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Author Topic: Blood and Scrap new  (Read 603 times)

ShiraUso

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Blood and Scrap new
« on: 15 November 2020, 19:19:25 »
Hey everyone! Sorry I’ve disappeared for nearly a whole damn year; 2020 has really been a rough year for me and I lost a lot of my passion for writing. Been trying to get my writing groove back on though, so here I am.

Actually joined my country’s military on a short-term contract to try out military life and see if it was for me (spoiler alert: it is not). Signed up as an infantryman, for those curious. Anyways, my experience in the military so far has helped me realise a lot of the mistakes I made in writing this story, so I made some adjustments accordingly, which is partially why I’m rebooting with a new thread to post the chapters, the other reason being that the old one is pretty damn old. Not sure if I’m allowed to do this sort of thing, but I’m more than willing to delete this one if it’s a violation.

Prologue

Alpheratz
Outworld Alliance
The Periphery
2nd January 3041

New year, new me... so they say… Artemis ‘Hellion’ Genda thought to herself, her lithe body leaning against the hard titanium-steel alloy armour of her Wolverine 6K’s right leg, her arms crossed as her right shoulder rested her weight against her metal giant protector, her right leg crossed behind her left, her heel sticking up with the balls of her feet on the ground. The hot, poorly-conditioned temperature of the mech bay she and her metal behemoth stood in was just about every bit as disappointing and backwater as she would expect out of a spaceport in the Periphery, capital planet or not.

She found herself reaching behind her to the mech behind her. Her right hand grazed along the rough jagged surface of its damaged armour. A mech’s feet rarely took direct fire from the enemy, but were also subject to projectiles from explosions. As a result, they rarely had armour replacements but were far from pristine. She stroked a small crater just above the mech’s ankle joint. She had been through a lot with the mech; built an entire mercenary unit from scratch together, and watched it all fall apart together.

Standing at 5’10, the ethnic Japanese mechwarrior wore baggy beige coloured cargo pants with a plain black dri-fit shirt. Her body’s shape was slender with a gentle curve around her chest, her shoulders and waist elegant and thin. Her long black ponytail flowed down from her high ponytail to past her hips. Her face had a strong jawline, with high cheekbones and fair smooth skin.

Some lovely new me indeed, eh? She looked to one Captain Roy of the Exiled Hell Jumpers standing about a metre across from her with his arms crossed, whose battle-scarred face was looking as grim as ever. “So this is how we end, huh? Never thought we’d go out like this...” A strained smile akin to that of a citizen of the ancient city of Pompeii cracked along her face.

Her mercenary unit, Hell Juggernauts’, was nothing but bad news. Their last contract in the Inner Sphere had utterly skewered their fighting force, leaving just the Wolverine-6K and Phoenix Hawk-1K, along with just 2 platoons of Roy’s company. Clearly unable to successfully take a good contract in the Inner Sphere, they moved into the Outworld Alliance, hoping to strike a gold mine. The Periphery took its turn to take a swing at them, though, and their dropship, tech crew and anything or anyone who wasn’t on the battlefield during their mission on Mitchella, a planet in the Alliance, was kidnapped and taken by some unknown pirate gang..

“Not yet, ma’am. The Hell Jumpers’ still got one more mission in ‘em.” Roy’s puffed his chest out ever so slightly, his eyes on the steel giant behind her, his voice a low grunt. His shoulders were stiffened up in a stance that was seeping with military experience, while hers were slumped with exhaustion and resignation written all over her, a clear reflection of her expectations for their future.

“I don’t know if the Juggernaut’s got another mission in her.” Artemis stared at Roy’s weary expression, and let off a gentle sigh.

Roy’s right eye twitched, and his gaze turned to her. His eyes spoke of disappointment in a once proud warrior. “Third time’s the charm.”

Artemis breathed a gentle sigh, and crossed her arms. “Third knockout blow’s a TKO.”

“Artemis.” Roy’s head cocked to a side ever so gently, as he took a step towards her. He paused for a few seconds, then stretched out his right arm towards her. Artemis resisted the urge to slap the hand away; Roy knew the boundaries, and she trusted him not to cross any. His hand slowly drifted towards her left torso, and opened up to grasp her left shoulder, but stopped himself from making physical contact with her. His right hand instead hovered just above her shoulder. “We’ve got this. You...’ve got this.” His bright blue eyes stared into her very soul, dead serious, sending every nerve of the veteran Mechwarrior flying over the moon.

Her mind raced, shocks of adrenaline rolling across her body. Encouragement from her infantry captain was unprecedented. Despite their 2 years together as comrades in battle both on and off the battlefield, she had never seen him act this way before. Facing off against an Atlas would make her less nervous that she was right now. She tried to respond, but felt her throat stiffen up and just leave her out to dry. “I... wha...” Roy has always either been serious or laid-back, completely and utterly binary. Why’s he going cheerleader on me now? He must really want us to get off the ground and get pounded on the battlefield again...

She raised her right hand, her fingers pushing his hand away from her thin shoulder blades. She shifted her weight off her Wolverine, walking away from the captain. Her hands rose up to her head, running her fingers through her slick jet black hair. “We can’t. We don’t have a dropship anymore, we lost a crap ton of infantry, the two Manticores aren’t with us anymore, the Phoenix Hawk’s cockpit still has a hole where…
Look, Hell’s Juggernauts is screwed. Unless you’ve got one more bloody magical miracle to pull out your ass, and another Mechwarrior, we’re done.” She turned back ‘round to face him.

The distance between the two of them was now about 2 metres, and they began locking themselves back into a lasting exchange of eye contact. An awkward silence descended, as both waited for the other to offer up a proposal of future plans.

Roy just stood there, hands on his hips. His baggy green fatigues gently swayed with the wind of the mech bay’s fans. Finally, he sighed. “I’ll see if I can cook up some sort of turnaround for us. Maybe find some tech who isn’t ready to watch a Genda give up on herself.” He turned to walk away, right hand sliding up to rub his temple.

Artemis leaned back into her Wolverine’s leg. It’s going to be another long year.
« Last Edit: 15 November 2020, 19:25:35 by ShiraUso »
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ShiraUso

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Re: Blood and Scrap new
« Reply #1 on: 15 November 2020, 19:20:13 »
Chapter 1

Alpheratz
Outworld Alliance
The Periphery
2nd January 3041

“Another.” Artemis raised her right hand, her gaze fixed upon the dull, plain glass mug before her. Residue unfinished alcohol at its bottom glittered gently in the dim lighting of the bar. The stocky bartender silently filled her mug with another batch of liquor. She slipped out a gold coin of some currency she couldn’t be bothered to identify, and launched it at him with a flick of her thumb.

What the heck am I going to tell my father…

She raised the mug to her lips, tipping her head back to take a long swig of the burning, bitter alcohol. She rarely drank, as she never really understood what was so appealing about it. However, tonight’s was a special occasion: the day she was finally ready to throw in the towel.

Thank God I’ll only have to listen to his damn lectures in the afterlife.

She broke into a soft chuckle to herself, her eyes finally breaking away from staring at her drink, and turned to look to a screen of some sorts. Up hanging from the ceiling on her left was a holo-screen, some nonsensical scandal news about House Avellar. Even in the Periphery, interest in the lives of pampered privileged buffoons was present. She let her eyes linger on the screen for a few more moments, before moving her gaze downwards to rest on the other drunkards occupying the left side of the bar.

Remember how he said I wouldn’t amount to anything useful when he saw my grades in my first year in the academy? Heh, look at me now…

Artemis’ mouth curled into a gentle smile.

Sitting here in a bar, spending what little money I have left on drinks… Quite the useful daughter huh?

“Pleasant evening, yeah?” A new presence slid himself onto the stool on her right. A quick mental check reminded her of her slight inebriation. Probably not the best time to conduct a conversation with some obviously infatuated fool.

“Pleasant time to be alone, yeah.” She returned her body to its original sulken bent over posture, her gaze resting on her mug once again.

“I’m sure I could change your mind.” He called for the bartender, and ordered a bottle of liquor. A bottle is swiftly placed in front of him, and he slipped a C-bill towards the barkeeper in response. His use of currency did not escape her, though her somewhat alcohol-influenced consciousness could not care less. “Want some?”

“Screw off.” She grunted, taking a swig out of her beer.

“Look, I’m trying to be nice here.” He rotated his torso to face her, his hands removing his bottle cork with a distinctive ‘pop’.

“Can’t possibly imagine what you’re otherwise like then.” She chuckled drily.

“Want to find out? Even a pretty face like yours ain’t gonna get a free swing at my ego and get away with it, I can promise you that.” He rested his right elbow on the bar counter, taking a quick sip of liquor before placing the bottle on the counter. His hands dramatically curled themselves into fists.

“Try me.” A chuckle escaped her lips as she took one last swig out of her drink, before turning her own torso to face him. Her weary eyes took their time to assess him. This should be interesting.

She saw the punch being thrown in his eyes years before he actually threw it. As his right shoulder twitched to begin the violent action, she sent out her own left arm forward to block it with her forearm. The impact rocked her slender frame. Pain wasted no time, the sting of the blocked punch shooting up from the point of contact. She retaliated with her right arm, propelling it forward in a right hook. As expected, he blocked it with his left elbow. Her right knee then launched out into his belly, her hips twisting to give the attack more strength.

He stumbled back in recoil, as a grunt of pain escaped his lips. He would get no respite from her, though. She stepped forward, swinging another right hook at his face. He blocked, and she faked an attack with her right knee, before giving him a lightning fast left uppercut into his chin. Not letting him recover, she squatted and compressed her body into a more ball-like shape, and gave him a right jab. He swung his right arm at her in desperate retaliation, only for her to slide past it. She sprang up with a jump, her body twirling in mid-air as she swung a full roundhouse kick into his side.

