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Author Topic: Falcon Foolin' (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Clans)  (Read 2444 times)


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Galatean League
16 October 3150

Sam Hood never liked Galaport. The mercenary commander had heard stories from his grandfather over the splendor of the Hiring Hall on Outreach, and his grandad's impressions always left him finding the new Mercenary's Hall....lacking.
"Colonel", offered up the young aide. "We have an interview with the Lyran representative in the 20 minutes."  Hood's Heavy Cavalry had seen service with the Federated Suns (and Commonwealth) for nearly the entire last century.

But times change.

The Capellan Crusades had driven the Heavy Cavalry from their homeworld of Scituate in the Capellan March. While the mercs had escaped with their lives, the founding commander (also Sam Hood) had died trying to save the unit's dependents from the fourth regiment of McCarron's Armored Cavalry. The loss of their homeworld and a third of their forces had made the CCAF the chosen enemy of the Heavy Cavalry.

These days, the sight of a Vindicator 'Mech could raise a Cavalryman's blood pressure by five points.
Sam Hood IV, the founding colonel's son, kept the unit in AFFS service. But even as the unit rebuilt to regimental strength, they found themselves being used as bait for Capellan units who were always better armed and equipped.  Harrison Davion had awarded the Hood family a small land grant on Quincy, but the territory was small comfort for the loss of an entire world.

When the Federated Suns were hit by both Liao and Kurita, the Heavy Cavalry did the best they could to hold back Capellan aggression.  The Heavy Cavalry ended up with a large pile of salvage but barely an operational battalion. The Heavy Cavalry ended up having to sell two captured Dropships and a pile of Vindicator 'Mechs (and parts) to help put the unit back in order. Sam Hood IV decided to retire to Mansfield, and placed his son (also Sam) in charge.

The Heavy Cavalry had been made an offer by the Lyrans to strike at the ever-evolving Lyran/Falcon border.  The newly minted Colonel Hood packed up the regiment, leaving the dependents and a token force on Quincy to protect them, and headed to Galatea, the Mercenary's Star.

The colonel and his small squad of retainers headed towards the Gala Hotel, the arranged place for the meeting. The mercs tried to avoid the main hiring hall. They didn't want to interact with the Capellans. Besides, this was the Lyrans. They'd never say no to a four-course meal.
« Last Edit: 26 February 2021, 20:24:36 by BaronScituate »


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Galatean League
16 October 3050

L'Escoffier was an anomaly among the restaurants of the Mercenary's Star.  It had received two stars from the Michelin-Cameron Institute and was well regarded as the finest restaurant in the city, if not the planet. It had a reputation for bringing in the nobility, diplomats, and the delightfully egomaniacal.

Colonel Hood and his party approached the restaurant. Sam had picked out his small party for making the biggest possible impression with the Lyran delegates.  Captain Kleistwicz was the closest thing the Cavalry had to a corporate attorney.  He had a JD and an MBA from the New Avalon Institute of Science and was great for catching the fine print in most deals.  Captain Jack Tremont was like Sam, a third-generation Cavalryman. His grandfather was a lance commander in the original battalion back in the unit's founding. As for Leftenant Elvis Hells Horse, he usually came to negotiations for his 'shock and awe' value.  The Leftenant was a descendant from a sibko of Clan children 'rescued' by the Heavy Cavalry back in 3059.  Elvis moved with a predatory grace for one born from an Elemental bloodline.

The four men approached the restaurant's front door and entered.  They approached the maitre d'hotel who acted like four beggars had come calling.  While the Heavy Cavalry were financially secure (for the moment), they never purchased their own kit. The Heavy Cavalry found it more economical to purchase AFFS surplus after 3080.
The maitre d was less than impressed. His disapproving gaze carried over to the four men. His eyes grew wider upon seeing Elvis but his mask of composure quickly came down.  With a mild snort, he resumed looking into his reservation ledger as if he was a priest reading from the Unfinished Book.

Colonel Hood waited a few more moments and looked at his staff with amusement. "Perhaps we should have made reservations at Triple F?" offered Captain Tremont.

Elvis took that as a sign. He approached the maitre d and gently tapped him 'lightly' on the shoulder.  The term 'lightly' becomes relative when being tapped by a man who exceeded 2.7 meters and weighed nearly 200 kilos.  The Elemental smiled. "The Colonel has a reservation," said Elvis sweetly.

Sam stepped forward. "Party of Hood. I believe the Lyran officers have already arrived." Sam had three notes in his hand which he handed over to the maitre d.  One was a Lyran 50 kroner, the second was a Davion 50-pound note, and the final one was a Republic 50 stone bill.
Between the gentle bribe and the less gentle implied threat, the maitre d looked over his book again and smiled. "Of course! The Hood party at three in the Archon room.  I'm sorry you must have been overlooked." Hood kept his smile even though the feeling had left his eyes. "Of course," said Sam.  "These things happen."

The maitre d led the men through the table. The Elemental was the recipient of several stares, running the gambit from impressed to fearful to outright loathing. Elvis took it in stride as he fell into the back of the party.

The staff opened the two wooden doors as the Cavalrymen arrived. "I will make sure there are two bottles of wine brought to your table." said the suddenly more cheerful maitre d. Elvis leaned into the man and again broke his mask of demure calm. "Just two? I thought you would bring more."

"Ah, shall be four bottles my.....good sir." said the appropriately frightened maitre d.

In the room were three men in dress LCAF uniforms.  By the look of their uniforms, these were either highly decorated veterans or the darlings of the Tharkad social scene...or perhaps both.


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(Part 3)

Galatean League

16 October 3150

The three Lyran officers sat in their chairs and looked at Sam and his men in a manner slightly less offensive than the maitre d initially did. "Colonel Hood, I presume." said the highest ranking among them, a full Colonel. Sam knew that the Lyrans knew his identity.  He was a close match to his father and a near dead-wringer for his grandfather.

Sam clicked his heels in an approximation of Lyran military protocol and came to attention. "I am Colonel. May I present my staff officers. Sam extended his right arm as he went through the introductions "These are Captains Kleistwicz and Tremont, and Leftenant Hells Horse."

The Lyran Colonel rose and his subordinates soon followed. None of the Lyran officers attempted any form of military pomp. "Guten Tag Colonel." offered the senior Lyran. "I am Colonel Rolf Sanderberg-Steiner, senior liaison officer, mercenary relations." These are my staff officers. Hauptmann Silver and First Leutnant Harris."

Hood and his men acknowledged the Lyran officers with polite nods.  "Colonel Sanderberg-Steiner," asked Sam. "Your government was quite eager to get their hands on a regiment-sized unit with its own transport. If we could have a little more information on your proposal, we could get this contract hammered out."

"Ja, Colonel Hood," replied Steiner, but first things first. He placed a small electronic device in the middle of the table. Sam knew it was some form of an electronic white-noise generator. Hood had brought his own but thought it a smart play to allow the employer to make the first move.  After a few moments, Leutnant Harris looked at the device and nodded to his CO.

"Good, we shall start...with appetizers."

Sam internally groaned. He had hoped these were combat officers that would act and work like professional soldiers. While he was hungry, he'd rather eat combat rations than engage in formal dining.

The smile never left his face. "Does the Colonel have any suggestions on the first course?" Sam picked up the menu and looked at it. He was enough of a native Fed Rat to understand enough of the French in this pan-European menu. He also looked at the prices. They gravitated between expensive and ridiculous, but this was the best way to get in the good graces with the Lyrans.

The Lyran officer snapped his fingers and as if by magic, a waiter and a sommelier arrived at the table.

Colonel Steiner looked at the left side of the paper menu and smiled. "We will have the canapes, for ten people." Colonel Steiner smiled and glanced at Elvis. "We wouldn't wish to starve your officers." Steiner then gazed at the center bottom of the menu. Please bring us the '31 Pouilly-Fume from Mizar. 

