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Author Topic: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.  (Read 27971 times)

idea weenie

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #180 on: 18 April 2022, 12:17:54 »
Hire her ... even if only on a retainer ATM.

Aerospace is hard on pilots ...

Completely agree.  Even without an ASF she can serve as an aid to the Bridge crew by observing enemy fighter movement and offering options.  Add a couple simulators so she can remain in shape and serve as an OpFor vs the Bridge crew so they are better prepared for the next time.

When you finally get a fighter she will be wonderful.  She will already know how the Captain and bridge crew tend to think in combat, and thanks to the simulator she will have kept her skills sharp.

Captain Jonah

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #181 on: 20 April 2022, 13:05:53 »
The next book is done already, but you never know, Stone does keep finding things and fixing them up so they need crew :)

Captain Jonah

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #182 on: 24 April 2022, 06:20:48 »

Chapter 37

“Always pack spares, enemy action or your own troops will break it no matter how tough it is.”

***

Stone pushed the sliding door to the side and stepped into the darkness, blinking as his eyes adjusted to the darkness inside, the door slid shut on its own and the room was utterly dark.

“That’s far enough.” A voice, from somewhere.

“Andre’s expecting me.”

“Stay still.”

Movement, shades of black against the blackness and rough hands, patting Stone down, checking him, his jacket and trousers.

“Chisto! He’s clear.”

The lights came on and Stone was blinking furiously, hands raised to shield his eyes from the spotlights that had left him with bright sparks dancing in his vision.

“Stone.”

“Andre. You expecting trouble?”

“Always, but with Capellans on world, let’s just say I have some rivals in Capellan space, who have agents here to profit from the world. They object that my people gather salvage from the fallen mechs and vehicles.”

“How are you doing that?”

“There are always things left, the armies are quick but always with an eye out for the enemy. My people come after dark, slower, but we find a few things. Also, we take items that someone like you can repair, the armies want weapons and systems that they can use right away.”

“Is that why you called, I was told you had my Mech, you want some help repairing a few weapons?”

“Yes, and yes. Come here and I will show you.”

Stone walked across the warehouse, past dusty looking shipping crates that somehow managed to form a wall that blocked the middle and back of the warehouse from sight of the front doors. Guards with night vision helmets were sitting on top of several containers, each with a low barrier in front of them, boxes, plastic containers. Stone peered up at them.

“Plastic boxes, not much cover.”

“Filled with concrete. We mix it and pour it in when they were up there, looks harmless but will stop a Mech weapon. Maybe.”

“So, what do you want to show… SHIT! You’re asking to get shot, by both sides.”

“Sneaky, when the battlefield is close to the dukes’ soldiers, we look like this”, Andre waved toward half a dozen men and women in the jumpsuits and ballistic jackets used by Davion techs and engineers close to combat, they even had the unit badges of the New Syrtis Militia, working with them were three in the green jacket and trousers and quilt reinforced chest and shoulders of Capellan field techs.

“You get caught by the wrong side you’ll get shot, you get caught by the militia or regulars dressed as Capellans, you’ll get shot as well.”

“We are careful, scouts watch the two armies, we go in looking like whichever side is still controlling the area, several of my people speak very good mandarin. Once the fighting is over the winning side grabs what they can then withdraws, they look for enemy Mechs, no one cares about a few techs with a handful of guards.”

“I’m not getting involved in that.”

“Not in the field, but repairing the items, good stuff, needs a very good tech, not the first time you’ve taken items from old battlefields and fixed it up, for me to sell later.”

“True, look, if you sort out a shipment, I’ll ship it out to Odyssey, she’s sitting in space over at the shipyards, I’ll be doing serious Mech repairs there and we’re flying in and out regularly… Which you know.”

Andre grinned.

“I want paying for this, it won’t be cheap.”

“No money, payment in items you fix.”

“Deal, but what about my Mech.”

Andre gestured toward the back of the warehouse, he was still grinning.

***

Four Mechs, all mediums, the insignia of the 4th Donegal Guards on the chipped and frosty armour, stomping though last night’s snow, that was ankle deep to a mech, or up to the armpits on a tallish man. Moving between buildings, each one with thick concrete walls and steeply pitched concrete roofs to shed the snow, steam rising from the heatsinks even with just the heat of walking and running a reactor.

“They were here somewhere?”

“Too much jamming, the sensors can’t see shit. Wait? THERE!”

The first Capellan Mech round the corner was a raven, turning its body to point its beaked head at the Davion mechs like a tracker dog. Behind it came more Capellans, and more of them.

“THAT’S A COMPANY!”

“WITHDRAW! EVADE!”

“DOING IT!”

The Davion Mechs were well used to the conditions, their Mechs fitted for the environment, which included Ice cleats on the Mechs feet, so with little more than a few minor slips they were turned around and running back the way they had come, down the wide road between massive buildings.

Behind them the Capellans fired or started to run, they had also prepared for the conditions, but the Capellans had no real idea of what living on a world in an ice age meant, they had prepared, but nowhere near enough so their Mechs slipped and slid and finally got moving.

Shots fired shattered ice, threw blasts of snow into the air and pocked the armour on the retreating Davion mechs, who suddenly skidded to a stop and turned, moving down another major road and out of sight.”

“After them!”

“What about the buildings?”

“Ignore them, we can loot later.”

“Yes Sir.”

The Capellans got moving, advancing quickly, then reached the corner and turned, to see the four Davion Mechs stopped, facing them from six hundred meters away.

“A trap?”

“From where, these buildings are solid, there is nowhere to hide. ADVANCE and fire as soon as we are in range. DEATH TO THE DAVIONS!”

The Capellans charged forward, long range missiles reaching for the Davion Mechs as the Davion’s fired back, and began to walk backwards, firing with long range weapons, but trying to escape.

A futile effort, the Capellans were running forward, rapidly closing the distance, one of the Davion Mechs was staggered, it’s armour deeply cratered, another lost an arm, the limb flying away in a burst of explosions.

The Capellans could smell Davion blood and kept closing the distance.

The Mechs were mottled grey and white, with the word ‘Security’ in black on the chests, shoulders and backs. There were six of them and they were built in the factory they defended. Older designs, with none of the modern advanced weapons or systems, no, the six Axmen had the old fashioned ultra-heavy autocannon. Oh, and axes.

Falling from the sky, their jump jets just powerful enough to jump the width of the building, landing close to the enemy, firing at point blank range, swinging with multi ton axes of the toughest and heaviest alloys possible.

Three of the enemy were down and the four Davion mediums were charging to join the fight before the Capellans even realised what was happening.

Johnson security Mechs took damage, a lot of armour lost, but the Capellans, fighting a reinforced lance of Axmen, at point blank range.

Bad idea.

***

Across the complex a pair of heavy tanks, grey and white with security in black on the turrets, sat waiting, hull down and mostly hidden by snow. They were waiting for the Capellans who were firing at an empty warehouse, with the blockade many of the warehouses at the edge of the town were empty, not that the Capellans knew that though.

The crack of a heavy autocannon broke the silence, the snow blanketed the world, smothering all sound, then a second shot as the other tank joined in, the leading Capellan Mech staggered, stepped back and levelled it’s PPC, firing a single shot that burned into the thick frontal armour of one of the tanks. Both tanks fired again, and the Mech ran back around the corner.”

“Time to move.”

“Hell yea, I’ll cover.”

“The other tank didn’t reply, just gunned its engine and pulled back, with rooster tails of snow in front of it.

“Covering.”

“On the way.”

The second tank fell back, as Capellan Mechs came round the corner, blinded by the snow they switched to thermal and fired at the hot target, several hits cratered and blasted the turret, behind which the exhausts were throwing up waves of heat. The turret held and the tank fired a shot on the move, missing completely.

The other tank fired, a solid hit, then the moving tank was past it and still going.

“Fall back, two blocks.”

“Moving.”

Both tanks racing backwards as fast as they could, snow tracks slipping and biting into the ice, sliding from side to side but moving backwards, till one of them was hit, low and at an angle, the track torn apart and coming off like a snake shedding its skin, the tank ran off the track and skidded sideways as roadwheels bit into the ice underneath, ending up half turned. The crew rotated their turret and fired at the closing Capellan Mechs, then held their fire as a Warhammer stepped between them and the enemy.

“You lot call for help?”

“Yea, you the reinforcements, because there’s a lot of them.

“I bought friends.”

Another 4th Donegal Warhammer stepped into sight, then a pair of Enforcers, a Black Prince, and then the Battlemaster arrived, and it wasn’t the only assault Mech.

***

“Capellans are withdrawing.”

“Losses?

“Light on our side, the fourth Donegal got there just in time, two Mechs, five tanks, casualties are low, we’ve got several burning warehouses, all empty, emergency services are responding.”

“Good, that’s attack number two, any guesses as to which direction they’ll try next time.”

***

“You Hammer?”

The figure in the chair turned her head, one eye and the head were wrapped in bandages and there was a purple and black bruise across the nose and under the other eye.

“Who wants to know?”

“Arclight.”

“I know you? Wait, I do know you, not interested.”

“I haven’t said anything yet.”

“Yet. Not interested, there’s a war on, in case you money grabbing mercs hadn’t noticed.”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, I’ve got a mech without a pilot and…”

“Not interested, you missed the last few times I said it. Soon as they clear me, I’m out of here and back in my Mech, got no interest in your independent special duty bollocks.”

“Shame that, well, I’ll leave you to it them, get well, you’ll be up and about and in an Urban Mech in no time.”

“****** off, I’ll be back in my Hatchetman.”

“What, didn’t they tell you. Already allocated to another pilot, you’ll get whatever light Mechs they have, maybe the Dart four S they’re repairing, that should be ready for about the time you get cleared to pilot again.”

“My Mech, shit, I don’t believe you, a Dart, a ****** Dart, super-fast, three medium lasers and no armour, in a city fight!”

“Hey, they’re fixing up Mechs and throwing the first available pilots into them. Shame really, your bio says you have some real skills, I’d bet you could do good work piloting my Axman. Still, if you’re not interested, there’s that Dart waiting for you.”

“You lying?”

“Nope, I’ve got an axman, prototype, with the Rotary Auto Cannon, three medium lasers, an extended range large and an advanced active probe, plus double heat sinks, a real sweet ride.”

“No, about the Dart.”

“Nope, it may not be the Dart, but the militia are throwing every available pilot into the first Mech that’s ready, Headshot told me herself.”

Arclight turned to leave, taking a few steps toward the door, counting.

“Wait, I’m not signing up, the Militia’s my place, but if you’ve got an axman, just while we’re fighting on world, defending New Syrtis, then I leave.”

“Deal!”

***

Later.

“Alert call, Cap raid, can we respond?” Topgun.

“Details?” Arclight responded.

“Hangover Hell, ten minutes flight with the Leos.”

“Opposition?”

“Two cap Unions, vector takes them to the old Deep Space Observatory, where the secondary HPG is”

“We alone?”

“Nope, planetary guard had two companies of infantry, a company of mixed armour, and a lance of New Syrtis Militia. They say they’ve got no one else with ready Dropships that can be there in under half an hour.”

“Alert everyone, five minute to launch.” Arclight stood and pulled on her jacket, the MechWarrior’s had made a ready room at the back of Stones hanger, it was fairly warm there, but the jog to the waiting Dropships would be a bit colder. The others were standing with her, and the whole group ran through the hanger, dodging the handful of Battlearmour suits being worked on.

Outside the cold hit them, but didn’t slow them, and then they were on the ramps and heading into the Dropships, they could change in their cockpits as they flew.

***

“Both Unions are down, confirm one mixed raiding company, lights and mediums, the others a line unit, half heavies.”

“The Cave says we’ve got two leopards on the way.”

“Two, is that it, I’ve got a lance and they send two more lances, to face two full companies. Someone needs to tell those ****** there’s a war on.”

“Yea, but it’s Arclight and her crew.”

“Is it now, I take it back. Right, get the infantry dug in, fox holes where they can, buildings or trees as cover elsewhere, put the armour on that line of palm trees behind the stream, fire support. We’ll fall back to them, link up with Arclight and push forward again.”

“We’re a lance of mediums?”

“Yea, and we’re going to be rescued by the legendary Arclight herself.”

“And if they don’t get here in time?”

“I’ll send her a very nasty email.”

The channel was all laughter as the four Mechs moved, ready to face twenty-four enemies.

***

“THIRTY SECONDS!”

“SOUND OFF READY?”

Everyone was, and then both Leopard class Dropships were shaking as their belly drives fought to slow them, before they slammed into the sandy soil at two gee, rocking on their landing gear while the armour hatches opened, and the inner doors swung aside to let clouds of smoke from burning plants into the bays.

“Form up, gun line on me, firing line on Topgun, Sarge take point.”

“Could use that Axman right now.”

“Two day till the pilots cleared to pilot. ADVANCE!”

“Eight hundred meters, militia, seeing nine medium tanks, two Mechs.”

“AT THE RUN!”

“Seven hundred meters. Six hundred, five hun… TARGET, FIRE LINE SLOW TO WALK, designated target from the tanks.”

“GUN LINE STAY WITH SARGE!” The Victor on point, behind it a Thunderbolt, a Cataphract, a Marauder and an Atlas, every step throwing up clods of dirt and sand as large as a man, rapidly closing with the enemy.

Behind them the fire line slowed, locked onto the designated target, and fired.

80 LRMs with the first Salvo, Apollo, Archer and the Warhammer, then another 30 as Arclight and Sarge joined in, by the second salvo the charging gun line was almost at the tanks, with infantry popping up from cover and waving and shouting.

“CONTACT!”

The fast moving Heavy and Assault Mechs swept past the tanks, careful to avoid them, splashing into the stream, facing the Capellan heavy company, the raider company was further back and to one side.

“TARGET TBOLT!”

“Militia tanks, whoever’s target designating, lock the Bombardier fast!

The TBolt was a fairly tough Mech, not the heaviest, but still the sort of Mech you would expect to last a while in a fight. You would expect, if you had no idea about how brutal Mech fights are when fought with the efficiency of people who care nothing about person glory.

The Capellans picked a single target, and opened fire on it, or most of them did, because the Tbolt was going down with half its torso in flames as its ammo went off. Sarge in his Victor saw everyone pointed at him and stomped down hard on his pedals, flaring his jump jets and throwing off some of the fire, but enough hit him to smash through his armour in several places, to stagger his mech, and to throw up damage warnings for the right arm cannon

“ALL LRMS, TARGET THE DESIGNATED MECH!”

Sarge was busy falling over, but Arclight turned slightly, locked the target and fired her missile rack, then shouted a new target, firing her Gauss and lasers as she did so.

The Bombardier staggered, ton after ton of armour ablating, it came out of the storm of explosions, battered, but still standing, turning back toward the long range Mechs that were tormenting it, and firing. Its salvo was puny compared to the 100 missiles the Pale Horsemen fired at it the next time.

“Other company’s coming round us.”

“Tanks, refuse left, ALL MILITIA REFUSE LEFT! PALE HORSEMEN KILL THE CATEPHRACT!”

The Capellans switched targets, Tigers Marauder took hit after hit, wavering as the gyros struggled, then she was screaming in anger as her left arm was torn away while she was firing, both large lasers still putting out beams for a second as they fell.

“CLOSE WITH THEM! GUN LINE GET CLOSE!”

Sarge managed to stand, got his balance and jumped, his jets burning the ground below him, flying a short distance and landing, the firing his ultra-heavy autocannon into a Capellan Vindicator, smashing the armour to nothing, but his lasers hit different areas and he didn’t kill the Mech.
The Bombardier died, torn apart by far too many LRMs, it had done some damage in return, Topgun’s Apollo had drawn the fire as the lightest enemy, but she still had both LRM racks and she kept firing, calling another target without pause.

The Cataphract pilot ejected seconds before his reactor went.

To the left, the Militia armour were engaging the incoming Capellan raider company, and the two surviving Milita Mechs were with them.
Arclight shoulder barged a Capellan medium off its feet, calling the second Cataphract as target, everyone fired whatever they had at that Mech, it’s left arm and torso collapsing in fire, it got one shot with its right-side weapons before the centre torso was cored and it died.

Arclight’s Mech was taking damage, in close she was the big target but by charging the enemy she had broken up their fire, the Pale Horsemen were in among them, but she was careful, picking a target most of them could fire at. “HUNCHBACK!”

A Capellan Trebuchet become the next long-range target, Apollo screaming as one of her LRM racks died, but the Treb died as fast, and the Hunchback missed its final shot as it was hit from the front and both sides.

“BOBCAT, SWING LEFT, SUPPORT THE MILITIA!”

He didn’t answer, but he moved, lining up a target and pulling the trigger, his heavy LBX smashed a nasty looking crater in a Capellan light Mechs left torso, the Clan PPC blew its right arm completely off.

“TORSO BREACHED!”

“Fall back Sarge.”

“Sorry!” The victor turned and jumped, clearing the trees and landing behind where the tanks had been. A tank exploded, he turned slightly and put his ten LRMS into the armless Mech Bobcat had just hit, the pilot turned and ran.

“CAPELLANS ARE WITHDRAWING!”

“MAINTAIN PRESURE!” Topgun put a gauss round and two lasers into a Capellan Quickdraw, it staggered, then Tiger put both her remaining large lasers into its legs, Dancer hit it as well and the lightly armoured mech was going down, the remaining Capellan Mechs broke and ran, the second company doing the same, both retreating under fire.

***

“Both Unions are away, heading northeast.”

“Everyone check damage, alert the Dropships, let’s get techs and ground crew in here. Sergeant Major, we’ve got punched out Caps on the ground here.” Arclight being the professional leader of MechWarrior’s.

“On the way.” The landers had held back, the Battlearmour ready to deploy into the buildings, as tough as they were the veterans knew better than to engage mechs in the open.

“Arclight, armour damage, light on the Archer and Warhammer, I’ve lost an LRM rack and some structure it looks like.”

“Left arm, AGAIN!”

“Sarge?”

“Runing a bit hot, a couple of armour breaches and the cannons not tracking properly.”

“And I’ve got a lot of armour damage. Secure the area.”

“Militia report two Mechs standing, both damaged, the other two are down in front of us, four tanks out of action but two of them can be recovered, the other two are burning.”

“Right, let the cave know they need to reinforce here.”

“Will do.”

***

“It took five hours for the Militia to reinforce, which gave us and the Militia on site plenty of time to salvage, we bought back the repairable Militia Mech, and their two tanks, the Capellan stuff was mostly crap, old tech, the Militia sent a cargo ship to bring it back, they’re claiming most of it though.”

“I know, which I’m allowing, on condition.”

“Should I know what that condition is?”

Stone chuckled, “I’m supporting them getting the bulk of the Salvage, the old tech stuff. But I get dibs on a few items when I want them.”

“Right, so, repairs, we doing them here?”

“I’ve been looking at the situation on the ground, a lot of the house regiments are holding their repair bays for their own Mechs, the Militia have claimed just about all of the independents, so send our damaged Mechs out here, but hold at the spaceport for an hour, I’ve got some heavily damaged mercenary Mechs coming to you, they’ll need a ride out here as well.”

“We repairing anyone in particular?”

“Customers who need repair booths and can’t get them, I’m checking just how damaged people are, only bringing in the ones we can do reasonably quickly.”

“Fine, you’re in charge. I’ll get everyone loaded and be out to you in six hours or so.”

“See you then.”

***



Captain Jonah

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #183 on: 24 April 2022, 06:43:50 »

Chapter 38

“Work with what you’ve got, not what you want to have.”

***

“Precentor, a message from our research team, they have found her, the daughter.”

“So, we know who the father is?”

“Yes sir, who, and his rank and position within the Capellan military, a very high rank, very powerful. What do you want us to do?”

“For now, nothing. This we hold, a useful thing to have, for when we need to influence events in the Confederacy. Do nothing more.”

“Yes Precentor.

***

Flying out to the shipyard was quiet, no Capellans anywhere near them, getting in was a bit more difficult and involved a boarding shuttle and a quick search by marines, to check they weren’t Capellan or something.

But finally, they reached Odyssey, floating just off one of the yards, her spin section back up to normal speed.

Telemachus docked first, transferring her damaged Mechs, then she separated, and Penelope docked, moving the damaged Pale Horsemen Mechs onto their home.

That done the others went looking for food while Arclight asked where Stone was, and went to Mech One to find him.

***

“When did we get a second Marauder. . . . .” Arclight’s words stopped as she looked at the cargo handling systems crane arms holding the mech in place in the repair booth.

Something was wrong, it was a Marauder, the shape was distinctive, the brutal looking old school curved shape, but the thing was bigger, bulkier, filling out the repair booth sideways in a way that even her Atlas didn’t.

“That’s, that’s, a two? That’s a Marauder Two?” She pointed at it then turned to look at Gravestone, who had a huge grin on his face. “You’re insane, where did you find that thing, what about equipping it, what, how. . . . .”

Gravestone finally stopped grinning.

“You can’t find them, or if you do find one for sale it’s stupidly expensive, even for a hundred tonner. More so now after the Word nuked Outreach.

Very rare on the market, but Andre has some contacts, who have contacts, who do deals with Jade Falcons, this magnificent beast was one of Barbers Marauder 2s, lost on Koniz with the rest of the unit when the clan dropped Jumping Elementals on them and killed half of them by breaching the cockpits.

The clan had salvaged a number of them for second line units, but they don’t like them, consider them bad luck or something. They’ve upgraded them a bit, kept what they wanted, and the Jade Falcon merchants have been selling some of the rest back to the inner sphere, which is where this magnificent machine came from.”

“How expensive?”

“We’re not broke. The unit finances are OK. Mine on the other hand.”

“What about your old Marauder?”

“Tiger’s Mech, has been for quite a while, I see no reason why she can’t continue, though that’s your call. And before you say anything, this is mine, you may have better gunners, but no better pilots.”

“True, and your gunnery is a lot better than it was, good enough for this monster anyway. I’m not seeing any weapons though, just a bunch of very big crates with Johnson Industries on the sides.”

“Remember when I said the CEO of Johnson signed off a huge bonus for saving his company with our supply run, and the personal thanks of the Duke. Well, that came with a lot of money, you all got big bonuses, but I also had a conversation with the CEO and the Dukes people, about how Mech production was running slower than weapon production, and how they were building medium and heavy designs they could turn out quickly and send straight into battle.

So, they were building up a backlog of weapons, including some rare items for specialised designs they weren’t currently building, and one or two special items they had laying around for testing.” Stone waved at the stack of huge crates tied to the deck next to the repair booth.

“Oh god, what have you done now? The last Marauder had four large lasers, does this one have six, more than six?”

“No, no large lasers, it’s going to be a traditional layout, PPCs over medium lasers in the arms and a cannon up top.” Gravestone had a look on his face, which wasn’t fooling Arclight.

“And?”

“And what, PPC over laser in each arm, and a cannon.” He was really grinning.

Arclight walked over to the repair booth then stopped and took a closer look at the crates. The tops had been unlocked but the size of the largest crate made lifting the lid difficult even split into several sections as it was, without zero gee opening them with no more than human strength would be almost impossible, then she was looking at the weapon inside, held in a shock absorbing packing frame.

“That’s, OK, it’s a gauss cannon, but what the ****** is it? It’s way too big, it’s the size of a light mech.” She looked at Gravestone, glared at him, “What are you up to?”

“That. . . . .” Gravestone stopped speaking, dialled down the grin a bit so he could actually talk, and tried again. “That is a Blackwell Arms Thunderfist Heavy Gauss cannon, one of a pair Johnson Industries have for testing, not likely to see more for a while given the factory was on Outreach and the Word trashed it, but they had this one in storage and so I asked for it. Isn’t it great?” He was back to grinning again.

“What does it do. Other than being half as big again as it’s supposed to be?”

“Rail gun, 40 kilo slugs at high supersonic speed, two thirds again the kinetic impact of a standard gauss, but it loses velocity fast, the damage drops off a lot past four hundred meters.”

“Two thirds, two thirds again, as in one and two thirds the impact, of the second hardest hitting cannon anyone has, the hits like a bus gauss cannon isn’t enough for you, you want two thirds more?”

He just grinned.

“Honestly, what am I going to do with you? Go on then, explain.”

“Ok.” He managed to stop grinning. The heavy gauss sits up top, filling both the top of the Mechs body with the barrel and packing out the right torso with the capacitors. Two double magazines on the hips. The double magazines hold 25% more ammo, but you lose the lot if it takes a hit rather than standard separate magazines where you only lose what’s in the individual magazine.”

He waved toward another pair of very large crates and lifted the lid on one.”

Arclight peered in. “PPC, but also stupidly large.”

“Heavy PPCs, match the damage output of a Clan PPC, and the heat, bigger, heavier and shorter range, but firepower wise, a match for the Clan weapons.

Those two smaller crates are the clan medium pulse lasers you got during your little adventure in black market deals. So PPCs over pulse lasers in the arms, with full venting and a double heatsink in each arm tied into the Mechs cooling and directly feeding from the PPCs. Oh, and the best sensors, and gyro I could find.”

Stone went back to grinning.

“Clan level firepower with a shorter range, just heavier and bigger. How are you fitting all of this in?”

“Weight wise, extra light engine, which is causing all sorts of headaches because of the size of the heavy gauss but it’s just about possible to squeeze it in!

It’s a clan model, which they charged me two million extra for, but it leaves just enough space for an advanced CASE around the gauss capacitors. That’s also why the ammo is belt fed from magazines on the hips, no room for the stuff anywhere else. Had to remove the jump jets though, the extra mobility was nice, but six tons, nope.”

“Ok. Something I want to know, actually there’s a lot of things I would like to know, but those advanced Ammo Storage Containment systems, they’re so new even the regulars barely have any, where exactly are you getting the from, extended range lasers are one thing, but advanced Case?”

“Yea, a shipment of them, some of the first in the Marches, may have misplaced a few pallets. Not that I know anything about that, but there were a few for sale, Marik built, fresh off the production line and shipped out right away. Expensive, but I called in a favour and got a couple, well, several. Well worth it though for protecting a Mech against an ammo explosion.”

“And just exactly who were they stolen from?”

“So, as I was saying.” Arclight sighed but Stone carried on, “it’s a Marauder so the cockpits down in the torso anyway, and being a hundred tonner it’s nice and roomy, I’ve fitted the cockpit with armour and spall liners and rejigged it the way they do on Solaris, with life support in the cockpit and tied in to the advanced heat sinks in the left torso.

It’s more comfortable and combined with the advanced heat sinks the cockpits a nicer place to be than the original designs, but it does mean all the sensors are clustered up top, meaning I take a hit there I lose all of them, and end up reduced to looking out the windows.”

“Which are quite large.”

“That they are.  Also, they solved the ejection problem a few years ago so I changed that issue as well, it’s not hard on the marauders with the cockpit low and forward in the torso, no idea why they didn’t fix that problem long ago?

The left torso is a pair of double heatsinks, and an ECM generator, two more heat sinks buried in the engine casing, total heat dissipation is about the same as your Atlas, it runs slightly hotter but not much.

Thermal venting in the arms, the reinforced liners in the legs, and a cupholder, and a holder for the fuzzy dice.”

Arclight ignored his laugh at the last comment.

“So, damage equal to a pair of Clan PPCs, and two thirds again a gauss cannon, and, a pair of clan pulse lasers. You do realise that’s, how do I put this, that’s ridiculous, some people might say excessive, not me because I’m a mercenary and firepower is good, but this is so good it’s ridiculous.”
She paused as a thought struck her, “what’s the useful range?”

“Not that bad, everything comes together nicely, the medium pulses are better at short range but still accurate out to medium range which is a good engagement range for the rest.

There’s a problem with up close though, hard to target anything that gets too close, that’s a lot of very heavy weapons and they don’t rotate that quickly, not an issue in normal combat, but something in my face is going to be very hard target to hit other than with the pulse lasers. Of course, it’s a hundred-ton Mech so anything that gets too close is going to get stepped on.”

Arclight looked off into the distance as she ran numbers, “so about the same combat range as the small Marauder. Small! A 75ton heavy mech and suddenly it’s the small Marauder.” She smiled, “you are completely mad, fortunately so are the rest of us”.

“So, how long till this monster is combat ready?”

Ten days or so, maybe more given I’m trying to fit the Thunderfist in where there isn’t enough room. But it’s a matter of fitting, no repairs needed, everything’s in excellent condition, so the time’s mostly the gauss cannon. Ten days, or twelve, shouldn’t take more than two weeks, probably expect two weeks, as reconfiguring the outer structure and armour layout will take a day or three, so she looks proper, old school.

“You doing the work here?”

“Safer here than down on the planet, the shipyards have some serious defences, enough to chase off the Capellan warships and down on the surface there are raids going on all the time. Odyssey isn’t going anywhere for several months, those naval cannon hit hard, even if we hadn’t lost a third of our drives, without a docking collar we can’t connect to a jumpship, the two cargo clamps won’t allow us to jump, just the main one, and that isn’t there anymore.

Odyssey is down for repairs for several months, as safe as can be in this system, but not a combat ship so low down the priority for repairs.
All company operations have been moved down to the ground, I’ll catch up as soon as I get this magnificent Mech combat ready, it’s a fairly short run to the world or back so I can move between the two fairly easily.”

Arclight looked at Gravestones face, his expression. Seeing him look at a mech like that suddenly left her feeling cold, empty. And something else, just a touch, jealous.

“I’ll leave you to it then.”

He didn’t notice her leave.

***

“JUMP FLARES! Trailing LaGrange point, multiple flares, a shit ton of them.”

“Thirty plus jumpers!”

“Two warships!”

Getting transponders and Dropship IDs, that’s a lot of Third McCarron’s, probably all of them.”

“First St Ives as well.”

“That will be task force Light Horse then. Third McCarron’s and first and second Saint Ives plus supports.”

“Guess the raids now an invasion.”

“Looks like it, I expect we’ll see the Capellans on world stop hitting smaller targets and head for the big one.”

“Here!”

“That’s it. Get a count of what’s on the way in.”

 “Be a few minutes.”

A few minutes later.

“Confirmed, the three regiments, plus what looks like another entire regiment plus of smaller merc units, six armoured regiments, four infantry regiments, enough carriers to add to the Dropships, call it seventeen squadrons plus whatever’s in cargo. And two warships, a cruiser, Ilsa Hyung and an Impavido class, the Zhejiang.

The cruisers launching its Dropships, more fighters launching, two of those are carriers, plus the warship’s fighters, that’s eight more squadrons.

The other four look like assault ships, escorts.”

“Three more squadrons from the Destroyer.”

“Twenty-eight additional Aerospace squadrons, the troops out at the Shipyards are going to be getting nervous.”

“That’s their problem, when that lot link up with the Caps on the ground that’s twelve regiments of mechs, and more than thirty regiments of ground armour and troops. If they all head our way. . . . .”

“Going to get interesting.”

***

This ends Retaliation.

Next comes Defence.




cklammer

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #184 on: 24 April 2022, 12:08:32 »
Like lambs to the slaughter ....

Captain Jonah

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #185 on: 01 May 2022, 07:05:20 »

Battletech



Pale Horsemen 4













Defence





























By Jim “Captain Jonah” King



Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction, not to be sold or otherwise circulated for profit. The Battletech and Mechwarrior franchise is owned by Topps Toys and their respective licensees.





















Note:

This is a work of fiction and was written before recent real-world events that may have some similarity to situations in this story.

No comparison is intended between this previously written fiction and any current events.





















Chapter 1

“There is no such thing as too much firepower, unless it’s pointed at you.”


***

“Here they come.”

“Movement?”

“Yea, they must be responding to the new arrivals, better part of three regiments and four or five support units, all on the move, these here and here are moving together, these moving northeast, these going wide south.”

“Keep monitoring, we need an idea of what’s going on before we start moving our units.”

“Yes sir, take half an hour maybe, an hour at most.”

***

Nearly two hours later.

“Right, they’ve been moving all over the place, but it looks like they’ve finally sorted themselves, and they’re heading for us. This city. Three full regiments plus some attached companies incoming, with a solid block of ground armour on the flanks.”

“Not enough alone, but six hours and they get three more regiments joining them.”

“We need to meet them before they reach the city proper, the outer suburbs here, twelfth district.”

“Not a lot of cover there.”

“For them or us, if we start our defence back where there’s good cover, we’ll already fighting inside the city proper, and that covers five and ten storey apartment blocks.”

“Yea, alright, the Milita are responding, 3rd Ceti Hussars have two battalions here and here, and ground armour can hide behind these buildings easily, two and three stories is plenty taller than a tank.”

“What’s the evacuation situation?”

 “Thirty percent.”

“Too slow, we’ve got the bent swords closing and those houses aren’t going to survive. Pull in more troops.”

“Another battalion of light infantry, a battalion of mechanised here, the rest are busy evacuating other areas.”

“Pull in the reserves.”

“That’s heavy infantry, Battlearmour.”

“They can evacuate civilians the same as light infantry can.”

“Yes sir.”

***

“LOCK AND LOAD PEOPLE! Caps are about to hit the twelfth district and they still have civies in there. Third battalion on the birds, Khalil, your lot as well.”

Sergeant major Khalil waved and turned to his people who were standing around by the ramps of the two assault landers, they started locking down their helmets and checking weapons before Khalil said anything.

***

“Come on, come on.” The battle armour trooper was trying not to shout, the cavalier battle armour was already frightening enough to people told to grab only what they could carry, and then evacuate. They spent as much time casting fearful looks at the troopers as they did to the west, where the faint sound of thunder told of long-range artillery reaching for the leading Capellan Mechs.

“Bus is full, next bus, NEXT BUS.” The trooper pointed and another group of people wearily turned that way, the busses were stopping further and further back, as the sounds of combat came closer and while this part of the city was relatively warm and more importantly ice free, panic and confusion were leaving the fleeing civilians exhausted.

“Busses are full.”

“We’ve still got a thousand people here, where are the rest?”

“This is it. They haven’t unloaded the first busses yet, and the army trucks they promised were diverted to district thirteen.”

“****** it. . . . . Alright, get them in the landers, pack them in, alert the space port, I want them unloaded and back with us ASAP.”

“You sure sir, those landers are full of spare weapons and munitions.”

“Put a squad on each one for security, pack the civilians in, one adult in each seat and put a child on their laps, the rest sit on the floor. Move it people.”

Off in the distance the sound of combat was getting closer.

***

“AIR ATTACK! TEN PLUS SQUADRONS, twenty plus Dropships!”

“Put it on the main screen.”

“Heading toward the world, that’s their mech transports and what, half their Aerospace?”

“Fifteen aerospace squadrons now.”

“Run Vectors on all hostiles, I need to know where those Dropships are going and if we’re about to get bombed in the city. Put all air defence units on alert and get every available air unit on five-minute launch alert.

***
 
“District twelve is ninety percent clear, we’re using infantry assault landers to fly them out.”

“What happened to the busses and lorries?”

“Been and gone.”

“Shit, how long?”

“Under an hour, the attacking units are still probing but they’re holding at long range.”

“That will change, once the extra regiments land, they’ll come in hard. Any response on the reinforcements?”

“Just the promise of more ground armour. Which is what they’ve been saying for three hours, and we’ve seen exactly nothing.”

“If they arrive put them into the line here, along here, and here, back up the Mechs and thicken the flanks.”

***

“Ten minutes to re-entry, they’re changing formations, splitting, looks like the first Saint Ives are going to land further back, close to their main base.”

“Worried about us raiding their main base.”

“Still leaves two regiments plus.”

“I know. All units, stand by for attack.”

“Yes sir.”

***

Mechs, ground armour and infantry across the west of the city looked up, as twenty points of fire dropped through the skies, each one a spheroid Dropship packed with Mechs or ground armour. One by one slowing enough to regain control after their high-speed plunge into the thickening air, and then they were firing their drives, slowing, extending landing gear and thumping down, massive feet sinking into the soil.

“HERE THEY COME!”

“ALL UNITS STAND TO! FIRE AS YOU HAVE A GOOD TARGET!”

Deeper in the city long barrelled artillery cannon boomed and rocked as they fired toward the suddenly running Capellan battalions, behind the Capellan lines long range missiles fired in return, arcing high above the advancing troops and falling on the Davion lines.

Extended range PPCs, Gauss weapons, and LRMs started the fight, but other weapons joined in as both sides opened fire, the Davion’s scoring more hits as Capellan fire hit the houses they were covered by, but the buildings were exploding fast and there were more Capellans than there were Davion’s.

Mechs on both sides torn apart, armour blasted and melted, the first battalion of the Ceti Hussars lost ten Mechs in the first few minutes, smashing seven Capellan Mechs in return, the single battalion of the 4th devastated the first company of the Kingston Rangers then switching their fire to the second company, walking backwards as Mech after mech was crippled or fell leaving holes in their ranks.

The housing estate was fire and destruction, hell on earth, as hundreds of the most powerful war machines known smashed at each other, madness filling them all as they fired and fired till their Mechs threatened to shut down.

“SIR! OVERLORD DROPSHIP!”

The ship had been at the back of the wave of incoming Dropships, most of which had already landed and disembarked their Mechs and tanks, but the Overlord had slowed and suddenly it changed course, heading for the fighting, clumsy in the air like all Spheroid dropships, a controlled fall rather than flight, it passed over the lines of fighting, too high up to be engaged.

“GET ME SOME AIR SUPPORT!”

***

“Last landers full.”

“Get it airborne, shit, fighting’s getting close. ALRIGHT PEOPLE! START MOVING, EAST. Talbat, Zims, your squads lead and tail, get the civilians moving, everyone else…”

The Overlord was roaring overhead, a mountain of alloy falling at ten meters a second, crashing down in a park behind the rows of houses, the same park the infantry had been using to stage their landers out of, the last lander screaming airborne as the first Capellan Mechs began to leave the Dropship.

“SHIT! That’s a battalion of Caps behind the fighting lines. And facing us. Fall back to the houses, all units, move east FAST!”

The civilians were screaming and running. Some falling, some fallen, bags, suitcases, every manner of item dropped as they ran in terror, squads of Battlearmour trying to control them and get them heading in the right direction, the remaining troopers jumped or ran toward the only cover around.

***

“Overlord behind us, Cap battalion, third McCarron’s, they’re firing at our backs.”


“Pull back this company, hold them.”

“It’s a full battalion.”

“You see any other company that isn’t already fighting, and where’s MY ****** AIR SUPPORT?”

***

“CAPS BEHIND US! CAPS BEHIND…” The shout was cut off in a squeal of static as two PPCs hit the thin back armour and the ammo blew, CASE protecting the centre torso as the arm and side were torn apart in a ball of fire, another Davion Mech died in seconds and then a third before the single company could turn to face them and open fire.

“SEREANT MAJOR! TANKS COMING UP BEHIND!”

“WHOSE?”

“Ours.”

“Find out who they are and how many of them there are?”

“Yes sir, wait one, flagging down the lead now. They’re militia, a battalion of medium armour and a short battalion of heavies, they were ordered to reinforce but have been out of contact for an hour.”

“Major Castell, we’ve got ground armour behind us, and those Mechs are getting reamed.”

“Open terrain, no cover.”

“Unless we get close really fast, say riding.”

The cavalier suit turned, looked, pointed and shouted orders.

***

Overhead the sky was a mass of contrails, jet exhaust from the air breathers, trails from the fusion drives of Aerospace fighters, and the smoke of thousands of weapons and dozens of burning or exploded aircraft.

The Capellans had come in hard, then broken as three Squadrons of Davion heavies had smashed into the front of them, half the Capellans had banked left and come under fire from strong Anti-Air, the rest had banked right and engaged more than a hundred air breathing jets of the planetary guard.

Davion squadrons had raced to join in, turning the entire western side of the city suburbs into a single vast furball.

A Capellan fighter exploded as it flew low enough to be bracketed by AA turrets, then another died, a Davion joined them as ground fire tore it apart and flight controllers were screaming at their pilots to fly higher.

Aerospace fighters are tough and carry the same weapons as Mechs, combat jets weren’t tough, but they could carry a few weapons able to hurt Mechs or Aerospace, and in war, quantity has a quality all of its own.

So the Capellans burned the jets from the sky, but they didn’t die in vain, Squadron after Capellan Squadron lost fighters, all concentrating on the battle in the air and ignoring the events far below.

***

“WE CAN’T HOLD THEM! WE CAN’T HOLD!” a Davion Mech burned, the centre torso collapsing as the fusion reactor burst into a ball of plasma, there were five Mechs left from the company and the Capellan battalion was firing at them, past them, firing into the backs of the Mechs fighting against the closing regiments to the west.

***

“Maintain the advance, we will crush them here and leave the city defenceless, second company…”

Senior captain of the first battalion, 3rd McCarron’s Armoured Cavalry, a veteran officer, and eager for glory, he had given the order to change course, he could see how weak the Davion defenders were, in a line, such an opportunity, to drop behind them.

3rd Ceti Hussars air wing had taken a lot of losses, and they were trying to cover a lot of area, so only two squadrons were available to answer the calls for air support, the air was filled with smoke, the Dropship crew were distracted, so close to the fighting they were firing LRMs in support of their battalion, so when someone screamed, they had time for a single salvo.

The lead Hussar fighter took the hits and rolled, burning an arc across the battlefield before crashing, the pilot ejecting seconds before his fighter hit the ground, but the other eleven came in hard, each one of them firing every weapon they had into the side of the Overlord, then they were banking away, toward the city proper and away from the hundreds of Mechs battling to the east.

“NOOOOOOOO! DAMN THE DAVION…”

The senior captains war ended suddenly, his mech was a command mech, fitted with extra radios and communications equipment, a cluster of extra antenna and aerials, tucked in at the back of the battalion and firing LRMs, a fairly safe position.

The militia heavy tanks opened fire on the move, and every one of them fired at the obvious target, the Mech with all the extra aerials. The medium tanks were faster, closer, but none of them fired, they couldn’t, every one of them was covered with Battlearmour suits hanging on to every fixture and fitting, the medium tanks skidded to a stop, tearing long lines in the grass, then a full battalion of Federated Suns Cavalier Battlearmour dropped to the ground and opened fire, and alongside them two platoons of Grenadiers and two platoons of Standards the colour of sun bleached bones.

“YOU SEE THAT?”

“YEA! COMPANY, ADVANCE!”

Five Mechs left of the Company, but the Capellans in front of them were turning, Davion heavy ground armour racing toward them from behind, and infantry everywhere under them, picking targets and firing into their backs or blasting them apart one at a time with massed SRMS.

***

Overhead the air combat stopped, the Capellans turning and going to maximum thrust, westward, away from the battle.
Davion fighters kept firing, but those who tried to give chase were ordered back to the city.

***

“Capellans are falling back.”

“Good, we wouldn’t have lasted much longer.”

“Nor would they, that was a ****** meat grinder.”

“Get damage reports, what have we got that can still fight, pull those heavy tanks forward, what’s left of them, support the line.”

“CAP AIR COMING IN!”

“All units, air defence.”

The Capellan fighters were fresh, fully armed, ready to support the ground combat, but then held in reserve because of the massive air battle.

Now they came in low, to cover the withdrawing friendlies, to slow Davion pursuit, but there was none, and the ground to air fire was too heavy to risk, they broke off and left, while on the ground what was left of the Davion defenders looked around and tried to work out who had survived.

