Register Register

Author Topic: Best Served Cold (Light AU, Clan Wolverine)  (Read 9596 times)

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Best Served Cold (Light AU, Clan Wolverine)
« on: 31 October 2019, 16:35:35 »
Gamma Trinary Ammo Dump, 332nd Garrison Cluster
Ming-Na Plains, Tarnby, Smoke Jaguar Occupation Zone
May 7, 3050


"Are you reading this, quiaff?" Star Commander Bartleby asked.

"Aff, Star Commander," MechWarrior DeLuma replied.  "MagRes confirms unknown forces moving on our position, slow speed."

Bartleby nodded, though he knew the others in his Star couldn't see it.  "Foxtrot Star, form up and move out.  Let us see who has made the mistake of paying us a visit."

As the second-line scout Star moved through the open plain broken up only by the odd clump of trees, the incoming sensor readings grew more detailed.  He soon knew he was facing a Star of 'Mechs, assault-class from the look of it, and a Star of vehicles, half kept far back enough as to be irrelevant in the battle.  Bartleby snorted to himself in contempt.  BattleMechs had rendered conventional vehicles obsolete, no matter the insistence of those Hell's Horses idiots to the contrary.

Bartleby opened his comms.  "This is Star Commander Bartleby of Clan Smoke Jaguar to unidentified forces.  Identify yourselves and state your intentions."

Static crackled for a moment before a light, feminine voice responded.  "He asks a pertinent question, Star Captain."

"That he does, Star Commander.  But should we answer him, query negative?"

"Negative, Star Captain, I do not think that we should."

Bartleby stared at his comm panel, blinking in disbelief.  Were they bantering?  On an open channel?

"I think we should answer," a third voice chimed in.  "They are but Smoke Jaguars, they will never figure it out for themselves, query affirmative?"

"Affirmative, they are Smoke Jaguars," the opposing Star Captain said again.  "And what are we?"

"WOLVERINES!"

The cry echoed from the pits of the stomachs of not just the enemy MechWarriors, but the crew of the vehicles, and others from where Bartleby could not ascertain.  Were he given to believing such things, he would have said they boiled up from the pits of Hell.

Even so, the word sent a cold shiver of paralyzing fear up the Smoke Jaguar's spine.  "No," he whispered.  "Great Founder, no."

He was so shocked he forgot to stop transmitting.

"Oh, affirmative, Star Commander," the Wolverine Star Captain replied, all mirth vanished from her voice.  In its place was an icy rage, cold and hard as death itself.  "Lies and treachery made of us a nightmare, your nightmare.  And now the nightmare comes for you."

At first, the last part of her transmission seemed to be subject to interference, but as it persisted past her words, Star Commander Bartleby realized the truth of the high-pitched whine.  Artillery missiles arced over the approaching enemies, exploding around Bartleby's scout Star, shattering nearby trees and sending vicious shrapnel scything through the air.  MechWarrior Sandusky's Jenner was savaged by a near miss, functional but terribly vulnerable.

"Orders, sir?  Star Commander, your orders?"

But Bartleby could only stare in mute horror as a thing that should not be came rushing towards him and his Warriors.  His last sight was of the Wolverine emblem, with its crossed clawmark background, grinning evilly at him.

Annihilation Shrine
Barbados
The Deep Periphery
June 27th, 3049


Star Captain Lilly stood before the tombstones, triple-checking her work.  She had cleared away the old, rotted flowers from the previous visit and placed new ones, taking care to ensure the names on the stones were not obscured.  Normally the work would have been shared with others making this pilgrimage, but Lilly had insisted on seeing to it in private.  Such was her privilege as a Star Captain.

All Wolverine warriors would visit this site at least once in their lives, and the vast majority of civilians would as well.  Lilly herself was on her third visit, and fully intended a fourth when she earned her Bloodname.  She had first come as a young girl, accompanying her father on his first and last visit before his failing health would make the journey impossible.  She had come again after testing out as a MechWarrior.  Now she was here commemorating her promotion, though officially she was serving only as a guide to the new warriors in her command on their first pilgrimage.

This time was different, however.  This time, Lilly had the opportunity to contemplate the Shrine in solitude.

The tombstones were marked Khan Franklin Hallis and Khan Sarah McEvedy, though Lilly knew for a fact that Sarah's body did not lie beneath that marker, or anywhere else on this planet.  Above the tombstones stood an arch made of nineteen stones, each carved with the emblem of the Clans, a deep X etched over each.  A visceral reminder of what the Clans really were, of what they had done.  Of crimes for which they yet needed to be repaid.

Lilly said no words.  Even if she were given to such things, this was not a place for communing with the dead.  To honor them, yes; to remember them, without question.  But the purpose of this place was to recall history, to stand on the spot where it had taken place, then been buried alongside Khan Franklin Hallis.  It was a place to ponder how that history might be exhumed, the crimes repaired.  Or, failing that, revenged.

Lilly looked at the defaced emblems of the Clans.  At 1.7 meters tall, the arch stood almost as high as Lilly herself.  It had seemed much taller when her father had pointed out the icons to her, naming the Clans and their role in what had happened to the Wolverines.  At the top of the arch was Clan Wolf.  Nicholas Kerensky had made the Wolves his personal Clan, it was Wolves who had slaughtered Clan Wolverine in the Battle of Barbados, a Wolf warrior who had taken the life of Franklin Hallis.  They bore the bulk of the responsibility.  To the left of Clan Wolf was the spider of Clan Widowmaker, whose machinations had led to first Absorption, then Annihilation for Clan Wolverine.  Others had carried it out, but the Widowmakers had made it happen.  To the right of Clan Wolf was Clan Snow Raven, once allies, even friends, of Clan Wolverine.  Now. . . now, who knew?  It was known a tragic mistake had been twisted into deliberate malice on the part of the Wolverines, and if history had continued to distort along that path, today's Snow Ravens might hate the Wolverines above all.

Contemplating the symbols of the Clans, Lilly felt a familiar combination of excitement and fear tingle through her.  Even before the Wolverines had been sundered from the Clans, there had been talk about when and how they would return to the Inner Sphere.  The Clans were still out there, Lilly had no doubt.  After all, Clan Wolverine had been sacrificed to ensure the vision of Nicholas Kerensky would endure.  And the Clans were not a patent people -- this Shrine was proof enough.  But it had been two and a half centuries with no sign.  Would the Clans return in Lilly's lifetime?  Would she still be of an age and condition to fight?  Would she wreak terrible vengeance upon those who had wronged her people, or would she fall in battle?  Would Clan Wolverine redress the crimes done to them, or had they only delayed their inevitable demise?

The silent stones around her gave no answers.

Finishing her ruminations, Lilly traveled the path back to her DropShip.  The Great Hope was a fine ship, Fortress-class, obtained in the Inner Sphere and refit with the best technology Clan Wolverine had.  Ships of its type were a mainstay of the Wolverine fleet, being ideal for the combined-arms tactics they favored.

"You are finished, Star Captain McEvedy, query affirmative?"

Lilly couldn't help but smile.  There was only one other Star Captain on the planet, and she stood behind Star Commander Robina MacLeish, but her XO could be overly fond of protocol.

"I am, Robina," Lilly replied, mostly to annoy her subordinate.  She then motioned to the warriors she had kept waiting, mostly infantry troops.  "Those of you on your first visit to Annihilation Shrine, follow me."

Carrack-class Military Transport Ebon Fury
Uninhabited System Gamma 25098 3W
Two Weeks Later


Lilly McEvedy blinked her eyes rapidly to clear the odd spots a hyperspace jump always left behind for her.  Across the bridge, reports came in from the assorted departments of the Ebon Fury and her two DropShips of a successful jump.

As if there would be any need, or ability, to report an unsuccessful one.

"Star Commodore, I have an unusual reading," the sensor operator said.

"Increase the usefulness of your statement, if you please," Star Commodore Romina Cardew replied.

"Working."

Tension rose on the bridge.  "Unusual" readings, whatever their cause, were not welcome among space travelers.

"I have it," sensors finally said.  "Radiation bursts consistent with K-F drives at the zenith jump point, and drive trails between there and the fourth planet.  Decay puts them at a few days old."

"Readout on the fourth planet?" the Star Commodore called.

"Atmosphere, but not a pleasant one.  No life.  Average surface temperature minus twenty."

"Why would anyone visit that ball?" someone else asked.

"Star Commodore," Lilly began.

"Affirmative, Star Captain," the Commodore replied, punching up her comm.  "Great Hope, prepare for transit, recon of the fourth planet."

Six Days Later

From the cockpit of her PUL-W2 Pulverizer, Lilly looked over the site in confusion.  A battle had been fought, that much was obvious.  'Mechs had churned up the ground with their massive feet, melted rock and turned glass to sand with errant laser and PPC blasts, spalled armor with autocannons and missiles.  But only two had fought here, as only two had fought at a dozen other spots on the planet, and none of the fallen remained behind.  It made no sense.

"It must be Trials of Position," Robina said.

"Negative," Lilly replied.  Though the Wolverines no longer used the practice themselves, awarding promotions on leadership ability instead of fighting skill, they understood how they were run.  "There are only two combatants.  Where are the other six?"

"Trials of Grievance, then."

"So many of them?  And why come all the way out here to settle them?  They could have been handled aboard ship, in simulators or hand-to-hand."

"Do the Clans even use simulators anymore?"

That Lilly did not know.  Nicholas Kerensky had certainly had a bias against simulated battles; it was reasonable to assume his people had carried it on, perhaps expanded it.

"We do not even know if this is the Clans," Point Commander Leslie said.

"Actually, I think we do," Star Commander Mollie Penaligan of the infantry detachment answered.  Wearing Wolverine-designed Feral PowerArmor, based on the Nighthawk suits used by the Star League, they were able to move around on the planet's inhospitable surface.  "We found a waste dump, and I see lots of Smoke Jaguar emblems."

Again, the tingle of combined excitement and fear ran through Lilly's body.  Could it be?  Are they really back?  "Gather anything that looks worthwhile for analysis aboard ship.  Get samples of some of this spalled armor, too."