Sam's calculations had the bill already around 1,000 Kroner. This was already turning out to be more expensive than the last negotiation he had with the AFFS on Mansfield. "Sounds delightful Colonel Sanderberg-Steiner." offered Sam.  "Oh, no need for court formality, Colonel Hood." offered his Lyran counterpart. "Colonel Steiner will be fine."

Sam produced a smile that did not quite reach his eyes. "Most kind of you Colonel Steiner."

The canapes arrived quickly. There appeared to be three different types available. One seemed to be a light seasoned form of crustacean meat with a dill seasoning. The second was a tart sardine and lemon concoction. The final one was a delightful salmon creation. Sam stayed away from the sardine canapes while enjoying the other two. Sam mentally checked off one box in the Lyran's favor.

Hauptmann Silver broke into conversation after taking a sip from his wine. "Leutnant Hells Horse, are you a recent acquisition for the Heavy Cavalry?"

Elvis threw back the wine (which looked like a child's sippy cup in his hand) and smiled. "No, Hauptmann." replied the Elemental in a half-English/half-Texan drawl.  "My great-grandfather was rescued by the Cavalry on their last contract in Lyran territory...about ninety years ago." Elvis was a very animate young man and he began regaling the Lyrans on how bad Lyran intelligence had led the Heavy Cavalry to a Periphery world that appeared to have been a failed Clan colony.

"So, down comes the Colonel...not this one mind you, but his grandfather. He declares a Trial of Possession and accidentally ends up with the whole she-bang. A star of Omnis, a binary of Mechs, a few fighters, and several hundred lower-caste workers and a bunch of kids. Now the Colonel...not this one wasn't a big fan of my people back then, but he carted em all up, put em on a Dropship, and gave them the first real meal any of them had seen in over a week."

Sam looked back and forth at the Lyrans and the Elemental. He honestly couldn't tell which party was more amused by this.

"My great-grandfather ended up getting together with a sibmate, and had my grandfather Timur. Timur ended up marrying the Colonel...not this one mind you but his father's youngest sister Constance. Timur and Constance had themselves four kids...three looking like me and one looking like the Colonel, not this one mind you... Timur's son Olesko married another one of the Horses and that's how I came into being.  Little ol' me."

That level of information seemed to satisfy the Hauptmann.

At that point, the maitre d returned with two servants and four bottles of riesling. One of the servants handed a bottle the sommelier who then began to extoll the Lyrans with the exact composition of the wine. Sam tried to pay attention, but it was starting to sound like hyperspace calculations to him.  The sommelier opened up one bottle and poured a small sample to Colonel Steiner. The colonel sipped it, tilted his head, and nodded his approval.

Colonel Steiner then waited for the sommelier to pour a full glass and he raised it in a salute across the table. "Excellent. A '42 Riesling! You surprise me, Colonel Hood. You have excellent taste in starting wines."

Again, the smile never quite reached Sam's eyes. "I am pleased the Colonel finds it acceptable." He rose from his place at the table, picked up one of the unopen bottles, and brought it within reach of the senior Lyran officer. "Please enjoy this bottle at your next meal as a sign of my unit's respect for you and the Lyran Commonwealth."

Colonel Steiner's smile widened. "Yes, I shall. A toast then!" He rose from the table. "To the Lyran Commonwealth and her Archon!" The Lyran officers rose and Sam returned to his place at the table. When Sam got to his place, his officers rose. "To The Commonwealth and her Archon!" said the assembled guests.

Sam drank and noticed the maitre d was still there. "One moment, Colonel," he said as he stood. He took two steps over the maitre d and quickly produced a small number of notes. "Good sir, the Colonel and I are about to discuss business and would hate to see any interruptions in our conversation." He handed the notes to the maitre d who nodded and snapped his fingers. With that, the entire serving staff assembled and proceeded out the door.

A slight click behind Sam told him the door was now secured. While the door would certainly not stop any heavy rounds, Sam knew their privacy was be ensured. Sam also glumly thought about the amount of money the maitre d was receiving. If this kept up he'd have to leave him in his will.


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(PART 4)

Galatean League

16 October 3150

Sam Hood was a practical soldier. Although he was a mercenary brat, he entered the ROTC program at Mansfield Polytechnical and graduated near the top of his class. His eight years in the AFFS found himself working up the ranks to Captain. When his father asked him to come back to help with the Heavy Cavalry, he couldn't say no. When he took command last year, he thought he was ready for just about anything.

A trio of Lyran officers were demonstrating the simple truth that he still had much to learn about the universe.

Colonel Steiner looked again over to Leutnant Harris and the man went to the corner of the room to produce a small portable holo-table. While the Leutnant set it up, Steiner continued to drone on about some social event he had attended last week and how ghastly the food and the company were. A light hum indicated the machine was ready and the Colonel mercifully changed tacks and began to discuss the contract.
Hauptmann Silver stood and produced a laser pointer to start.

"As you see," said the young but rapidly balding officer. "The Lyran Commonwealth has been facing aggressive movements from both Clans Wolf and Jade Falcon. But over the last few months, the Lyran Intelligence Corps has discovered that Clan Wolf has been moving their forces off many of their worlds and are proceeding to what we believe will be an assault on Terra itself."

Captain Kleistwicz spoke first. "Terra? Have the Wolves found some way to breach Terra's barrier?" Terra for the last fifteen years had been protected by a barrier that prevented ships from entering the system via jump points. The few ships that attempted it ended up as broken twisted hulks. If the Wolves had found a way to circumvent it, it would give them a massive advantage on other Clans trying to take the cradle of Humanity.

Hauptmann Silver looked at his counterpart and nodded. "They may very well have figured it out. But we suspect the Wolves have done something that we didn't think them capable of."

This time it was Captain Tremont who spoke up "Are they entering an alliance with a Successor State?"

Silver shook his head to that inquiry. "From what the LIC has been able to determine, Khan Alaric Ward may have entered in some unholy alliance with Malvina Hazen and the Jade Falcons."

That got everyone's attention. Even Elvis's mode became more sedate. The Jade Falcons had gone insane under Malvina Hazen's control. They had perverted Clan honor into a twisted abomination of itself. This was a Clan leader who had no compunction about using nuclear weapons in order to solve her problems.

"What intelligence can you share on recent Jade Falcon movements?" asked Sam. The Heavy Cavalry earned their stripes fighting the Falcons a century ago, and there was little love for that particular Clan. Even the absorbed Clansmen had nothing but distaste for the Clan, and that was before a madwoman led them.

Hauptmann Silver looked over to Colonel Steiner who nodded once and then returned to his riesling.

"Clan Jade Falcon is appearing to move towards Terra as well. But they're not moving in a cohesive group like the Wolves. From what we can determine, Khan Hazen is grabbing whatever units she can and sending them in galaxy-sized pieces. Our boots on the ground have told us she has stripped her outermost worlds including their capital, Sudeten of troops. What she is leaving behind are garrison units, solahma, and sibko units while she goes for Terra."

Hood nodded. Now he knew why they needed a regiment-sized unit. They would be tasked to hit a world, capture or kill the garrison and allow LCAF troops to sweep in and conquer it. The Heavy Cavalry would get the paycheck, but the Lyran military would get the glory. That made sense to the mercenary commander.

Lyran morale was at a near all-time low. The Lyran state had almost been conquered twice in the last few decades. Once from the outside, and once from within. They had lost an Archon and dozens of resource-heavy worlds. While they were still the money-making center of the Inner Sphere, recent events had shaken the Successor State to its core.

"I assume you'll want the Heavy Cavalry to make an assault somewhere along the Arc-Royal line?" asked Hood. "All three of our Jumpships have Lithium-Fusion batteries. If you can have a tug meet us along the route we could be anywhere on 'this' side of the border within a month." Sam traced his finger along the lines where the Heavy Cavalry could end up.

"Nein, that would not be practical." offered Colonel Steiner. "What we need is a decisive strike. Something that will make the Falcons take pause."

