting the short distance between the giant combat machines and in record time she had climbed up next to her former opponent's cockpit.

Anastasia could now see the pilot, and she thought she saw movement. Anastasia shoved the pry tip of the ax handle under the canopy's broken metal frame and tried to pry it open. Her initial efforts to muscle it open were ineffective, so she just stomped on the ax. There was the sound of crushed glass and then something metallic snapped and fell away and the glass canopy swung open.

With the ruined and tinted glass canopy gone Anastasia could finally confirm what she knew. "Shafer!" she shouted.

Shafer shook her head and seemed to be half awake. Drunkenly she reached for her side arm. As she pulled it out of her holster Anastasia smacked it out of her hand and sent it flying away.

"Why, Shafer, why?" Anastasia demanded as she pulled out her own laser pistol.

"God I hate you." Shafer said. "Why couldn't you just die." Even through the neurohelmet Anastasia could see the look of rage and hatred, "Are you going to shoot me now? Do it."

Anastasia shook her head, "No. I want to know everything, and I want ComStar to stop this."

Shafer snorted, "You think we're just going to sit here and have 'girl talk' and solve all your problems? Your drop shuttle is going to leave in a few minutes, with or without you. I'll waste your time if that's what you want."

Anastasia looked into the cockpit, she could see that Shafer had been banged around and one of her arms had a bad bruise, but there was no excessive blood and she didn't appear to have any broken bones. "No you're coming with me?"

"Why in Blake's name would I do that?"

"Because if you don't come with me, I'm going to leave you hear for the Cappellans to find." Anastasia paused, "And I'm certain you'll eventually find yourself talking to Maskirova agents."

"I'm not afraid of them." Shafer replied. "I'm a ROM agent, I know how to resist torture and interrogation."

Anastasia put the barrel of her laser pistol into the women's neck, right under the neurohelmet, "Don't move" Anastasia warned as she felt around the woman's cooling vest and minimal clothing, she found a hidden pocket and pulled out a small blue vial. She noted it was similar to the one Colonel Norton had offered her. She threw it as far as she could away from the LAM.

She turned back to Shafer, "Alright you can come with me, and you'll probably be interrogated by AFFS and I'm sure we can all work out a way to stop ComStar from hounding me and threatening my family."

Shafer seemed to be looking to see where the suicide vial went. "Damn you're so naïve. This won't work out the way you think it will. You should also know your MIIO and DMI can be just as ruthless or brutal as Maskirova."

"Well if it's all the same to you and I'll leave you for Maskirova to find." Anastasia replied. She could see the fear in Shafer's eyes now.

"What makes you think I won't kill you once you turn your back on me?"

Anastasia reached into a pouch on her tactical vest and pulled out several plastic disposable "zip-tie" style handcuffs. "I have enough of these to secure your wrists and ankles, and if you do manage to break free I'll just eject and you'll be maimed or killed in that process. Finally, given that this is at least your third failed attempt to kill me, I rather like my odds."

A Jenner 'mech came hurling over the rock wall and landed so hard it almost felt like it was crashing into the ground next to them. Anastasia nodded toward the Jenner. "Also my friend just arrived."

Shafer gave Anastasia another murderous look, but kept her hands visible as she slowly and deliberately removed her neurohelmet and climbed out of the cockpit. She kept her hands visible as Anastasia guided her to the Valkyrie.

Mags joined them at the base of the ladder to climb into the Valkyrie cockpit. She helped Anastasia properly secure and zip tie her prisoner. Anastasia was a little surprised how compliant Shafer was, but she figured she didn't have too many choices, and Mags generally had an air about her that she wouldn't hesitate to empty her sawed off shotgun into anyone that crossed her.

In a few minutes both the Jenner and the Valkyrie were headed back toward the Drop Ship. Mags had warned Anastasia they needed to hurry as Det 3 had nearly secured the objective before she sprinted back to find Anastasia.

As the Leopard Drop Ship came in sight Anastasia could see the Karnov VTOL speeding to drop ship with a large metal shipment container slung underneath it. The shipment container was 10 meters long and about 3 meters wide and 3 meters tall. She still couldn't guess what it was, but she knew it was something AFFS wanted quite badly.

The air picture indicated the Corsairs were destroyed and the Banshees had moved back to help the White Tails with another wave of Capellan fighters. Anastasia glanced over her shoulder to see Shafer looking quietly enraged at her situation.

"Ops, this is Coyote 2. I have a prisoner. I request prisoner reception once we arrive."

"You have a what?" The Colonel demanded

"I captured the Phoenix Hawk LAM pilot. I believe she is ROM agent and I want to-"

"You bring her to me once you arrive." The Colonel seemed angry.

Shafer leaned to get closer to Anastasia and said, "I'll warn you again, this isn't going to end the way you think it will."
« Last Edit: 26 March 2022, 12:27:45 by HFC05 »

ThePW

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #249 on: 26 March 2022, 09:50:38 »
*eats Cardboard in anticipation*

DOC_Agren

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #250 on: 27 March 2022, 23:37:02 »
 :popcorn: :brew: :excited:
More please
"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!"

PsylockeSmythe

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #251 on: 28 March 2022, 13:51:10 »
Excellent chapter.  Can't wait to read more.

Psy

Elmoth

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #252 on: 30 March 2022, 15:05:39 »
Inlike Shafer. She has enough moustache bad girl attitude to her to make her adorable. Waiting for more!

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #253 on: 03 April 2022, 17:33:58 »
Chapter 78

Hap waited on the Drop Zone. He had his Griffin facing the direction of the enemy facility, and he was ready to leave. Over the radio he could hear the crew hooking the Karnov into its harness system. They had already secured the "objective" or whatever it was in the steel transit container. Now they were hastily trying to get the Karnov VTOL rigged up. Hsp examined his tactical display. Anastasia was trailing behind Mags and apparently Anastasia had somehow taken a prisoner. Joker was already loaded up on the Drop Ship.

Hap was also hearing that at the other drop zone they had already loaded up the fire support vehicles and were getting the rest of the tanks and hovercraft on board. Kelly warned Willard that if he jeopardized the load up his tanks would be unceremoniously tossed to the side and left. It sounded like things were going smoothly but Hap wondered if it was all the practice, or Kelly's threat..

Hap was waiting for the Colonel to get on the net and ask him why Mags was coming in with Anastasia, but so far he either hadn't noticed, or, more likely, he was waiting till they were underway to privately address Hap's insubordination. Somehow Hap was more nervous of a confrontation with Colonel Norton than the 'mechs and tanks he had just encountered.

Mags stepped her Jenner into the Leopard's 'mech bay, and Hap could see that Banshee flight was starting to come back around to escort the Leopard. Anastasia's Valkyrie finally arrived at the drop zone, and Hap followed her to the side of the Leopard and they both quickly loaded into their separate areas and got their 'mechs secured for transport.

The plan was to take off quickly and so the 'mechwarriors would stay in their 'mechs and wait until the Leopard had broken atmosphere and was headed back to their jump ship before anyone unloaded. The drop ship began to lift off even before the doors were shut. Hap settled in and waited to hear that the Tir na nOg was loaded. He felt a wave of relief as it sounded like the raid was successful, and they had taken few casualties. Some of the combat vehicles were destroyed but it sounded like most of the crews were recovered. The White tails reported some damage to their fighters but they were still capable. And as near as Hap could tell the McFinnigans had come out with all their 'mechs.

Hap began the shutdown procedures. He kept the life support system active and listened to the radio chatter. "Looks like you're clear Phaidin." Kate said. "We'll maintain the current heading and velocity a little longer, but then I'd like to dock."

"Acknowledge banshee one." Hawkins said, "We'll begin preparing for recovery operations, then later you and I can rehearse some docking procedures."

"Keep it classy, hawk." Kate said almost dismissively then added, "and I hope you chilled the wine."

"I'm going to proceed over to the Tir na nOg" Swanky said. There were a few moments of silence before he added, "White Tails you appear to be forming to attack. You see something I don't see? You need assistance?/"

"We think we got this under control Banshee flight" the leader of the white tails' commander said."Maintain your current heading and velocity."

"Acknowledge." Swanky answered, "Tir na nOg, I'm moving to you."

"Very good." Michelin replied. "White tails, we are ready to recover you now."

"Standby Tir na nOg. We, uh, we just want to make sure of something."

"Phaidin, my scopes are clean, I'm coming in." Kate said.

"You're clear to proceed." Hawkins answered.

Hap finished the shutdown procedures as the tall blonde member of Det 3 strolled out into the 'mech bay area. He was carrying a large, almost oversized laser rifle. Hap thought that was a bad choice for securing a prisoner but he keyed his mic, "Anastasia, it looks like Sjorberg from Det 3 is coming to secure your prisoner."

"Good." Anastasia said, Hap could hear another woman in her cockpit, "is that your husband? He's going to die too. Or maybe he'll just watch you die, and then I'll be sure to 'comfort' him." Anastasia came back on the net, "I've been sorely tempted to violate the Ayres Convention's articles on rights for Prisoners of War."

"Ye think she's a ROM agent, is she wearin' a uniform?" Roweyna asked, "As we've recently discussed, if she's not wearin' a uniform, and her 'mech had no identifying marks, she's not a legal combatant and ye can mistreat her as ye please. At least per the Aryes Suggestion."

"Be that as it may, I'm bringing her out unharmed, or at least no more harmed then when she surrendered to me." Anastasia said as the hatch of her Valkyrie opened. Sjorberg stopped and casually lifted his laser rifle to his shoulder and pointed it at the Valkyrie. Hap was confused as he tried to figure out what Sjorberg was doing.

Shafer appeared in the door of the Valkyrie cockpit, and the moment she saw Sjorberg she started to back up. Anastasia, unaware of what was going on, shoved Shafer out of the 'mech. Shafer half stumbled and then started to run down the gantry's catwalk. Sjorberg tracked her with his laser rifle. The laser rifle spat out multiple quick bursts of lasers. Most of the laser pulses struck Shafer and she went down hard on the catwalk.

Hap looked beyond Shafer to see Anastasia looking wide eyed but still standing in her cockpit. Hap motioned for her to stay put as Shafer rolled over and feebly tried to sit up, and communicate with Sjorberg. Another burst of lasers struck her and the catwalk as she slumped over.

Hap ripped off his Neurohelmet and pulled hard on the cockpit release hatch and pushed with all his weight as he scrambled out of his command couch. He squeezed out of his half open cockpit as he shouted, "Sjorberg, what the hell-"

Sjorberg gave Hap a bemused look as he turned the laser rifle in his direction and sent a burst of lasers at the Griffin's glass canopy. The pulse laser seemed too underpowered to hurt the 'mech but Hap knew it would certainly hurt him. Hap got back into his cockpit while Sjorberg put two more laser bursts into the catwalk and Shafer's body. Hap held up his Neurohelmet to speak into his mic, "Ops, this is Hap, one of Det 3's men has gone crazy and is firing weapons in the 'mech bay."

There was no response as Hap half stood up and watched Sjorberg nonchalantly drop the power cell from the laser rifle and slam another into its place. He put the weapon back on his shoulder and aimed at Hap. He kept one hand on the rifle's grip, and with his other hand he pointed at Hap and motioned for him to come down.

Behind Sjorberg Mike was swiftly walking behind him. He carried a two meter long torque wrench. He was holding the wrench high and across his shoulders like an executioner would hold a sword. When he got within a few paces of Sjorberg he swung the wrench and brought it down hard at the base of Sjorberg's neck. Hap saw Sjorberg's head move in a sickening and unnatural way and, for a moment, rest sideways on his shoulder. Sjorberg immediately collapsed to the ground. There was a burst of lasers from somewhere below Hap directed at Mike as he dove to the deck.

Hap quickly exited his cockpit and ran to look over the edge of the catwalk. There were three members of Det 3 using parts crates and the foot of his Griffin for a hasty fighting position. Mike was using the body of Sjorberg for cover and was also using the dead man's pulse laser rifle to return fire.

Hap instinctively reached for his sidearm. It was a classic revolver style slug-thrower. His father had given it to him and swore it would never jam and was perfect for self-defense. It also kicked like a mule, was limited to six shots, and was heavy as guilt. Hap put his hand on the pistol grip and hesitated. The revolver could easily go through the armor and skin of the men below him, it would also pierce the skin of the drop ship and cause explosive decompression.

Hap looked around, and grabbed Mike's heavy wheeled tool case. He released the wheel locks rolled it to the edge nearest the combatants. He squatted low and lifted the tool case over the edge of the railing and pushed hard. Hap heard the shocking cacophony of a loud crash, an awful grunt, breaking bones, cracking ceramic armor plates, and metal tools striking the deck floor. Before Hap could peer over the railing several bolts of laser pulses were shot at the catwalk and Hap was forced to retreat to the other side of his Griffin.

Hap glanced back to see Anastasia standing in her cockpit and carefully lining up shots from the hatch of her Valkyrie. Hap wasn't sure if the laser could pierce the Leopard's skin, but Anastasia rarely missed, and this situation was desperate enough to risk it.

Hap realized he needed to get to the deck and stop the Det 3 member from further hurting Mike or shooting at Anastasia. He could see that the Griffin's feet were between the ladder and the men with the pulse lasers. Hap jogged over to the ladder and put his feet on the outside so he could half slide, half control fall to the deck below.

Hap landed hard, and moved to quickly press himself against his 'mech's foot. He looked around the Griffin's leg to watch one of the Det 3 members charge Mike. He let his pulse rifle hang free from the cross body sling and pulled out a short, half-meter, vibro blade. As he ran Mike tried to take a shot at him but the laser rifle's battery was spent. Mike jumped to his feet and held out the rifle to parry his enemy's attack.