"Affirmative, Star Captain."

Eight Days Later

While the waste dump contained mostly useless junk -- ruined uniforms and cooling suits, broken and scratched holodisks, destroyed weapons and components from 'Mechs, AeroSpace fighters, and what appeared to be a truly frightening suit of some kind of improved, heavier PowerArmor, there were a few good finds.  While none of the weapons could be repaired, they did show a technological equivalency with what Clan Wolverine itself had achieved, though several parts appeared interestingly modular.  Several of the armor samples were ferro-fibrous, and again comparable to that found on Wolverine 'Mechs.  Aside from the pieces hinting at the monstrous suit of PowerArmor (and the equally-monstrous person it appeared designed to fit), nothing came as a complete surprise.

Except the mostly-intact data drive.

No one was sure how it ended up in the waste dump.  A lazy tech who didn't bother trying to fix it, a warrior who couldn't tell the difference between a damaged drive and an irreparable one -- whatever the reason, it was there, and a few days under the fingers of the Ebon Fury's lead computer tech were all that were required to turn it into a trove of data on the people they'd fled from so long ago.

It didn't take long at all to find the story of The Not-Named Clan.

The details were recognizable from their own history -- twisted and distorted into nightmarish form, but recognizable.  But it wasn't the truth, and the truth was of greatest importance to Clan Wolverine.  The Book of Annihilation had been penned by Sarah McEvedy's own hand to stress this, and it was meticulously noted what she knew for fact, what she was fairly certain of, and what she suspected but could not prove.  One thing she had known for certain was that Clan Wolverine would be made a bogeyman for the Clans as a whole, because Nicholas had told her so.  Still, it was shocking to read such a terrifying account, all the worse because, while filled with lies, there were grains of truth behind most of them.

"They've made monsters of us," Star Commodore Romina said, teeth clenched in rage.

"We long thought they would," Lilly replied.

"But this. . ."

Lilly shrugged, a wicked grin creeping up the corners of her lips.  "Nicholas wanted a monster for the other Clans to fear, and for that fear to keep them in line."  An evilly sarcastic light twinkled in her eye.  "Who are we to deny the wisdom of his vision?"

Romina nodded.  "I will send this on to Homeworld.  But if we are in the rear area of a Clan return to the Inner Sphere. . ."

"Then it is time to show them what their nightmares are made of."

Ming-Na Plains, Tarnby, Smoke Jaguar Occupation Zone
May 7, 3050


Star Captain Lilly McEvedy powered up her Pulverizer.  "Reactor online," the computer answered as the cockpit came to life around her.  With practiced ease, Lilly's fingers danced on the console, powering up individual systems, the steady green lights and computer voice letting her know each was activating flawlessly.

"Command interface engaged.  Communications online.  C3 network awaiting master signal.  Sensors online.  Weapons online.  Receiving C3 master signal.  C3 network stable.  All systems nominal."

One by one, she saw the 'Mechs and vehicles of her Trinary come up on the command interface.  Once all were active, she toggled to the command frequency.  "Thunder Star, report in."

"Thunder Actual, green across the board."  That was the Rhino which formed the nexus of the Binary's C3 network.

"Thunder Two, guns charged."  Their Alacorn, with its three Gauss Rifles, linked the rest of Thunder Star to Thunder One.

"Thunder Three, bringing the pain."  Their Demolisher, its standard autocannons upgraded to the LB-20X variety.

"Thunder Four, ready!"  "Thunder Five, go."  Thunder Four and Five were a pair of Zephyr hovertanks, meant to quickly close with the enemy and get firing solutions for the network, or TAG exceptionally shy adversaries.

"Sword Actual, acknowledge Thunder Star ready.  Lightning Star, report in."

"Lightning Actual, Lightning Star is locked and loaded."  The five Pochtli Artillery Tanks were suggested by designs that had only been concepts while the Wolverines were still among the Clans.  Each carried two Arrow IV artillery systems and sufficient rounds of normal and homing missiles.

"Sword Actual, acknowledging Lightning Star ready.  Infantry Star, report in."

"Infantry Star is on your heels."  Lilly had insisted the twenty-five PowerArmored soldiers accompany her on this sortie, partly to see how they stacked up against the Clans (especially the conjectured heavy battlesuits), partly to have a counter if those heavy battlesuits showed up.  She hoped their stealth armor would be sufficient advantage.

"Sword Actual, acknowledging Infantry Star ready.  Sword Star, report in."

"Sword Two, give the word Captain," said Robina in her Spartan.

"Sword Three, standing by," said Rozalia in her Thug.

"Sword Four, five-by-five," said Sarah in her BattleMaster, the final link in the C3 chain.

"Sword Five, scanners hot," said Leslie from her Rifleman II.

"Great Hope, this is Sword Actual, call the ball."

"Sword Actual, Great Hope Actual, you have the ball."

"Copy."  Lilly hesitated, knowing this would be an historic moment for her Clan, and she should say something, something profound, something worthy of a moment future generations would look at over and over again.

"At last we will reveal ourselves to the Clans.  At last we will have revenge."

Silence.

"That's a solid copy, Sword Actual," Great Hope replied after a moment.  "Good hunting."

Wincing, Lilly flipped to her Star’s comm frequency.  “Too much?”

“Too much,” Star Commander Robina replied.

“So melodramatic,” Point Commander Rozalia added.

“I think you watch too much Immortal Warrior,” Point Commander Leslie said.

Lilly shrugged.  “It sounded better in my head.  All right, Command Trinary, roll out, and let us hunt some Jaguars!”
« Last Edit: 19 December 2019, 19:20:44 by ErikModi »

Sir Chaos

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2591
  • Artillery Fanboy
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #1 on: 31 October 2019, 18:12:34 »
Ooooh...  >:D
"Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl."
-Frederick the Great

"Ultima Ratio Regis" ("The Last Resort of the King")
- Inscription on cannon barrel, 18th century

Hawkeye Jim

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2348
  • I'm small but sneaky
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #2 on: 31 October 2019, 18:21:32 »
New Wolverine stuff. Count me in.

Daryk

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 20142
  • The Double Deuce II/II-σ
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #3 on: 31 October 2019, 18:24:24 »
Still not a clan fan, but the writing is solid, and the story is interesting so far...  :thumbsup:

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #4 on: 31 October 2019, 18:55:26 »
This is actually all I have of it thus far.  I have a lot of background in my head, only some of which made it into this bit.

Yes, I did just read Betrayal of Ideals, this week at work, in fact.  Aside from nominating Nicholas Kerensky and Sarah McEvedy as Magnificent Bastards on TvTropes, the idea wormed into my head:  based on what we KNOW from that book, what would Clan Wolverine have become by, say, the time of the Clan Invasion?  And what if they decided that was the time to reveal themselves?

Basically, for purposes of this idea, they care not about Wardens and Crusaders, Successor States and First lords, ComStar and Star League.  They just wanna kill them some Clanners.

They've set up shop somewhere in the Periphery (for the horrifically OP MegaMek game against the bot I'm using this idea to launch from, I've picked Rover), but they've been active in the Inner Sphere for awhile.  Popping up as small, insignificant mercenary companies (exactly like the one you play in HBS BattleTech, for instance), traveling merchants, minor Periphery world militias "just passing through," maybe even pirates and bandits.  Always concealing their true identity. . . because if they can infiltrate the Inner Sphere so easily, so can the Clans, and they're not ready to attract that kind of attention.  Yet.

I do have an idea of Lilly McEvedy perhaps bumping into Natasha Kerensky, whose very existence will piss Lilly off on at least three different levels.
« Last Edit: 31 October 2019, 19:00:08 by ErikModi »

Intermittent_Coherence

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 929
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #5 on: 01 November 2019, 05:49:15 »
"At last we will reveal ourselves to the Clans.  At last we will have revenge."
I don't think she has nearly enough face paint and horns for this quote.  >:D

Also... Do I detect a timeskip somewhere in the middle of the Barbados pilgrimage?
At first she's only referred to by first name and saying she'll be back again when she wins her bloodname, but by the end of the paragraph she's clearly bearing the McEvedy bloodname.

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #6 on: 01 November 2019, 06:37:06 »
I don't think she has nearly enough face paint and horns for this quote.  >:D

Also... Do I detect a timeskip somewhere in the middle of the Barbados pilgrimage?
At first she's only referred to by first name and saying she'll be back again when she wins her bloodname, but by the end of the paragraph she's clearly bearing the McEvedy bloodname.

Good spot, wrong conclusion.  McEvedy is not her Bloodname, its her surname.

Clan Wolverine do things rather differently, part of the background I have in my head.

DOC_Agren

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2554
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #7 on: 04 November 2019, 17:00:31 »
Tag
Hope that there will be more to come in this story, as well as more background for your take on Clan Wolverine
"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!"

SulliMike23

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 908
  • The Brotherhood will expand in the Inner Sphere!
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #8 on: 04 November 2019, 17:26:20 »
Ooh! I like this! Sounds almost like one of the Tribbles on the Tribble Emporium I came up with too. Consider me intrigued.

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #9 on: 04 November 2019, 17:57:09 »
Tag
Hope that there will be more to come in this story, as well as more background for your take on Clan Wolverine

Well, I wasn't initially going to do more. . . just popping the creative bubble that was expanding in my brain.  But it keeps expanding, so. . . ask and ye shall receive, as the Blessed Blake would say.

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #10 on: 04 November 2019, 18:18:15 »
-2-

Burgundy Road, Coudoux, Smoke Jaguar Occupation Zone
September 10, 3050


The Alacorn tank turned its turret towards the onrushing Smoke Jaguar Jenner.  With a thundercrack of discharged electricity, the three Gauss rifles fired in rapid succession.  The first round whistled past the Jenner's boxy weapon-pod left arm.  The second buried itself in the dirt between its running feet.  The third smashed into the cockpit, lodging itself in the torso behind it, tearing through armor, structure, and all the delicate systems that allowed a MechWarrior to control his 'Mech.  To say nothing of the MechWarrior himself.

"Woah, did you see that? Tell me you saw that, query affirmative?"