Captain Kleistwicz looked at the map along with Hood. "Where do you propose we'll end up?" If the Lyrans had a tug here and one here....we could cover nearly two-thirds of the border and be there by the middle of January next year."

Colonel Steiner stood and straightened his uniform. "There are three potential targets. We will not be able to give final confirmation of your target until your unit reaches our tug in "point alpha". That will not be revealed until you have accepted the contract."

"Your attack will be followed up by multiple Lyran units crossing the border in an effort to dislodge the Clans from our world. If Devlin Stone can defeat the Clans on Terra, the way will be open for the Lyran Commonwealth to regain dozens of worlds."

Hood looked at Steiner for a moment. "Is this part of a multi-national strike against the Clans? Are they attempting to reassemble a new Star League?"

Steiner shook his head. "Nein, we are trying to use the information we have to achieve victory."

Hood looked at the map again. "Are we going under Lyran colors or are we going to Red Corsair this?" The Red Corsair had been a pirate leader, formerly of Clan origin that had terrorized the Lyran state a century ago. "If we're going as bandits, they'll throw everything they have at us. That's not including the possibility of Malvina Hazen having nukes there waiting for us."

Steiner straightened up and moved next to Hood looking at the map. "Nein. Our operatives are absolutely sure that the nukes have been removed from two of the three possible targets. What they will have there are children and old soldiers who will die easily."

Elvis huffed air out of his nose so loudly the rest of the room looked at him. "I would rather not see us fight sibkos, Colonel. Those are children who would have minimum exposure to a Battlemech and the Mechs they would use are either crippled Omnis or second-line hand-me-downs. As for solahma, they'll do whatever they have to in order to earn an honorable death in combat. That's not an easy victory any day of the week."

"The Lyran Commonwealth is prepared to pay combat bonuses, offer generous salvage rights, and even surrender tactical command of the attack," said Steiner. "There is too much at stake and an independent regiment behind the lines is exactly what we need right now."

Captain Kleistwicz looked at the Lyran delegation hard. "Combat bonuses?"

"Twenty to thirty-five percent over contract depending on the target." replied Steiner.

"Salvage rights?"

"We will allow you to keep what you salvage on the planet. Anything taken from any facility will be turned over to the Lyran Alliance and payment will be received in exchange rights or Kroner. We will make payment in any acceptable currency for a three percent transfer fee."


"Two and a half."

Kleistwicz nodded. "Battlefield indemnity."

"We will make payment for twenty percent of confirmed combat losses."


"Twenty-two point five."


"Twenty-five and you stop now. This will also apply to any losses sustained by the unit we assign to you."

"Combat command?"

"Overall command will remain with your unit. If you accept, we will assign a liaison officer and a lance worth of combat machines. Those machines belong to the Lyran state. There will also be a small group of personnel assigned to the liaison officer."


"No more than twenty people. Astechs, an expert in OmniMech technology, a few engineers, and a planetologist."

"No Loki?"

"No special forces outside the lance of Mechs who will be tasked to make sure you stay on target."

Colonel Hood stepped in. "We are rated an A- unit by the MRBC. We were asked by the Wolf's Dragoons to join the assault on Mars. We declined because we thought someone needed to mind the store in case more units like the Wacos went whacko." Sam's impatience with Steiner led him to speak louder and slower. "We defended the St. Ives Compact as best we could and almost lost our home to the Capellans back in '61. We did lose our home when the Capellans came around a few decades later. "

"We're not afraid of tough fights. We almost lost everything in the Jihad. We survived that. We'll do the job. Assign whatever liaison you want. If he or she is with us, they'll be treated like a Cavalryman. If their ride gets destroyed, we'll pay for that replacement or they can claim salvage as they deem necessary."

"Now," said Hood, trying to get his temper genie back in the bottle. "We've hashed out everything else here. I'm sure Captain Kleistwicz and Leutnant Harris have scribbled down all the important details.  What's the bottom line?"

Steiner stared at Hood. Both men had grey eyes. "The Lyran Commonwealth will pay one hundred and fifty million kroner."

Hood shook his head. "No. Our Mechs. Our Dropships. Our Jumpships.  Since we contacted you from space you officially know our little secret."

Steiner glared. "Yes. We know about Stuart."

Hood nodded. The HCS JEB Stuart was a Magellan-class Jumpship. It had been given to the Heavy Cavalry by ComStar during the Jihad. The Heavy Cavalry jumped into Keid only to find a damaged Blakist Vincent-class WarShip waiting for them.  While it cost the Heavy Cavalry most of its fighters and two badly damaged DropShips, the Cavalry stormed the damaged vessel and captured it. As the Heavy Cavalry could not maintain a WarShip, it agreed to hand it over to the ComGuard as part of 'exchange rights'. The CSS Blake's Redemption became the HCS JEB Stuart. All Magellan-class Jumpships came equipped with a mobile hyper pulse generator and over half of the Magellan vessels' HPGs remained operational when most of the static HPGs went silent.

"Most of the leaders of the Inner Sphere have at least one Magellan purchased from the ComGuard fire sale," said Hood. "I even understand the Capellan Chancellor has one as his personal transport." "We got ours from ComStar when they were still mostly trustworthy and only used their armies to fight the Clans...and the Blakists. You're asking us to risk one of the rarest commodities in the Inner Sphere right now. If there is a Falcon WarShip waiting for us, we won't have many options."

"We are the Lyran state, Colonel." snapped Steiner. "We know of your other secret."

Hood's Heavy Cavalry walked away with more than two Jumpships, an array of shiny toys, and a very deep bank account at the end of the Jihad. They had picked up a few other things while they assisted Hansen's Roughriders as they engaged in their private war with the Taurian Concordat.

They had acquired two nuclear warheads.

Hood's grandfather swore he'd never use them. Even when he had a chance to use them against a Liao WarShip that could have turned the tide in the Battle for Scituate, he didn't.  When Sam's father inherited this ugly surprise, the first thing he did was put them away in the munitions locker of their Seeker-class Dropship HCS Bunker Hill and hoped they would magically disappear.  They didn't. When Sam found out about them, he almost punched his father.

WMDs were used only by the most damaged and maniacal people in the Inner Sphere. Taurians. Capellans. Falcons. He did not want to add his family's name to the list of people like 'Atomic Annie'.

"Are you authorizing the use of these devices in the event a Falcon WarShip attempts to interdict us?" asked Hood.

"We do not care about anything you do while you get there, Hood." stated Steiner. "But if you land on the planet and use them, you might as well run for the Periphery."

"So you ask me to put all our lives on the line for the Lyran state? Sure, but we're not doing it for less than four hundred."

"Two hundred."

"Three sixty."

"Two twenty."

"Three twenty."

"Two forty plus twenty percent that may be used for purchasing equipment from the LCAF."

Sam paused. Two hundred and forty million kroner. Another forty-eight million to buy Mechs and military equipment from the Lyran government. That kind of money would allow the Heavy Cavalry to invest heavily into making their small land hold on Quincy far more self-sustaining than it was now. Sam stared into the eyes of Steiner, trying to gauge the spirit of the man. He hoped his next few words wouldn't doom his people.

"Alright, Colonel. What's our target?"

Colonel Steiner smiled. "I will tell you after dinner. Now, let's get the staff back in here, ja?"

« Last Edit: 26 February 2021, 20:26:20 by BaronScituate »


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(Part 5)

L'Escoffier Restaurant
Galatean League
16 October 3150

Sam looked again in the eyes of Colonel Steiner. He knew there would be no more concessions from the Lyran side of the table. While it wasn't the best possible contract for the Heavy Cavalry, the possibility of good salvage could mean more than payment upfront in the long run.

"So what does the Colonel suggest for the second course?" replied Hood, trying to keep his tone as even and harmonious as possible.

Colonel Steiner smiled. "If you will allow me, I'll do the ordering for the rest of the evening."

This was one battle Sam was sure he'd lose. He waved his hand towards the mercenary liaison and allowed him to go to town on his wallet. While he knew the bill would be painful, the Colonel did know his food and beverages.