***

“MEDIC!”

“TWO MINUTES!”

“HE DOESN’T HAVE TWO MINUTES!”

“Nor does this one!”

“What’s the status on the landers?”

“Unloading, but there’s a problem at the space…”

“Tell our people to get the civilians out, leave them sitting on the landing pad if need be, but get those landers back here.”

“Yes sir.”

***

The two landers had blown several small ground cars sideways and created fires on the grass of the ornamental garden in front of the hospital, then troopers were carrying casualties down the ramps, across the smouldering grass and toward the handful of exhausted doctors and nurses who were running out of the Michael Hasek Davion Memorial hospital.

“We don’t have any beds.”

“These people need treatment; I’ve got people bleeding to death and far more wounded than medics.”

“WE, we don’t… NURSES, TIRAGE THEM HERE! We’ll see who we can save but even if we treat the wounds or perform emergency surgery, we can’t provide care. We’re overrun.”

“Treat the immediate problems, make sure they’ll live for the next twelve hours, after that we’ll handle them, but our hospitals in space and a lot of these people need treatment now.”

“We’ll see what we can do, but it will be out here.”

“Do it.” Khalil turned away, talking into his comm, “get those landers back and pick up the rest of the troops and alert Odyssey, we’ve got a lot of wounded here.”

“Your people?” A 6th Syrtis Fusiliers Battle Armour trooper, the major, had spoken.

“Our people.” Sergeant major Khalil waved to gesture to all of the wounded and dying troopers. “That includes you.” The major’s right arm mounted weapon was intact, but out of rounds, the left arm of the suit, and his left arm, those had been burned off somewhere in the fighting.

The major looked at his left shoulder, the melted stump that had this morning been the upper arm of his Cavalier suit, looked at the sergeant major, then back to his arm. Khalil took the man’s shoulder and pushed him gently toward a nurse, the med kits in the Battlearmour were good, they could keep a trooper alive and functioning with terrible wounds, but the meds wore off quickly and the major had the look of a man soon to be realising he was now permanently a righty.

***

“Caps are withdrawing. Recon are watching them, they’ve got some ground units recovering ejected pilots, but that’s it.”

“Get our own people in there, we’ve got a lot of downed pilots, pull both companies of reserves from here to support what’s left of the third. Ground armour here and here, forget the suburbs, there’s nothing left there now, set up the next line of defence at the edge of the city proper.”

“That’s getting close enough to fire at some important targets.”

“Can’t be helped, we can’t take losses like that standing in the open.”

“Damage reports are coming in now.”

“How bad?”

“****** awful. Every unit engaged is reporting forty to fifty percent losses.”

“Shit, keep recon on the bent swords, as soon as they’re out of range get the whole area swept, we need to recover those downed Mechs.”

“It’s the Caps, they’ll have special forces hiding down there to murder our techs.”

“Then get some of ours down there to kill them!”

“Yes sir.”

***




cklammer

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #186 on: 01 May 2022, 08:12:05 »
Intense.

Very well narrated.

Captain Jonah

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #187 on: 08 May 2022, 08:38:29 »

Chapter 2

“The pen only beats the sword when it signs contracts to hire people with bigger swords.”

***

The Doctor was exhausted, hours of surgery and fighting to save lives literally in the corridors, the surgical units were full and had been since the first casualties started arriving by Cas Evac from the fighting.

Sergeant major Khalil stood up as he saw the doctor walking toward him, nodding at the wounded trooper sitting on the ground as he did so. The trooper was in no danger, the hit that had collapsed his backplate had broken ribs and dislocated his left shoulder, the shoulder was back in, and his ribs were tightly wrapped as he sat next to the upper half of his not currently working armour.

“Doctor.”

“You’re the officer?”

“Sergeant major Khalil, how are my people?”

“Your people?” The doctor looked at the battered bone white Grenadier, “the white armour.”

“All of the troopers.”

“Seven dead on arrival, we revived three, the other four were terminal, massive trauma. Eleven critical, nineteen injured but not life threatening.

But we have, that is, no room, I have nurses treating critical cases in the car park, we’re moving people to other hospitals, but they tell me it’s a huge traffic jam in the city.”

The doctor stopped for a few seconds, staring at something a thousand meters away, “Sorry, we’ll do our best, but, we don’t, so many people hurt, no space.”

“Are they able to be moved?”

“What, yes, most of them, most of them, a few of the critical cases are on life support.”

“Stable, enough to be moved, eight hours in a transport?”

“Where, yes, most of them, why?”

The sergeant major nodded to the doctor but was already on his comm, ground to orbit, orbit to the LaGrange point, where Odyssey had a waiting and empty trauma ward and medical staff.

***

The camera pans across the battlefield, Mechs and vehicles still burning, staining the pale blue sky with thick black smoke then settled on the brand new and spotless armour and high viz, the words Federated News Network and PRESS across the front in reflective material. No helmet, his hair just perfect, as usual.

“As you can see the fighting here was fierce, the Overlord Dropship was destroyed and it’s mechs were killed around it.”

The camera moved again, the immense mass of the Overlord was burning, crumpled like a broken toy dropped by a passing giant, beyond it were vehicles and people, moving around the fallen Mechs.

“As you can see, this attack was beaten off, the Capellans were defeated here, a full battalion, our losses were reported to be eight mechs, you can see several of them across the park, but the Capellans lost far more Mechs than we did.

Our brave soldiers defending the city against the Confederation Invaders. This is Carson Tucha, live from Susa city on New Syrtis for the Federated News Network.”

***

“Are you seeing this, are you?”

The camera image shakes, blurs then clears, looking down a little, from a second or third floor window, looking across the park. The image blurs again as it zooms in.

“This, this is why we have to have peace, these are peoples homes burning, crushed by Mechs and Tanks, because of the madness of the man who rules us, who has dragged us into yet another war. Look.”

The camera moves to the side, slowly showing more of the battle, destroyed mechs as far as the eye can see, several standing with smoke coming out of them, the rest fallen like enormous suits of armour, the housing estate, houses, shops, all destroyed.

“This is New Syrtis, the very capital of the Capellan March, people’s homes are burning here, after the Confederacy burned a score of our worlds to get here, entire regiments have been destroyed, worlds burned, how many are dead as a result of the Hubris of one man, our duke! How many have died and how many will die, how many have died in battle? They won’t tell us, because it’s so bad, the shipyards and factories of Katil and Galax, no survivors, that’s what I hear, none, the defenders’ slaughtered and both worlds nuked.

Or Valexa, why haven’t we heard what happened there, why is it secret, because the Capellans nuked the entire militia, killed them all before they even fired a shot, that’s why.

So many dead, killed by the madness of the duke, the madness of the entire Hasek line, when will Regent Yvonne Steiner-Davion step in and remove this mad dog from power, not soon enough.

This is the voice of freedom, broadcasting in secret from New Syrtis, if you are listening, you are the resistance, down with the duke and his warmongering.”

The camera image blurs, pulls back to show a window, blue frilly curtains and white painted walls before it cuts out.

***

“That was unpleasant.”

“He says, sitting a kay underground and a long way from the fighting with an entire battalion of Mechs guarding us.”

“Hey, you know what I mean. Recon is covering the caps, still withdrawing, they’re, wait, ground vehicles twenty-two kay from the city suburbs, a lot of trucks, see, here.”

“Supply units, reloading?”

“Maybe, call for some satellites to redirect, let’s get a better look, if they’re reloading that close, they’ll be coming back for another go.”

“Seems a bit far back.”

“Report it, the officers can decide what it means, both our Mech regiments are withdrawn, militia heavy ground armour are holding the line.”

“Getting contact reports, Capellan stealth units on the battlefield.”

“Send Battlearmour from the reserve.”

“No recon or scout units available.”

“Anyone else, we need recon or probe equipped units.”

“Checking, found one.”

***

“SHIT! Not sorry we missed this.”

“Movement, ten a clock, two hundred meters!”

“I see it, friendlies, pilots, one injured, the others holding him up.”

“Hammer, sweep that way, Sarge, with her.”

“Moving.” “Machine guns locked and loaded.”

“Vehicles behind us, salvage team.”

“Ask them to hold behind that pile that used to be a Hussars lance, they can start there while we sweep, we’ve got one probe and a lot of battlefield to cover.”

“Pathfinders airborne behind us.”

“And that’s exactly where he’s staying, Il Duce, move up and join the salvage team behind me, hold with them and keep an eye out for hidden Caps.”

“And if Il Duce finds any?”

“You’ve got a turret full of flamers.”

“Il Duce will hunt.” The laugh as the comm cut off didn’t sound good, for any stealthy Capellans in the area.

“Friendlies behind me now, vector in a medical hover if there’s one close can you.”

“Doing it now.” Topgun was talking on the one of the emergency frequencies as she finished talking to Sarge.

A burst of machine gun fire, the heavy calibre Mech weapons a chain of sharp cracks rather than the buzz of lighter calibre faster firing weapons.

“Report.”

“Cap pilot, didn’t surrender.”

“Did you ask him?”

“Continuing our sweep.”

“Sarge!”

He didn’t reply.

***

 “They’re setting up bases, support Dropships vectoring in now, ground armour setting up a solid perimeter.”

“Siege camps.”

“Yea, but only west and south, nothing above the ice line.”

“Gives them somewhere to attack from.”

“How are the damage reports?”

“Casualties are high, we still had light infantry trying to evacuate civies, the Battlearmour units that charged the 3rd McCarron’s who landed behind us are reporting 40% casualties, Hussars 43%, 4th Donegal 56% losses. Half of those pilots are wounded. Salvage teams are working, and we’ve got Mechs and recon chasing the cap stealth units on the battlefield.

We should be able to recover about 70% of our losses in Mechs and equipment, and a fair chunk of Capellan stuff.”

“If they give us the time. They’ve not gone far.”

“They reloading?”

“Yea, a couple of battalions are, looks like they’re forming some ad hoc units from the combat ready Mechs.”

“Alert the troops there.”

***
 
The Capellan stealth armour was good stuff, not the very best, but still good, and the troopers were well trained. Which meant they responded quickly to the sudden target lock warnings as someone detected them and hit them with radar.

They ran, moving fast, just clear of the massive blast as someone hit where the squad had been with an ultra-heavy autocannon. Then they were dodging as someone else opened fire on them, with a Rotary Autocannon.

The survivors linked up with the other squad in the area and decided to go lurk on a different part of the battlefield.

***

Sometime later.

“Arclight, the Cave says we’ve got a short Cap battalion, reloaded and heading this way. Thirty Mechs.”

“Oh good, everyone prepare to withdraw, get the salvage people moving first.”

“They say ten minutes, they’re cutting someone out of a crushed cockpit, the pilots in a bad way.”

“Shit, ETA on the Caps?”

“About ten minutes.”

“SHIT!” Arclight looked around, the area was littered with fallen Mechs, and the Pale Horsemen. Then she checked her battlefield management computer, it was logging the rough location of all friendlies.

She started giving orders, some very strange orders.

***

“Captain, movement ahead, Davion Mechs.”

“I see them, is that all of them, a handful.”

“The Atlas is waving.”

“Target that one first, second and third companies on my flanks.”

“That’s a lot of Davion heavy metal.”

“I see them, Atlas, Marauder, Victor, Cataphract, Thunderbolt, Axman. A very strong force but against a short battalion even of mostly mediums, they will die quickly as we…”

Arclight fired a gauss round into the ground ahead of the first Capellan Mech, beyond dangerous range, she had lobbed the round so it landed a good seventy meters ahead of the advancing medium mech. The Capellan pilot laughed and pushed his Mech to top speed.

Racing forward, the rest of his company falling behind, he crossed an invisible line, and three hundred and ten LRMs came over the piled wreckage, slamming into the ground around him, and into his Mech. The Atlas didn’t bother firing it’s twenty tube rack.

***

“You think we discouraged them?”

“They aren’t looking to take any more losses, just prevent us salvaging the battlefield.”

“But they’re leaving, twenty-nine of them and nine of us.”

“They don’t know that, they can see six of us, and enough LRMs to destroy one of them every ten seconds.”

“Those LRM fire support vehicles aren’t very tough. Those quad 15 tube launchers are nice, but paper for armour.”

“They don’t know what fired, Topgun, you and Raptor wander in the same direction the caps are going, break cover every so often so they can see you.”

“Moving now.”

“They could have crushed us. Why didn’t they?”

“Because it was a trap.”

“No it wasn’t.”

“Every battle is an ambush, act accordingly, we looked like a weak force inviting an attack.”

“Oh, right. I think.”

“Besides, it was an ambush. We fall back, and they were waiting.” Arclight waved across the park, a rounded turret, painted dark green, with a pair of gauss cannon. The eighty-ton militia tank was moving forward, crushing the van it had been hiding behind. It wasn’t alone.

***

“I’m seeing that short battalion patrolling the far side of sector 13, and company sized units north at the ice line, and curving round to the south of the suburbs.”

“Two of the salvage units have had to withdraw, there’s one left, they’ve rescued a few more pilots and are working on Mechs. We got about fifty before the Caps turned up to stop our salvage.”

“What about the last one?”

“Unit 42, still working, they’re using mech loaders to move the wrecks back to a Leopard on the far side of the park, one Leopards unloading now downtown by the garrison, the others filling up.”

“Where did they get a couple of Leopards, and why haven’t they retreated, that’s a short battalion of Cap Mechs.”

“The Dropships came with the unit who went in to secure the area, and the Caps withdrew on account of between the 650tons of two lances of Mechs, and other thousand tons of heavy and assault ground vehicles the Caps would have been reamed.”

“Shit. Ok, if they’re that secure, pull salvage unit 27 back to the 3rd McCarron’s dropship, that’s far enough back to be safe, send unit 11 to link up with unit 42, they can work together as long as they’ve got that solid a guard.

Where exactly did they get that solid a guard from?”

We needed something with an active Probe to hunt for Cap stealth units, they sent their entire Mech force, and called in some nearby Militia units.”

“They’re mercs, why are the Militia obeying their orders?”

***

“ARCLIGHT! Come down here and give me a hug!”

Arclight laughed, the sound loud enough to be painfully close to her Mechs speakers.

“If I come down, will you promise not to hug me?”

“What? What sort of thing is that to ask? Come down here woman.”

Arclight sighed and called Topgun.

A minute later Arclight dropped from the last rung of the ladder that went up the back of her Mechs legs and Torso. Turned and was immediately swept up into a bear hug.

“PUT, put me down you overgrown bear you!”

“Rumble, drop. DROP!” Arclight was dropped back onto her own feet and glanced past the mass of hair and muscle to see Topgun standing there with hands on her hips. “Bad Rumble!”

“What? A little hug.”

“Rumble, there is no such thing as a ‘little’ hug from you.”

A shade over two meters, well over 120 kilos, thick dark brown hair and a beard that wrapped around the neck and went down the chest, oil-stained ballistic weave trousers and a dark green tee, also stained with old oil. “Just a little hug?”

“No squeezing!”

“Just a little.”

“NO! No squeezing you overgrown bear you. . . . . Oh alright, a little hug.”

For someone the size and shape of a bipedal brown bear he moved fast, swept the much smaller woman up in a hug and swung her around, both of them laughing.

“Been a long time Rumble.”

“That it has, missed you two. Topgun still has her Mech, but here is Arclight, with this monster.”

“Hey!”

Rumble laughed, a deep booming sound.

“While we’re talking about that, which fool gave you a pair of gauss cannon, you were rolling with twin ultra-heavies last time I saw you. New tank?”

“They took my tank away from me, but I won this one in a card game.”

“Rumble, anyone but you told me that and I’d call them a liar, but I’ve known you far too long. It’s good to see you, been too… NO HUGS!”

***

Arclight, Topgun and Rumble were sitting on what had once been the leg of a medium Mech, the rest of the Pale horsemen were spread out, far enough to give plenty of warning.

“So, anyway, I could see our fire line was out of sight, and when I looked for friendlies, there was this whole unit of heavy and super heavy ground vehicles, just sitting there.”

“Not my fault. Standby they say, then go there, then halfway there they say the whole unit has to some somewhere else, then they tell the LRM launchers to go fire at the Overlord on their own, so I said no we all go or none. So, they said hold, we sat for a while, then someone was screaming we were supposed to be three kay away and why weren’t we there, I said no one had told us to go there, so they said go kill the Overlord then hold.

The overlord was dead when we arrived, no one would answer on the Militia frequencies, the Cave just kept saying they weren’t giving orders to militia units, and I should hold.

Crazy way to fight a war.

So we were sitting there having tea when I heard you and when you said come help fight the Capellans, well, I could never say no to you my lovely.”

“Flattery will not get you a hug!”

“Aaaaaahhhh,” Rumble sounded disappointed, then broke into laughter.

“So, when did you make officer?”

“ME! HA, never, they keep sending me little Leftenants, who keep running away, so I carry on running my unit. New Syrtis Militia Independent Armour Unit Three.”

“Three? You’ve got a full company of Rommel’s and Patton’s, four demolishers, and four heavy LRM carriers. There are two other units like this out there?”

“No, one and two are fast wheeled vehicles, four is recon and five is silly, little helicopter drone carriers and command vehicles. They’re parked by the river running drones over the south of the city. Only my unit is so big and powerful.”

“Well, I was glad to see you sitting there, things would have been difficult if the Capellans didn’t know the rule about it always being an ambush.”

“Ha, they would have been very surprised for a very short time. So, you two back now? What is this white colour, looks like. . . . .”

“Old bones, yellow white, like a skeleton that’s been in the sun?”

“Yes.”

“Pale Horsemen. For I looked, and saw a Pale Horseman, and his name was death, and hell followed him.”

“HA! Like it!

***



Captain Jonah

  • Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 167
Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #188 on: 15 May 2022, 09:52:21 »

Chapter 3

“Anything that explodes is not your friend, remember that in tight spaces.”

***

With the bulk of the Davion forces holding the city and to the east the vast Johnson Industries facility, and with the Capellans recovering from their first attempt to overrun the city things quietened down for a bit.

Strong Capellan patrols along the west and south of the city, battalion sized units on the ice to the north of the Capellan bases, but far from any Federated Suns targets, and raid after raid after raid, where reserve units with Dropships were kept busy. Very Busy.

***

“Sergeant major, an update on the wounded, they arrived overnight, we moved them into the med bay and the Doc and her people have examined them, one of them is in surgery, the rest are all treated and resting.”

“Good, the medical people at the hospital were good, but exhausted, that’s why I wanted our people to check them over.”

“We’ll look after them, how are you doing down there?”

“Reorganising on the go, we had five damaged Grenadiers that we fixed up overnight, and six Standards the techs are fixing today, I’m consolidating the platoons so I’m back to four full platoons and the fifth platoon will be reserve while I’ve got eleven wounded.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of troopers on world, even limiting them to people we know, I’ve got Staff Sergeant Thrace finding new people, it’s not Troopers that are the problem.”

“You need more suits?”

“Yea, we lost a couple destroyed beyond any repair, I’ll send Stone a message, see if that source of his has any more suits.”

“Right, how is it down there?”

“Busy. A pitched battle in the open where we took a lot of casualties, then the MechWarrior’s spent six hours guarding salvage teams, we got the night off and we got a call to respond to an emergency before we even had time for breakfast. We’re flying out now.”

“Cold Military Field Rations for breakfast, food of champions.”

“Oh, and how was your breakfast.”

“Bacon, eggs, toast and orange juice, very nice it was too. You need anything else?” The Tech was grinning, the sergeant major could hear it in his voice.”

“No, just look after my people. Out.”

Sergeant major Khalil cut the comm, took one last swig of the self-heating ration pack coffee and dropped the plastic can in the bin beside his chair, then checked his weapons and told the troopers to do the same. Displays along the lander walls said eight minutes out.
 
***

Elson glacier mining facility was a small town perched on the ice, the buildings were mounted on runners and could be moved, towed behind big, tracked ice crawlers, but the town had been there for a three years and the glacial movement was so slow they wouldn’t need to move for at least another two years.

They were sitting on a raised plateau of permanent ice, half a kilometre below them was a ridge of rock that had been formed several ice ages ago when a shorter cold period meant the glaciers didn’t reach the normal point, but instead dumped billions of tons of rock, debris and valuable minerals six hundred kay short.

The next ice age had rolled over the ridge, crushing it, and the next one, the current one, had flowed over the top creating a plateau, but by drilling down the miners could cut sideways and dig out a fortune in minerals that no one else was chasing.

“WATCH OUT!” Figures scattered, their movements clumsy in the thick insulated clothing and boots, their steps short to avoid slipping on the ice.

The Capellan Mech landed in a cloud of steam as its jump jets turned ice to vapour, it fired a medium laser into the closest building, burning away the thick insulation but not getting inside, its machine gun threw up spurts of ice and left two men down, dead or dying, staining the ice with blood that rapidly froze.

A handful of missiles came from around the battlefield, the miners were using the folds in the ice and their own buildings as cover, firing SRMs and a few LRMs at the Capellan Mechs that had jumped up to the plateau, the rest of the enemy Mechs were slowing climbing up the steep ice slope, the miners had blown up the ramp they used to get their own vehicles up and down when the attack started.

“INCOMING! REINFORCEMENTS!” A figure waved, pointed upward, then ducked as a medium laser brushed the roof of the building he was hiding behind. A full squadron of Aerospace raced overhead, a pair of elderly assault landers some way behind them, and some distance back a pair of. . . . .

“WHERE! I SEE THEM! ****** IT! TWO LEOPARDS, TWO LANCES! Get on the comm again, we need help, twenty Capellan Mechs and they send us two lances.”

“And Infantry, look!”

The two assault landers flashed overhead, landing thrusters burning hot enough to be felt by the miners.

“INFANTRY! What the ******, we’ve got infantry, every man and woman in town is armed and fighting, we need Mechs, armoured vehicles, air support. TWO LANCES!”

“They’ve left us to die, just like everyone else out here, they’re guarding the city and leaving us to fight for them with nothing but a few militia.”

“AMMO! Anyone got any missile reloads?”

“YEA, behind the general store!”

“Right.” The three-person missile team scrambled over an ice ridge and half ran, half slid toward a cluster of nearby buildings.

Someone screamed, a wordless warning, then flames washed across the far side of the camp, one of the Capellan Mechs was a Firestarter.

“SHIT, get SRMs on that bastard.”

“PHOENIX HAWK HEADING THIS WAY!”


“Elson mine, who is in charge, over?”

“WHAT! What?”

“Are you in charge?”

“YEA, yea, who are you?”

“Reinforcements, I’ve got two platoons behind you and two more on the flanks, Mechs are two minutes out.”

“TWO, two platoons, shit, whoever you are, they ****** you along with the rest of us, we’ve got more than two hundred miners fighting here, all infantry, no way two platoons are going to…”

Two things happened.

Firstly, the Phoenix Hawk fired its large laser into the building just behind the miner’s command group, exploding it into flames and wooden splinters.

The second thing was both platoons of Grenadiers opened fire, at the Phoenix Hawk.

***

“You still alive?”

“What, what, who?”

Senior miner, spokesman for the miners to the town council and local miner’s guild rep, known to everyone as Flock, looked up, half buried in powered ice and a few lengths of wooden sheets from the building. There was a massive suit of strange battle armour standing over him, bulky, some sort of yellow-white low visibility arctic paint and four missile tubes above the helmet.

“Sergeant major Khalil, we’re the reinforcements, now, what was it you were saying about two platoons of infantry not being any use?”

***

“Looking at the situation now, the drones high enough up so they can’t shoot it, but the image is a bit shit, you’ve got a full company plus, mostly mediums, climbing up the glacier slope.”

“Right, all Mechs, advance to the line I just marked, LRM Mechs follow Topgun’s target, everyone else I’ll call the gun target. Pale Horsemen, ADVANCE!”

***

“That was quick.”

“They ran away, bunch of cowards.”

“Of course they ran away, Bobcat, have you looked at how scary we are now. We walked into sight, blew two of their mechs into little bits, so the rest ran away.”

“We got another one as they were running, and some good damage.”

“True, and we saved the mine.”

“Yea, they don’t seem very grateful though.” Tiger turned her mech to look at the town, small groups of miners in thickly padded jackets and trousers trying to put out the fires that were engulfing several buildings, and a handful of them waving their arms and shouting at the sergeant major.

***

“Enemy are still falling back, no other threats detected, area is secure.” Topgun’s voice had just a hint of humour.

“Really?” Arclight sounded slightly more sarcastic

“Yep, officially secure, headquarters just changed the status here to secure, they’ve got somewhere else they want us though, an hour ago.”

“Great, glad to see the wars going well. All units, return to the Dropships and landers, we’ve got another mission.”

“Can we reload?”

“No, I don’t want to risk reloading in flight. We’ll assess when we get to the next location. Sergeant major, was there some sort of problem with the locals?”

“Nothing to worry about Arclight, they were less than happy about being left to die without support, then when we turned up to support them, we blew a mech apart, it’s reactor went critical and took out their main mine shaft.”

“So, not happy with us?”

“Pretty much.”

“They’ll get over it, Sarge, Dropships are over that way.”

“Yea, hang on.” The Victor turned to the side, reached down and lifted an entire section of roof into the air. Half a dozen locals ran under where it had been and dragged out two people, one of them kicking and shouting.

***

Floating in a transport pod, two hundred meters off the side of Odyssey, looking at the damage where the armour had been torn away, and below that vast crater the repaired and once again airtight inner hull.

Stone leaned forward for a better look, taking a break from rebuilding the structure on his new Mech so it looked more menacing.
“Long ago, way back when I first outfitted Odyssey, I looked at the weapons Comstar had fitted, and added a bit. Now, I’m thinking what I thought was excessive a year ago isn’t enough now.”

“If you will go picking fights with warships.” The woman flying the pod was one of the engineers from the shipyard, she’d invited Stone to go over the initial damage report.

“It’s not the warships, it’s the missiles, and the Dropships, and the fighters.”

“Well, you’re running as much as the power grid allows, adding anything else would involve some series changes, yard work, not something your people can do, increasing the power grids, structural reinforcement.”

“I do that with Mechs.”

“This is so not a Mech. We can do the work, but you’re well down the list, next year probably.”

“Meaning I’m not going anywhere till then, with the jump cradle wrecked.”

“The war on world not keeping you occupied.”

“It is, but we’re being held as an emergency response unit, then thrown in when somethings gone to shit. Still, the moneys good considering my overheads are well down, but I’d still like to improve Odysseys defence.”

“Well, you’ve got six fighters, and six bays in the fighter hanger, two assault landers and the fighter tug, but four bays in the small craft hanger, right?”

“Yes, why?”

“Sit yourself down, I’ve got a suggestion, take ten minutes to show you though.”

Stone sat down then grabbed for the seatbelts as the pilot spun the pod and kicked in the drives, 1.5 gee.

***

Eleven minutes later.

“What’s that?” Stone pointed at the wide framework of girders, with anchor points every so often and wrecked fighters clamped to those points.

“Which, stuff that can’t be repaired quickly or can be salvaged, mostly old stuff. We’ve got almost infinite storage out here so anything we aren’t going to work on anytime soon, but which is too useful to scrap, or stuff we might repair or salvage, it goes out here.

We’ve got some Jumpships, Dropships, loads of fighters. Even had a couple of Warships after we couldn’t repair them during the succession wars. It’s getting filled up right now with stuff we could repair but would take too long or use too many resources, and the old stuff.”

“At the end, the big one, the wreck, it looks familiar for some reason.”

“That one, that’s my idea. She’s older than both of us put together, Salvage from the third succession war if you can believe that. Been sitting there for decades, every so often someone talks about salvaging the drives but that’s about all that’s left, that and most of the structure, the armour, what was left when it was pulled in as a wreck, anything else that survived, those have been stripped along with the weapons.”

“Is it what I think it is though, because as you say, I’ve got a small craft bay empty and a need for some more firepower and protection.”

“Well, if you’re looking for a surface to orbit or short-range escort, that she is, or good for long range patrols but…”

“Not needed, escorting my Assault Landers, and protecting the Dropships. Long range isn’t needed.”

“Well, you’ll need to all but rebuild her, but if you’re interested”, the woman’s face changed a little, faced with an interested customer, Stone sighed, “if the price is right, it’s a stripped wreck with an engine after all.”

***

The Cave, primary military headquarters for the entire Capellan march, sunk between five hundred and a thousand meters below ground, under the bedrock beneath purgatory glacier, that being the massive ice formation that covered the entire centre of the continent of Mawreddog, it was as much as three kilometres beneath the surface.

The place had gone on line 220 odd years before, but every 20 or 30 years some new bit was added, not difficult given it was a vast network of huge limestone caves, the end of each ice age resulted in billions of tons of water rushing south, carving out yet more caves, there were some sort of plans somewhere about what to do when the next thaw started, but that wasn’t expected for several thousand years, so there was no hurry.

Vast tunnels and caves, grey rock streaked with reds and browns, roads and multi storey hardened structures, an entire military town underground, with three fortified access ways guarded by Mech companies, two smaller accessways, one of which was part way up Heavens Top mountain and used by the air wing, and a dozen hidden tunnels that reached under the glacier in every direction.

Down toward the lowest levels the latest expansion was underway, a second armoured infantry facility with storage, maintenance and accommodation for a second battalion of Battlearmour for the garrison, but up in the mid-levels it was quiet.

“Looks busy.” The leftenant looked from side to side, taking in the entire wall mounted holo display.

“Yea, after that big assault failed the Caps have pulled back to lick their wounds, or at least the first and third big Mac, the second Saint Ives and the Victoria Rangers have, they took some heavy losses with that attack.”

“Ours weren’t exactly light.”

“No, but we lost a little over a hundred Mechs and recovered seventy odd, they lost about eighty and recovered none of theirs, but we grabbed some of the downed Cap Mechs, so we’re ahead.”

“Aside from the whole they have a dozen regiments on world now.”

“Yea, well, beside that. Anyway, the First Saint Ives are digging in at their main base, they’re extending the outer defences with ground armour and putting in some fixed turrets, ground to air. They’ve also turned loose the mercs and smaller units they bought with them, hitting sites all over the world.”

“What’s this?” The newly arrived leftenant pointed to a cluster of hostile icons, above the snow line on the glacier.

“Second McCarron’s, or at least two of their battalions.”
“Nothing there?”

“Nope, we can see them but not up close, they’re doing manoeuvres, lances and companies, walking, running, that’s it.”

“Damn, getting used to operating on the ice.”

“Yea, that’s what everyone thinks, expect we’ll be seeing other units do the same.”

“Well. It’s not like they’ve got anywhere in Capellan space to train for an ice age.”

“True, right, run me through the handover and you can go home for the day.”

“Sunlight, I remember what it looks like, but it’s been so long.”

The incoming officer groaned at the ham acting the day shift officer was doing, then both sat down to go through the long handover list.

***


Captain Jonah

  • Sergeant
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  • Posts: 167
Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #189 on: 22 May 2022, 13:07:52 »

Chapter 4

“Always negotiated from a position of strength, fake it if needed.”

***

Arclight collapsed into the worn camping chair with a groan, around her the others were doing the same, a mixture of chairs, benches and a couple of armchairs that had appeared from somewhere.

“Five emergency call outs in two days, and the day before that was covering the salvage teams. We need some downtime.” Topgun spoke from the depths of one of the armchairs, several of the others made sounds of agreement.

“Zoe, what’s the status of our mechs, we’ve been racking up a lot of damage with no stops?”

Zoe looked up from the display she was studying, short, cute, feisty, and extremely dangerous with a wide variety of tech tools if you pissed her off, senior Mech tech and all-round handy person to know if something broke, “Odyssey.”

“Odyssey, what about her?”

Zoe waved at the ranks of Battlemechs, both in the hanger and standing outside.

“We’ve got a booth and a bay here, so we can work on two of them at a time, but with every Mech needing armour repairs, and the Axman and Victor both needing structural repairs we can do everything here in about thirty-five hours, or fly the whole lot out to Odyssey which will take less than six hours including getting to orbit, do all repairs in about twenty hours and fly back again.”

“We could take a day off on Odyssey, it’s not the city, but we won’t be attacked.” Topgun sat up and looked over the side of her chair.

“And we can bring the captain back with us, he’s nearly done.” Zoe’s voice said she was clearly in favour of the trip out to Odyssey.

“Gravestone, his new Mech, it’s a Marauder, isn’t it?” Tiger spoke up.

“Yep, oh right, none of you have seen it, it’s a little, excessive.”

“What, no such thing when it comes to firepower going down range.”

“Yes Sarge, but it’s still, oh never mind. Right, executive decision, alert the Milita we’re standing down for forty-eight hours to do repairs. Topgun, alert the Dropships to log a flight out to the shipyards and warm up the drives. On your feet everyone, let’s go have a day off on Odyssey.”

***

“Traffic control confirms, two Leopards, six fighters, mercenary unit Pale Horsemen outbound to the Shipyard, we’ve alerted them you’re on the way, marines will board to perform security checks at the outer perimeter.”

One of the fighter pilots made a joke about it being a bit cosy in their cockpit with a marine as well, traffic control ignored them and cut the comm.

***

Odyssey was oddly quiet compared to the constant bustle and the sound of gunfire in the distance that had become so normal. The Two leopards docked one by one, off loaded the damaged Mechs, then settled down just off to the side. Most of the two crews heading over to Odyssey in one of the available shipyard transports.

The MechWarrior’s went over with their Mechs and once they and the techs who had come out with them were safely in the two Mech hangers they went down to the spin pods, floating down the spine then across and down in the lift.

“Alright everyone, twenty-four hours leave, but no one go too far.”

A few groans as people responded or ignored the poor joke, then they were separating.

“What are you going to do?” Topgun was the last one still there, apart from Arclight.

“Check in on the infantry wounded, then check in with Gravestone, and see how his new Mech is.”

“I’ll come with you, the infantry that is, you can deal with Gravestone and his love affair on your own.” Topgun grinned as Arclight shot her a glare.

“What?”

“His new mech, the tech team say he’s there eighteen hours a day, barely leaves to sleep or eat. What?”

“Nothing, come on, lets check with the crunchies.”

“Don’t call them that to their faces.”

“Of course not, last thing I want is to piss them off and have then invite me to some friendly sparing practice, or a gym workout.” Arclight shivered, shaking her shoulders, and Topgun laughed, then they both headed to Gamma deck.

***

“Damn, how bad did the other guy look.” Topgun had stopped by one of the troopers who was sitting in the rec room, one eye and the side of his face bandaged, burn wrap across the top of his head and a black eye and broken nose on the other side.

“Dead, he looked dead after we put a couple of SRMs into his cockpit, nobody likes a Mech with flamers, that arsehole had four of them.”

Another trooper, a woman who made two of Topgun in weight, and around the shoulders, slapped the wounded trooper on the shoulder, “Look on the bright side, you didn’t have any good looks to ruin.”

“Yea, ****** you, go for a run or something.” The woman laughed, tucked a crutch under one arm and hobbled off to another table.

“Doc, how are they?”

“Eight walking wounded, three serious ones I’m keeping in bed and a pair on life support, they should both make it, but they’re looking at months of recovery, and one of them will need a new liver, the other a lower leg.”

“We lost one didn’t we?”

“Two, massive trauma, combat injuries, there was no way to save them. Those suits are tough, and the medical systems are very effective, but beyond a certain point pain killers and blood-stop just aren’t enough.”

“That fighting was brutal, they had to go out in the open, engaging Mechs at point blank range.”

“I heard, we get the news out here, actually they’re lucky, and well trained, as soon as their armour was seriously damaged, they fell back, the critical cases and dead were hit by something powerful enough to crush the suit and them in one hit.”

“We’re mercenaries, that fight to the last person shit is for the house troops.”

“Well, it saved a few of them. You’ll get three of them back in a week or so, the rest are two weeks or more, and several months for the worst ones. We’ve got excellent medical facilities here, and we aren’t in the middle of the war, I’d like to keep them here if you agree.”

“I do, the hospitals are struggling down there, charging through a housing estate created a lot of civilian casualties.”

“Them or us?”

“Both.”

The doctor peered into Arclight’s eyes, “You getting enough sleep?”

“What, yea, mostly, we’re on reserve, we get called in a lot.”

“How long are you here for?”

“Twenty-four hours.”

“Good, get your head down for a solid eight hours.”

“How, who can do that, it’s some sort of legend, a myth, the eight hours solid sleep thing.”

“Don’t be sarcastic to your doctor, I can give you something, mild, so it will be gone by the day after tomorrow, or do what the captain does, some choice alcohol.”

“Speaking of, where is he?”

“Where else, Mech One.”

***

The Marauder 2 was, evil, menacing, like some primordial monster reaching for its prey. The colour of old bones, left in the sun and then risen to hunt the living.

“Jesus, that looks.”

“Yea, I changed some of the outer panels, the armour configuration and the structure, just a bit, did you know there are a number of books on how to make Mechs look more menacing, there’s one with seventy pages on just the Marauder Two.”

“It’s scary alright, it’s bulky, looks like it’s crouching ready to kill something, but there’s something else.”

Stone was grinning, “look at the body, below the cockpit.”

“What am I… Wait, is there something there, it’s faint, darker bits.”

“Now look either side of the cockpit, see where I broadened the structure a bit, in fact walk to the wall and look at it from a distance.”

Arclight clumped her way across the deck, mag boots ringing on the deck, then she turned and gasped. “The cockpit windows, tinted the same colour as the hull, teeth, eye sockets, it’s faint but it’s there, it’s a huge skull!”

“That it is, the subtle change to the shape, the paint, makes her look scary doesn’t it.”

“A Marauder Two with that much firepower, and the face of death. Yea, she’s scary alright, lets hope she scares the Capellans.”

“Oh she will, she’s ready to go so I’ll come back with you.

“Good, I, that is we need Gravestone fighting with us.”

“That’s the plan.”

Arclight didn’t say anything else.

***

“Tracking, two Dropships, both Unions, one transponder is a generic Capellan military number, the other one’s first McCarron’s.”

“They going after the salvage again? There’s still something like fifty downed Mechs in that scrap heap.”

“No, flightpaths wrong, they’re going south, course changing, heading out over the water, lets see, yea, they’re going in a straight line for Trimble Colony.”

“The fish, shit, that’s something like a tenth of our entire food production with off world shipping stopped.”

“The joys of fish chunks, fried fish, grilled fish, and the ever-popular fish protein paste. But yea, the list says they’ve got two battalions of planetary guard infantry, a guard armoured company and two medium and heavy armour companies from the Milita.”

“Against two full companies! Alert them they’ve got incoming and tell the Militia they need to reinforce the town.”

“Will do.”

***

“Reinforce they say, WITH WHAT? Three regiments of regulars sitting in the city and we’re wearing out our Mechs defending the rest of the world. Alright, who’s available, let’s see. Damn it! Arclight’s on her way back from the shipyard but she’s three hours out, alright, send Backflip out, we got a Union available?”

“No, both busy, but we’ve got Leopards.”

“Allocate them then, get them to Backflip and his company then get them down to reinforce the fishermen, unless the Caps sent assault Mechs two companies aren’t going to be enough against one company of ours and a battalion of armour plus the infantry.”

“Right, calling them now.”

***

Twenty minutes later.

“Three Leopards, Milita transponders.”

“Good, it’s a start.”

***

“Here they come, two medium lances, one heavy lance, the other lot are mediums and lights going round to the east.”

“Right, I’ll move against the regulars, Major, one of your armoured companies to support me, send the other one to the east, guard armour and half their infantry that way, the rest of the infantry dig in here.”

“We can hold the town from here.”

“East is the harbour, if we let them come over the headland they can sink the entire fishing fleet, move your armour to the fish processing plants and cover the ridgeline from there.”

“Right. The Home Guard ground forces Major cut the comm and began barking orders, infantry began to jog in several directions and the various armoured vehicles fired up their engines.

***

One advantage of being on a very wealthy world where they manufactured a vast range of military equipment, was the planetary guard were equipped to a much higher level than the usual hunting rifles, that included man portable SRM and LRM launchers. Man portable meaning a three person team to carry the launcher and a couple of rounds, the guard forces had three LRM teams, and one of them fired as soon as the first Capellan medium mech came into sight.

The LRM was far out of range and was jammed, flying off to the side, and giving away the launcher teams location, though they didn’t realize that, yet.

“First lance, LRMs on the Vindicator once it’s in range, Second lance, the Enforcer that just came into sight, that’s a Davion Mech, I’d like it back, third lance, Concentrate fire on that Assassin. Wait for it, wait, FIRE!” Backflip squeezed the trigger on his joystick and fired his extended range large laser, missing the Assassin, but the rest of third lance was firing as well and the enemy Mech took several hits.

Just behind the Militia Mechs, vehicle heavy Autocannon boomed and LRMs were launched as the ground armour joined in.

The Medium lance of 1st McCarron’s Armoured Cavalry was firing back, and their second lance came into sight fifteen seconds after the shooting started.

***

“Tracking, SHIT, two Cap unions, they were in orbit over their camp, they just went to two gee, flight path will put them over Trimble Colony in eight minutes.”

“******, it was a trap, can we reinforce?”

“With what, we’ve got five raids going on, we can’t release any units of the regulars, the Vanguard legion are still out of action, repairing from getting kicked off Taygeta, and they’re down a battalion anyway because of the miss jump, every other merc unit with a Dropship is out.”

“DAMN IT! Wait, who’s this?”

“Pale Horsemen, two hours out though.”

“Tell them to go to maximum thrust.”

“Yes sir.”

***

“Arclight! Priority call for you, from the Cave.”

“The Cave, not the Militia?”

“No, the Cave.”

“Put them through.”

“Arclight here.”

“Arclight, we need your help, we’ve got a militia company that responded to an attack, but the Caps are sending in two more Mech companies.”

“A Trap?”

“Looks like it.”

“We’re two hours out.”

“Go to full power, we’ve got no one else to respond.”

“Right, who is it?”

“Militia company, the officers called, erm, Backflip.”

“SHIT! On the Way. PILOT, put your foot down, maximum thrust, get us in orbit soonest. Everyone else sit down because…” Whatever else she was going to say was lost in the oof as she was pushed into her couch by three gees of thrust.

***

“Tracking confirms, four Cap Unions taking off from Trimble Colony, we’ve got no radio contact with the Mechs there, or the ground armour, we’re getting something that’s probably the infantry, but local radio relays are down.”

“Where are the Pale Horsemen?”

“Burning in now.”

***

“ONE MINUTE! HOT LANDING! WEVE GOT A LOT OF HOSTILES ON THE GROUND SO DEPLOY TOGETHER, GUN LINE WITH ME AND…”

“ARCLIGHT, Cap unions just took off, heading west away from the town.”

“Get higheyes up as soon as you land, everyone else, stay tight, we’ve got a lot of friends to res…”

Penelope hit the ground at two point five gee, her shock absorbers bottomed out slamming everyone into their seats, then her outer armour doors were opening as she bounced up from the impact and Mechs were pushing out as her inner airtight doors lifted.

***

“Higheyes are clear, no hostile. The towns gone though, they blew the fishing fleet to bits, wrecked the factories, and went through the town with flamers.”

“Survivors?”

“Yea, a couple of thousand to the west, that part of town wasn’t attacked. I’m seeing Mech and vehicle transponders, and movement, infantry squads, not many of them though.”