He fell back from the force of the kick, his body sprawling all over the bar counter on his right. She stood over him, fists at the ready. Right hook, left hook, then a smash of her right fist onto his face. Her blows of unmeasured strength left him grunting out in pain, but too stunned to fight back. Not bothering to survey the damage done, she stepped away from his heavily beaten body, letting off a light sigh of satisfaction. The surrounding patrons of the bar stared at her with a variety of faces; surprise, intrigue, annoyance, confusion, and so on. She paid them no mind, reaching over to her drink on the counter and finishing it..

<^>

“I don’t care if you were drunk! That was totally stupid of you!” Roy’s booming voice rang in her ears, as he stepped back, his fingers running through his short military-cut hair. His eyes looked to the hospital bed, where the man Artemis beat up earlier in the evening laid unconscious.

They had brought the man to one of the spare rooms available in their rented barracks facility after one of Roy’s privates watched the whole fight unfold and called him. Possibly unnecessary, but after what Artemis did to him, it was the least they could do. One of the Exiled Hell Jumpers’ medics had come over before Roy arrived, having checked and confirmed that the victim had not sustained any serious injuries.

The other outsider in the room watched Roy give Artemis an all-out dressing down. He was the man Roy was told to call while they were on their way to the barracks. Roy looked to him, then back to the bed, then back to Artemis. “I would expect better out of you. You’re the commander God dammit! Act like it, will you?”

“Alright Roy, I get it. I got drunk, and I messed up. Can you shut up about it now? I’ve already had enough for one day.” Artemis closed her eyes for a moment and held back the urge to go any further. She shook her head, breaking away from his gaze to stare at the ceiling.

Roy gritted his teeth. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and burned holes into her cheek with his eyes for a good long minute before finally turning away, instead rotating his body to face the outsiders.

“I’m terribly sorry for what my friend here did. I hope we can find some sort of agreement on a compensation for…”

“Anders. His name is Anders, and I’m Bryan. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I’m sure Anders is just as guilty as she is. We’ll see what he thinks when he wakes up again, though. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to make a call.” Bryan offered a polite smile, before making his way out of the room.

As soon as Bryan was out of the room, Roy swerved back around to face Artemis. “I still can’t believe you went and did something that dumb. Trying to show off your family’s traditional martial arts? Look what you did. I don’t even know what this’ll do for our reputation. A two mech company is screwed as it is, without its only mechwarrior running around beating the snot out of people just because she can’t hold her drink.”

“Oh shut up Roy. You’re out of line here, so back off. He attacked me first, I was just defending myself. Just because you don’t approve of fighting back doesn’t mean I can’t bloody do it, so shut up already.”

“Bullshit. You know you were being excessive. You’re better than this. Don’t tell me someone of your caliber can’t manage restraint?”

“Oh for f-“

Anders’ suddenly stirred from unconsciousness, which cut the heated exchange short. The duo turned to gaze at the man in question. Anders sat up in his bed, droopy weary eyes looking to the two other souls in the room. “Somebody said ‘mech’.”

Artemis raised an eyebrow at him, perplexed by his weird, borderline delirious statement. The door opened, revealing Bryan, who took in the whole scene in one glance.

“Bryan, I think we’ve found ourselves a new team of mercenaries.”

“Sorry?” Artemis stepped forward, her hands on her hips.

“What’s your name, miss?”

“Genda. Artemis Genda.”

“Well Genda, I need a fresh team of mercenaries to work for me. I’ve got a fantastic contract with a drop and jumpship just waiting around.”

“Define ‘team of mercenaries’. I’ve got two mechs and me as our only mechwarrior. Not much of a ‘jolly good’ team of mercenaries.”

“You’ve got an extra mech? That’s your head technician Bryan over there, and you’ve got an extra mechwarrior, right here.” His index fingers curled inwards to point at himself, the injured recently beaten up man under bed sheets. His lips formed a smug smile, and his head leaned back to rest against his bed backboard in delusional self-awe. The room’s occupants stared at him silently for a few moments, at a loss for words.

“Anders, you’re still injured.” Bryan piped up, breaking the awkward silence. He crossed his arms and his bright blue eyes regarded the blabbering mechwarrior.

“I’m fine. I can go right now.” His head rolled back down and he reached down, grabbing and pulling his sheets off. He swung his legs off the bed, planting his feet on the ground and stepping forward.
Before immediately tumbling down to hit the floor.

“Clearly.” Artemis rolled her eyes, and let her eyes wander off him.

“I’m fine! Just a couple of bruises.” He jumped back up to his feet, dusting off imaginary dust and straightening his black leather jacket. “She bruised me up good, that’s all.”

<^>

“Artemis, I’ve done a full inspection of both mechs. The Wolverine sustained a few bad hits in its last battle, but repairs are doable. The Phoenix Hawk’s cockpit will take a while to patch up, but it’s not much of a problem.” Bryan held a datapad in his hands, his eyes giving its contents one last look before bathing her in their gaze.

The two were standing in front of Artemis’ Wolverine; Bryan had paged for her by phone. The heat of the poor air-conditioning of the mech bay left droplets of sweat trickling down the head tech, whose bright blue eyes met Artemis’ hazel brown. Artemis barely felt the heat; it was nothing compared to being cooked alive in an overheating mech.

“Both mechs are K variants. You’ve got quite a taste for the Combine’s arsenal, don’t you?”

Artemis looked him in the eye, and let off a sigh. “Hell’s Juggernauts was formed from a bunch of Dieron Regulars who were done working for the Combine, whether it’s because they were kicked out of the DCMS, or simply didn’t like the pay.”

“What’s your story then? House Genda sounds somewhat familiar.” Bryan raised an eyebrow, his eyes carefully watching her reaction.

Artemis almost flinched at the mention of her family’s name, but resisted the urge to overreact. “I left the DCMS in 3039, when my family was killed during the Battle of Alnasi. Damn Combine took too damn long to respond, and left such a small force to defend such a critical world. I took my Wolverine with me and formed Hell’s Juggernauts from scratch, making a good profit out of the war’s chaos.”

“And House Genda?” Bryan tilted his head ever so slightly.

Artemis paused for a moment. She pursed her lips, and her gaze was fixed upon the wall behind Bryan, deep in thought. “The Genda line is that of warriors. My line goes all the way back to feudal Japan, believe it or not. Most of my relatives are highly decorated in military honours. My father himself was a retired member of the Sword of Light. I wouldn’t be surprised if he died fighting on Alnasi when it was invaded.”

Bryan seemed very much inclined to indulge in his curiosity further, but she wasn’t in the mood. “Hmm that’s interesting… Was he-“

“I don’t like talking about my family, I’m sorry. Maybe some other time.” She broke eye contact, her right hand instinctively sliding up to brush a stray strand of hair out of her vision.

Before he could come right back at her with a different set of questions, she quickly turned to leave, making her way towards the bay’s exit, right up until she saw Anders, dressed in brown trousers and a black leather jacket, standing in a laid-back relaxed position. He was talking to some well-dressed noble who was clearly out of place.

“Ah Artemis, right on time. This is our new employer, Minister Gordon of the Deep Worlds’ Collective.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Artemis.” Minister Gordon stretched out his right hand for a handshake. Artemis obliged, her eyes silently analysing the man as the two exchanged pleasantries.

“Anders tells me that you’re his partner in this newly formed mercenary unit.” His attire was totally spotless, possibly bordering OCD. His freshly pressed black suit told of his wealth, and probably was also bringing him great discomfort, judging from the beads of sweat present on his face — the heat of the mech bay showed no mercy. His voice was smooth, yet firm. His face featured a weak jawline and low cheekbones, with combed short black hair. His dark blue eyes stared into hers, no doubt analysing her in a similar fashion.

“So we are. I’ve never heard of the Deep Worlds’ Collective.” Artemis offered a polite smile, and retracted her hand from the handshake.

Minister Gordon rubbed his hands slowly, palm sliding against palm as he spoke. “Most outside of the Deep Periphery have not. It’s an alliance of systems that share collective protection from bandits. We need more mercenaries to garrison our worlds, hence my presence here.”

“As long as you guys have the bucks, we’ll smash those bandits for you.” Artemis subconsciously thumbed her right knuckles. “And if you don’t have the bucks, we’ll smash you for someone who does…” She would once add back before the Hell’s Juggernauts found themselves in their current predicament. She couldn’t afford to play around with employers anymore.

“I would expect so out of a mechwarrior who pilots a mech so…” He turned to marvel at the sheer size of her Wolverine, his eyes soaking in the sight..

She allowed herself to smile at the awe-struck minister, taking a step forward to stand beside him and enjoy the view. Not many were impressed by a medium mech. “Trust me. On the battlefield, she’s a lot more dangerous than beautiful.”

“Let us hope so, for both our sakes.” His face shifted back to face her, nodding and offering a smile before turning his attention towards Anders.

“I take it your unit has a name?”

“Sure as the Inner Sphere has a planet named Earth in it.” Anders grinned, his yellow teeth showing themselves in the brightly-lit mech bay.

“Genda’s Bruisers, that’s who we are.”

« Last Edit: 21 November 2020, 22:04:54 by ShiraUso »
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ShiraUso

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Re: Blood and Scrap new
« Reply #2 on: 15 November 2020, 19:20:48 »
Chapter 2

Alpheratz
Outworlds Alliance
The Periphery
3rd January 3041

Genda’s Bruisers?!? Is this supposed to be some sort of funny half-baked joke? Artemis’ eyes darted towards Anders, her new found partner in a newly-formed mercenary unit. The mercenary unit name he had just given to their unit’s first client was a clear joke about the way they met yesterday; her fist to his face. Anders wore a confident smile, his hands in his cargo pockets, while his weight mostly rested on his right leg. She saw not a hint of smugness anywhere on him.

Protesting over the name would surely display discord in their unit before their client’s eyes, and would no doubt work to her disadvantage somehow. She swiftly swept her anger under an imaginary rug, and bit her lips. She turned to face Minister Gordon, their client, and offered a nod.