The second course was a salad Lyonnais. It was chilled perfectly and the bacon had a sweet crisp to it. The wine, a '26 Valpolicella was perfectly paired with the dish. Sam was about to compliment the Colonel on his selection when he gazed at the wine list and realized he had just spent 1200 kroner on that one bottle.

The next course was some form of scallop served on a mushroom base. It was also served with pork rillettes. The rillettes were somewhat soothing to Hood, as with a little luck, you could make them with the right AFFS combat ration. That was served with a '43 Chardonnay. Sam enjoyed it partly because it was lightly alcoholic, and that it was the first bottle whose price range wasn't comparable to some 'Mech parts.

Finally, the maitre d and two servants brought out dessert, a yogurt cake shaped in the gauntlet symbol of the Commonwealth. That inspired the now-addled Colonel to make another toast to the Commonwealth. The fist was covered in a light blue and white foam with blueberry and peach flavoring. Sam waved off the dessert wine as his head was starting to swim. But the cake was confectionary perfection. Sam motioned the maitre d over and handed him a 50 stone note.  "Would you please see that your pastry chef receives our compliments?" asked Sam.

The plates were cleared and a small electronic pad was put on the table. It contained the contract with all the details and fine points on it. Colonel Steiner happily signed his name and rank to his part of the document. Sam looked it over one more time and applied his name on the screen.  Colonel  Steiner handed to pad over to Leutnant Harris. "Well done, Colonel." replied the satisfied Lyran. "I hope this begins a new history of service with the Commonwealth."

The maitre d smiled and brought another electronic reader. It was the bill. Sam looked at the number and realized that it was more than the price of his first two hoverbikes combined. "Colonel!", shouted Steiner. "You must see to it that the staff is properly rewarded for their fine service this evening!" Sam looked at the bill and raised the gratuity to thirty percent. This further brightened the demeanor of the maitre d who had likely just made his rent for the month. "Colonel Hood," offered the maitre d. "I look forward to having you and your delightful company in our place again.  I will see to it that there is always a table waiting for you."

Sam bit down the answer he wanted to give and smiled. "The service was impeccable and your staff were a delight to be served by." The maitre d clicked his heels in the Lyan fashion and swept himself out of the room.  "Aha!", beamed Steiner. "We'll make a proper Lyran officer out of you yet!" He patted Sam on the shoulder in a moderately condescending manner and led his officers out of the room.

"Captain Tremont," said Sam glumly. "If I EVER spend 9,200 kroner on a meal for seven people again I would like to be relieved of my command and be placed in the worst Capellan asylum you can find."

"Roger that sir," said Tremont who like Sam carried the family name for the fifth generation. "Would you like to use my hold-out pistol to wash the taste of pretentiousness out of your mouth?"

"No, Jack. That would just make everyone go up a rank. Just remember Captain, promotion is a form of disciplinary action."

"Usually the worst kind boss."

Sam and his officers got up and left the restaurant. The maitre d was actually sorry to see them leave.  They flagged down two cabs and proceeded back to the compound.  "Jack, when you get back to the barn I will need a senior officer meeting in the briefing room ASAP. Since you, Aaron, and Elvis were there for that...meal, all three of you should consider yourself 'promoted' for the briefing. We need to start contingency plans and get the regiment ready to move out."

« Last Edit: 23 February 2021, 01:12:07 by BaronScituate »


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Just remember Captain, promotion is a form of disciplinary action.

Best line I have read in a while.
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Just remember Captain, promotion is a form of disciplinary action.

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Great start, when's the next promotion. :thumbsup:
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(Part 6)

Galatean League

16 October 3150

It took around twenty minutes to assemble all the senior personnel on the base and elsewhere in the system. When Hood got to the offices the Heavy Cavalry had rented in Galaport, he had time to get two cups of coffee in him before he called the council to order.

The Heavy Cavalry had a tradition, borrowed from the old AFFS. Senior enlisted men were allowed to take part in conferences that weren't taking place in a forward area. While in the conference, rank was more of a suggestion than a formality. It allowed platoon sergeants and higher the ability to speak their minds on potential problems within the unit.

Traditionally, a council was called every time the unit signed a new contract. Hood saw several dozen personnel in the small briefing room and monitors in front of the podium showed that personnel was listening in from the small flotilla in orbit.  It looked like nearly all of the people who could attend did.

Sam wasn't entirely sure how this council would go. This would be the first time in nearly half a century that the dependents wouldn't be with the regiment. While this made things easier from a military standpoint, Sam knew that morale was always shakier the further soldiers were away from family.

Sam's XO, Leftenant Colonel Chamberlin called the meeting to order. Chamberlin's family joined the Heavy Cavalry back in the days of the Jihad and enjoyed a minor celebrity in the unit for being the only family of actual Terran descent. His Unit II joined up with the regiment after the better part of his division was left to die while Primus Dow was playing political games with Precentor Martial Steiner-Davion.

"Gentlemen." boomed the XO in a distinctive New England accent. "The Colonel has been negotiating with the Lyrans to get us a contract. It appears we have found ourselves some employment."  He allowed a gentle murmur to go on for a few moments before tapping the mic twice. "Colonel, what's our location?"

Sam stood. He was very thankful for those two cups of coffee. "The Lyrans have been monitoring Jade Falcon movements along their border. They believe that the Falcons, in conjunction with the Wolves...are making an end-run on Terra. Lyran intelligence has been following their movements and believes they have stripped their interior worlds of military personnel in order to beat the Wolves in taking Terra down."

"Are we trusting this intel sir?" came a voice from the second row. It came from Captain Sarah-Ann Broadhead, commander of Chance Company. The middle-aged captain shook her head and looked at Sam. "Lyran Intelligence hasn't been the greatest in the Inner Sphere." That comment brought a few chuckles among the assembled personnel.

A tall, deep-brown-skinned man rose from the room. "Lyran Intelligence can't be all wrong. If it wasn't for them, my ancestors would have starved to death on a rock in the Periphery." That was Sederval, CO of Horse Company and commander of the heaviest lance of 'Mechs in the entire regiment. He came from Hell's Horse stock and was the strongest voice among the Horses ex-pats when it came to making contact with their former Clan. "Are we engaging in a raid or a planetary assault?"

Hood approached the front row of seated personnel. He felt the gaze of those men and women around him and hoped he hadn't signed them all up for a suicide run. "We will be engaging in a planetary assault. We will secure the planet and wait for a Lyran force to come and "claim" the planet for the Commonwealth."

The diminutive Takagi Tozumichi spoke next. He often joked that one time he had met Paladin Steiner-Davion, the former First Prince enjoyed finally meeting someone who he could look in the eyes. The Tozumichi clan were former Combine soldiers who had joined up with former Fed Com and Rasalhague troops to form the Heavy Calvary a century ago. Tozumichi's father Kinjiro had single-handedly stopped an advance on Scituate that had bought the unit precious time to get their families to the spaceport when they had the flee the planet fifty years ago.

"Which world?"

All eyes turned from Takagi back to Sam. Sam looked the Action company commander in the eyes and then swept his gaze over the whole room "Operational security will prevent us from knowing the exact location until we are one jump away from the target."

That was not what the assembled party wanted to hear. The grumbling went on for several seconds until Colonel Chamberlin tapped the mic twice several times. Even then, it took nearly a minute to get the dull roar down.

"Does the Colonel have a guess?" asked Franz Honoik.

Franz was a Unitarian minister and part of the medical staff. While his rank was only Sergeant (Sam stopped trying to promote after three refusals), his status as a healer of body and soul allowed him access to this meeting. He was even a Mechwarrior, but his below-average gunnery skills didn't usually help. In an effort to combat this, Hood assigned him one of the regiments acquisitions from the Sea Foxes, a Clan-designed Rifleman IIC. The Mech befit the man's status and the pulse lasers usually helped correct his aim.

"I do," said Sam. "Sudeten."