“Alright, Sarge, Hammer, on point, get that Bloodhound working, Tiger, Dancer, Bobcat, cover them, Topgun hold at the edge of town. Move out people.”

***

An hour later, with most of the Horsemen on guard and the 80 or so survivors of what had been 170 planetary guard working to rescue survivors, Arclight was on the ground talking to one of the Militia pilots, a green kid who had ejected and come down off to the west where he’d been picked up by the locals.

“What happened?”

“I, I. SHIT! It was fast, so fast. We were fighting them, tanks in among the buildings, we were forward a bit, they were a company, popping out from the woods to fire at us, and us using the houses as cover as we fired back. They had mechs off to the east, but the tanks there were keeping them back, then our comms were squealing, we could just about hear each other, but it was really bad, some sort of jamming.

Didn’t matter though, we were holding them, we forced a couple of them to withdraw, lost one of ours, but we were holding them, ten, twelve minutes, just skirmishing, like they weren’t serious about attacking.

Then they came out of nowhere, behind us, crashing through the buildings, falling from the sky, Dropships flying overhead, mediums, heavies, I saw a few of them, First St Ives, they tore my Mech apart, like it was nothing, she was going down, flames outside the cockpit window, there was nothing I could do. I punched out.

There was nothing I could do!” The young voice quivered, the last few words louder, faster, justifying bailing out, to himself if no one else.”

“Wasn’t your fault, this was a trap, draw in the Militia and wipe them out. You injured?”

“No, no, can’t stop shaking, but I’m Ok.”

“Right, see if you can help the infantry checking for survivors over there.”

“Yea, yea, I can, I can do that.”

“ARCLIGHT!”

“WHAT?

“Two streets west, we found Backflip!”

“Is he?”

“Just get here.”

***

In life it had been an elderly but still proud war machine of the Federated Suns, an Icon of their armed forces, now the Enforcer was far beyond repair, a single leg untouched by the destruction that had left the rest of the Mech in ruins.

Half a dozen infantry working at the back of the Mechs head, doing something, lifting something, a sheet, stained black and red, a lump they were struggling to get out of the tight cockpit hatch.

Then they lowered it to the ground, and one of the few surviving medics was there, pulling back the sheet, checking the pilot, blood soaked, burned, but still alive, just. At least, most of him was, they had left both his legs in the cockpit when they rescued him.

***


Captain Jonah

  • Sergeant
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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #190 on: 29 May 2022, 11:44:24 »

Chapter 5

“If the area you’re fighting in only has one way out, make a second one.”

***

Headshot read the after action report a second time then glanced at the planning staff leftenant who was duty officer, he spoke first.

“That ambush was savage, the two companies that bushwhacked our people didn’t just defeat them, they flat out murdered them, the St Ives Mechs burned the town, the Warrior house Mechs and some infantry went round our downed Mechs and made sure the pilots were dead, or hunted them down in the streets like some sort of sport. With swords!”

“I know, it’s a message, a brutal one, destroying our morale, and making us reluctant to reinforce anywhere that’s under attack. The murders, our pilots, was it just the warrior house?” Headshot closed the after-action report file.

“Yea, as far as I know, the St Ives lot moved east once the Militia were defeated, took out the fishing fleet and the industrial zone. It was just the warrior house in the town.”

“We need to send a message of our own, not St Ives, but those warrior house bastards.”

“How?”

“We usually respond with either a Union or three leopards, right?”

The Leftenant nodded. “Yea, we aren’t exactly oversupplied with Dropships, and Cargo Aerodynes for the tanks and infantry.”

“Talk to our tech people, I want a pair of cloned transponder codes, for two of our leopards, then I want one leopard pulled from the ready list, put my lance aboard, and send Captain Belsing a message, I want to talk to her.”

***

“Shit, there’s chunks of ice floating down the river!”

“Course there is, that’s glacial melt, from the great valley. Wait, you never seen ice in the river before?”

“You kidding, I never saw snow before a month ago when we arrived here, my home world was hot, sand and dry heat, spent a few years guarding a mining world that was hot enough to burn you alive outside of a mech during the day, if the acid rain didn’t get you first.”

“You remember the maps, the big mountain peak Northeast of here, Heavens Top?”

“Yea, of course, only mountain tall enough and tough enough to have survived all the glaciers.”

“Right, so it splits the glaciers, every ice age the glaciers hit it and go round, creates a huge great valley behind the mountain, twelve, fifteen hundred meters deep, that’s where the river starts, a trillion tons of ice melts a bit in the daylight, runs down the valley and through here. Back in the old days there used to be sluices everywhere, panning for precious materials.

River’s deep, wide and cold, jump in there and you’ll be dead in minutes.”

The MechWarrior leaned forward, peering through the windows of his cockpit at the river that raced past below where his Mech stood on the bridge. Even with the heating turned up he shivered.

“Lets get moving, this patrol won’t finish itself.”

***

A conference call, screens filled with heads, all the important officers, and of course the civilian representative of the leader, to keep an eye on things, the woman with the second highest authority in the entire force, and the one universally hated by every man and woman in uniform.

“Status on the repairs?” Jiang-Jun Asher, what the Davion’s would call a general, standing in his command Dropship, safely surrounded by battalions of mechs, regiments of ground armour, and dozens of anti-air turrets, resplendent in his dress uniform.

“Slightly ahead of schedule sir. With reserve units and replacement Mechs we will have the first McCarron’s at 90% strength in eight days, the Victoria Commonality Rangers currently have two battalions combat ready, their final company, of four lances, will be six days. Third McCarron’s will have two battalions combat ready in four days, the third battalion is lost, the mechs are part of the battlefield we cannot get to.

But while the Davion patrols stop us from recovering the Mechs there, our patrols stop them as well.”

Someone snorted, but as the general swept his gaze across all those faces, each returned a serious and attentive look.

“The other units?”

“Second St Ives are ready for the attack on the city, they along with the first and Third McCarron’s and the Victoria Rangers will make the main attack, we have three regiments of ground armour hidden a day’s travel from the city, ready to protect the flanks and push around the city.

The Death Commandos are getting ready for their operations within the city, they report three weeks before they can start.

The First St Ives, the Prefectorate Guard and Warrior house Dai Da Chi are conducting raids against secondary targets, and securing our primary base. Independent commands, mercenaries and citizen warriors are launching the raids, with support from the regular units, but they are suffering high levels of loss with little if any salvage.”

“Not a concern, they do their duty and keep the Davion’s busy, it’s not as if they were important. And the other raids?”

“The first was extremely successful, the Warrior house troops are ready for the next one, we have waited to allow the Davion’s to relax before we strike again, but the target is picked, and we will be hitting it tomorrow.”

“Good, our Aerospace?”

“Eleven squadrons supporting operations on world, we are rotating them every few days, so our pilots are fresh and the Davion ones are tired.

The last of the Aerospace units are maintaining security at the LaGrange point, we have the strength to hit the Shipyards. We will be ready as soon as you wish.”

“Good, both attacks at the same time will force the Davion’s to defend both, splitting their forces. But remember, while the city can be destroyed, where possible Johnson industries and the shipyards are to be taken intact, our orders are to take this world and use its resources for ourselves.
 
The plan is unchanged, to your duties, FOR LIAO!”

The faces vanished from the screens quickly and the screens went dark.

***

“Another raid!”

“Shit, don’t those bent sword bastards eat breakfast.”

“They feast on the flesh of the civilians they kill, I thought everyone knew that. Anyway, a Union and a Leopard, low orbit, heading northeast.”

“What’s under their flightpath?”

“Two small mines, a ski resort, damn, Zelba Soken Chemicals.”

“What’s the book say?”

“Class two defence priority, major chemical processing facility, they process the edge of the glacier, extract chemicals that were scrapped up by the glacier as it ground south, 12 percent of our lubricants, then oils, some petrol and diesel, industrial and medical chemicals.”

“What do we have there?”

“Planetary guard have two combined arms battalions, two companies of light infantry and a company of medium armour each, two Militia tank companies.”

“With four Mech lances incoming, flag it, get some reinforcements out there.”

“Yes sir.”

***

“Call for support, Soken Chems, four Cap lances incoming.” One of the techs called out from the half circle of workstations.

“Any sign of any other Capellan Dropships?” The duty officer, this one a captain, looked toward the man.

“No, the entire area is oddly clear of any Caps, no Dropships, no fighter patrols, they’ve got a solid block of both in high orbit over their base, but the skies are suspiciously clear around Soken.”

“That’s the next one then?”

“How would we know?”

“Suspiciously clear you said, not even any fighter cover for the incoming raid?”

“Yea.”

“Alright, lets send in our reinforcements. Give me a comm line, Headshot, we’ve got what looks like the next one happening, an isolated target and no Capellan forces anywhere except four lances attacking the target.”

“You sure.”

“My gut’s telling me this is it, details sent to your ship.”

“Right, we’ll blame your gut if it’s wrong. Pilot, Soken Chemicals, get us in the air.”

“Good luck Headshot.”

“You make sure our supports ready.”

“It’ll be there.”

***

“Tracking, three Leopards, leaving the city, heading toward the target area, wait, a squadron of fighters and a Union are taking off with them, not the same heading, but close.”

“Cargo Aerodyne just cleared the ground, it’s on the same course.”

“Identify it?”

“Yes sir, it’s running a civilian transponder, Delivery Guaranteed, it’s the same mercenary unit the fighters belong to. We’ve seen it launch every few days, delivery runs out to the shipyard.”

“Is the Union heading to orbit with it, or following the Leopards?”

“It’s, it’s following the cargo ship.”

“An important cargo then, something that requires addition escorts.”

“Perhaps, keep an eye on them. The three Leopards?”

“Flight path is straight to the Chemical plant, they’re at maximum thrust, if our forces remain at normal flight speed the Militia will arrive three minutes after our people do.”

“Are they militia?”

“All three are broadcasting New Syrtis Militia transponders, the numbers and codes are correct, all three of them are genuine.”

“Three lances, and we have two companies ready to strike. More heads for the Warrior house, literally.”

The laughter in the command centre was mostly real, and not at all friendly.

***

“Here we go, four minutes, the Caps are landing now, friendlies on the ground are dug in and mentioning they would like us there just a bit faster.”

“We’re going as fast as we can. Lance, be ready for a hot landing, we’ll come down on the ice and advance through the town to the raiders, weapons hot and be ready to go straight into combat.” Headshot flexed her fingers as her three pilots responded.

“Oh, and pilot, contact the other two ships, make sure they’re awake over there, tell them I said no sleeping on the job this time.”

“This time? Yes sir, sending now.”

The three ‘Militia’ Leopards raced toward the sprawling chemical plant that was like a dark stain on the pristine ice, two of them a bit harder to spot than the one in the lead, since that one was militia green, and the other two, weren’t.

***

 “MOVE IT! MOVE IT! Lieutenant, get your lance north and start hitting the buildings with missiles, my company, you know the plan.”

“Seeing Fed Suns ground armour, Laser armed Goblin tanks from the planetary defence forces, and Rommel’s and Paton’s from the militia. Command reports three Leopards incoming.”

“Three, three lances, that’s almost insulting.”

“They may just be militia but in the factory complex, with all of those tanks.”

“I know, but we’ve got friends. Three lances, we’ll be gone in an hour with this place in ruins.”

***

“CAPS!”

“Give me numbers?”

“A lance, fire support, a Treb, two catapults and a Griffon, staying at long range but moving around us to the north. One, no, two lances, mixed mediums closing with us from the southwest.”

“Mediums, they want to come into a close combat zone like this place with Mediums, do they not know we’re here?” one of the tank commanders, two years in the Militia and eager to fire his Ultra-Heavy autocannon for real.

“No glory hunting, stay tight, stay in cover, make them come to us, no one gets caught in the open.”

“HERE THEY COME!”

Three lances of Capellan Mechs, keeping out of range of the Ultra-Heavy cannon, engaging targets as they saw them, evading most of the return fire, the mighty Capellan Mechs, acting like they were afraid to close with light infantry and a few tanks.

***

“ON THE GROUND!”

“Waypoints are set, move out, my lance with me, get ready.”

“We will be, we will be.” A touch nervous, otherwise confident, and something else, eager perhaps.

The first lance moved south toward the raiders, the other two ‘Lances’ waited till their last few mechs got out of the Leopards before moving, not south.

***

“MECHS! Dark green, Militia, two mediums, Enforcers, a Warhammer, SHIT, Battlemaster!”

The voice was loud, slightly crackly on the speakers, but clear enough.

“Militia with a Battlemaster?”

“New Syrtis Militia have one sir, the second in command, a major, she has the call sign Headshot.”

“They must be getting desperate, to be sending out senior officers, let the raiders know.”

“Yes sir.”

***

“A Battlemaster, a venerable Mech, a fine addition to our forces, in fact properly upgraded a worthy Mech for me. Tell our infantry to try not to damage the cockpit when they remove the pilot.”

“And if the pilots still alive?”

“Take her outside and kill her there, let’s not get blood on my new chair.”

Laughter, confidence, and a burning need for vengeance against the same people who had devastated the warrior house with the destruction of the deep space platform not long ago.

***

“BATTLEMASTER!”

“I see it, keep out of range, SHIT!”

The Battlemaster is a venerable Mech, walking the battlefields of known space for centuries, some call it old and compare it unfavourable with modern assault Mechs, others respect it for the ancient and effective war machine that it is. But its capabilities are well known, which meant when Headshot opened fire with six extended range medium lasers, the Capellan who thought he was just outside of effective range of normal medium lasers staggered sideways with lines of molten armour falling from his Mech.

Headshot slapped him with her PPC for good measure.

***

“Milita are here, call in the rest, everyone else, skirmish, no one close with that monster or…” The rest of whatever the Capellan was saying was lost as the Warhammer put two PPCs into his armour and static drowned his radio message.

***

“The ‘Citizen Warriors’ are calling for help.” Those two words, said with such contempt.

“Ah, they’ve seen the Battlemaster, I doubt they’ve ever seen anything larger than pirates and bandits, pilots, maximum speed and dive.”

Two Unions, lurking over the planetary horizon, both went to maximum thrust and dived into the atmosphere, half falling, half crashing, both a straight line to the Chemical plant.”

***

“JAMMING, Caps are, anyone hear me, heavy Jamming, anyone, respond?”

“We hear you, long range comms are out, we can just about talk to the armour units.”

“Everyone stay alert.”

“Because we need more lerts!”

Evey unit had a comedian.

***

“Has anyone seen the other militia?” The Lieutenant in command of the mercenary third lance.

“No, the Battlemaster and Warhammer are here.” His captain.

“An Enforcer by the big round storage tanks, supporting the tanks there.”

 “Another Enforcer to the north, and long-range missile fire, seventy or eighty at a time.”

“A fire support lance, hiding in the buildings?”

“Probably, it doesn’t matter, six minutes.” The Capellan Mech fired an extended range large laser at a fleeting flash of dark green, he missed.

“Keep them busy till the rest arrive.”

***

“Two Cap Unions, high speed dive into the atmosphere, five minutes from the Chemical plant.”

“OK, looks like we’re in business, get the Vanguard company turned around.”

“Yes sir.”

A minute later, what had looked like an escort for the cargo ship spun around using manoeuvre thrusters and began a hard burn back into the atmosphere.

The Fighters and Delivery Guaranteed moved away from the world, toward the shipyard, with a very late supply run, since they’d been sitting waiting for the next Capellan ambush for two days.

***

“All Mechs with Electronic Warfare units, start jamming, maximum power.”

***

“What the shit!” The Capellan Mechs were suddenly being jammed, just like they were jamming the Davion comms, the airwaves filled with so much electronic noise no one could talk beyond a few hundred meters.

“Two minutes, but we can’t confirm, no comms with the incoming units.”

“Keep them busy, we’ll be fine in a few minutes.”

***

“Visual confirmation, two Unions, coming in hard, look to be doing a maximum power deceleration, can’t see where they’re going yet.”

“You all ready?”

“Deployed in the centre of the facility, we’ll move once we have a location. After two days sitting in armour in Telemachus’ fighter bays we’re looking forward to a good fight.”

“So are we, payback for Backflip and the others.”

“Yes Ma’am. Still coming in hard, drifting slightly, west and south of the main factory by the look of it. Definitely somewhere west and south, the spheroids can’t turn worth a damn, not at that speed straight down.”

“Right, South and West, lets get ready.”

***

“No contact with ground units, we’re being jammed.”

“Are those fools jamming us as well?”

“Possibly, for the Davion’s to be jamming us they would have had to bring a lot of ECM. Unusual for militia.”

“Could they have been expecting us?”

“No, there was no way for them to detect us and we made sure there were no other units in the area.”

“It doesn’t matter, three leopards, three lances, kill them, destroy the facility and be home for lunch.”

Everyone liked that idea.

***

“Both Unions are down, Mechs, Warrior House mixed Mediums, and Prefectorate Guard, a mixed company, old school, heavy lance, medium lance and light lance.

INFANTRY! The warrior house Union, infantry in what looked like Medium Battlearmour, they went stealthy, a platoon by the look.”

“That’s your job then sergeant major.”

“Yes Ma’am. Mechs are heading your way.”

“Good.”

***


Captain Jonah

  • Sergeant
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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #191 on: 03 June 2022, 10:56:04 »

Chapter 6

“When pointing weapons at an enemy, your authority grows rapidly in direct proportion to the number of weapons you’re pointing.”

***

MechWarrior John Little, bullied as a child because of his name, but determined to win approval, excellent sports and school scores, loyal to house Liao, noticed by a recruiter and moved off world for testing, followed by one of the most gruelling and brutal training regimes in the inner sphere.
Not just surviving, but qualifying as a MechWarrior, infantry specialist and expert in the Warrior House Battlearmour.

His Huron Warrior Mech was almost new, custom built for service with the Warrior House, Stealth armour, every weapon and system of advanced tech. He was anchoring one end of the extended line of warrior house Mechs as they formed up, the Protectorate Medium lance was guarding both Unions, so the entire warrior house company was going to sweep across the chemical plant and crush the defenders against the Capellan forces attacking the far side.

One of his sensors was pinging, movement, the factory beside him was moving?

It was working, steam jets from the sides filling his thermals with white glares, two of which were moving, away from the end of the building.
For a second, he was confused, two Marauders, one at the corner, the other some distance behind, both in some sort of strange ice camouflage, but that couldn’t be true, the Marauder couldn’t be so far away, both had just come round the corner, which meant, it wasn’t far away, it was smaller.

Gravestone put a slug from his heavy Gauss cannon into the Huron warriors left side, smashing the armour and wrecking half the structure in a single shot, then he fired everything else, one pulse laser missing as his mech rocked a little from firing the huge cannon, Gauss means low recoil, not no recoil, still, both Heavy PPCs hit, one leaving the armour on the left arm in tatters, the other hitting where the Gauss had, melting what was left of the structure, collapsing the torso and burning away half the armour on the centre torso. The other pulse laser damaged the left leg.
Beside him Tiger put all four larger lasers into the next Capellan Mech in the line, the Shadow Hawk staggering as so much of its armour was melted and burnt away.

The other two Mechs in the lance responded with the speed of long training and elite skills, but by the time they had reached the end of the line where the battle was, all they saw was a Marauder walking backwards behind a building, and both of their lance mates down after the second round of shooting.

***

“Ambush, two Mechs down, we saw a Marauder, very large.”

“Fall back and join us, order the Protectorate Guard light lance to scout while the heavy lance supports the centre, have the infantry check the factory.”

“Yes sir.”

***

“The warrior house lost two mechs in seconds, and they sent us forward while they hold back.”

“If you wanted safe you picked the wrong job, light Mech pilot and recon, get that Raven moving.”

“All right, all right, sensors sweeping now, shit, static and crap, lot of jamming, setting a waypoint where it’s probably coming from.”

“Go south, find the Mechs and tanks down there, we’ll crush them against the mercenary company then both units can turn north.”

“Moving now.”

***

The light lance of the Protectorate Guard had a Raven, so did the warrior house forces, small, fast, like a bird’s head on long skinny legs, and packed with sensors and electronic warfare equipment. Moving through the factory, looking for the enemy, surrounded by a working chemical plant that was thousands of tons of metal pipes and storage tanks and heat. But the warrior house Raven was with the rest of the company, not pushing deeper into the vast chemical plant.

“Something moving, over here, four, low down, a lot of metal everywhere, Davion tanks, something else here, a medium or heavy Mech. Jamming is definitely toward the middle and west.”

“Protectorate heavy lance, deal with the tanks and bring in the attacking forces, Warrior house, to my location, we’ll find the location of the jamming.”

***

“This is ridiculous, everyone’s jamming, we’re in the middle of a nightmare for sensors, we’ve got no idea where the enemy are, all we can see are buildings and storage tanks.” Hammer was turning her Mech to look around.

“Take it easy kid, we’ve got friends in low places.” Sarge sound relaxed.

“Southwest, sixty meters, over the roof, ten seconds.”

“See, friends in low places.”

“Five seconds. Ready, JUMP!”

The Victor and the Axman were the only two Pale Horsemen Mechs that could jump, both jumped, 65tons and 80tons, launching skyward on jets of fusion flame tapped from their power plants, clearing the edge of the building roof, over the top and dropping to shatter concrete on the other side.

Sarge thirty meters from the Raven, Hammer fifty meters from its escorting Jenner.

Sarge fired first, and missed, the Raven pilot was so surprised he twitched his controls and the agile light Mech danced sideways, the Ultra-Heavy cannon round smashed through a cluster of pipes behind it. Hammer ran closer, put three rounds on target, two of her three lasers and then she was swinging the axe up and down, and the Jenner lost an arm.

Both Capellan Mechs returned fire and called for help, a handful of SRMs and medium lasers against the fire of both old bone coloured Mechs, then they were trying to escape, both were cut down mid stride and the two close-combat Mechs jumped back over the building, while third platoon kept their eyes out for another target, all four squads hidden in the surrounding buildings with good views down all the approaches.

***

“Sir, we’ve lost contact with the Protectorate Guard scouts, several broken messages about being attacked, second lance lost two Mechs to the attack of a very large Marauder that retreated into the chemical plant before they could engage it and the Protectorate Guard heavy lance report they have failed to find the enemy units, they have moved to the edge of the factory and have visuals on the attacking force.”

“Bring them in as well, we’ll hunt down these dogs who think they can ambush us. With me, move toward the…”

90 LRMs, fired indirectly, up and over the buildings, fell around the Warrior house captains Mech, he ran out of the cloud of explosions with his armour pock marked with hits.

“SEND THE INFANTRY IN, find the spotters.”

***

The Capellan Ying Long or Shadow Dragon Battle armour was fairly new, it came into production only a few years ago and the entire first and second production runs had been reserved for elite units best able to handle its incredible stealth.

Wrapped in Mimetic armour that could not only fool sensors, but also the human eye, dragon like claws that enabled them to rip the armour off Mechs, and with man-portable plasma rifles, they were some of the best available, and in the hands of highly trained Warrior house infantry, lethal.

Four squads moved like ghosts into the factory, hunting the enemy who were also hiding. One squad moving across the north of the factory finding nothing, the second squad at an angle south, they found and reported a squad of Davion Standard suits, and moved in to ambush them.
 
The third squad went toward the centre of the factor and found a pair of Mechs, unfortunately for them those Mechs were the Victor and Axman, and the Axman carried a Bloodhound Active Probe.

The last squad went around the main part of the factory and found themselves face to face with a squad of Grenadiers, the Davion Battlearmour suits were slower, tougher, had heavier firepower but lacked close combat weapons, and the Warrior House were elite, recruited between the ages of ten and twelve, subject to eight years of tough training with a high failure rate, they were very much an elite.

But despite her armour being slower and more cumbersome, eight years of training was nothing compared to generation after generation of selective breeding, and trained since she could walk in the harshest elemental regime known to the clans.

The Ambush left three of the Pale Horsemen troopers suits damaged and a couple of them lightly wounded, and the Capellans fleeing as a squad of Grenadiers joined that fight, the lone survivor of the meeting with the Axman linked up with the rest of her unit a few minutes later and the squad that ran into Harmony and her personal squad, the surviving Capellan was down, wounded, taken prisoner within two minutes. Which led to the sergeant major having to explain to Harmony she couldn’t claim the prisoner as Isorla.

***

“Ridiculous, enough of this, All UNITS FALL BACK TO MY POSITION!”

The warrior house units responded, and moved to form a single group of ten Mechs, the Guard light lance were down or somewhere in the vast complex of pipes, the Heavy lance had linked up with the attacking company and they were moving into the factory when they finally found all of the Militia, Headshot and her Lance, and all of the tanks supported by two companies of infantry sheltering in a chemical processing plant with concrete walls.

Moving through the vast factory, flanked and screened by locals who were guiding them through the complex mass of pipes and alleys, the rest of the Pale Horsemen were moving to where they thought the Warrior house were.

Just as the Warrior house were heading toward the location the jamming was coming from.

***

“Get some firepower on that bastard with the two PPCs!” Headshot fired all six of her medium lasers into a Capellan heavy, it turned to fire back then was knocked sideways as the half dozen Davion tanks that were behind the Battlemaster opened fire, they were having a good battle, everyone fired at the Assault Mech, and they were getting free shots at the enemy.

All of her Mechs were showing a lot of armour damage, but the attackers had already lost two and withdrawn three more, it may have been four lances against one, but going into the factory to get to Headshot’s lance bought them into short range of the ground armour who had a lot of Heavy and Ultra-Heavy autocannon and lasers.

***

“CONTACT! ENEMY THUNDERBOLT!”

“Advance by lances, formation three Delta.” The Capellans moved into their well-trained formation for fighting in close terrain, then advanced toward the old bone coloured Thunderbolt, as it was joined by a Cataphract, a Warhammer and an Atlas. And the leading Capellan Mech was also surrounded by explosions as 70 LRMs fell from the sky.

The Capellans opened fire, blasting away the Bone coloured armour and leaving the leading Davion mechs blackened and scorched, the Pale Horsemen fired at a single target, tearing the Capellan mech apart, then retreating around a corner.

The Capellans advanced, eager to finally kill their enemy as more LRMs fell from the sky.

Round that corner they found six Pale Horsemen, the Victor and Axman having hurriedly jumped over several buildings to join them, and the battle was on, at close range, a confused battle where heavier tougher mechs fought twice their number of smaller faster mechs, armour burned away and shattered, the surrounding buildings went up in flames, the first Mech to die was Capellan, rushing close to Sarge and Hammer who fought side by side, the second was also Capellan, Arclight, Bobcat, Lucy and Dancer firing every weapon they had into it as it rushed them, but the pale Horsemen were taking hits as well, a lot of them.

The Cataphract staggered, it’s left arm shattered by lasers and missiles, then it was falling back, breached in several areas, Arclight killed a Capellan with her Gauss cannon and three large lasers, but her armour was suffering.

The Capellan Captain dodged, avoiding about half of the LRMs that kept falling on him, then his Mech was thrown sideways, alarms everywhere, one arm gone, his rear armour breached, two lasers out of action. “HOW?”

Tiger put her four lasers into the areas Gravestone had just wrecked, and the Warrior House company was down a leader.

They were well trained, reorganising, a junior officer taking over right away, till Hammer caved in his cockpit with an axe hit and then they were withdrawing, using their speed and the tight environment to get out of line of sight, there was no reason to fight to the death here.
They left five mechs behind, and the rest were all damaged.

They came out of the factory just in time to see the Union from the Vanguard legion land and begin unloading another company of medium and heavy mechs. The Capellan Dropships fired up their engines before they were destroyed, with only a single lance to defend them.
Warrior House Dai Da Chi fled the battle, losing another Mech to LRMs as they went. They linked up with the fire support lance to the west and were met by the Dropships an hour later.

The remaining Capellan forces, the raider company, and the heavy lance, in the space of thirty seconds they went from a fairly even fight to terms of surrender as the wave of old bone coloured Mechs joined the fight.

***

“I thought those Warrior House lot were tough?”

“They are, but a situation like this, stupid levels of jamming and a sensor nightmare where you can’t detect the enemy until they’re a hundred meters away, that’s a bad place to be for fast moving Mechs, even elite ones.”

“Yea, still, they ran from us.”

“That they did Bobcat. Headshot, what did you do to that mech?”

Headshot’s Battlemaster limped up, the right and left arms were wrecked, you could see the inner structure in one leg and the foot was a ragged stump of metal.

“I don’t think they liked me.” She laughed, her voice harsh and rasping. “So, anyone remember what the procedures are for Prisoners?”

***

“How’s our damage?” Arclight glanced at her own damage display, about 60% overall armour, but a bit close to red on the left arm and torso.
“Armour mostly, a lot of armour, but just armour. Bobcat lost his autocannon, again, and Tiger lost another advanced heat sink. Structural damage but nothing major, still I’m thinking we head back to Odyssey for repairs again.”

“Fine by me boss.”

Stone chuckled. “Right, so, what is the procedure for prisoners, who do we turn them over to, anyone know?”

“Ask Headshot.” Arclight suggested.

“She just asked me.”

“Topgun?” Arclight’s voice had a slight hint of something.

“Why are you asking me?”

“Because you’re our communications expert, ask someone.”

“It’s always talk to people, be nice to people. . . . .” Topgun’s voice dropped to a mutter then faded as she changed frequencies.

***

“So, what was the total?” Headshot was sitting on a half meter gas pipe that ran at ground level and made a handy seat, her mech was a short way off, still steaming from the fighting. Stone’s Marauder was next to it, he’d taken almost no damage in the fighting.

“Half the Warrior House lot escaped, along with the Protectorate guard medium lance who ran when the Vanguard Legion arrived, and the fire support lance, we never even fired on them. The entire attacking company, and the Protectorate heavy lance, mostly surrendered with moderate to heavy damage.

Well, apart from the Protectorate light lance, I’m not sure it’s worth salvaging the two of them and we never saw the other two.
We’ve got moderate to heavy armour damage on our Mechs, three of your tanks’ are dead, two more are repairable, eleven dead in total and the medics are treating another twenty or so wounded. A bunch of Capellan mercenary prisoners, the Protectorate guard lot, and a Warrior House battle Armour trooper with a lot of broken bones and serious concussion.

Hammers sweeping the complex to make sure the rest of the Capellan stealth suits have gone, with a platoon of Grenadiers following him round just in case.

Overall, they failed to expect it to be an ambush and paid for it.”

“Shame the Warrior House got away, would have been nice to pay them back for Backflip and his company.” Headshot sounded disappointed.
“How’s he doing?” Arclight joined them.

“Looking at a long recovery, and cyber legs from the mid-thigh down, chances are he’s infantry now.”

“SHIT!” Arclight’s voice loud and sharp, a MechWarrior’s fear of the ultimate fate.

“So, did someone find out what we do with prisoners?” Headshot moved to a slightly more comfortable position.

“Transports on the way, along with a pair of cargo ships and an escort squadron for all of the Mechs, salvage here is going to be very good, it’s mostly merc stuff which was nothing special, but the Protectorate Mechs had some nice stuff and the Warrior House were top of the range.”
Headshot interrupted Stone, “Most of which is going to the Militia!”

“Hey, we did a lot of the fighting, and I suppose Vanguard will want something.”

“The Militia desperately needs Mechs.”

“And we’ve got most of a company here, standing and fairly quick to repair, plus another lance that will take some time, a dozen Mechs is more than enough for you, while we poor mercenary’s pick a few items from the dirt.”

Headshot laughed, “A full company of mechs, repaired to how they started the battle then.”

“What, what do you mean, why say it that way?” Stone had a suspicion, but he didn’t want to say it out loud.

“Our repair bays are full, and since you happen to have a few bays, and full up repair booths, we’ll ship everything to the spaceport, you repair me a full company, of the better Mechs, the mediums and heavies from the attackers, and then you can have the bits that are left from the rest.”
“You drive a hard bargain woman.”

“Of course I do, Arclight’s told me all about you.”

Stone shot Arclight a look, she shook her head no,

“Fine, a full company, but my repairs are first.”

“Not a problem, Gravestone, but remember, you don’t get anything till you’ve handed over my company.”

Stone sighed.

***

Captain Jonah

  • Sergeant
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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #192 on: 05 June 2022, 12:31:03 »

Chapter 7

“As a mercenary, there is no such thing as acceptable losses.”

***

“Losses for that debacle?” The Capellan general was looking at the holo displays.

“The warrior house pilots, and infantry cannot easily be replaced, not to the same standard, the Protectorate don’t have enough spare pilots to handle more than a handful of Mechs, and the citizen warriors are expendable.” A colonel on the Generals personal staff.

“Fine, now the preparations for the main attack. . . . .” The general moved his finger across the holo map and his junior staff paid eager attention.

***
“Expendable, the man’s a ******, saying that out loud with a dozen citizen warrior officers in earshot.” The words were quiet, but heartfelt.
“Politics, he represents a lot of influence at court, and as long as he produced results, he remains a favourite, the losses will easily be made up with eager new recruits and salvage, if this is all a heroic victory.”

“If?”

The colonel in the uniform of the First McCarron’s Armoured Cavalry nodded.

“If. City fighting’s brutal, everything we did to the Davion’s on our worlds, they’ll be doing to us, and our losses so far are bad, the general over there has ‘Expended’ a third of the citizen warriors. Our third Regiment managed to lose an entire battalion in one go, and both my First and the Rangers are down a company, mostly in that scrap heap at the edge of the city.”

“The defenders are taking heavy losses.” The other man in the conversation was a Major in the uniform of the Second St Ives.

“Third Ceti Hussars, Fourth Donegal, the Militia, but they’ve got at least two regiments worth of mercenaries without transport, who can’t go anywhere, and are left defending the city, and they haven’t deployed the sixth Fusiliers yet.”

“True. Still, our attack in force, five reinforced regiments, that’s going to hurt them badly.”

“This one’s going to be a grinding attrition fight, we’re going to get hurt as badly, so having the general over there throwing away units just because they’re mercenaries. As you said, a ******.”

“Not so loud.”

“Ha, our heroic leader can throw away mercenary lives, but McCarron’s Armoured have dealt with the likes of him before, and will again. I hear the propaganda the Confederacy puts out, about how decadent and corrupt the Davion’s are, but sometimes I wonder, do the Davion’s suffer from the same sort of politicians we do?”

***

Once again back on Odyssey, Mech repairs for the pale Horsemen were almost done, and the pile of captured Capellan Mechs were tied down in Cargo One where they were being bought in a few at a time for repair work, which was a problem, because they were using up a lot of stores and Headshot had actually sent some techs over to make sure Stone wasn’t taking anything from the salvage before he finished her company.

“Problems?”

Stone twitched as Arclight spoke behind him.

“Yea, supply problems. Having to use my own stuff to repair your Headshots Mech company.”

“She’s not my Headshot, ‘Ex’ militia, remember.”

Stone snorted.

Arclight stepped closer and leaned around his shoulder, looking at the screens he had been staring at. “That’s not a mech!”

“No, something I’ve got in the Small craft bay, rebuilding it.”

Arclight looked at the engineering diagrams showing the drives, and the structure but nothing else, “Some sort of heavy fighter?”

“Something to escort the landers, and to defend odyssey.”

“I thought that’s what Raglan was for.”

“He is, but we keep getting involved with these large-scale wars and the Raiders end up part of the main force or reserves so they’re off somewhere else where they’re needed, and not where I want them.”

“Fighter bays full though, where will you carry it?”

“We have an empty small craft bay.”

“I guess it will fit, a fighter in a small craft bay.” Arclight laughed at her joke, “So, what’s the problem then?”

“Stores, weapons, advanced heatsinks. Runing out, I’ve been doing a lot of repairs and not getting as much salvage in, I’ve been selling stuff we can’t use, so the bank account’s fine, but I’m at the point where I need to seriously start buying stuff.”

“Oh no, poor you, spending your hard-earned money.” Arclight broke into peals of laughter, the look on Stones face said he didn’t find it funny.

“I’m serious, The last LBX is going into the Cataphract, I couldn’t repair the damaged one, and for the rest, I need advanced tech for our repairs, the escort and as a reserve, there’s a fair amount in the salvage, that Headshot won’t let use have yet, but we need more.”

“So, shopping trip, can I come?”

“Modern technology, these days we just call them.”

***

“Johnson Industries sales department.”

Stone started to explain what he was looking for.

“I’m sorry captain Stone, but we’re unable to sell to anyone who isn’t an approved military customer due to the ongoing fighting. But if you would like to place an order, we would be happy to process it after hostilities on world have ended and the current state of emergency has finished, please…” Stone cut the comm and thought for a few seconds.

“Arclight, who do you know in the March Milita who does purchasing and logistics?”

***

Two hours later, after Arclight had made several private calls to people from her quarters where Stone couldn’t hear who she was talking to, or what she said. She’d got the Capellan March Militia logistics unit to call Stone.

“So, Gravestone, it’s Gravestone, right? Let me make sure I understand this, you want me to put in an official order, from the Milita, to Johnson Industries, which you then pay for and take for yourself. A few people might call that illegal, or at least improper.

Using our position as an official Federated Suns military unit, to obtain vital military equipment, for a mercenary unit.

Sounds more than a little bit unethical, the sort of thing that could get someone like me in trouble, and I wouldn’t want to bring the Militia into disrepute or anything, or get myself in trouble now, would I?”

Stone sighed; he could see where this was going. “How much?”

The woman grinned.

***

Processing the ‘Urgent’ order took so long the entire unit was back on world before it was ready for collection.

***

Delivery Guaranteed One had been sent back to New Syrtis when Odyssey and the rest had gone with the 6th to Hexare, and had been doing jumps out to nearby systems hauling commercial cargo.

That had ended as Capellan raiders began to reach into the March and so she was moving goods on world and in the system.

This morning she was flying high above the ground, half snow and ice cover to the north, and half the currently ice-free zone to the south. Telemachus flying alongside and all six of the Raiders on top cover.

The trip out to Johnson Industries was fairly short, and they would have had plenty of warning of an incoming Cap air attack, but still, the crew of the lightly armoured cargo Aerodyne were happy to get on the ground under the massed defence guns of the spaceport at the edge of the vast industrial complex.

Offloading the cargo they had carried out there, then loading newly built Mechs and equipment intended for the units fighting on world along with Stones cargo, they made the run back more carefully. It was no secret that Johnson Industries was working flat out making Mechs for the defencing forces, so any outgoing Dropship was a huge target.

This time however, no one attacked them, and they were landing on the runway and taxing to the hardstand outside Stones warehouse less than an hour later.

***

“What’s happening, looks like a lorry park out there?” Arclight had walked around lorries and trucks to reach the warehouse, then walked in to find Stones chief tech.

“Arclight. We just flew in a shipment from the factory.”

“Looks like it, what’s going on?”

“We’re powering up and doing check lists on the Mechs, MechWarrior’s are sitting over there waiting for their unit Mechs to be ready then they walk them out, most of the lorries outside are taking the cargo that’s being offloaded, again for units in the city. Our stuff is coming in, there it is.”

“Two large crates? Hardly impressive.”

“Stop with the attitude, bloody MechWarrior’s coming in here and getting in the way.” The chief Mech tech grinned as she spoke, and Arclight laughed.

“So, what are we getting, Stone asked me to put him in touch with the Milita logistics people, who are a bunch of crooks in uniform.”

“I know! Manifest is here if you’re interested.” She handed Arclight a tablet.

“Eight extended range large lasers, very nice, expensive though.”

“We get six and three are spoken for already, the boss’s latest rebuild project, some sort of escort fighter thing.”

“Yea, he said, but six? The manifest says eight.”

“Yea, your mates in the Milita, the boss paid for them, and they wanted their cut for placing the order, Johnson’s won’t sell to mercs right now and there’s a lot of competition for salvage out there.”

“Two advanced tech large lasers, expensive, that’s a lot to charge for putting through an order, still I suppose…”

“And the rest.”

“What rest.”

“Twenty extended range medium lasers, of which we get fifteen, half of which are heading out to the shipyard. They very kindly let us keep all of the fifteen tube LRM racks, and the Ferro Aluminium on account of them not needing any, and the two heavy LBX, the normal medium and large lasers and the rest.

There’s other stuff as well, eighteen million the boss spent in total, hard to imagine that much money.”

“Two advanced tech Large lasers, five advanced tech mediums, that’s what, half a million pounds plus?”

“Much closer to a million.”

“Damn, that’s just for allowing Stone to place the order. Well, like I said, crooks in uniforms. Still, that’s a good reserve in case we lose any...”

“Oh look, here come the vultures.” The chief tech had glanced toward movement by the door.

Three people, two women and a man, in the dark green uniform of the militia, tags and flashes were Capellan March Militia, and warrant ranks.

“Hey now, that’s not nice, if it wasn’t for the generosity of the March Militia you mercs would still be... Oh, hi Arclight.”

“Here to collect your share?”

“That we are, thanks to your boss, we’ve got a couple of Mechs being repaired that can be fixed properly rather than with old tech. It’s hard enough getting the good stuff, all the dress uniform types keep claiming priority need, it’s not like the militia aren’t taking losses trying to defend the whole planet while the regulars sit here in the city.”

“Cities under attack as well.”

“Yea, and we’re fighting here alongside them. Still, these weapons will come in useful. Hey, advanced tech heatsinks, you got any of those going spare?”

“NO!”

“Whoa, just asking, don’t get your panties in a…” The man took a hurried step backwards as the chief tech, a foot shorter, glared at him and took a half step forward.

“Maybe you should see to loading your weapons, and leave.” Arclight moved slightly, covering the techs back.

“Yea, right, we’ll be doing that.” Both militia women were grinning, the man turned and walked away.

“He’s an ass, but he’s right, we could use a few double heat sinks if you’ve got any spare.”

“As far as I know this is the last of them available, Stone said he’d bought the last ones available on the black market and a lot of these are already allocated.”

“Not Andre again?” Arclight sighed.

“Yea, I think so. He’s where we got the Artemis fire control units as well, seven of them, five in reserve and two heading out to the shipyard.”

“What are they building out there?”

“No idea, some sort of escort for the landers is what he said.”
 
***

“Message from on world, everything arrived, they’ll be coming out on the next cargo flight the day after tomorrow.”

“Good, that’s fine. In the meantime, we rebuild the structural frames above and below the drive, then build out the sides back to where they should be.”

“Not a problem, the plans say three primary struts both above and below, then the cross bars connect to all three of them and down to the sides. I’m seeing one strut above that’s gone completely and two of the lower ones are buckled, that’s twisting both sides and the wings. Take a bit of work to rebuild everything, that’s a solid structural frame there.”

“Yea, she’s a tough bugger, no question, just wait till you get to the armour, the boss does like his stuff as tough as possible.”

“Armour, let me look. Humm, he’s fitting close to maximum armour for the structure, and Ferro Aluminium, this thing’s stupidly tough, there are multi thousand-ton Dropships with thinner armour out there.”

“That’s the point, same as all the Mechs he modifies, as tough as possible, then with silly firepower.”

“So, does this thing have silly… Twelve? And that’s just the forward arc. Shit!”

“Yea, that’s the week after next.”

***

The city of Saso was south of the glacier, south of the snow line as well, but the whole world was in an ice age so the days in summer were chilly, and the nights cold. This close to the winter the days were icy, and people could die in the bitter nights, which wasn’t as bad as things would be in a few months.