“Genda’s Bruisers. Right. I shall inform the Deep Worlds’ Collective Central Command of your acceptance of the contract as soon as I get back. The details of your first assignment are with your partner. I hope to hear about your success in the Deep Worlds soon.” Minister Gordon politely nodded to Anders, before turning on his heel and making his way out of the dreadfully hot mech bay, his black leather dress shoes clacking against the ferro-concrete floor of the mech bay, a sound that shortly found itself drowned out by the dull background noises of techs at work.

As soon as the minister was out of earshot, Artemis’ courteous facade instantly evaporated. Her head snapped around and gave Anders a drop-dead glare. “Genda’s Bruisers? Seriously?” She hissed, her sharp tone piercing through the mech bay’s noise like a vibroblade through butter.

Anders’ eyes widened, his confident demeanor broken for a split-second, before snapping right back. “Oh sorry, I forgot to ask what your unit’s previous name was.”

“Hell’s Juggernauts. Maybe you should have let me answer that question, don’t you think?” She leaned forward and cocked her head ever so slightly, her eyes narrowing on him.

“Oh it’s fine. Genda’s Bruisers is a much better name at any rate. No worries.” Anders’ muscles relaxed, his lips forming another one of his usual carefree everything’s-fine smiles.

Artemis felt just about ready to beat him up once again. She stepped forward, her right hand jabbing forward and grabbing him by the collar. She yanked him toward her a few centimetres. Her piercing hazel brown eyes scowled at him menacingly, demanding his full attention. “Listen here, and listen good. You’d better work with me, or soon you’ll find me working against you, and I promise I’ll make sure I slap you around properly the next time we tango. Clear?”

Anders nodded slowly. His eyes had widened ever so slightly, his smile completely torn off his face, with not a trace of it left. Satisfied, Artemis released him, his upper torso returning back into an upright position as the force from Artemis’ hand disappeared.

He straightened up his olive V-neck shirt. The flippant demeanor had suddenly vaporised. His tongue ran over his teeth within his mouth, a slight bulge from his tongue sticking out from his right cheek. His eyes consciously avoided eye contact with her, instead fixing themselves onto the floor behind her. She would have retired from the mech bay to avoid more awkward feelings, but there was still work to do.

A leader doesn’t lead with intimidation. Didn’t your superiors teach you this, Genda-chan? Her father’s aged voice echoed annoyingly in her head.

Shut up, Genda-otousan.

You know he’s right. Her conscience chimed in. It always knew exactly when to be a nuisance to her. She rolled her eyes and mentally silenced both voices, before turning her focus back to the matter at hand: Anders.

“What’s the information on the planet we’re being assigned to?” Her hands slid down to rest on her hips, her gaze following his downcast eyes.

“We’re actually going to garrison a total of 4 systems. The Deep Worlds Collective only employs a small number of mercenary units, moving them and their mechs around to deploy as reinforcements whenever any of their planets are raided or invaded. With the exception of their capital, their planets usually rely on local militia to handle threats until reinforcements arrive.”

Anders’ eyes darted from side to side occasionally, and it seemed he was actively avoiding her eyes. She decided she would rather have him nervous around her than totally undisciplined, though.

Mistakes are a test to our ability to apologise. Her father’s voice seeped back into her consciousness once again, sending a shiver rolling down her spine.

Shut it.

“What’s their militia like? Do we have any other mercenary units to back us up?” Artemis’ eyebrows twitched at random intervals, her body language relaxed, save for her eyes that studied Anders’ every move intently.

“As far as I’m aware, they have a few Manticores, Goblins, and a lot of Strikers and Bulldogs. If attackers are packing 'mechs, the battles are normally fights to buy time. Whenever an attack comes around, the JumpShip stationed in their system will immediately jump to a system with the stationed garrison. The garrison is informed, and the relief force takes off in their DropShips, jump with their system’s stationed Jumpship to the attacked system. It’s barely acceptable, but it’s possibly the best a Deep Periphery state can do with only a few mech units.” Anders continued his quest to avoid eye contact, his gaze drifting and wandering around the floor.

Artemis raised an eyebrow. “Each system has a Jumpship?”

“Yeah, it’s the only thing the most worlds around here have in abundance. I’m guessing they found an abandoned Jumpship construction platform or cache or something some time back.”

“This is going to be a tough contract, especially with what we have at the moment.”

Anders finally looked up, eyes meeting her own. “You sure you can pilot that Wolverine properly?”

Artemis narrowed her eyes. “You just make sure you watch my back. You do that, and I’ll make sure I work my magic.”

Anders chuckled. Seems like he’s finally grown his balls back. He stretched out his right hand for a handshake. “You work your magic, and Genda’s Bruisers will be in business.” Artemis rolled her eyes at the use of the new mercenary unit’s name, but stretched out her own right hand. The two shook hands, their minds in accord with one another for once. Artemis departed from the mech bay afterwards, while Anders continued to linger.

<^>

The next few days flew by, with Genda’s Bruisers mostly settling logistical matters. The mercenary unit had to transport all assets of the now extinct Hell’s Juggernauts over to Anders’ Dropship. They lifted off a few days after the unit had finished packing up, with the Leopard class Irish Dreams leaving the surface of Alpheratz IV to make for the Jumpship awaiting them at the Zenith point.

The Irish Dreams finally began to dock with the Invader class Germinator on day 15 of Genda’s Bruisers existence.

<^>

Artemis, Roy and Anders floated in zero-G outside the bulkhead of the Irish Dreams’ docking port, the three in a bit of a triangle formation: Artemis positioned in the front, flanked by the other two. The door finally began to slide open, revealing the captain of the Jumpship, dressed smartly in a white uniform.

“Captain Benedict, at your service ma’am.” Benedict nodded with a smile and stretched out his right hand, a handshake that Artemis accepted.

“Artemis Genda, former Captain of the 9th Dieron Regulars.” Artemis offered a smile as she shook his hand. She did not like bringing up her former position in the DCMS, but boasting of her ‘proud’ achievements in her military service was almost obligatory by tradition.

Benedict looked to the two men flanking Artemis, and offered each a polite smile before turning back to Artemis. “I trust we have a heading, ma’am?”

“The Deep Worlds’ Collective, captain. Do you have the coordinates?” Artemis maintained eye contact with the captain. First impressions were always something she found stressful.

Captain Benedict’s pearly white teeth showed themselves for the fourth time, as his muscles relaxed a few notches at the mention of their destination. “Of course ma’am. To the Deep Worlds’ Collective we go.”

<^>

It took about two and a half weeks to leave Outworlds Alliance territory. Each jump took the Bruisers further and further from the Inner Sphere, and farther and farther into the unknown of the Deep Periphery.

The journey was dull and boring for Artemis, who never particularly liked space travel. Her Transit Disorientation Syndrome ensured most of her interstellar travels were miserable, each jump between solar systems leaving her horribly nauseated for a few hours.

She spent most days continuing to refresh her memory of 'mech schematics; information that was almost as important as food to her. Aside from that, her days went by with mundane idling around, with occasional short conversations with Bryan over non-family related topics of interest. Bryan as a mechtech always had useful and interesting insights to share, and was pleasant to speak with.

<^>

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Outworlds Verge.” Samson, captain of the Genda’s Bruisers Dropship Irish Dreams, announced to those present in the bridge. Samson sat snugly in the bridge’s command chair, buckled firmly into his seat by an array of seat belts.

Artemis sat in a passenger seat behind the command chair, buckled in. Her gaze remained fixed on the warping space outside the viewport of the dropship, watching as the short-lived light show of hyperspace vanished as quickly as it came, revealing the view of a faraway star that marked the first solar system beyond the Outworlds Alliance. Her stomach almost immediately began rolling into loops of nausea. She gritted her teeth and held back the insistent urges to vomit. Oh how I love space travel.

The Outworlds Verge was simply the space rimward of the Outworlds Alliance, containing not only the Outworlds Wastes but the deep periphery beyond it, stretching far and wide, arguably until the Elysian Fields. The Outworlds Verge was littered with humanity and its marks; failed, struggling and stable colonies and empires appearing and disappearing under the hand of countless pirate organisations.

The Outworlds Verge’s main appeal lied in its abundance of resource-rich planets, a fact that remained elusive to the greedy but ignorant inhabitants of the Inner Sphere. Empires and colonies rose with the goal of reaping grand profits from harvesting the multitude of resources, usually only to be subjected to constant raids from bandits.

Rumour had it that the Oberon Confederation and Taurian Concordat had bases and units stationed in the Verge out of interest for the abundant resources available, but in a region of space that relied on Jumpship courier messages in the absence of a Comstar Hyperpulse Generator network, such information was difficult to collect and verify. Occasionally there were whispers of Inner Sphere influence seeping into the cold silent space, possibly hints of the Verge’s obscurity seeing an end one day. Lostech and lost Star-League era mech factories and facilities are rumoured to have been discovered from time to time, but once again they were but rumours that offered no evidence.

“Space sick much, Captain?” Anders chuckled to himself. He savoured the sight of watching her suffer. Not that he was capable of doing it himself, anyways.

“It’s Commander to you, Mechwarrior ****.” Artemis managed through the intense tsunami of mental disorientations that smashed into her head. I should have taken the pills.  She quickly found herself regretting her decision to be on the bridge during this milestone achievement of entering their potential new home. Whoever thought up this idea was an idiot.

“It is at this juncture, Commander, that I would like to mention you are here on the bridge despite your TDS of your own accord.” Anders began grinning from ear to ear, enjoying every second of his valuable new-found gloating session.

“Ma’am, do you need any assistance?” Captain Samson spun his command chair around to face the two, his bright blue eyes looking to Artemis.

“I’m totally fine.” Artemis grunted stiffly, bending over her lap to rest her head horizontally between her legs, high ponytail flowing over the top of her head to float around in the zero-G environment. “Just overwhelmed by the magic of space.”

<^>

Reaching the Outworlds Verge was only the first step of entering the Deep World Collective. The Germinator had several more jumps before reaching the border systems of the Deep Worlds' Collective.

Due to the lack of a Hyperpulse Generator Network, news of Genda’s Bruisers joining the Collective’s mercenary forces had not reached most of the state’s systems, a fact that could quickly lead to misunderstandings with planetary security forces. Though this would pose no threat to the mercenary unit, it could definitely be incredibly inconvenient for both sides.