Sudeten. The capital world of the Jade Falcons. A planet where fifteen years ago a mad Khan literally dropped a WarShip on her rival in order to seize power. While Sam shared his general opinion about military intelligence, he felt this was the best guess. Hell, he felt that Colonel Steiner was practically pointing it to him in between glasses of wine earlier in the evening.

"Do we know the force we'll be facing?" asked a voice from one of the monitors. It was Benjamin Helm, Captain of the Condor-class Dropship HCS Mercy. The Mercy had been retrofitted as a flying hospital during the Succession Wars and had come into possession of the Heavy Cavalry during the St. Ives conflict.

"Allison, would you care to take this?" said Sam as he looked towards a younger blond woman with shoulder-length hair a pair of bifocals on her face. Captain Allison Nelson was the regimental expert on Clan customs and social behaviors. Her doctoral dissertation on the Clan 'collective consciousness' so impressed Sam's father he offered her a commission and an opportunity to live and work with people who had been raised in Clan society.

"If the Falcons hold true to form there will be one garrison cluster and one solahma cluster on the planet. The garrison cluster will have a few OmniMechs and a smattering of Clan second-line and SLDF designs. The solahma cluster will likely be SLDF Mechs, whatever Inner Sphere salvage they cobbled together, even regular infantry.

"Will we have to worry about naval action?" came another voice from a monitor. That was Thomas Cobb, Captain of the HCS New Dallas, the closest thing the Heavy Cavalary had to a WarShip.

Nelson looked at her pad and then back to the monitors. "The garrison cluster will likely have a binary of fighters. Perhaps some DropShip support. The solahma cluster will likely have little or no air cover and no heavy ship support."

"When do we get the go?" asked Leftenant Colonel Hyde-White, commander of the Jumpship HCS Traveller and commander of the Cavalry's "navy". His hair floated like a corona on the monitor and it was clear that he was reporting in from the bridge of his ship.

"The go is given. Quartermaster, Operations, and Personnel will have four days to secure all remaining supplies. Quartermaster will see to it that we have triple standard reaction mass for our jets and fifty percent over the expected ammunition.  Contact the local vendors and see if we can have an extra hundred tons of standard armor loaded up in the next few days. We will pick up our 'liaison officer' and his party and leave system no later than 21 October."

Sam paused for a moment and looked around the room. "There is a tremendous opportunity to help our community on Mansfield. A successful contract here will allow us to grow our village to a real modern community. It is imperative we do this one by the numbers folks...any questions?"

The room stood silent for several seconds.

"Very well," said Sam. "Dismissed."


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Re: Falcon Foolin' (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Clans)
« Reply #10 on: 24 February 2021, 07:32:59 »
Love this so far. I always enjoy stories that stay within canon.


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Re: Falcon Foolin' (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Clans)
« Reply #11 on: 24 February 2021, 14:33:20 »
(Part 7)

Galatean League

20 October 3150

It had been a busy few days for the Cavalry. The unit was gathering the available resources needed for their mission. While some expendables had been easily obtained, others were harder to come by. Captain Sczykzy, the regiment's chief armorer had been lamenting over how little heavy autocannon ammo he could find. At the moment, the Heavy Cav only had 23 rounds of ammo for the Ultra/20 class autocannons and 31 cluster rounds for the LB-20X. While this would get the regiment through one battle, they'd have to scrounge for it on the battlefield or put those big guns in reserve.

Colonel Hood got a notification on his wrist comm. He activated it and spoke into the device. "Hood here." "Colonel," said the voice of Captain Kleistwicz, "The Lyran liaison party has arrived at the spaceport and are awaiting your arrival. 

Sam sighed. He still had two days of paperwork in front of him not to mention the time he needed to speak to his battalion commanders about an idea he had. "Very well, Aaron. Please inform the Lyrans I'm on my way." While it was only a three-block walk to the edge of the spaceport, Sam hailed a cab. It made no sense to look like he had run over.

It took a few moments to get to the Drop station that had been reserved for the Heavy Cavalry. The Overlord C-class HCS Baking Soda was in its birth with two of its lower bay doors open. In front of the ship was a gaggle of people in Steiner blue and four 'Mechs in Lyran colors. It had been a while since Sam had gone thru the CamoSpecs guide issued by ComStar. But that book was nearly a century old and ComStar no longer existed. From what Sam could tell, they were part of the Donegal Guard, but he couldn't place the regiment.

He took a look at the designs. Atlas, Hauptmann, Banshee, and a Zeus. Sam felt like he was looking a Lyran recruitment photo shoot. All traditional Lyran machines used for traditional Lyran tactics. This was not a promising start.

Hood's Heavy Cavalry had a particular requirement. All their Mechs were jump-capable. During the Jihad as the mercenaries were whittled down from five battalions to five companies, nearly all the surviving Mechs had jump jets. The Cavalry had lost every non-jumping assault Mech in its arsenal during that time. On the rare occasion they captured an impressive 100-ton machine, the Calvary would sell it rather than use it.

In their last engagement against the Clans, they ended up selling a full loaded Clan Masakari (save its targeting computer). The jump jets Omnipods gave the squat, boxy machine absolutely no aerodynamic stability and two pilots had been seriously injured in jump jet failures. While most commanders would have kept such a powerful machine in spite of its flaws, the Cavalry's "It flies or it dies" mentality meant certain Mech chassis (unless they had been severely and/or comedically modified like Leftenant Killingsly's banana-yellow Spartan weren't seen in the regiment. The only Mechs in the unit that did not possess jump jets were Mechs that had been retro-fitted into artillery pieces. (Sergeant Jenkins Arrow IV-equipped Blitzkrieg among them.)

This philosophy extended even to the Heavy Cavalry's tiny armor unit. The entire force was comprised of hover tanks, and a few of them (like a pair of venerable Kangas, and a salvaged Republic Scapha had jump jets on them. Every last suit of battle armor had jump capacity, and nearly all of the Cav's ground-pounders had access to jump packs.

Four lumbering assault Mechs was the last thing the Cavalry needed. While they'd be great in a slow-plodding assault Clan-fighting usually required mobility and assaults usually didn't have it. There were only eleven assault Mechs in the entire regiment, and two of them were a 3K-Charger and a jumping Spartan that only had a PPC and three pulse lasers for its weaponry.

As Hood approached, the Lyrans assembled into a formation with the four Mechwarriors in front.  Sam looked at the four and recognized Hauptmann Silver. That was a plus at least. Hood found him to be attentive and intelligent in their meeting. But Silver was not the senior Lyran present. That position was taken up by a young-looking Kommandant who had all the airs of a bored supermodel.

"Kommondant Gunner Sanderberg, LCAF at your service," said the bored supermodel with a pretty uniform and a thick German accent. While Silver and the remaining Commonwealth personnel came to attention, Sanderberg's reaction was casual bordering on lazy.

Hood came to attention and saluted in the palm-out manner of the Federated Suns. "Colonel Hood. It's a pleasure to have you with us Kommandant."

The Lyran officer shook his hand as if he was a reluctant member of a press tour.  The tall, blond, and impeccably groomed Lyran nodded. "My officers. Hauptmann Silver, First Leutnants Krieger and Smith."

"Very well. We have cabins reserved for your personnel," said Hood. "Once we're in orbit, we'll transfer the entirety of your personnel to another Dropship so they'll enjoy a little more comfort on the journey."

"Ja. Ja. Sehr gut," muttered the Lyran. He then looked at Hood again and his face perked up. "Ah, yes. My uncle says you have impeccable taste in wines and will be an adequate dinner companion."

Again, Sam Hood responded with a broad smile that never made it to his eyes. Sam contemplated what to say next when they were interrupted by a junior officer coming up to the party and coming to attention.