Saso was, by cosmic coincidence close to the actual standard calendar when it came to the summers and winters, out by a month, but still close enough that the standard summer and autumn were cool, and the winter and spring were bitterly cold.

Which made things like gardens and parks a little difficult, but over the centuries technology had solved that, underground systems like those that kept most of the roads ice free warmed the ground under the gardens and ran in lines under the parks, heating the soil enough to stop it freezing except in the coldest months.

So, the trees were turning red and orange, Terran and hybrid trees from a dozen worlds reacting to the shorter days and longer nights.

The buildings around the park had large, well-insulated windows, the view from the ten and fifteen storey buildings was spectacular at this time of year and there were more than a few coffee bars and food places on the upper floors where customers could enjoy food and drink with a view.

Late afternoon, the sun going down in the distance, and most of the seats were filled with people.

The Howl of alert sirens and air raid warnings startled most of them.

***

The Colonel pushed between the still opening armour doors, the side sliding panels were heavy, and opened slowly.

“REPORT!” Multiple voices answered her.

“Twenty plus Cap Aerospace squadrons, seventeen Dropships, went to maximum burn, vector is the shipyards, fifteen squadrons heading for the atmosphere, flightpath is straight at the city, recon is reporting multiple battalions powered up and moving, this way.

First and Third McCarron’s, Second St Ives, Victoria Rangers, a regiments worth of Citizen warriors, estimate is twelve to fourteen battalions.”

“Long range recon, we’ve got regiment sized ground armour units, twenty kay out, going south, looks like a flanking force.”

“Check for another going north onto the snow?”

“Shipyard confirms they see the incoming, they’re scrambling everything.”

“Air guard are launching now!”

“Ground unit alert has gone out, getting responses.”

A babble of voices, sometimes talking over each other, men and women trying to bring the defences of the city online in the face of an overwhelming attack.

“Sir, Third Hussars have two battalions ready, Fourth Donegal have a reinforced battalion, the rest are out of action or guarding Johnson Industries, mercenary units are five battalions, but those are a lot of company and lance sized forces so co-ordination’s going to be poor.”

“Militia mechs?”

“Four lances sir.”

“FOUR! Four, what are those ****** doing, four lances?”

“They’ve lost almost a battalion so far defending the surrounding regions, and they’ve got four companies out responding to raids alongside another three companies of mercs. Sir.”

“Ground armour?”

“Much better. Planetary guard, militia, mercenaries, the Sixths regiments, all responding.”

“Good, push the planetary guard to the flanks, bring the regular heavy armour up behind our Mechs, hold everything at the edge of the city proper, make them come to us in the streets, the open suburbs will be suicide against those numbers.”

“Yes sir, leading Cap air attacks three minutes out.”

“Spaceport defences are online, they’re scrambling the squadrons there.”

“The dukes in the bunker.”

Unit icons, packed so tightly they blurred together across the city, and outside the built up area, at the edge of the holo display, so many enemy icons it was just a smear of Capellan green.

***

Captain Jonah

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  • Posts: 167
Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #193 on: 13 June 2022, 06:27:27 »
Chapter 8

“If you don’t have three months running costs put aside, you’re going to fail as soon as you need a few months of repairs or moving to a new contract.”

***

“Are we it, where the ****** is the rest of the fighters?”

“SHUT IT! Squadron, hold formation, hit and break left and up, air combat floor is twelve hundred meters, below that our own anti air has free fire. Flights focus fire. Good luck all.”

“HERE THEY COME!”

Eight squadrons of Davion Aerospace, 48 fighters, against an enemy that filled the skies, fifteen enemy squadrons, 90 of the enemy, the first long range shots going out as the two formations raced toward each other, came into range and passed through each other, missiles filling the air, cannon and energy weapons no more than flashes,  fighters trailing fire or smoke, breaking off and running for imagined safety, others falling in flames, nothing more than debris falling on the city below.

“SHIT! Wouldn’t want to be up there.” Young, inexperienced, and in charge of the team.

“Yea, much safer down here, five regiments of bent swords on the way.” The soldier wore the uniform of the March Militia, tags for the New Syrtis infantry, and rank flashes for a corporal, though he was a lot older than the youth wearing sergeants’ stripes.

“The fliers can run for it, no way we can outrun a Mech.” Youth and inexperience speaking.

“Yea, but we’ve got buildings to hide in, we can move around, use all this cover”, the corporal waved to indicate the building they were in, a child’s bedroom, bright decorations on the walls, the bed too small for an adult, and an SRM team with a launcher facing the open window, the curtains covered in cartoon figures closed to hide them.

Outside the building shook and the windows rattled as a heavy fighter crashed into another building close by, the explosion tearing the top floors apart, no one could tell whether it had been Capellan or Davion. No one cared.

***

“Seventeen Twenty first in position, infantry deployed.” The goblin tank was a little on the small side in modern combats, but enough armour to take a few hits, and a large laser that could keep firing as long as the tank was still alive.

And for reasons known only to the designers, a cramped compartment for a squad of infantry.

Sergeant Ilsa Morgan, a veteran tanker with the regulars, retired after the horrors of the Fedcom Civil war and part of the reserves now she was back home, then straight into the militia when the current shitstorm happened.

“Second platoon reports in position.”

“What about third platoon?”

“No response, the ell tee’s green.”

“No excuse, call him again.”

The sergeant glanced at the screens that wrapped around her position, the other three tanks of her platoon were tucked into what had once been a line of gardens in front of flats, but there was a clear way out behind them, an alley, and the slope of the garden hide their hulls from attack, all four turrets slowly moved, back and forth, large lasers charged and ready.

“Third platoon reports in position, it was the platoon sergeant that called it, not the leftenant.”

“I don’t care who’s running the platoon, as long as they’re doing it properly.”

“Update from headquarters, leading wave of attackers in range of the defences.”

Across the city, the batteries of long tom cannon opened fire, massive barrels pointed west, rocking as the recoil shook the heavy vehicles, shells flying over the city toward the incoming.

Another aircraft fell close by, another explosion, just one more out of so many.

***

“Airwing three, all squadrons report in the air and on the way.”

“Jets, into that inferno.”

“We need them, half our Aerospace is heading out to protect the Shipyard.”

“Leading cap mechs in weapon range!”

Fire support units, platoons of LRM carriers, belching torrents of missiles into the air, thick smoke forming over what was left of the suburbs, Capellan mechs falling, but here and there, nothing against the horde that fired back.

***

In the depths of space, the Davion forces were burning away from the shipyards, straight at the incoming forces. 12 squadrons of Aerospace fighters, 23 Dropships, against almost twice that many fighters but less dropships. Reinforcements from the world more than two hours away even at the spine crushing thrust the fighters were using.

The Capellan forces were two thirds armed transports, mostly Leopard types and Unions, formed behind an Overlord, and around them a ring of assault ships, mostly the Capellan favourite the Kuan Ti, but a handful of newer Lung Wangs with their own fighters close by.

Facing them were a motley force of Federated Suns dropships, a couple of Overlords surrounded by Unions, a cluster of the newest model of the Avenger, small by Assault ship standards, and not so heavily armed, but so fast the crew were in custom fitted acceleration couches.

And with them, a horde, disorganised, a wide variety of Dropships, no formation at all. But that was just what they looked like from the other side, because these were the Medusans, perhaps the finest space combat unit in the inner sphere, and while it looked like a mob, their formation was carefully planned, every ship on a vector that meant if they lost thrust, they wouldn’t hit anyone else, carefully set out lines of fire so they didn’t block each other’s fire.

They only looked like a hastily assembled mob, that was part of the point.

***

“Engaging first McCarron’s!”

The Leading Capellan Mechs were in range now, the MechWarrior’s of the 3rd Ceti Hussars had a target rich environment, the enemy were so many it was almost impossible to miss.

Unfortunately the enemy were firing so many shots back, it was almost impossible for them to miss either.

“SECOND COMPANY FALL BACK! FALL BACK!”

“WEAPONS GONE!”

Someone screaming as their cockpit filled with flames.

“FALL BACK, GET BEHIND THE BUILDINGS!”

Second company, 3rd Ceti Hussars, all seven of them that were left, fell back, the other five were down or dead, and the entire first battalion of McCarron’s First Armour chased them.

***

“Target designated, FIRE!”

Seven Dropships in range, every last one of them fired everything they had in Arc at the same target, the Leopards armour was shattered or melted away, the underlying structure across its nose collapsed and a vast cloud of ice filled space just ahead of it, it’s drives faltered and it began to tumble, while in the gap between the fleets of Dropships Davion fighters struggled to stay alive when everywhere they turned there was another Capellan fighter.

A Davion Union was hit, breached, air freezing into a cloud of ice crystals jetting out of the holes, but following shouted orders and the carefully explained instructions every one of them had received from the Medusans, it fired its manoeuvre thrusters, turning side on, coasting toward the enemy but firing its flank weapons, and because of the careful positioning there was no one in its way.

The battle continued as another Capellan Dropship was wrecked,

***

“FIRE!”

Four Goblin medium tanks, four sharp cracks as the lasers super-heated the air in front of them, two misses, two hits. The infantry in the houses behind firing LRMs, the second platoon up the street fired as well and the leading Capellan Mech, a Men Shen packed with pulse lasers, staggered and moved sideways, trying to avoid any more attacks, behind it the rest of its lance came into view, and behind them, the rest of their company.

“THIRD PLATTON STAND BY TO COVER US! PLATOON ONE MORE SALVO AND WITH…”

The Goblins were tough little tanks, and parked as they were only the turrets could be seen, but against a company of Mechs, one of them withdrew, tracks throwing up clouds of dirt and grass, the other three were burning.

***

“All Dropships, short range weapons on the fighters, long range on target seven!”

The fighter combat, over a hundred Aerospace fighters, had spread out and reached the fronts of both Dropships fleets, who were about to reach each other anyway. Four Davion dropships were either dead or burning to get away from the combat, Six Confederation ones were floating dead or dying as they found themselves with Davion fighters firing into breached armour.

Fighter losses were high on both sides, but the much better trained and led assault ships of the Medusans were going to win the fight.

***

“JUMP FLARE!”

***

“Fourth Donegal lance falling back to us.”

“We see them, everyone ready, the bent swords will be right behind them.”

“CONTACT, two lances, advancing fast, mediums, grid 31, moving to 27, twenty seconds.” Battlearmour troops, tucked in the surrounding buildings, eyes and ears while the Mechs kept their radar off.

The Capellans were eager, the Davion mechs were fleeing with heavy damage after facing down an entire Cap company, and killing half of them. Eager, and only seeing four Mech radars.

The First Capellan Mech died in seconds, the next one was falling across the wreckage five seconds later, the next two turned to find themselves facing a street packed shoulder to shoulder with heavy and assault Mechs the colour of old bones. The next lance was advancing through a storm of LRMs as they responded to the screams for help.

***

“Ninth company is gone, they reported they were under heavy attack them we lost comms, jamming.”

“From what, they were chasing what was left of a Donegal company? Never mind, keep pushing, send in this company, the Victoria Rangers.”

***

In the darkness between the world and the faint lights of the shipyard space was flashes and balls of fire, reds, oranges, and a blaze of eye burning blue white as something jumped into the Lagrange point close to the fighting, huge, locking every ship around it with powerful radar.

“WARSHIP! CAP WARSHIP!”

“Impavido class destroyer!”

“We see it, Medusans, new target, hold formation, Medusan fighter wings, seventy fourth attack wing come to ninety by twenty-four, four gees.” Both fighter wings of Medusan fighters cut their drives, spun and fired up their fusion engines again, pointing at the Capellan Warship, and they were followed by a Davion fighter wing from the shipyard, the Destroyer Zhejiang, began to accelerate toward them and the Shipyards beyond.

***

Far from the fighting, the Capellan command post, a constant babble of voices.

“Third McCarron’s are in sector seven, defending units have fallen back completely from Sector twelve, losses at thirty percent, enemy losses at fifty percent.”

“We can rebuild from the salvage.”

“St Ives reports they have two companies pushing into the industrial area north of the main residential areas, medium resistance from ground armour and a lance of Militia Mechs.”

“First McCarron’s report they’re through the defences, moving into the border between sectors seven and eight, Davion defenders are falling back.”

“Good, send the reserve battalions that way.”

“Citizen warriors sir.”

“All they have to do is clean up, the Davion’s are defeated!”

“Victoria Rangers second company reports they’ve made contact with Mercenaries and ground forces.”

***

“Sixteen Caps, Rangers, three lances of mixed, the last lot, SHIT, Clan Mechs.”

“Describe them, what colour camo, the clan Mechs, what colour?” Arclight’s voice was urgent.

“Some sort of Jungle camo, stands out a lot, the rest are in urban.”

“Shit, SHIT! Pale Horsemen, allied units, the Mechs in Jungle camo are extremely dangerous and must be taken down hard if they engage.”

“Victoria Rangers, a bunch of frontier hicks.”

“No, NO, the jungle camo, they, Liao sent the rangers with the fleet that went to the clan home worlds, everyone thought it was an insult, but they fought as well as anyone, something like a battalion of them came back alive, with captured clan mechs, they only every use the Jungle camo they fought the clans in and none of the new recruits are allowed to use it.”

“SHIT, veterans of Operation Serpent, that was them, right, attacking the Smoke Jags.”

“I’d be more worried about the clan Mechs, and Clan weapons.” Sarge, pragmatic, the old warrior, telling the youngsters how it was.

In the buildings the Battlearmour checked their weapons and waited, one street back was a parking lot of tanks, ready to advance once the fighting had started, but not before, militia didn’t mean stupid, the Mechs could take the first enemy attacks.

“Victoria Rangers, please respond, Victoria rangers, my name is Arclight, of the Mercenary Pale Horsemen, please respond.”

“We are in the middle of a battle, and you are the enemy, you waste my time.”

“Victoria rangers, I know who you are, the jungle camo, you fought the clans, for all the inner sphere, you don’t have to die here, not for this.”

“Die? You’re overconfident and arrogant, the Mechs you defeated called your numbers, your Mechs are impressive, but eight of you and some missile Mechs, against a reinforced company, and my lance, we fought the clans, took their mechs. Perhaps it is you that should surrender.”

“Victoria Rangers, I respect what you did, please don’t die for this, not for this.”

“We do our duty, if you expect us to turn aside now you know nothing of Honour.”

The Capellan cut the comm, focusing on his Mech as it followed the company ahead of it, who were reaching the corner piled with destroyed Capellan Mechs.

“HERE THEY COME”

***

110 LRMS, everyone fired, firing over the roofs, bad angles, low chances to hit, the back-end Mech of the leading Lance only took 36 hits, but that was enough to pock mark his armour and slow him down as he recovered his balance, the other three Mechs charged the corner, turning to find. Nothing.

The street was empty, but they stood at a crossroads, a wide road that led to the centre of the city, and six hundred meters from the next crossroads, which was filled with Mechs, big Mechs, the colour of old bones.

“CONTACT!”

“FIRE!”

The leading Capellan Mechs fired, spreading their fire across the two closest enemies, Arclight and Gravestone, the Pale Horsemen fired at a single target, ripping it apart in seconds with missiles and laser beams passing through the exploding wreckage to hit the building next to it.

Gravestone staggered a little, recovered his balance and fired again, everything at the next Capellan Mech, Arclight beside him, firing her Gauss and lasers at that target and launching her LRMs at a steep angle upward to join the rest of the missiles falling on the same target as before, the rest of the Pale horsemen fired, aiming carefully past the two assault Mechs that were in front of them.

The second Capellan died, the third stumbled as it was hit by another fifty LRMs, and then a shouted command from Arclight had the Pale Horsemen falling back just as the next two lances of Rangers came into the crossroads.

***

The battle between the fighters and dropships had become a secondary thing, less important than the rapidly closing warship that had crippled two Dropships with extreme range fire already, each turning an undamaged side toward the threat, but then the warship turned, side on, facing the incoming Medusans with its more heavily armoured flanks, and firing with its Naval Autocannon, and Capital Lasers and PPCs.

It’s three squadrons of fighters surged forward to engage the incoming attack, and the warship had carried a pair of assault ships with it, one Kuan Ti, and a Lung Wang, the latter adding a fourth fighter squadron to the fight. Both advanced to engage the incoming fighters.

One Davion Dropship shuddered as its nose armour was crushed, and the structure underneath collapsed, turning hard before it could be hit again, surviving crew in the forward fire control struggling to get out of the wreckage that was all that was left of the high-tech room.

Between the Dropships and the warships, space was filled with fighters, the two Medusans fighter wings and the Davion wing, too small to be targeted by capital weapons, Gryphon wing’s heavy and assault fighters adding what long-range fire they had to the fight against the warship while Hydra wing and the Davion’s medium and light fighters swarmed the four enemy squadrons, pushing forward hard, tying up the warships fighter escorts.

Another Dropship was hit, capital lasers burning vast swaths of its armour away, it turned, drives off, but drifting closer, the brutal and uncompromising reality of Dropships, even pocket warships, fighting a real Warship. Take the loses, get into range, and. . . . .

“FIRE!”

***

“PPC DAMAGED! RUNNING HOT!”

“FALL BACK, SUPPORT FROM LONG RANGE!”

“ARMOUR BREACH!”

“HIT ONE!”

Proud MechWarrior’s, frontier hicks, but some of them fought the clans and won, a bunch of off white painted mercenary Mechs weren’t going to scare them. The Victoria Rangers pushed forward, firing at the mercenaries, who were retreating, round a corner into another road. The Rangers surged forward, chasing the Davion cowards.

Stone staggered, twisting his Mech to take hits on his left side, protecting the massive Gauss cannon where the right-side armour was almost gone, his left arm and leg took the hits, armour failing, red damage lights flashing as the heavy PPC that side suddenly jumped in heat output as he fired it.”

Tigers Marauder was behind Stone, confusing the enemy, or they were just picking on the more obvious target.

Bobcats Mech was falling back, armour torn and melted, his right arm a tangle of smashed armour and damaged structure, twisting to take hits on his failing left side armour, snapping a shot with his amazingly still intact PPC when he could, beside him Dancers Thunderbolt was staggering, but still firing, his armour was shredded but he still had his weapons.

“KEEP FALLING BACK! GET READY!”

Bobcats Cataphract stumbled, fell against a building, recovered, limping now with a melted knee.

The Capellans pushed on, reaching the next corner, where the Davion’s were falling back, and were cut down like wheat as they found the retreating Pale Horsemen not retreating anymore, an Axman and a Victor jumping into the middle of them and platoons of heavy tanks rolling out from the other side of the crossroads catching them in a crossfire.

“FIRE! The Battlearmour had been hiding, waiting, stealth armour and the mass of the buildings keeping the Grenadiers hidden while the Standard suits kept back. Then at the sergeant majors shout they moved, Grenadiers stepping to the windows, Standards firing their jump jets and heading for the roofs overlooking the last Rangers lance.

Thirty-one Grenadiers, one target, a prize of war, but Clan tech doesn’t mean invulnerable, clan Mechs had firepower, they weren’t that much tougher, and a warrior who had fought the clans on their own worlds did his duty to the last as his cockpit burned.

But the other Mechs responded, a jumping Standard suit melted to nothing by a direct hit from a Clan PPC, clan large and heavy lasers sweeping the building front, troopers with wrecked suits falling back, screaming in pain or anger as medical systems dumped painkillers into them, or meds to stop them bleeding to death.

Then a slug from a heavy Gauss arrived and the veterans of the clan wars had a new target, and a second, and a third, as what was left of the Capellan mechs by the crossroads were swarmed by militia tanks and half the Pale Horsemen.

Then Topgun fired her LRMs, and everyone else fired at the same target, Clan Anti-Missile Systems are good, but not that good.

***



Captain Jonah

  • Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 167
Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #194 on: 19 June 2022, 07:01:45 »

Chapter 9


“Having your own transport is very important, it raises your fees, and allows you to leave if the employer doesn’t want you to.”


***

“Resistance here and here, mercenaries and ground armour, Donegal forces have fallen back toward the river with heavy losses, the Hussars are making a last stand here, McCarron’s are engaging them, significant resistance here and here, this location is an extremely strong defence that has crushed two entire companies.”

"Advance these battalions, tell the St Ives to swing south and link up with the two Citizen warrior battalions, full advance, reach the river and we can be firing at the dukes palace.”

“Yes sir, but sir, we still haven’t seen the…”

“Silence, do not spoil my moment of victory with chatter, order them forward, to the dukes palace, I want to walk through the wreckage tonight.”

***

“Orders, swing south.” The message was almost overwhelmed by static, bursts of static from PPC fire, someone on the Davion side firing three PPCs at a time, several someone’s.

“SOUTH, do those idiots…” The St Ives captain fired, autocannon, large lasers, cratering the armour on a heavy tank, and ripping into the building it was scuttling behind after having smashed a huge chunk of armour off another Capellan Mech.”

“Contact headquarters, unable to comply, pinned down by heavy enemy strength.”

“More Tanks! MORE…” Rolling up, line abreast, LRMs falling from the skies, PPCs from the still unseen tanks tucked into an orchard up a hill closer to the river, and the 18th Verlo armoured regiment, one of four regiments of heavy armour in the 6th Syrtis fusiliers, every tank in the regiment that had line of sight to an enemy opened fire.

***

“Orders are to advance, head to the river, burn the duke’s palace.”

“Burn it, I can see it from here, what about the rest, McCarron’s peeled off to the south, the north sounds like a shit show, you hear the cannon fire up there, something really bad is happening up there because that sure as ****** isn’t the St Ives lot firing hundreds of autocannon.”

“Orders are to advance, you want to refuse, with no enemy in sight, with this general.”

“Expendable, right?”

“Yea, alright, advance the battalion, get the other battalion in behind us, be ready to run if it goes to shit, stop at the river. ADVANCE!”

***

“We need to break the stalemate in the air, we’re bleeding fighters, Aerospace are down twenty-six dead or crippled, the jets, they’ve lost nearly fifty.”

“All combat capable Dropships at the spaceport are on alert, yes?”

“Yea, but why?”

“All Dropships, everything that can fight, all transporters, everything, launch them all, flight path to take them through that furball to orbit.”

“THAT’S! Sorry sir, but that’s insane, against so many fighters.”

“We lost the air battle; we need to keep them busy so they can’t interfere on the ground.”

“Yes sir.” You could hear it in the junior officer’s voice, knowing how many of those Dropships were going to die, and the acceptance of why it was needed.

***

Dropships drifting side on, or burning away from the battle with the warship, smashed by the massive fire of its Naval weapons, firing back, their weapons pin pricks against the massive armour, but sting an elephant enough and even it has to flee, Capellan Naval Ship Jhejiang rolled over, one side below half armour, well below half armour, presenting a fresh side to the attackers.

“She’s rolling.”

“I see it, GRYPHON WING. GO!”

Dropships, and fighters, the Medusan speciality, they had two wings of fighters, Harpy who were fast mediums and some smaller heavies, interceptors and skirmishers, and Gryphon wing, three squadrons mostly made up of the heaviest Aerospace they had available, a crushing force with the subtlety of a brick in the face.

Gryphon wing surged forward, rapidly passing the furball where Harpy and the Davion’s fought the remains of the Capellan squadrons and the two Dropships, flying into that window where the weapons on one side of the warship were rolling away, and before the other side batteries arrived, the weapon crews distracted by the movement.

Then they were taking hits from anti fighter weapons and spinning as they flew past the warship, too small to be fired at by the naval cannon and capital energy weapons, and at point blank range firing at the already weakened side of the Capellan Warship.


***

Capellan Citizen Warriors, mercenaries, individuals or small units, given license to work within the confederacy, as long as they worked for the Confederacy or a list of approved employers.

Two battalions, some companies who had fought together for years and reacted together, other units who fought as lances, the entire force lacking co-ordination as they responded as smaller units.

Two entire battalions of 6th Sytris Fusiliers Mechs hit them like a hammer blow.

***

“This is risky.”

“I know that colonel, but if you have any other options, the Capellans are in sight of the river, losses are high, too high, we have nothing left to stop them with.”

“Yes sir, but, we’ve stripped the entire city of mechs, no reserves, nothing covering the rest of the city, we’ve got the ducal guard and the Mechs at the cave and spaceport, that’s it.”

“Tanks and infantry guard the city, without the Fusiliers, we lose.”

“Yes sir.”

***

In space the Warship was surrounded by fire and explosions, insect bites, but coming from both sides. Davion fighters had been destroyed or crippled, but the warship alone didn’t have the firepower to deal with so many tiny targets, and its own fighters were under fire from the Dropships and the fast interceptors of Harpy wing and the Davion attack wing, the armour facing the main fleet was dropping fast, the Dropships now close enough to hit with most weapons, and on the other side, flight after flight diving to attack with Ultra-Heavy cannon, Gauss rifles and massed SRMs, insect bite, big ones.

But it was still firing at the closing Dropships.

***

“Critical damage, we lost the nose, and the forward batteries, multiple breaches.”

“Roll us, continue firing.”

“THERMAL SURGE FROM IT’S ENERGY BATTERIES!”

Capital lasers, the Dropship they had been aiming at was destroyed, so they looked for a new target, an Intruder class Dropship, Ambuscade, just beginning to turn its damaged nose away from the Warship. Both Lasers punched through the destroyed forward armour, striking deep into the ship, destroying everything inside the hull with massive energy discharges.

Captain Isabell Parry and her crew died in an instant.

***

“SIR!”

“What, how dare you? What! That’s insane!”

“Confirmed, twenty-eight dropships, they’re launching into our fighters.”

“Kill them, NOW!”

“Sir, if the fighters engage the Dropships, we still have twenty Davion fighters and sixty or more of those damned jets.”

“Ninety-first squadron reports taking hits from the Dropships.”

“KILL THEM! NOW!”

***

“Cap fighters breaking off, heading for us.”

“Guns fire at will, everyone else, it was good knowing you.”

“FIRING!”

“HERE THEY COME!”

***

“St Ives report they’re falling back.”

“What, why, tell those cowards to keep attacking.”

“Sir, they’re being overrun, that’s an entire regiment of Sixth Fusiliers heavy tanks, they’re less than two companies left.”

“SIR!” The general turned his glare on the next tech that dared to shout at him, then he saw the smear of Davion Blue on the holo display, and the number of green icons going out as two battalions of Citizen warriors were ‘Expended’ on the guns of the 6th Fusiliers.

“What, what, how, we are winning, we. . . . . How?”

“General, we fall back now, we can save most of the line regiments, or what’s left of them. If we don’t, those citizen warriors are dead already, but both McCarron’s regiments are in there, once the cannon fodder are dead, look, there and over there, that’s the entire sixth Syrtis Fusiliers, fresh, undamaged.”

“What, I don’t, how.”

“SIR?”

“DO IT!” The civilian adviser normally spoke quietly, words for the person they were talking to, muttered suggestions. But when it came to it, they could shout.

“Fall back, fighting retreat, all units, order McCarron’s to link up and fall back, all Aerospace to fall back and cover the retreat. Victoria rangers and St Ives to withdraw at best speed, pull back the flanking armour, they’re doing nothing useful, and we may need them to cover the withdraw. Any other ‘Orders’ General?”

The general shook his head no, staring across the command centre, eyes fixed on the look, plain to see, the look on the face of the Chancellors agent, the civilian here to provide political ‘Advice’. And other things.

***

“ENERGY SURGE! BREAK CLEAR!”

The last attack, four heavy fighters, the other two crippled and withdrawing, they had come in, a tight formation, hitting with a dozen heavy weapons and dozens of short and long range missiles, then turning to thrust on a new heading as they watched air turn to ice as it sprayed out of the Destroyers side.

They had done it, enough insect bites and even the might warships armour fails.

Then it’s jump drive was flaring and everyone turned away before it vanished in a ball of blue-white lightening, to reappear back where it had started, the trailing LaGrange point with the rest of the Capellan fleet.

***

“We still alive?”

“Yea, all Cap fighters are running for it, we took a few hits, but they’re running.”

“Thank ****** for that, navigation, once we hit orbit I want a course back down to the space port, I’d rather not sit in space with a hundred Capellan fighters around.”

“Not that many left captain.”

“Not here, but they’re retreating from the attack on the Shipyard as well, and that lot will be coming this way.”

“Yes sir.”

***

What was left of the Victoria Rangers fell back when ordered, the surviving St Ives forces were already running, both McCarron’s regiments stopped listening to orders from the HQ, moved toward each other then slowly withdrew, recovering as many ejected pilots as they could.

Capellan ground armour and Battlearmour infantry started to appear behind them to cover the withdrawal, and the stealthy infantry, to disrupt Davion units trying to recover pilots.

But they fell back quickly as the 22nd Syrtis Mountaineers leading the Fusiliers mechanised forces arrived, the entire regiment in Battlearmour, and as Colonel Pough had explained a while ago, the sort of people who do very well in a chaotic fight.

***

General Isaac Temberil. An oddity, an infantryman who had risen to almost the top of the Capellan March military, the sort of rank normally held by those with better connections, or higher profiles, like MechWarrior’s.

But here he was, looking at the huge wall filling display of the city. Sectors one and two, half empty, up on the ice line, three, four, five, six, the heart of the city, odd numbers west of the river, even numbers east.

Then the mid sectors, housing, light industrial, larger, but longer, spreading from the north around the city heart, down to the river, sectors seven, eight, and nine to the west, ten, and eleven which was mostly the spaceport to the east

And then the suburbs, cheap housing units, empty industrial units to the north, long and thin, reaching around the main city, twelve, thirteen and fourteen to the west, down to the river, then to the east fifteen sixteen and finally seventeen up against the snow line.

Flashing lights, icons, entire blocks in flames, what was left of the defending units as they moved or stood where the battle had ended, solid blocks of blue where the regiments of the 6th Fusiliers had moved up, and the rash of green, the retreating Capellans.

All to the west of the river. East was nothing but a handful of lance sized units, the Capellans could march a band into the city from the east, but they didn’t know that, or so the general hoped.

“Damage reports?”

“Pardon my French sir, but ****** awful. We’re still getting data, it’ll be hours before we have anything solid, probably tomorrow. It’s a mess out there.”

“But it’s our mess, our city.”

“Yes sir. Capellan space forces at the leading LaGrange point, the shipyard, they’re running for it, they took some heavy losses and the Squadrons we launched to help them are arriving, engaging the fleeing Caps, the Warship’s back at the trailing LaGrange point, Shipyard reports undamaged.
Defending forces took a lot of damage sir, losses, and the Medusans took a lot of the Warship’s fire.”

“Damage reports as and when. Tell General Dourin he’s defending the city right now, lances to support armoured battalions. Push back in but hold at the inner edge of the Suburbs.”

“Yes sir. I’ll have the damage estimates for you as they come in.”

***

“What’s the damage report?”

“Bad, not critical, but bad. Bobcats wounded, concussion and bruising from where his Mech fell, dizzy. A couple of the others are also wounded, including me.”

“You, what happened, is it bad?”

Stone missed the urgency in Arclight’s voice. “Spalling, from the cockpit, the liner stopped most of it, but I’ve got bits of window in my legs, and my trousers are ruined.”

Arclight laughed, relieved, and a touch of something else.

“What about the Mechs?”

“Breaches, pulling people back as they became vulnerable saved us a lot of damage, but we’ve still got a couple of people with engine damage, heatsinks blown, weapons destroyed, Tiger didn’t lose her left arm so there’s that.”

“It doesn’t happen that often, or does it?”

“Anyway, we’re looking at a lot of down time, and a lot of repairing and replacing.”

“Sergeant Major, report please, you took casualties there.”

“Yes Ma’am. Bastard clan weapons, killing us long after we stopped fighting them, four dead, medics have cold packs on two of them, the other two, nothing left, clan energy weapons just vaporised them, another sixteen wounded, a couple who are critical. And Ma’am, these buildings, they weren’t fully evacuated, we’re finding a few survivors, and a lot of civilians who didn’t.”

“Shit, SHIT! I thought, they’d cleared the civilians out.”

“Yes Ma’am, that’s what I’d heard. Seems they missed a lot.”

“******, alright, do you need any medics or help?”

“Already called in the landers, no point calling for ground ambulances, not in this mess.” The sergeant major was six floors up, looking out through what had once been a well-insulated wall, and now was just a vast open area and a drop to the ground, rubble and wreckage in every direction.

“If you need any help, call one of the MechWarrior’s, for lifting rubble, if that’s what you need.”

“Yes Ma’am. “

“Rumble, you down there somewhere?”

“I’m here. You need something, always here for moral support, and hugs.”

“Damage report?”

“What, am I reporting to you now?”

“Yes, damage report?”

“Six tanks out of action, four are just lost tracks, three more destroyed and burning, five dead, we drill fast evacuation of our armour, most of the crews are light wounds. One of the Battlearmour medics is treating my people now and there’s a planetary guard mixed battalion to the south, they said they’re moving to the outskirts to form a new defence line, I’ll be taking my survivors with them, and my LRM carriers, at least till someone gives me orders.”

“Alright, I’ll get Stone to fix your tanks when he has a chance.”

“Thank you, lovely lady, there’s been a lot of death and destruction today.

“On the bright side, we held the city, drove off the Capellans, and there’s a lot of salvage.”

Rumble laughed, “Mercenary!”

“Yep.”

***

The camera panned across the battlefield, several damaged buildings, a dozen fallen Capellan Mechs, several still burning, three downed Davion Mechs from the Forth Donegal, and standing guard, the old bone colour almost hiding them against the smoke and falling ash, a handful of heavy and assault Mechs sporting a lot of armour damage. And one reporter, clean, freshly pressed clothing, spotless body armour and perfect hair.

“Here we are, Saso city, the Capellan attack was beaten back, the Capellan survivors certainly learned not to attack this city, there were losses, as you can see several of the fourth Donegal Mechs were damaged or destroyed, but the Capellan wrecks fill the streets, and you can see the fires and destruction the Capellans inflicted on the apartment buildings on both sides.

But the Confederacy paid dearly for attacking our civilians here, and they’ll continue to pay as long as our brave MechWarrior’s are on guard. This is Carson Tucha for the Federated News Network reporting here on Saso as the Capellan attack is driven off by our Heroic Davion forces.”

***

“He have any idea who we are?”

“Doubt it Sarge, and I doubt he cares. Media lies for the masses.”

“You always this cynical lass.”

“Twelve years in the militia, yea.”

Sarge laughed, Hammer joined him, the reporter fled back to his APC where the sound person and his makeup man were waiting.

***

Recovering the wounded, and the dead, making sure the city was secure, watching what was left of the Capellans retreat, it was long past dark before things began to quieten down and exhausted men and women found somewhere to sleep, while the ground armour units who had missed the fighting held the line.

***

“Any chance of salvaging anything?”

“No, not a chance. We can pull off some of the armour, maybe get some spares from the drives, but she’s ruined inside.”

“The crew?”

“Not a chance Admiral, there’s no way we’re going to find any biological traces, they’ll be going home in spirit, ceremonial urns.”

“Good people.”

“Yes sir, our losses, the damage, there’s no way we can fight right now, or for months.”

“Get me a full report, if the Shipyard can’t fix our damage, I’ll withdraw the Medusans and repair somewhere outside of the Capellans reach.”

“Yes sir, maybe we can get a few of those pocket warships we were promised.”

“Maybe, we’ll see, Carry on captain.”

“Yes sir.”

***

“This is the wrong report. You sent me the wrong report.” The Leftenant was tired, everyone was tired, and it was still before midnight.

“What, no, Third Ceti Hussars.” The tech glanced at his screens to double check.

“Yes, but this is for one battalion isn’t it, this is the survivors from one battalion?”

“No, that’s what’s left of the entire regiment.”

“Madre de Dios!”

***

“Captain Stone, message from the Cave, status report on the unit requested, ASAP.”

“They can have it when I’ve done it. Tell them I’m working on it.”

“Yes sir, and a message for Arclight, the Rangers agreed, and she can collect the prisoner in the afternoon. Whatever that means.”

“I tell her, thanks.”

“Yes sir.” The tech left, and Stone turned back to the line of Pale Horsemen Mechs outside the warehouse, they’d been walked here after the fighting, like everyone else he was tired, but he was checking the damage anyway.

***

“Mother of God!” The two aerospace engineers stopped as they walked out of the crew lift, facing the main hanger of the 17th (New Syrtis) Air Defence Wing. The air stank of jet fuel, that was normal, but it also stank of burnt plastic and metal, enough to make you gag as you walked into it for the first time.

The hanger was the central workshop area, the jets themselves moved to smaller squadron areas in heated weatherproof shelters spread around the airbase for launch, every jet the wing had was here, three squadrons of fast-moving air breathing jets, smaller and much lighter armoured than Aerospace fighters, but far cheaper and able to carry a couple of weapons.

The full wing was present, three entire squadrons, they had started the day with 18 birds.

There were five of them left.

***

« Last Edit: 19 June 2022, 07:03:47 by Captain Jonah »

Captain Jonah

  • Sergeant
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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #195 on: 28 June 2022, 11:19:29 »

Chapter 10

“Advanced tech isn’t useful if you can’t handle the extra heat.”

***

“Dead, bled out overnight by the look.” The tech was old, thin in a way that said unwell rather than fit, his standard issue militia clothing baggy around him.

“Grab the dog tags and log the position, we’ve got five more to check in this street alone.” A regular soldier, here as a guard and from the main militia garrison, unlike the tech who had been all but conscripted.

“Yea, shit, didn’t the emergency pukes even try to rescue him?”

“Capellan pilot. They were too busy trying to save our own.”

“Alright, fusion reactor safeties are good, reactors powered down, live ammo in the magazines but no fires. This one’s safe, where next?”

“Warhammer, sixty meters down.”

“Right, let me, done, warning flag set, let’s hope the kids read it and stay away.”

“What kids, this area was evacuated.”

The old man climbed out of the cockpit and dropped to the rubble strewn ground, then pointed, a dozen faces, dirty, wide eyed, looking down from the shattered remains of a line of windows two floors up.

“******, they said this area was evacuated.”

“Yea, and someone told me we had six Mech regiments guarding the city so I shouldn’t worry, and here I am, ten blocks from where I live, doing safety checks on downed enemy Mechs.”

The younger man snorted, then both picked up tool kits and backpacks and walked down the street to the torso of a Warhammer, PPCs jutting toward the cloud filled sky overhead. Behind them Battlearmour the colour of old bone walked along the street, escorting the Pale Horsemen salvage crew.

***

“Going to snow.”

“Maybe?”

“What do you mean maybe, look up, it’s going to snow, mid-afternoon for sure.”

“Sure it is, Saso city, snow. Hey, was there anything about salvage teams working this area?”

“No.” The bulldozer stopped, and the driver climbed out of the cab to stand on the track guard, his spotter was already there, holding onto the welded hand grips while he guided the big, tracked monster through the rubble and wreckage filled streets as it cleared a route for the clean-up teams that were hours behind it.

Ahead of them a dozen figures in mixed civilian clothing stopped what they were doing and looked at the dozer, a small, wheeled flatbed behind them already loaded with a strapped down pulse laser.

The laser rifle shot made no sound. The drivers head bursting like a melon hit by a hammer; that made a sound. The spotter turned to run and took his hit in the chest.

***

“OI. WHAT THE ****** DO YOU LOT THINK YOU’RE DOING?”

The tech was in the uniform of the CMM, the Capellan March Militia, the squad of infantry armed with assault rifles behind him wore the same uniform but with the New Syrtis Militia tags.

“WHAT THE ****** DOES IT LOOK LIKE WE’RE DOING!” Sy was standing on the back of a fallen Mech, watching as two of his Astechs, assistant techs, locked down the lift cables to the crane that was parked next to the wreck.

“LOOKS LIKE LOOTING. SURRENDER NOW OR GET SHOT!”

“Seriously, HEY SHIT FOR BRAINS, LOOK LEFT!”

The tech did that, looking for something, rubble, the collapsed front of the building, another Capellan wreck, the pair of old bone coloured Battlearmour suits, more rubble. The tech’s head snapped back to what he had just looked past a second before.”

“PALE HORSEMEN. Tell your Major she’ll get her ****** mechs, no need to come round here harassing us.”

“WHAT? What, you’re, you aren’t militia. You’ve got no right to be here.”

“Got more right than you do sunshine, Stone said to clean up the whole area, get the 4th Donegal Mechs over to their base, then sort out the fallen Capellan ones. We’ve already pulled out the militia tanks, the repairable ones anyway.

The corpse recovery lot flagged a couple of the dead MechWarrior’s, and some of the obvious dead civilians, we sorted the rest, all the dog tags, and all the bodies bags are over by the coffee shop on the corner. Now, was there anything else or can I get back to work?”

“I gotta call this in.”

“Fine, just stop bothering me. Oh, and while you’re calling it in, tell them about the people who were here when we arrived, trying to strip the clan Mech, they took one look at our Battlearmour and ran for it, seven men in civilian clothing, and two in urban camo with rifles.”

“Yea, right.”

The militia withdrew a little while the tech talked on his radio, then they went across to the coffee shop and took the dog tags from the body bags there.

***

“Stone!”

“Headshot, how can I help you today.”

“Robbing the dead, that’s a new low even for you.”

“I’m not,” Stone sighed, “you want a fight or do you want the militia tanks and a couple of lances of Mechs repaired and delivered to you.”

“Of course I want... What?”

“I’m busy, I don’t have a single Mech that is fully combat ready, I’ve got wounded, some infantry dead, and I’ve got a lot of important things to do. So shut up and listen, my people are salvaging the place we fought, yes, any dead are listed, in body bags and ready for collection, same with the dead civilians, there’s a lot of them by the way.

Fourth Donegal Mechs will be returned to their repair facility, your tanks will be delivered to your garrison once they’re working, and the Mechs from the fighting, the Cap ones, two lances, mediums with some low-end heavies, I’ll fix them up and get them to you after I’ve done my own repairs and fixed up that company of Mechs I’m already repairing for you.

After that I’m taking a few choice items for myself.” Stone’s voice sounded as tired as his face looked, he hadn’t been able to drink himself to sleep last night.

“If you have a problem with that, I don’t care.” He cut the video link.

***

“Shit, he looked like shit.”

“Yea, tired, angry, in pain. Tell the patrol to leave the Pale Horsemen there and move on, see if they can find why the road clearing team with the bulldozer isn’t reporting in.”

“Yes sir, and the mention of the civilian scavengers, armed ones?”

“Tell the patrols to keep an eye out, and let the civil security people know, civilians trying to scavenge the battlefield, looters, that’s a job for the police.”

“Will do.”

***

The man wore the uniform of a Capellan MechWarrior, or at least what they wore in the cockpit, someone had given him a quilted jumpsuit for warmth, he turned as the door hissed open, wincing as his right arm in a sling bumped the table.

“Who are you?”

“Arclight, Pale Horsemen.”

“Ah, you asked us to surrender.”

“And you were somewhat overconfident. Have you been told?”

“About the conditions, yes, but why, I am an enemy?”

“Yes, but you also took the war to the Clans on their own worlds, forced them back and saved the inner sphere. That counts for a lot in my book. So, do you agree?”

“My regiment agreed?”

“Yes they did.”

“Then I agree, I thank you for your honour.”