Thankfully, Minister Gordon seemed to have left much earlier and got the information dispersed rather swiftly, as the Germinator received zero apprehensive hails from systems they passed through. Most short day stays in Collective systems featured amicable enough communication with occupied planets, including transmission of appropriate coordinates for their assigned garrison world.

The Germinator’s relatively eventless interstellar trip ended though, when they reached the Ashon system, 2 jumps away from Heran, their designated garrison base system.

Artemis took Transit Disorientation Syndrome (TDS) countering sleeping pills during most jumps, so as to avoid the dreadful fits of disorientation she experienced every time she went through a jump. However, she found herself waking up from her medicine-induced deep sleep hours early, to hear incessant knocking against her quarters’ door.

Shaking off any residual sleep from her mind, she slipped off her bed and floated toward the door. Probably Anders. She swung the door open to reveal a clearly bored Anders hanging on to the wall beside her door. It’s him. What a surprise.

“You’re a minute late.” Anders said and narrowed his eyes on her. At that instant her mind conducted a quick mental check to make sure she was decently dressed. She was wearing a black t-shirt with brown cargo pants, her long jet black hair cascading freely in zero-g.

“What is it, Anders.” A paramedic must have given her a shot to help her wake up early, and left the room afterwards. The drugs took a few minutes to take effect, and Anders had been waiting for a whole minute extra for her to wake up. What a disaster. Artemis rolled her eyes at the thought. She opened the door all the way before withdrawing her right hand from it. Her hand slid up to her hip, her piercing hazel brown eyes staring him down. If she’d been disturbed from her sleep, something urgent must have cropped up. She just wished he’d be serious about it and get straight to the point.

“We received a call for help from the surface upon entering the system. It’s sitting in the bridge, waiting for your attention..” Anders pushed off from the wall to stand upright, and crossed his arms.

Artemis’ irritability evaporated. “I’ll be there in 5 minutes. Meet me there.” She gave a gentle nod of acknowledgement before closing the door. Her clothes were promptly stripped off and tossed to her bed, replaced by loose olive fatigues and her black coat. Seconds later she was sailing through the hallway, the bridge her destination.

Upon reaching the bulkhead leading to the bridge, she swiped her hand over the console on the right, and the two heavy metal doors slid open to reveal the familiar view of the Irish Dreams’ bridge. “What’s the situation, captain?” She gently glided through the weightless air into the centre of the bridge, where Captain Samson was seated in his command chair, his eyes glued to a datapad. Anders floated beside him, his neck craned over as he stole peeks at its contents.

At the sound of her voice, the two turned to face her. Captain Samson gave a graceful nod, zero-G preventing him from rendering a proper bow. The respectful officer never failed to honour the ethnic Japanese traditions she followed.

“We have a situation. When we jumped into the system, we received a distress signal from the forces on Ashon III. Here, I’ll play it for you.” Samson pressed a button on the right armrest of his command chair. The bridge was immediately filled with a radio transmission.

“Come in, to any nearby spacecraft, we need immediate reinforcements. We’re under attack by pirate forces, and require relief as soon as possible. I repeat, we are under attack, and require assistance…” The recording faded out, leaving the room in silence. Artemis found herself stared at by every eyeball on the bridge, from Captain Samson and Anders to the rest of the bridge crew present.

She stared at the floor, avoiding any distracting eye contact. One hand firmly clamped to a nearby handgrip to prevent her from floating away, while the other slid up to her hip to fiddle with her belt thoughtfully. Her mind raced as she mentally went through her options. To abandon a world under the protection of their employers would be dishonourable, akin to betraying them, but…

“We’re not being paid to protect some random other world.” Anders piped up, clearing up the silence. His feet braced against the ground to cross his arms in zero-G without the embarrassment of drifting away from the movement.

“Why wouldn’t they pay us? We were hired to protect them from pirates.” Artemis looked up, and squinted slightly at him.

“We’ve been assigned to 4 systems, and this ain’t one of 'em.” He replied, narrowing his own eyes.

“We’ve been hired to fight off pirates for them. Here are some pirates, and thus we must fight for them.”

He raised an eyebrow. “So we will fight for free?”

“We will fight because we will honour our contract. They’ll pay us or we’ll pay them hell.”

Artemis turned to address the rest of the bridge. Her eyes first rested on Captain Samson.

“Captain, I want us detached and on our way to Ashon III ASAP. Get me a sitrep on the planet. I want a full planetary scan if possible, if not then at least the terrain, weather and location of settlements.”

Then to Roy. “Roy, get your troops ready to deploy. I want all elements squared away by the time we reach low orbit. I want to be able to drop at a moment’s notice if the situation arises.”

“I’ll prep the 'mechs.” Bryan nodded, speaking up before Artemis could address him. Artemis nodded back to him with a subtle smile tucked away in the corner of her mouth.

Finally, she looked back to Anders. “I’m getting onto the battlefield with or without your help. So you either get your ass on the surface in that Phoenix Hawk or watch your delusions of grandeur die with those pirate scum.”

Heaving with a gentle sigh, she turned to make for the bridge’s doors. “Good luck to us all.”



« Last Edit: 21 November 2020, 10:14:09 by ShiraUso »
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ShiraUso

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Re: Blood and Scrap new
« Reply #3 on: 15 November 2020, 19:21:47 »
Chapter 3

Alegro IV
Outworlds Alliance
The Periphery
28 December 3040

The memories of Artemis’ last bloody battle just a few weeks back still haunted her dreams, so vivid each and every time it almost seemed like she was experiencing the whole ordeal all over again...

Boom! The dull sound of another artillery shell hitting the surrounding area rippled through the air, the accompanying shockwave rocking Artemis ‘Hellion’ Kurian in the cockpit of her Wolverine-6K. She felt sweat trickle down her forehead as the heat of her mech radiated onto her body, only barely kept at acceptable levels by the cooling vest strapped to her chest.

She spied her heat levels in the corner of her vision, as she gripped her right joystick hard, bringing her Wolverine’s right arm to bear, letting loose a bright crimson beam from her mech’s Large Laser. The deadly hot beam struck the middle of the enemy Vulcan’s center torso, stripping away the last of its engine shielding. The slender metal giant fell onto its back as the mini sun in its chest grew out of control, enveloping its upper body for a few moments before fading away in a brilliant light show of explosions.

“Nice shot, Hellion.” Lieutenant Norman’s deep voice crackled over the radio into her ears. “Told you this’d be easy eh? Damn turkey shoot.”

“Haha sure. Just wait till you get to tank the hits.” Artemis shook her head, her mouth curling to form a smile as she pulled the throttle into neutral. The Wolverine slowed to a stop, smoking from heated combat. Behind her, Norman's Phoenix Hawk continued jogging through the hot cracked badlands of Alegro IV to catch up.

“I don’t see any need to tank when I’ve got the Periphery’s best jock on the job,” Norman chuckled over the radio. Artemis coughed as she resisted a giggle, before rolling her eyes.

The shockwave of another artillery shell hitting the ground on her far right and the barking of Captain Roy over the communication channel immediately brought her back to the current moment, though. “Kids! We’re still in this fight! Heavy losses! Ambush by an Anti-infantry Spider! Get over here and fix this crap!” His voice hollered through the crackling radio over the sounds of gunfire.

“Copy that, We’re en route.” Norman replied. Artemis pushed her throttle up, the dull sounds of her mech’s footsteps filling her cockpit once again. The heat level gauge slowly began to drop as the break from combat gave the mech time to dissipate built up heat. The cockpit was finally returning to a more comfortable temperature. She released her right hand from its iron grip on her right joystick to take a moment to wipe the sweat off her brow with her sleeve, and took a moment to enjoy the short respite.

The Hell’s Juggernauts were making a desperate attempt to get back on their feet after some devastating contracts in the Inner Sphere, having been hired to repel a pirate raid on Alegro IV. A simple straightforward fight between two forces, with an equally simple battle plan: Artemis and Norman were to engage the enemy’s mech forces in a standard straight up battle, creating a diversion while Roy’s infantry would engage the enemy’s vulnerable artillery pieces with their two Manticore tanks, crippling the pirate’s main offensive forces in one swift strike.

The mech battle went extremely smoothly, with the two veteran Combine Mechwarriors quickly coming out on top over the small disorganized medium and light mech force. Roy’s attack though, was meeting several snags. One of the Manticore tanks had been blown up by a conventional fighter, and an enemy Spider armed with a machine gun was apparently lying in ambush with the artillery, along with a sizable combined infantry and conventional armour force.

The artillery formation was located behind a small congregation of hills about 3 clicks out, and Artemis and Norman were heading towards them at a good speed, thanks to their mech’s respectable speed capacity.

They travelled in silence for about 5 minutes, before Norman predictably decided to dispel the peace. “I find myself once again in awe of the incredible skill a fine lady like yourself has with a mech.” Does he always have to flirt when it’s quiet?

She rolled her eyes with a smile. His antics had an odd way of keeping things interesting for her. “Fine ladies don’t pilot mechs. Just badasses and dumb men.”

“This one’s an exception though. Want me to prove it?” Artemis’ cheeks blushed warm and red. Memories of the posh dinner he treated her to a few months back before they moved out of the Inner Sphere flooded her mind. Last time I ever wore a dress…

“Oh shut up will you? What if Roy’s listening in…” She bit her lower lip, trying to suppress the blushing. She turned her head to look to her right, towards the Phoenix Hawk keeping pace beside her Wolverine.

“Oh you’re cute when you’re cross.” She could sense his affectionate adoration through the crackling voice over the radio. She breathed a sigh. Her gaze continued to hover around her right, staring down the Phoenix Hawk that was inexplicably seeping of him.

“Screw off.”

“You’re proving my point.” He began chuckling, and she swiftly closed the radio channel to give a pseudo-slap to the face. I’ll give him hell when we’re done here.