The vibroblade cut through the rifle's stock and receiver and slashed Mike across the chest. Mike slammed the broken rifle butt into the nose of his adversary. The man was stunned for a moment and Mike used the time to drop the broken rifle and pull out his J knife. The Det 3 man tried to take another swing with his vibroblade but Mike stepped out of his way and grabbed his wrist. With a whip-like slash of his arm Mike brought the J knife down like he was cutting through myomer. The man screamed as his sword and one of his hands fell to the deck.

A burst of lasers struck Mike across the chest and he staggered backwards and fell down. The man Mike had maimed was cradling his bloody stump under is other arm as he tried to get into his first aid kit. Mike staggered forward, crouched next to him, grabbed him by the hair, tilted his head up, and used the J knife to slit his throat. Mike was hit again by another burst of lasers.

Hap swept around the back of his Griffin's foot and stepped around the ruined tool case that had crushed one Det 3 mercenaries. Hap saw the final member of the Det 3 group looking down his rifle's sights waiting for Mike to move again. Hap grabbed the man's pulse laser rifle and punched his head as hard as he could. The man fell away from Hap while releasing his laser rifle.

Hap put the laser rifle's butt stock into his shoulder as his hand found the rifle's grip and trigger. He saw the man reach for his side arm as he tried to draw his weapon. There was a deafening explosion from a few paces away as Tasja shot the Det 3 member with a shotgun. She was walking with her sister who was now kneeling down next to Mike. Tasja kept walking toward Hap as she put another shotgun round into the Det 3 man. She was next to Hap when she pumped the shotgun, ejected a spent casing, and put a third round into her assailant.

The man was clearly dead or dying and Hap put his hand on the barrel and pushed it slightly down, "Careful, with that. You don't want to shoot through the ship's hull."

"These rounds are designed for ship board use." Tasja said as she moved the barrel away from Hap's hand and put another round into the man. "And the choke is wide open."

Hap snatched the shotgun from the tech, "He's dead. " He said and looked at her. She was starring at the dead man with a look of hatred and vehemence. "We need to help the living."

She nodded and followed Hap as he walked over to Mike. Masja had the first aid hit open, but she seemed at a loss of what to do. Hap could see Mike had several burns from multiple laser bolts and the large slash across his chest was bleeding profusely. "Stop the bleeding." Mike told Masja. "Just like with a coolant or hydraulic leak, stop the leak. Then get me to the sick bay."

Masja nodded and took a small envelope from the first aid kit. She tore the corner and spread the coagulant on his chest. She then pulled out a large bandage and started to prep it. Hap felt helpless as he watched Masja. He wanted to help, and Mike looked like death warmed over.

"I'll go find Doctor Les." Hap said.

"How many of those Det 3 guys were there?" Mike asked Hap.

"Thirteen." Hap said as he looked around the bay. There were the two men Mike had killed, the man that had been crushed by the tool box, and the man that Masja had killed.

"Yeah, so there are still a few more." Mike said as he shivered a little, "Give me one of those red pain killers." He told Masja, motioning weakly at the kit.

"I think it's better if you stay awake and lucid, besides when we get you to the sick bay-" Hap said as Masja took the red syringe and started to prepare to administer the powerful anesthetic.

"I think it's better if you go find the other bastards that are trying to hijack this ship." Mike said before he coughed. "I told you those ****** couldn't be trusted.

Before Hap could respond Joker and Mags came from the corridor that connected the two 'mech bays.

"Hey, Hap, I think there's something wrong the Det 3 guys." Joker said.

Hap looked at Joker and Mags, "You think? They just tried to kill us. What happened to you?"

"Same, Hefe." Mags said, "They told us to get out our 'Mechs, and they were taking this drop ship. I told them to go to hell, and William torched them."

"You used your flamers inside a drop ship?" Hap asked.

"Not flamers, that would be insane." Joker protested, "I just used one flamer." Joker said, "it's no big deal. Mike told me he didn't trust me not to be a dumb ass, so he doesn't put ammo or anything flammable near my 'mech. So I figured one flamer was pretty safe."

"It was actually Erik that told him that, and we don't put anything flammable near that 'mech." Mike said as he leaned heavily on Masja. She was taking the syringe out of his thigh, and pinning it to his collar and bending the needle down. Mike coughed and it sounded wet, "If you ever do that again, I'll kick your ass."

"Everything's fine" Joker said with a dismissive wave, "The Fire Suppression System kicked in pretty fast, but not before I toasted those ass hats, and it took a second for the air to recirculate, but no harm to the ship."

Mags looked around the room. Her eyes lingered on the two dead men next to Mike, "You gonna be okay?"

Mike nodded sluggishly, but Hap was concerned. Several of the assistant techs were milling around. Anastasia was talking to one of them and pointing to the woman on the catwalk. Hap caught the attention of one the bigger techs. He motioned to him and the guy next to him and pointed to a stretcher on the wall.

Mike had a little trouble focusing on Joker, "Yeah, it's going to take more than three of these ****** to take me down."

"There were four." Anastasia said. She was walking toward them now. She had collected the pulse laser rifles and battery packs from the dead mercenaries. "Perhaps you forgot that one that was crushed under your tool case."

Mike's focused seemed to improve as Anastasia mentioned his tool case, "Hap you owe me a new tool box and a new tool set."

"Yeah, sorry Mike. It was a desperate moment and I…"

"Yeah, I get it, you just throw my property around." Mike coughed again, "you're going to buy me a new one and tools. I want both common and metric, complete sets. I want all the power tools to be DeWalt-Milwaukee. The case should be red and brass. I want it in Davion colors." Mike said. "You got that?" Hap nodded as Mike continued, "I think I need..." He leaned heavily on Masja and she looked more worried. "I need to rest. It's getting cold in here, someone check life support, or the hulls." Mike mumbled as he closed his eyes.

Hap handed Tasja back her shotgun and helped the techs get him onto the stretcher. "Let's get Mike to the sick bay."

Mike stirred and pushed Hap away, "secure the ship dumbass, Chad and Kelane will get me to sick bay."

Hap looked over at Masja and Tasja, "Follow them and if you run into the Det 3 team, shoot first." The twin techs nodded and followed the men taking Mike to the sick bay.

Anastasia walked up with an arm load of battery packs and two laser rifles slung on her shoulder. She gave a few of the batter packs to Hap and then started to hand Joker a laser rifle."These are pulse laser rifles. It's similar to a standard laser rifle, but it fires multiple short bursts rather than a concentrated beam. It means more damage over a wider area, but less penetration power." She held onto the laser rifle for a moment and looked Joker in the eye, "They don't seem able to pierce the ship's hull, but you should still fire carefully."

"Bad ass" Joker said as he took the weapon and pulled out the battery pack to check the charge.

Anastasia passed an extra battery pack to Joker, and asked, "Mags you want a laser rifle?"

Mags shook her head as she cycled her shotgun to empty the shells. When it was empty she started to refill it with shells with black casings from a cloth bag Masja had given her before leaving for the sickbay.

"I'm good, sister." Mags said as she loaded in her gun, "These are special shells, with less powder. It's enough to hurt a bastard, put a hole in his ass, but not the hull."

Hap changed out the battery pack in his rifle. "Joker how many men did you and Mags kill?"

"Three." Joker said as he put the battery pack back in the rifle and cycled the firing system.

"Alright we gotta find the other six Det 3 members." Hap said, "They're probably trying to get to the bridge. Or more likely they are breaching the bridge right now."

The ship felt like it took a dive and there was a shift in the pseudo-gravity.
« Last Edit: 03 April 2022, 23:52:47 by HFC05 »

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #254 on: 03 April 2022, 17:35:09 »
Chapter 79

Hap and his lancemates exchanged worried looks. The ship's gravity had just shifted and that was almost a guarantee something bad was going on in the bridge. Without talking they started to run for the stairwell leading up to the higher crew and command decks.

As the lance members climbed the stairs, they felt the ship level off and the center of gravity returned to "normal". They started to jog down the halls and head toward the flight deck. As they turned a corner they found three Det 3 members laying facedown in a pool of blood. Hap and his lancemates slowed down trying to figure out what had happened. Two of the men had been shot in the back.

Hap recognized one of them as wearing the same kit as Wojski. As he got close enough to kick his boot he glanced back to make sure that his lancemates were ready. Behind them he saw three men slinking up the hall. A few paces behind them Kate was standing and looking relieved to see her friends.

The three men wore heavy environment suits and had tactical vests with tools, and safety gear in the various pouches and webbing. All three men were armed with needle pistols, and all of them were wearing the McFinnigan and Sons unit patch on their vests and it was also stenciled onto their suits.. Kate was still in her cooling vest and armed with a laser pistol.

Hap knew these men, they were part of the ship's company. The one on the left had sort of stupid and unsavory look about him, and the one in the middle was a tall attractive young man. He also a black eye, and a bandage around his neck. The final man was a large heavy set man with thick jowls and a bushy mutton chop sideburns. Hap knew this was Henry, the chief boatswain mate of the Phaidin.

Hap had seen Henry countless times. He was generally with a few members of the crew maintaining the ship and seemed to lead them. Hap had even worked with him a few times in the 'mech bay, but he was someone Hap avoided if he could help it. Henry seemed like the type of person that sat at the darkest end of the bar, or the dimmest booth in a tavern. He was the regular that every one knew to just leave alone unless you were looking for trouble, or wanted to help him with his criminal enterprises. The other two men looked like they would be his accomplices.

"Are ye for us, or against us?" Henry asked.

"Chief Henry, these are McFinnigan Mechwarriors, they're on our side." Kate said..

"Aye. They're also, like you, new to the family." Henry said. "Times like this it's good just to make sure everyone is who they say they are, and appear to be."

"I'm trying to do the family business, Gno teaghlaigh." Hap said slowly, turning around and keeping his hands visible and his weapon pointed down. His lance mates did similar slow turns.

"Oh. Aye, Gno teaghlaigh." Henry answered. The two men with him echoed the Company's motto.

"Marietta, I hardly know these three, but if you vouch for them then perhaps ye all can help me know what's going on." Henry said.

"They're with me, Henry, and not with these putas." Mags said.

"Start with why you got the same weapons as them." The unsavory man said.

Hap slowly moved next to his wife and Mags. "We took them from the men we killed, here you want to see it?"

Before the man could take the weapon. Henry holstered his needler and put his hand out to his companion. "Keep your weapons lad. I need every trustworthy hand armed. If Camacho's daughter says yer on our side, that's enough. Now,can ye tell me what the hell is going on?"

"The Det 3 mercenary group is trying to hijack the ship. We're not sure why." Hap said.

"If I recall the manifest, there were thirteen of these," Henry looked over at Mags, "Putas. How many of them have ye killed?"

"We wasted seven of them down in the Mech Bay." Joker answered.

"And we killed six." Henry replied, he paused doing the math in his head. "So I'm thinking we've headed off this plot."

"It felt like the ship altered course though." Anastasia said, "Is it possible we miscounted?"

"Best be headed to the bridge to see what happened." Henry said as he started walking and everyone followed him. "To your question, my lady, I'd say no. At least not us, mum. Ye can see the three here, and the other three were in the port side aerospace bay when we opened the bay doors and let the vacuum of space send them to their eternal reward."

"You didn't jettison the cargo we took?" Anastasia asked.

"Mr. Smythe did you properly secure the load in the port side aerospace bay before we performed the recovery of Miss Berlin's fighter in the starboard aerospace bay?"

"Yes Chief." Smythe, the unsavory man, answered.

"No, my lady, We did not jettison any cargo, only murderous traitors." Henry said as he quickened his step.

Anastasia got close to Kate, "How'd you get here?"

"I docked my Stuka, and they assisted in the recovery operations. When I got out they told me the Det 3 team were acting odd, and we followed them. When Henry noticed how they split up and were moving we used a maintenance duct to ambush them. Then we went back to the aerospace bay and, like he said, spaced the air crew that was guarding the 'objective'. We were headed back to the bridge when we heard you coming."

"I have to say I'm a little shocked. Trapping someone in an aerospace bay and releasing them to space seems cruel." Anastasia said.

Henry stopped, and turned to Anastasia, "Dear lady Capetian Vallois Calahad, bare in mind we did not jest open the bay doors on the traitors. I locked the bay's airlocks, opened the doors, and let two of them get sucked out into the vacuum of space. A third one held onto the cargo. So I closed the bay doors and kept the vents open and the recirculators disabled. He's likely suffocated by now, but once we've checked on the bridge the boys and I will go back and ensure he's dead."

Henry paused for a moment reading Anastasia's expression, "It may seem cruel, my lady, but I assure you it had to be done. Understand, if ye face Kelly in open combat on a battlefield, that is one thing. But if ye come on his ship, be welcomed into his house, call him friend, eat at his table, drink from his bottle, fellowship with his wife and children, and then lift yer hand against him to stab him in the back, then I have neither pity or mercy for ye."

"These men, they deserve nothing better than what we've given them. My lady, I try to do as the priest says, treat everyone well and such. But, trying to take a vessel that ye've been given safe passage on. No! That's a betrayal akin to cheating on yer spouse, or not carin' fer your mother. Add to that, Kelly took me from a life o' crime and gave me this job. I owe him a great deal. Anyone that would cross him like this, is going to find nothing but hate and violence from me and the boys." As Henry spoke Smythe and his associate agreed, even Mags nodded along.

"I understand." Anastasia said diplomatically, "I'm glad you are on our side. Also I'm not a titled noble, my mother is the Countess of Hazelhurst."

"Aye, I met yer mother, I know she's a right proper lady, and ye act like a lady. Some day you'll inherit the title, my lady. I know how to show my nobles respect." Henry answered.

Hap could tell Anastasia was uncomfortable, "I think we were a little surprised you took down three special forces operators." Hap said. "Those guys were hard chargin' skull stackin' bad asses."