"Colonel, Captian Kleistwicz reports 'full speed ahead' and that we'll link up in orbit." said the young Lancer. (Lancer was the 'third leftenant' rank in the Heavy Cavalry, given to enlisted personnel with special skills or young officers who weren't quite ready for platoon or lance commands)

"Excuse me, Kommandant, Hauptmann, " said Hood. "Business duties. The ship's XO will see to your needs." Sam and the young officer came to attention, performed a casual about-face, and headed back towards the spaceport's interior.

"Of course, we'll see you in space." called out Sanderburg.

"Well, now we've got a fighter escort worthy of his Lordship," said Sam out of earshot.

If the Heavy Cavalry had a weakness, it was their lack of air cover. While the unit had nearly a full battalion of combat-ready VTOLs, they had just eight aerospace fighters. That usually led the Heavy Cavalry to subcontract work out to small aerospace merc units. Sam had sent Captain Kleistwicz to strike a deal with Boston's Bruins, a small merc unit that was made up of a score of aerospace fighters and a profoundly battered Vengeance-class Dropship.

That was the last piece of the puzzle. Now that matter had been settled there was only one minor detail to wrap up. Colonel Hood turned to his aide.

"Lancer Salway, will you please go back to the office and ask Quartermaster Meggs to pick up several dozen bottles of wine and have it sent to the Broadway?" The Broadway was a Monarch-class Dropship that had one function. It was the Heavy Cav's mobile R&R facility. It also served as the meeting place for the Cavalry and the AFFS while they were in Davion service. Sam had planned on dumping the Lyrans there so they could stay fat, drunk, and happy as the Heavy Cavalry headed towards their assignment.


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Re: Falcon Foolin' (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Clans)
« Reply #12 on: 25 February 2021, 23:29:58 »
(Part 8)

HCS Broadway
Zenith jump point
Lyran Commonwealth
27 October 3150

The HCS Broadway was a rare bird. Very few mercenaries used the commercial DropShip as anything other than a glorified infantry carrier. The Monarch-class ships were designed as space-borne hotels, with space for several hundred customers.

The Broadway was taken by the Cavalry during the Jihad. The Word of Blake had captured the Lyran ship as it was transporting a batch of wealthy tourists away from their border with the Blake Protectorate. The Heavy Cavalry had been able to prevent the mercs in the employment of the Word of Blake from spacing the tourists. The hostile mercs were convinced to surrender and turned over to Lyran authorities.

The Heavy Cavalry took possession of it and used it during the Jihad to transport dependents and unarmored infantrymen. As the Jihad wore down they attempted to return the ship.  However, Lyran Constellation Spacelines had lost all four of its ships and declared bankruptcy. The Heavy Cavalry used their settlement money from the Battle over Keid to purchase the ship for pennies on the dollars.

As the thirty-first century began, the Heavy Cavalry chose to turn the vessel back into a combination medium-grade hotel and regimental rest and recreation center. A small suite of rooms was brought back up to luxury standards. They became part of the lure for the Heavy Cavalry's employment for the next fifty years.

The small transport shuttle docked with the Broadway. After a few seconds, the shuttle's door pressurized and opened. Sam Hood floated out of the shuttle and grabbed one of the handrails. A woman with close-cropped russet hair waited for Sam. Sam smiled upon seeing her. "Permission to come aboard, Captain."

Captain Eileen Thompson-Hood smiled back at the cousin. "Permission granted, Colonel."

Sam used inertia to move into a position where he could hug his cousin. They embraced briefly and then parted. "How are our guests?" asked Sam. Eileen laughed "They're on their third course and fifth bottle of wine. Kommandant Sanderburg "requests" an update on our status.

"Well," said Sam. We'll reach the space station in about an hour. It will take about two days to transfer the energy to all three JumpShips. We'll then use those charges to double jump. That will bring us to the Ginestra system and place us on the border with the Falcons. We'll reach their nadir point and then link up with the Lyran tug that'll give us the charges to jump into Falcon territory."

"Barring any horrible surprises, we'll be charged and ready to cross. At that point, we'll get from the good Kommandant to tell us our final location and we'll put together our plan."

The DropShip captain nodded. She turned to a small glass-paneled door and turned to the Colonel. "Still a size ten?" She reached into the door and pulled out a pair of reinforced soft leather slippers. The soles of the slippers were covered in velcro. That velcro ran along the corridor and strips and allowed people to 'walk' around the cabin.

Sam removed his boots and put on the slippers. He proceeded down the corridor and headed towards guest quarters. The Broadway's culinary team was recruited from New Avalon's Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy. This small group of culinary masters learned to cook in the hazards of zero-G. They had one mission this trip: Keep the Lyrans fat, drunk, and happy.

Mission Accomplished so far at least.

« Last Edit: 25 February 2021, 23:34:58 by BaronScituate »


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Re: Falcon Foolin' (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Clans)
« Reply #13 on: 26 February 2021, 20:23:32 »
(Part 9)

Space Station Brunhild
Lyran Commonwealth
29 October 3150

It took two days for the tugs to transfer the charges to the small fleet. Sam finally got caught up on most of his paperwork. He even took in an evening to have lunch with the Lyran officers.  While Hauptmann Silver was a polite and conscientious officer, not much could be said about the other three Lyran Mechwarriors. While they were interesting dinner companions when it came to Hood's "tastes" in alcohol and Dropship decor, they weren't really useful when it came to discussing the upcoming mission.

Hood had also taken a look at his liaison's Mechs.  All four were in pristine condition. You could even make out the 'new Mech' smell on the Banshee and the Zeus. The Hauptmann intrigued Hood. One of the most common Mechs in the outfit was the Firestarter-O OmniMech. There were even nearly a dozen Clan-designed Omnis scattered through the unit. Any time he got to see a new Omni design, it peaked his interest. Granted, the Hauptmann had been around for about eighty years, but this was the first time he was up close with one.

"Good evening, Colonel Hood," said a voice below him.  The low-whine of a small lift told Hood he was about to get company. Sam took a guess at the approaching person. "It's a rather beautiful machine. It's an outstanding piece of Lyran technology. But it won't be very useful in our battle."

Hauptmann Silver got out of the lift and replaced the safety bar back down. "How so?," said the Lyran intelligence officer. "As an OmniMech, we can rapidly re-pod the machine for practically any purpose. Long-range fire support, skirmishing, or even close quarters brawling. It should serve its purpose."

"What's the top speed on this monster, about fifty-five kph?" asked Hood.

"Yes, Colonel."

"I won't knock it's ability to crawl up a Clanner's backside and wail away, but it will just be crawling." Sam spread out his arms towards the middle of the Mech bay. "We got forty Mechs in the Dropship.  My command company is among them. The biggest Mech in it is Sergeant Major's Pope's Falconer.  Out of the twelve Mechs in the unit, only four are heavies. "

"But you do have some Clantech in your company."

"Yes. I currently drive the Goshawk captured by my grandfather and used by my father. The Firestarter-Omni has Clan weaponry on it, and that's a real-live Clan built Black Hawk Omni, a gift left to us by the Falcons on Blair Atholl.

"So your command isn't an anchor unit?"

"No, Hauptmann," said Hood. "My job is to run a regiment. This means sometimes I'm needed to be on various parts of the line.  That's hard to do when it takes me two hours to get to the front."

Sam chose to change the subject. "Your Hauptmann seems to be the only one of the four Mechs that has any sort of battle damage." Sam held up his hands. "No offense Hauptmann, but that Banshee and the Zeus are fresh from the factory. The Kommandants' Atlas doesn't seem to have a part in it that's more than a year old. He's modified it to carry a monster ultra autocannon."

"It's usually not smart to have a plodding monster with all short-range guns. Don't get me wrong. That thing gets in close, it will shred a Dire Wolf. But I make it a point not to see my liaison officer turned to mulch by an insane Falcon."

Silver wasn't offended. He may have even smiled.

"So, how can we refit the Hauptmann to be useful to the Cavalry?"

"Jump jets.  The only Mechs in our unit that don't jump carry artillery. Those Mechs stay close to the Dropships."