"We saw it, Thunder Two, good shooting."  Lilly rounded a copse of trees atop a small hill, finally sighting the Wyvern that had been playing hide-and-seek for most of the battle.  Not particularly Clanlike, Lilly thought as she settled her crosshairs over the Jaguar 'Mech.  Her ERPPC and ER Large Laser lashed armor from its right arm and chest, one of her ER mediums bit deep into its left arm while the second went wide, and her flight of LRMs blasted chunks of armor from across its chest and legs.

The Wyvern turned and charged towards her at a full run, straight into a fusillade from Robina's Spartan.  Robina's ERPPC and medium pulse lasers gouged armor from its right side and arm.  One of the four-tube Streak SRMs failed to lock, while the other pounded into the Wyvern's leg.  Utterly unprepared to deal with two attackers at once, the Wyvern pilot tried to turn in its headlong rush to meet the new threat.  Unbalanced by missile impacts and the slagging of tons of armor, the Wyvern's left ankle buckled under the sudden stress, and the 'Mech collapsed to the ground.

Large pulse lasers reached out for Lilly's Pulverizer, two of them stitching melted holes in her arms.  Lilly ignored them, focusing on settling her targeting reticule precisely.  From behind her, cluster autocannon shells and ERPPC bolts from Leslie's Rifleman II struck at the Jaguar Rifleman, damaging it and encouraging the Jaguar MechWarrior to rethink his advance.

Her target locked in, Lilly stroked the trigger of her PPC.  The azure bolt burned into the top of the Wyvern's head, melting it away to nothing in the blink of an eye.

Trees cracked and groaned, bending aside as a massive Highlander crested the hill and broke through the copse.  Leveling its weapons at Thunder Two, it opened fire.

The Gauss slug smashed into the Alacorn's front, shattering what armor remained from earlier attacks on the threatening tank.  Missiles and lasers followed the slug, melting and exploding the vehicle's superstructure.  With a desolate whine, Thunder Two's Gauss rifles powered down, the tank now a smoldering husk.

"You son of--" Lilly growled, targeting the Highlander and letting fly with everything.  She loved this model of Pulverizer because it had been designed for sustained fire with all its weapons.

Robina's Spartan, Sarah's BattleMaster, and Rozalia's Marauder IIC (her Thug having been shot out from under her two planets ago) joined her in punishing the Highlander pilot.  The result of their onslaught was gaping, smoking rents in the 'Mechs armor, and a MechWarrior reeling from the impact of PPC, laser, missile, and autocannon fire.

Flights of LRMs from Thunder One added to the devastation, several finding holes in the Highlander's sundered protective shell to detonate against sensitive components.  Thunder Five zipped past, raking the blocky 'Mech with its medium lasers.

"Wolverines!" Lilly cried, opening fire again and finishing off the Highlander.

The only remaining Jaguar 'Mech on the field, the Rifleman charged forward, large pulse lasers spitting wildly.  It was met with eight TAG laser beams, followed shortly by ten Arrow IV homing missiles.  The Rifleman vanished in balls of flame and shrapnel, leaving only a twisted hulk when the smoke cleared.

"Thunder One, see to Thunder Two," Lilly said.

"Already on it, Sword One."  The Rhino crew were indeed debarking, rushing to the smoking Alacorn to extricate and tend to any survivors.

"Good job, everyone," Lilly said, surveying the battlefield.  "Let us pack it up quick before the rest of the garrison wakes up."

Over the months, Lilly's Trinary had gotten very good at these smash-and-grab raids, isolating and eliminating single Stars and the odd Binary, then making off with their battlefield salvage and whatever they could loot from nearby facilities.  Rozalia's new Marauder was one such find, modified by the Trinary's MechTechs to fit the Wolverines' combat doctrine.

They'd hopped from planet to planet, pushing ever deeper into the occupation zone, staying ahead of any responses the Clans were mustering.  Since mid-May, Lilly had a firm goal in mind, and she was so close to it now she could taste it.

Mid-May was when news reached them of the Turtle Bay Massacre.

Since then, every battle against the Smoke Jaguars had been considered punishment for such an unspeakable atrocity, and Lilly had dreams of personally making the forces on Turtle Bay directly responsible pay for their crimes.

Returning to their landing zone, the salvage and isorla were loaded onto the Dictator-class Arcadian Mercy, while Lilly marched her Trinary aboard the Great Hope.  Fifteen minutes was all it took to secure for launch, then the pair of DropShips were burning sky.  By the time Smoke Jaguar AeroFighters were scrambled to intercept, they were well on their way back to the Ebon Fury.  The Jags didn't maintain WarShip forces over most of their occupied planets -- at least, not anymore -- and by the time a task force could reach the system from the front, the Wolverines would be gone, traveling through uninhabited systems towards their next target.

Commodore's Office, Ebon Fury
Nadir Jump Point, Coudoux System, Clan Smoke Jaguar Occupation Zone
September 15th, 3050


"You asked to see me, Star Commodore?" Lilly asked as she entered Romina Cardew's office.

"Affirmative, Star Captain McEvedy.  We have new orders."  She slid a noteputer across the desk toward Lilly.

Lilly's eyebrows shot up as she read the message.  "Back to Cabanatuan?"  During Clan Wolverine's time as the so-called "Minnesota Tribe," they'd discovered a Castle Brian on that world, and subsequent incognito travels in the Inner Sphere had seen the Wolverines maintain and take control of the structure, should it prove useful one day.  It was from there Lilly had begun her crusade against the Clans.

"We're already deep in Jag territory.  We're almost in striking distance of Turtle Bay.  From there, we can press into Ghost Bear territory, cut through their space, and finally take the fight to the Wolves!"

"You have lost Thunder Four and now Thunder Two, along with three Ferals.  We've done remarkably well, but we cannot replace these losses.  It is time to pull back, resupply and reequip, then press forward again once we have the troops and materiel we need."

"It took us months to get this far."

"The trip back will be shorter, as we will not be hitting every Jag planet on the way.  Nor we will need to keep the LF battery in reserve."

"They will be ready for us when we return."

"They are getting ready for us now.  And you saw the signature on the orders, query affirmative?"

Lilly had stopped reading after Cabanatuan, belatedly she checked the noteputer again.  Sighing, she nodded.

"Then you know there is no arguing them."

"Affirmative," Lilly replied.  She, better than most, knew it was pointless arguing with the Khan.

Zenith Jump Point, Cabanatuan System
October 31st, 3050


"I'm detecting ships, this jump point!" the sensor operator called.

"IDs," Star Commodore Romina said tersely.  "Set Condition One."

The lights on bridge shifted to alert status.  "Coming in now.  They are ours.  The Ashes of Remembrance, the Widows Made, the Switchback with DropShips Den Mother, Minnesota, and Wide Range, and. . ." the operator trailed off, swallowing hard before continuing.  "And the Sarah McEvedy."

Shifting her gaze to the holotank, Lilly nodded.  It was, indeed, the Sarah McEvedy.  Clan Wolverine had only one Cameron-class battlecruiser.  The plans had been found in the Castle Brian in this very system, and with a working knowledge of the upgrades planned for the vessels that left in the Exodus, the Wolverines had been able to build their own, though they lacked the resources for more than one.

The other ships were a Lola III, Whirlwind, and Invader, forming a respectable flotilla with the flagship for the Khan of Clan Wolverine.

"I didn't know the Khan would come in person," Romina whispered.

Lilly was amazed herself, but realized she shouldn't be surprised in the slightest.

"Transmission from the flagship," comms spoke up.  "The Khan requests the presence of Star Captain Lilly McEvedy, quote, as soon as the spots are gone."

Commodore Romina looked quizzically at Lilly.  "I guess you had best get moving."

Lilly declined to explain the Khan's choice of words, simply saluting and making for the small craft bay.

Thirty Minutes Later

Lilly knocked on the door, which was emblazoned with the Clan Wolverine crest, the rank emblem of Khan, and a nameplate.  Upon hearing the call of "Enter," from within, she opened the door and stepped inside.

The office was exactly as she remembered it, sparse and austere, with nothing not immediately necessary for the duties of a Khan within.  It was the perfect reflection of the woman behind the desk.

Lilly knew the sharp-featured face as well as she knew her own, recognized the close-cropped brilliant blonde hair, two shades lighter than Lilly's longer tresses, starting to come in gray.  The immaculate uniform, every crease and plait in perfect place, and neatly organized desk spoke to the woman's unyielding discipline and authority, and always made Lilly feel slovenly by comparison.

"You asked to see me, my Khan?"

"I did, Star Captain.  Be seated."  It was an order, not an invitation.  Lilly sat.

"I have read your reports.  You have done remarkably well with remarkably little.  I bring another Trinary of 'Mechs and vehicles, more Ferals, supplies, munitions, techs, and facilities to continue your campaign.  Behind me, additional forces are coming to turn this into a proper staging area and set up a supply line to let you strike as deep into the Occupation Zones as you wish."

"Excellent, my Khan, thank you."

Drawing a small box from a drawer in the desk, the Khan continued.  "You will now be commanding a larger force, and your combat and leadership abilities are beyond reproach.  Congratulations, Star Colonel."

"Thank you," Lilly said, opening the box and gazing at her new rank insignia.  She looked up to see the Khan watching her expectantly.  "Was there something else?"

The Khan paused for a time.  "How are you, Lilly?"

Lilly stiffened.  "You have read my reports.  You said yourself, I was doing fine."

"I'm not talking about your reports or your military achievements.  I'm asking how you are."

"I am fine."

"Lilly--"

"Mother, I'm fine."

"You've lost people, infantry, vehicle crew.  Those deaths don't bother you?"

"I haven't asked anyone in this unit to do anything I'm not prepared to do.  I've fought beside them every time."  Lilly opened her uniform jacket, pulling it aside to show the fresh scar marring the ornate tattoo that ran across her collarbones.  "I've bled beside them.  And I'll keep doing it as long as it takes."

"As long as what takes?  Every war needs an objective, Lilly, what's yours?"