Radio silence descended upon the duo as they continued on towards the enemy artillery formations, the booming of the artillery cannons growing ever louder. The hills were now just appearing within view, the humps of varied heights of red dry ground swiftly growing closer and closer in the monitors of Artemis’ cramped cockpit. All of a sudden though, their relatively eventless journey crashed to an end when a barrage of autocannon shells blew into Norman’s Phoenix Hawk’s frontal armour.

What the heck? There isn’t supposed to be any opposition over here… Artemis reopened a radio channel with Norman, her left hand gently pulling back her throttle to slow down her speed by a quarter. “Norman, what’s your status?” The attack was unlikely to get through his pristine armour, but she still awaited his response with bated breath.

“Heck of a salvo. AC/20 I’m guessing. Why the heck is there enemy opposition over here?” Norman sounded scarcely affected by the sudden attack, calm as always.

“As if I’d know. Where did it come from?” Artemis’ mind focused up on the various displays and controls laid out before her. A mech’s myriad of various distinct buttons, levers and readings may be overwhelming to the untrained eye, but the extension of one’s body to the trained. Infrared and magnetic scanners were useless in the current weather and terrain composition respectively, so they were almost entirely reliant on sight.

She powered up her mech’s weaponry, watching her lasers charge up and her SRMs’ load up on the screens on her left and right respectively. She instinctively took a quick glance at her SRM’s ammo count — more than enough for another tango with a mech. Round two it is. Bring it on.

“Rocks to the right. I’m engaging.” Norman’s voice crackled over the comm channel as his Phoenix Hawk rotated accordingly, an aqua blue beam of light burning forth from his large laser, followed by the mech’s lesser green beams from its medium lasers.

A cluster of large rocks sat 2 o’clock from Artemis’ position. Stationed just to the left of the rocks, partially hidden behind cover, camouflaged bright brown sat a Hunchback, it’s formidable AC/20 smoking from its deadly volley.

Artemis grabbed a sensor lock on the lone foe, her mind flooding her consciousness with all relevant information on the enemy. Hunchback-4G, no doubt. AC/20, two medium lasers and a small laser. Ammo’s in the left torso just above where a heart would be. The sensors’ data report flashed up on the secondary view screen in front of her, confirming the enemy’s identity with a readout of its weapons and chassis model.

She pumped her throttle up to 100%, adjusted her mech’s course slightly and rotated its torso to face the adversary. Her targeting reticle quickly found itself hovering over the enemy. She locked in the target and gave it a full alpha strike, the full brunt of her Wolverine’s firepower bursting forth.

Her SRM launchers fired their payloads, missiles flying straight and true into the stationary Hunchback. Two hit its right torso, two on its centre torso, another on its right leg, while one pounded on the rock covering the Hunchback’s left torso. Explosions rippled across the Hunchback’s armour, stripping a good portion of it off. Meanwhile, her lasers burned into its right torso, melting off whatever armour was left after Norman’s salvo. Bright red molten titanium alloy flowed from the mech’s wound, dripping onto the ground to join the armour already melted away.

The Hunchback was a bit slow to react, eating nearly the entirety of Artemis’ laser burn before finally reversing, moving to hide behind the rock cover and no doubt wait for its AC/20 to cycle for another barrage.

“I’m coming around the left. Move up and we’ll take him together.”  Artemis’ Wolverine circled around the rock in a semi-circle shape, her mech almost moving into view of the back of the rock face, where the Hunchback was hiding. She took a quick glance at her heat levels, which were already recovering from the alpha strike. Her weapons’ displays flashed green one by one, ready for another.

“Copy that, boss..” Norman’s Phoenix Hawk jogged forward to take up position just beside the rock on the left side, ready to move in.

“I’m in position. Let’s go.” Artemis kept her throttle up at full speed, setting her mech on a diagonal course past the rock’s front face, her targeting reticle resting on where the Hunchback would be in a few moments. Norman pushed forward in tandem with Artemis. His weapons were pointed straight at the enemy, which quickly came into view.

The Hunchback’s AC/20 flashed as it let loose a volley at Artemis who came into view first. Metal slugs bursting forth in a deadly volley. However, with the distance Artemis had made between the two of them, the AC/20’s effectiveness was limited as Artemis ran forward at full speed. Textbook. Artemis smirked to herself, readying a good lock on her target, fingers on the triggers, ready to nail the Hunchback’s exposed right torso. Her heart raced with anticipation, adrenaline surging with the rush of battle. Glorious combat. She lived for this.

Just as she was ready to savour victory, everything went horribly wrong. Norman had moved up too soon, his Phoenix Hawk entering the pathway of the Hunchback’s would-be failed volley. Most of the slugs had already flown past him, but not all. Three of them slammed into the Phoenix Hawk, specifically into its head.

Artemis’ heart sank as she watched the events unfold, fear rushing into her consciousness to turn the adrenaline against her. Her heart that was beating away furiously a moment ago felt frozen up, as panic mounted and readied for a coup over her mind.

Small shockwaves rippled from the points of impact, sending metal shards from both slugs and the Phoenix Hawk’s cockpit scattering into the air as tiny missiles that only spelt more doom for the mech’s pilot. The slender mech stumbled away from the Hunchback to the ground, as smoke billowed from the mech’s fatal wound.

Any desperate hope of a fluke survival of a headshot shrivelled up and died in her as she watched the Phoenix Hawk hit the ground, lifeless. He’s dead. Norman’s freaking dead. This She felt despair letting itself in to join fear, despair culturing and festering terror, and terror producing-

She mentally slapped herself back into her mech’s cockpit. Shut it Artemis! You’re still in this fight! She was armed, dangerous and still very much alive. Her hands clenched her mech’s dual joysticks tight, fingers ready on the triggers, bringing the targeting reticule back on the Hunchback, sacrificing half a second for a precise aim on its exposed right torso.

The Wolverine let loose a full alpha strike on the enemy, the laser salvo melting off any remnants of the right torso’s armour and hand. Her SRMs surged forth alongside deadly blue, green and red beams of light. Two SRMs flew wide of the target, one pounding its payload into the Hunchback’s centre torso armour, while only three made it to the mech’s right torso. Three proved to be more than sufficient for the job, though, as the three missiles’ explosive impacts smashed into the ruined side. The blast blew the AC/20 cannon clean off the mech’s shoulder.

Without its main cannon, the Hunchback’s return fire was pathetic at best. It’s crimson red laser fired wide. The emerald green medium laser beam caught the Wolverine by the edge of its right torso; its superheated beam of light only managed to tear off a fraction of the mech’s thick reinforced armour, leaving it mostly unscathed.

“This little shit’s gonna pay.” Artemis’ voice was a growl through gritted teeth, as she brought the Wolverine in for a direct collision course with the enemy, firing a salvo of SRMs at it. Alarms began to wail as excess heat began to build up in the hot desert temperature. She barely felt the heat, watching the 6 SRM missiles deliver their payload across the Hunchback’s chest. It didn’t matter where they hit; the shock from the missiles was all she needed.

She flipped on Mech Punch and Grab switches on both her joysticks, the mech’s battle computer switching from battlemech targeting and tracking to her mech’s custom finely-tuned melee controls. Her Wolverine leaned forward to ram its left shoulder into the Hunchback’s centre torso, the shock from the heavy impact rippling through both mechs. Artemis gripped her joysticks tight, knuckles turning white, her teeth gritted as she braced for the impact. The cockpit shook. Artemis felt shoved into her safety harness as the entire cockpit nearly lurched backward from the force.

Unfazed by the impact’s shock and murder in her eyes, Artemis brought the Wolverine to withdraw from the tackle. The mech straightened to full height and cocked its right fist. With practised precision, Artemis propelled the mech’s arm towards the Hunchback’s head, its fist bursting forth into every mech’s universal vulnerability — the cockpit canopy.

The punch hammered the mech’s face, rocking its pilot’s world. The fist smashed through the cockpit’s armour, penetrating it and caving it in. The enemy was now very much dead. Without a pilot to balance it, the mech fell backwards from the force of the punch, crashing against the hard rock desert floor. Dust kicked up and began to cloud the view of the fallen giant.

Artemis stood over her foe as her head pounded from the blood pumping through her system. Her chest heaved with her heavy breaths, her eyes glued to the mech’s lifeless body. Norman’s dead. His face flashed across her mind, the face she would never again get to laugh at, the man she would never again get to laugh with, the feelings she would never again get to explore…

This day couldn’t get any worse. She tore her eyes away from Norman’s killer, then opened a comms channel on Roy’s frequency. She bit her lip, almost afraid to ask. “Roy? Do you read me?”

A moment of silence passed. Answer me dammit. “Roy...are you there?”

Her headset crackled to life as a familiar voice filled her ears. “I read you Artemis. Where the heck are you?” She let out a sigh of relief.

“We got ambushed. Norman’s… dead. What’s your status?” Artemis stared at the communications panel, her fingers twiddling idly over her lap as she waited for his response with bated breath.

“We managed to take out the Spider and finish up the fight, but I’ve got bad news…” This day can’t get any worse. This day can’t get any worse...



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ShiraUso

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Re: Blood and Scrap new
« Reply #4 on: 15 November 2020, 19:22:24 »
Chapter 4

Ashon Zenith Point
Deep Worlds’ Collective
Outworlds Verge
30th January 3041

“AC/20 huh… when I was evaluating the cockpit damage, I did theorise it was caused by a high caliber impact…” Bryan stared blankly at the ground, his right hand stroking his chin thoughtfully.

The two were standing in the mech bay, in front of the docked Phoenix Hawk, its cockpit’s repairs mostly completed. Bryan had inquired about the cause of death of the mech’s late pilot, and Artemis had recounted the main details of the battle that ended Norman.

Her fingers were lightly grasping the pockets of her cargo pants — suppressing any emotions from spilling out from the recollection of Norman’s tragic death turned out to be more difficult than she had first anticipated when agreeing to their little deal.

“Moving on. It’s your turn, how much battle has Anders seen, exactly?” She bit her lower lip gently, her right hand slowly rising up to wipe away a growing tear with one subtle motion.