"I grew up in some of nasty parts of Donnegal Mister Calahad, and I can assure you, anyone can present themselves as somethin' they aren't. And everyone thinks their hard until their friend takes a needler in the face." Henry answered, "And where I come from, if ye hesitate in a fight yer gonna have yer throat slit."

As Henry spoke Hap started to realize he had overestimated the skill of Det 3, or Kelly just had a knack for hiring desperate and capable people, and inspiring absolute loyalty in them.

They were at the bridge door now. It was closed and sealed. Henry knocked on the door with the butt of his pistol. He then holstered his weapon and motioned for everyone to do the same before he turned and faced a dome camera built into the ceiling. "The other mercenary company went rogue on us." Henry said to the camera, "We came to make sure the bridge was secure."

There was a click and the mechanical sounds of the lock disengaging. The door automatically opened and they were greeted by Roweyna with a bullpup laser rifle. Her usually neat and clean business attire was blood stained and there were several rips and tears in her blouse. Her eyes were red, and there were bruises on her neck.

"Henry there has been an attempt to take my father's ship from my control. Tell me you've put the scoundrels down." Roweyna spoke with a no-nonsense tone. Seeing everyone she knew she relaxed and Hap noted the long cut in her arm that was still bleeding.

"Aye. Mum. Smythe and Lucas executed half of them, and this lot took the other. We'll do another sweep of the ship, and I'll have causality and damage reports for ye soon, but I daresay-" Henry looked past Roweyna, "It seems ye saw some action too."

Hap could see Colonel Norton was slumped in the corner. He had several slashes about the arms and face, and there were shattered pieces of china on the floor near him. His briefcase was spilled open and papers and a few pieces of personal equipment littered the floor. Hap looked for his weapons and noticed the knife was buried in his chest and it looked like Roweyna had his laser rifle.

"Yer Colonel attempted to wrest control of the ship from us." Roweyna said to Hap. "I'm now doubting he was an AFFS officer." Roweyna said as she placed the laser rifle down on the table by the navigation station, and took a first aid kit and kneeled down in front of Sarah.

Hap could also see Sarah sitting on the floor with her eyes bandaged. She also had some burns on her hands, shoulders, and face. Roweyna took a small jar from the first aid kit and started spreading the contents on Sarah's cheeks. Hawkins had removed an access panel for the Leopard's controls and was digging into the systems. There were signs of fire and that the console had been shot by the Colonel's laser rifle.

"Schafer had implied that the Colonel wasn't who he said he was, and I was in for a terrible surprise when I learned the truth." Anastasia looked around, "based on that I had considered he might be a ROM agent, but I wouldn't have guessed he and the special forces team would attempt to commandeer the vessel."

"As ye can see they planned to do much more than commandeer." Roweyna continued to gently apply the medicine to the teen's burns.

"Roweyna, what happened here?" Hap asked as Kate took one of the pilot seats and strapped herself in.

"You called up and said members of Det 3 were firing weapons in the 'mech Bay. I looked to Colonel Norton to see how he was going to handle that and, to my surprise, he was reaching into his case to get his laser rifle. I asked him what he was doing, and he looked at me like I was his fiancee, and had found him in bed with my best friend."

"So, as one often does in those situations, I smashed my teacup across his face. In the melee he shot the controls, murdered Dobson there, threw a concussion grenade that injured Sarah here, and managed to carelessly cause injury and destruction until I was able to stop him."

Hap took a moment to take in the destruction around the bridge. There was a man in a McFinnigan and Sons jumpsuit who had been shot in the face by the laser rifle. There were jagged and broken shards of saucer and tea cup. One particularly large piece of broken china had blood on it and Hap assumed that Roweyna had used it until she got ahold of the Colonel's knife. Hap glanced back to Roweyna. There were defensive cuts on her wrists and hands, but she was ignoring her own injuries and quietly humming as she applied an anti-burn cream to the young teenage pilot.

"As one often does?" Joker asked, "How often have you beated a man to death with a teacup?"

"If ye keep talkin' the need might arise a second time today." Roweyna answered as she continued to rub cream onto Sarah's wounds. ""There now, this should ease the pain, and prevent scars. I promise it'll heal nicely." Roweyna winked.

Roweyna helped Sarah to her feet as she half sang, "you'll be the prettiest Colleen, from Bantry Bay up to the Derry Quay, From Gallway to Dublin town, jest like the star of the county down."

"It feels weird." Sarah said, "I'm really worried about my eyes Roweyna."

Roweyna gently brushed a tear away from Sarah's cheek, "There now, yer cryin'. That's a good sign, means yer eyes are still workin' and tryin' to flush out the powder from the flash bang. Let's get you down to sick bay and let Doc Les tell you when you'll be seeing again."

"I want to talk to my mom." Sarah said her voice betrayed that she was barely holding back tears.

"Oh aye. I want to talk to my father as well." Roweyna looked at Anastasia, "But we cannot talk to the Tir an nOg right now because our comms are sabotaged."

"I'll see if I can identify the issue and fix it." Anastasia volunteered.

There was a small explosion and a spray of sparks out from under the console. Hawkins backed out fast while cursing, and waving his hand to dispel the smoke, "Actually Anastasia, I think I need you to figure out how to bypass or turn off the autopilot system controls. Right now we're still headed toward Norton's jump ship."

Kate pulled hard on her control stick, the Leopard altered its pitch and changed course, but as soon as she let go of the control stick the drop ship changed course again and resumed its original heading. Kate leaned back in her seat. "Well I was going to offer to co-pilot for a while-" She glanced at Sarah, "which I'll do until Sarah is feeling better."

"The boys and I will look into the radios while we do a sweep of the ship." Henry said, "The rogues monkeyed with the 1-MC as well, and I'd wager wherever they sabotaged the 1-MC is where they sabotaged everythin' else. We'll find it and fix it, or call Mrs. Calahad to come effect repairs." Henry said as he went to the comms station and started to run a diagnostic.

Hawkins sat down and started to test various systems. For the Leopard to maintain a form of pseudo gravity it had to maintain constant thrust. For the crew's comfort the thrusters located on the bottom or underside of the drop ship were used. In order for the pilots to know the actual ship direction the screens in the cockpit could be turned opaque and a video projection would be displayed for the various directions the shuttle was accelerating. When the shuttle was flying inside a gravity well, or in an aerodyne configuration the screens would be transparent.

Hawkins disabled the projection and turned the screens transparent. They were looking straight down at the Tir an nOg. Hawkins cursed as one of the White Tails Chippewas strafed the Excalibur drop ship. Swanky maneuvered his Stuka behind him and attacked, but the other White Tails were lining up to counter-attack. The White Tails were down to three crafts now, but Swanky was still badly outnumbered. The Excalibur had few weapons and the Chippewas were being careful to limit their exposure to them.

Hap watched as one of the 'mech bay doors opened and Crow's Catapult walked to the edge and used his jump jets to get to the outer skin of the drop ship. Crow used the Catapult's claw like feet to hold onto the edge of the bay. Kelly's Highlander followed behind him and half hung out of the bay while holding onto the side of the bay door.

"I'm going back out." Kate said as she unbuckled and started to get up. A Chippewa flew past Crow and Kelly and took a broadside of LRMs and autocannon. It rolled away and got caught by salvo of lasers and LRMs from the Excalibur. One of the other Chippewas circled back around to attack Crow and Kelly.

Hawkins pushed her back down into the chair, "If I can't disable the autopilot, It's going to be damn near impossible to recover your ship, and if anything happens, you'll be trapped out in the black."

Kate looked upset as she sat back down. She activated the targeting systems and pushed the Leopard's nose down. She waited as the Chippewa started to accelerate toward Crow and Kelly, and then hit the fighter with every forward facing weapon the Leopard had. The Chippewa exploded and the debris passed over the Excalibur. The Leopard self-corrected again as the weapons recycled and reloaded.

"Anastasia I need this damn auto-pilot disabled, time now." Kate snapped.

"Right." Anastasia stripped off her tactical vest and cooling vest and kneeled down to look under the console, "Do you have a manual or tech readout?"

"I do." Hawkins said, "but we've had to modify and bypass some of the systems a couple times, so I don't know how much good it will do you." He pointed to a dog eared and yellow manual that was half rolled up and shoved in a tool box near the open panel. "I'm not going to lie, I think when Kelly bought this thing decades ago it didn't match that manual."

"Oh my." Anastasia said, "This is going to be complicated."

The Tir na nOg and the Aeorfighters were starting to fall away from view, but Kate and Hawkins wrestled the ship to try and get another shot at the Chippewa. The two remaining White Tails seemed confused as to why the Leopard had shot them. Kelly and Crow put more LRMs into one of the Chippewas and sent spinning away out of control. Swanky moved in behind the final Chippewa as the Leopard corrected again and resumed its course.

"I desperately need to speak to my Father now." Roweyna said.

ThePW

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #255 on: 03 April 2022, 22:03:22 »
*starting chewing Dirt*

PsylockeSmythe

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #256 on: 04 April 2022, 12:51:12 »
What an update.  Can't wait for more.

Psy

DOC_Agren

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #257 on: 04 April 2022, 20:50:13 »
Damm so wtf did they steal??  and from who really??
"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 #258 on: 05 April 2022, 04:40:24 »
Quote
"So, as one often does in those situations, I smashed my teacup across his face.

LOL ;D

Comstar has a lot of incompetents in her payroll. A few good ones as well, but  those det 3 guys were way out of their league, it seems. It somewhat detracted from my overall enjoyment of this concrete chapter (more casualties on the part of the heroes would have been in order imho) but overall the story keeps being top notch. My fav fan fiction on the site.

« Last Edit: 05 April 2022, 07:31:07 by Elmoth »

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #259 on: 27 April 2022, 02:39:22 »
Chapter 80

"Oh, just when things couldn't get any better, there is a Leopard CV coming around Necromo's moon." Hawkins said, "And they're deploying two aerospace fighters. It looks like two Corsairs. Probably the ones you and Swanky Bob were trying to take down while Anastasia was tangling with the Phoenix Hawk LAM."

"I thought you and Swanky destroyed the Corsairs." Anastasia said. She was sitting on the floor and comparing the manual schematics to what she could see in the console's access area.

"No." Kate carefully turned the Leopard's nose so it turned on its axis while maintaining the same heading. "They dropped their bombs and overthrusted right the hell away from us. Colonel Norton told us to let them go and support the White Tails. By that time our former 'friends' were engaging a third wave of Cappellan fighters."

The Leopard CV could now be seen through the Phaidin's viewports. The Leopard CV or Carrier Vessel was similar to the standard leopard in armament and general dimensions, but the CV was designed to carry only fighters. This meant the 'mech bays were removed and replaced with four aerospace fighter bays, and the two original aerospace bays were moved next to the others. Finally, the bottom of the aft portion of the Leopard CV was removed creating a long tail and wing section.

"Any fighter response from the Capellans?" Hap asked.

"We scrapped so much of their garrison they're probably glad to see us leave." Kate said as she lined up her crosshairs to target the relatively delicate place where the elongated and fragile looking tail of the CV was connected to the rest of the drop ship. "I'll try to pound their mother ship as long as I can keep it in my sights. Back when I was in the Hussars the girls and I called shooting the tail off a Leopard CV 'gelding' it."

"I'm a little afraid to ask, especially since you seem really excited about doing it, but why?" Hawkins said.

"Well once you shoot off the tail section of a Cee Vee they can't enter atmosphere. So the crew can still do their job, but they can't ever land, or go to any planet and have 'a good time' Technically they can't 'get it down' rather than 'get it up', but you get the idea."

"Yeah I get it." Hawkins answered. "You sorta of have a real mean streak in you."

"You're not the first man to notice." Kate said.

"I kinda of like it." Hawkins responded.

"You might be the first man to say that." Kate answered.

"Alright you two, Hold your fire." Roweyna said, as she shuffled through Colonel Norton's blood soaked and torn papers. "I think they're jest trying to help their fellow traitor break contact. I'm sure there is somethin' here to explain what is going on." Roweyna turned to look at Henry, "Henry, I need ye to fix the radio. I must speak with my Father."

"Yes mum!" Henry said, "The diagnostic can't tell me a-thing so we'll just start in the aerobay." He then turned on his heels and briskly marched out of the bridge flanked by Lucas and Smythe.

"Wait." Roweyna called out, she put her boot on Colonel Norton's chest and pulled the knife out. She motioned to the dead man with the knife, "As ye go, throw that nasty thing out an airlock." Henry nodded and motioned to his companions. Smyth grabbed the legs, and Lucas took the cadaver by the shoulders and followed Henry. "And send someone to take Mr. Dobson to the morgue, we'll give him a proper sendoff later."

Roweyna motioned to Sarah, "Joker, Mags, please escort Ms. MacGreggor down to the sick bay." Roweyna turned to the young woman, "Sarah, they are both heavily armed, and if there's any trouble ye jest let them take care of it. "

Sarah nodded as Mags took her by the elbow and guided her next to Joker. Mags, Joker and Sarah started down the hall and Joker said, "I once had a buddy that was too close to a flash-bang."

Sarah jerked her head in Joker's direction, "Was he okay? How long did it take him to heal?"

"I dunno. He was running around screaming and got stepped on by a 'mech."

Mags reached over and punched him as Sarah shook her head, "Thanks Mags."

Kate had been turning, or spinning the Leopard to track the Corsairs. "You want to even up the odds for the rest of the family?" As Kate spoke both Corsairs were flying directly toward the Tir na nOg and the Chippewa that was retreating from the Stuka. As the 50 ton fighters passed the bridge crew could see the damage to both fighters. They wouldn't survive any sort of extended engagement even with the odds in their favor.

"Damn, you and Swanky Bob really put the hurt on them." Hawkins said.