“Repaying a debt we all owe you and the others. Theres a guard outside, he’ll take you to a vehicle, there’s a Capellan hover APC sitting at the edge of the city, that will take you back to your side.”

“And a trip back to the confederacy, where under the terms of my release I may never leave again. Fighting only to defend Capellan worlds inside the Confederacy.”

“Is that a problem?”

The man stood, then sighed, “no, it is not a problem. Farewell Arclight, I hope we never meet again, because if we do it would mean that the Davion’s are once again invading my home.”

“Goodbye.” Arclight nodded as a Federated Suns light infantryman pushed the door open and waved the man out, a veteran of Operation Serpent going home where he was honour bound to never leave again.

***

With Sunset and the cold of night the bar had begun to fill up, with all the fighting across the city the previous day it was quickly packed, citizens seeking some solace in drink and company, even that of strangers.

The two men in the booth had been coming in for several weeks now, this was their third weekly meeting, both older men, but the short hair, the level of physical fitness, the way they almost marched all the time. Soldiers.

On leave, taking a break from the war, no one could blame them for wanting a drink. They arrived separately, sat and talked over a few drinks, then left separately, just friends meeting for an hour.

The younger man had a noticeable upper class New Avalon accent, the older man’s voice had the distinct tone of native German speaker, Lyran.
For three weeks they had met, always in the same booth that was reserved for them by the younger man, paid in cash. They talked, then left, each time the older man seemed upset when they parted, and each time he was a little bit angrier.

***
 
“My lord, general, the provisional figures, it’s taken twenty-four hours, and they may change as we dig into the area, under the rubble and so on.”

“Go ahead.”

“Yes sir. Third Ceti Hussars, current strength seventeen Mechs, eleven of them will be combat capable after armour repairs. The rest are all major repair jobs. They currently have fourteen combat ready pilots, twenty-seven wounded pilots, they were understrength to begin with.”

“Their support forces?”

“Currently, with the units they were given to reinforce them here, one slightly over strength armour regiment, five companies of infantry, they’re at fifty percent for techs and support staff.”

“Fourteen pilots, even if we repair their Mechs! Post them as non-combat, transfer the ground forces and support staff to whoever needs them. The survivors can support the Militia for the present.”

“Yes sir, Fourth Donegal, they had a full battalion guarding Johnson industries, a full battalion in the city and a company’s worth of Mechs undergoing repairs after the first fighting. They currently have, a battalion of Mechs guarding Johnson Industries.”

“No combat capable Mechs in the city, none?”

“No general, with repairs and recovered Mechs we can get them a pair of companies by late next week, and up to a battalion the week after that, but they’ve got seventeen ready pilots in the city, and thirty-one wounded.”

“With a full battalion they’re still combat worthy, leave them on the list, get them repaired as is, we can deploy them as a battalion once they repair that far.”

“Yes sir. Sixth Fusiliers, eleven Mechs down, seven repairing now, otherwise mostly medium to heavy armour damage, some wounded pilots but not enough to affect them, support regiments lost twenty-three tanks, fourteen repairable…”

“Transfer units from the Hussars to make up the losses.”

“Yes sir, Aerospace wise they lost nine fighters, the rest will be repaired and ready in four days. Pilots, they have enough to maintain current strength.”

“Given losses to the garrison Aerospace force they can manage.”

“Yes my Lord, losses among the smaller commands, the mercenaries and the militia, after the raids ended yesterday the militia recalled their forces back to the city, they currently have five lances and four more lances under repairs, that’s it.”

“Not even a battalion, what about the ground units?”

“Minimal losses, militia ground armour was covering the rest of the city while the Mechs fought it out, they lost less than a battalion, many repairable, current strength is five regiments of militia ground forces, and eight of the planetary guard.”

“Good, given that’s what’s holding the city. The mercenaries?”

“Yes sir, those units with Dropships have been responding to raids, generally light damage, seven companies with their own ships, all around or above eighty percent effective strength. The rest, two regiments worth, we were throwing them into the fighting yesterday to fill gaps, we’ve got two lances and one company reporting combat ready, thirteen companies worth down for repairs and with wounded, two companies and five lances destroyed or fallen apart.

We’ve been talking to the MechWarrior’s from the shattered units, offering them repairs in return for supporting the Militia, about half have agreed.”

“So, our total Mech strength in the city, combat ready, is the Sixth, and what, a bit over a regiment of everything else.”

“About that sir, ground forces we have a significant number, but Mechs, the count for yesterday’s fighting, between our losses and the Capellans, three hundred and twenty-five Mechs disabled or destroyed, slightly more of ours than the Caps, but they’ve losing heavily from the raids.”

“Damn, what’s the Capellan strength estimates?”

***

“Colonels. Please sit.”

Colonel Parks in the uniform of the First McCarron’s, Colonel Bodez of the Second McCarron’s, Colonel McCallister of the First St Ives, each with a handful of their senior staff sat themselves around the room.

“Sirs, the damage report for yesterday’s action.”

Colonel Parks looked around the room, noting the absence of a few people, the chancellor’s observer for one, and another person.

“Where’s the general?”

The rest of the new arrivals looked around.

“Sorry colonel, he’s currently, indisposed.”

“Oh, something more important that trying to clean up this mess?”

“I’m sorry colonel, all I know is he’s not available.”

“Right, never mind, damage report?” Parks glared at the officer

“Yes sir, losses yesterday were somewhat higher than anticipated, above the calculated results in every area which…”

“Young man!”

“Yes colonel McCallister?”

“I fly fighters for a living, we deal in short, detailed reports and minimum bullshit, the generals not here, so drop the crap and give us the details, just the details.”

The captain of Mechs with the red flashes of headquarters staff gulped and glanced around.

“I’ll. Yes sir. Compiled Mech losses in the city one hundred and sixty-one, Mechs that made it back but that require major repairs one hundred and six, we’re…”

“SHIT, we’re down two hundred and sixty-seven Mechs, I knew First McCarron’s losses and damage looked bad, but, Christo.”

“Yes sir. Victoria Rangers lost a total of twenty-seven in the city and a number needing significant repairs, First McCarron’s lost nineteen, Third McCarron’s lost twenty-five, St Ives lost…”

“Far too many, we were rolled by entire regiments of heavy tanks!”

“Yes sir, as I was saying, St Ives lost forty-two.”

“Damn.” The St Ives colonel shot a glare at the First McCarron’s colonel who had spoken, then turned back to the briefing officer.

“The worst losses were the Citizen Warrior Battalions, they were ordered to go through the breach in the defences created by McCarron’s, and then ordered to reach the river and bring the ducal palace under attack, the two battalions had been bought to full strength with Mechs from other shattered units, two companies made it out after they ran headlong into most of the sixth Fusiliers.

“******, two companies, they lost four full companies in that cluster ******?”

“Yes sir, four companies lost, they got out with twenty-five Mechs, of which three are combat capable right now.”

“THREE!”

 “Expendable, that’s what the general calls them.”

“Pretty ****** expended right now.”

“What’s our remaining strength, if the Davion’s decide to come out and fight?”

“Unlikely sir, we’ve been going over their losses, they effectively have the Fusiliers and a few companies of mercenaries, a significant strength of ground armour, but if they come out into the countryside with them. . . . .”

“They’ll hold the city, it’s all that matters, that and Johnson Industries. So, our strength?”

“Yes sir. Second McCarron’s is at ninety percent strength, First is at sixty two percent strength, Third is at thirty eight percent. That’s Mechs, supporting regiments are all at ninety percent plus. Second St Ives is at forty nine percent, First St Ives at eighty two percent. Victoria Rangers are at forty two percent, the Prefectorate Guard are at seventy eight percent.

The Citizens Warrior formations, current strength is twenty one percent.”

A few gasps and sounds of shock.

“Twenty one percent, that halfwit wiped out eighty percent of two regiments.”

“Er, the general, that is, yes sir, eighty percent losses.”

“Right, so, we’re ****** then.”

“What about Aerospace losses.” Colonel McCallister tapped his Aerospace pilot wings.

“Yes sir, current strength, after consolidating fighters to make up full squadrons we have a total of eighteen squadrons but…”

“Eighteen, we had more than thirty last time I looked.”

“Initial strength between the three task forces plus the escort detachments from the supply convoy that came in with the third task force, and the warships, our maximum number was forty-four squadrons.”

“And we’ve got eighteen left?” McCallister wasn’t letting up.

“Yes sir, though we will have more after those with major repairs, but those with armour damage are still to be dealt with so...”

“Armour repairs, exactly how many combat ready squadrons do we have, right now?”

“Yes sir, combat ready, not counting those with only armour damage, that is, seven sir.”

“And the Dropship losses, and the reason why the Warship disengaged suddenly, which no one is talking about?”

“Dropship losses were, high. The attack involved seventeen Combat and assault Dropships, Davion loses were high, they lost nine in total including…”

“Our losses?”

“Sorry sir, our loses, ten dropships, the fighter losses were calculated in the numbers I gave already, the Davion’s sent ten squadrons of Aerospace to support the shipyard, they hit our survivors on the way back.”

“And the Warship?”

“It inflicted heavy damage on the mercenary unit the Medusans, they lost…”

“I understand that this headquarters is used to working for that worthless sack of shit General of yours, and that it’s clear you’ve been trained to spoon feed him with numbers that aren’t going to upset him, BUT!” McCallister slammed both fists on the table causing the holo field to jump. “HE ISN’T HERE!”

“Sir, I’m, it’s just, I…”

A naval lieutenant commander across the room interrupted. “The Zhejiang suffered seventy three percent loss of armour on her port side, and was breached on her starboard side, three decks, multiple compartments open to space and two batteries of weapons destroyed or damaged beyond local repair.”

“Breached, can we repair her?”

“No sir, repairs to the Warship and damaged Dropships are far beyond our local capabilities, and since we can’t send them home, we’ve…”

“WHY, why not?”

“She’s too vulnerable to attack, fighters would swarm her and destroy her, firing into the breaches and straight into her structure.”

“And she would be vulnerable because?”

“We don’t have the forces to escort her, unless we sent the Cruiser and its remaining fighters, and most of our carrier force. Davion fast raider forces are operating between us and the Confederacy, hitting the Davion jump points we would need to use to jump home. We still have numerous units on the ground on worlds we have captured or are still raiding, but they’re becoming isolated, as it stands, we can’t even send our supply convoy back for replacements, the general used half of the convoys escort fighters for his attack.”

The colonels exchanged looks.

“How long till we can send the convoy, stores, munitions, replacement Mechs are critical?”

“Just the convoy, ten days to get enough fighters for it, and given we lost several carriers during the attack…”

“HE, that idiot sent carriers to attack the shipyard?”

“The general sent in several of our carriers, along with Mech and ground unit transports and most of our assault ships. To repair enough fighters for the full escort force, bearing in mind we’ll need to reinforce them with two of our remaining assault ships, ten days.”

“And the Warship, can we send it out at the same time, get it repaired?”

“Current it’s not jump capable, the ships chief engineer is making inspections, but they suffered considerable internal damage, and the crash jump to safety, they say three to five weeks before they can jump again, maybe.”

“Exactly how long is the idiot going to be ‘Indisposed’?”

“Unknown sir, but for the immediate future.”

“Right then, we three, the senior colonels here, yes?”

Nods all around.

“Then until someone says otherwise, we’re now running this shit show.” Colonel Parks looked at the others present.

No one argued.

***



Captain Jonah

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #196 on: 03 July 2022, 15:12:57 »

Chapter 11

“If your weapons are leaving scorch marks, you’re on the wrong battlefield.”

***

“Looking for Andre, and stop this with the darkness, I’m not impressed.”

“No one here by that name.” The voice came out of the darkness, high up, a moderate Russian accent.

“Back to Russian now are we, tell him Boon wants a word, and turn the lights on, or can’t you afford the electricity bill?”

There was some muttering, then, “Boon, I am busy man, what do you want?”

“New warehouse I see, the last one was nicer, at least the lights worked, I want to ask you a few questions, about someone in the city who has upset the wrong people.”

“So, not me then?”

“A few people think it’s you, I don’t, unless you’ve started murdering people to cover up your looting.”

“What! Looting, me, never, I am honest dealer in salvage and scrap.”

“Not enough money in the wine business?”

“Who can import wine these days.”

“So.” Boon was looking around, peering into the darkness, holding the door open so he had light. “It’s not you doing the looting then, not your people picking through the battlefields and disturbing the dead?”

“Never, disturb the dead, their ghosts follow you, I never disrespect a body.”

“Mind if I take a look at what’s under the tarp to the side there, if you aren’t looting the downed Mechs?”

Someone in the darkness cocked a rifle.

“That’s what I thought. So, people looting the battlefields, a small team, ten or so, a couple in urban camo with laser rifles, killing anyone who sees them. The higher ups know there’s looting going on, it certainly would be useful to catch, or better yet kill them, especially with them murdering people.”

“Nothing to do with me?”

“Oh, I’m sure, but were an honest citizen to, say, be able to identify these criminals, with them dealt with the authorities would relax a little and let the police and security services get back to dealing with Capellan infiltrators and spies, rather than worrying about some minor looting. Of course, if the gang of looters who have been killing people aren’t found, well, the powers that be are pushing for a result, any result.

So, another group of, let’s call them salvagers, who haven’t killed anyone, but who can be linked to the looting. Well, it would be easy to bring them in and offer them to the politicians as proof law enforcement had dealt with the problem, I’m sure the politicians would move on to another problem and forget about the looting.

This can be resolved quickly, or properly. But to do it properly, that requires the help of the honest citizens of this city.”

“Ah, sadly, cannot help you.”

“Oh well, you’ve got my number, I’m sure.” Boon turned to the open door, “And fix your lights, it can’t be good for your eyes working in the dark.” Then he stepped outside, and the door closed.

“What was that about boss?”

“That, that was the small and very scary part of this worlds law enforcement that I’m actually afraid of. You heard what he said, small teams, snipers covering them, killing witnesses?”

“Yea. You think it’s them?”

“Of course, it’s them, ****** Triads, feeling bold with an army outside. Shake every tree, everyone we know, we need to find them and kill them.”

“We can’t go up against the Triads, not if they’re here in force.”

“We aren’t! Capellan criminal organisations, certain to be spies for the Confed forces, no one wants the Caps in charge, the first thing the Triads would do is give us all an early Christmas present, in the back of the head. Get everyone asking questions.”

“Right boss, and the stuff under the tarp, and out back?”

“Get it to Stone, and tell tonight’s team to pack heavy.”

***

“Yo, boss, got some problems over here, this piece of shit buckled on hitting the ground, we either cut the structure out to free up the cannon, or take the whole torso, it’s not repairable but the Ultra AC is good.”

The tech pulled her head and shoulders out of the hole in what was left of the right torso of the wreck.

“Boss? BOSS?”

The shot that killed her was suppressed, and the falling snow meant the sound wasn’t heard beyond that end of the street.

***

“Seeing some movement on long range sensors.”

The leftenant walked across the room from where he’d been talking to one of the other techs. “What and where?”

“Sector twelve, thermals but the snows making it hard, we pulled back to the edge of the city proper, the apartment buildings and industrial estate of sector seven so we’ve got no direct line of sight, but I’m seeing several somethings moving, here.”

The tech pointed to the holo display, where five icons marked possible contacts, the thermals just faint blurs of red and orange.

“That’s right at the outer edge, where the fighting was last time.”

“Lot of wrecks still there, we couldn’t get them because the Caps kept patrolling, and our patrols stopped them salvaging.”

“Yea, we aren’t patrolling out there now. Wasn’t there a report somewhere, estimate of recoverable Mechs on that battlefield somewhere?”

“Yea, fifty recoverable Mechs, ours and theirs combined. A lot less than we’ve got littering the mid sectors though.”

“Shit! Fifty Mechs! Well, it looks like the Caps have them now, no way are we pushing a patrol that far out from our lines.”

“We could always drop a few rounds on them, the Toms are in range.”

“Long Tom super heavy artillery. Good thinking, send them a fire mission, drop a couple of rounds right about, here.” The leftenant pointed in the middle of the cluster of heat blooms.

***

A hand held camera, slightly shaky, Capellan Mechs, hastily repaired combat damage, several vehicles, a crane, Capellan techs and infantry working to strip fallen Davion Mechs, in the distance black smoke still rising from the city.

“As you see, our brave soldiers and technicians recover our own minor losses and the many defeated Davion Mechs, while our own MechWarrior’s stand guard. Our forces crushed the Davion’s here, drove them back into the city and inflicted heavy losses before needing to reload their weapons, you can still see the fires burning in the distance.

With the Chancellor himself back on the throne our warriors have been inspired to crush Davion’s Dogs here on the murderous duke Hasek’s own world. Victory is inevitable.

This is Yancy Shun for the Voice of the Confederacy News reporting from…”

The first explosion was some distance off but the camera vibrated enough to blur the picture, then it was wildly shaking as the reporter ran for it, explosions chasing him as he ran.

***

“Captain Stone, the Cave are chasing our damage reports and there’s someone from somewhere called security analysis wants to talk to you.”

Stone signed, stood up then groaned and bent his back to ease the ball of pain that had erupted in his lower spine. “Shit. Right, don’t risk the damaged joint, pull it, cut away the structure here and here and rebuild, use a replacement joint for the elbow, we’ve got some salvaged ones that are in good condition.

I don’t want to risk having a rocking elbow joint throwing off the arm mounted weapons, that PPC’s heavy enough to pull against a joint that isn’t grade A.”

“Yes sir.”

“Unit status report. We’ve got three fully repaired and combat ready Mechs, seven ready pilots. We’ll be a full lance by the day after tomorrow, and full strength in eight days. The sergeant major says he consolidated to two grenadier platoons of three squads each, and two full platoons of Standards, Aerospace is four ready fighters, two under repair which will be three days.

If they want more detailed than that they can pay me for my time, and I’ll write them a detailed evaluation. And if someone else wants to talk to me they can come here, I’m busy.”

“Yes captain.”

“CAPTAIN!”

“Yes?”

“Message from the salvage team in the city.”

***

“HEY! YOU BRAINDEAD OR SOMETHING?”

The response was a finger from the bulldozer driver, so the driver of the leading low loader stuck his head out into the cold and shouted again.

“YOU BLOCKED THE ROAD MORON! HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO GET BY?”

The dozer driver ignored the second shout and went back to pushing rubble, chunks of concrete and some structural beams away from the downed Mech and into the middle of the clear area down the street.

It looked like the Mech had taken a lot of hits, then crashed into the building, partially collapsing it, the rubble falling onto the street and around the Mechs legs. Then one of the street clearing teams had swept the rubble out of the middle of the street, which blocked the Mech wreckage behind piled debris.

The recovery team were freeing the Mech, by pushing the rubble back into the middle of the street.

“HEY! I’M TALKING TO YOU!”

“Problem?”

The driver jumped in his seat then glanced down, he hadn’t seen the infantry sergeant arrive.

“Yea, that ******. He blocked the road.”

“So I see, but we need to recover these Mechs, there’s a war on.”

“Oh really.” Sarcasm, lots of sarcasm in the low loader drivers response. “See that, fifty-ton Mech on my flatbed, being recovered for someone or other, how am I supposed to get it downtown with you blocking the road.” He peered at the soldier’s jacket, “Sergeant Kapatnic, 3rd Ceti Hussars, how do I get my load downtown?”

“Back up to the junction, turn around there, west not east, that side streets blocked, then head up to the main road and go toward the river.”

“The R three, that’s almost a kay away, you mean radial three, right?”

“The main road from the river out to the suburbs.”

“Shit! Why didn’t you call it the radial, you not from round here, don’t answer, I don’t care, you want me to turn around and go the long way, seriously?”

The 3rd Ceti Hussars soldier nodded.

“SHIT!”

***

“Right, that one’s loaded, four intact ones left and we’re stripping the wrecks.”

“SY, there’s a low loader trying to get in here.”

“WHAT? Tell the ****** idiot to turn around or something, we’re trying to load a seventy tonner here and the cranes in the road.”

“Right. . . . . Hey Sy, he says he got turned around already, some recovery team from the third Hussars have the road blocked down south of here.”

What, shit, that’s where we’re going. SHIT! Organised ****** chaos. Let me think, ask the troopers to send a team to secure the roundabout up where this street meets the R three, just about enough room for a Leopard to land there, then ask Stone if he can send one of the Leopards, set a waypoint at the roundabout.”

“Will do.”

***

The 3rd Ceti Hussars sergeant had watched the low loader back up, make a five point turn and head north then he walked back to the rest of his squad.

“Well handled, now put your coat on.”

“Sir, it’s too small, I can’t move my arms.”

“And if you had turned where the driver could see you, how would you have explained the hole in the back of your jacket, or the blood stain?”

“I. Yes sir.”

“Good, once we have the second Mech loaded we’ll escort it to the regimental barracks.”

“Yes sir.” The ‘sergeant’ sounded happy about that last bit for some reason.

***

“Sy.”

“Yes captain.”

“Your message said you were getting trapped down there?”

“Yes sir, there’s a recovery team south of us that blocked the road, the side streets are blocked where the bulldozers pushed rubble off the roads when they cleared a route this morning, we could get stuff out of here a lot faster with a Leopard.”

“Both here, be four hours to get one of them on world. What about Dee Gee One, you have an area big enough she can Vee Tol in to?”

“Yea, north of us, the big roundabout where the R3 meets the side roads, we’re setting a way point.”

“Right, she’s at the spaceport, I’ll get her out to you, half an hour. Ask whoever’s with the troopers to secure her though, we had, that is the militia sent Arclight a warning about criminals looting and some salvage team getting attacked.”

“Two squads of Battlearmour, any criminal who wants to try robbing us better come in large numbers.”

Stone chuckled, “I’ll send the Dropship.”

***

“Shit, I heard there was a couple of clan Mechs over here.”

“Yea, but someone got there first.”

“Who?”

“No idea, bunch of techs, look like civilians, not seeing any infantry, they could be militia, the house regiment techs have uniforms.”

“Militia then, well, doesn’t seem fair them grabbing something as nice as a clan Mech and not sharing, we could go down there and…”

“SHIT!”

“WHAT?”

“Battlearmour, Standard suits, two of them, by the rubble this side of the crane.”

“Battlearmour, where? Pass me the bioncs. The Militia don’t have many and none of em run that colour scheme.”

A few seconds of looking through the electronic binocs.

“Shit, we’re out of here, that yellow white armour, like old bones, Pale Horsemen.”

“What, Stones lot.”

“Yea.”

“Ok, not messing with them, or pissing off Andre and the Russian Mafia.”

“The Russians, what does a bunch of stupidly well-equipped Mercs have to do with the Russians?”

“Word is the Merc boss, goes by the callsign Gravestone on account of the number of people he’s put in the ground, him and Andre are tight, being doing business for twenty years or more.”

“Right, well, I don’t want to piss off the Russians, and I really don’t want to mess with people who guard salvage teams with Battlearmour, lets go find some actual militia or some dumb shits from a house regiment.

***

Twenty minutes later Delivery Guaranteed One pulled up her nose and tilted her thrusters downward, slowing from her flight over the city and then levelling out as she landed on the roundabout where Radial three, the six-lane highway that ran from the river through the city to the suburbs reduced to four lanes and continued or split off to pairs of roads north and south.

There was already a low loader and a handful of troopers waiting for her.

***

“Shit, you see that, same colour as the troopers, them Horsemen again.”

“Yea, how do they get all that equipment, even the regulars are stuck using lorries. Speaking of, what’s that?”

“Looks like someone started salvaging and left, looks like Mechs were taken, there, and over there.”

“Still three Mechs left, and a lot of wreckage, must have been at least one more.”

“Maybe they only had two flatbeds and they’ve gone back to base?”

“Why did they leave the bulldozer then, and no guards, the other places we’ve scouted had infantry squads.”

“No idea, lets drift a little closer, but quietly, anyone asks, we’re sightseeing so leave the truck and the tools back there out of sight.”

“Will do.”

***

Everyone was tired, the engineers far more than the pilot who had spent the entire day so far sitting on her backside in the recovery tugs cockpit.

They’d been in heavy engineering vacc suits for the whole time, and this was their third recovery which meant their third EVA and securing a wreck, getting it on the clamps and making it safe to tow back to the yards took up to two hours a time. At least it took two hours when done by the book, but they weren’t in combat now so there were health and safety rules to follow.

Still, this was the last for their shift, the time taken to catch up with the often high speeds of the wrecks meant they could only recover a few at a time, the next shift would be out in a couple of hours, trying to recover a few more wrecked fighters, before they drifted out of detection or tracking range or got so far away there was no point trying to recover them.

A dozen tugs from the shipyard were doing the same thing, and a couple of big ones were doing recovery for the Dropships. The fast transports that had been doing search and recovery had finished hours ago, after they’d pulled in every pilot with a working transponder.

They had probably missed a few who didn’t have transponders or emergency flares, a fight this big, there were always a few living pilots missed.
But then, that’s why the pilots had ‘the necessary’, quick acting, almost completely painless, for when they wanted a better end than running out of air.

“Cockpits gone, clean ejection.”

“Good, I really don’t want to find someone still in there, knew someone who did that, she said the pilot had been clawing at the cockpit windows, long bloody scratches, and the look on their face.”

“Enough, alright, enough, lets get this one recovered and get back to odyssey for a break.”

“Yea, works for me, watch the left wing, looks like some ammo still in that magazine.”

“Shit, dump it then, don’t want it rolling around as we make a high gee manoeuvre or something.”

“Why me?”

“You’re on that side of the fighter.”

***

The bodies had been dead long enough to be cooling, the faces and hands were just warm enough to be clear of snow, but the quilted jackets and trousers were covered in a thin layer.

“Third Ceti Hussars, patch says he’s a tech. Was a tech, shot in the back.”

“Two here, same, shot from behind.”

“Half naked body here, infantry by the look of the trousers and tee shirt, but the ballistic leggings, jacket, webbing, gone.”

“Three more over here, striped down to normal clothes.”

“Spread out, check the area.”

***

“FREEZE OR DIE! ****** LOOTERS!”

“DON’T SHOOT! WE DIDN’T KILL THEM! WE FOUND THEM LIKE THAT!”

“KILLED WHO? Found who?”

Two squads of Saso PD, High Threat Response Team, they were wearing rigid carapace breastplates and helmets over ballistic weave, assault rifles and a pair of markspersons with anti-armour rifles, and for the really high threats, the squad’s backup, black with bright white panels, high viz orange stripes, flashing red and orange high intensity lights on the shoulders and HTRT down both arms, an Urbanmech.

Given the number of possibly Mech or exo equipped criminals in the city the PD had requested Mechs many years ago, and been given a few that no one else wanted. Urbanmechs.

But the little 30tonners were perfect for what the High Threat response Team needed, and with some rebuilds, SRM launchers, pulse lasers and the like, they were ideal for the sort of things the police dealt with without needing to call in the garrison.

“Alright, who are you lot, and who didn’t you kill?”

***

Third Ceti Hussars had a complex of buildings, surrounded by security walls, and guards. Normally they had guards, the jeep and the two low loaders carrying a pair of obviously Ceti Hussars Mechs were waved through the gate by a light infantry soldier who was buy directing traffic going out.
A long stream of medium and heavy tanks and trucks.

“An evacuation?”

“Perhaps, or deploying them to defend the city, the Davion’s lost a lot of Mechs in the fighting. It doesn’t matter, it will make our job easier.”

“Mech hangers are ahead, the map says the workshops are beyond them, go past the buildings without walls, they are the weather shelters for Mechs.”

“Workshop just ahead.”

“Drive straight in, park the low loaders at the doors, park the jeep by the offices.”

“Yes sir, coming up to it now.” The jeep, a six wheeled light armoured infantry transporter, one of hundreds in the city used by mechanised infantry units could carry a full squad of light infantry and handle fairly rough terrain easily. It had the 3rd Ceti Hussars markings on the side and the handful of people in the hanger paid it no attention.

“Something’s wrong, twenty techs, I count six Mechs being repaired, this is an entire regiment, where are they?”

“Unknown, lets go find out, you two secure the jeep and keep watch, the rest with me.”

Everyone got out, two lounging by the jeep, the other five walking into the office building just inside the huge doors that gave access to the regiments main Mech Bays.

***

“No ones answering, can’t get a response from the techs in the hanger, or the gate guard?”

“Shit, I know this morning’s briefing says they were deactivating the regiment due to losses, but they can’t have all gone this fast, they had a team out here recovering their own Mechs. Put a call in to the Cave.”

“Yes sir.”

***

“They stopped calling, they left a message about finding some third Ceti troops dead and striped of their uniforms.”

“DAMN! Far too fast, continue with the plan.”

“Yes sir, strike teams, GO!”

Most units use lasers or slug throwers with suppressors for relatively quiet kills. The Death Commandoes trained long and hard to do it properly, the burst fire carbines they used were high calibre, eleven point five millimeter rounds, sub sonic with a very heavy projectile, they only sound they made was the clack whirl of the electric action loading the next bullet.

The rounds dropped over range, it took a lot of training to make effective use out of them, but they could kill someone so quietly the person next to them wouldn’t notice a thing till their friend fell over dead.

Of course, by the time they noticed the dead falling, it was too late.

“All enemies down, location secure.”

“Place the bombs.”

“Yes Captain.”

***

“Captain, someone here to see you.” Stone looked toward the tech who had just spoken, and the old man beside him, ankle length coat, hat and scarf though it wasn’t that cold, yet.

“Who are you, and make it Quick, I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The old man looked at the heavily damaged Mechs standing in a line, and the two in the repair frames.

“Yes, sorry, but I’ve, well we’ve all been re-tasked, so I thought I’d better talk to you before I get caught up in other things. Stone yes? Captain of the Odyssey and commander of the Pale Horsemen?”

“Yes that’s me, can you get to the point?”

“Yes of course,” the man pulled a small tablet from one pocket and waved it toward Stone, “we didn’t find much, so there’s a fair amount of speculation, but given what we know it’s fairly likely.”

“What is, who are you and what are you talking about.”

“Oh, yes, Simons, security analyst with the Ducal staff. The major asked me to look into your chief of security.”

“Anderson? I asked her to look into that weeks ago!”

“We’ve been somewhat busy, and he’s not exactly easy to follow. But we’ve got some information, nothing solid though, and some images. I’ll send you the data file, it’s not much, but the pictures are informative.” The man tapped the screen then showed the screen to Stone who took a few steps closer.

The picture was a bar, or eatery, cheap, old, faded wallpaper and paint, once bright colours turned to grey over the years, plastic furniture in small booths. The picture was taken from high up, probably the ceiling, angled down to one booth, two men, both nondescript clothing, sitting talking together over drinks.

“Wait, I know that one, he’s the manager of the shipyard, he’s the one who agreed to repair Odyssey, why are you showing me this, and who’s the other man?”

“The other one has at least three identities that we know of, currently it seems to be Conway, but he has at least two other full IDs, what we do know is he’s a manager, covers this entire region of space, for Interstellar Expeditions.”

“IE. He’s IE, what’s he doing talking to the spaceport manager, and why is this relevant to me.”

“There is another picture, taken the same evening, coincidentally just after the agreement to repair your Dropship. Here.” The old man tapped the screen again and a new picture came up, same camera angle, same booth, two men, one the quadrant manager for Interstellar Expeditions, the other.

“Anderson! That’s Anderson? What, what is this, is he?”

“We have some suspicions, nothing solid I must point out, but some hints of a working relationship between the two going back some years.”

“Anderson’s IE. But why, he’s on my ship, he’s saved my life, it makes no sense?”

“We feel that he’s not actually a member of IE, more a freelancer who works for them from time to time, we suspect, that is we have no actual proof, but we think that IE became interested in you, your mercenaries, or your ship very soon after the Shipyard agreed to do the repairs.”

“Is Anderson working for them?”

“We don’t know, but we suspect it’s more along the lines of an informal relationship, a few specific jobs, but otherwise being someone they know and trust. Our suspicion is he’s keeping an eye on something, or someone while working for you and...”

“He worked hard enough to get me to hire him.”

“Yes, which means whatever he’s looking for must be important.”

Important enough to shoot me for. SHIT! Elbermarl, it has to be, IE is looking for it as well, everyone seems to be looking for it and I don’t have any idea what it is.”

“We did check, we couldn’t find any details, other than a mention of the name in otherwise destroyed Star league records, something from data recovered from the Star League navy.”

“Navy, this gets worse, what are we talking about here?”

“No one knows I’m afraid, the name was mentioned in naval records, damage reports, but other than that we don’t have anything, and we don’t know that this man, Anderson, we don’t know if he’s working for IE or not, he has worked for them before so this meeting may relate to that and be nothing to do with you.”

“Right, nothing to do with me.” Stone rubbed his thick quilt shirt, where one of the gauss rounds had wounded him, “just a coincidence. Is this it?”

“Yes, sorry, a lot of people working hard to cover their tracks, and we’re very busy with the Capellans. Once we have a lot more time we’ll come up with more, but for the moment this is it.”

“Right, it’s enough, probably. So, my bodyguard may be working for IE on a secret mission, maybe looking for something everyone knows about except me. But he’s saved my life, twice now. Alright, thanks for this.”

“What are you going to do?” The old man stood up.

“Nothing, for now, not till I have something solid to work with. He’s saving my life, and he’s friendly with Interstellar Expeditions, that’s all you’ve given me, so as long as he keeps saving my life, I’ll do nothing. But if you find anything else.”

“We’ll let you know captain; sorry it wasn’t more.” The old man nodded, pulled his coat around himself and walked out into the late afternoon sun.



Captain Jonah

  • Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 167
Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #197 on: 10 July 2022, 11:02:29 »

Chapter 12

“Train till you can do it without thinking, because in combat, you won’t be.”

***

“Traffic control, confirming that, inbound to the spaceport, salvage, Mechs and personnel from our unit.”

“Very good, maintain speed and flight path, any problems alert us immediately, we’ve got a pair of cargo balls dropping three minutes after you clear the airspace and you don’t want to be under them.”

“That we don’t, Delivery Guaranteed ou…”

The blasts around the Mech hanger weren’t that big, directional shaped charges on the main structural beams, the building collapsing in a cloud of dust and smoke, trapping the damaged Mechs and the dead under the vast roof.

It was the other charges, the ones that blew the magazine bunkers and the fuel reserve for the Aerospace transports and fighters, exploding as vast balls of fire, throwing shock waves outward and billowing clouds upward into the late afternoon sky.

“WHAT THE ******! TRAFFIC CONTROL, EXPLOSIONS BELOW US! WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!”

“ALL INBOUND AIR TRAFFIC DIVERT IMMEDIATELY OUTWARD FROM THE CITY, MAINTAIN ELEVATION, COME ABOUT ONE EIGHTY. WE’LL CALL COURSE CHANGES TO AVOID CRASHES!”

“What the ****** is…”

“DELIVERY GUARANTEED ONE! IGNORE LAST, GO TO HEADING TWO TEN, that is compass heading two hundred ten degrees at maximum speed, NOW, you’ve got incoming above you.”

“MAXIMUM THRUST, turn to heading.”

“Doing it, sensors, anyone, what’s attacking us?”

***

“What’s attacking us?”

“Unknown, long range arty maybe but we didn’t see anything, sensors and scanners are clear of threats, not even Cap stealth can get over the city unseen.”

“What was hit?”

***

3rd Ceti hussars may have been stood down and had a number of ground armour units transferred to replace losses suffered by the 6th Fusiliers and by the militia, the last of those units had been leaving when the Capellans arrived. But they still had a strong infantry force present, who locked down the base and began to sweep it, emergency teams and platoons working out what happened, and how.

But the crowded jeep and a stolen cargo truck filled with Capellans had left the base 30 seconds before the charges blew, off to join the rest of the Capellans in the city and new orders from the Colonels, something a bit more subtle than the orders they had been given by the no longer around general.

***

“Its clear somethings happened. This represents a significant change in tactics for one, company sized units, pushing aggressively against the edge of the city proper all around the west and south to the river, even onto the ice. But pulling back as soon as they hit something they can’t handle, a change from the previous raids.” Major Oysten of the Capellan March Strategic Overview unit was doing the presentation.

“Some new advisors suggesting the General over there stops throwing away his units like an idiot.” General Temberil spoke.

“That’s our thinking sir, there’s clearly been a change, it’s highly possible someone over there got the sack and they’ve bought it someone with some actual strategic thinking, which is bad for us, an example being what happened to the third Ceti Mech workshops.”

“We didn’t lose much.”

“Only because there wasn’t much to lose, they clearly had bad intel, didn’t know we’d shut down the third, but if they can do that to the third, they can do it elsewhere and we’ve got a lot of places with far less security. All the civilian Mech repair places for one.

They’ve also been very quickly clearing out the battlefield in sector twelve as well, we grabbed a lot from there but couldn’t hold it, however, we could deny it to them as well, till they pushed us back into sectors seven and eight.”

“What sort of numbers?” The duke spoke for the first time.

“Fifty minus a few.”

“They left three times that many in the city a few days ago.” Back to the general

“Yes, and we’re recovering as much as we can, and trying to repair our damage, and rebuild the wrecks, and find pilots. The issue is actually pilots, we can repair Mechs far faster than heal wounded pilots and given the casualty numbers from the attack into Capellan space we’re facing a significant problem.

However, I’ve got a possible solution, you may not like it general, but we’re running out of options.”

“How bad is it, your suggestion, how bad?”

“We recruit the entire final year class from Warrior Hall. They graduate at the end of the year so we’re not cutting their training by much.”

“Jesus! You’re talking pilots, teenagers with no actual combat experience, and no time to properly let them smell the smoke. We’d be throwing them in at the deep end.”

“Yes sir, but it gives us one hundred and thirty pilots for Mechs, fifty-nine aerospace pilots as well. We don’t need to call up the ground armour or infantry, we’ve still got enough of those, it’s pilots we need desperately.”

“Kids.”

“The youngest are eighteen, the oldest around twenty, we’re not throwing children into battle sir, and they’ve been well trained by the Warrior Hall.”

“As things that desperate?”

A pause, a long pause.

“Yes sir.”

“Do it.”

***

“A full company, south, probing sector thirteen.”

“Nothing there.”

“Yea, but they’re pushing northeast, sector nines not that far.”

“Have the ground units there been alerted?”

“Yes sir.”

“Alert the Mechs as well, whatever’s available.”

“Already done sir, it’s not a long list and it’s all Mercs.”

“As long as they fight.”

***

“Bent sword Dropships! A hundred kay south of the city, over the horizon, dropping from orbit. Air defences alerted. Squadrons are scrambling.”

“More of this new stuff?”

“Looks like it, first two squadrons are airborne and the Combat Air patrols heading straight in.”

***

“Davion fighters are launching.”

“Aerospace or more of those nasty little jets?”

“Just Aerospace.”

“Then tell the Dropships to change course, they are the decoys after all.”

“Yes sir.”

***

“Seeing movement, four Cap squadrons, coming round the world, high north though, polar flight path.”

“There’s not much left up there to destroy. They got it all.”

“Yes sir, but they come over the pole and south, down the glacier.”

“Johnsons Industries perhaps?”

“Four Squadrons, unlikely, but that’s enough to hit somewhere hard.”

“Lets not let that happen then, alert the air defences.”

“Yes sir, but we’ve already got squadrons heading for the bent sword Dropships.”

“Humm, give me a full globe, and what we’ve got on the other side of the world and the LaGrange point.”

“Yes sir, coverage is limited on the other side, they took out all of the orbital satellites, and the fixed ones are in standard orbit, we’ve only got the far orbit stuff.”

“Whatever you’ve got.”

“Yes sir.”

***

“Who’s in charge of this cluster ******, this is the third scramble today, chase the Dropships that run away, chase the attacking Cap bombers, who run away, now chase the Aerospace fighters who are flying at wave top height along the coast.”

“Look on the bright side, we don’t have the same people controlling us as the mechs have, you seen their casualty numbers?”

“Did you see the numbers for the poor bastards defending the shipyards, or that furball over the west of the city, all we did was spend a couple of hours flying out to defend the shipyards, then shot up the surviving Caps as they ran away.”

“Maybe, but we’ve, wait, CONTACT, DUE SOUTH!”

“Not seeing anything, all flights go active.”

“No contacts, radars a mess from the coastline, that’s a mess of rocks and the waves coming ashore.”

“SOUTHWEST! They’re running for it, I see six.”

“Yea, six, shit they must be below fifty meters, that’s asking to kiss a wave.”

“Yea, but Aerospace, it’s not like getting a wave in your jets, as long as the pilots good.”

“Still wouldn’t want to do it.”

“Call it in. they’ve run away.”

“Yes sir.”

***

The Warrant, a tech two, leaned back in her chair and stretched her arms out sideways, the command centre had plenty of room. “Four days of this shit. Four days!”

“They run away again?”

“Yea, they turn up, wait till we respond, and run away. Four days, how are they not exhausted.”

***

“You think the colonels have a plan, any plan? Four days of this shit.”

“Would you rather the general was throwing us into the thickest of the Davion defences, to batter them down with our bodies?”

“No, but this, what are we doing?”

“No idea, but we need fuel, I’ll call it in.”

“Good, fuel, food, drink, sleep.”

“We’ll be back doing this tomorrow.”

“Probably. Four days of flying in and flying out, not a shot fired.”

***

The three colonels who now jokingly called themselves the command council sat in the general’s command centre, so far they’d replaced something like half the generals old staff, the ones who couldn’t adjust to the new reality.

Of the general, there had been no reported sightings, among the troops the gossip was he’d been rewarded for his leadership and the losses suffered, and was buried somewhere the body would never be found.

“Fuel consumptions getting dangerous.”

“Tolerable, and we’ve nearly finished. We’ve mapped out the sensor and scanner coverage, their response times and the like, and learned a few very useful things along the way, that thing about radar and the coastline for example, that wasn’t in any of our intelligence reports.”

“If we can make use of it, the cities not on the coast after all. And we’ve burned up a lot of fuel, we’re almost into the reserve.”

“We still hold Taygeta, and with the supply convoy ready to go in another day or two, we can send out additional Jumpships to Taygeta under escort from the main convoy, they can then jump back with all the fuel we need, we’ve got empty tankers for eight thousand tons in the fleet, we send them out and we can be back to almost full fuel in weeks. I’ve already got the garrison at Taygeta mapping the Lagrange point for us.”

“Two weeks, but we won’t have the supply convoy back for two months.”

“Already covered, there’s a convoy coming out part way, to meet us over the border on a Davion world that’s weakly defended, they swap Dropships, the empty ones go back home, and the convoy brings the full ones here in six weeks.”

“What’s the garrison strength on Taygeta right now?”

“Why?”

“The defenders left a fair few wrecked Mechs behind when they fled, if the Garrison isn’t using them. . . . .”

“Good thinking, I’ll send them an order, or, the generals command post will send them the order.”

“What about additional Mechs?”

“There we had some luck, you remember the Davion regiments threatening our north, or what we thought was a threat?”

“Yea, a lot of… Wait, all new build and reserve mechs were transferred to them.”

“They came back slowly, but they’re back, and a lot of them should be in the incoming convoy. I’m told enough Mechs for five companies, and some replacement MechWarrior’s.”

The colonels liked the sound of that.

***

“Ten days since that huge attack, nothing but company sized Cap patrols now.”

“What, you want then to attack us or something?”