“Plenty. From what I understand he might have fought for and against each of the Successor States at some point in time, and he’s piloted a wide range of mechs. He’s usually rocking a heavier mech than his enemies though, so I’m not exactly sure how good he is.” Bryan’s gaze was wandering about the wall behind Artemis, his eyes twitching and tensing ever so gently.

“From what you understand? How long have you two been working together? You’re brothers, right?” Artemis raised an eyebrow, studying Bryan’s face carefully.

Bryan loosened his shoulder muscles and made eye contact. “Yeah. We were separated at a young age when our parents got divorced; I was raised in the Federated Suns with our father while he was with our mother in the Lyran Commonwealth. Our father was a mechtech while our mother was a mechwarrior, so you can imagine the difference in upbringings we received.”

“Mmm… I can imagine. Must have a huge ego disparity too…” Artemis’ hand fiddled with the flap of her right pocket thoughtfully, her eyes still focused on his face.

“Oh tell me about it. With your skillset though, I imagine you’ll be able to tone back his ego.” Bryan offered a smile.

“My… skillset? What do you mean? You’ve never seen me in combat before.” Artemis twitched, raising an eyebrow.

“No, but I looked you up before we left Comstar’s HPG reach, and you did beat Anders up.” Bryan pulled up his datapad to chest level, his eyes scanning through its contents. “Your combat reports are… interesting. Did you really manage to destroy a full medium lance all by yourself?”

Artemis was taken aback. She didn’t think she was leaving a trail that easy to follow. “I… uhh… you’ll be surprised how bad the pilots are in the outer periphery; you can pull off nearly anything if they’re stupid enough. H-how much did you manage to find?” Her voice faltered for a moment; she felt exposed. I don’t remember posting those combat reports anywhere, how does he have them? What else does he know? She bit her lip and raised a right hand to rip the datapad out of his hands to take a look for herself, but resisted the urge.

“Couldn’t find detailed reports of the campaign in Sadachbia, but I know the medals you earned during it. Your kill count must be pretty high…” Bryan’s right hand casually stroked its index finger across the datapad at irregular intervals, his eyes occasionally looking to her to watch her reaction.

“Oookayyy. Point taken. Let’s not go further.” Artemis felt about ready to give in and just lung forward and yank the datapad out of his hands already.

Bryan nodded slowly and returned the datapad to his side. “‘Mmm alright… in any case, I’m glad you’re on our side. You’re the sort of pilot I have nightmares of watching Anders getting his sorry ass killed by.”

Artemis offered a nervous smile. “Yeah thanks… just don’t mention any of this to anybody else, please?” She took a quick look at her wrist watch to glance at the time. “Anyways, I need to get to the bridge right about now to discuss the planetside plans, you can join me if you want.”

Bryan nodded, and the two made their way out of the mech bay, through the hallways and into the bridge. Anders and Roy were already present, both standing around a holodisplay of Ashon III.

Both looked to Artemis as the duo entered the room. Artemis nodded to them both, and approached the holotable. Captain Samson, who was standing by his command chair, followed suit.

“Alright, what’s our available intel?” Artemis’ eyes looked to the holotable, which was currently displaying a frozen imagine of Ashon III.

Captain Samson pulled out a datapad, giving it a quick read before speaking. “The friendly planetside forces sent us a data dump on the planet, and they checked out with my initial scans so I skipped the planetary scan. It has a thick atmosphere thanks to stronger magnetic fields present, along with 3 moons. As a result of these factors, it has some extreme weather, with storms constantly raging across it. Ashon is a F class star, its mass 1.5 times that of Earth’s sun, and Ashon III sits on the edge of the hot end of the goldilocks zone. The equator is too hot for habitation, and the temperate regions have weather that literally tears things apart, so the inhabitants have colonised the north pole. Gravity is 1.2 times that of Earth.”

“Alright, what about the OPFOR? Any intel on them?” Artemis’ eyes studied the planet’s features. The frozen image showed a hurricane over one of the temperate region’s landmasses, a team of tsunamis converging on another landmass closer to the equator.

Roy piped up, “The OPFOR, a small pirate band known as the Shogun Trinity, has two Wasps and a Vindicator, run by three brothers hailing from the Capellean Confederation. Shogun Trinity made planetfall on the other side of the colony’s landmass, probably to avoid any AA guns or a storm at the time.”

He paused for a moment to take a breath, before continuing, “Water is scarce on this planet; it is however abundant in oxygen-rich salts and hydrocarbon oceans, so most of their water supply is synthesised in factories. As a result, Shogun Trinity has been pushing for the main industrial sector to get ahold of the hydrogen factories for an escape. Naturally, the militia has dug in around these industries, but Trinity has begun pillaging and plundering the rest of the colony instead in an attempt to draw a surrender out of them. Things are not looking pretty.”

“Normally, I’d suggest doing a few sweeps over their position to scout them and get a few cheap shots in, but with the storms around the planet I’m not so sure.” Captain Samson pursed his lips, his eyes studying the north pole’s terrain.

Artemis exchanged baffled looks with Roy. They’d never done a scout sweep before. “What’s wrong with just landing first and gaining intel on the ground?”

Anders turned to her, his eyes narrowing as he studied her facial expressions. “Not everything can be accomplished by ground scouts and probing attacks. Combine officers would do well to realise this, even ex-Combine ones.”

Artemis bit her lip. He was right. “Anyways, as Captain Samson mentioned, the weather makes a scout sweep a non-starter. I think we should find a safe area to land, and start scouting out for their base of operations, before launching a joint attack with the militia and taking them out”

Anders immediately objected. “I disagree. We might find ourselves walking straight into a trap, and end up losing literally all available forces in an ambush. Game over, we’d all be finished. A frontal assault like that with zero intel is a great way to hand them our asses on a silver platter.”

Artemis leaned forward, leaning her weight onto her arms, which supported her against the command table. “Well what do you suggest we do then?”

“We have something they want, no, something they need. Hydrogen fuel. It’s a place we know they’ll take a crack at given the opportunity. We’ll have the militia trick Shogun Trinity into thinking they’re splitting their forces up to try and defend the rest of the settlements in response to their pillaging, and set a trap for them at the industrial district. Even if we don’t straight up wipe them out right there and then, we’ll at least very strongly persuade them into a duel, since you love those so much.”

Artemis’ hands clenched tightly beneath her. Normally she’d insist on a frontal assault. Straightforward battles, even against superior forces, was a familiar battlefield. There’s too much at stake here. I can’t afford another loss, and Anders is no DCMS jock. Who knows how good he really is in the cockpit. “Mmm… alright then. We’ll do that.” She could feel the uncertainty in her voice; she could only pray the rest couldn’t.

“So… what’s our landing site ma’am?” Captain Samson pulled up his datapad again, looking to Artemis.

She waited for Anders to offer a suggestion, but he remained silent. “Outskirts of the colony’s industrial district. Preferably somewhere with hills for protection.”

“Alright, I’ll see what I can do. Will that be all for me, ma’am?” Samson began tapping on his datapad, his gaze lifted from the commanding officer.

“Yes Captain, thank you.” Artemis nodded, and Samson took his leave.

“Bloody Draco officers. Try to keep your funny little frontal assault ideas to yourself, or at the very least just stand there and look pretty with your mouth shut, will you?” Anders straightened up and made for the bridge’s door. “Good day to you Bushido folk.” His right hand reached out and patted her on her right shoulder as he passed. She flinched.

A hand grabbed his arm. Artemis turned to see Roy grasping Anders’ upper forearm firmly. Roy stared him down intently. “She’s our CO. I strongly advise you respect her as such, regardless of your reservations about her style. Are we clear?”

Artemis looked away from the two of them, and closed her eyes. The feeling of her elevated heart rate, every nervous breath, and the tensed up muscles along her body pounded into her consciousness. She was better than this. She was a captain dammit, a veteran commander. Why was she letting him walk over her like this?

“... Yes sir.” Anders withdrew from Artemis’ shoulder, and Roy in turn released him. Anders flicked the previously grabbed shoulder away from Roy, and looked to Bryan, then to Roy, then to Artemis, shrugged, then silently left the room.

Artemis straightened up, turned to Roy and nodded. “Thanks.” She whispered under her breath, barely audible to the fellow officer. Roy pursed his lips and responded with a crisp bob of his head. He saluted sharply, which she returned it with a salute of her own. He swiftly turned and slipped away from the bridge. After awkwardly watching the events unfold, Bryan coughed twice, and took his leave, muttering “I’ll go talk to Anders...” on his way out.

Silence. A sigh. Her mind was a mess of thoughts. She needed to be alone. “I’ll be in my quarters if you need me, Samson.” She quietly slipped away from the command table and strode towards the door, her footsteps echoing endlessly in her mind.

“Yes ma’am, have a good rest.” Captain Samson nervously fiddled with the datapad in his hands. Staring at her as the bridge’s bulkhead closed behind her. He promptly distracted himself with studying Ashon’s planetary readings as soon as she was out of the room.

The journey back to her quarters felt like an eternity of walking down hallways, keeping her head high and posture strong. Not yet, just a while longer…

As soon as she stepped into the cold air of her room and locked the door behind her, she threw herself onto her bed and covered her face in her hands.

The emotions were all pouring in. So much had changed in so little time. Just months ago, they were at the top of their game, lance of 4, an unstoppable mercenary company that was striking fear into the hearts of all who faced them in the battlefield. She never wanted it to end. Yet here she was now. Why is it all so tough? Why do I need to have to deal with Anders and his shit? For crying out loud Norman, why did you have to die? I needed you. You promised this day would never come. What would my father say? I’m dishonouring my lineage...

<^>

A short nap helped dispel the tsunami of emotions that had slammed into her. Artemis dropped by the mess hall for a quick meal to quell her groaning belly, before making her way over to the infantry barracks. Her black combat boots clacked against the cold metal floor of the dropship, her gaze fixed on the large double door of the barracks ahead.