Lilly opened her mouth to reply, then clamped it shut.  Revenge, she'd been about to say.  Make them pay, make them bleed, do to them what they tried to do to us, and wipe every last one of them from the universe.

And become the monster they believe me to be.

"I don't know," she finally admitted.

"Disappointing.  I suggest -- and as your Khan, command -- you figure it out.  Quickly."

"Yes, my Khan."

"Dismissed."

Outside the Khan's office, Lilly looked at the nameplate on the door.  Khan Jennifer McEvedy Walter.  Walter.  Her mother's Bloodname, and the one Lilly hoped to earn one day.  It commemorated not one of the warriors who had founded Clan Wolverine under Nicholas Kerensky, but one of the seventy-eight survivors of the Annihilation who had hid in the jungles of Barbados.  It was to honor them, and because of the necessity of honoring them, that she fought.

Wasn't it?

Stewing and fuming in her own thoughts, Lilly trudged back to the Sarah McEvedy's shuttle bay.
« Last Edit: 17 November 2019, 09:39:41 by ErikModi »

SulliMike23

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 908
  • The Brotherhood will expand in the Inner Sphere!
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #11 on: 06 November 2019, 18:40:17 »
So the Wolverines plan to strike deep into Clan occupied territory. Makes me wonder what will happen if they run into some IS forces.

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #12 on: 06 November 2019, 19:33:00 »
-3-

Troop Commander's Quarters, DropShip Great Hope
Cabanatuan System, Clan Wolverine Staging Area
November 2nd, 3050


Lilly sat in her quarters, reviewing an old holodisc.  This was her favorite of Sarah McEvedy's speeches, though there were few to choose from.  The injuries she'd sustained leading up to the Annihilation had left her lungs damaged, her voice weak.  Most of the Second Founding had been run by Khan Trish Ebon.  The holodisc contained all the material available on Sarah McEvedy; it was Lilly's most treasured possession.

She knew this speech by heart, she could hear it in her mind, watch it play out just by closing her eyes.  But seeing it again always left her with new things to think about.

It took place two years after the Wolverines had established themselves on Homeworld, an unknown planet in the Periphery near the Combine and FedSuns borders.  With a colony established and growing into self-sufficiency and the first (and last) "trueborn" creches being incubated, a government representing all the survivors of the Wolverines had been established, and debates had begun over what they should now call themselves.  They'd had many names in their brief history.  Before and during the Exodus, they'd been the 331st Royal BattleMech Division, The North American Division.  Then they'd been reorganized into Clan Wolverine by Nicholas Kerensky.  Upon fleeing the Clans, some had taken to calling themselves "The Star League In Exile," and in their first tour of the Inner Sphere they'd gone back to using the uniforms and emblems of the 331st, to throw any pursuing Clan forces off their scent.  That had earned them the moniker of "the Minnesota Tribe."  Now that they had settled, safe and far from the Clans, the question was becoming more important, its discussion more volatile.

On the surface, perhaps, it seemed such a silly thing to have such heated arguments about, delegates shouting and screaming at each other.  But it was an important question, Lilly knew, perhaps the most important question humans had ever asked themselves, individually or collectively.

Who am I?

The debate raged in the holodisc, growing ever more vehement, promising imminent violence.  Then it was suddenly hushed.

Sarah McEvedy had stood up.

Her injuries meant that while she could walk, it was difficult and painful, as well as taxing for her damaged lungs, so she typically remained in her wheelchair.  Standing had made a statement:  she had something to say, and everyone else had best shut up and listen.

"We are better than this," she said, her voice quiet and raspy.  It would never have carried if not for the complete silence that had descended on the chamber.  "Strife and discord are ravaging the Successor States, they ravaged the Pentagon Worlds and Clans, they all but destroyed us.  It will not happen here.  I will not allow it.  Am I understood?"  No one spoke, everyone nodded. "Whatever we are, we are a family.  We disagree, we argue, but we always look out for each other.  Whatever we decide will be done with dignity and civility."  Sarah McEvedy sat.

"What do you think we should be?" one of the Scientist delegates asked.

"I do not know," Sarah replied.  She considered for a moment, then spoke again.  "The Clans tried to wipe us from history as Clan Wolverine, yet we are still here.  There is power in that, I think.  I feel. . . disquiet at the idea of finishing what they started."

After that, the debate was quickly settled.  Though no longer beholden to the vision of Nicholas Kerensky, they would remain Clan Wolverine.

Because "clan" is just another word for "family."

Briefing Room, DropShip Great Hope
Cabanatuan System, Clan Wolverine Staging Area
November 3rd, 3050


"Alright," Lilly said as the assembled members of her Trinary settled down.  "The Khan has brought us new warriors and new toys."

"What kind of new toys?" Robina asked.

"I will be looking into that myself shortly.  I will also be scheduling a meet-and-greet on Ebon Fury's grav deck tomorrow, followed by unit cohesion simulations.  I plan to have us jumping back for Jag turf before the month is out, I want this Cluster at full readiness before then."

"How will we be handling that?" Rozalia asked.

"The new Trinary is two Stars of 'Mechs and one of vehicles, they will transfer to Arcadian MercyEbon Fury will keep Great Hope and Arcadian Mercy, Switchback will keep Den Mother and Minnesota."  Den Mother was another Fortress-class, Minnesota was another Dictator, their cavernous 'Mech bays and cargo holds suited to carrying isorla.  "All our combat forces will be on one ship, all our isorla on another."

"I hear the Wide Range has a whole factory on board," said Star Commander James Ebon, driver of Lightning One.

"Not quite," Lilly replied.  "But it does have the best facilities that can be crammed aboard a Behemoth.  We find anything good, the techs over there can rejigger it as needed."

"We learn more about these Clan battlesuits yet?" Star Commander Mollie asked.

"Not yet, but that is a priority moving forward."

"Good," the leader of the Ferals replied.  "The Jags may not like shooting at us, but when they do, we feel it."

Lilly nodded.  The Ferals' stealth armor did seem to be protecting them from being targeted by the Smoke Jaguar 'Mechs, but any 'Mech-scale weapon they did choose to fire at them tore through the exoskeletons with ease.

"Since we're now a Cluster -- a small Cluster, but a Cluster -- the Khan has promoted me to Star Colonel."  Lilly fished a small box from her pocket and tossed it to Robina.  "Star Captain MacLeish, you are now in charge of Command Trinary."

"Yes, sir."

Lilly tossed another box to Rozalia.  "Star Commander Ponchielli, you are now in command of Sword Star."

"Thank you, sir."  She was still outranked by two people in the Star she was supposedly in command of, but seeing to the logistics and administration of the Star so Robina could focus on the Trinary and Lilly on the Cluster was still an important job.

Lilly tossed a third box to Mollie.  "Star Captain Penaligan, you lead the Ferals."

"Copy."

After inquiring after the status of her Trinary, Lilly adjourned the meeting, allowing her promoted subordinates to see to their new responsibilities.

'Mech Bay, DropShip Arcadian Mercy
Cabanatuan System, Clan Wolverine Staging Area
November 4th, 3050


"What the hell is that?" Lilly asked incredulously.

"It is a Stalker," Chief Mech Tech Ho-Yin Svenson answered.

"I can see that.  What did you do to it?"

"Well, we heard reports that the Capellans were fielding a new Catapult that replaced all the missiles with an Arrow IV system."

"And what, you said 'hold my beer?'"

The Chief flushed.  "Well. . . not in so many words. . . but look, taking the Stalker chassis let us mount two Arrow IVs and three tons each of standard and homing missiles for each launcher."

"And only three medium lasers for backup," Lilly noted, spotting the firing ports spread evenly on the 'Mech's torso.  The slim, rectangular weapon pods on either side of the rounded body had been expanded greatly to hold the massive artillery launchers, giving the 'Mech a flared, ungainly appearance.

"Medium pulses, actually."

Lilly had been keeping a running tally of the 'Mech's mass.  "So no additional heat sinks, then."

Chief Svenson shrugged.  "Should not need them.  If it is close enough to be firing lasers, it should not be firing artillery anymore."

"At least the Pochtlis can defend themselves if they get rushed."

"But this only takes a single MechWarrior, not a crew of six."

"The Pochtli crews are going to love hearing that."

"It's not meant as a replacement," the Chief said, clearly upset that his creation was being criticized.  "It's just supposed to be a perhaps less resource-intensive option.  And the pilots have drilled extensively in artillery tactics -- they'll drop those missiles anywhere you want, every time."

"I'll believe that when I see it," Lilly replied.  Her Trinary were experienced at danger-close artillery fire, guided or not, but she was still careful to keep her troops out of range of any mis-aimed shells.  As a result, they'd adapted a "let them come to us" approach.

Still, if the W3 Stalker performed as advertised. . . "We will see how it does."

"We will not let you down, Star Colonel.  You can count on it."

Lilly moved on, surveying the rest of her new Trinary.  The lead 'Mech of the command Star was a Hatchetman Star Captain Mi-Jung Chon had found and fallen in love with while posing as a mercenary in the Federated Commonwealth.  Hatchet Two was, naturally, a Wolverine.  Hatchet Three, Four, and Five were a Centurion, Crab, and the Clan Wolverine original Stag II.  Stonewall Star was centered on massive Behemoth tank, which housed the C3 network linking Hatchet and Stonewall Stars together.  The rest of Stonewall consisted of an Ontos, a Schreck PPC Carrier, and two different versions of Partisan, one with four Ultra Autocannon/5s, the other with an absolutely excessive seventy-five LRM tubes.

All had been upgraded to Clan Wolverine's latest tech standards, though the Schreck had proven the most difficult.  It was simply not possible to replace the three PPCs with the Wolverine's ER versions (along with the heat sinks they required) and retain anything resembling speed or armor.  In the end, it was decided that having the same damage output as the stock Schreck, but putting it put in two volleys instead of three, was an acceptable tradeoff.  Though there was apparently a "Schreck LPL Carrier" undergoing testing that was showing some promise, and a “Schreck II” which did carry three ERPPCs, as well as TAG and a C3 slave. . . but was ten tons heavier.