“Maybe, beats just sitting here.”

“Sod that. We’ve got a dozen Goblin tanks, two companies of infantry in the buildings, and somewhere south there’s another battalion and a company of Militia tanks. Against a company of Cap Mechs, I’m happy being bored thanks.”

“INCOMING!”

The Capellan Mech company had been walking through the wrecked suburbs and light industrial areas of sector 13. Well out of weapon range of the defenders and moving too fast to waste shots from the artillery. Suddenly the whole company turned and broke into a run, straight at the eight story apartment buildings where the light infantry were dug in, the building was under fire before the tanks could even power up.

***

“Three attacks.”

“Another one.”

“Four, all the same, fast strikes against the front line, our infantry and armour, do some damage and withdraw. Why?”

“Another something new?”

“Probably.”

“Twenty first Mechanised report five wounded, one dead, minor damage to the tanks, they’re setting up a new defence position.”

“What, why, what was wrong with where they were?”

“Buildings took too many hits, they’re pulling back to the next street.

The duty leftenant paused for a few seconds, then touched icons, changing the holo display, looking more closely at the west facing sectors, the gaps in the defence line where Capellan attacks had forced conventional units back a street by destroying the buildings they had been sheltering in.

“Call the CO, they’re trying something new.”

***

“Not liking the look of this, they’ve forced our defences back in a dozen places now, and these two, here and here, they’re pushing us back two streets, which means we’ve got no choice but to pull back the flanking units.”

“We’ve got no choice, these strikes, into the accommodation areas, we need to evacuate them.”

“That’s a hundred thousand people, and you see the snow falling, winters on the way.”

“No choice, we move them or bury them.”

“SHIT! You’re right, no choice, east of the river, what’s the situation with emergency accommodation?”

***

“Jesus, this is bad.”

The soldier, eighteen, finished basic training and straight onto the reserve list to do his citizens duty, sign up and do a term in the military or a public sector emergency or support branch between eighteen and thirty, or do the basic training then on the reserve list till forty-five but count as having done your duty meaning university, the trade academies and voting were yours for free. Not the voting, that was always free, this wasn’t Marik space.

The young man looked around, the noise was deafening, talking, shouting, children screaming, people sobbing. The hall was packed out, home of the Ice Breakers combat hocky team and now the rink was thawed out and drained, filled with camp beds, the terraces with people on inflatable mattresses.

“These are the lucky ones son.”

“What’s that old timer?”

The old man was another reservist, but the stripes on his arms, the service bars, he’d done his twenty long ago.

“The hotels are full, halls are full, places like this, word is we’ve got another twenty thousand to move, the engineers are out in sectors fifteen and sixteen now, looking at setting up in empty warehouses and industrial units.”

“Shit, those old ruins you can see from the road to the spaceport?”

The old soldier nodded.

“SHIT! How they going to get them warm enough for people to live in?”

***

“PLASTIC SHEETING? ARE, are you kidding?”

“No, wooden beams, ten centimetres thick, nail them to the brick around the big doors and windows inside and out, then stretch plastic sheet over them, tight, that gives us a thirty centimetre gap to spray insulation into.”

“Thirty centimetres of spray foam, shit, building code calls for fifty of solid block at the minimum.”

“No choice, the first busses will be here this afternoon, five hours.”

“Jesus ****** Christo, alright, we’ll cover the big holes, what about heating?”

“Fusion heater, sitting in the middle.”

“And living here?” The woman looked around the cavernous warehouse, left to rot thirty years ago when the owners went bust, the inside was dust and dirt and bird shit layered on old boxes and stained concrete floors.

“Eight busses, four hundred people, get them working, there’s a van on the way with cleaning supplies, they’ll have to inflate the beds though, they’re coming still in the boxes.”

“And food, water, toilets?”

“Should be here by tonight.”

“Should be?”

“Just do what you can, and blame the ****** Caps, not me!”

***

“We need to do something, we’ve got some deep holes in the defences across both sectors, these strikes to destroy buildings and open holes in the city are pushing deeper, here, here, across here in sector eight, four streets in now.”

“If we pull everything back we let them get half way across both sectors, that puts them close to the central sectors and the river.”

“I know. Alright, something different then. Concentrate the mechanised and armoured, lets create a series of fortified areas, then the gaps between them we use Mechs, fill them with sensors and probes, hold company sized forces back along here and respond as they try to push in.”

“Worth a try sir.”

***



Captain Jonah

  • Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 167
Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #198 on: 17 July 2022, 10:32:07 »

Chapter 13

“Never show your back to enemy units, or house units for that matter.”

***

“Recon six three to base, I have Caps east of the river, I say again, Caps east of the river, one company heading north toward sector 15, another three kay to the east, same heading.”

“SHIT! There goes us concentrating our forces in the west.”

“Just a matter of time, how did they get there?”

“Mechs, they waded in and walked across the river underwater.”

“Alright, lets discourage them from this sort of behaviour, who can we drop on them?”

***

Recon says the Caps are on the next street, spread out, close combats on point, you two cover us from the back.”

A chorus of on it’s, will do’s and yep’s followed as the mercenary company shook itself into the best formation for street fighting, this part of the edge of the city, sector fifteen,  light industrial and mostly housing, five and six storey buildings, taller than the Mechs and blocking line of sight and fire arcs.

“CONTACT!” Kambles Krushers was three lances, a full dozen Mechs, three of them Hunchbacks, perfect for bringing the pain in a city fight and the last member of that lance was an Urbie packing an ultra-heavy, small but nasty. The Capellan 40ton Clint that ran into sight found out the hard way just how painful that could be.

“WE’RE LOCKED! EVERYONE JUST GOT LIT UP!”

“ENEMY RAVEN!”

“Get us targets, Pecky, go high!”

“On it.”

MechWarrior Peck, Pecky to everyone, jumped his Vindicator up and over a little, configured for close range work like the rest of the Krushers he carried a large laser and SRMs, which mean he was able to fire at the targets directly below him in the few seconds he was standing on the roof of the housing block, before he frantically jumped back and down again.

“COMPANY! FULL COMPANY!”

The Capellans were Citizen Warriors, independent mercs put together for service for House Liao, but put together with some planning for the fighting on New Syrtis, so they had a raider lance, a city combat lance, and a fire support lance, that last lance firing straight up and over, engulfing the Krushers Trebuchet in explosions even as the top of the building between them was torn apart by cannon and laser fire.

“COMMAND WE NEED SUPPORT! WE NEED… HUNDRED AND FIFTY LRMs! THEY JUST FIRED A HUNDRED FIFTY LRMs AT US!”

The three hunchbacks were doing just fine against the raider lance, the rest of the Krushers were doing less well when the urban combat lance of Capellans came round the corner at the other end of the street, and the Krushers had one and a half lurm boats left in the fight.

Fifteen seconds later they had one lurm boat left.

***
Half a kay to their east the second Capellan company found another Merc unit and engaged, weapons and charging Mechs smashing the buildings and each other, while a lance of Capellan Mechs used the noise of the battle to slip past.

Behind and between them, another mercenary unit, sent in but still running toward the area, they had been a lot further away and it took time for them to run from the space port to the south of the city.

“Someone’s calling for support, three blocks west and south. Merc company with the militia, wait, they say they just got fired at with a hundred and fifty LRMs.”

“Really, how fast can we get there?”

“A couple of minutes.”

“We haven’t been given orders.”

“And, allied unit in trouble and a Cap unit in a city fight with that many tubes. . . . .”

“Easy kills.” Sarge sounded happy, killing people often did that.

“Seal up, weapons hot, waypoint set, MOVE OUT!”

The Pale Horsemen moved.

***

The Lecture hall was half full, which was about usual this late in the year, the students who had filled it when the term started had thinned down to the ones who were actually interested in Physics rather than the ones who had put it down as a filler so they could claim another easier course to offset against the hard sciences.

Physics 408. Particle dispersion under the influence of gravity fields and the effect on the Kearny-Fuchida field effect. A big mouthful but a serious class for jumpship engineers and anyone planning a future in the field of jump research.

Professor Iverson, Lei to his friends paused mid word, something had, “Did anyone else feel that?”

“The ground shook?”

“EARTHQUAKE!”

“Don’t be foolish, Jefferson University is sitting on bedrock far from any fault line, so unless Purgatory glacier has calved, it wasn’t…” Another shock wave, then the windows rattled.

“That’s explosions!” The student was wearing the uniform of a naval cadet, Federated Suns navy.”

“Call security, check what’s…”

“Professor, you should leave, now, everyone should leave.” Two students, both tall young men, fit, dressed to blend in with the crowd.

The other one shouted to the rest of the students, “EVERYONE SHOULD LEAVE! THERES FIGHTING OUTSIDE!”

“What?”

“CAPELLANS!”

A near panic started as people stood and half of them pushed toward the exits to the back and either side of the hall.

“Professor, this way, for your safety.” The two students were flanking the old man, one holding his left arm, gesturing to a private door at the back of the stage, a door that was locked, should have been locked, but now stood open with a third student waiting then, another man, fit, dressed like the stereotypical student.

“HEY PROFESSOR, WE SHOULD LEAVE!” Another student, this one wearing ground forces uniform, tabs marking him as an exchange student.”

“Professor, this way”, the young man tightened his grip.

“Let me go, who are you, I don’t recognize you, you aren’t my students?”

“Professor, come with us, NOW!”

“HEY, WHERE ARE YOU TRYING TO TAKE THE PROFESSOR?”

“What’s happening?”

“Those two are forcing the professor to go that way?”

“ALL STUDENTS, ALL STUDENTS, WE HAVE CAPELLAN MECHS A KILOMETER AWAY, DEFENDING FORCES ARE ENGAGING, MOVE TO THE CLOSEST BUNKER IMMEDIATELY!”

“Hey, you, let the professor go.” The number of students paying attention to the old man and the two ‘Students’ holding him was growing rapidly, the old man was popular if for nothing else than being able to make his subject interesting and entertaining.

“SHIT! Go active.” One of the ‘Students’ pulled a knife, a ceramic edged carbon fibre blade that passed the security checks on every door, he waved it at the actual students while the other man dragged the professor backwards.

***

Three hunchbacks and an Urbie, the much maligned Urbanmech, tucked in tight against the building and holding their corner, the rest of the Krushers down or falling back.

Both long range Mechs were down, the salvo’s of LRMs had finished them both off, then moved through the rest of the mercenaries one by one as they fought against the Capellans who had bought lighter faster Mechs, and SRMs, lots and lots of SRMs.

“FALLING BACK!”

“DAMAGE CRITICAL!”

“Crushers leader, give us a target for the enemy fire support lance.”

“WHAT! SECOND LANCE FALL BACK!”

“NO CAN DO! SURROUNDED!”

“Crushers leader, where is the? Never mind!” Surrounded, or hugging tight to the building to avoid the storm of LRM fire Kamble was concentrating on staying alive.

A Capellan light, minimal armour, but fast and capable of ruining people’s days with a dozen SRM tubes, till a Marauder, a Thunderbolt, a Victor and an Axman came round a corner into the street three hundred meters away.

Most of the Capellans immediately switch targets, the retreating Krushers far less of a threat than the off-white monsters that had just joined the fighting.

The heaviest Capellan Mech, a 65ton new build Jinggua turned and fired its Gauss cannon down the street, rocking the Marauder, then freezing as more off white Mechs came round the same corner, a Cataphract, the unmistakable shape of an Atlas, and a Marauder.

No, that couldn’t be a marauder, the shape was right, but also wrong, this was far too bulky, far too…

It fired the oversized cannon mounted on top of the torso, above the faint skull that made up its entire face, the round so fast it was invisible, but superheated by the rail gun to leave a glow down the street, the round passing the Capellan Mech two meters to the right, crashing into a building and collapsing most of the frontage as it ripped completely through the apartments and exploded rubble out the far side.

The Capellan captain turned to watch the blur, almost feeling his mech tremble. Then his Mech was shaking like a leaf in a storm as the new arrivals fired everything else they had at him.

Then in came another salvo of LRMs, a storm of explosions that left Bobcat staggering, fighting to stay upright as his gyro screamed and failed.

“HAMMER, SARGE, JUMP, FIND THOSE LURM BOATS!”

“ON IT.”

“WILL DO!”

“Tracking, that’s a hundred and thirty missiles a time!”

“Bobcat, break left, get into the side street, break line of sight. Everyone else, individual targets.” Arclight missed with her gauss, half wrecking a building front, but her lasers and half her missiles tore away most of the armour from a Capellan mech, then she stared as the three friendly Hunchbacks and their little friend retreated round the corner away from the fighting.

A shouted command had the Capellans breaking away and running, half of them were down and the rest would be joining them in the next minute so the currently in command sergeant shouted the order, every surviving Mech accelerating to full speed and evading.

Some of them made it

In the next street over the Axman and Victor jumped down into the street, looking for the Capellan fire support lance, and finding it, or at least three of it. All three Capellan Mechs were set up in a parking area in front of an apartment block, far enough back to almost be outside the minimum range of their missiles, almost. The fourth Mech, the Raven that acted as spotter for them, that was running with the rest.

Between the jumping and the range, they only hit Sarge with forty missiles, and he was knocked backwards, falling against the building even as he fired, his cannon shot missing completely while Hammer fired a full burst, the Rotary Auto Cannon barrels a blur as they spun at full speed, six rounds downrange in three seconds, smashing away armour on the closest enemy Trebuchet.

The Capellan Mechs were moving, trying to fall back, open the range, fat chance.

Hammer screamed and charged straight at the already damaged Trebuchet, it missed with every missile, the range too short to get a lock, two of its medium lasers leaving lines of molten armour on the Axman’s legs.

The second Trebuchet fired at Sarge again, shattering the front of the building, throwing up a cloud of insulation and concrete chunks and dotting his Mech with craters as he stood up.

Then the Third Capellan stopped, it had walked back far enough to be able to lock on its missiles, and the Longbow fired all seventy tubes at the unmoving target, Sarge and his Victor.”

“****** IT! HELP! ASSUALT MECH!”

Hammer was piling into her target, a second full burst and her cannon jammed, but that didn’t matter, so close she couldn’t miss, tearing apart the armour across the front of the Capellan Mech that was all but helpless in close combat, her lasers burning away yet more armour, and then her axe came down and the Trebuchet had one arm and one missile launcher left as the other side torso was torn away and the axe sunk into the centre torso armour.

Sarge got his Mech standing, ignored the other Trebuchet and fired at the real threat, his Ultra-Heavy cannon blasted a crater into the armour of the huge weapon pod at the Longbows left shoulder, his Lasers burning its armour as it aimed both weapon pods at the Victor, each pod a twenty-tube rack alongside a fifteen-tube rack.

Then a vast explosion engulfed the 85ton Mech, one arm, one side, one weapon pod torn into small pieces by the fireball that engulfed the Longbow, smashed every window for a hundred meters and tossed the Mech sideways. Five tons of ammo exploding. The explosion rattled every Mech in the fight, the blast wave filling the street and rising above the buildings.

Behind the Longbow the Three hunchbacks stood and stared at the sight, and the Urbanmech that had just put a cannon round through the Longbows thin rear armour and set off its ammo.

***

“REPORT! SOMEONE REPORT! What the hell was that?”

“We’re good, mostly, ammo explosion, Cap Mech going up.”

“Ammo explosion, from what, that blew out windows in the next street and ripped the roof off the building.”

“Longbow. It’s, mostly in the building opposite.”

“In?”

“Yea, went straight through the wall when it’s ammo blew. Last Cap just surrendered, we’ve got some friendly Hunchies and a trashcan here.”

“Ah, is that where they went. Secure the area, I’ve called in some ground troops for clean up.” Arclight breathed out and flexed her fingers, a fast easy fight, the surviving Capellans long gone, burning wrecks in the street.

And burning houses, roofs torn off, walls and thick insulation destroyed, she could see into several of the apartments. The people who lived there wouldn’t have much to come home to, whenever that was.

***

“HOLD IT RIGHT THERE! Let the professor go!”

Security had arrived, all two of them, the professor was on a short list of people to be escorted to a bunker in the event of an attack.

“THEY AREN’T STUDENTS!” One of the military cadets shouted, part of the crowd of seven that were just out of arm reach of the one with the knife.

The ‘Student’ holding the professor looked around, head snaps, then shouted at the one with the knife, “ABORT, WE CAN’T BE TAKEN!”

He released the professor who staggered away, then as the one with the knife fell back, both ran for it, through the door marked private, that closed behind them.

“What the actual was that about?”

***

Stone activated a video comm relay to Kamble in his Mech, with the battle done the captain of the Krushers had expressed his views on the salvage to Arclight, so she’d called in Stone.

“It’s ours. You hear me, we killed it, we claim it.”

“Kamble, that’s you yes?” Stone, calm, controlled, the master merchant beginning the negotiation.

“Sure is, and we’re claiming the assault Mech, you’ve got enough already.”

“So, you think I have any use for a handful of lights and mediums while you with a company of close range mechs claims a long-range assault Mech.”

“Yea, we sell that and it pays for all our repairs. When we find somewhere to do the work.”

“I’ve been looking at your people, I notice your Mechs have a lot of old damage, some poor-quality armour repairs on a few of them.”

“Yea, so, I notice you lot are all fancy mechs, high tech weapons and stuff, I know you lot, we may be the little guys, but no way am I letting you walk away with the best prize here.”

Stone smiled, his face calm, reassuring, a master merchant performing his art. “So, you mention repairs, claiming the Longbow to sell it for repairs. As it happens, I know someone who wants that Longbow, and is in a position to repair all of your Mechs, sort out some of the salvage for you, even do your annual maintenance and overhauls. All for the cost of that Longbow.”

“What, who?”
 
Stone pointed at himself.

“You, we give you the Longbow and you fix up all our mechs, even the ones that weren’t damaged in this fight, all of them, fully repaired?”

“All of them, and for the salvage, your Treb is dead, but between what’s left of it, and the wrecked enemy one I can rebuild yours fully, three of the other Capellan Mechs can be repaired as well by the look of them. I’ll take the Longbow and intact Treb and any recovered components after the works done, you get the other three Mechs fully repaired. and a full repair and overhaul for your company. Deal?”

“You for real, that Longbows worth a lot, but full repairs for the whole company, rebuild our Treb, three fully repaired Cap Mechs.” Kamble wasn’t the smartest man to ever pilot a Mech, nor were his friends, but he had a carefully honed sense of paranoia.

“You see my company, where the Longbow fits in. I have no use for lights or Mediums, and I have a lot of repair capacity. I can scavenge materials from this fight to repair your Mechs and the Capellan ones, so my costs are just time and techs, and I get a very useful Mech. You get everything you want, and three new mechs. A good deal for both of us I think.”

“And if I say no?”

“Then we walk away with a bunch of salvaged Mechs we will sell. You can try to get repairs done with one of the commercial places in the city, the military are so busy with their own repairs they won’t even talk to you, and the public sites, well, I’ve been hearing a month or more waiting time. Then I have to buy the Longbow, which will cost me a lot because it’s going to be popular on the market.

So, as I said, I walk away, put you and your company on my list of people I don’t like, and end up paying too much for the Longbow, and you get a pile of salvage you can’t do anything with, eleven damaged and wrecked Mechs you can’t repair, a dead Mech,  and an extended holiday, because unless it gets really desperate, no one’s going to pay for what little firepower you have left.

Your choice.” Stone looked at a different camera angle, up the street, where an old bone coloured assault lander, a 175ton Delta Nine type, was landing, belly jets throwing up a huge cloud of dust and insulation chunks.

Kamble looked around, his standing Mechs were steaming or smoking, every one of them with armour damage, half of them with breaches and structural damage, and then he looked at the line of Battlearmour suits that were walking down the landers ramp, followed by a tracked Mech recovery vehicle.

“Deal!”

***

“This way professor, and you lot, orders are to get you down into the tunnels to a bunker.”

“Yes, right, lets go.” Two security guards, one professor and by this point eleven students made it out of the main corridor, down to a door marked restricted access and down four flights of stairs, to another door marked Danger No Entry, particle Accelerator, they were going past that door when one of the students at the back shouted.

“IT’S THE TWO FROM BEFORE AND THEY’VE BOUGHT MORE!”

At the top of the stairs the two ‘Students had returned, with three friends.

“We need to run!”

“No wait, my access card, we can get into the accelerator, they can’t follow, the doors armoured.”

“Right, INSIDE FAST!”

***

By the time the ‘Students’ got down the four flights of stairs the door was closed and locked again, and the professor and the small party with him were running along a kilometre long tunnel housing the universities particle accelerator.

***

“Signal from the snatch team, they failed.”

“Then there is no reason for us to continue, withdraw!”

***
“Arclight, the second Cap attack is breaking off and withdrawing, and there’s another lance appeared from somewhere, running for it.”

“Probably heard we were in the area, any orders from on high?”

“Nothing so far, I’ll update them and see if they say anything.”

“Thanks Topgun, out.”

***



Captain Jonah

  • Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 167
Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #199 on: 24 July 2022, 08:17:37 »

Chapter 14

“The more advanced the technology is, the more it becomes a big gun.”

***

“We don’t have a choice, with them hitting east of the river, we need to evacuate people to the south continent or the islands, anywhere along the equator where it’s still ten degrees above freezing, we’re running out of places to put them in the city that are safe from attack, and we’ll be losing more of them to the cold than to enemy attacks soon.”

“You have a plan?”

“Yes my lord, General.” The man pointed at a map of the world, “Coplin, and the island chains, the weathers cool but not cold, it’s close to most of the farms and industrial greenhouses and we can put them in tents. It won’t be comfortable, but it’s better than freezing to death in an uninsulated abandoned factory. We already have a sizeable contingent of troops there and can call on the support of the Combat Training Centre for more.

They can have refugee camps with tents and support facilities set up for thousands of people in a few days and for tens of thousands very quickly.”

“How do we get them there?” The duke spoke up.

“Cargo dropships, we can fly out hundreds at a time sitting on the floors, spread cargo nets and have them hold on.”

“How many health and safety rules does that violate?”

“All of them my lord, just about all of them, but while there will be injuries, it’s safer than staying in the city.”

“Going to be risky, flying a lot of cargo Dropships south over the ocean, we’ll need air cover.” General Temberil had been thinking about the suggestion.

“Perhaps not, whoever’s in charge over there is clearly not the original general, they’ve been hitting buildings with troops in, but not otherwise, notice the way they came into sector fifteen and engaged the defenders without destroying any inhabited buildings, at least until the fighting started. We could tell them what the flights are.”

“They’re Capellans, the only good Capellan is a dead one, and murdering helpless civilians is sport for them.”

“My Lord, it’s at least worth a try, please my lord.”

“Very well, but when they refuse. . . . .”

***

“They asked us to do what?” Colonel Parks.

“You heard.” Colonel Bodez

“Good, tell them we agree.” Colonel McCallister.

“We do?” Colonel Parks.

“Yes, because unlike some people, we aren’t animals, we aren’t hitting civilian targets, which includes huge refugee camps and getting the civilians out makes the whole city an evacuated free fire zone, which is good for us.”

Parks looked at McCallister for a second. “Right, sounds like a plan, now, what’s this I hear about situation of Taygeta?”

***

“Boon, another report in your folder, a couple of students may have tried to kidnap their professor at the university.”

“What, why is that mine?”

“Because he’s some sort of expert in jump drive theory and the students who tried to grab him had blades that bypassed the university security checks, and no one recognizes them, so it’s in the weird case file. Besides, everyone else is busy with the war.”

***

The New Syrtis shipyard complex was vast, sitting in space at the leading LaGrange point in system, that being the point of gravitational stability ahead of the worlds orbital track. 400,000kay from the world and the perfect place for a huge zero gravity industry, apart from the constant threat of orbital debris that is, leading the world around its orbit track LaGrange point 4 acted a bit like a vacuum cleaner, drawing in a lot of rubbish from space ahead of the world.

But that’s why ships and platforms have ultra-tough outer hulls to act as Whipple shields, and spall liners, and armour.

Also, it’s not that far away with fast transports.

Arclight was still stretching her back and neck as she floated from the small craft bay where the two-gee transport had dropped her off, to Mech Two where Stone was.

***

“That Longbows a mess.”

Stone didn’t jump, he’d heard her mag boots clumping on the deck.

“Centres intact, the case protected it, right side and both arms are rebuilds, but the big jobs replacing the engine, it’s an extra light, was an extra light, which means it was trashed when the ammo blew. That’s a lot of work in a booth on its own.

Rebuilding the sides won’t be that hard, the arms are going to be a bit more difficult because of the old weapon configuration, twenty tubes and fifteen tubes each arm, I’ll be rebuilding the arm weapon pods somewhat, running a pair of 15 tube LRM racks in each arm instead of the old configuration.”

“Sixty tubes, serious firepower, less than the seventy it had though.”

“Ten tubes isn’t much given it’s sixty or seventy, but sixty tubes frees up a lot of room for more armour and other things, and better ammo capacity. Besides, twenty tube racks are like rocking horse shit right now, everyone wants them and the one I salvaged from the intact weapon pod is a spare for the Archer. Fifteens are made on world so they’re actually available, at least for the big units, meaning there’s less demand for them in salvage and I’ve got some from the shopping trip to Johnson Industries.

I’m changing a few other things around as well, three extended range medium lasers for close in defence, in a mount above the cockpit, she’ll run hot if you fire the racks and the lasers, there’s two double heatsinks to go with the advanced engine radiators so firing everything at once and moving will cook the Mech fairly quickly, but just LRMs will be cool.”

“Armour close to maximum as usual?”

“As much as I could, I’ve tucked in a bit more, one and a half tons extra armour, I’ve managed to, ahem, find some more of that new stuff, both side torsos will have second generation case to go with the magazines, one double magazine for each launcher and one single magazine split between the two racks on each side.”

“Ten tons of ammo, is that what this thing had originally, before it exploded like a small nuke?”

“It had nine in total, five one side, four the other, but with second generation case any explosion will do minimal damage to the torso and get vented backwards, I wouldn’t want to be standing behind it if that happens though. Seriously, 60 tubes will burn though ammo at a ridiculous rate, so we need a lot to keep firing, otherwise you run out of ammo and have an 85tonner with three medium lasers.

Artemis fire control on all four launchers as well. Spall liners on the legs, and arms, reinforced cockpit and the best fire control I could find, and repair. The cockpits buried in the middle of the torso, but it’s got the updated ejection system and life support in the cockpit so it’s fine, unlike the overheated oven that the original ones had. Don’t look at me like that, it works fine.

Now it’s up to you to allocate pilots, but I was thinking…”

“Are you kidding, I’ll have the sergeant majors people drag Topgun out of the Apollo and into this thing if she even looks like hesitating, our best LRM gunner by far, 60 tubes. Match made in hell.”

“Don’t get too excited, we’re doing a lot of work out here, and even with a dedicated repair booth we’re still looking at eight days, probably a bit more.”

“Yea, which raises a question. I know you cut a deal with the mercs when you bought the Longbow, to do all the repairs they couldn’t afford, and I’m seeing Mechs in their brown and green in the booths and bays in Mech One, but I’m seeing weapons, some other things in the bays, and the other booth in here is what looks like scrap, that’s some sort of heavy mech but it’s wrecked beyond repair and it looks like you’re breaking it down?”

“Ah, yes, I’ve taken on some extra work,” Stone raised his hands to ward off the sudden flash of anger on Arclight’s face, “don’t worry, our repairs have priority, this is work on the side, back to the old days for me, and a fair few of the techs, this is what we used to do years ago, scavenging and repairing damaged systems and weapons.”

“Which you’re getting where?”

“Remember Andre.”

“ANDRE! The Russian, smuggler, black market dealer, and CRIMINAL!”

“He’s not, well, OK, yes he is, but he’s a businessman and I’ve done business with him for years, he’s never double crossed me.”

“Yet! He’s never double crossed you yet. I’m still not sure he wasn’t involved in me getting shot that time.”

“He wasn’t, that was… Never mind. It doesn’t, it won’t interfere with Pale Horsemen repairs, and it brings in a few nice items, he’s scavenging abandoned battle sites at night, places where either us or the Caps have already grabbed the repairable Mechs, and a few choice items then left. Cleaning up the scraps and bringing in a lot of damaged items that the house forces won’t recover because of the time involved on what is a battlefield.

It’s not anything major, but it is a lot of lower value items and some very nice finds overlooked by the salvage teams. I repair them here and take my cut.”

“Illegal salvage.”

“Well, technically it’s unlicensed, but it ends up with the military anyway, it just doesn’t involve the official salvage teams.”

“So, illegal.”

“If anyone asks, its New Syrtis citizens risking their lives to recover usable military equipment for the armed forces.”

“But they sell it, they’re making money.”

“So do we, from salvage.”

“But we’re… never mind, I don’t want to know, if anyone asks, I know nothing. So, are you getting anything good?”

Stone grinned.

***

Dee Gee One had flown over the main March Militia garrison then swung her drives to VTOL and landed on a hardstand beside the Mech hangers, where a couple of techs had walked a full company of mostly medium Mechs with four heavies, down from the cargo bay and into one of the Hangers. Stone delivering the company of Mechs, fully repaired, to Headshot.

Twenty minutes later General Temberil had arrived by Helo, and spoken to Headshot.

“JUST A ****** MINUTE THERE!”

“That’s ‘general’, and less shouting at senior officers if you don’t mind.”

Headshot took a deep breath, “Yes, ‘Sir’.” There was enough attitude in that one word to drive a senior officer crazy.

“The Militia currently has a more Mechs than functioning pilots, and I’ve got the entire graduating class from Warrior Hall needing Mechs, now, I’ve got no idea how you have so many fully repaired and combat ready Mechs, last report I heard was your Mech repair capacity was barely keeping up with damage. But that doesn’t matter, I’m taking them.

Do you have a problem with that, ‘Leftenant Colonel’?” There was a lot of attitude in those two words as well.

“No, no sir, you taking the whole company?”

“Yes. By the way, why do you have an entire company of what look like recently repaired Mechs sitting around, they look like they were painted yesterday?”

“Will there be anything else, sir?”

The general sighed, “No, I’ll have pilots collect them in an hour.” He walked back to his Helo.

“******! You, call Stone, he owes me two lances he hasn’t delivered yet, tell him I want them painted in Militia green but I want it scuffed and chipped, then I want those Mechs at his warehouse not here, pick our eight best MechWarrior’s and recall them once Stone has our new mechs, I want our people in them and shuffle pilots around, next time the general comes looking I want our smallest and worst sitting there.”

“Yes sir.”

“****** officers!”


***

“Cold!”

“This, this is nothing, a couple of months, full winter, after Christmas, be cold enough outside to freeze your nose off your face in minutes. This is chilly.”

“Shut it you two, and you, enough of the ‘this isn’t cold’ shit, you’re sitting in a nice warm lorry cab.”

The nice warm driver grinned through the heated window, as heavy snow hit the plastic, melted and ran down. The men outside had snow building up on their shoulders and hoods.

“Right, get the exo’s in there, she’s unbolted.”

“Good, extended range medium laser, that’s a good price once it’s working.”

“Damage is light, the weapons intact, it’s the power cables that melted.”

“Doesn’t matter, Stones job is fixing stuff, we just salvage it.”

“Andre!”

“Yea?”

“Up high, the SRM rack, it’s a clan streak six pack.”

“Shit! Get some people up there then, we’ll be taking that with us, get it first, the other laser can wait.”

The ‘Salvage team were using dull lights and glow sticks as much as possible, only using bright lights when they absolutely had to, and they had guards on watch along both ends of the abandoned street where the fight had taken place the day before. The military had come through and dragged off three of the Mechs, and the obvious stuff, but the other two, which were partly under a fallen building, they had put warning signs on them planning on coming back later.

But as careful as they tried to be, Andre’s people were still showing a lot of lights, and making noise.

The people who spotted them hadn’t called the police, but they had called someone.

***

“Careful, careful, DURAK! Be careful.” Three men were in engineering Exo’s, tough frames with some armour to protect the people inside, and reinforced structure and myomer so they could each lift a full ton. The three of them together were carefully lifting the Clan Stream SRM down to the waiting six wheeled cargo hauler when one of them stumbled.

“CAREFUL, I SAID BE…”

The exo and the man inside had gone limp, and collapsed, the wide blood stain and the bullet hole were black under the chem lights, the other two almost dropped the unit, lowered it heavily on the flatbed and ducked.

“SNIPER!”

***

“Captain, comm from the world, urgent, sounds like there’s a battle going on there, I can hear gunshots.”

“Who is… Never mind, put them through.”

“Stone, STONE!”

“Andre, what the ****** are you doing, sounds like gunfire?”

“Sector nine, corner of ninety third and Elesty road, we need help.”

“Shit Andre, I’m not helping you pull off some robberies or…”

“CAPELLANS, TRIAD, MAT’ LOKHI! They ambushed us, the ones who have been killing people in the city. CAPELLANS!”

“SHIT! Ninety third and Elstry, I’ll have help on the way in minutes.”

***

Stone made his first comm call to the world.

***

“Lander dee four seven two six one, you don’t have a flight plan, you’re exceeding the city flight speed limit and you’re far too low.”

“Noted control, combat alert, inbound to Capellan attack, file any complaints with the Militia.”

“The Militia, you’re a mercenary registered craft?”

***

Stone's second call.

***

“Traffic control, this is militia command, the lander is responding for us, and we’ve got a leopard launching now so please get everyone out of our way.”

“Oh, right. Bloody militia never tell us…” The comm channel was closed.

***

“Fall back, FALL BACK.” The Russian fired every round left in his assault rifle magazine then ran a few meters and ducked behind some rubble, the two-surviving industrial exo suits lumbered past, they had no weapons and no way to use them, so they had no option but to retreat and hope the bullets hitting them bounced off.

Andre half jumped and half fell into cover, two of his people right behind him. He lifted his SMG over the top of the rubble and fired half a magazine down the street.

“We lost three.”

“Four, they got Mikial as well.”


A burst of machine gun fire smashed into the top of the rubble they were hiding behind, by the sound and the number of rounds hitting them it was a belt fed support weapon.

“TOO MANY!”

“They’re at the Mech.”

“They can have it, we…”

Something roared overhead, deafening everyone and knocking them flying with its wake. A big something, long broad hull, stubby wings, drives angled forward as it slowed, and four Battle armour troopers in Standard suits who stepped off the open rear ramp and used their jump jets to fall the paltry fifty meters to the ground.

***

“The area’s secure, the ground troops got most of them, we’re chasing the rest now, be advised, they have military weapon loads including anti-armour.” The Hatchetman Mech was almost invisible, dark green paint in the unlit street, till it fired it’s jump jets and went over the row of buildings into the next street.

“Police are responding now, the Cave’s sending planetary guard to secure the area.”

“It’s pretty secure right now, but there’s a lot of bodies down there.”

***

“These yours?”

“Yes, good men, loyal, many years.”

Gunnery sergeant Tygs looked around then back at Andre, “Better get them out of here quickly, lots of official types on the way, be easier to explain if it’s just the Caps.”

“Yes, yea.” Andre shouted at a few of his people to grab the dead Russians, and to load them on the cargo flatbed, covering them with canvas sheeting and drive them away.

Quickly.

The Battlearmour trooper turned away, ignoring the very obvious loot that was also on the flat bed.

***

With lots of official units on site the squad of trooper walked to the closest place the lander could set down, for a flight back to the space port to join the other squad on security duty.

***

“Any IDs?” The voice came out of the brightening light of the sunrise.

“Looters, dead.” The police officer was huddled in his heated overcoat, it hadn’t been a comfortable night guarding a bunch of dead bodies.

“That it?”

The police squad leader looked at the detective, “What else is there?”

Boon leaned over the body, moving it around, then looking at the weapon and the various pouches. “The jacket is Capellan, the armour vest and assault rifle are Marik, but the pouches, see the way they’re set out, the fixings, the Capellan army do that. And these charmers, notice the cold burn on the cheeks, fresh burst blood vessels under the skin, not long been in the cold. Hello, these aren’t easy to find, ceramic carbon fibre blades, but very high quality.”

“So?”

“So, not locals, well-armed, the report said they had laser rifles, slug throwers, a sniper, an odd group to be looting. Your people checked the Mech, yes?”

“Yea, our tech said there’s an advanced medium laser in there, undamaged, it’s unbolted, and the power connectors have been removed, like they were about to remove it.”

“But no sign of a vehicle to carry it, or a crane or some way of getting it down, a heavy thing to be lifting by hand, which makes it odd, them looting and yet no way to loot anything, just a lot of weapons.”

“If you say so, sir.”

Boon wandered off a little way and had a look around, “Who killed them?”

“Militia and some Mercs, Battlearmour types.”

“Interesting, what sort of Battlearmour?”

“They left before I got here, but someone said Standard suits.”

Boon bent down and swept away some of the settled snow. “Ten mil, a pistol or sub machine gun, twelve or fifteen rounds fired from here, an odd weapon for Battlearmour, and none of the looters had such a weapon, weapons firing from there this way, and from here that way, so, who else was here.”

Boon walked back to the policeman.

“Battlearmour, who were they?”

“No idea, strange colour though, one of the others said they looked like undead or something, like bones left in the sun too…”

“STONE!”

***


DOC_Agren

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #200 on: 24 July 2022, 22:50:04 »
I just want you to know how much I am enjoying this.  :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!"

Captain Jonah

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #201 on: 01 August 2022, 09:55:54 »
Thank you.

Nice to see someone is :)

Captain Jonah

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #202 on: 01 August 2022, 10:02:52 »

Chapter 15

“Forest fires can be useful at times, just don’t be in one when it’s not one of those times.”

***

“Snows starting to get deep, nearly full winter.”

“End of October’s coming up, so yea, a month till full winter hits, then four months of bollock freezing hell.”

“Well, it’s almost Christmas as well.”

“SHUT! Shut it. You don’t talk about Christmas till it’s December, it’s nearly Halloween, you can talk about that, not bloody Christmas.”

“I was just saying. Right, we’re clear.” The man turned and waved a hand at the crane driver then gave the woman in the cab a thumbs up. The crane whirled and whined and lifted the Mech Torso out of the snow and rubble, then carefully moved it to the waiting flat bed.

“Throw on the limbs and send this one in, we got word on the other lorry yet?”

“They said an hour.”

“Shit, the drivers sitting in her nice warm cab while we freeze our asses off, we can’t even go into the buildings to warm up.” He looked around, the buildings on both sides had lost their frontages, collapsed into rubble, what was left of splintered and broken insulation blocks and then it was the inner partition walls, in some places he could see into the apartments themselves as they slowly filled with snow.

“Why are we doing this again, they salvaged this area a week ago, this stuff will never walk again?”

“Environmental clean-up, scrap, ammo, fuel, other stuff that could still go bang, and clearing the streets.”

“Yea, so, is this lot getting dumped or something?”

“Nope, scrap merchants go through it, there’s still some value, bits of intact armour, structure, a few components. They can’t be repaired as Mechs, but they could still have a few useful bits on them. Besides, it keeps us busy here, the military teams are working in the actual combat areas, sod that for a lark.”

***

“Your lot are chasing, want to know where you are, they said the other lorry’s on the way over and where are you?”

“Damn it. On the way, tell them stuck in traffic or something.” The woman put down her almost empty mug of tea and stood up then grabbed her coat. “See you guys on the next trip.” Then with her coat on she headed to the double door system that led out, then walked backwards into the room again, followed by a pair of Saso PD with carbines levelled and armour visors down.

More came in, spreading out, then Boon walked in. “ANDRE, out here now and no shit, I know what you’ve been doing, you’re under arrest.”

A few seconds later there was the sound of some sort of scuffle, then Andre came in through the office backdoor, followed by more Saso PD.

“I’ve done nothing wrong; you have no right…”

Boon snapped his fingers and pointed at one of the officers, who walked over to Andre and handed him the warrant.

“While you read that”, Boon turned to the officers, “search the warehouse, and look under the tarp by the side wall.”

“Yes sir.”

“Now, Andre, you and I are going to have a little chat about your looting, and just how involved your co-conspirator Stone is.”

***

“Remain together, no glory hunting, stay in lances, and stay between the waypoints, you were told about the ground forces strongpoints, I don’t want anyone wandering into range of one.”

The Capellan company, three lances in close formation, stomped across the rubble of what once had been an long apartment building, now just rubble and scraps of colour still above the snow, a piece of wall, bright red curtains flapping in the wind.

Beyond that building was a second, also smashed to rubble, beyond that a third, but the company stopped before crossing the second building. Instead, they opened fire with LRMs and long-range weapons, firing into the fourth building, quickly collapsing it then withdrawing as a company of Davion mercenaries came running toward them.

They weren’t there to fight, just to deepen the hole in the city’s defences, by wrecking yet another of the big apartment buildings, leaving rubble that blocked ground vehicles, and scant cover for infantry.

Another breach in the city defences only Mechs could defend.

***

“Sir, the warehouse is full of stuff, but it’s all crap.”

“As I told you, I’m dealing in scrap and recycling, and I have an agreement with Stone, he repairs some items that can be repaired in return for some of those items, it’s how he gets what he needs for his Mechs, that and the entirely legitimate salvage he does.”

Boon stood up and looked at the officer who had just come in, “Watch him,” Then he pulled his coat on and walked into the warehouse, which unlike the comfortable office, wasn’t heated.

***

“It’s all scrap, all of it?”

“What we’ve checked, yes sir, everything is damaged or destroyed, there’s a few items not that badly damaged, and we haven’t checked everything, that would take all day.

Oh, and sir, there’s another lorry outside, more scrap and wreckage, the driver says it’s legit, the Russians doing scrap recovery for the city, it’s the city that’s recovering the wrecks and sending them here.”

“Legitimate, why do I doubt that.”

“Want us to continue searching?”

“No, they will have moved whatever they looted, any sign of weapons?”

“Yes sir, but all licensed, half a dozen of them are a registered security company, the weapons are all registered with the city, there’s a lot of weapons, but the serial numbers are all on the record.”

“Assemble everyone, be ready to leave in ten minutes.”

“Yes sir.”

***

Andre was definitely looking happier, almost victorious.

“So, copper, you got nothing on me.”

“Is that from a tri dee, the accent sounds terrible?”

“Yea, a two dee, old film.”

“I must have missed it. So, I came here not long ago to ask if you knew anything about people killing salvage teams in the city, what I believe to be both locals and arrivals with the Capellan invasion.

You told me you couldn’t help me. And yet here I am again, with video evidence of several of your people fleeing the scene of a pitched battle between a group of over armed unknown people and Stones mercs, and someone else. “

Boon paused for a few seconds that dragged on, and on. “I saw the blood stains, nowhere near where the alleged Capellans died, how many did you lose?”

Andre said nothing, but the ‘I won’ look was gone.

“Do you know what my job is, my actual job, not the enforce the law thing, that’s the police. No, my job, maintain order, keep chaos at bay, keep the city just on the side of the line that’s stable and mostly peaceful.

I arrest criminals, enough to keep the police commissioner and mayor off my case, but mostly I deal with people who bring chaos. You, smuggler, thief, criminal, but you’re on the right side of the line, the side of order, so I cut you a lot of slack. But this, what’s going on now, this is chaos, I don’t mean the war.

Triads, Capellan Mafia, isn’t it?”