She laid her right hand flat against the cold steel door, and pushed it open slowly. The dim illumination of the corridor was quickly blasted aside by the dazzlingly bright lights of the barracks. The room was large and rectangular, with two long lines of bunk beds positioned perpendicular to the door.

Soldiers are sitting in groups near the bunk beds, the room filled with their chatter. Several look up to see the new arrival by the door, and eyes widened.

“Commander on deck!” The room froze, every man in the room rising up from their place and standing at attention towards Artemis.

All eyes were on her. Roy placed the auto-rifle cradled in his right arm aside, and approached her. He was dressed in olive green fatigues, his short jet black hair combed neatly to the right.

“Captain?” Roy raised an eyebrow — Artemis rarely dropped by to see the infantry.

“Just felt like seeing how the boys are doing. The ones who keep the Hell’s Juggernauts going. Have they been briefed? ” Artemis crossed her arms, soaking in the view. All eyes were on her, every ear paying extra attention to every word that left her lips.

“Yes Captain. I’ll introduce the platoons to you.” Roy swerved a smart 180 in parade manner, and addressed the Exiled Hell Jumpers. “At ease!”

“Fire and brimstone, HELL JUMPERS!” Every trooper in the room roared their company at the top of their lungs. The sonic boom of a warcry was music to any commander’s ears, and a dagger of fear for any foe. A hint of a grin twitched in the corner of Artemis’ mouth. Rock solid men. Satisfied, Roy turned back ‘round, took a step back, and raised his right arm to gesture for her to step further into the barracks.

Artemis nodded silently. The two walked side by side deeper into the room. “What’s our numbers looking like after the last battle?” Artemis’ gaze wandered amongst the lounging men; some were cleaning their rifles and preparing assault packs, others were chatting, sleeping or even just boredly taking in the sight of her.

“I’ve had to fold the company into 2 platoons; one’s our Jump Trooper platoon consisting of 2 squads, and the other is an extra large foot platoon of 5 squads. Lieutenant Leon is in charge of the jump platoon, while I’m taking the foot soldier platoon.” Roy came to a halt beside the jump platoon sector of the bunk.

The Jump Troopers were distinct from the rest of the infantry; their body language spoke of tougher discipline, much fewer of them were relaxing, with the majority of them making various preparations, whether it was packing and adjusting their packs, or fiddling with their equipment.

A man wearing an officer’s coat stood up, approaching the duo. “This is Lieutenant Leon, my second-in-command.” Roy jerked a thumb to him, who bowed slowly and carefully.

“It is an honour, ma’am.”  Leon’s voice had a Japanese accent to it. His eyes were sharp and brimming with life, and his stature was tight and serious. Roy must have picked him up recently. He still seems accustomed to life in a DCMS unit.

“Tell me about your platoon’s fighting capabilities.” Artemis crossed her arms, resting her weight on her right leg. Her eyes fixed themselves on Leon’s face.

“Our Jump Platoon acts as a support for our main infantry force, providing some skilled mobile firepower when needed. Our sniper squad is particularly effective with their laser rifles. All of our men have tangoed with mechs before too, and are more than ready to help take them on when called to do so.” Leon’s voice was sharp and crisp, his confidence at just the right level.

“Roy, what about your platoon?” Artemis turned to the captain, who straightened up at the mention of his name.

Roy made eye contact with Artemis. “My platoon brings the main firepower of our infantry. We’ve got no small number of veteran DCMS ex-soldiers, and I’ve specially trained them to be quick with grenade launchers. We can bring you your boom on the move.”

“Hmm… that’s good to hear. It’s unlikely we’ll be able to find any DCMS exiles out here though, so I’m giving you authorisation to recruit a wider range of men from the systems we stay in. We need our infantry numbers back up, and I doubt we can afford to be picky.” Artemis pursed her lips. Her eyes drifted away from Roy’s, considering her words carefully.

“Understood Captain, I’ll draw up a recruitment plan when we finish up with Shogun Trinity.” Roy nodded while Leon silently observed the exchange.

“Alright then, if you two don’t have anything else for me, that’ll be all from me.” Artemis exchanged bows with the two, before turning on her right heel and making her way out of the barracks.

She walked aimlessly down the dull corridors in silence, her mind elsewhere. I can do this. I’ve still got capable men by my side, hands that I’d trust my life with. No reason to give up…

An all-too-familiar bulkhead passed by her. She came to an immediate halt. She knew what exactly would wash the dreary mood away. The automatic door slid open as she approached it, and she looked to the beautiful sight of her Wolverine standing alongside the repaired Phoenix Hawk. The two metal titans stood proud and tall behind the various docking clamps and maintenance platforms.

She felt a swell of pride wash over her once again. Her Wolverine had seen her through tougher times, and in it she had claimed countless victories for herself. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and clenched her fists by her side. A smile slowly curled into existence on her face.

I’m a Mechwarrior. No matter how many times they knock me down, I just get up and knock them back even harder. I’ll seize victory and drag it kicking and screaming back into my life, no matter what it takes. I’ll prove myself a worthy daughter of Tai-Sa Daiki Genda.
« Last Edit: 19 November 2020, 01:18:33 by ShiraUso »
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ShiraUso

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Re: Blood and Scrap new
« Reply #5 on: 15 November 2020, 19:23:27 »
Chapter 5

Artemis

Ashon III High Orbit
Bridge of the Irish Dreams
Deep Worlds’ Collective
Outworlds Verge
4 Februrary 3041

The bridge’s bulkhead slid open to reveal Artemis, who strode into the room, her posture firm. “Still nothing?” She addressed the room’s occupants — Roy, Bryan, Anders and Samson. Communications with any friendlies on the surface of Ashon III had ceased since the data dump that had given them the planetary intel, and Kurian’s Bruisers had been trying to contact them ever since.

“Negative ma’am. I’m now quite sure Shogun Trinity must have knocked out their Long-Range Communications relay. We’re going in blind on this one.” Samson turned to face Artemis, his right hand fiddling with the controls of the holo-table beside him.

“We should shake up our previous plan then. Just popping by and plopping ourselves down is too dangerous a strategy. We’re gonna need a forward party to secure the LZ.” Anders stared blankly at the holo-display of Ashon III, his hands subconsciously tapping against its metal surface.

Roy leaned forward. “Hot drop? We can drop our Jump Platoon to make sure the place is safe enough for a landing.”

At the mention of ‘hot drop’, Bryan stirred. “I can fit the mechs with jump packs in case things go pear-shaped. It’s a viable plan.”

Artemis reached her right hand up to her head, running her fingers through her long jet black hair thoughtfully. “Alright then, we’ll go ahead with a hot drop. We’ll make an atmosphere insertion above the proposed landing site, drop our Jump Platoon and see how it goes. Captain Samson, make sure you do thorough scans of the weather before we get in there. I don’t want to end up getting screwed over by a storm or something…”

Samson nodded. “Yes ma’am, I’ll get in a scan report as soon as possible, and we can get underway.”

Artemis breathed a sigh. Her hands slid down to her sides, hands grasping her cargo pants’ pockets. There were so many ways this could go wrong, now that they were going in blind. “Alright then, it’s settled. As soon as we get the intel, we’re going in. Bryan and Roy, make sure your ends are ready by then. If nothing else, dismissed.”

The meeting ended, and the five dispersed away.

<^>

Leon

”Lock and load! Good luck boys, see you on the other side.” Roy’s voice fills the infantry hot dropping room of the dropship. Exiled Hell Jumpers’ Jump Platoon stood ready outside the room’s 3 doors that led to the outside world. There was little chatter, each man busy checking his weapons, doing double takes on his ammunition and adjusting his gear. Not that they needed to; everything had been checked once, twice and thrice beforehand, but it was a gut instinct trained from years of combat.

Lieutenant Leon stood at the very front of the three lines positioned outside the doors. He was in the middle line, his back was turned to the doors, eyes slowly surveying his men’s faces. They were looking mean and eager to fight. His trigger hand fingered his weapon’s grip absent-mindedly. Land, scout, call in. Land, scout, call in. Land, scout, call in. Simple enough…

“Keep it neat and clean down there men. I don’t want any casualties. First landers you know the drill, keep your eyes peeled and secure the LZ.” Leon looked down at his rifle.

He was armed with a S-22, an old tried and tested assault rifle design. It had great flat accuracy, a bullpup design and a fantastic holographic reflex scope. Not the rifle he had grown accustomed to in the DCMS, but he couldn’t afford to be picky.

The overhead light turned green, and stayed green. Men stationed by the doors punched the appropriate button beside them. The doors slid open, and air from the outside environment burst into the room. “Go go go!” Leon shouted over the sound of the howling wind.

He strapped his weapon to his chest, took a deep breath, and jumped. The sky’s thick clouds greeted him outside, thick mist obscuring the land below amidst the gusts that blew at his suit.

He opened up his form, legs and arms spread wide. The air resistance felt all too familiar, and for the first time in a month he felt the joy of being off a ship. Finally the master of my own fate once again.

A rush of adrenaline coursed through his veins as he watched the ground appear behind the mist of the clouds above, watching it zoom closer and closer, the howling noise of the atmosphere whistling across his helmet, the g-force shoving at his body, the instinctual fear of death rolling across his body. He lived for this.

On his left, his right and below him, his fellow jump troopers silently fell towards Ashon III’s ground together.

The ground rapidly drew near. A prompt appeared on his screen, informing him that he had reached the activation height. His hands reached out and grabbed the grips of his jump pack.

He primed his jump jets, repositioned himself into an upright position, and fired them up. Superheated gases bellowed from his jump pack in short controlled bursts, slowing him down at a gradual gradient. The chatter of the platoon’s fire teams reporting their statuses filled his ears. Area was clear of hostiles.

When he reached an appropriate distance from the ground, he fired his jump jets in a full continuous blast. His speed reached a crawl by the time his feet were just hovering above the ground. He killed his jump jets. His boots hit the ground, and he bent his knees to absorb the force of the impact.

He let go of the jump pack’s grips and pulled his rifle out from his chest, flipping its safety off. He held the weapon steady and facing the ground, and quickly surveyed his surroundings.