The five new STK-W3 Stalkers formed Quake Star, rounding out the Trinary.

Lilly nodded.  "Seems a solid lineup.  I look forward to meeting the warriors."

That night on Ebon Fury's grav deck, the warriors of Command and Striker Trinaries met.  It went well; introductions were made, drinks were had, war stories swapped.  Warrior Crewman Angus Yatsuhashi, still walking with a cane, was telling anyone who would listen about putting a Gauss rifle slug cleanly through the cockpit of a running Jenner at range.

As the party wore on, Lilly noted several warriors slinking out in pairs and sighed to herself.  It may not be against regulations, but as CO, Lilly felt it inappropriate to consort with her subordinates on a physical level.  Plus, back on Homeworld, Andrei was waiting. . .

Eventually, Lilly excused herself and returned to her quarters, where she began planning her renewed campaign against the Clans.

This time, with an objective in mind.

Edit:  I messed up my logistics a bit.  My upgraded Fortress only has five 'Mech Bays and ten Vehicle Bays, insufficient for Striker Trinary.  The Dictator has twenty 'Mech Bays and fifteen Vehicle Bays, so Striker fits comfortably on that, though their Ferals ride the Fortress.  PS, every time I type "Ferals" in relation to Wolverine PowerArmor troops, I like that name just a little bit more.  Not bad for something I thought up because nothing better was coming to me.
« Last Edit: 17 November 2019, 09:55:52 by ErikModi »

SulliMike23

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 908
  • The Brotherhood will expand in the Inner Sphere!
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #13 on: 07 November 2019, 10:21:25 »
So now their Clan will get some new tech; but they still don't have Omnis yet and that's going to put them at a slight disadvantage.

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #14 on: 07 November 2019, 11:17:28 »
Nope, no Omnis, but that's kind of an advantage in a way.  The way I understand it, you can't just pop a PPC out of an OmniPod and wire it into a non-OmniMech.  So you have to have one supply line for Omnis and for non-Omnis.  It does mean that the Wolverines can't make use of stuff they yank out of any Omnis they acquire, which could be a problem.

And the Wolverines pretty much have Clan tech.  My initial thought was that the Wolverines would have Star League era tech, putting more emphasis on examining Clan equipment and quickly reverse-engineering it, then I thought that doesn't make sense.  These are the guys who invented the Enhanced PPC, they have same starting tech base as the Clans, the same 250 years for R&D as the Clans, and less infighting.  They'd be able to advance at least as fast as the Clans did.  (And then there's stuff, like C3 computers, they just stole from the Inner Sphere.)  And they have some things no one else has yet, like stealth armor for battlesuits.  Since it was originally Star League tech that the Inner Sphere lost and the Clans didn't care about, and if the Clans can go from "stealth armor for battlesuits? That actually sounds like a good idea" to "improved stealth armor, freebirths!" in a year, the Wolverines could do the same in two centuries.  Their main disadvantage is that their infantry are in Ultralight PALs.  But I've trial-and-errored my way through BattleArmor construction in MegaMek, so the W2 Feral BattleArmor may be making an appearance soon.  Or not.

New chapter in the works, one I didn't intend to write (at least, not the first part).  Lilly is definitely one of my characters.  She surprised me in Chapter 2, not with where she wanted this to go at the time, but how far she was willing to take it (if I handed her infinite resources then and there, she was prepared to go about slaughtering every single Clanner personally).  She's mellowed since her mom gave her a reality check. . . but now she wants us to know all about her family.  I didn't even know she had a family when this started.
« Last Edit: 07 November 2019, 11:19:25 by ErikModi »

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #15 on: 07 November 2019, 13:53:06 »
-4-

Troop Commander's Quarters, DropShip Great Hope
Uninhabited System, Clan Smoke Jaguar Occupation Zone
December 5th, 3050


The computer in Lilly's quarters dinged, letting her know a message from the HPG dump had been transferred to her terminal.  Setting aside her campaign plans, Lilly opened the message.

The face of a three-year-old girl, wispy curls of strawberry blonde hair atop her head, stared back at her.  The girl's tiny arm was being waved energetically at the camera.  "Say 'hi, mommy.'  Can you say hi to mommy?"  Andrei's voice said from just off screen.

The girl replied with something that might have been "Hi, mommy," or might have been three-year-old gibberish.  The screen remained fixed on the girl's cooing, gibbering face for another minute, then Andrei picked her up and sat down in front of the camera, holding little Alexia in his lap.

"Hey, babe," Lilly's husband said.  "I hear you are going to be out there awhile longer yet, and the Khan is coming to supervise.  Alexia told me to ask you not to kill her grandmother if you can avoid it."  Lilly laughed.  "Oh, Scientist Davos Etrienne earned his Bloodname for his report on the LIV-537-XC supernova.  It is all very fascinating.  So dry I could barely get through it, but fascinating.  I am more interested in the data you collected on those Clan battlesuits.  We have been doing some computer modeling here, and -- well, those things look seriously scary.  I would say I hope you only ever meet them in your Pulverizer, but I am not sure even that would keep you safe."

Lilly smiled.  Andrei could be such a worrier, but his concern was always touching.

"They are moving ships and people up to Cabanatuan.  If you like, I can put in a request to join the Scientists there.  I could perhaps be more useful examining things straight from the battlefield instead of via HPG transmission, and we would be only a few months apart, not a year."  Andrei shrugged.  "A thing to consider."

Andrei paused, seeming to think about if he had anything else to say.  Apparently deciding he did not, he nodded.  "Stay safe out there.  I love you."

The image paused on Andrei's thin but handsome face and Alexia's chubby baby cheeks, her gaze now intently focused on something below her only she could see.  Lilly contemplated the image for some time, drying her eyes and letting her rampant emotions run themselves out within her.

Lilly and Andrei had met during their warrior training.  While Andrei had always known the life of the Scientist was for him, all Wolverines were warriors first.  Lilly, on the other hand, had never wanted to be anything but a warrior, to follow in the footsteps of the vast majority of her ancestors, as well as Sarah McEvedy herself.

Lilly again marveled that she was descended from such an amazing, inspiring person.  Clan Wolverine had suffered so much, lost so many, in their flight from the Clans that the same "iron womb" technology they idolized had been the Wolverines' only hope of survival once they'd found themselves a home.  Everyone, warrior and "lower" caste alike, had contributed to that first generation, and Lilly came from those born of Sarah's contribution.

After testing out as a warrior, her second pilgrimage to Barbados (which coincided with her first tour of duty, posing as a merchant guard for an incognito Wolverine caravan), and her promotion to Star Commander, Lilly and Andrei had decided to take advantage of the iron womb technology, still available to those who required or desired it, to have their first child.  Until her third trip to Barbados, Lilly had spent as much time as her duties allowed with her family.  Which was quite a lot, actually, what with Clan Wolverine having no ongoing wars to send warriors to fight in.

If the Clans had not come back, I would be home now.  It would be me holding little Alexia in my arms.

She could stop.  Call her whole Crusade off as a bad idea.  State that it was no business of the Wolverines if the Clans wanted to invade the Inner Sphere, there was no reason to risk the society they'd built, the freedom they'd found, for revenge for and on people who had been dead two and a half centuries.  What did it matter what the Clans thought of them?  They knew the truth, and that should be good enough.

Even if the rest of the Clan wanted to continue, Lilly didn't have to.  She could request a transfer, or resign, she could go home, she could--

Give up my dream of earning a Warrior's Bloodname, of becoming Khan, of accepting the burden of responsibility my surname demands.

Of being the kind of woman who makes her daughter proud.


For all her faults, for all their disagreements, Lilly loved and respected Khan Jennifer McEvedy, was dedicated to learning from her example, both good and ill.  Lilly had started this fight, now she had to finish it.

Composing herself, Lilly began to record her response.

"I am doing quite well out here.  The Khan promoted me to Star Colonel, and I have the best group of warriors under my command I could ask for.  And despite mother looking over my shoulder, I have been given free reign to proceed with operations against the Clans as I see fit."  Lilly settled herself, forcing a smile.  "Though I am sure the Khan intends to reign me in should I get stupid, I do not plan to get stupid."  She suppressed a sigh, keeping her smile in place.

"The Cabanatuan base is coming along nicely.  Logistics will shortly no longer be a problem.  But, while I miss you both desperately, I would request you remain on Homeworld.  I am sure you would be as safe on Cabanatuan, but I will rest easier knowing you both are far, far away from the Clans."  She paused.  "If you have read the data we have acquired, you know what they make us out to be, and that gives me ample reason to fear for your safety."

Her composure faltered, and Lilly let her emotions play on her face.  "I love you both, and look forward to the day I come home to you."

Hunter Star Ammo Dump, Gamma Galaxy
Rest Stop Seven, Tarnby Highway
Tarnby Prefecture, Tarnby, Clan Smoke Jaguar Occupation Zone
December 19th, 3050


"These were not the same troops the Star Colonel fought the last time she was here," Star Captain Mi-Jung Chon said, yanking his hatchet from the torso of a Smoke Jaguar 'Mech.

"Indeed they were not," Hatchet Two replied.  "We should file a complaint when we return, query affirmative?"

"Affirmative," Mi-Jung agreed with a tight smile.  "Anklebiter Star, go."

"Anklebiter Star is go," Anklebiter Alpha-One said.  Leaping towards the building the Clans had stored their equipment in, the Ferals drew the special gear they'd been given for this mission.

For thirty minutes, Striker Trinary stood tense watch while the Ferals completed their task.  It was done impressively well and quicker than expected, especially considering they had been unable to drill for the task aboard ship.

Making their way back to the dustoff zone, Quake Three took another look at the Ferals' handiwork.  "Hatchet One, do you think this is perhaps too obvious?  We have not precisely been subtle, but this. . . they cannot possibly mistake this."

"I believe that is exactly what Star Colonel McEvedy intends."

Striker Trinary continued to their DropShip, leaving behind only the massive sigil of Clan Wolverine, painted on a wall two stories high, as proof of their presence.