"The Stuka wasn't designed to play around." Kate said, "I mean it has enough armor where you could, but it's so heavily armed you don't need too. Those Corsairs can take some punishment, but I was surprised they lasted that long. Maybe it's time I finished the job."

"No." Roweyna said, "I'd wager their plan was to destroy the Tir na nOg and escort us, or the Phaidin, to the Colonel's jump ship. Until we can get control of the ship it's best they think their boys were successful. Besides if I know my father-"

As she spoke the Tir na nOg rolled over to reveal the open 'Mech Bay again. Dillon in his Dervish had now joined Crow's Catapult and Kelly's Higlander. As the Tir na nOg spun around Dillon, Crow, and Kelly launched their complete complement of one hundred missiles toward the Corsairs.

The two Corsairs broke formation, but the missiles traced their way toward the fighter on the starboard side. As the fighter tried to avoid the missiles there was a flash of Kelly's autocannon. The missiles struck the fighter as the autocannon hit the underside of the Corsair. The Corsair exploded, as his wing mate tried to maneuver away from the 'mech's line of sight.

"-that will be unnecessary." Rowyena finished. The remaining Corsair and Chippewa moved past the Phaidin as they raced toward the Leopard CV. "We'll jest play along and hopefully they'll let us get ourselves repaired before they try anything."

Kate took off her cooling vest and dropped it on the deck next to her chair as Hawkins turned the screens to project a "forward" view. Hawkins casually glanced over at Kate. She was wearing simple black stretch-fabric top and bottom. Hawkins noticed Anastasia was wearing the same minimal clothes designed to "help" with the oppressive heat of 'mechs and aerospace fighters. Anastasia half crawled into the panel and started to dig into the cables.

"Woah, I'm surrounded by foxy ladies in their underwear while I'm flying a drop ship. It's like I'm in one of those recruiting holovids." Hawkins said.

"Yeah, especially since you're not actually flying anything." Kate said. "Anastasia put your ass down, Hawkins is getting excited and distracted."

"Anastasia, maybe you should-" Hap started to say,"I think I'll go get your coveralls.".

"It would be more helpful if you held a flashlight, mon amour." Anastasia called out as she turned on her side.

Hap took off his own cooling vest, revealing his bare chest and a simple pair of camouflaged shorts. He kneeled between Anastasia and Hawkins and pulled a flashlight out of the tool box.

As Hap tried to look into the panel and focus the light Hawkins squeezed his shoulder and said, "That's right big boy you just get nice and comfortable next to me."

"I'm about to punch you." Hap warned.

"You're going to punch Hawkins, well now I'm getting excited." Kate deadpanned.

"Hey." There was a pop and hiss and Anastasia flinched, "Okay. That's a power cable. A very small and probably not rated to carry high amperage power cable." She moved around, "You two leave my husband alone."

Hawkins and Kate exchanged glances and looked like they were about to tease Hap.

There was another sickening hiss and the lights dimmed, "Oh it's not that wire, this whole back panel is electrified, that's bad, very bad. Hawkins, how are you not dead?"

"Funny you would ask, see when I was young cadet pilot-"

"I dunno think I need to remind you four, that we're on a drop ship we cannot steer, headed toward a jump ship that I'd wager is going to take us somewhere we don't want to go, and we have no way to call for help." Roweyna said as she collapsed into a chair at the Navigation Station.

Kate glanced over her shoulder, "Roweyna you're not looking so good. Why don't I take you down to sick bay, I promise we'll focus and get the controls fixed."

There was a proximity alarm, and one of the screens altered to show Swanky pulling close in his Stuka. Roweyna pointed to the monitor. Hawkins flipped a switch and the screens turned transparent again. Swanky had matched vector and heading with the leopard and was just a few dozen meters away. It looked like he was flying straight up from the perspective on the Leopard's bridge, but everyone could see each other clearly.

Swanky pointed to them and gave them a thumbs up and raised both hands at them questioning.

Hawkins pointed to his ear and his mouth and held up his arms in a crossed X.

Roweyna collected a few large sheets of paper and began to hastily write "HIJACK STOPPED, DET 3 & COL N DEAD, CONTROLS & COMMS DAMAGED." She passed them to Hawkins to hold up for Swanky to see.

Swanky nodded and gave them an ok gesture. He continued to fly next to them as he spoke over the radio.

He held up a sheet with "GET HOME QUICK" written on it.

"What does that mean?" Kate asked

"It means as soon as we can we get ourselves to Donegal." Roweyna said, "Now I'm going to sick bay. If anything changes come find me."
« Last Edit: 30 April 2022, 02:20:12 by HFC05 »

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #260 on: 27 April 2022, 02:40:13 »
Chapter 81

Anastasia heard the rhythmic thump of Selene's tail on the rolling door of the sleep compartment. She felt the rough wet tongue liking her face as she instinctively pushed the coyote puppy's head away. She got the puppy to settle down and curl up next to her. Anastasia knew this would last for fifteen to twenty minutes, but then she'd have to get up and take care of her coyote. She wasn't sure how long she had slept but it felt like several hours. In the dim light of the sleeping compartment she couldn't quite read Hap's watch.

Yesterday had been a long, and frustrating day. After a life threatening mission she barely managed to dodge an assination and hijacking attempt. It culminated in her trying to fix the Leopard's damaged auto pilot and control the Leopard's control panel had taken hours.

In the middle of fixing the autopilot there was a harrowing twenty minute incident where Anastasia accidentally deactivated the life support and she and Henry had to rush to undo what she had done and manually restart it from the engine room. She had managed to disable the broken autopilot and bring up a backup autopilot system. Everything seemed to be performing properly but once they landed she was going to insist they restore the controls and wiring to the factory specifications before flying again.

After the life-support incident Hap insisted she stop and get some sleep. He all but carried her to the mechwarrior's berthing area, gave her a ration biscuit, pushed her into the shower and then put her to bed. Somewhere in that process Joker and Mags brought Selene to them, apparently they had been playing with her, and just wanted to go to bed themselves. Thankfully this meant Selene was also ready for bed. Anastasia was annoyed with Hap at the time because she wanted to continue working, but once she was settled in her sleep compartment with her coyote and husband she knew it was the right choice to stop and rest.

Anastasia pressed herself closer to Hap. He half-woke up, reached over Anastasia and scratched Selene behind the ears then put his arm around Anastasia's waist and gave her a sleepy hug. Anastasia enjoyed the warmth and intimacy as she relaxed. Selene seemed to understand it wasn't quite time to get up so she responded with a yawn before putting her tail over her nose.

"You awake?" Hap asked.

"Yes." Anastasia said, "How did you know?"

"Usually when I give you a good squeeze in your sleep you mumble in French."

"I don't mumble, Harold." Anastasia corrected. "I sweetly murmur, s'il vous plait".

"Perhaps, if you please, I should say you lovingly purr." Hap said as he gave his wife another squeeze.

"Oui, mon mari bien-aime." Anastasia purred. She reached behind her to caress Hap under the jaw. "How often do you give me 'a good squeeze' while I sleep?"

"I dunno, sometimes I wake up and just need to remind myself that you're there, there are good things around me. It's good to be alive."

Anastasia put her arm on top of Hap's and intertwined her fingers. She pulled his arm more tightly around her and pressed herself closer to him. She knew her husband struggled with the loss of his friends and men he had led. She knew he feared losing her. When they got settled on New Avalon she would insist he get some counseling, honestly she was starting to suspect she needed some herself.

"Well I'm certainly not going anywhere. Is it good to be alive?" Anastasia said.

Hap gently kissed her neck and nibbled her ear, "I think so."

Anastasia turned over so she could face Hap. She was exhausted, physically and mentally, but the sudden desire to be intimate seemed so right and appealing. She couldn't help herself as she kissed him, "Why don't you put Selene in her kennel?"

Selene put her head on Anastasia's shoulder and looked at Hap. Hap nodded, and reached over both of them to open up the sleep compartment and climbed over his wife as he said, "Come on Selene, let's take a walk."

Selene jumped down and followed Hap as Anastasia laid on her back. She knew their first stop would be the head. They had taught Selene to relieve herself in one of the showers. Whoever was taking care of Selene could easily clean up after her and give the shower a quick spray of cleanser and then rinse the stall. It wasn't ideal but the other option was to take her to the mech bay and use the toxic spill kit. As much as the tech's liked Selene, they didn' care for her messes.

Anastasia felt guilty for asking Hap to take care of Selene, but she really didn't want to get up yet. She thought about the things that she needed to do when she finally did start her day, and it felt overwhelming. The auto-pilot seemed to be working, or at least they could turn it off now. She'd have to check with Hawkins or Kate and see if it was still working.

Before Hap had dragged her to bed she had heard the comms were repaired. Henry and his associates returned to the port aerospace bay they found a complex jamming system rigged into the bay's comms terminal. Once they removed it internal and external comms were restored. Anastasia intended to look at the system later, but what she'd heard it sounded like star league tech. It was another data point that Det 3 and Colonel Norton were ROM or some ComStar organization sent to kill Anastasia. It was also looking like they intended to destroy McFinnigan and Sons as well.

Anastasia also wanted to see what they had stolen from the Cappellans, but right now she wanted to just stay cocooned in her sleeping compartment and not address the problems around her for a few more hours.

Mike was dead, as was Dobson, the navigator she had never met. This was in addition to David who died back on Monhegan. Sarah could have permanent vision loss, but they wouldn't know for weeks, and the Phaidin was, for good or ill, a few hours away from docking with a jump ship that would take them to god only knew where.

She felt this was all her fault. Intellectually she knew this was all ComStar's doing, but she was the reason they did it. Without her they wouldn't have brought this level of violence and misfortune to the McFinnigan and Sons mercenary company. The family, or company, didn't seem to think this way, but she was getting people killed. Eventually someone was going to resent her.

There was also the problem with Shafer or whatever her name was. She had somehow survived the attack from the Det 3 members. Doc Les had treated her wounds and, as Anastasia had warned, Doc Leslie kept Shafer restrained. On her way to bed Anastasia had heard that Shafer threatened Doc Leslie several times and Doc Leslie sedated her. Anastasia suspected Shafer was going to spend most of her time sedated.

Anastasia stretched as she heard footsteps coming down the hall, but they were coming from the wrong direction. She leaned over to see Roweyna coming toward her, "Ah, good yer awake. I need ye to get dressed and look at whatever it is we have in the aerobay."

"I was, well Harold and I-" Anastasia hesitated trying to think how to get Roweyna to go away, and give her and Harold some time alone. "Does it absolutely need to be done right now?"

"Yes. I need to answer Father's question while we can still communicate with him. I'm certain you and Harold can attend to yer personal business later." Roweyna said as she opened Anastasia's wall locker and threw a skirt and her silk robe at her. "We've re-established communication with Father, and he wants to know what the hell that bastard Norton had us steal and why it's worth killing all of us."

Anastasia nodded as she pulled on the skirt and put on her robe over her oversized McFinnigan and Sons nightshirt. As Anastasia dressed she looked over Roweyna, she was wearing loose pants and a cropped t-shirt that showed her midsection. This was quite a departure from her usual business attire. Her arm had been stitched up and she had several bandages on her wrists, arms, and another bandage above her hip. Roweyna looked tired, and her usual mischievous air was replaced by a sense of exhaustion.

Harold came down the hall, and saw Roweyna. Anastasia saw his shoulder droop in disappointment as he turned to his own wall locker and pulled out his coveralls and put them on over his shorts. Selene jumped back on the bed and nearly knocked over Anastasia. Roweyna grabbed her and pulled her close to her chest, "Come 'ere, ye four footed miscreant."

Joker opened up the sleep compartment he shared with Mags. "Hey Roweyna" he said sleepily "How you doing?"

"Oh fine, fine. Doc Leslie was about half way through stichin' me up when Anastasia here killed the lights and life support." Roweyna turned to Joker, "Might 'ave a scar or two, but I'll be right as rain in a few days."

"Scars are fierce." Mags said, "Like a tattoo but better, because it means you survived."

"I know ferocity is prized in the Camacho clan," Roweyna said, "but I was raised by a woman who said, 'ye should be like whiskey in a tea cup' Somethin' beautiful on the outside, warmin' to friends and kin, but a powerful surprise to the unsuspecting."

Anastasia stood up, tied her robe belt, and pulled her hair into a quick ponytail, "I apologize for what happened with the life support, but, given your normal modest dress, I doubt it will compromise your ability to 'surprise the unsuspecting."

Roweyna put Selene down and shrugged, "Then I'll continue to find other ways to disappoint mother."

"Where are we going?" Hap asked as he pulled his boots on. He offered Anastasia's her boots, but shook her head and had him pass her sandals instead.

"I need someone to tell me what we took in the raid, and since it's high end miltech and Anastasia has worked around high end miltech, we think it's best she examine it." Roweyna said.

Mags and Joker mentioned they wondered about what they had stolen too, and quickly got ready and followed as Roweyna led them to the Aerospace Bay. When they got there they found Henry, Smyth, and Lucas waiting for them standing between the karnov transport and the large shipping container. Smyth had a large bolt cutter across his shoulder.

"You don't think those Det 3 guys booby-trapped this thing?" Joker asked, pointing to the large container.

"I doubt it." Henry said

"They left the air crew to guard this as they moved through the ship with some stupid lethal overconfidence." Hap said, "They didn't seem to think anyone but the mechwarriors would fight back. They left the air-crew "just in case" but probably because they didn't think much of their combat abilities. I doubt they'd consider the need to protect this thing any more."

"That makes a lot o' sense." Rowena said, "I'm generally impressed Hap, ye've-"

"After everything with Ashley I've been trying to do better about paying attention and keeping my head in the game." Hap said.