"We didn't beat the Blakists in the Jihad. We outlasted them.  The same with the Capellans on Scituate, Spica, Warlock, and honestly a dozen different locations. When Improved Jump Jets hit the market, it was like Christmas for us.  Pound for pound, we get outgunned by many line regiments. But we can quickly get in, kick someone in the teeth, and then run for the hills before they get up."

"Let's use first Battalion as an example. Major Reynolds is a solid third-generation cavalryman. There are only two assault Mechs in the entire unit. One's a ComGuard Crockett we inherited from the survivors of a ComGuard unit we rescued in the Jihad.  The other is a Hell's Horse Phoenix Hawk IIC. Both jump and both are full of long-range weapons."

"The Lyran state has been put through the ringer the last twenty years. The only state that can match your country for sheer abuse taken is my Federated Suns. Your nation has shown an incredible tenacity through that Hell. If the Lyran state can hit a Falcon production world and take it...then you'll be in a great position to start retaking worlds, especially if the Falcons get pasted by Devlin Stone on Terra."

"God willing," said Silver. "My family are from Timkovichi. My father and mother are both rabbis. Clan Jade Falcon have only one religion; the twisted faith of their Chinggis Khan. I hitched my horse to the Sanderburg family in order to get a raid in order to rescue them."

"If we can pull this off, we could always hit them on the way back."

Silver looked at Hood with bewilderment. "But you're mercenaries!"

"We are," said Hood. "But we know a hell of a lot about family."

The loudspeaker in the Mech bay came to life. "Colonel Hood," said the officer of the watch. "Brunhild station reports the final charge is complete.  Colonel Hyde-White reports all three ships report green and can jump on your command."

Colonel Hood walked two steps away from Silver and tabbed a yellow button on the wall. "Roger that. Hauptmann Silver and I are approaching the bridge. Tell Hyde he can warm up the drives and start the countdown. Let's head to the border."
« Last Edit: 26 February 2021, 20:40:11 by BaronScituate »


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Re: Falcon Foolin' (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Clans)
« Reply #14 on: 28 February 2021, 18:14:45 »
Give me a ping, Vasili?  One ping only, please.


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(Part 10)

Orbital Station Asgard
Lyran Commonwealth
9 November 3150

The double jump had gone well. All three Jumpships had reached the coordinates of the nadir jump port. Again, a Lyran jump tug had been on-station and assisted with charging the K-F drives of the small fleet. Many of the Heavy Cavalry's officers had been impressed with the Lyrans professionalism and attention to detail.

"Tug Lichtmacher reports ready for power transfer," called out one of the duty officers. "Very well," called out Leftenant Colonel Hyde-White. "Have the Stuart go first. Contact me if there are any problems or in six hours."

Hyde-White floated over towards the small holo-tank that was at the back of the Traveller's bridge.  Colonel Hood was in conference with several senior officers as well as Kommandant Sanderburg and Hauptmann Silver.  "Charge proceeding, Colonel. We should have the ships charged within a week and we'll be able to jump across the border at your command."

"Very good," said Sam as he sketched his naval CO a salute.  "Alright, Kommandant we're at the border. Where would you like us to go?"

The Kommandant retrieved a portable drive from one of his attendants and inserted it into the holo-tank. Within seconds, a hyper-accurate map of the Lyran-Falcon border appeared. The map was of high quality and had again impressed the mercenary officers.

The Lyran officer retrieved a light pen and began to explain the plan.

"Your ships will implement another double jump at Grunwald. There, we will recharge the drives and then make a single jump to Kandersteg. You will then have to charge the drives normally. We won't be able to get a tug to that location and both jump stations are undergoing repairs from a Falcon raid."

"You will then another double jump and you will find yourself at...." The Lyran's voice trailed off as he slowly moved the light pen towards the Cavalry's intended target.  Sanderberg smiled like a predator expecting an easy meal "Sudeten," beamed the Lyran. "You will help us raid and possibly capture the Falcon's capital world. That attack will throw the Falcons into chaos allowing the Lyran military to crush the Falcons and gain back countless worlds lost to them."

"A double jump into Sudeten leaves us in a dangerous state if the Falcons leave a WarShip in orbit," said Sam.

"The Lyran government is confident that there are currently no Falcon vessels in orbit," said Sanderberg curtly. "Their entire navy is moving towards the Terran system.

Sam wasn't thrilled. He knew even a small Vincent class WarShip could obliterate his entire task force. Anything larger and the regiment would be in serious peril. He knew that a failed contract would put his people on the other side of the galaxy surrounded by a hostile power.

"Alright Kommandant," said Sam. "We'll run the jumps through our astrometrics squad and proceed as you suggest."


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"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"


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(Part 11)

HCS Traveller
Lyran Commonwealth
9 November 3150
1730 hours

Leftenant Liam Haskell received the astronavigation coordinates and began to put them in the computer. Normally, one would receive the coordinates automatically to the computer. But the Heavy Cav's previous history with bad intel caused them to end up in the deep Periphery. So a standing order from the original Colonel Hood made all jumps be entered manually.

Haskell entered the numbers in lazily. He had been the navigation officer on the Traveller for four years. He had never seen a problem before and the coordinates weren't that hard. It was just a series of numbers and letters.

So it came as quite a surprise when the monitor flashed red.

"Damn," said Haskell. "Must have cocked it up."  Liam looked at the coordinates and then entered them in slower.  Again, the monitor went red.

"Sonofa..." muttered the navigator under his breath. This time around he entered the coordinates one at a time, double-checking every letter and every number.  He never had gotten it wrong twice before and he was taking it a little personally.

The monitor acknowledged the coordinates and went red for the third time.

He activated his communicator. "XO, this is Navs.  We have a problem."

Several minutes later, Leftenant Colonel Hyde-White, Captain Niad Hells Horse, the Traveller's executive officer, and Liam were staring hard at the screen. They had tripled-checked the information and discovered a very ugly fact. 

The Lyran Alliance had given them bad jump coordinates.

It wasn't a disaster, but it was bloody inconvenient. The Cavalry's small fleet could enter Jade Falcon territory, but they'd have to double jump. That double jump would leave them vulnerable in Clan territory. If there was a WarShip, they'd be dead. If the Falcons had some sort of attack Dropship, like a Noruff-class, they'd be badly battered. 

"XO," said Hyde-White. "Please let the Colonel know what we've discovered and get him and our Lyran associate over here as soon as possible."

1910 hours

"Well, this isn't good," said Sam. "Alex, you've commanded JumpShips longer than I've been alive. So I know you're math is solid." Sam looked around to his officers and Hauptmann Silver.  Kommandant Sanderburg felt that this was an administrative issue and sent the Hauptmann in his stead. "So how are we going to make this work?"

Leftenant Colonel Hyde-White called up the map of the Lyran/Falcon border. "The tug can charge us, and we can double-jump to Kandersteg. Then we'll have to beg, borrow, or buy charges from the jump stations. Then we single jump to New Exford. There we deploy the sails and charge them manually. New Exford's nadir jump station got heavily damaged by the Falcons and the zenith station is for approved military traffic only. With all due respect, Hauptmann," nodded to Silver who nodded in return. "We'd need a General or a full-blooded Steiner to get charges from that station."

"That leaves us with our second problem," continued Hyde-White. We can reach our projected target with two jumps. But to protect ourselves, we'll have to make a single jump to one of three worlds: A Place, Dustball, or Graceland. All three worlds in Jade Falcon territory."

"What can we expect from the Falcons as mercs jumping the border?" asked Haskell.

Sam shook his head. "If these were old school Jade Falcons, they'd probably send their Cluster's air wing to knock us out of the sky. But these are Malvina's Falcons. Nukes could be on the table."

"Alex, would you please let the fleet know that we're going to need everyone at a meeting in thirty minutes?"  Sam then gazed at the junior Lyran officer to his left. "Mr. Silver, would you please let the Kommandant know that his presence is requested and his attendance would be appreciated?" The Lyran officer made a credible heel click (all the more impressive in zero-G) and headed off the bridge.  "Hauptmann, tell the Kommandant we'll serve canapes if that'll get him here."