Daryk

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 20142
  • The Double Deuce II/II-σ
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #16 on: 07 November 2019, 17:36:29 »
Defiance at its best...  8)

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #17 on: 08 November 2019, 12:18:17 »
-5-

Edo, Turtle Bay
Clan Smoke Jaguar Occupation Zone
February 23rd, 3051


Lilly’s stomach churned at the sight, even though it had happened nearly a year ago.  The awesome power of a WarShip directed at a surface target was the singularly most indescribably ugly thing she had ever seen.

Her forces had been surprised at finding no trace of Jaguar activity anywhere in the system.  After facing new ‘Mechs — her techs identified them as “OmniMechs” — and more skilled warriors on return visits to Tarnby and Virentofta, she had come to the conclusion that the Jaguars were now actively hunting her.  She’d expected to meet stiff resistance at Turtle Bay, only to find it all but abandoned.

There had apparently been some sort of cease fire in the past few months.  The Clans were no longer advancing into the Inner Sphere, but they had not pulled back, either.  It seemed now there were two arms of Clan military forces:  less experienced warriors in updated versions of Inner Sphere ‘Mechs, relegated to garrison duty; and more capable warriors in these OmniMechs, spearheading the invasion.  With the cease-fire, these “front-line” troops seemed to be taking up garrison stations, with several of them lying in wait specifically for Lilly McEvedy and her Wolverines.

She had been pleased by that.  That was progress.

Seeing the wreckage of the city of Edo cut the satisfaction out of her.  Just because they had been angered and embarrassed, the Smoke Jaguars had condemned an entire city and its population to violent, firey death.

Great Hope must have looked much like this, once Jason Karrige got done with it.

Around her, Feral Star fingered their Mauser 960Ws nervously.  Turtle Bay was not abandoned, the Jaguars had simply left.  The populace was still around, unlikely to look kindly on mysterious visitors from the stars for quite some time.

A breath of shifting air beside her.  “Star Colonel,” Star Captain Robina said quietly.

“I hear them,” Lilly whispered back.  She turned as sounds of people trying to move stealthily through the rubble grew.  She placed her hand on her sidearm, but did not release the safety catch holding the laser pistol in its holster.  “Ferals, weapons down.  Do not fire without my command.”  Slowly, hesitantly, the Ferals aimed the muzzles of their laser rifles at the ground.

“We come in peace,” Lilly said loudly to the unseen forces moving on her position.  “We mean you no harm.  Show yourselves.”

Tense silence reigned over the ravaged landscape.

“Star Colonel, with your permission?” Point Commander Shukti Ghosal asked, slinging her rifle.  Lilly nodded, and the Feral repeated Lilly’s statement in Japanese.

More silence, and then a face appeared, blackened with soot and dust, over an old and battered hunting rifle.  The Ferals tensed, but kept their weapons down.  Someone else shuffled from behind a chunk of rubble, carrying a military-grade laser rifle.  Then another with an autorifle that looked like it had been bashed together from parts of at least three different weapons.  One by one, people emerged, a few with decent weapons, most with survival, hunting, and kitchen knives or hafts of rebar.

The man with the hunting rifle hadn’t moved, his weapon still trained on Lilly’s group.  The scope was dirty, bent, and cracked beyond uselessness, but Lilly had a feeling that would fail to impair his marksmanship.

The man with the laser spoke.  “He wants to know who we are,” Shukti translated.

“We are —” Lilly stopped herself, deciding these people were in no mood for a long story, and who she was was a very long story indeed.  “We are friends.  We came to fight the Smoke Jaguars, but have found none.”

Shukti relayed Lilly’s message, and the man replied.  “Your ‘Mechs are mostly of the Inner Sphere, but not the DCMS, and your soldiers are not the Elementals, but are no mere foot platoon, and your answer is vague and unconvincing.  Who are you?”

“We are not of the Clans, nor are we of the Inner Sphere.  Our tale is long and our business our own, but we mean you and your people no harm.”

Shukti translated.  “Trust died in the fires of Edo.”

Keeping her right arm absolutely still on her weapon, Lilly slowly raised her left and pointed to her radio headset.  “If you will permit me to call my ship, I will have what supplies we can share brought out as a token of friendship.”

Brief, angry, shouted words of Japanese followed the translation of Lilly’s offer.  They were clearly debating the issue among themselves, quickly and efficiently, before the man spoke again.

“You may.”

Eyes and weapons on her the whole way, Lilly led her warriors and the civilians towards where the Great Hope had grounded not far away.  While she didn’t feel entirely comfortable leaving her ‘Mechs unattended, she knew that trying to board them again would incite violence.

The vehicle and DropShip crews had begun unloading food, water, and medical supplies, with the ship’s doctors ready to examine the people.  Wariness soon gave way as the Wolverines enthusiastically followed Lilly’s orders to be on their best behavior.  More people began to arrive from the villages and camps nearby, and soon Lilly was informed of the whole story.

After the bombardment of Edo, the Jaguars had ended that rebellion, but lost the planet.  The citizens of Turtle Bay knew there was nothing they could do to resist the weapons of a WarShip in orbit, but likewise knew there was no point in just submitting to Smoke Jaguar rule, as they could and would be killed for any perceived offense.  Faced with a populace that was now impossible to control, the Jaguars had simply left.  Deep in the occupation zone, no help or assistance would be forthcoming, and the people of Turtle Bay had to live, or die, solely based on the resources to hand.

“We are setting up logistics supply lines to support our advance into Clan space,” Lilly informed the small group of civilian leaders who had explained the situation to her.  “I cannot promise, but I will do everything I can to see whatever supplies and resources we can bring delivered here.  I will do everything in my power to help you hold out until—”

Until what?  Until the Clans decide coming back to the Inner Sphere was a bad idea and they should go home?  Until the idiots in the Successor States rally and push the Clans back planet by planet?  Until the Star League rises from the dead and makes everyone get along again?

“— until you no longer need them,” Lilly finished.

Relaying her report to the Khan, Lilly found that the other four DropShips were heading to Turtle Bay, ready to disseminate their own stores.  Jennifer McEvedy readily agreed to begin establishing a route for the routine delivery of relief supplies to the planet.

Supervising the disbursement, Lilly felt her guts churn again at the horde of dirty, hungry, helpless people, abandoned by their conquerors.  She barely noticed Robina approach and stand beside her.

“On to the Ghost Bears then, query affirmative?” she asked quietly.

“Negative, not on to the Ghost Bears,” Lilly replied, white-hot rage uncurling in her breast.  “This isn’t just about us anymore.  This is about stopping this. . . this. . . this horror.  This is bigger than the Wolverines and our history.  This is bigger than all of us.”

“Too big.”

“Then break it down.  Small pieces we can do.  Keep hitting the Jaguars, one planet at a time, crush everything they have to bring against us, then — only then. . . move on.”

“It’s liberation, then?”

Lilly shrugged.  “If that’s what you want to call it.  I call it justice.”

Turtle Bay
April 28th, 3051


Star Captain Mollie Penaligan targeted the outcropping and triggered her weapon.  The azure bolt struck the rock, flash-heating it before shattering it explosively.

“Nice,” she murmured to herself.

With the delivery of relief supplies to Turtle Bay, the Wolverines had gained a new staging area and a friendly populace.  Now, Mollie was acclimating to the new Feral W2 BattleArmor suit.  Twice the weight of the W1 PowerArmor, it was still smaller than the Clan Elemental BattleArmor.

Chief among the requests by the Ferals for the new design had been improved armor, and the W2 delivered with three times the protection of the W1.  It still wouldn’t stop an anti-’Mech weapon worthy of the name, but it was better than they’d had.

The second request had been for better weapons.  The Mauser 960W was solid, but did little against the thick hides of Clan ‘Mechs.  This had proved somewhat trickier, and a long back-and-forth over HPG transmission ensued between the Ferals and the Techs and Scientists designing the new armor.  Finally, the Ferals admitted that, while they appreciated the W1’s ability to run fast enough to keep rough pace with ‘Mechs and tanks, they almost exclusively used the suits’ jump jets, to make themselves even less attractive targets.  So inspired, the designers removed myomer and actuators from the suit’s legs, dropping the W2’s walking speed to that of an unarmored human.  In exchange, the suit mounted a Support PPC over the right shoulder.  Working in concert, firing PPCs and 960Ws in tandem, a Feral Point could now deal serious damage to an enemy ‘Mech.

Putting the W2 through its paces, Star Captain Penaligan found nothing to complain about, and looked forward to seeing how the new armor would stack up in actual combat.  Tomorrow they’d begin transit to Hanover, there to seek and destroy as many Jaguar ‘Mechs and warriors as they could find.  The memory of Edo was burned into every Wolverine’s brain, the cry of “Wolverines!” upon their lips.  Mollie hoped the Star Colonel’s plan would be successful.

Oh, what I would not give to see what the Clans are making of all this. . .

Grand Council Chamber, Hall of Khans
Strana Mechty, Clan Space
June 19th, 3051


Ulric Kerensky, freshly nominated ilKhan of the Clans, stood and leaned forward on his fists.  “We have already wasted too much time, my Khans.  We have elected a new ilKhan and have many important matters at hand.  First and foremost is the invasion.  The sooner we settle our differences, the sooner we can complete our conquest of the Inner Sphere.”

Kincaid Furey rose again.  “Forgive me, but there is another important matter to hand, one which I feel the ilKhan must be informed about immediately.”

If Ulric was surprised or amused by another thrust from Kincaid, he gave no sign.  “You may proceed, Khan Kincaid.”

“Thank you.  Over the past year, our garrison forces have been attacked, materiel stolen, by parties unknown.  We have set about eliminating these bandits, but have been thus far unsuccessful—”

“I fail to see how bandits in Smoke Jaguar territory is any concern of this council,” the Jade Falcon Khan interrupted.

“Because of this,” Kincaid replied, bringing up an image, eliciting stunned silence from the assembled Khans.  “From an attack on Tarnby six months ago.”  He brought up another.  “Virentofta, five months ago.”  Another.  “Rockland, three months ago.”

Phelan contemplated the images, brought from the Grand Council chamber to Ulric’s office via secure video feed.  “What is that?”