"Don't be too hard on yerself, ye had a wife to marry and you were meetin' her mother." Roweyna said, "I mean everyone knew Ashley was trouble but still."

Henry gave Smyth a gentle shove and he awkwardly positioned the long bolt cutters on the lock. The doors had the centuries old standard four bar latch and cam action to secure the door. The doors had two handles, and the door on the right had to be opened before the door on the left. The right hand handle was secured with a large steel lock that Smyth was straining to cut.

Smyth managed to cut the lock and smoothly tossed it aside. He then started to open the doors with Lucas's help. The two men struggled with the doors which seemed to be rusted and possibly damaged or warped in the transit process, or just from years of neglect.

As they struggled to open the door Henry mumbled, "Complete amateurs, those Det 3 bastards. Everyone knows if yer goin' to take a drop ship, ye split yer crew in half with one group hustlin' to the engine room while the other hauls ass to the bridge. Ye don't split into little groups causin' mayhem, like those fn-" He stopped as Smyth and Lucas finally got the doors opened.

Anastasia stared at the inside of the container. She could see several large pieces of non descript 'mech or ship hardware strapped down to the inside of the container. They were large boxy components. There were also several rugged plastic boxes and a large pile of cables, and antennas.

Anastasia took Henry's flashlight and walked around the inside of the container. The devices were dark gray and seemed to be made to be connected together through cables that were wrapped up with devices. Anastasia had to squeeze herself between the wall and the large devices to see everything. Whatever it was it took up most of the container. There seemed to be several warnings on the system, but they were in Chinese and Russian. The device's purpose was a mystery to her.

As Anastasia walked around trying to find anything that would hint at the device's intended us Hap grabbed the nearest box and pulled off the lid. It contained several manuals and more cables. Anastasia saw the books and was immediately drawn to them. They were also written Russian and Chinese, two languages she couldn't read or speak.

Joker grabbed another box, this one contained tools, random papers, a coffee cup, and a family picture. "Did the Det 3 clowns just grab everything they saw. This looks like they just shoved all of some guys desk into the box."

"Probably" Hap said, "They were in a hurry and didn't know what was important." As he spoke Anastasia got close to Hap and leaned over his arm to look at the book.

Anastasia coyly rubbed up against him. Hap raised an eyebrow, "you want this?"

"No. You're fine." Anastasia said as she turned a few pages.

Hap raised his arm so she could get between him and the book. She moved his arms so that they settled into a loose embrace and she could examine the book's contents. He rested his chin on top of her head "Comfortable?"

"Quite" Anastasia answered, "Although I was more comfortable back in the bed chamber."

"Yeah. I was too." Hap said, "As a matter of fact I'd like to go back there."

She nodded, "As soon as were done with this-" She stopped at a page with multiple equations.

"Any idea what we're looking at?" Hap asked

"These are equations for calculating waves, and their reciprocal counter waves, but I'm not sure what the purpose of that is." Anastasia said.

"Like water waves?" Joker asked, "Is this a machine for generating waves in a pool or something? Can we use this thing to make a zero gravity pool?"

"No,." Anastasia said. She flipped a few more pages and was frustrated by more Cyrillic writing and even a few handwritten notations in Chinese. She leaned on Hap's chest as she went back to the page of equations.

"So ye have no idea?" Roweyna asked.

"I'm sorry but no, it's all Russian and Chinese." Anastasia said.

"We don't happen to have any crew members that can read either of those languages?" Hap asked.

Roweyna looked to Henry. Henry nodded gravely, "Aye we took on a new aerospace technician back on Monhegan. Dmitry Khmentsky, He can certainly speak and read Russian, but I'm not too certain about how well he speaks English."

"Let's go find him." Roweyna said. "If father hired him it cannot be as bad as all that."

"You sure?" Joker asked, "because sometimes when your dad and you getting going, I'm not sure you guys are speaking English."

"Perhaps because we're speaking Gaelic." Roweyna said. "Or perhaps ye have a learnin' disability."

"I don't have a learning disability." Joker snapped.

"Are you sure? Depending on the severity of your disability you might not know." Anastasia said.

"Hap tell them I don't have a learning disability" Joker said.

"Sorry, but AFFS regulations state I can't talk about a Soldier's medical conditions in public." Hap said.

Henry suggested they start looking in the other aerospace bay. They walked across the hall and entered the other bay. There was loud music that was a mix of traditional folk-style instruments and synthetic dance beats. There was also a strange harmony of melodic chorus of women and a man half singing half shouting in Russian. Kate was there with a tall stocky man with blue-gray eyes, close cropped hair and a few days old beard.

The man was wearing an oil stained sleeveless tank top with multiple burn holes, his pants were military issue utility trousers with reinforced knee pads. His shirt exposed most of his chest and arms revealing numerous tattoos with religious iconography, military symbols, and Cyrillic words. Most prominent was on his left breast was the virgin Mary and on the other was the house of Davion Sword and Sun burst. In the center was an elaborate cross with a crucified Christ.

The man was smoking a cigarette while using a torch to cut off pieces of armor and was carelessly tossing the broken pieces on the deck. He seemed oblivious to the people entering the bay. His dark welding goggles made it difficult to see anything but what was in front of him.

"No, Dmitry, we need to replace this whole piece. Look, over sixty percent of this panel is damaged." Kate shouted at the man.

He looked in her direction and took his cigarette out of his mouth, "Is fine. We patch."

"I don't think that's going to work."

Dmitry turned off his torch and walked over to a pile of laminated armor sheets. He motioned for the pilot to join him. Kate walked up and glanced at the short stack of armor sheets. "Are there any other armor sheets?"

Dmitry shook his head.

"Oh! We will have to patch where we can then." Kate said, "And you're sure you can make the patches aerodynamically sound? I don't want to enter the atmosphere and have half my wing peel off."

Dmitry looked annoyed, "You have problem last flight?"

"No." Kate said slowly

"Dah", Dmitry hit his chest, "My patches good shit."

"Okay. Apparently your patches are good shit." Kate agreed, as she helped Dmitry pickup a sheet of armor and heft it onto his shoulder.

Roweyna looked around, "What are ye doin'? I thought ye were resting."

Kate started to drag another sheet off the pile, "I called down to ask Dmitry how long it would take to repair the Stuka's armor, and when he didn't respond I realized he was already working it. Given our current situation I thought it was wise we got the Stuka FMC as quick as possible, which means I gotta spend some of my rest time replacing armor."

"God bless ye Miss Berlin, but ye need to be rested before ye get behind the controls of the Leopard. Ye know that." Roweyna said. "If we get killed, have an accident, or if the shuttle is damaged or destroyed there will be an investigation, and if ye haven't had yer 8 hours of crew rest I may lose an insurance claim."

"Wait. You can insure combat vehicles?" Joker said.

"No I can insure transport vehicles for accidents and destruction not related to combat. Now quiet down, learnin' disability."

"It's Kind of hard to sleep in these circumstances." Kate answered sheepishly as Hap helped her by picking up the other end of the armor sheet and followed her to a wing section pock marked with laser and missile holes.

"Be that as it may, I need Mr. Khmentsky to help us in the next bay over, and Miss Berlin, ye need yer crew rest." Roweyna said.

Dmitry slammed the sheet of armor on the wing. "Dah?"

"Yes, you." Roweyna said, "We're trying to figure out what we took in the raid. Everything about it is written in Russian and Chinese, seeing as how it's Capellan, so if ye could help us read what we have, it'd be quite ah help to the family."

Wordlessly Dimtry nodded. He turned off his music system and grabbed a leather jacket. Anastasia noted Dmitry's jacket had the patch for the Sixth Syrtis Fusiliers RCT and the gray "scars of the sword" of corporal in the technical corps. They passed into the other bay and Anastasia led him into the shipping container and motioned to a data plate on the largest piece of equipment.

Dmitry nodded, "Is komplekt elektonnykh kontrmer".

"What is that?" Anastasia asked, "Electronic what?"

Dmitry said it again slower and louder.

Anastasia shook her head, "I don't speak Russian."

"Dah, no problem, is like electronic-ah maskirovka system-chah."

"It's an electronic listening device for Maskirovka?"

"Nyet, no. Not Maskirovka." Dmitry made a throat cutting sign across his neck, and then shook his head. "Not Maskirovka." He repeated as looked around the room at a loss.

"I warned ye about this." Henry quietly sang to Roweyna.

Roweyna took a step into the container next to Anastasia, "Maskirovka can also mean disguise, like a mask. Dmityr, are yer sayin' it's an electronic disguise system?"

Dmitry nodded as Anastasia tilted her head to the side, and thought for a moment. "We were briefed that the Capellans had done significant work on an advanced Electronic Counter Measure suite-"

"Dah, Dah" Dmitry agreed with Anastasia. "System-chah Elektonnykh Kontrmer" As he spoke he pointed to the words on the systems data plate.

Anastasia looked around the container, "The system I heard of was designed for a light 'mech. I believe it was a 30 or 35 ton 'mech code-named Lueduo. Father and I offered to create a similar suite for NAIS, but we were told if the AFFS high command wanted it, they would steal it, or salvage it from a battlefield. This looks too large for a light or even heavy 'mech though. It does explain the guide to waves though, as that is one technique to create an electronic counter measure. Still it seems so large, perhaps it's a proto-type."

Dmitry pointed to the cover of the book in Hap's hand, "Is for Cosmos vessel."

"Like a drop ship or Aerospace fighter?" Anastasia asked.

Dmitry shrugged.

Anastasia looked over at Roweyna, "It appears to be an electronic counter measure suite for a space vehicle. It doesn't make sense for it to be a drop ship because no amount of electric countermeasures is going to hide a drop ship entering a planet's atmosphere, and calculating where a drop ship will land based on its entry profile is relatively simple. Might help on the approach I'd guess.

"It also appears too big and bulky for a fighter. It could be for a jump ship, but jump ships don't move, and are considered non-military targets by nearly everyone. Further jumping into a system creates a very detectable anomaly. All this to say, I'm at a loss as to why the Capellans would build this."

"Well that's more than we knew. Besides, if ol' Maximillian Laio is as insane as some say, perhaps we shouldn't ask too many questions about the why, and focus on what we can do with it. If this system is for a drop ship, can ye hook it up?"

Anastasia looked around the container as Dmitry shrugged, "Probably. But it would only hide our electronic signature, anyone could look outside of a window and see us. It would make targeting us very difficult, though. However, given my recent experience with the ship's power systems, I'm a little hesitant to connect something so large, and quite frankly, experimental."

Henry looked like he was about to correct Anastasia, he cleared his throat, and addressed Roweyna, "Mum, the Phaidin is a good ship, but my lady is correct, is best jest to let sleepin' dogs lie, at least till we're planet side and give the primary power plant and wiring a proper overhaul."

"Very good. Let's go talk to father, ye may as well come if he has any other questions." Roweyna said as she nodded with her head toward the bridge.

Kate checked her watch, "Dmitry I gotta get some sleep before I relieve Hawkins. I'm going back to my rack."

Dmitry nodded, "Dah, I patch stuka."

"I have every confidence in your patches. You want me to ask some of the 'mech techs to help you?"

"You want lose wing in atmosphere?" Dmitry asked

"No, that is something I do not want." Kate said.

"I'll talk to Father about getting more aerotechs, but remind me of this and I'll be sure to include a bonus in yer pay." Roweyna said as she left the Aerobay and turned toward the bridge.

Anastasia and her lancemates followed Roweyna as Dmitry went back to the other aerobay. Kate also left the group as they passed by the air crew's berthing area.

When they entered the bridge Anastasia was surprised to see Sarah sitting at the navigator's station listening to the ship's telemetry and passive radar. Her eyes were still bandaged, but she seemed better than when Anastasia had seen her last. She turned as everyone entered.

"It's jest us and the Coyote lance." Roweyna said. "Ye have anything to report?"

"No Ma'am. I think the other leopard is still next to us, and they are periodically pinging us, and I can hear the long range navigation beacon from the jump ship, but I don't believe there is anything else out there."

Anastasia looked at the radar terminal. There was a marker close to the Phaidin following the drop ship just a few kilometers off starboard. Several thousand kilometers away was the Jumpship. It looked like Sarah was hearing everything the Phaidin was detecting. Roweyna squeezed the young woman's shoulder, "Good work Sarah. Keep us informed if ye hear anything else."

"Yes Ma'am." Sarah answered.

"Hawkins are ye alright?"

Hawkins shook himself awake, "Yeah, yeah." He looked at his watch then checked his navigation systems. "We're still a few hours out before we dock with the Jump Ship."

"Good." Roweyna stood by the communications station, and put the headset on. She flipped a few switches and began talking. She spoke mostly in Gaelic, Anastasia assumed it was to make things more difficult for anyone who might be trying to listen to them. Roweyna nodded as she spoke, she asked a question and raised her eyebrows in surprise at the response. When she was done she turned off the radio and took off her head set.

"Alright ladies and gents. We're going to keep moving toward Norton's jump ship, and it looks like we're about to jump into St. Ives." Roweyna said.

"How did Commander McFinnigan figure that out?" Anastasia asked.

"As you were sleeping I went through Norton's briefcase and found a data stick. All the files were encrypted, so I sent it all to Father to see if Cody or Mal could decrypt it."

"What did they learn?" Anastasia asked

"Not as much as ye'd like. They only managed to decrypt a few files, but we were able to confirm that the White Tails, Det 3, and that bastard Norton were ComStar agents. Also Mal found the ex-filtration plan which included every jump from here to Rigil."

"So Willard and his boys weren't in on this?" Joker asked.

"Nay." Roweyna said, "Seems in the age of BattleMechs everyone hates tankers. Bastard Norton hired them to be disposable and likely die on the field of battle, or in this betrayal. Given how Willard effects people I'd wager he'd pissed off Norton in a past assignment."