Andre said nothing, then moved slightly, his nod yes was barely there.

“We’re in a war, the cities been invaded, state of emergency has been declared, I want the Capellans, or the next visit will be the HTRT and they won’t be taking prisoners.

Am I making myself clear?”

Andre’s nod this time was more obvious.

“Good, enough of this shit, I want to hear from you. Soon.”

Boon walked out, followed by the officer that had been guarding the Russian smuggler, and they were joined outside by the rest of the Saso PD, climbing into six wheeled off roaders in black and white with the high viz orange stripes, and red and orange flashing lights.

“They gone boss?”

“Yea, for now. Get everyone, spread out, question everyone again, make someone talk, and get messages to the other local gangs, the Davion ones, we need to find the Triads and tell the cops where they are, before we get rounded up and shot while attempting to escape.”

“We could hide, up in…”

“Forget it, those bent sword bastards ambushed us, killed my people, break legs if you have to, find them.”

“Right boss.”

Andre walked across the office to a comm terminal, he had a call to make, and someone to alert.

***

“Captain, message from Dee Gee One, she’s on the way out, with the Raiders, the pilot says they’ve got a passenger, turned up with some sort of warrant to come aboard Odyssey.”

“How many marines?”

“None, he’s alone.”

“Just one man? Wait, ugly, bad teeth, Boon.”

***

“Captain, nice ship you’ve got here.” Boon was faking it, fairly well, but the way he was floating, the death grip on the handrail, his face, the tone of his voice.

“First time in zero gee?”

“No! hated last time as well, don’t like the feeling of falling and wanting to throw up.”

“Well, lets get you into the spin pod, my crew will have to clean up the mess if you throw up here.”

Boon shot the captain a look, but the way he was floating, the white knuckles, his glare wasn’t as threatening as it was on world.

A few minutes later and in the captain’s office. Boon was looking better and sipping water.

“You didn’t take anything before coming out here, you clearly aren’t adjusted to micro gravity?”

“Didn’t expect to need it, a fast run out in a transport under gee and then I knew you had spin pods. Wasn’t expecting to spend ten minutes floating around this oversized wreck.”

“My ship is not a wreck, she’s damaged.”

“The transport came around the hull, that’s an impressive hole in the side.”

“What do you want Boon?”

“Your friend Andre.”

“Not a friend, I do some business with him, buying and selling, nothing more.”

“Right, buying what exactly?”

“A few things he has for sale, items which are listed openly in the city market I would add.”

“No missile fire control units then?”

“No idea what you mean, look, inspector, I have a lot to do, and you seem to be wasting my time.”

“The smuggler you do business with, your Battlearmour rescued him, killed a number of unknown people, no ID, a lot of equipment that didn’t seem to have come from here, and snipers, belt fed support machine guns, lasers, killing people, salvagers and damage control teams.

People I very much want to stop before the city falls into chaos”, Boon paused for a second, “even more into chaos. But your friend won’t talk, and while I can kill him if I can justify it, trying to escape, resisting arrest, that sort of thing, torturing information out of him is strictly illegal, even a scumbag has some rights.”

“Why tell me this, I have no idea who these Triad people are, or where to find them.”

Boon kept his face fixed, no emotion showing, he hadn’t mentioned the Triads, “I don’t expect you to, I want you to put pressure of your smuggler friend.”

“He’s not my friend.”

“And yet, he was attacked and suddenly he’s being rescued by Battlearmour troopers and Militia Mechs, your Battlearmour troopers. For a man you say isn’t a friend, you deployed military force very quickly to save him.”

“He reported Capellans in the city, I respond immediately, and alerted the Militia.”

“Yes, they told me. Alright Stone, let me get to the point, you buy and sell, smuggled items, loot from the battlefields, I don’t care, you’ve responded quickly several times to prevent chaos, your people have at least, you don’t cause me problems.

But this Triad shit, I want this dealt with, the local criminals won’t talk, afraid of the Caps, or don’t want to be seen informing, it doesn’t matter. I don’t know if you heard the gossip, but the official story, classified, the destruction of the Ceti Hussars Mech facility, Capellan special forces in the city.

Chances are they are working with the Triad forces in the city, we’ve always had Capellan criminals, but small numbers, now, several dozen shooters, the team that destroyed the Mech workshop was at least ten strong.

I don’t want the regular police or the planetary guard getting killed by Cap special forces, thinking they’re just criminals and walking into a firefight, but we can’t tell the difference if they’re in civilian clothing.

Talk to your smuggler, then either tell me, or if it’s somewhere no one’s going to notice, get your friends in the Militia, and deal with it just like you dealt with the gunrunners who you killed a while ago when they ambushed your people.

Understand me Stone, I want the chaos stopped, and if it can’t be done officially, I want it stopped unofficially. But you and the militia, don’t ****** up, or I’ll be coming out with marines and arrest warrants.

Clear?”

“You want me to talk to a merchant I do some entirely legal business with, and if he happens to know of a threat to the city, I report it to the militia and stand ready if they need support to deal with it, is that it?”

“Call it what you like. Don’t ****** with me Stone, as long as you stay on the right side of the line, I’ll ignore the shit you pull, but cross that line and you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”

“Right, yes. I get you.”

“Good, now get me back to my transport so I can get back to proper gravity.”

“Yes, of course, I’ll have someone show you the way.”

Boon was on his way up in the lift, escorted by one of the Battlearmour troopers before something occurred to Stone.

“What line?”

***

“All done Boon?”

“Yea, get me back to the world, this floating shit is for spacers.”

“You get anything out of the captain?”

“Not yet, but he’s an interesting person, the more you threaten him or get angry with him, the more he offers a deal that’s good for both of you. Odd trait in a merchant, but let’s hope he comes up with something quickly, the mayor’s taken a personal interest in this one, and so has Davion Security.

No one wants those arrogant thugs in their long black coats strutting around.”

“Yes sir, oh, another case came in, a couple of people tried to mug someone, it went wrong, and the person was knifed when they fought back, funny thing, the person says they were trying to kidnap her.”

“Who was she?”

“A clerk, nobody special, elderly woman, cut badly, some sort of plastic knife with a ceramic blade.”

“Send me the file, and I want everything we have on this woman, she’s a lot more important than she seems.”

“How do you know that sir?”

“While you’re at it, I want any muggings, kidnappings, disappearances that include two or three physically fit men in their twenties and the use of ceramic edged carbon fibre blades.”

“Yes sir, something going on?”

“Someone is spreading chaos in my city, they need to be found.”

“Yes sir.” The pilot didn’t bother asking anything else, not when his boss started talking about chaos and order, best to just nod and stay silent.

***

“Who was that?”

“Who?”

“The short ugly one, the one being escorted by a trooper.”

“Oh, Boon, special police, deals with the serious crimes.”

“Your career as an arms dealer catching up to you, or is it Andre?”

“Andre actually, I haven’t actually done anything, well, some handling of unlicensed salvage, but good luck finding that in the hundreds of tons of legitimate salvage my people are working through.”

“This going to be a problem?”

“Humm, no, was there something you wanted? Stone turned back to his workstation and activated the screens he’d shut down when Boon was there.

Arclight leaned forward and looked over his shoulder, technical diagrams, repair reports and more.

“We’re getting there.”

“What?”

“Getting there, once you get the Longbow repaired, and a Treb, with the Apollo and Archer that’s a scary fire support lance, one hundred and sixty LRM tubes just in that lance.”

“That’s the plan.”

“Of course, we’ve got a problem then. Transport.”

“I know, I know. With our existing pilots, moving Topgun to the Longbow, we can just barely carry everyone in the Leopards, but that’s with the Trebuchet and Apollo left behind. Which is a lot of the fire support. Speaking of, pilots?”

“Being sorted old man, try to keep up.” Arclight grinned, Stone snorted then continued.

“As it stands for transport, Atlas, Longbow, Victor, Thunderbolt and Warhammer in one, big and little Marauders, cataphract, Axman, and Archer in the other, or you can move them round a bit, we can’t deploy the last two, the Apollo and the Treb. Unless we use a cargo ship.”

“Which gets risky if the landing zone is even in range of the enemy, taking out some of our mechs just by shooting down a cargo ship, that’s too tempting to resist for most enemies.”

“We need another Dropship.”

“True, shame you sold that Union when you had it a few years ago.”

“How was I to know back then we’d be a full company of Mechs.”

“Proper planning prevents and all that.” Arclight grinned again, “Keep your eyes open old man, another Dropship.”

“Alright, alright. Slave driver.”

Arclight laughed and was about to speak again when Fen called Stone.

“Go ahead exec.”

“Zoe reports she’s just about done with the escort, I’ve sorted some crew, I asked for recommendations from the lander crews for extra people to recruit, called a few people and I’ll be doing hiring in the next couple of days on world.

But we need an actual combat qualified officer.”

“Crew, you mean ground crew, right Fen?” Arclight interrupted.

“No, the actual crew, gunners, the engineer. Hanger crew is separate.”

“Gunners, plural, for what?”

“The new escort.” Fen’s voice said he expected Arclight to know what he was talking about.

“A heavy fighter, a pilot, maybe a gunner, but why does a heavy fighter need more than that, and an engineer, what…” She didn’t finish before Fen spoke again.

“Who told you it was a heavy fighter?”

Arclight looked at Stone.

Fen cut the comm.

Stone started to explain.

“IT’S A WHAT?”

Stone explained some more.

“ARMED WITH WHAT?”

There was a long pause.

“I may know someone.”

Stone sighed, “of course you do.”

***

“Who, flight leftenant who? Oh yea, she’s not flying right now, probably in her quarters, why? Sure, I can send her a message, not sure you’ll get much of a response, wait, you want her to fly a what?”

***

snakespinner

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #203 on: 02 August 2022, 00:51:36 »
Enjoying the story. :beer:
I wish I could get a good grip on reality, then I would choke it.
Growing old is inevitable,
Growing up is optional.
Watching TrueToaster create evil genius, priceless...everything else is just sub-par.

Captain Jonah

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #204 on: 07 August 2022, 10:10:12 »

Chapter 16

“Mechs don’t come with a manufacturer’s warranty for battles.”

***

The full cold of winter was a month away, and it was coldest after midnight anyway, which made the period from seven to ten of the PM cold but not the life-threatening frost that would come between January and March.

Off in the distance there was a rumble of cannon fire, nothing major, it added to the evening somehow, the decorations were lacking this year, but there was a war on after all.

But the music, the costumes, the dukes’ children’s party was in full swing, brightly lit and with four full squadrons on overwatch, and the Capellans had been informed it was a civilian event for children.

A number of senior figures were there, the ambassadors from Marik, Stiener and Kurita, with their families, officially they were trade envoys, but they functioned as ambassadors, so everyone called them that and just got on with life.

All across the city people had come together to forget the war for a night, some to celebrate the evening of ghosts and monsters, others as the festival of the day of the dead, but there were costumes everywhere, and laughing children.

***

“Running out over here.”

“What, you had about ten boxes?”

“Yea, and?”

“I’ve got some left.”

“Where’s, someone grab some more, there’s a crate left in the truck.”

“I’ll go, I’m not in armour.” The crewperson laughed as she dodged through the crowd, heading for the small door in the factory that wasn’t sealed with plastic and spray foam. The troopers, in armour, stayed where they were, next to tables with boxes of sweet pastries cooked on Odyssey that morning.

The armour had been carefully painted, the paint job had been reversed, instead of black lines on the bone coloured armour, now it was realistic looking human bones in the old bone colour on the arms, legs and torso, and the rounded helmets were stark white skulls, all painted over matt black armour.

The kids loved them, and the pastries, the refugees had been on military field rations and emergency food for several weeks, the arrival of a team from Odyssey with pastries, and huge heated drums filled with a thick meat stew packed with fresh vegetables and spices was very welcome.

The city authorities didn’t have the resources to divert just to collect fresh vegetables for a party, so Stone sent Telemachus and all six fighters on a supply run, enough fresh fruit and vegetables for thousands of people, for an evening’s feast. Several of the other big merc units were doing the same, as were the Fusiliers.

Soldiers, spacers, troopers, mercenaries, and civilians, a dozen refugee centres were places of happiness, warmth, and well-fed people. It was just for the one night, but it was enjoyed none the less.

***

November 1st.

“General, my lord duke, you asked for an update.”

“Yes, general details only, we’ll read the details later.”

“Yes, my lord. Details about actions outside of the Marches is in the folders, fighting continues on several worlds, small battalion mixed actions against Capellan forces left by the three task forces and other raiders.

We’re still getting reports, but the disruption of communications is becoming serious, we’re able to get messages and updates by repeating them dozens of times and combining the uncorrupted bits, but it’s clearly becoming a problem across the Federated Suns, and Intel suggests it’s worse in Marik space and spreading into Lyran and Kuritan space.

But it doesn’t seem to be affecting HPG stations run by the Word, so the Capellans, those Marik worlds and units allied to the Word, and the Word themselves seem to have good communications.”

“I presume someone’s opened the secure cupboards, dusted down the suitcases and started issuing them?”

“Yes, my Lord, actually a while ago when the Word interference with our comms in Capellan space was detected. We’ve got four here, one in the palace, two in the Cave and one with the Sixth, other Key worlds are activating theirs, but while we can maintain communications with our key worlds and major units, we’re still looking at significant problems across the Suns if this gets worse. But this is covered in detail in its own report.

There is one significant update, Halloran V, the world was taken by the sixth Confederation Reserve Cavalry in August, the Federated Suns armoured cavalry arrived in September and have been fighting a mobile campaign that has been very successful, wearing down the Capellans to half strength with minor loses on our side.

However, we’ve had confirmation, the Word of Blake attack that hit both sides, and caused devastating loses, what’s left of both regiments have withdrawn and we have limited intelligence that the Word are massively reinforcing the world. Reports are Capital Missile batteries, a lot of them, and anti-dropship emplacements.

We don’t have confirmation of the presence of some sort of assault ships or pocket warships, just the initial sightings but given how heavily they’re defending, it seems likely.”

“Capital batteries, what’s there that’s worth defending?”

“Six batteries so far, four launchers per battery.”

“TWENTY, twenty-four capital missiles, that’s a threat to a major warship.”

“Yes sir, as to why, the area the Word has taken over, around Terra, the so-called protectorate, we’re looking at a hundred worlds if they continue at this rate, and Halloran becomes a fortress world protecting their southern flank.”

“We can read that later; now, the city, I’m not liking the depths they’re pushing into our defences.”

“Yes, my lord, two locations, here and here, they’ve destroyed every building along the length of the street and cut into the sector five streets deep, they aren’t pushing deeper than that, and they’re careful to avoid the strongpoints, but they’re in three streets deep in a number of other places and show every sign of pushing deeper.”

“Which leaves our strongpoints in danger of being surrounded and cut off.”

“Yes general, but the engineers have been working hard to fortify them, bunkers and pill boxes along with protected fighting positions for at least some of the ground armour. We’ve got Mech units covering every place they’re pushing, but that’s keeping two battalions of mercs busy.

We’ve relocated the remaining third Ceti Hussars units, the MechWarrior’s have gone to the Sixth and the Fourth Donegal, who are back up to a battalion here and a second battalion across at Johnson Industries.

The MechWarrior’s and pilots from Warrior Hall are with us, they’re being formed into companies with veteran lance leaders and being attached to the Fourth Donegal, the Sixth and the Militia, those being the remaining military units.”

“Any problems with Mechs for them, I found a few with the Militia but there’s over a hundred of them?”

“Yes general, and the pilots. As it happens, we’ve been busy salvaging Mechs from the city fighting, the problem is very much MechWarrior’s, not Mechs, we have a small reserve of combat ready Mechs right now, but across the entire city including the reservists, the active-duty MechWarrior’s, the retired ones who can still fight, the regiments and the mercenaries, something like nine hundred MechWarrior’s, almost half of whom are out of action wounded, and over sixty who have died. We’ve also got about a hundred who are lightly wounded and still on duty.”

“Damn, some of them are recovering though?”

“Yes my Lord, but they’re replaced by fresh casualties from the daily fighting, and that number of combat ready pilots includes a hundred and ten combat ready cadets thought they’re taking casualties at a higher rate than the regulars and have two dead and eighteen seriously wounded already.”

“So, including the cadets, how many pilots?”

“A little over four hundred fully fit, four regiments, but spread across multiple commands and mercenary units, under a hundred and fifty wounded but combat capable, light wounds or anything that doesn’t affect their balance or ability to pilot.”

“And Mechs?”

“The Fourth Donegal have enough for the entire regiment plus a company, but even with the pilots from the Hussars and the cadets they don’t have enough pilots for two of those companies. The mercenaries are running at about ten percent over, roughly one Mech extra per company, though that’s on average. The Sixth have about twenty Mechs over full regimental strength, which will be issued to cadets giving them full strength and a reserve of four lances.

We can take Mech losses, and as long as the pilots are fit, we can put them straight into fresh Mechs, but the problem is pilots out with long recovery times, we can’t speed that up, and we’ve got more than a hundred of those, looking at months of recovery, and more each day.

We simply don’t have anywhere else to find trained MechWarrior’s, we can churn out thousands of infantry in days, but Mech Pilots, we’re running out of those.”

“So are the Capellans. Now, enough of this reacting, we need to start acting, grab the initiative back, my Lord, I’m thinking we start using some of our advantages.”

“Explain?” The duke stared at General Temberil, who explained his idea.

***

“Colonels, update from the supply convoy, the fuel tankers are back already meaning we’re at close to full fuel, and they bought Mechs and more importantly pilots from the Taygeta garrison units, but the supply convoy has made contact with the reinforcement fleet and they’ve picked up the full Dropships.” A mere lieutenant in a room full of silver and gold braid.

“Ammunition, stores, eighty-four Mechs, mostly mediums but fifteen heavies.”

A murmur from the colonels and their staff.

“What about pilots?” McCallister, who had taken the role of senior colonel.

“More good news, while there aren’t any military units, there has been a call for patriotic citizens who are Mech Pilots to reinforce the fighting here, there’s a big campaign back home, take up arms and slay the Mercenary Dogs and their master Hasek. There’s a troop transport with the convoy, one hundred and eighteen MechWarrior’s from reserve units and citizen warriors.”

“Damn, a full regiment of Mechs, and pilots, plus spares, sent the data to our people, we’ll pick the better ones to replace losses in the line regiments.” Colonel Parks interrupting.

“Yes sir.”

“So, for those who don’t know, we’ve received word, addressed to the three colonels no less, greater military action against the Davion’s would be appreciated.” McCallister taking the lead.

“Appreciated, is that polite for saying get off our arses and kill some Davion’s.”

“Yes, that’s the polite way of saying it. So, lets step up the pressure and have a plan ready for when all those additional Mechs get here.”

***

“Coming up on the city, INCOMING!”

“All Mechs, company speed, break left.”

The Capellan Mechs broke into a run, the speed of their slowest Mech, or a bit above eighty kays an hour, the incoming rounds from the Long Tom battery missed them.

“Waypoint ahead, ready, ready, break left and attack!”

The Capellan Mechs reached the point on their screen maps and turned hard left, moving at 80 kph toward the city, quickly entering weapon range, but all they had ahead of them was rubble, they ran closer.

***

“INCOMING. Cap company, charging the line.” The spotter was a corporal, watching a series of small screens that gave him a view of more than a kilometre of the city’s perimeter.

“Alert the Mechs, they staying out of range?” The Leftenant was across the room.

“Yea, if we had enough LRMs we could take some shots but they’re out of cannon range. Why are we sitting here when they’re always attacking over there?”

“Because it stops them attacking here. Crenelations.”

“Do what?” The Corporal looked puzzled.

“Crenelations, like on a castle wall. No? Look, we’ve got bunkers, pill boxes, tanks, infantry, even a field kitchen, we can crush a single Cap company that attacks, they’d need a battalion to threaten us, right?” As he was talking the leftenant moved his hands, making the shape of the top of a castle wall.

“Yea, but we’re here, and the next lot are over there, and way down there, the Caps just attack between us.”

“Meaning they have to attack fixed parts of the defence, so we know where they’ll be attacking, which is where the Mechs know to wait.”
“The Caps are firing on the city!” Another soldier across the bunker.

“Friendly Mechs on the way.” The little command teams comm tech

“Too slow.”

“So, what happens when they push so far behind us that we’re cut off then?”

***

“SHIT!” Fifty tons, but a Mech, with worse balance than a human because so much of the weight is in the Torso and arms where the weapons were, the pilot stamped down on his pedals and twitched the joysticks to keep the Mech balanced. “Road’s ice!”

The lance leader looked at the small screen that showed the ground just in front of his Mechs feet, the half meter of snow had been swept away by the leading Mech, and beneath it, the road surface was solid ice, cracked by the Mechs footsteps, but still solid.

“They turned off the heated roads!”

“Shit, gonna be slippery then.”

“Slow down, watch your footing, just hit the target buildings and we pull back.”

“There it is, I think? Waypoints there but it’s dark, snowing and the buildings are blocking the moonlight.”

“They turned off the lights?”

“And the power, the buildings are all dark as well, not even emergency lights.”

“Great, that’s going to make fighting here fun.”

***

The building was destroyed, the Capellans made it out of the sector but took heavy damage to several Mechs, keeping their speed down to avoid slipping on the solid ice that a few days ago had been heated roads kept them slow and in range long enough for the defending Mechs to catch them with LRM fire.

***

“Freezing my ass off here.”

“So is everyone else, woman up you wimp!”

“We’re hiding in the rubble, we’ve got these thermal camo sheets in front of us, and plenty of metal girders to throw off radar, so why do we have to have the suit heating off, it’s a bit ****** cold out here.”

“Because heat rises you moron, the thermal screens stop the Mechs seeing the base heat of the suits, but turn on the heating and we’ll be putting out enough heat to create a plume above us. This is an Ambush, remember?”

“Yea. But I’m freezing my balls off here!”

 “Contact, recon reports we may have customers. Cap company, fifteen hundred meters out and coming past the fortress north of here.”

“Right, this areas still only two streets in so they’ve got to hit it sooner or later. This maybe it, wake everyone up and check the MechWarrior’s are ready.”

“Will do ell tee.”

The Cavalier Battlearmour suits were in fox holes and trenches, carefully dug into the ruins of what had, a few days ago, been a block of one and two bed apartments housing hundreds of people. Now it was just cover for heavy infantry.

“HERE THEY COME! Just broke into a run this way.”

“This’ll warm your balls up!”

***

Two streets away, hidden behind the buildings, two companies of Mechs were powering up weapons and checking they had missiles and shells loaded, time for some pay back.

***

“Mechs approaching us now.” The voice was a whisper, even though it was coming across a fibre optic link that the engineer platoon had put down when they cleared out the fighting positions.

“Everyone make sure you’re under the thermal sheets.”

“Thirty seconds.”

The Mech footsteps, running as they were, made the ground shake, odd bits of wreckage tumbling down the sides of the rubble piles, thick snow dancing on the ground.

“Here!”

The leading Capellan Mechs reached the line of troopers, and ran past them, the captain had walked the area during the short hours of daylight and looked at the tallest piles of rubble, the surviving stubs of walls, all the easy places the Mechs would use to get past the ruins, then had his people dig in behind the difficult bits, so the Mechs ran past them, not noticing a thing.

The Lead Capellan Mech was a Sha Yu, 40tons of Mech wrapped in stealth armour with paired large and medium extended lasers, and a top speed of  almost 120 kph, it was moving so fast it stepped on the first mine that blasted almost all of the armour off one leg, then stepped on another with its other leg and by the time the pilot had tried to slow down it had stepped on a third and proximity detonated another two, it cleared a chunk of the minefield at that point but the suddenly one legged mech went down hard.

The Next Mech skidded to a stop after only setting off two mines, the remains of thier lance stopped before hitting the edge of the mine field.

“Davion Cowards, sweep left and right, find the ends of the field, then…” Half the mercenary Mechs were running around the ends of the next street over, the other half fired LRMs, the two companies had been picked because of a good mix of brutal close combat firepower and plenty of long range fire support, all of which were fired at the two biggest Mechs the Capellans had, 90 on one and 105 on the other, eleven of the mercs being some sort of long range Mech.

“DAVION MECHS!”

“AMBUSH!”

“WITHDRAW!”

Which was when the entire company of Battlearmour stood up and fired the inferno missiles they were carrying.

***


paulobrito

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #205 on: 07 August 2022, 11:36:57 »
Sucks to be a CCAF Mechwarrior.

Captain Jonah

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Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #206 on: 14 August 2022, 10:18:06 »

Chapter 17

“Your unit’s name tells people who you are, make it a good one.”

***

“Last night worked well, very light casualties on our side, and they ran for it leaving seven Mechs behind.” General Temberil sipped his first coffee of the day, the good stuff, rank and privileges and all that.

“Yes general, we can mine the other breaches as well, and they can’t know which ones are ambushes, which means they’ve got to be more careful.” The Major looked up from his tablet.

“Looking for other targets?”

“It’s what I’d do, they’ve been restrained, several weeks with nothing major and they must be recovered pretty much by now.”

The general touched icons and the map changed to show the south of the continent, from the ice line down to the sea. “Nothing critical to hit in this entire area, and they seem to have given up hitting the civilian targets.”

“Sir, they haven’t hit Johnson Industries in a while, and not with anything major.”

“True, a plum target, but we’d see them coming, Dropships coming over the horizon.”

“They walked Mechs across the river south of the city sir.”

“That they did. How fast can we set up a second line of sensors along the river, military ones to support the old civilian ones, down to the coast?”

“A few days at best, given the weather maybe a week.”

“Do it, and Johnson Industries, it’s a big area to cover, even with their own Security force and the Donegal’s. What have we got to reinforce them?”

“Mercenaries, if we’re holding the Sixth as reserve for the city. . . . . Or, we have Vanguard Legion, they reported they were combat ready a few days ago, two battalions given they lost one entire battalion in the miss jump getting here.”

“We can spare them, or at least a battalion of them, alert Johnsons to prepare facilities and transfer them over in the next few days.”

“Yes general, what about the history between the two units, it was only a few years ago.”

“They’re professionals, we’re in a war, and anyway, more than half of the Fourth Donegal are locals now, the original Lyran MechWarrior’s are what, under a battalion?”

About that, yes sir.”

“Assign them.”

“Yes sir.”

***

“Your records look good, and you’ve got the skills, and you come recommended, flight sergeant O’Connell recommends you highly.”

“Irish? Shit, haven’t seen him in a few years, I heard he was flying an assault lander for a merc outfit, didn’t know which one. Hell, if Irish is flying for you count us in.”

The other three all nodded.

“So, pilot, expert qualified on the old Delta Nine, and nine hundred hours on the Delta Elevens, flight engineer, sensor comms, and a gunner. Together as a team for three years with Fed Suns ground support.”

“Landing infantry and tanks, plenty of times under fire, we’re not fighter pilots though, we said that, that gonna be a problem?”

“No, I’ve spoken, briefly, to a ridiculously qualified assault fighter pilot who may be filling the command slot. She’s flying out to see the ship before she says yes or no, this is a full-on combat role, not just landing troops under fire, but actively picking fights with people.”

“Escorting landers, protecting Dropships. We looked over the ship specs last night, she’s a bit different to our old landers, that’s for sure.”

“Well, you’ve got the skills, you’ve got the recommendations, I’m happy with you, we’ll sign you on as permanent crew, which means if you’ve got the skills and fit in, you’ll be here as long as you want, but the contract covers firing you and dumping you on a friendly world if you don’t have the skills, or cause problems. Which O’Connell says isn’t the case.”

“Works for us, but we’d like to see her, get a feel for her, and this Dropship we’ll be stationed on, you lot really have a swimming pool?”

Fen laughed.

***

“Boon” The word was a groan. “You here to harass me for selling knives to kids, the age limit is firearms, no law against selling blades to the under eighteens.”

“Not this time, I’ve got something I want you to look at.”

“Oh! Well, my hourly rate is very reasonable, or half hour, ten minutes. . . . . OK, OK, what have you got.”

***

“Captain?”

“Yes Fen, crew hiring went well?”

“That it did, but we’ve got a problem.”

“Another one?”

“Crew quarters, with two Leopards, and the crew on Dee Gee two, and the replacements I hired to replace them on Odyssey, so we’re now at full staff, and the extra crew to fully staff Mech Two and the new escort Crew, we’re almost out of crew quarters. A fair few of them are living down on world right now, but when we get mobile again, we’re almost out of individual crew cabins.”

“Hummm. You told me you’d been hiring, but the occupancy levels on Odyssey hadn’t gone up so I wasn’t seeing it as a problem. Let’s have a look, I can balance out Beta pod, it’s lighter even with the pools, the higher decks, forty cabins there, which would bring Beta to, a little under three thousand tons.

Another crew deck in Gamma, for crew or the infantry, the Sergeant Majors been hiring people to cover for the wounded, so we’ll need more cabins there, say an extra forty there as well.

Alright, I’ll see how many more Infantry he’s thinking about bringing in, but we can sort another forty crew cabins in Beta, which will cover the extras, yes?”

“Yes sir, more than, we’re nearly at two hundred ships crew and with only two hundred crew and officers’ cabins it’s getting a little tight.”

“I’ll sort an extra forty in Beta and check with the sergeant major.”

“Forty will do for now sir, there’s not a lot else we need crew for.”

“I’ll sort it, anything else?”

“No sir, that’s it.”

***

“Sergeant major, catch you at a bad time?”

The trooper was breathing hard when he answered the comm.

“No sir, training, I’ve got three platoons out doing a bit of running. Ten kay round the spaceport perimeter.”

“Outside! There’s nearly a meter of snow out there?”

“Yes sir, very bracing.”

Stone laughed, “Glad you’re enjoying it, two things, firstly, you’ve been hiring some extra people to cover for your wounded, I’ve got to build more crew cabins for the extra crew we’ve bought on, with the new dropships and so on, and I can add some quarters to Gamma as well, if you need it.”

“Can do sir, in fact, how many can you do, because I’ve got no shortage of recruits, the only limits armour.”

“Balancing the loads on the pods, I can add another forty or so cabins to gamma, I’m putting forty in Beta, do you need that many, or I could use them for crew.”

“Oh I can fill them sir, always useful having some extra quarters, in fact can you make it more, just in case?”

“Let me check. . . . . Sixty shouldn’t be a problem, giving you a total of one hundred and eighty, do you need that many?”

“More troopers means more armour, and more techs, better to have spare cabins than run out.”

“Fine, They’ll be higher up, a third gravity.”

“Not a problem sir, everyone will be working out in the one gee gyms, no one’s getting soft sleeping in low gee.”

“I’ll get work started then, be a few weeks, but we aren’t going anywhere for a while.

Speaking of a while, I finally got a response from the people who were dealing with all the old Standard suits, there are no Grenadiers to be had, but the old worn-out standards are still there, the people are busy with everything else that’s going on.

They said if I wanted to send over a few people and have a look around.”

“Yes sir, I’ll get that sorted, I’ll have some techs and troopers with good suit maintenance skills over there in an hour.”

“Right, yes. Carry on sergeant major.”

“Yes sir.” As the Battlearmour trooper cut the comm he was bellowing several people’s names.

***

“So?”

“It takes time for the material analysis, wait for it, an hour or so for a proper result.”

“Why exactly do you have an entire high-tech workshop like this behind your shop?”

“Ah, I’m very fussy about the quality of my goods.”

Boon scoffed.

***

The days were short at this time of year, meaning it was dusk by sixteen hundred when the silence was broken by the roar of some very noisy Internal Combustion Engines, loud enough to be heard in the office that made up part of the warehouse. The trikes actually had fuel cells, but the sound systems made them sound bad ass, so they came as standard.

The Security guard stood and pulled back the blackout curtain to get a look outside, several trikes were pulling up in front of the roll up cargo doors that led to the warehouse.

Sighing he stood up, paused the soap opera he was watching and went through to the warehouse and raised the door enough for a person to walk in, then raised it another meter as he noticed just how big the Trikes were, and the people on them.

“Hold the doors, we’ll come inside.” The shout was muffled, the riders were covered in cold weather gear but one of the trikes revved and moved forward, under the door and inside. The rest followed.

There was just enough room for the five trikes.

“Evening, you expecting us?”

The Security guard looked up, and decided if there was trouble, he was running for it.

“You the mercs?”

“Pale Horsemen.”

“Yea, they said some techs were coming?”

“We are the techs.” The trooper grinned; he was twenty-five centimetres taller than the elderly guard.

“SHIT! You’re the techs, what do the fighting guys look like? Anyway, warehouse two, you can connect over there through the orange door, so you don’t need to go outside.”

“Thanks.”

“Right, you need anything I’ll be in the office.”

“You not worried we might rob the place?”

“Shit, it’s crap and rubbish here, besides, I’m not paid enough to stop anyone robbing the place, specially not when they look like you lot. I’ll be in the office.” The guard walked away, leaving the Battlearmour troopers and techs to exchange glances, then walk to the door covered in faded and flaking orange paint, and beyond that.

“Jesus, what a load of crap!”

***

“Those pings mean you’ve finished?” Boon looked like he was dozing, he wasn’t.

“Yea, give me a minute to look. Interesting, where’d you find the blade?”

“Dead body, crime scene.”

“Capellan or Comstar?”

“COMSTAR!”

“Yea, these are very rare, super sharp ceramic blade that’s very thin, sandwiched between two layers of carbon fibre for strength, no metals. Every great house makes these, but not to this quality, and no markings, the molecular bond between the ceramic and fibre, the ceramic itself, there’s a place of New Avalon that makes these in small numbers, but bulk, Comstar makes these on Terra, or used to.

No markings though, the Comstar ones are clearly marked.”

“So, are these from Old Earth?”

“Ask me, yea, this isn’t a handmade item, this is factory made, don’t know of anywhere off Terra, and barely a nick on it, fairly new.”

“So, who makes them?”

“Ask me, Word of Blake.”

“The Word, why would they be here?”

“Well, my line of work, we talk to each other, gossip crosses borders, there was some talk a year ago or so, the Word had gifted five thousand of these to their good friends the Confederation, to be issued to special forces and the like.”

“So, Capellans. In the city, kidnapping people.”

“Kidnapping?”

“Not your concern. Thanks.”

“Say, can I keep the blade?”

“No!”

***

“My friend, you don’t look happy, sit, I’ve ordered drinks already.” Cut glass accent, New Avalon upper class, or the sort of thing nobles from minor worlds put on.

The other man sat, dropping into the seat and scowling around the room.

The younger man, who had been waiting, looked toward the bar and waved, their drinks arrived quickly.

“So my friend, take a drink, and tell me what has you so unhappy, a burden shared and all that?”

The older man grabbed his glass and drunk half of it, then slowed down and seemed to relax a little.

“They insult us, and they send the mercenary filth who murdered our people to reinforce us, because we are not strong enough to protect the factories. Bah!” He almost emptied his glass, not seeing the younger man wave to the wait staff for another drink.

“I’m not sure I understand my friend, what has happened?

“You wouldn’t be interested.”

“Not at all, here, a fresh drink, perhaps telling someone the story would help you, a problem shared and all that.” The Davion noble sipped his drink, it looked like a double, straight Syndaro Whiskey. Looked.

“Are you sure?”

The younger man nodded.

“A few years ago, we, the fourth Donegal guard, we were loyal to our Archon, all the Donegal regiments were loyal, it’s in our blood, all apart from the ass kisser Davion lovers of the seventeenth. When the rebellion against the rightful authority of Archon Katherine, what people around here call the civil war, civil war, hah, it was nothing less than an outright rebellion and a coup.” He took another deep drink.

“Anyway, we were loyal to the Archon, the duke here, Hasek, he kept saying he supported her, but did nothing, in the end the Archon sent us to punish him, to force him to obey. We landed on world with a militia regiment as support, from Ridgebrook, and we were hit by the Vanguard legion, the sixth Fusiliers and the militia, we had bad intel, we weren’t ready for the Sixth.

We fought the Vanguard mercenaries, but the Sixth hit the Ridgebrook militia and slaughtered them, a week, that’s all it took, and then they were hitting our rear, so we spread out, companies and one battalion, raiding, keeping moving. But they were hunting us down, our ground units were smashed one by one by the Fusiliers while Vanguard hunted our Mechs.

Two months, that’s how long it went on for, before we had a single company left, and a few scattered lances, a group of our command staff was captured, by Vanguard. They identified them as Lyran but didn’t know who they were exactly, so they took them prisoner, and ordered them to power down their Mechs.

Then they, the Vanguard. . . . . They. They started shooting the command staff, men, women, they were unarmed, defenceless, they had surrendered to the Vanguard Legion, the mercenaries smashed their Mech Cockpits from point blank range.”

The man grabbed his glass and emptied it in one long gulp, clunked the glass onto the table and stared at the fresh drink already sitting there. He took another gulp.

“They were our people, headquarters staff, I knew them, some were friends, and they, they killed them. THEY KILLED THEM!”

A few people in the bar looked up, then quickly went back to their own drinks and their own business.

“The eighth Fusiliers arrived, to stop them, and to protect them. We surrendered, as much as remained of the regiment, of course we did, but not to the legion, those of us who were left surrendered to the Fusiliers.

We were prisoners, fifteen of us, not counting our wounded, fifteen, and the ground forces, half of them were dead or deserted. Then the war ended, and we were released, released, hah. wertlose Davion Rückentäter, Worthless Davion backstabbers. Units who had been loyal to the Archon were offered transport back to the Lyran alliance by the Duke, without their Mechs, or wounded.

How could we leave our comrades behind in a Davion hospital. So we stayed, the ground units went home to join other Donegal regiments, but the Mechwarriors, we stayed.

They reformed our regiment, Davion ground units to replace our infantry and tanks, Davion MechWarrior’s to replace our losses, the only thing still Lyran was our name and less than a battalion of Mech pilots. We are mocked, insulted, now thrown into the fight to defend this world and then denied supplies.

And then, then, we have defended the factories, faced death to defend johnson Industries, and they tell us we aren’t good enough, so they send the very men and women who murdered our people when they were prisoners, to stand behind us as we fight the Capellans.“ The man finished his third glass and put it down a little more carefully.

“A sad story, shameful, that such honourable warriors should be treated like that.“

“But what do we do, we have no transport, no way to leave this world and go home, will the Lyran Alliance even accept us now, after this time?”
“What if you would be welcomed home, as loyal soldiers who gave their all?”

“Would they take us back?”

“I know a few people, perhaps, no promises, but I could perhaps ask a few people, the Lyran trade representative perhaps, or have a friend ask the Stiener Ambassador.”

“Could you.” For a few seconds the drunken depression was replaced by hope, but then the black dog returned. “But how would we get home?”

“Perhaps such a thing is possible, I may have something next week. Go home my friend, get a night’s sleep, come and join me for a drink next week, I may have something for you.”

“Perhaps. I. I should sleep.” The old man stood, slightly unsteady, nodded, and slid sideways out of the booth and made his way through the crowd to the exit.

The younger man stood, and left a minute later, to walk a short distance to a car and waiting driver.

“I need to report in, something useful I think.”

***



Captain Jonah

  • Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 167
Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #207 on: 21 August 2022, 08:19:19 »

Chapter 18

“No one would ever expect it, is not a good reason to do it.”

***

“We’ve tested it twice, it worked both times, no detection, we weren’t spotted. The Davion’s flew air patrols well inside detection range, but they didn’t detect our Mechs. Same with the hover vehicles though they need to keep their speed down to avoid throwing up a tail of water.”

“So we can walk Mech companies along the coast, hidden in the rocky ground and the surf, without being detected. Good, we can send in raids, no Dropships to give them away, and recover them afterwards by Dropship to get them away quickly.”

“Want me to start planning something?”

“Not yet, something came up, the fourth Donegal, we could be looking at an exploitable weakness we can use to open up Johnson Industries to attack, and shatter one of the defending regiments. Hold for the present, no one else uses that route. What about the ongoing attacks?”

“The minefields are annoying, but we’re adapting, the first new attack goes in tomorrow night.”

***

The following midday, a fast transport from the world arrived at Odyssey.

“Welcome aboard flight leftenant. You want to see the ship, or your escort first?”

“The escort, if I’m happy with that then I’ll look at the rest of this monster. On my flight in I noticed the weapon bays and the armour Odyssey has, and the size of the holes, you planning on fighting warships often?”

“Shit, I hope not. Damage control was a nightmare after that, we’re still fixing stuff that broke when that Warship was using us as target practice. But the escorts too small to be targeted by capital weapons isn’t it.”

“Yes it is, so, which way to your small craft hanger?”

“This way, our chief tech is waiting for you.”

***

“It’s an Aquarius. Or it was, it looks odd, bulkier. I’ve never flown one, the Fed Suns doesn’t use many of them, it’s just as easy to use a pair of Stukas which bring more firepower.” Flight Leftenant Cariso was mag clamped to the small craft hanger deck, standing beside Zoe the ship’s chief tech.

“Well, the boss is on world, so I guess it’s down to me to do the tour. The bulkiness is Kallon AeroWeave Ferro Aluminum armour. Two gee drives, overburn to three gee, six tons of fuel so you can fly at full power for a while. She’s configured for short range runs, we stripped out the bunks completely, you can sleep in your couches, on board consumables storage for seven people for four days, and the emergency packs.”

“I thought there was a rule about Small Craft having somewhere for the crew to sleep on long missions?”

“Yea, waste of tonnage for a short-range escort, you won’t be needing to do long range runs, the plan is to do short flights out and back and ground support. Besides, the old design had six bunks which was a huge waste of space unless you were flying multi day missions. Not something you need to be doing with Odyssey since you just dock in the small craft hanger.”

“Right, small craft hanger, in a Dropship. Never served on a Warship or Jumpship, never come across anything smaller that had small craft bays.”

“Odyssey’s a fairly odd craft.” Zoe grinned, “So, total heat capacity is the equivalent of thirty-eight advanced heat sinks, which…”

“Thirty! Thirty-eight advanced heat sinks, not bad!”

“Two hundred ton escort, she’s a whole level above fighters. Heat dissipation is the same as, the main drive is a Dropship type heat expansion drive not a fast burn fusion drive you see in fighters, doesn’t handle heat the same way as a Mech or fighter but she’s equipped with a lot of the good heatsinks.

Armour, she’s a brick, the boss set out the plans, the old ship had a lot of armour, we had to repair the structure, and completely rebuild the armour and hull, then hang almost maximum armour on that, and she’s fully fitted with Ferro Aluminium, just under thirty-six tons of the stuff. The boss likes his stuff to run heavy armour.”

“Jesus! Thirty-six tons of armour, I’ve flown fighters that were lighter than just the armour, currently am in fact. The heaviest fighter I ever flew had less than half that much, my old Stuka had fifteen tons of armour.”

“Yea, with this small a hull, nose on she can take the sort of damage that would wreck a Union, or at least an older Mech Transport Union, not one of the new pure combat ones.”

“A Union, shit!” Flight Leftenant (militia) Cariso stepped over to the ship and ran her hands along the hull, “Outer hull streamlined, armour is standard tiles underneath, yes?”

“Yea, standard hex plates, multiple layers. There’s a spall liner under the outer hull, which is your Whipple shield, then the main armour, the airtight inner hull only covers the crew and in-flight access areas, the rest is insulated but open to space, so she won’t vent air unless the forward and mid hull gets breached.”