“Don’t ask,” Natasha Kerensky replied, her voice choked.

Phelan did a double take, then looked back to the emblem on the screen.  What is it?  And how — why — can it possibly make the Black Widow afraid?

The Snow Raven Khan was the first to find his voice.  “What is the meaning of this?  What kind of. . . of. . . maniacal trickery are you up to?”

“It is no trick, I assure you,” Kincaid replied smoothly.  “I was as shocked as you all are when I first saw these images.  Thus far, these bandits have left no survivors and taken the ‘Mechs they have downed with them.  We have, however, recovered a few pieces of data, which we have recently reconstructed.”  Kincaid brought up another image.  “This is one of those bandit ‘Mechs.”

The assembled Khans recognized the design from Clan history, though it was not used anymore, and its origin with The Not-Named-Clan politely ignored.  The Pulverizer, a fearsome combat machine, and this one painted in the colors and bearing the emblem of The Not-Named Clan.

“Why haven’t you brought this before the Council?” the Snow Raven Khan roared.

“We just did.  When these attacks first occurred, we informed the ilKhan — that is to say, ilKhan Leo Showers.  He commanded us to remedy the problem ourselves.  Now that we have a new ilKhan, and new evidence, we are presenting it.”

“They’re making it up, Ril,” Natasha said.  “It’s a hoax, it has to be.”

“I don’t think so,” Cyrila Ward replied.  “The Jaguars do not have the guile for something like this.  And if they were found out, they’d be outcast, they’d be. . .”

“Annihilated,” Natasha finished.

“What?”  Phelan asked.  “What are you talking about?  What’s that emblem, what does it mean?”

“Quiet,” both older women replied.

“If this is The Not-Named Clan, if they have survived and if they have returned, then it is a matter that must be overseen by the ilKhan,” Kincaid was saying.  “It was ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky who passed the judgement of Annihilation, it was Clan Wolf who carried out.  It seems fitting that now, if The Not-Named Clan are back, that an ilKhan bearing the Kerensky Bloodname should again lead his Wolves in eliminating the greatest threat the Clans have ever known.”

“Oh, freebirth, that’s what he’s up to,” Cyrila swore.  “Send Ulric and Clan Wolf off on some wild goose chase while they drive deeper into the Inner Sphere.”

Ulric nodded, his face solemn.  “It is indeed, and I shall give this most important task all the attention it requires.  It will be dealt with, and swiftly, my fellow Khans.  You have my word.”

“Then you will task your warriors to eliminating these bandits purporting to be of The Not-Named Clan?” Kincaid pressed.

“Some of them, certainly,” Ulric replied.  “But it should hardly require the full strength of Clan Wolf to ascertain just what it is we are seeing.  And once we know for true, the bidding for the honor of eliminating the problem should be most exhilarating.”

Kincaid opened his mouth to protest, but Ulric just stared at him calmly.  Soon, Kincaid closed his mouth, then sat.

“Now that is settled.  Other business?” Ulric asked.
« Last Edit: 17 November 2019, 10:24:04 by ErikModi »

mikecj

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2217
  • Veteran of Galahad 3028
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #18 on: 09 November 2019, 00:22:09 »
This should be fun  :thumbsup:
There are no fish in my pond.
"First, one brief announcement. I just want to mention, for those who have asked, that absolutely nothing what so ever happened today in sector 83x9x12. I repeat, nothing happened. Please remain calm." Susan Ivanova
"Solve a man's problems with violence, help him for a day. Teach a man to solve his problems with violence, help him for a lifetime." - Belkar Bitterleaf
Romo Lampkin could have gotten Stefan Amaris off with a warning.

cklammer

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 329
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #19 on: 09 November 2019, 04:28:18 »
Nice tale.

Plot-wise: now the fat is in the fire ...

neutronium95

  • Recruit
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #20 on: 09 November 2019, 14:05:10 »
I like what I've seen so far. I think that most people in the BT fandom have thought of doing something similar at one point or another, and it is nice to see the return of the Wolverines done well.

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #21 on: 09 November 2019, 14:40:20 »
I like what I've seen so far. I think that most people in the BT fandom have thought of doing something similar at one point or another, and it is nice to see the return of the Wolverines done well.

Thank you, I appreciate the support of you and everyone else who's posted here so far.

And I'm honored to be your first post on the board!

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #22 on: 11 November 2019, 17:31:12 »
-6-

Nykvarn, Smoke Jaguar Occupation Zone
November 5th, 3051


Phelan Wolf marched his Wolfhound out of the DropShip and formed up with Natasha Kerensky's Dire Wolf.  Locking in on the nav signal, they made best speed to where the Smoke Jaguar garrison Binary was being cut to ribbons by the Wolverines.

Since being dispatched on this mission, Natasha had been oddly tense and very quiet.  Phelan knew why, but he admitted to himself he didn't really understand it.  The accounts he'd read of The Not-Named Clan and why they had been wiped from the rolls of Clan history were brutal and horrific, but didn't stir in him the gut-churning reaction that, say, stories of the Amaris Coup or First Succession War did.  It was the difference, he reflected, of hearing the story as a youth, told in cautionary and horrific style, and reading it as an adult and approaching it as an intelligence briefing and item of historical interest.

Natasha had grown up with the terror of The Not-Named Clan and the Trial of Annihilation lurking like a monster under the bed.  Phelan had not.

"What is our plan here?" Phelan asked.

Natasha did not respond.

"My Khan?  Star Colonel?  Natasha, are you there?"

"Sorry, Phelan.  I'm. . . distracted."

Phelan swallowed nervously.  The Wolverines had carved up Smoke Jaguar front- and second-line units on a dozen worlds, and now Phelan and Natasha were going against them alone, just the two of them, and the Black Widow had to pick now to get as skittish as a Nagelring underclassman at her first Snow Ball.

"But you have a plan, quiaff?"

"I have orders from Ulric," Natasha replied evasively.

Phelan ground his teeth.  This situation was confusing and nerve-racking enough, and Ulric and Natasha keeping everything so secret was making it worse.  Phelan knew Natasha had spent a great deal of time on their journey poring over the personal journals of Nicholas Kerensky, available to her now as a Wolf Clan Khan.  But what was in those journals, or how they related to the Wolverines, Phelan did not know.

By the time they crested a rise and came into view of the battlefield, the Jaguar 'Mechs had been obliterated, and the victorious Wolverines were collecting their spoils.  The Wolfhound and Dire Wolf came into view, and the Star of Wolverine 'Mechs turned as one, the half-Star of vehicles reoriented their turrets.  Eleven TAG laser beams — one from each 'Mech and vehicle, two from the Rhino — snapped on, five painting Phelan's Wolfhound, six Natasha's Dire Wolf.

"Orders, Star Colonel?" Phelan asked.

"It's them.  My God, it really is them."

"Natasha?" Phelan asked with more urgency.

"Weapons safe, Phelan," Natasha ordered.  Her next transmission was in the clear.  "This is Khan Natasha Kerensky of Clan Wolf to unknown forces, identify yourself and state your intentions."

Silence for far too many heartbeats.

"This is Star Colonel Lilly McEvedy of Clan Wolverine.  You state your intentions."

"We come under orders of ilKhan Ulric Kerensky to parlay."  Phelan gaped at Natasha's statement.  "Dismount your 'Mechs so we can discuss this face-to-face."

"You dismount your 'Mechs, Khan Natasha Kerensky of Clan Wolf."  Star Colonel Lilly McEvedy's voice was dripping with hateful venom.

"You heard the lady," Natasha said, back on their private frequency.  To his astonishment, Phelan saw Natasha's Dire Wolf power down, the armored canopy open.  Sighing in resigned frustration, Phelan likewise powered down and exited his Wolfhound.

They were sixty meters from their 'Mechs, Phelan's skin crawling at the thought of all the firepower pointed their direction and what it would do to their fragile human flesh, when the Wolverine 'Mechs powered down, the warriors dismounting.  The vehicles were still crewed, and Phelan saw armored infantry -- their suits lighter and smaller than Elemental armor, but still appearing formidable -- but at least now the enemy commander and four of her warriors were in the line of fire, too.

Phelan surveyed the enemy MechWarriors as they approached.  All five wore cooling suits not unlike the ones he and Natasha wore.  Nameplates on the right breast showed first and last names.  The emblem of Clan Wolverine adorned the left shoulder; on the right an insignia formed of the old North American state of Minnesota, the number 331, and an overarching banner reading "Remembrance."  All five wore laser pistols strapped to their hips, which brought a tight smile to Phelan's lips.  Nice to know I'm not the only MechWarrior who rides armed.

The seven warriors stopped ten meters apart.  "Speak your piece," Star Colonel McEvedy said curtly.

For possibly the first time in her life, Natasha was taken aback.  These were, without doubt, Wolverines, far better equipped, trained, and numerous than Clan history insisted they had any right to be.  Of course, Natasha now knew the official story was quite different from the truth, but even Nicholas' journals contained no hint the Wolverines could have survived in sufficient number to rebuild so effectively, two hundred years notwithstanding.

But what really shocked her was the sheer hatred pulsing off these warriors, especially their leader.  Natasha was no stranger to people hating her guts and wanting her to die screaming, but she'd usually met them at least once beforehand.  Star Colonel McEvedy's hate was a palpable thing, and seemed only to grow as she surveyed the patches and insignias on Natasha's cooling suit.

Natasha cleared her throat.  "Are you, truly, the survivors of The N— of Clan. . . Clan Wolverine?" she asked.

"We are," Lilly answered.

"How?"

"Your history is lies," Lilly answered spitefully.  "The Annihilation failed, though your Clans, especially Wolf, gave it their all.  Many escaped the murder parties after the final battle was done, scouting task forces and stragglers were missed along the Exodus Road, and Sarah McEvedy was not killed in battle, but marooned at the battle site, after being given a full account of the supposed death of her Clan by Nicholas Kerensky."  Lilly spat the name out as though it were foul-tasting poison.