"I will add Father tells me Willard and his boys were helpin' with fire suppression and manning guns. Father may not think much of Willard, but him and his armored calvary have certainly redeemed themselves."

"Wait. Did you say Rigil?" Hawkins asked.

"Aye, but if it's up to me, we'll be getting off at St. Ives, find a way back into Federation or Commonwealth space, and make our way to Donegal, or meet up with Father along the way. Father has already managed to arrange a jump back in AFFS space. If he finds another way to link up with us, he'll let us know. Right now we've decided we cannot trust ComStar so unless we happen to find ourselves in the same system, we're not likely to see them again till we get to Donegal."

"How'd Kelly manage that?" Joker asked.

"After the engagement he started moving the Tir na nOg toward the Necromo jump point and reached out to the vessels recharging their K-F drives. He found a crew that was willing to jump across the boarder and, jest like everything a mercenary does, they agreed to a price. If we had the fuel, and it wasn't likely to create a runnin' gun fight we'd be joining them."

"What did he say about the ECM suite?" Anastasia asked.

"He said to hold onto it, and he'd know what to do with it once we were together again."

"I have a question." Hawkins said, "How exactly are we going to convince the jump ship to just release us when we get to the St. Ives system?"

"Well we can try to bribe them, it's how father secured passage." Roweyna said, "but I had the same question because it's likely these are some highly indoctrinated ComStar weird beards drivin' the ship. After all they were willin' to do a pirate jump." Roweyna paused, "Father had another suggestion if the crew isn't easily persuaded by a monetary offer."

"What was Commander McFinnigan's other suggestion?" Hap asked

"Pray the jump ship crew is easily motivated by money, Mr. Calahad." Roweyna answered.

Elmoth

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #261 on: 10 May 2022, 03:46:40 »
gona jump the jumpship crew? Vacuum battles are always risky

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #262 on: 03 July 2022, 02:59:39 »
Chapter 82

Roweyna stood on the bridge of the dropship Phaidin. They were a few minutes away from docking with the JumpShip that had brought them into the Capellan's system. She knew the next few minutes would determine a lot of things for everyone on the Phaidin. Her father would describe these moments as standing on the edge of a cliff before jumping into dark waters. Her father also excelled in these situations; she'd seen him navigate occasions like this with ease.

Roweyna swallowed hard. She and the crew had come up with a plan on how they were going to deceive the crew of the jump ship. They had determined that Ervin and Yamoti, the two pilots of the Karnov, were the most likely candidates to pilot the Leopard DropShip, so Hawkins and Kate would try to pass themselves off as them.

Roweyna was both impressed at how quickly Hawkins, Kate, Hap, and Anastasia had put together the plan to convince the JumpShip crew that the ComStar agents were successful, and they needed to jump out of the system immediately. If Roweyna was being honest she was jealous they had so quickly recovered from the near death and tragedy. She knew this was part of the military training and experience most of them had received from a Great House army. They had the storied "gallows humor" of hardened soldiers, that curious ability to distract with jokes or use sarcasm and humor to hide fears and true feelings while keeping morale high enough to keep a unit moving forward.

She had never exactly learned this ability. She'd grown up around the mercenary company. Sure, she had spent a few years away for her law school and training, but this was the only life she really knew. Roweyna had suffered through most tragedies and equally enjoyed the victories of the company, but she never felt like was part of the company like the techs or the MechWarriors.

She knew part of this was her staff role, and part of it was being the boss's daughter. She was insulated from most of the company, and no one wanted to really get close to her. Maybe she didn't let them either. She had her cousins, Patrick and Fiona, and until his death her brother, but she knew it wasn't quite the same bond.

On most days Roweyna could easily keep up with the darkest and most sarcastic of her father's employees, but this incident had really shaken her. It upset her that while she was standing between two dead bodies feeling light-headed as she wondered if she was bleeding out, they were joking and making lurid comments at each other. They were doing the things that were necessary, fixing the console and engaging the enemy, but their attitude felt off to her. It made her feel she didn't quite understand them, she felt like wasn't "one of them" exactly.

She had also received the beating of her life. When she saw what Norton was doing she knew she had seconds to prevent him from getting his weapons out. She had worked in a pub when she was in law school, and had been in a fair amount of brawls and had to put a few customers in their place, but Norton nearly killed her. He was strong, well trained, and sober, he was unlike nearly every pub regular she ever fought.

Norton was a trained killer and every time she managed to disarm him he found another weapons or put her at a disadvantage. He was also taller, stronger and faster than her. When she had finally got all his weapons from him he just resorted to strangling her. By sheer luck she found his knife and had just enough strength to plunge it into his heart before she passed out. If Norton had crossed her mother the fight would have been over in seconds, and just a little longer if it had been her father. This realization made her feel inferior. She had kept Norton's knife. It was easy enough to conceal and she'd start the next fight with more than just broken pottery and stern words.

After she got fixed up, she spent another restless six hours digging through Norton's briefcase, speaking with her father, and generally trying to figure out their next steps. When she went to find Anastasia she knew that she had stepped in between her and Hap having intimate personal time. She was jealous of that as well. She was exhausted, cold, and her arm hurt, and here they were warmly snuggled together, and doing whatever carnal desire struck their fancy. She was also aware most of the crew that wasn't on watch were probably doing the same thing. It all made her feel lonely.

She hugged herself and exhaled slowly. She was Kelly Mc-damn-Finnigan's daughter. She wasn't a victim. She also knew the crew needed her to keep her head. She just needed to focus.

"You okay Roweyna?" Anastasia asked

Roweyna turned to Anastasia. She was sitting at the comms station. She had modified the radios so that the voice quality of transmitted radio would sound "robotic". They were hoping that if they disabled video and explained their comms and controls were damaged in the hijacking of the shuttle they could convince the JumpShip crew that everything was fine.

"Aye." Roweyna said. Anastasia's concern reiterated that Roweyna was forgetting that these people were her friends, really her extended family. She was far from alone.

Kate got out of her chair and walked over to the navigation center she flipped a few switches as she told Sarah, "I'm disabling the beacon tones and sending the star maps and astro-navigation directly to my station. I want to be able to confirm we're in the St. Ives system immediately after the jump.

"Okay." Sarah said. Without the beacon information there wouldn't be anything for the blind young woman to hear unless another jump ship came into the system. Sarah took off the headphones and put them in her lap. She knew she wouldn't have much to do until Kate turned everything back on and they were close to another celestial navigation system.

As she passed by Roweyna, Kate put her hand on Roweyna's shoulder, "You sure about all of this? I know we're using pirated transponders and the livery was painted over before we left Daniels, but this can get us black listed and possibly never be able to jump out of system again."

Roweyna put her hand on top of Kate's hand and gave it a squeeze. The human contact was reassuring. She nodded. "Oh we'll be fine. I'm generally certain this is going to be our word against theirs. And if we're blacklisted Mother has a friend with a jump ship that can at least get us back to Donnegal."

"We have a friend with a jump ship?" Hawkins asked as Kate squeezed into the seat next to him. "How come we've never used this friend's ship?"

"What makes you think we haven't." Roweyna asked as the radio flashed.

Hawkins looked back at Roweyna and she nodded as he touched the channel button. The speakers were filled with, "I say again, Leopard MCFS-61783, do you copy."

"This is Leopard MCFS-61783. We've had comms problems, please say all again." Hawkins said.

"Ervin is that you? Your radio sounds like shit, need you to adjust the sample rate. Also you have no video." This was a different voice. Roweyna assumed the first voice was the JumpShip's comm's officer, so this may be the Leopard CV's captain or comms officer.

"When we took the ship the comms got damaged, as well as our controls. We've been working to get this system to work this good." Hawkins said.

Roweyna took a step over to Anastasia and put her hand on the Mechwarrior's back and gave her a gentle rub "Well done Anastasia." She whispered. Roweyna was starting to get cautiously optimistic. She also realized a little human contact was what she needed right now.

"Acknowledge, MCFS-61783, can you bring your vessel around to hard point one and we'll initiate the docking sequence. We'll have a maintenance crew standing by."

Hap walked over to the comms station and took the mic. He cleared his throat and spoke authoritatively, "This is Norton, that's a negative. I want to leave the system immediately." Hap leaned down and looked out the window the gigantic solar collecting "sail" was still deployed. This meant at least another ninety minutes before the ship could jump.

"Acknowledge sir. We'll need to recover the sail. We can have the crew come onboard, look over your systems and get an estimate." As he spoke the long booms for the sail bent slightly at their hinges.

"Prefer you wait on the maintenance crews." Hap said. "Some members of the mercenary crew are still hiding on the ship and we don't want to give them a chance to escape until after the jump."

"We'll send a security team." The jump ship crewmember replied.

"I still want to wait till after the jump before we take on the techs and security." Hap said.

There was a pause, "Acknowledge sir. They'll be standing by."

"Well depending on what they bring with them that may reduce our timeline."

Hawkins guided the drop ship toward the long needle like JumpShip. For a moment it seemed like they were going to overfly the ship but then a powerful force pulled the ship down. As it descended Hawkins turned the ship so it faced the aft of the jump ship. The drop ship settled down onto the hard point facing the Leopard CV and the jump sails.

"MCFS-61783, What just happened there, why didn't you dock perpendicular to the K-F Drive."

"Yeah, our controls have been damaged. It keeps yawing at random." Hawkins answered.

"Yeah we saw them do this a few times after the Norton's team took over." The CV pilot added.

"You sure you don't want the maintenance crews now?"

"We'll be fine." Hap said, again imitating Colonel Norton.

Roweyna waited until the channel was closed between the DropShips and JumpShips and then she got on the 1MC, "Henry, we've jest docked with the jump ship."

There was a pause and then Henry's voice came across the intercom, "And ye want us to splice the mainbrace?"

Roweyna smirked, "Nay. There'll be time for drinkin' later. I need ye to get as many rough and tumble lads as ye can, get down to the hatch and make sure no one tries to board."

"Repel boarders, yes mum." Henry replied.

The crew settled in for the long wait as the jump ship crew prepared and stored the jump sail. It was strange and almost graceful to watch as the massive sail was carefully folded and pulled in before the jump.

"Hey Roweyna, what's on the menu for the next meal? When is the next meal?" Hawkins asked.

Roweyna looked at her small gold watch, "Oh I have no idea what time we're using now. Is it almost noon, or the middle night? I'll tell ye, if we escape from the jump ship and survive, then we'll start talking about openin' up the galley."

"Remember how Jerry was always talkin' about Loaf? I could really go for some loaf." Hawkins said.

"Loaf?" Kate asked, "like bread?"

"No. It was like a meat loaf, but not beef…but it was definitely protein based. I think it was fish."

"Fish Loaf?" Kate asked.

"Maybe it was fish." Hawkins said.

"That sounds unpleasant." Anastasia said.

"Ye have to understand Mr. Jerry Westman had spent some time in a penal colony." Roweyna said, "This loaf was some type of institutional food that he craved and was often trying to recreate. I don't think he ever managed to get it right though, or at least I never found the dish appealing."

"It, uh, it was an acquired taste." Hawkins said, "Jerry was pretty sure he got it right though, or at least as right as you could get something like that."

"Is Jerry on the Phaidin? Can we ask him to whip us some of this 'loaf'?" Kate asked. She caught the bewildered looks from around the bridge, "What? I've eaten in DEFACS and ships galleys from across the Federation, and I've had my share of good rats and bad. I like to think of myself as a gourmand or connoisseur of military and institutional food."

"I'm not sure that you can consider yourself a gourmand when you favor prepackaged rations and institutional food. It's like claiming to be a musical critic of military marches." Anastasia said.

"Hey Kate, you know who has the best marches." Hawkins asked.

"The Lyran Commonwealth?" Kate asked

"Hell yeah!" Hawkins nodded as they bumped fists.

"First, Mr. Hawkins an' Ms. Berlin," Roweyna said, "The Northwind Highlanders has the best Marches of any unit in or out of the Inner Sphere. Any fool knows when ye come against the Highlanders and their bag pipes start to hum' yer likely hearin' the last song yer mortal ears will ever know. It's terrifying and beautiful all at once. Jest to hear them pipe Scotland the Brave is worth the near-death experience."

"Second, Ms. Berlin, Mr. Westman fell on Klathandu, but sadly I'd wager his recipe for loaf could be found among our cherished recipes. If Mr. Hawkin would like to try his hand and preparing the dish, we happen to have an excess of fish protein. If he fails and it all goes to waste no one will care if it gets jettisoned in an airlock."

"Is that the Tuna we brought on?" Anastasia asked, "I can't believe there is still some of that in the ship's larder."

"I can" Hap said.

"I'll gladly make Tuna noodle casserole again and save us from the gastronomical horrors of 'loaf'." Anastasia said.

"Loaf is not a…" Hawkins paused and seem to think for a moment, "I think I'm going to bow out and let the Professor cook."

"Good." Roweyna said, "God rest Jerry's soul, but I'd prefer loaf jest as soon followed him to the grave."

"Have the family actually fought the Northwind Highlanders?" Kate asked. "One of the instructors back at NAIS that had strange respect for them. I think he got shot down fighting them, lost an arm, which is how he became an instructor at NAIS. At least that was always the rumor."

"Oh! That's how professor Rasczak lost his arm?" Anastasia asked.

"One time, Miss Berlin. We were doing a raid on, oh I believe it was Foot Fall. As I recall we were destroying some of the planet's industry. I was sitting right here on the Leopard waiting in the Drop Zone for the family to return. All was going well, and our warriors were headed back, when suddenly, o'er the guard channel, we start to hear the hum o' pipes and the beat of the drums."