“Good, I’m seeing LRMs on this wing, and medium lasers?”

“Yep, the pod on each wing is a fifteen tube LRM rack, Artemis fire control and a double magazine feeding that launcher, the old design had a missile bay in each wing, we pulled the old SRMs and increased the size of the LRMs, we didn’t change the design and layout much, just modified what was there, added additional lasers and rewired the power.

The weapon cluster on the wing tip is a sextuple mount of medium lasers, Intek narrow beam models, the wing tip mount gives them a wider targeting arc.”

“So, thirty tubes of Long-Range Missiles, and twelve medium lasers across the forward arc, what’s on the nose?”

“Blazefire Sweetshots, extended range large lasers, three of them.”

“Three, nice, I see why she’s got so much heat capacity.”

“Yea, she’ll run hot firing everything together and running her drives at maximum, but not by much if you’re careful.”

“Good, and the weapons by the tail?”

“A quintuple mount, for tailgaters, five Diverse Optics extended range mediums, given her role, and speed, getting tail gated by fighters is an issue and the extra reach is useful against anyone trying to be smart and hang back a bit.”

“Anyone trying that with this ship is going to get a nasty surprise then. So, this monster has more than double the armour of a Stuka, twelve medium lasers, five extended range mediums, three extended range large lasers and thirty tubes of Artemis fire controlled LRMs.”

“Yep, good at long range and in space, decent in a dog fight, pretty damned good ground attacking to clear a landing zone for the assault landers.”

“Well, I suppose I can work with that, I mean, more would have been better, but…” Cariso broke into laughter which stopped her speaking.

“You want to meet Athena’s crew?”

“Athena?”

“Goddess of Protection and war. We’ve got an ancient Greek naming thing going on round here.”

“I like it.” Flight leftenant Amanda Cariso was smiling, a big happy smile.

***

“Right, light snow early evening which will hide the mines again, we shovelled snow back over them but if you look it’s easy to spot the disturbed snow. But the weather report says snow about dusk.”

“The whole area covered?”

The combat engineer, an actual construction engineer for a civilian company, and a reservist with the New Syrtis Militia engineering battalion, brushed the snow from the knees of his padded trousers. “Yea, this one and the other two areas where they only pushed in two streets. We’re putting in two more fields today covering some of the deeper ones and we’ll finish the rest tomorrow and the day after. Which exhausts our mines, and no way of getting any more unless someone gets us priority, ammo is all they’re making right now.”

“Plastic mine casings, right?”

“Yea, much harder to detect but no shrapnel, still, we piled small bits of rubble on top so we’ll get some effect.”

“Get on to the next area, the heavy infantry will be moving into position after dark so I need to be sure you marked the safe zones.”

“Anti-Vehicle mines, tracks, wheels, a Mech, infantry won’t set them off, even Battlearmour.”

“You prepared to guarantee that in writing?”

The engineer laughed, “two safe lanes, three meters wide, blue flags both sides and IR reflectors so they’ll show up as reflective spots on low light, but only the side facing into the city.”

“And when we’re walking back to the city, no reflective, with low light blue flags are invisible.”

“And lines of reflectors facing the Capellans as they walk toward the city, that’s a good idea,” there may have been a touch of sarcasm in the engineers voice, “besides, the safe paths are straight lines, you should be able to follow them easily.”

The Battlearmour leftenant snorted and turned away, to go find the safe paths for himself so he could add waypoints for his platoons, just in case.

***

“Don’t get too comfortable.”

Hammer lifted her head from the camp bed, “huh?”

“We’ve got duty tonight, quick response, starting in” Sarge made a show of checking his wrist display, “twelve minutes.”

“Shit, we got the midnight to eight thirty shift, why weren’t we told?”

“Word just came in, one of Vanguard legions battalions rotated to Johnson Industries today and they had a company doing the shift, which no one noticed until half an hour ago, and since we’re on the emergency list and it’s been quiet for a few days, this was declared an emergency. So, you can sleep in your cockpit on the Dropship.”

Sarge turned to the rest of the room, a porta cabin that had been carried in by the Mechs, “WAKEE WAKEE, we’re on alert in eleven minutes, suit up and be in your cockpits ten minutes ago.”

Heads popped up, peering out from winter sleeping bags under blankets.

Sarge went outside and down the stairs to the ground floor where Arclight was pulling on her MechWarrior suit jacket while Topgun pulled on her boots.

“They awake?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“You enjoyed that didn’t you Sarge?” Topgun finished with her boots.

“I will neither confirm nor deny that.”

“You weren’t asleep?”

“Sergeants don’t sleep, we relax our eyes about every third day.”

Arclight snorted then half zipped her jacket. “Right, are the techs warming up the Mechs?”

“Doing it now, and the Dropship crew are powering up, not happily, but they’re doing it.” Topgun stood up, “I’ll go check on them.”

***

“Join the infantry they said, with your build you’ll be in an elite unit in six months, Battlearmour trooper, walking the battlefield with enough weapons and armour to face down Mechs. And here we are, sitting in an icy hole in the ground, snow everywhere, freezing our balls off with our suits on minimum power.”

“Speak for yourself.”

“What, your tits not cold?”

“Nope, local born and bred, this is mildly chilly, now give it six or eight weeks, once we’re into January, that’s when it gets cold.”

“Not looking forward to that then, not pulling this shit, sitting in a hole in the ice with no heating in winter, not looking forward to…”

The bulky long-range missiles were picked up on radar, the infantry strongpoints detected them and sounded alerts, city defences plotted their vectors and targets, but for the Battlearmour, hiding as they were, passive systems only so they wouldn’t be detected, by the time anyone shouted an alert the first missiles were landing.

Each Arrow IV missile had a warhead powerful enough to cripple or kill a trooper in a Cavalier suit up to 45 meters from the point of detonation, the only thing that saved half the troopers was being in the fox holes, the rest, and the minefield, wiped from existence by the barrage.

Then the Capellan Mechs charged into range and people started shouting for reinforcements.

***

The scream of the alert sirens would wake the dead, and if that wasn’t enough the Dropships began to shake violently as the pilots bought the drives to full power, then launched both Leopards skyward at three gee.

“Cap attack, multiple companies hitting two of the breach points, Arrow fours took out the infantry and mine fields, so they’ve got artillery Mechs close by as well.” Arclight.

“No one expects us to go find them do they, no way are we fast enough to be running out into the countryside looking for Arty.” Dancer was strapped in, speaking, and holding out his hands, looking at his fingers, they were steady.

“They can suggest it, but we get veto on missions, that’s in the contract, even on emergency response.” Stone pulled the last strap tight and checked his weapons were powered up.

“How big is this attack?” Sarge’s checklist was quick, no red or orange lights, big gun ready.

“Unknown, they reported several companies attacking two of the points where the Caps have smashed into the housing sectors.”

“Is that several companies as in a battalion in total, or at each?”

“Sarge, if I knew, I’d tell you, we’re reacting and we’re reinforcing the companies covering already.”

***

“LEFT, LEFT! WATCH THE CORNER!”

“ON IT!”

“WHAT THE ******! I’m tagged, someone’s got me target designated?”

“How, we’re behind the apartment block and the Caps are coming round the corners?”

“INCOMING!”

“EVADE, MOVE BEFORE…”

Another barrage of Arrow IV missiles, but this time not spread out, the first two tore the building apart, and that cleared the cover the Mechs were hiding behind, or at least the middle of the building, the other four all landed around a single target, the pilot didn’t even had time to scream before his Mech was wrecked, and the blast caught two other Mechs next to him, smashing armour and staggering them.

Twenty seconds after the missiles exploded, almost as if they had been expecting it, more Capellan Mechs came through the piles of burning rubble that had once been the middle of the long apartment building and the Defenders were being hit from three sides.

***

“They’re hitting sector eight hard, both of the shallow breaches, infantry losses are going to be bad, they dropped Arrow missiles all over them.”

“Did they know the infantry were there?”

“Doesn’t matter, they just hit the whole area in front of the intact building, defenders are calling for help, taking losses, sector eight dash three reports two Cap companies and three Mechs down, eight dash six reports maybe two Cap companies and four down, both under artillery fire.”

“Reserves?”

“Responding now, and the emergency lot are airborne as well, one Union to Five three, and two leopards to five six.”

“Two Leopards, Stones lot with his weird Dropships?”

“Yes sir, they were top of the list.”

“Right, get them in there and kick some Cap butt.”

***

“Arclight, Stone, fighting’s right in the housing area, we can land in the closest area, which is a big carpark, just over a kay but that’s a lot of streets to cross, or in the rubble outside of the fighting, which is probably where the Caps are. Or we air drop you.”

“Most of us don’t have jets?”

“I know that, but just north of the fighting there’s a big shopping complex, couple of cinemas, and a big concrete roofed carpark with ramps down the outside, I can hover over the building, you drop five meters or so, go down the ramp and the fighting’s two hundred meters south.”

“Do it!”

“Yes Ma’am!”

***
 
“Fighters and recon inbound, air cover while we try to find the artillery, and the reserves are engaging.”

***

“Sanjay’s Swords, friendlies coming in from the east, EAST!”

Leftenant Iza Sanjay, one of two Sikh brothers who had retired from the Fed Suns army and recruited a few other locals to go mercenary shot a look east, the first friendly Mechs were coming into sight from the next street, then he jerked his head back and squeezed the triggers as a Cap heavy stepped out, fired directly into one of the Swords mechs and retreated again.

“Raley’s Runners, first lance break north and support, everyone else with me south, ATTACK!” MechWarrior Captain Hunter Raley kicked his elderly enforcer into full speed and turned it south toward where weapon flashes, smoke and flames marked the fighting. A small alarm was beeping, lights flashing red, he glanced at the warning messages, swore, and died as six Arrow IV missiles landed around his Mech.

***

“Car Park in thirty seconds, sounds bad on the ground, the defenders are down six and the reinforcements just got decapped, lost their captain.”

“Bad luck?”

“Eyes and sensors open everyone, fire line on Topgun, fighting line on me and Stone, Sarge and Hammer, stay together and mug someone.”

Yeses, will dos. And an Oh Rah!

***

“TAGGED! I’M TAGGED!”

“ANYONE SEE IT, must be a Raven, find it, FIND IT!”

Overhead the fighters and recon jets raced west, the next salvo of Arrow IV missiles raced east

***

Sarge and Hammer dropped from the Leopard, using their jump jets for a nice soft landing, then walked to the edge of the building and jumped down, the other Mechs dropped one by one, crashing to the ground, stunned for a few seconds as the massive structure and Myomer of the Mechs legs didn’t absorb the entire impact.

“Everyone awake, ramps are over there, let’s go.”

“Topgun took her Apollo, the Archer, and Warhammer to the southern edge of the building, from here they could see down the street. Dancer was pulling ahead a little, getting that bit of extra speed from his Mech, and was heading down the ramp, smashing aside the height restriction arches and warning signs, the Cataphract and Marauder just starting down the ramp behind him.

Arclight and Stone made it across the roof and Stone went down first, Arclight just behind him.

Fourth floor, third floor, second…

“Shit, did the building shake?”

“Something went crack.”

“Speed up, before…”

On the roof Topgun called a target and all three long range Mechs fired, driving it back into cover with its armour pocked with missile hits and a big PPC burn, on the ground Hammer fired off a burst of shots as she and Sarge advanced, Dancer catching them up and the others right behind them, apart from Stone and Arclight, who suddenly came down to ground level a lot faster than expected as the ramp gave way under the 200 tons of their combined weight.

“******! Trapped!” Stones Marauder 2 had no hands, all he could do was batter at the steel reinforced concrete trapping his lower legs, behind him Arclight used her Mechs hands to push aside the rubble trapping her, but both were out of action for a short time.

***

“BROTHER!” Ahmic Sanjay’s Mech took a volley of hits, a pair of Cap Mechs pouring SRMs and lasers into him, his Mech collapsed as one of the legs buckled, and explosions engulfed the Mech, but out of the smoke the white flares of the rockets powering the ejection seat raced skyward.

“EJECTING! ALIVE! I’m alive!”

Iza breathed a sigh of relief, then threw his Mech sideways as a warning light and voice told him he’d been designated.

“FIND THAT ****** RAVEN!”

***

“Horsemen gun line advanced and engage, we’ll catch up as soon as I dig us out.”

On the roof Topgun found another target and called it, 80 LRMs were launched toward it.

***

“Recon three to fighters, abort, ABORT!”

The two recon birds, insanely fast jets, turned hard away from the Capellan force that was throwing Arrow missiles into the sky, a Longbow and three Catapults, screened by a full company that included three Riflemen and four Jagermechs, every last one of them an anti-air configuration.

Attacking that target with a squadron of fast medium Aerospace would be a suicide run.

“Cave, target located, target sent, target sent.”

“Confirmed recon, get out of there. Alert the Long Toms!”

***

Sarge blew three apartments into wreckage and cleared the entire corner of a building, Hammer, Dancer and Bobcat tore a Capellan to pieces before it could withdraw somewhere that still had a building to hide behind.

More LRMs fell from the sky smashing armour from a Capellan Mech, and more Arrow IVs shattered another Mech from Raley’s Runners.

***

“Topgun, find out whose commanding those infantry and get them doing something!”

“What infantry, the Cavaliers were wiped out or are recovering wounded and the light infantry are a kay distant?”

Hammer turned slightly to look at the building beside her, where the Bloodhound probe clearly pinpointed a full platoon of stealthy Battlearmour spread across the top two floors.

Then she was twisting her Mech to bring weapons to bear as she realised whose infantry was in the building. The Capellan stealth suits opened fire first and hit her with three inferno rounds along with machinegun fire.

Shouting, she jumped away to clear the distance, and to find somewhere to hide till her Mech stopped burning, and cooking.

“CAP STEALTH IN THE BUILDING!”

Another volley of Arrows fell from the sky.

***



Captain Jonah

  • Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 167
Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #208 on: 28 August 2022, 09:18:25 »

Chapter 19

“The one who makes the least mistakes wins.”

***

“Hell of a fight going on up there.” Davion light infantry, which is to say regular foot infantry, olive green coloured fatigues, dark brown demi cuirass and the distinctive helmet.

Another salvo of Arrow missiles landed, like a sudden crackle and rumble of lightning strikes in a storm.

“Yea, sooner them than me, not sure I’d want to be under that lot even with the bunker we’re standing on. Who pissed off the sarge anyway, to get us stuck up here on lookout? Hey, I’m talking to…”

The sniper’s second shot was also unheard, the battle to the north was making far too much noise.

The death commandos running across the rubble were also too quiet to be heard, thick plastic and rubber boot soles and training made the stealth suits very quiet, even sprinting across the wreckage of houses.

***

“Falcon to She’shou, the Long Toms are about to fire, stand by, stand by, MOVE NOW!”

The Davion Long Tom battery fired, weapons that would have looked normal back on earth during the earliest time of war sitting on a battleship belched flame and rocked backwards as they threw their shells up and outward.

Far in the distance She’Shou, Archer lance, stopped firing and broke into a run, moving to their first alternate firing position far enough away from their last spot to be safe from the incoming shells.

Falcon went back to hiding and watching.

***

“There they go, GET THEM, GET THEM!”

The Capellan Battlearmour jumped for it as the building they had been sitting in fell apart, the Target Acquisition Guidance unit that had been marking the Mechs for the Arrow IV missiles to home in on was left sitting on its tripod, and was shattered by the incoming fire, the Capellans could no longer target individual Mechs with the Arrow missiles, but they were almost out anyway.

An order was given and the attacking Capellan companies at both locations suddenly began to withdraw, firing as they went, two were destroyed as Davion Mechs tried to follow them and got off some good shots, then the Davion’s were running for it as Arrow missiles began to rain down all over the battlefields.

***

“Cave, the Caps are running for it, I say again, the caps are running for it.” A voice on a speaker.

“Get recon forward again, make sure they’re actually going.”

“Yes sir.”

“I’m not seeing any action anywhere else?”

“No sir, that was it, but we took loses, the infantry are reporting fifty percent dead or out of action and those Arrow fours took out eleven of our Mechs, we killed six of theirs.”

“Not a good exchange, but why didn’t they attack anywhere else, a lot of effort to hit us just there?”

***

“Anyone else hear that?” The tank commander turned her head, the sound seemed to come from behind her.

“Hear what?” The gunner was focused on his screens, and the combat more than a kilometre away.

“A clink sound, metal hitting metal, but faint.” The tank commander activated the low light camera on her cupola and rotated it, the image was shades of green, the ruined buildings, the back of her tank, the tank pit it was hull down inside, nothing else.

“Can’t see anything.”

“Could have been something falling from the ruins, that arty barrage is making the tank vibrate, the ruins are probably worse.”

“Yea, probably, driver, you still awake down there, if they start throwing that lot our way I want you to back up fast, don’t wait for me to shout.”

“No worries ell tee, we’ll be gone long before those missiles land.”

The tank commander turned off the low light sight and went back to watching the area where the distant battle was quietening down.

***

 The crack hiss of the thermite charges wasn’t that loud, barely heard inside the tanks, the infantry in the bunkers on the other hand found themselves trapped inside concrete ovens filled with burning heat and toxic fumes.

Most of the light infantry burned to death as the bunkers and pill boxes were engulfed in thermite flames, none of the tank crew were killed, the charges had been magnetically clamped to their engine decks and had melted through to the engines not the crew compartments.

***

“I thought we had increased guards to prevent this shit!”

“We did sir, but they hit the strongpoints either side of the attacks, took out the guards facing the city and got in that way, everyone was busy looking outward for an attack. Their stealth armour wasn’t detected.”

“How bad?”

“In total, eleven mechs killed by the Artillery, four more in the fighting, five bunkers and pillboxes, and eighteen tanks. Two of those strongpoints are defenceless facing the points the Caps are attacking.”

“Damn!”

***

“Our shift ended an hour ago. Why are we still here?”

“Because this lot got the shit kicked out of them last night, so we’re covering the line while they drag the wrecked tanks out and bring up some more.”

“So, we on overtime then?”

“Shut up Bobcat.”

***

Later in the morning, a lot of serious people, mostly in uniform, holding a meeting.

“We need to start acting instead of reacting, giving the Caps the initiative is going to lead to defeat, especially if they keep pulling shit like last night.”

“Agreed. What’s being done about the Death Commandos anyway?” The MechWarrior had pulled a heavy coat on over his cooling suit before coming to the meeting.

“Security, local police, intelligence, that’s their problem. Ours is what to do to strike back, the duke suggested we could start with the Cap supply bases, they raid us and fall back an hour to reload and repair.”

“Difficult to get to them, they’d see us coming long before we got there.”

“Not exactly.” The officer who spoke was infantry, a Major from the ninth arctic regiment of the New Syrtis militia, actually it was the only arctic infantry regiment in the militia.

“Explain?”

“We, that is myself, some of the other officers and enlisted, we hike the ice, follow trails under the glacier, caving and ice climbing in one. There are routes under the ice all along the ice line, including one called the Falston Crevice that comes out here”, he pointed to a position a few kilometres west of the northernmost Capellan supply base.

“That’s what, ten kay from the base?”

“About that, yes sir, but behind it, we could hit them from the West fairly easily.”

“What about getting away again, arctic infantry, you don’t have Jump packs or Battlearmour, no way you can outrun the response from the Caps.”
“Ah, when I said we, I meant the defenders, not my people, Mechs.”

“Mechs! You want Mechs to climb through some little crevice in the ice?”

The major chuckled, “it’s not little sir, not at all.”

Someone else spoke up, a Leftenant who normally never spoke unless asked a direct question, his specialisation wasn’t called on that often. “Er general, if you wait three days, you can hit the base by surprise, and get away again afterwards, the Capellans would find it very difficult to chase anyone.”

“Why?”

***

The man was a street gangster, barely twenty, one of the scum from Sector Nine where a lot of Capellan ex pats had ended up, or at least a lot who still had some loyalties to back home.

He was screaming past a gag stuffed in his mouth.

“Come on kid, no reason to suffer, just tell us who’s hitting the salvage teams, it’s not your lot, infantry trained, well-armed, tell us and the pain stops.”

The young gangster screamed something that may have been about the Russian’s mother, then it was just screaming.

***

“Why am I here, and why did one of the Battlearmour troopers come to collect me?” Topgun was looking around as she stopped next to Arclight.

“Your new Mech’s arriving, and I did tell Gravestone I’d send one of the sergeant major’s people to drag you here.”

Topgun gave Arclight a look. “I’ve been fighting in my Apollo for five years now, I know her, she knows me, I understand sixty tubes is silly firepower, but it’s a lumbering monster compared to my lady.”

“And you Topgun, are now the lumbering monsters’ pilot. I’ll make it an order if you want?”

“No, I understand, it’s just. We’ve been through a lot together is all.” Off in the distance an alarm sounded, and a voice said to clear runway five one. A long streamlined winged cylinder came through the snow flurries, drives flaring as she settled on the runway and slowed, before turning off and rolling to the hard stand next to Dee Gee Two.

“Come on, lets have a look at it.” Arclight led the way, Topgun followed with half a look over her shoulder at her Apollo.

***

85tons, a little shorter than most assault Mechs, even with the sensor turret on top, but the Longbow was broad, stocky, massive drum like weapon pods on each shoulder, the body was short and wide, slab sided with flat armour plates, thick legs covered in yet more flat armour plates.

The cockpit of the 12-C was perched on the nose, Stones retrofitted triple medium lasers sat above the windows, where the armour plates sloped aft to the sensor and targeting turret.

No one would ever call it beautiful, or stylish, or graceful, but the people at the receiving end of the fire power had plenty of names for it.

“It’s ugly!”

“I know, I know, but from the inside it’s roomy and wonderful and sixty tubes and can fire more often than your old Mech, and Gravestone fitted a very comfortable couch, it even has a cup holder.”

Topgun looked unimpressed, but walked up the ramp into the cargo bay and climbed up the ladder on the back of the legs to get to the cockpit.

The cockpit couch was very comfortable.

***

“Alright, you were right, you can walk Mechs along here.”

The Mech was a Valkyrie, small, fast, part of a recon and strike company of the New Syrtis Militia, it was standing on gravel, a wide area of gravel that went off in both directions under the strange blue light that was all that filtered down through seven hundred meters of ice overhead.

“The Glacier cracked, way aback that way, thousands of years ago it was settling and cracked, this goes all the way down to the ice line, we checked it yesterday after the general agreed to the idea, we can get Mechs in back where we entered, walk down and come out ten kay from the Cap base, completely undetected.”

“Well, the entry’s a bit tricky for anything big, but we can walk assault mechs along here no problem. If this is going to work, we’ll need heavies and assaults, bringing the firepower, any way to deal with the way in, I don’t want an assault Mech sliding down there and wrecking itself?”

“We can extend the ramp, my regiment has a platoon of engineers, take a day, maybe a day and a half.”

“We’ve got seventy two hours to make this work, prepare, launch the raid and be out before the storm lifts.”

“We can do it.”

“Good, get the ramp fixed, I’ll report to the general and then find our ‘volunteers’ for this mission.”

***

“Morning Goddess.”

Flight leftenant Cariso had drifted through the outer door of the airlock and into the small craft bay, the rest of the crew were already by or inside Athena and the engineer had called the greeting.

“What?”

“Goddess, as in goddess of war, commander of Athena. We talked it over last night, came up with a few ideas, but we liked goddess of war, twenty kills and this much firepower.”

Flight Leftenant Cariso, Goddess, sighed, “Been called worse. So, engineering checks all done?”

“The hanger crew and I have been over everything twice, and she was tested by the chief tech, and by the shipyard flight certification people, Athena’s ready to fly.”

“Good, I want to fly something that isn’t a children’s toy with a couple of pop guns.”

“No one would ever call Athena either of those”, the engineer chuckled, “come aboard commander.”

Goddess nodded, twisted and clicked her boot heels to activate the mag clamps, pushed down and locked to the deck, then walked across to the broad bulk of her new command with a series of metallic clicks.

Athena was in a past life an Aquarius Escort, a streamlined cylindrical hull, broadening across the back half into thick wings packed with weapons, heat radiators and other systems and then a twin tail around the cluster of rear firing lasers and the twin drives.

Less powerful than the fusion drives in Aerospace fighters, and slower for the same bulk, but able to operate over much longer distances with better fuel economy. Where the hull curved down to the rounded nose and the triple large laser mounts was a windscreen, running around the whole front of the hull, but fairly narrow, like the slit in a helmet.

Athena didn’t have the sleek grace of an aircraft, and she didn’t have the same deliberate menace as some of the over gunned Aerospace fighters, but she had something of her own, a certain classic line, stylish without looking like an over armed flying thug.

“Something wrong Goddess?”

The flight leftenant, Goddess, shook her head and carried on walking toward the port side crew access hatch, she’d stopped as her mind had wandered along the curves of the hull.

The outside hatch led though the outer hull to the actual door, the heavily armoured one that led into the two-person airlock that gave access to the crew area, as the ship closed down ready for flight the armoured door would close and then the streamlined outer hull hatch would move into place and lock tight making the craft streamlined again.

The airlock cycled and the inner door hissed as it slid sideways, allowing Goddess to enter the forward compartment, five crew positions, the small food prep and storage area and the fresher which was just big enough for a zero-gee toilet and washing area. Aft was the midships compartment with the other two crew and the inflight engineering access areas.

Walking toward the ships nose along the narrow walkway between the crew stations, boots ringing on the metal deck, Goddess passed the two gunners’ positions, both women were seated, they’d sent the man to the tail gunners’ position in the mid compartment where he could talk to the male engineer.

Forward of them was the workstation and bulky comms and sensor equipment used by the crew’s sensor/comms tech, she was switching her gaze between a tablet and several screens and tapping icons.

On the other side of the sensors and comms was the little block of facilities, and forward of there were the pilot and co-pilot stations, the pilot was already seated and going through her going through pre-flight checks.

The crew had been puzzled when Cariso, Goddess, had told them she would be in the co-pilots seat and the woman who had joined with the rest of the lander crew would be pilot.

But as she had explained, as a multi crew craft, her job was to command and make sure everyone worked together, giving orders to the crew and fighting the ship, not getting focused on just the flying.

So, far and away the better pilot, but in something with distinctly average speed and maneuverability where she couldn’t add much to the crafts movements, Goddess was in the co-pilots seat, or the commander’s seat now. All of the crew workstations were big, larger than a fighter cockpit and enclosed in a structural frame that was mounted on a half-circle track.

Like all Aerodynes, in space and under thrust gravity was Aft, the A deck, but in the air on a world gravity was toward the belly, the B deck. So, all the screens, the controls, the deep-seated wrap around couches, the entire lot as a single unit would roll around the tracks, in space they were sitting on the A deck, so gravity was down, and in the air, they rotated round so they were sitting on the B deck, toward the belly. There was a ladder set into what was the roof of the B deck, which allowed the crew to climb up and down when under thrust in space.

Taking hold of the upper crush bar, clicking off her mag boots and swinging up and inward with practiced ease Goddess settled into the couch, wriggled around to get settled then locked the four point harness around her body and tapped the icon to active her chair into its flight or battlestations position, the four way straps tightened, pulling her into the couch as the couch sank down so what had been low sides now formed a shock cushion around her upper arms and legs, the chair backrest did the same to cover the sides of her helmet.

Only a moron went into combat perched on a stool on the bridge of some ship from a Tre Dee show.

The check list took a few minutes, then as everyone reported they were ready, in the A position and good to go Goddess called the flight bridge for permission to leave, which was granted, the small craft hanger was depressurised and the massive, armoured door opened.

Athena released the mag clamps on her feet, the double duty landing gear that included wheels and fold down solid plates with magnetic grips.

Free of the deck, a few careful jets of gas from the maneuver thrusters and the smallest of flames from the main drives and she was drifting outside the ship.

For an extensive and fun day of flight training, followed by gunnery training at the facility the shipyard maintained for testing.

Where Goddess got to learn more about her new ship, and crew. And they got to learn why she was a quadruple ace.

***



Captain Jonah

  • Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 167
Re: Battletech novel Odyssey irregular posting of chapters.
« Reply #209 on: 04 September 2022, 07:23:23 »

Chapter 20

“It doesn’t matter what it is, you don’t have to know how to do it yourself, but you do need to know someone who can do it.”

***

The engineer stepped carefully; the ice was like glass where it had frozen after being melted an hour ago. “Another five meters on the left then bring down the grinder, we need to cut steps or we’ll have assault Mechs piled up at the bottle of a slide.”

“Easy for you to say, you aren’t up here in a twenty-five-ton industrial mech playing snakes and ladders.”

The engineer laughed, but she faced the same risk, making the ramp shallower quickly meant flamers, big ice cutters on an industrial mech, and lots of freshly frozen ice. The ramp was coming along nicely, but it was still over a hundred meters down and if she fell and missed with her ice grapple, she would be needing a medical evacuation.

Carefully she took a few more steps, stamping her boot spikes deep into the ice with each step.

***

“Sergeant Major.”

“You finished?”

“Yea, it’s not good. Nineteen suits.”

“Shit, we bought in sixty odd.”

“Yea, but they were worn to shit, the techs that went though there first picked out the good stuff. We’ve been taking them apart completely, pulling out every small component that’s good, which gives us nineteen, more than that and we need access to a lot of spares and maintenance parts, which we don’t have.”

“Right, I’ll check with Stone, he probably knows someone.”

“He usually does, will we need to suit up a couple of squads this time?”

“Probably, I’ll see what he says first.”

***

“Pure Mercenary mission?” Arclight looked at the list of units and Mechs glowing on the screen.

“Yep. You lot, my shield company, and two lances that come heavy. No one under sixty tons and way more firepower than speed, so if this goes wrong, we’ll be in the shit.” Captain Percy Silver ran a battalion sized Mech force, Silver Blades, two companies of fast mediums and a single overweight company that acted as the anvil, or shield.

“True, so let’s make sure it doesn’t go wrong. The plans sound, and the pay is very good.”

“Yea, triple money, and compensation for the no salvage.”

“No way we can stop to collect salvage.” Arclight sat back a little and sipped at the coffee she had been given, then grimaced and put the cup down again.

“That bad?” Silverheart picked up his cup and took a sniff, then hurriedly put it back down, “Shit, is that, it smells like?”

“Mushrooms, yea, hydroponic fast grow, the good stuffs twenty pounds a small cup now. It’s not actually mushrooms, it’s some sort of hybrid caffeine fungi they grow in the caves under the city.”

“Right, not that desperate.”

“Yet.” Arclight grinned.

“So, the simulators are available, I say we get everyone over there and spend today running through the mission.”

“Works for me. An hour?” Arclight stood up, glanced at the ‘Coffee’, shuddered and once Silverheart had nodded yes, she walked away, activating her comm as she went.

***

“Right, we’re now officially done. All of our Mechs and Aerospace are fully repaired, the mercs we got the Longbow from are overhauled, fixed and loading onto Dee Gee One now. Which means we’re looking at salvage and scrap.” Stone leaned back in his chair and winced as his back shot lightening up to his neck.

“More salvage and scrap, we’ve been doing nothing else in Mech One.”

“Alright, alright, more. Takes us back a few years though.” Stone smiled for a second.

“That it does, but this”, Zoe waved to indicate the room, and beyond that the entire ship, “this is so much not like the old days, trying to work in some cupboard on a cargo Dropship, old tools, no proper workshops. This is so much better.”

“True, so, we’ve finished everything that’s an actual repairable Mech, including the two lances for the Militia?”

“Yea, and we even scuffed up the paint, no idea why Headshot wanted that doing, but the junior staff had a bit of fun with it. But there’s one Mech left we can maybe repair.”

“Oh, the only Mech left that’s actually intact is beyond our ability to repair, I presume you’re talking about the Puma, that wreckage that used to be a clan Mech. We can’t repair that, the structures smashed and there’s no way to repair it.”

“Not with Clan stuff, no, but there’s no shortage of inner sphere stuff around, take a while and we’d need you to map out and completely replace the structure, no way am I doing that.”

“Interesting, I haven’t looked at it much, it went in the salvage pile to be done later, it was wrecked and so scrap. You think it’s repairable?”

“By me, no, by the second best tech in the Capellan March, yea.”

“SECOND BEST!”

“Yea, there’s this woman I met out on. . . . .” Zoe burst out laughing.

“Bah, don’t be expecting a Christmas bonus this year after that comment. So, Puma, alright, up you get, lets go and have a look.”

“Why me, you’re the one rebuilding it, I just…”

Stone stood up and pointed to the door.

***

“Where’s the boss?”

“Odyssey, ship’s business and finishing off the repairs. He said he’d be down for the afternoon, but we’ll run him as a bot on fire support to start with, I want to cover the route rather than combat, we’ve got good maps of the entire run including under the glacier, so I want everyone familiar with that first.”

***

“So, colonels.” Parks chuckled and stretched out his legs as he sipped his coffee. “Next plan, we need to keep them off balance with something new, the Arrow fours worked well, so how can we use them again?”

“Not easily, they know about us sneaking stealth infantry into the city’s edge now which means they’ll be watching for it. Also, I doubt they’ll try the minefields and infantry thing again, not after the losses they took before, so, we need something new, any ideas?”

“Yes, as it happens, that weakness with the Fourth Donegal is looking useful, and we’ve got two ways to get Mechs close without being detected now so…”

“Two, the coast I know about, iron ore rocks and the surf break up radar and lidar, I didn’t know there was another way?”

“We’ll cover it in a minute, but we need to get busy, I’ve just received another start killing Davion’s message.”

“We are.”

“Yes, but not in enough numbers, infantry don’t count, they want much bigger kill counts of Mechs.”

“I’d rather not launch another multi regiment attack into the city, that meat grinder hurt us as badly as the Davion’s.”

“No, smaller but wider spread, raiding the towns and industrial areas, we aren’t attacking the city until we’ve got a solid plan, and the reinforcements. The plan is shaping up nicely, and the convoy is two weeks away with a fresh regiment of pilots, several battalions of fresh Mechs and all the stores we will need.”

“Good, now, what’s this second way to sneak round the Davion’s?”

***

No one would ever call the High Threat response Team subtle, not in the slightest.

A jumping Mech coming over the building from the next street and smashing the entire front of the building open, followed by the hard-shell armoured officers pouring in from vans that had screeched to a stop outside as the Mech had landed. Surprising, but definitely not subtle.

***

Stone and Zoe stood looking at the remains of the Clan Puma.

“Well, we can do it, but we’re looking at minimum a week’s work to rebuild the structure, piece by piece. I can map the side that’s still there, invert that for the other side and get the awkward bits made on world, the rest is standard sections. It’s not clan made Endo so it’s going to be bulkier by a lot and we can’t rebuild the modular compartments on the left arm or torso, but the right arm and torso will still be the original Omni Mech fixtures.

The armours going to be standard as well, we don’t have access to clan Ferro, though I can pull the remaining and sell it, it’s only a few tons of tiles but right now it’s a sellers’ market.

The Clan heat sinks are toast, so I’ll need to replace them with our doubles, but an extended range large and medium laser in the left arm along with a double heatsink and mix and match in the right arm and torso omni mounts. A double in each torso, endo structure reinforcing both legs and the left side there so the bodies good and solid, sell the flamer and pack out the centre with more structure”.

“What about the Clan PPC’s?”

“Both damaged the same way so I can’t salvage one to fix the other, but a nice pile of spares for the Cataphract, and the targeting computers intact, dented, scorched, but intact. A nice bit of kit, though about the only thing we could fit it to would be the Warhammer if we pulled one of the medium lasers and replaced the LRM with an SRM. I’ll think on that one.”

“Captain, message from the sergeant major, and you need to get a transport down to the world, simulator training this afternoon.”

“Damn, right. I’ll get back to this tomorrow, or the day after given we’ve got a mission coming up. Carry on with salvaging the rest of the wrecks while I’m gone.”

“Will do captain.” Zoe threw a mock salute as the captain left.

***

“Weather update, the storms picking up a little, be here an hour early, and the increased north easterly will push it past a bit faster, two hours or so.”

“Still enough to cover the operation.”

“Yes sir, with three hours to spare, at present, we’ll update hourly.”

“Carry on.”

“Yes sir.”

***

Silverheart sighed and leaned forward to stretch his back in the couch, there was a bare spot somewhere, the simulators saw a lot of hard use and fairly irregular repairs, this one had some worn padding over a sticking up bit of metal.

“Alright, Arclight, you happy?”

“We’ve got tomorrow for combat training, but yes, the movement stuff is looking good.”

“Outstanding, so, beers are on you then.” Silverheart laughed and cut the comm before Arclight started swearing.

***

“Storms rolling in, first one of the winter, a few minutes ahead of schedule. This time tomorrow we’ll be right in the middle of a category four winter storm, hundred fifty kay an hour winds, temp down to a balmy minus thirty with extra wind chill down to minus fifty.”

“Won’t affect the Mechs though, will it?”

“A bit of buffeting, terrible visibility, the cold won’t hurt the Mechs as long as their fusion plants are active, of course, if they shut down, or eject.”

The weatherman shivered his shoulders dramatically.

***

“Lead it, LEAD IT!”

“Can’t see it in this crap and radars useless against the stealth at this range.”

“CLOSE IN, GUNLINE CLOSE TO THREE HUNDRED METERS!”

Arclight started walking forward, the snow was knee deep on her Mech but the massive war machine ploughed forward, flurries in the storm revealing and then hiding the fast moving Capellan patrol Mechs that had spotted them on the way in.

Behind her the rest of the gun line caught up with her, firing at the darker shapes in the blizzard. Behind them the fire line was blind, nothing but swirling white all around them and no contacts on radar, the Capellan Mechs were fast, lightly armoured but wrapped in stealth armour that prevented lock-on, meaning the LRMs had nothing to fire at.

***

“Alright, this isn’t working, suspend the scenario and reset to five kay, we need another tactic.”

“We’ve got a Bloodhound probe, the range isn’t amazing, but it should be able to get a solid lock at two hundred meters, maybe closer to a hundred and fifty. It’ll be one target at a time though.”

“Works for me, lets give it a go.” Silverheart blinked as the view out of his cockpit window turned to black and then reset to the snowstorm five kay from the target base.

***

“Well, it’s not neat or tidy, but it works.” Arclight toweled her face and neck.

“To a degree, but yes, it worked.”

“We can go in hard, leading with Hammer and Sarge, getting in close they can engage one target and give us a target lock for a second. But we fight only as a last resort, the targets the base, the stores and the reloading vehicles.”

“Plans and enemy contact or something.” Silverheart checked his forearm display, “Nine hours, lets get everyone stood down for a rest.”

Stone walked in and grabbed one of the towels, “A meal and a sleep works for me. I’ll have the techs go over everyone’s Mechs and have them powered up and ready in eight hours. In the meantime, food over the road.”

“Sounds good, HEY EVERYONE, FOOD OVER THE ROAD, GRAVESTONES BUYING!”

Gravestone shot Arclight a look, she just laughed.

***

“Major.” The Capellan officer looked up from the engineering report he was looking at, three Mechs with minor damage that could be repaired by the mobile gantry he had, two more that would need transferring back to the major facilities at the main base.

“Yes?”

“Message from Colonel Waverly at the main base. He says to power up everything with a fusion engine and to get the diesel-powered vehicles into shelter or under cover, everyone else to get inside, we have an hour he says.”

“What? Are we expecting an attack, power up the Mechs? And what shelter for the vehicles, we have tents?”

“The signal was breaking up sir, but he said something about a storm.”

“A storm, we must power up our Mechs because of a storm?” The major walked across the tent that was his command centre, walking around the portable fusion heater that made the tent actually liveable, and to the double flap. Pushing both layers aside he stuck his head out into the cold and looked east, toward where the main base was far beyond the horizon.

“Ancestors protect us!”

***

“Three raids on pro Capellan gangs, and nothing.”

“Not true, we’ve found several things.” Boon was leaning back in his chair, chewing a nasty looking cigar, one of the reasons for the colour of his teeth, it wasn’t lit though, very senior people kept having words about doing that inside the building.

“Like what, fifty illegal weapons, twenty odd low-level gangers, some drugs, that’s it.”

“Yes, but what didn’t we find, surprise raids, all three of the pro Capellan gangs, all known or suspected to be Triad linked, what didn’t we find?”

“Triads? We didn’t find any of them.”

“Exactly, none of the leaders, none of the senior gangsters, just a lot of crap weapons with very little ammo, a lot of street scum and a lot of empty ammo boxes and crates that used to hold ration packs.”

“So?”

“So! Where did all the rations go, where did all the ammo go, and where did the Triad members go?”

***

The storm hit Saso a few minutes early, but every public information screen in the city had been flashing warnings for hours so only the most foolhardy were outside as it hit, the city was well used to storms like this and everyone was battened down ready, the inner sectors were connected by tunnels, nice warm tunnels, along with covered bridges between some buildings at the sixth and tenth floors.

A number of the buildings in the mid sectors had the same bridges, so you could walk from one to the next in the dry, and more importantly, warm.

But people had to be outside, vehicles were still moving, but outside of a suicidal few everyone was in head-to-toe heated clothing.

“Shit!” Bobcat leaned closer to the triple glaze window, peering into the whiteout, the lights from the room reflected back from the snow to turn the entire thing into a white glow.

“Half a meter of snow in the last hour, all road traffic was suspended an hour ago, even the road clearance teams. I thought you were a local?”

Pathfinder was sitting in the same room, the lounge for the people on this floor of the accommodation building reserved for use by military personnel. Given the temperature outside Gravestone had paid for rooms for everyone in something a lot warmer than the porta cabins in the back of his warehouse.

“Easy for you to say, you aren’t going on a mission in this weather.”

Pathfinder glanced outside, “wish I was, I haven’t launched for real in months.”

“Yea, but Helos, over the city, that’s asking to die, and all the fast response stuff, the time it takes to get your bird out of the Leopard, unfold the rotors, the fights done.”

“I know, but I sit here listening to the unit going into combat without recon.”

“We’ve got Il Duce.”

“On the ground, yea. But flying helo’s over a city, where there could be a hostile Mech hidden anywhere, tall buildings, blind spots, even I’m not that crazy.”

“So, what are you doing then, to keep busy I mean, since you’re doing nothing.”

Pathfinder gave Bobcat a look that Bobcat missed. “Training, Gravestone got my degree course restarted so I’m doing that as a distance learning program, and I’m helping the techs. I’m not doing nothing!”

“Yea, sounds boring, I’d rather…”

“Get suited up, grab some food, mission ready is thirty minutes, we’ll be moving out in an hour.” Topgun was already suited up, a full body MechWarrior suit, and outdoor boots, her vest and helmet were in her cockpit.

She watched Bobcat leave then turned to Pathfinder. “Sorry for that, he’s a little lacking in social graces.”

“Not a problem, I just wish I was out there with you, but in this”, he looked toward the window, “No way I can fly in this.”

“Going to be fun in a Mech. Still, the company’s evolving, I’m not sure Stones given much thought to our recon given we’ve spent a year with regiments that have their own recon. I’ll mention it to Arclight once the missions done.”

“Thanks.”

“In the meantime, get that degree done.”

“Yes sir, erm, Ma’am.”

“Topgun’s fine. I have to be going.”

“Right, good luck, with the mission I mean.”

Topgun nodded then left.

***

 

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