Sam couldn't quite get the roll out of his eyes.


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(Part 12)

HCS Traveller
Lyran Commonwealth
9 November 3150
1940 hours

Within thirty minutes, a majority of the senior officers, non-coms, and people that had a right to an opinion had been assembled or were watching on monitors. The Lyran Kommandant had deemed the meeting unimportant. "The mercs have guessed the target, now they can plan for it." Sanderberg was reported to have said. He had remained onboard the Broadway making life Hell for the small hospitality staff on board.  Again, he sent Hauptmann Silver as his proxy.

Sam stepped to the center of the small holotank. "Cavalrymen," said Sam. "Our mission is to hit the Jade Falcon world of Sudeten." Hood allowed for a few moments of mumbling among his men before he continued.  "That is not our problem, that's our job," said the Cavalry CO in an attempt to quiet the voices in the room. "Our job is to figure out how we're going to do it without having an entire Clan full of psychopaths lobbing nukes at us."

Sam and Leftenant Colonel Hyde-White explained the situation and the Lyrans 'error in computation'.  Another series of grumbles went through the audience.  "We're going to have to have one jump inside Falcon territory. If we go in as mercs, we can expect the Falcons to lose their minds and throw any semblance of civilized warfare out the airlock."

Sam scanned the audience.  "Suggestions?"

"False flags are a risky business," offered Captain Kleistwicz. "There are legal ramifications if we pose as Lyran troops, especially if things get nasty and we have to improvise. We're trying to not get blacklisted by the Commonwealth for actions we take against current and former citizens.  We can operate under their auspices as their legal proxy but claiming to be them could bite us all in the ass."

Sederval Hells Horse then stood. "If we can not go in as a Successor state, then we should go as a Clan. Nearly a quarter of our warriors come from Hells Horse and other Clan genetic lines. We have nearly two companies of Clan material. We could pose as a Hells Horses Cluster that chose to raid another Clan."

"That idea has merit," said Sam. But how are we going to a Clan commander believe that two-odd Binaries of Mechs and an assorted trinary of Clan vehicles, Elemental armor, and vehicles would make a functional Cluster? We'd look more like bandits that had gotten lucky as opposed to an actual Clan line unit."

Sanderval frowned. Sam knew this wasn't so much disapproval as it was thinking of the next stage of the plan.  The brow furrowed for a few seconds and then the Captain looked at his CO.

"If we add every piece of equipment that looks as if it came from the Star League or a Brian cache, we would have a little over a battalion worth of material. We could pose as a Clan Cluster that has engaged in raiding against the Lyrans and has come back with combat casualties and a small amount of Inner Sphere equipment as isorla. "

Sederval began to pace which wasn't unusual. Then he smiled. Not that was a different look for him.

"The Star Colonel would have to be dead," mused the Clan descendant. "The ranking Star Captain would be unblooded and if one with Hells Horses blood claimed it, our ID chips would verify it genetically. Also, we would claim to have suffered enough casualties that we had to equip Inner Sphere equipment. We're there for Trials to acquire Clan equipment."

"Alright, that could work," said Sam. "We've got two Clan Dropships and one Clan Jumpship. If we match IFF code frequencies with them, we could appear to be a Cluster-sized Clan force. But we're going to have to hit them to show that we're Horses."

Sederval nodded. "Yes, we'll need to hit one world and make it loud and noisy enough for them to think there is a Clan unit in their space."

Sam smiled. "OK, Captain. Your plan, your mission. I hereby dub thee Star Captain Sederval of the First Horse Cavalry Cluster." Sam made the motion of his arm like a sword in the direction of both of Sederval's shoulders.  "You will forgive me if I assume the post of Khan?" 

Sam then looked to Hauptmann Silver. "I know this isn't exactly how your boss would want this to go, but your boss is busy invading our wine cellar right now. We will carry out the attack on Sudeten, but there will be a slight detour along the way. Inform the Kommandant that we will be making the double jump to Kandersteg as planned. We'll recharge the drives there and prepare a second jump so we can be ready to enter Falcon territory and keep those bird brains guessing as we head towards Sudeten."

Hauptmann Silver nodded. "I will inform the Kommandant of our jump plans. But what will be your first target Colonel Hood?"

Sam flashed a warm smile. "How would you feel about a little family reunion Hauptmann?"


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24 November 3150
Jade Falcon Occupation Zone

The small flotilla jumped into the system with minimal difficulties. There were the standard moments of mild confusion one normally feels when being pushed thirty some odd light-years through hyperspace. Systems began popping on line and the three Jumpship captains talked amongst themselves assessing their vessels readiness. The Heavy Cavalry's navy were professionals and had all their systems up and running with an hour.

The Heavy Cavalry had prepared themselves for this raid. They had changed their IFFs to read as Clan Hell's Horses.  Genetic "codexes" were handed out to all those who were assigned to the first raid. Around half of the raider battalion had some Hell's Horses genetic material in them (at various states of percentages), the rest would be completely "freeborn" as to elude notice by the Falcons.

It took several days to reach orbit from the nadir point. The mercenaries used that time to make small changes to the battalion's paint schemes, slapping Hell's Horses insignia on the units. Hood took command of the battalion, temporarily pulling rank on Major Reynolds of First Battalion. The Heavy Cavalry had put nearly every piece of Clan equipment they had in the outfit.  This ranged from Lancer James Archer's hulking Gladiator to Sergeant Edmund Burnside's Peregrine.

It didn't take long for the Jade Falcons to realize they had unwanted company. The commtech at the Traveller's aft station reported an incoming transmission. Leftenant Colonel Hyde-White nodded to the tech to let the message through.

"Beware, dezgra!" spat the voice from the other end of the channel. "I, Star Colonel Jorge of the 11th Garrison Cluster stand ready to repulse all invaders. Prepare to have your lives ended and your legacies silenced forever!"

The assembled Cavalrymen looked upon this declaration with amusement. The Star Colonel sounded as if he had just discovered the lostech of shaving. He couldn't be older then twenty. Hood nodded to Sederval, causing the Captain to smile.

"Consider us warned, Falcon." said Sederval. " I am Star Colonel Sederval, commander of the 415th Mechanized Assault Cluster. We have been raiding Lyran territories and have found them wanting. We choose to shoe our hooves on better prey."

Sam gave Sederval a look as he could feel Kommandnt Sunderburg's eyes bore a hole in the back of his head. Sederval saw his commander's reaction and quickly changed tacks. Hauptmann Silver fidgeted slightly as he looked from Sam to his commander.

Hauptmann Silver had provided him the coordinates of the hamlet his family had last been reported in. As they were a small community of religious people, they would essentially be regarded as nearly useless. That was what Hood was counting on.

"We desire bondsmen, Falcon." said Sederval. "I desire all the lower caste people within this area."  Hood notioned Silver to come forward and draw out the circle in where Silver's family was most likely to be.  "What forces will defend our prize?" challenged Sederval.

Sederval's challenge was met with laughter.

"You bid poorly Horse," said Jorge after a few moments. "Those are laborer caste. All they do is make trinkets and pray. I would not bid a Star of Mechs for them. I bid a Star of infantry for them. If you desire something more worthy, then perhaps I will find time to make you my bondsmen."

"Very well," said Sederval. Savagery suddenly appeared in his voice. "We will bid a Star as well. To prove how much contempt we have for you. I will equip my people with Inner Sphere isorla. They will learn how to use their machines as they march into battle.

Contempt oozed from the Falcon. "Bargained well and done little pony. Our infantry will make short work of yours."

"Shall we have safcon or will you attempt to chase us from the skies?"

A pregnant pause filled the air. "You have safcon, Horse. I look forward to seeing your broken soldiers on the field."

The line went dead with a small squelch of static. The assembled officers looked around at each other. Sam found a smile that matched Sederval's.

"Alright, Sederval." said Hood. "On to phase two."