"The hair on my arms and back of my neck stood up, and, I won't lie, it was grand. Then father starts telling the boys to give it the lash an' get to the Phaidin. About that time I see them crestin' a hill and behind them is two Catapults with LRM racks smokin' and Father is yellin' there was a Highlander and Thunderbolt-5SE backing them up. Every step they took after that could be measured in broken or melted armor. As we were lifting off we could see that they had sent a company to encircle us, and we were chased off by aerospace fighters, and all that for slaggin' a few factories."

"The Northwind Highlander's were as ferocious as they were talented, and oh I dare sat I've never heard pipers like that. After that Father had a stadin' rule that if we were in Capellan space and heard bagpipes we jest turned right back the hell around. I'm surprised he didn't mention it in the mission brief for Necromo."

The JumpShip's sails had now been fully recovered. There were a few of the standard warnings and alarms for an imminent jump. Hawkins got on the 1MC and warned the crew of to prepare for the jump.

Hawkins started a countdown and Roweyna closed her eyes and leaned back in her seat. She'd been on hundreds of jumps but the strange moment where reality was seemingly broken as the ship moved from one star system to another always affected her. There was a crash like thunder and a flash like lightning and Roweyna had the familiar sense of vertigo and shock that instantly moving approximately 30 lightyears always caused her. She took a few calming breaths before standing up.

"Alright everyone, let's begin."

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #263 on: 03 July 2022, 03:00:10 »
Chapter 83
St. Ives System
April 3030

Roweyna watched Anastasia as she quickly "fixed" the DropShip's comms system. She turned the video back on and fixed the sampling rate for the audio. She changed a few more settings and then looked up at Roweyna, "Everything is restored."

Roweyna waited for the Jump Ship crew to start opening the sails, then she took the mic. "JumpShip command deck, request ye release the Leopard Class Drop Ship Phaidin tail number MCFS-61738."

"Who is this? Identify yourself." The Jump Ship crewmember sounded confused.

"Identify yerself first." Roweyna answered.

Another voice got on the radio net, this was a smoother, more experienced sounding man. Everyone listening knew he was a senior. Military officer, "This is Demi Precentor Nikholas Haze, Captain of the Jump Ship Glorious Light, now young lady, if you'd kindly identify yourself."

"This is Roweyna McFinnigan, I have legal and command authority of the Phaidin and her crew. I am requesting you release the Phaidin and allow us safe passage."

"I'd like to speak with Demi Precentor Norton." Demi Precentor Haze answered. "May I ask where he is?"

"Dead." Roweyna said flatly, "If necessary I will compensate ye fair market value for star system travel. 30,000 C-bills. Transferred to any account ye gave me routing numbers for."

"Get the security team on that ship now." A member of the JumpShip crew could be heard yelling.

"Ms. McFinnigan we're not in a position to accept any money you're offering us. We have orders to deliver you to…" Demi Precentor Haze paused, realizing he was about to say too much. "To our leadership."

"I'll double the money. 60,000 C-bills, jest send me yer routing numbers." Roweyna said.

"We're sending security forces to your ship now. It would be in your best interest to stand down and allow them to board." The Demi Precentor said calmly.

"Yer men will meet the same lethal resistance Norton and his boys met. 100,000 C-bills is as high as I'm willing to go." Roweyna said. "If yer not willing to release us, we can start shooting."

"Disable the grav drive, they won't survive a zero-gee fight." One of the Jumpship crew said.

Roweyna put the mic against her shoulder. "Miss Berlin, fire at will on the CV."

The Phaidin's forward battery of LRMs, PPCs and lasers fired on the Leopard CV. Most of the energy weapons and missiles hit the port wing and turret mounted weapon blisters on the Leopard CV.

"What the hell is going on?" The Cee Vee Pilot asked.

"Keep firing Miss Berlin." Roweyna put the mic back to her mouth, "You can either release us, or we'll continue damaging anything we can target."

"I'm certain you know the various treaties and agreements you're currently breaking." Demi Precentor Haze said, he now sounded annoyed, "Our security team is preparing a breaching package. They'll kill you if you if you resist, and I personally assure you that you will be brought to justice. Further your mercenary company will be sanctioned. "

"We've already fought off invaders once. What makes ye think yer lads will be successful? Further, if you sanction us we'll just have to find a Successor State to join, I'm sure the Capellans would be more than happy to take us in, especially after we give them the evidence of who hired us for the raid, and return what ye had us steal. I'll also add if yer security team so much as knocks rudely on my airlock we'll begin targeting your recharge sail."

There was a pause as the Demi Precentor seemed to consider his options. "You cannot fire on a JumpShip." Any charm or calmness was gone from his voice.

"Seeing as how yer going to kill me, what have we to lose? Target their jump sail with a barrage of LRMs." Roweyna said to Kate, "We'll put enough holes into it so they can't recharge, and tell our friends on St. Ives there's a Jumpship waiting for them, jest needs a new sail, ripe for a new nation's taking. Since yer threaten to ruin my mercenary career I'll need to start makin' finding friends in the Successor States. Yer move Demi Percentor."

There was another pause and Kate continued to hammer the Leopard CV. She destroyed the port wing and was starting to target the slender connection to the tail section. Between reloads and the weapons recharging there was the alarms began to signal that they were breaking connection with the JumpShip.

"Oh, well that's all it took. Cease fire." Roweyna said, as she flipped the mic to the 1MC. "Henry, did ye have any trouble."

"Negative mum, no one attempted to board the Phadin."

Kate reached over and punched Hawkins shoulder, "Keep us facing the Cee Vee."

The Leopard kept its nose toward the other DropShip as it started to leave the JumpShip. The shift in gravity was difficult for everyone not sitting down. Roweyna fell back into her seat, as Hawkins maneuvered the DropShip. The Leopard CV was released from the JumpShip and started to move away from both the JumpShip and the McFinnigan's Leopard.

"You going to shoot that?" Hawkins asked.

"He hasn't quite cleared the Jump ship, and in spite of what we said, I still can't bring myself to maliciously target a JumpShip, or risking hitting the K-F drive."

"Thank god for that." Anastasia said.

"I'm pleased they didn't force the issue." Roweyna said as the Leopard CV moved quickly to put the jump ship between the Leopard and itself. "But it looks like the Cee Vee pilot is calling our bluff."

"Where's the Cee Vee going" Sarah asked. "I can hear his transponder, he's moving away from us."

"Moving away to launch his fighters." Kate said while unbuckling her harness. "Hawkins get us ready to launch the Stuka."

"Who put you in charge?" Hawkins asked.

"We're about to have a Chippewa and a Corsair harassing us. I can go out there and Hap or someone can man the guns and help me dismantle them, or we can try to pick them off as they harass us."

"She's right." Roweyna said, "unless ye have better plans, Ms. Berlin get to yer fighter."

"Alright, Hap Get up here." Hawkins said.

Hap climbed into the co-pilot seat as Roweyna grabbed the Mic and got on the 1MC, "All crew be advised we're under attack and will be makin' evasive maneuvers with no warnin' so strap yerself in and hold tight. I also need a few able spacemen to report to Aerobay 2 for an aircraft launch."

Kate walked back over to the Navigation system. "I'm reactiving this station. Do what you can to help." Sarah acknowledged her as she left.

"Alright Hap right now the co-pilot is in gunner mode, so you see this switch?" Hawkins gestured to a switch marked, "SYNC" in the center of the control panel.

Hap pointed to the switch, "That switch?"

Hawkins slapped his hand, "Don't touch that. It will take you out of 'gunner' mode and make you a co-pilot, which will probably get us all killed."

"Alright." Hap said as he gave Hawkins a sideways look. "How do I alternate weapons."

"See the touch screen?" Hawkins said.

Hap looked at a monochrome green screen and started to reach for it as Hawkins swatted his hand again, "Not that one, that's the navigation system, the one on the other side."

"You want me to sit here and not touch anything, or do you want me to actually help defend this boat?"

Hawkins looked frustrated as he leaned over and pointed directly to a large screen. "This is your weapon status and fire control guide." He said. "Use the buttons on the side to toggle modes and weapons. It will map them to buttons on the control stick, I think that's how it works in your 'mech. Also this is a ship, not a boat, jackass."

Hap tentatively pressed a few buttons and checked the status on the Leopards PPCs, LRMs and lasers. Tentatively he checked the mapping to the controls and made a few adjustments as Hawkins continued to fly the DropShip. "Yeah, this looks about the same. Where's the heat scale?" Hap asked as gingerly put his hands on the controls.

"You shouldn't need it unless you fire everything including the aft weapons." Hawkins said, "but it's located here." Hawkins reached over and pointed to a small gauge on the instrument panel.

"Anything else I shouldn't touch?" Hap asked as he cautiously moved the controls and watched the cross hair on his heads-up-display track.

"Yeah every damn thing that isn't the fire-controls." Hawkins snapped, then he straightened the DropShip and sat up a little straighter, "Sorry Hap, I don't usually have a 'mech jock sitting next to me, you guys make me nervous."

"Up until about a minute ago, I would have thought we were pretty cool with each other."

"We're still cool. I just don't want you to screw up and get us killed."

"Your confidence is very reassuring." Hap replied.

"I hear additional transponders." Sarah said, "I think the Cee Vee launched its fighters."

Hap glanced at the radar. "I can see them on the radar they're off the right, or uh, starboard side, how do I change my view to see-" Hap started to reach for the system marked, "View Screen", but Hawkins hit his hand again.

"Damn it Hawkins stop hitting me."

"Stop reaching for things you're not authorized to touch." Hawkins answered, "Just turn your cross hairs and your view will change. It's intuitive, this is a space craft, not some ancient badly welded together walking battle tank."

"Hawkins, did I do something to upset you, or is it Kate out there in the Stuka that's pissing you off?"

"We all got jobs in the company, Hap." Hawkins said, "but, yeah I'm happier when her job has her next to me."

"I'd also like to add that I recently spent several hours crawling through the maintenance areas of this spacecraft, and I saw a lot of ancient wiring and many things that were poorly welded together." Anastasia said.

"Steady lads, we're on the same team." Roweyna put her hand on Anastasia's wrist, "don't add to the problem."

"Hawk, I'm ready to launch." Kate's voice came across the intercom.

"Stand by." Hawkins said as he made a few more adjustments on the controls, "Clear the bay and open the hatches."

"Bay is clear." Kate answered.

A few alarms and lights began to go off on the control panel. Hawkins was watching a particular set of lights that were flashing between amber and green, when they all went steady green he got back on the intercom, "Launch in 5…4…3…2…1…Launch."

Another set of alarms sounded and more lights flashed before going steady green, "Hatches secure."

"I'm clear." Kate said, "Hap, if you and Hawkins can swing it try to take out the Chippewa first, it has a lot of weapons, but not as much armor. Once he's a drifting hulk, we'll move to the Corsair."

Hawkins turned the Leopard hard and began flying toward the JumpShip's sail. As he changed direction he also altered the Leopard DropShip's posture, "I'm going to 'fly-normal', more like aerospace fighter, it'll make it easier to target all our weapons on the fighters, but gravity is going to get weird."

Roweyna groaned as the Phaidin settled into using its aft thrusters and everyone felt themselves pushed back into their seats. It felt sort of like they were now sitting with their backs to the floor.

"Those two fighters are going to try and hit us from all different angles trying to make sure you never get an opportunity to hit them with everything. If I stay close to the JumpShip it will limit their attack angles and maybe keep them from using missiles." Hawkins said. "Also, like Kate said, try to take down the Chippewa first, if these guys know what they're doing they try to confuse you and hope you miss."

"Got it." Hap said trying to get use to the shift in the ship's pseudo-gravity.

Kate brought the Stuka to fly just off the port side of the Leopard. The Chippewa and Corsair were arrayed side by side and coming straight toward them.

HFC05

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #264 on: 03 July 2022, 03:01:15 »
Chapter 84

The scanners alerted Hap to the incoming fighters. They were flying straight at him, but he could only target one. As he placed the crosshair on the fighter on the right a screen brought up the technical information on the Chippewa. He watched the distance between the fighter and the DropShip decrease as he waited for the targeting computer to let him know the fighters were in weapon's range.

"They're going to fire missiles, break and you'll have a moment to return fire with the missiles and hit them with the PPCs." Hawkins warned. As he spoke Hap could see the tiny orange pin pricks of the Chippewa's dual LRM 15s. Hap instantly triggered the Phaidin's three LRM 20s, and started to track as the Chippewa turned to move high and to starboard. Hap managed to hit it with one of the two PPCs as it skirted around the long range edge of the Phaidin's front weapon arc. As Hap tracked the Chippewa the long-range missiles struck the nose and wings of the Phaidin.

The targeting computer indicated the Chippewa had taken significant damage from the LRM barrage. A quick comparison showed the Phaidin had taken only superficial damage to the nose and wings. The targeting computer alerted Hap that the computers had auto-targeted the Corsair. Hap triggered the medium and close range lasers as the corsair closed and struck the Leopard with its own complement of energy weapons. The Corsair dove below the Phaidin and out of sight.

Kate rolled the Stuka over the top of the Phaidin and pivoted to chase the Chippewa. In seconds she was closing with the Chippewa and bringing her considerable arsenal to bear on the unfortunate vessel.

Hap skewed the weapon systems so he could watch the Chippewa as the Stuka's barrage of lasers and missiles sheared one of the wings off and cut deep into the fuselage. The pilot struggled to keep the vessel stable as he tried to give a feeble response with his remaining weapons, but Kate was keeping the Stuka in his rear arc.

"Can he still fly, or maneuver, without a wing?" Hap asked

"It's space, brother." Hawkins replied, "As long as he's not getting sucked out of his cockpit, and his engine is intact he can keep fighting. Now if he was in any type of atmosphere, he'd be fighting to not take a dirt nap."