Natasha nodded.  Much of that lined up with the information in the journals, though much did not.  Natasha supposed that even Nicholas Kerensky hadn't known everything, despite the tendency of some in the Clans to treat him like a prophet and messiah.

"Why have you returned now, after all this time?  What do you want?"

Lilly shrugged.  "Why, after all this time, have the Clans returned to the Inner Sphere?  What do you want?"

"The Crusaders want to conquer the Inner Sphere and restore the Star League.  The Wardens believe it is the duty of the Clans to protect the Inner Sphere from external threats, even the Clans themselves, should we become one."

Lilly smiled sardonically.  "And let me guess:  you count yourselves as these 'Wardens,' query affirmative?"

Natasha blinked at the archaic turn of phrase.  "Aff."

"So this is how you defend the Inner Sphere, by penetrating it harder and faster than any other?  This is how you protect it, by being its most successful conquerors?"

"There's more to it than that," Natasha snapped, growing irritated.  "The Wolves were forced to take part in the invasion, but by beating the Crusaders at their own game, we've got openings to--"

Lilly held up her hand.  "I really don't care."

"Fine," Natasha snarled.  "But you haven't answered my question.  What do you want?"

"What we want — what I want — is to force your people to remember us.  I want to take the truth of Clan Wolverine and shove it down your throats until you choke.  I want you to look the lies and treachery your perfect society is built on in the eye, I want you to see your 'glorious founder' for the unbridled monster he really was."

Phelan felt his face flush red with rage.  He looked to Natasha, expecting to see her in a similar fury, and stopped, staring.  Natasha's face had drained of color, her jaw slack, her body reeling back as though the words had been physical blows.  "You can't be serious."

"I am, Natasha Kerensky."

Natasha cleared her throat.  "Very well.  I'll take your. . . message back to the ilKhan.  I. . . I'm sure he'll be interested in meeting with you to discuss the matter further.”

Lilly said nothing, just watched the Wolf warriors like a predator, the unsettling gleam of pure hatred simmering in her eyes.

"Then, if there's nothing else, we'll be on our way," Natasha said, breaking the tense silence.

"There is one more thing," Lilly said.  "You are the same Natasha Kerensky who is the Black Widow of the Wolf's Dragoons, query affirmative?"

"Aff, I am."

Lilly let her gaze roam again over Natasha's cooling suit.  "You proudly display an abundance of spider iconography.  Does this indicate a tie to Clan Widowmaker?"

Natasha nodded.  "Clan Widowmaker was Absorbed by Clan Wolf not long after — well, what happened to your Clan.  There is no shame in acknowledging my descent from them; their Absorption strengthens Clan Wolf."

"Oh, but there is shame," Lilly replied, her voice seething coldly.  "Clan Wolf may have pulled the trigger, but Clan Widowmaker aimed the gun, and Nicholas Kerensky, whose heritage you also claim, gave the order to fire.  Three times over, you represent that which caused untold suffering to my people.  Natasha Kerensky, Khan of Clan Wolf and descendant of Clan Widowmaker, I, Star Colonel Lilly McEvedy of Clan Wolverine, challenge you to a Trial of Grievance."

Natasha immediately recognized the older, informal version of the Trial was at play, one since technically outlawed but still practiced frequently for minor disputes.  She could refuse.  A matter this important, involving a warrior of her position, was a matter for Grand Council, not a brawl between two warriors.  And Clan Wolverine had no legal standing under Clan law anyway.  But Natasha also realized this Lilly McEvedy had no intention of just letting Natasha walk away. . . not without venting some of her considerable (and not wholly unjustified) rage.

"I accept," Natasha said.  "As challenger, how shall we fight?"

Lilly grinned wickedly.  "Hand to hand," she said, unfastening her gunbelt and handing it to the woman next to her, who wore the pins of a Star Captain.

Natasha nodded.  "Very well.  As challenged, I declare we shall fight here and now.  Bring out your warriors to form a Circle of Equals.  Phelan, you play Loremaster."

The Star Captain — Robina MacLeish, according to her nameplate — murmured into her radio, and the vehicle crews dismounted and surrounded the soon-to-be combatants.  Phelan felt a shiver run up his spine at the cold, quiet hatred of dozens of Wolverines directed at the pair of Wolves.

As they stripped off their cooling suits, revealing the tank tops and shorts that were standard MechWarrior undergarments, Natasha sized up her opponent.  She was young, mid to late twenties at a guess.  Lithe and lean, well-muscled but supple as a whipcord, speaking to a training and exercise regimen befitting any Clan warrior.  An ornate tattoo spread across her breast- and collarbones, a curved, sweeping tribal design that framed the crest of Clan Wolverine.  Other tattoos decorated her arms and legs, no doubt meaningful to Lilly McEvedy, nothing but an eyesore to Natasha Kerensky.

It was neither her years nor her fitness that gave Natasha cause for concern.  It was the icy rage burning in her sharp blue eyes.  Natasha liked it when her opponents were enraged, rage made you stupid.  But this woman was in an entirely different state altogether.  She was possessed of a cold, hard fury that made her more dangerous, not less.

Phelan started the fight, and Lilly attacked in a feral frenzy with lethal cunning.  Natasha had long since lost count of the number of brawls she'd been in, but this woman pressed her to her limit.  She had youth, speed, strength, exceptional training, and an unyielding desire to pulp Natasha Kerensky with her bare hands.  Natasha had age and experience.

She spotted the faintest of openings in Lilly's furious assault, struck hard and fast.  All but impervious to pain in her wrath, Lilly kept up her attack, but Natasha's strike had the desired effect.  She'd injured Lilly's right side, her attacks from there were weaker, her guards to there slower.  Fractionally, but it was something, a foundation to build upon.  Natasha kept on the defensive, conserving her strength, letting Lilly wear out her fury.

Lilly recognized the tactic, however, and slowed her attack, refusing to let Natasha exhaust her into defeat.

This whelp is good, Natasha mused.

Natasha began to pant in only mostly-feigned fatigue, goading Lilly into thinking Natasha's strategy had backfired, that she'd worn out herself instead of her opponent.  Sensing victory, Lilly lunged forward to end it.  Natasha met her head-on, seized and twisted—

And Lilly tumbled to the ground outside the Circle, her warriors giving way as their commander landed on her rump in the dirt.

Natasha stood over Lilly.  "It's over."  She extended her hand to the vanquished Wolverine.

Lilly's eyes flashed like PPCs, as if she could fire pure rage and hate at Natasha Kerensky, burn her to a cinder through sheer force of will.  Finally, grudgingly, Lilly accepted the hand, and Natasha hauled the young warrior to her feet.

"Now that's settled, may we depart to deliver your message?"

"Get out of here," Lilly snarled.  "And don't forget what I've said."

"I won't."

Back in their 'Mechs on their way to the DropShip, Natasha asked Phelan for his read.

"They hate us.  I think Romano Liao has warmer feelings for Justin Allard."

"Sounds about right."

"Is what she said true?  Is the Clan history all lies?"

Natasha was silent for a time.  "Not for me to say.  We'll see what Ulric wants to do."

"I will bet you all the beer on Tharkad he already has three ways to turn this to his advantage."

Natasha laughed.  "That's a sucker's bet, kid.  What about their leader, what did you make of her?"

"Scary.  Like ‘I’d-rather-go-after-an-Atlas-with-a-slingshot’ scary.  But I like her.  She kind of reminds me of you."

"Bite your tongue, whelp."  But Phelan's jest caused something to click into place, something that had been bothering Natasha since she first laid eyes on Star Colonel Lilly McEvedy.

She was a lot like Natasha had been in her youth. . . and still was, if she was being honest with herself.  And if Natasha put herself in McEvedy's place, thought about what she'd do, what she'd be prepared to do, if Clan Wolf had suffered the fate of Clan Wolverine. . .

Natasha shuddered.  The official story of The Not-Named Clan had frightened her back in the sibko.  The reality, and what it had grown into now, was terrifying.
« Last Edit: 17 November 2019, 10:49:09 by ErikModi »

SulliMike23

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 908
  • The Brotherhood will expand in the Inner Sphere!
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #23 on: 11 November 2019, 17:39:28 »
Yeah, needless to say; the Clans are gonna be paying the devil's due. It makes me wonder what will happen when ComStar finds out.

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #24 on: 11 November 2019, 18:07:15 »
Yeah, needless to say; the Clans are gonna be paying the devil's due. It makes me wonder what will happen when ComStar finds out.

I have a plan.

mikecj

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2217
  • Veteran of Galahad 3028
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #25 on: 11 November 2019, 18:29:37 »
I have a plan.

So did the Cylons  ;D ;D ;D

Nicely written and good characterization.  Thanks for sharing.
There are no fish in my pond.
"First, one brief announcement. I just want to mention, for those who have asked, that absolutely nothing what so ever happened today in sector 83x9x12. I repeat, nothing happened. Please remain calm." Susan Ivanova
"Solve a man's problems with violence, help him for a day. Teach a man to solve his problems with violence, help him for a lifetime." - Belkar Bitterleaf
Romo Lampkin could have gotten Stefan Amaris off with a warning.

Daryk

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 20142
  • The Double Deuce II/II-σ
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #26 on: 11 November 2019, 19:07:34 »
VERY interesting... I'll definitely be reading this thread as you add to it, as much as I dislike the whole clan thing...

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #27 on: 11 November 2019, 19:32:50 »
So did the Cylons  ;D ;D ;D

Nicely written and good characterization.  Thanks for sharing.

Thank you.  I was worried people would think Natasha was out-of-character here, but I figured if anything could frighten the Black Widow, it would be the Ghost of Clans Past.

Daryk

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 20142
  • The Double Deuce II/II-σ
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #28 on: 11 November 2019, 19:34:58 »
Personally, I thought her reactions made perfect sense (not to mention old age and treachery triumphing in the end)...  8)

ErikModi

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 257
Re: Best Served Cold
« Reply #29 on: 11 November 2019, 20:05:44 »
Personally, I thought her reactions made perfect sense (not to mention old age and treachery triumphing in the end)...  8)

Yeah. . . Lilly did not know who she was fooling with.

 

Register