Hap nodded as he tried to move the weapons and searched for the corsair.

"It sounds like the Corsair is behind us, and maybe below us." Sarah said.

Anastasia unlocked her chair and pushed it on its rail across the bridge to be next to the navigation station. "She's correct, the Corsair is coming in fast bearing 170 mark 15.

Hawkins pulled a hard turn and dipped the wing bringing the side of the Leopard to face the fighter. Roweyna groaned as the ship turned and the inertial forces shifted. Hap could see the fighter was already coming into range of the ship's missile. Hap launched the wings mounted LRM 20 and large lasers as Hawkins continued to turn the dropship.

The Corsair's large lasers carved into the dropship's side as the Corsair pilot accelerated in an effort to get into the drop ship's rear arc and attack its engines. Hawkins continued to turn and accelerate trying to ensure the Corsair couldn't get behind them. The Corsair accelerated and tried to follow Hawkins maneuver as Hawkins tried to pull the turn tighter. The Corsair overshot the Leopard and Hawkins waited until they were close to the JumpShip to pull out of the turn.

"Anyone know what the CeeVee is doing?" Hawkins said as the force of the acceleration altered from pushing them sideways to pushing them back.

"I do not." Anastasia said, "It seems it's using the Jump Ship to hide from us."

"I think I can hear its transponder, but I'm not sure if it's moving."

Anastasia started adjusting the instruments on the navigation station. "The SONAR system uses the same energy as the radar system and turns it into sound. It also receives navigational beacons, transponder information, and the occasional space anomalies that can be translated into sound. It's arguably a holdover from Terran submarine SONAR from centuries ago."

She found the menu she was looking for and quickly changed a few settings, "Unless you can tease out the Leopard CV's transponder, and if the equipment is sensitive enough for you to hear the Doppler effect, you're going to have a hard time getting anything useful. Now if you'll give me a moment-"

"Anastasia, could ye…could ye jest not be yerself for a while and stop explain' things." Roweyna said. Hap noticed that the Cee Vee was now represented by a red delta but it would blink out every few seconds. He assumed the radar was now showing the last known transponder beacon location.

"I got it." Kate said. "The CeeVee is moving beneath the Jump Ship, relative to you." As Kate's Stuka moved her radar caught sight of the other DropShip and relayed the information to the Phaidin.

"Acknowledge" Hawkins said as he pivoted the DropShip to fly up and over the JumpShip. The pseudo gravity shifted again and Roweyna half cried as she searched the pockets of her chair for a motion sickness bag.

"Mr. Hawkins, I need to jest get this tub out of the fight." Roweyna said as she found a bag and snapped it open. She leaned away from everyone as she got sick.

"I don't feel good either." Sarah said. Anastasia noted she was starting to turn green.

"This is why I gotta keep the bridge clear." Hawkins mumbled as he turned the Leopard. "Try to keep it together ladies while I get this ship pointed at St Ives.

"One Bandit down." Kate said. "You got the Corsair doubling back around looks like he'll follow you over the top of the Jump ship."

"What about the Cee Vee?"

"Moving slow turning carefully. It probably lost some structural integrity when I sucker punched it." Kate said. "I could probably finish it off, but I'm trying to line up to meet the Corsair in a time and space that will be unpleasant for him."

"You're the best Katey." Hawkins said, "I'm making the crew sick here, and Roweyna says we need to end this quick.

"Why don't you take it out of Vomit Comet mode, and fly right?"

"Because I'd prefer not to get my ass handed to me."

"Oh you let me worry about that." Kate said.

"You'll handle my ass?" Hawkins joked as Roweyna wretched. Anastasia put a motion sickness into Sarah's hands and she mumbled "thanks" as she opened it and put it to her mouth before she retched.

"I think I agree with the bridge crew." Kate said.

Hap glanced at the holo radar. The Corsair was coming up and around the jump ship as the Phaidin was flying parallel to the jump ship flying toward its nose. The Leopard CV was on the other side of the ship and slowly turning and moving to come back around the Jump Ship unfortunately the Cee Vee was closer to the nose of the JumpShip. Kate's Stuka was located below everyone, but she was changing her speed and vector to close with the Phadin.

Hawkins brought the Phaidin out of its turn and straightened out. He started to accelerate and everyone was pushed back in their seats. It wasn't normal gravity, but it wasn't as nausea inducing as the previous maneuvers. Hap was feeling a little unwell, and hearing and smelling Roweyna and Sarah being sick wasn't helping. He knew he should try to find a horizon or a fixed object, but the weapon system warned him the Corsair coming up behind them.

Hap's weapon monitor changed to show the Corsair was trying to come at them from a low angle making him hard to target. Hap had to depress the weapon blister almost as far as he could. He hit the Corsair's nose and wing with a large laser and medium lasers while the Corsair hit the Phaidin's engines with its complement of lasers.

Hap glanced over at the holo-radar as he waited for the lasers to recharge. Kate guided her Stuka just under the Corsair and closed on the rear of the fighter. He glanced back to his screen as he prepared for another energy weapon exchange.

"Why aren't we rolling-over and assuming normal gravity operations." Sarah asked.

"Because I want to beat the Cee Vee before he comes around the JumpShip." Hawkins said. "Trust me, when we overthrust it feels more normal just to get pushed backwards, rather than getting pushed down like you're in an elevator that going a thousand kilometers an hour."

Hap gave another sideways glance to the holo radar. For a moment he could watch the Cee Vee speed along on the other side of the Jump Ship. It was looking like it was trying to get around the JumpShip to head off the Phaidin, and it was already at the JumpShip's nose. As Kate got closer the radar switched from a detailed icon to a red delta, then the Cee Vee disappeared again.

The Stuka slipped in behind the Corsair and there was a bright flash as Kate unleashed her forward facing weapons. Missiles and lasers tore into the engine and rear of the ship. The Corsair's engine was struck and Hap saw multiple flashes and then the craft exploded.

Hawkins glanced at the radar and then started pulling up on the stick to raise the Phaidin. As they approached the front of the Jump Ship the Leopard CV came around the front and angled itself so it could target the Phaidin with both its forward and starboard battery. Hawkins tried to continue the climb as they were struck by multiple missiles and energy weapons.

Hawkins gritted his teeth as he dropped the Leopard's nose so the weapons were facing the Leopard CV as they flew over the top. The weapon monitor indicated the weapons were recharged and reloaded. Hap quickly targeted the Cee Vee as they flew over, most of the weapons hit the fuselage and starboard side of the DropShip. Hap glanced at the damage monitor. The armor was holding, but they couldn't sustain another barrage. Hawkins touched one of the monitors and pulled up data on the Cee Vee. It's fuselage and port side were ruined, but the nose and starboard were still in good shape.

"Katey I still got my ass, but just barely. Do me a favor and keep that Cee Vee from chasing us before you come in from the cold."

"I know how to get a man to stop chasing me." Kate said. Hap watched the holo radar and saw the Stuka barrel roll till it lined up with the Cee Vee and then accelerate to close the distance. Hawkins switched the center monitor so they could watch as Kate flew over the top of CV, performed a near perfect 180 degree turn, and then launched her battery of LRMs and lasers into the ruined side of the CV. Lasers and missiles blasted through the Drop Ship's armor and began to cut through the internal structure.

There was a flash of fire and smoke as combustible materials were exposed to the vacuum of space and for a moment there was oxygen to fuel the fire. The Stuka turned slowly as the Leopard continued to vent off oxygen and small explosions occured as the tail section drifted away from the main fuselage of the Drop Ship. Kate leveled off the Stuka and flew toward the Phaidin. "One gelded Leopard. By the time their damage crews get that sorted out we should be half-way to St. Ives."

"Damn, I love her and want her to have my children." Hawkins said as tactical display relayed the damage to Leopard CV. It had taken significant damage to its structural integrity and the whole rear tail section was missing. It would be impossible for the ship to enter a planet's atmosphere.

"Now that I've had my fun." Kate said. "Permission to come aboard?"

"What's your fuel situation?" Hawkins asked.

"Good." Kate said slowly. "Why do you ask?"

"Think we're going need a few minutes before the crew will be capable of recovering you."

Kate turned her fighter and accelerated to catch up with the Phaidin, "I was thinking you couldn't really fly a drop ship like a aerospace fighter and not give the whole damn crew motion sickness, and some of them probably got banged around or hit by unsecured equipment. Good job Hawk."

"Better than spaced, besides, it's not the whole crew, the Haphazard co-pilot you left me with is doing fine."

"Barely." Hap said. Hawkins had put the Phadin in regular "normal" space operation and was using the bottom thrusters and a constant thrust to restore "pseudo gravity" to the Leopard. Hap was glad gravity was back to normal, and it was probably going to be a few minutes before he'd feel normal.

"Well the Professor's hanging tough."

"I kept my eyes on the horizon or a fixed object, as best I could, just like they taught us back at the Academy."

Hawkins turned to look at Anastasia. She was pulling up the navigation information for their trek to St. Ives. He glanced over to the comms station she had also been manipulating, and something occurred to him. "How much Drop Ship operations do they teach a cadet at NAIS?"

"Well it depends on the classes the cadet takes." Anastasia answered. "I took a few classes in DropShip operations because I was flirting with the idea of joining team Banzai and they generally like their team members to have two very different MOSs. Mechwarrior and DropShop pilot are almost as different as you can get."

Roweyna was still laying back in her chair and trying to recover from motion sickness, but she sat up and eyed Anastasia, "Did ye mention ye were a qualified DropShip pilot when ye signed up? How'd I miss this?"

"No." Anastasia said, "Because I'm not. I only have two classes and some twenty hours of simulator time, and a few hours in a drop shuttle. I still had to do the two Advanced Drop Ship crew operations classes and Celestial Navigation, plus another thirty hours of simulation time, and another dozen hours of actual flight time, preferably in a drop ship, not a shuttle. Once I did that I'd get DropShip flight crew as a secondary MOS. To get Pilot I would need-"

"Stop." Roweyna said, "Did ye earn your private space pilot license?"

"No, although one of my instructors said between my drop shuttle and simulation times I was probably ready to test for it." Anastasia said. "I was going to do it after the semester, but then Klathandu happened."

Kate maneuvered the Stuka next to the Phaidin, "Did Anastasia just say she was qualified to fly that boat?"

"I thought it wasn't a boat." Hap said.

"Quiet you." Hawkins said as he glanced back at Hap then looked over at Anastasia, "You mean I could have pilot-in-training Calahad here, instead of grabby-handsy-Calahad sitting next to me?"

"I'm not grabby-handsy." Hap said.

"You actually are." Anastasia said, she saw Hap's confused expression, "I mean you did take a lot of liberties with my person that night when Crow forced us to share a berth."

"First, you asked me to share the berth with you." Hap said.

"Given the situation I didn't want to put you out." Anastasia said.

"Second, you generally like, no you damn near insist that I get "handsy" with you. You invite me to take liberties with your person almost daily." Hap said.

"Well just because I like a little physical affection doesn't take away the fact you are quick to give it." Anastasia said.

"Third, that's not what Hawkins was talking about." Hap said.

"Suddenly I think it's something we should talk about." Hawkins said.

"I wish I had popcorn for this." Kate added. "I thought it was going to be bored waiting for the crew to clean themselves up and get the aerobay ready, now I'm happy to wait. Oh! I just found a compressed oat ration bar. Please Anastasia tell us more about the liberties Hap takes with your person. Please be as detailed as possible."

"Explicitly detailed as possible." Hawkins added, "and feel free to make up stuff."

Roweyna cleared her throat, "It's more important we talk about the situation at hand. Anastasia we've lost a navigator and sadly a pilot-in-training who is-"

"Not fully mission capable" Hap said, gently, glad the subject was changing.

Roweyna nodded, "Aye." She reached over and squeezed Sarah's shoulder, "but she'll be FMC again soon enough. In the meantime, Anastasia, and for that matter Hap, any help ye can give to alleviate the flight crew would be appreciated."

"Certainly." Anastasia answered

"Mr. Hawkins." Roweyna said, "I need ye to determine what it will take to get Ms. Calahad her private pilots license, so she can perform operations on the Phaidin. Give her whatever test she needs, but do not change the gravity of this vessel."

"Too easy." Hawkins said as he looked over at Hap and Hawkins jerked his thumb over his shoulder indicating he needed to get out of the co-pilot seat.

"Very good." Roweyna said as she carefully rose to her feet and slowly started to leave the bridge. "Until I recover Mr. Hawkins yer in charge, get the damage crews to figure out how badly the Phaidin is. Hap, call ahead to St. Ives and see if any of your friends can give us a place to repair our ship and maybe give us some work. Perhaps we can find a way to contact dad. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to retire to my quarters, and if ye need me and come callin' I'll likely hurl on ye.

Iron Grenadier

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #265 on: 03 July 2022, 06:55:58 »
Great couple of chapters there!  :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

EAGLE 7

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #266 on: 03 July 2022, 13:27:29 »
   Should have accidentally destroyed the jump sail. Oooops what is Constar going to censure you for fighting back when Comstar is trying to kill you?

  That way Comstar could not jump out and deny that they are attacking the great houses.
“ 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 #267 on: 03 July 2022, 16:25:12 »
Nice. Awrospace combat that looked like aerospace combat. At least to my totally untrained air combat knowledge.

I would have held the jumpship hostage ("shot on me and you are toast") if I were the crew of the phaidin, but that is me

ThePW

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #268 on: 03 July 2022, 22:27:12 »
..."And feel free to make stuff up..."

ROFLCOPTER... (Three chapters? Oi, you spoil us!)  :D

DOC_Agren

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Re: A Warrior's Family
« Reply #269 on: 04 July 2022, 14:09:40 »
I like the idea for threaten to take out the Jump Sail   :thumbsup:
"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!"

 

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