First thing he noticed was the ground’s colour. The tundra terrain was blue. The area they were in was flat for at least a kilometre, which would have been a disastrous landing scenario if an Opfor was present. Thankfully, command’s intel was spot-on — the place was empty.

All around him, jump troopers made their landings and brought their weapons to bear, rifles swiftly held level and trained on the horizon, positions braced and prepared for combat as they dispersed into a defensive circle, more and more troopers landing and joining to form the perimeter

Leon brought his right wrist pad up to chest level, opening up a comms channel with the Leopard. “Falcon come in, this is Raptor 1. LZ is secure, proceeding to scout the surrounding area, over.”

A female voice replies over the channel. Didn’t need much thinking to realise it was the CO. “Raptor 1 this is Falcon. Green on the scouting mission. We’ll be sitting around up here in the clouds, radio in if you need back up, over.”

“Raptor 1 to Falcon, roger. Raptor is oscar mike, over.” Leon closed the comms channel. He strode up to his platoon sergeant from behind, and slapped his shoulder twice.

Staff Sergeant Grenor, his platoon sergeant, nodded and turned on his heel to begin making his way around the defence perimeter, tapping on each of his section commanders’ shoulders. Each section then seamlessly and concurrently split themselves into teams of three, their re-organisation the result of mind-boggling proficiency and practice, not a spot of spontaneity to be detected.

As the platoon dispersed itself and left their beloved platoon commander, Leon linked up with the only other two individuals that had yet to depart — his runner and Staff Grenor.

The trio followed the teams that would be heading in the direction of their objective, observing them as they diverged away in the distance and ensuring the scouting mission would be effective.

An hour of trekking along the barren cold wasteland went by. No word from any of the teams; no news was good news. Time was up, and he signalled the other two to stop. The rest of the platoon was hopefully now holding in position, and it was time for the reports to come in.

The rest of the mission was eventless. They had to establish radio contact with each of the teams on encrypted channels, ensure that the sector was truly clear, radio in to command and tell them the LZ was green to g-

No sooner had he finished transmitting his report when a team suddenly radioed in. “Contact! Contact sir! 1-2 Raptor to 1-0 Raptor, we have contact! 3 vehicles about 2 clicks out! Guessing 3 wheeled APCs, over!” The trooper’s voice was sharp and elevated, but still kept to a low volume.

Leon blinked twice. Shit. His head immediately snapped to his runner on his right. “Re-open comms channel with command.”

The runner nodded, and began punching commands into his wrist screen. “Channel open sir.” He grunted.

Leon quickly began mapping out the situation in his mind. The contact was spotted by section 2 team 3, which was about north-east of the drop zone. They estimated a distance of 2 kilometers, and they were about 5-6 kilometers away from the dropzone. He sent a neural-signal through his helmet to open up the comms channel virtually presented to him by his runner.

“Raptor 1 to Falcon, we have contacts. 3 wheeled APCs about 8 clicks away from LZ, north-east. Please advise, over.”

“Falcon to Raptor 1, copy that. Falcon will be making planetfall. Ensure the LZ is secure and clear, over.”

“Raptor 1 to Falcon, wilco, over.”

“Wilco out.”

Leon closed the comms channel and turned to his platoon sergeant. “Falcon’s landing soon. I want a squad watching the LZ, while the rest collapse back here and prep to apprehend the contacts. We don’t know if they’re hostile or not, so make sure they’re treated as such.”

It’s going to be a long day.


<^>

Artemis

The rest of Genda’s Bruisers landed in the LZ about an hour later. Artemis and Anders deployed in the Wolverine and Phoenix Hawk respectively, and moved out with the foot platoon in wheeled APCs to meet the contacts Leon reported. By the time they reached, the jump infantry had the situation locked down. According to Leon, they didn’t put up a fight, alighting and surrendering upon seeing his troops.

The wheeled APCs were carrying a platoon of men who claimed to be part of the militia. “We come in peace.” They claimed, but the fact they came armed and as an entire platoon did little to ease the tension.

With Roy and his platoon taking over the jump infantry, who then moved to secure a perimeter, Artemis disembarked from her Wolverine, and proceeded to speak with the platoon’s OC.

“2nd Lieutenant Daniel of the Ashon Defence Forces, at your service ma’am.” A young officer in a brown uniform saluted sharply. It was a simple plain attire, his rank displayed on his right shoulder. His uniform looked slightly worn though, and his boots weren’t polished.

Beads of sweat trickled down his brow despite the cold environmental temperature. He was accompanied by a platoon sergeant on his right, as well as a platoon of shabby-looking militiamen behind him, their weapons slung behind their backs and standing at nervous attention.

The source of their fear of course lay all around them. The Exiled Hell Jumpers’ foot platoon of 35 men strong surrounded them, auto-rifles at the ready. Behind Artemis stood the Phoenix Hawk conned by Anders, standing tall and rather intimidating as it stared down the potential foes.

“Captain Artemis Genda of the Genda’s Bruisers, Lieutenant. Mind explaining what you and your platoon are doing out here?” Artemis crossed her arms over her chest. Her posture was relaxed and laid back, a purposeful move, given the tense situation at hand. She was flanked by Roy on her right, Lieutenant Leon on her left. Both officers were giving their most serious scowls, only unnerving the outsiders further.

Daniel hesitated, no doubt choosing his words carefully. “We’ve been monitoring your dropship since you made radio contact with us, ma’am. Colonel Jonathan sent us to lay out the welcome mat, and give you his regards. We mean you no harm.”

Artemis wasted no time in firing off a probing accusation. “How do I know you’re not from Shogun Trinity, impersonating ADF forces to assassinate our command team?”

The militiaman didn’t even blink this time. His answer came just as quickly as her question, “No pirate in the right mind would agree to drive right into the lion’s den for a fool’s errand, ma’am.”

It was at this juncture Roy decided to speak up. “He’s got a point,” he grunted, his arms copying Artemis’ crossed position, his frame stiff and clearly itching to leap into action in a nanosecond’s notice if the situation arose.

Artemis shot Roy a quick glance, before returning her attention to Daniel. “Alright then. So how do we proceed?”

“Colonel Jonathan’s eager to meet you. He was beginning to worry that the Collective’s mercenaries weren’t coming to bail us out. He’d like for you to move into the locked down industrial district to set up a base of operations, and from there work with your company to eliminate the pirate threat.” Daniel’s shoulders visibly relaxed a few notches as he spoke.

Roy shook his head. “Not happening. A mass move out of our forces with this little intel is an invitation for trouble. We’re going to sit tight here and set up our defences. The dropship would be right here too if things get too dicey.”

Daniel bit his lip, though retracting it within a mere fraction of a second. “Our communications hub has been silenced though, sir. That’s why we’re here in the first place. Our radio net cannot reach this far out, so conducting joint operations would be virtually impossible.”

“Not quite ma’am.” Roy jerked a thumb towards his second-in-command. “I can have Leon set up a communications relay line that’ll link up with their radio net, and we can get things going.”

Artemis stroked the handgrip of the sidearm strapped to her right hip thoughtfully. “Lieutenant Leon?” The man in question stepped forward from behind her, planting himself on her right, hands held together behind his back at an 'at ease' stance.

Leon bowed, nodding with approval. “I can have it done ma’am, but I humbly request the assistance of our esteemed guest’s manpower as escorts. My platoon will be spread out thinly, and some extra boots on the ground won’t hurt.”

Her gaze switched from one lieutenant to the other. “Lieutenant Daniel?”

Daniel replied without a moment’s hesitation. “We’ll offer our assistance to the best of our abilities.”

Artemis glanced at the 3 of them one by one, before finally nodding sharply. “It’s settled then. Leon, get your platoon organised and integrated with the militiamen. I want the teams formed up and ready to move out latest in 4 hours’ time. Can you get it done?”

Leon bowed once again. “Even if it’d cost me my life, ma’am.”

“Carry on.” Artemis turned on her heel to leave, Roy following closely behind. “What do you think Roy?” She kept her voice low, audible only to her XO.

“I have my doubts about the militia’s capabilities and loyalties,” Roy grunted, arms still crossed and his gaze fixed on the ground. “but I think we can get it done. Leon’s a capable man.”

Artemis turned her head to lay her eyes on him. “When did you pick him up anyways? I thought your second-in-command was Lieutenant Nick.”

Roy shot a glance behind his back as they walked, before responding, “Nick died back in December. I picked Leon up in the Outworld Alliance, back on Alpheratz while you were having your drinking spree after… that. He’s a distinguished DCMS officer who had a bright future, until he was framed for sleeping with a Sho-sho’s daughter.” He shrugged. “Standard career ruining nonsense, probably done by a rival. He ran to the Outworld Alliance and I swooped on the opportunity.”

“That’s good to hear. We’ve been having a shortage of reliable warriors as of late.” There was a short silence between the two of them. Artemis bit her lip. The memory of Norman was drifting through her consciousness, and a lone tear found release as it slid down her right cheek. “I miss them, Roy.”

Roy coughed a chuckle. “Imagine how I feel. My brothers fall each and every day, every battle.” He stopped suddenly, swerving to face her, his arms still crossed. Artemis stopped in her tracks and faced him. They made eye contact. His eyes were seeping with his pain, but the emotions in his voice were calloused, hardened, void of even a quiver. “Every one of our victories were paid for in their blood. Keep charging forward, ma’am. It’s all we can do. It’s all there is to do.”

Artemis’ gaze fell to the floor. Her head drooped low, and she heaved a sigh. “You really think I can carry on still?”

She didn’t need to see his face to know he was grinning from ear to ear as he spoke. “You’re hell’s Hellion, a Genda, apex predator and the grim reaper of mechs. What do you think?”


As always, feedback is greatly appreciated, no matter how big or small, positive or negative :)
« Last Edit: 22 November 2020, 08:38:53 by ShiraUso »
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DOC_Agren

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Re: Blood and Scrap new
« Reply #6 on: 17 November 2020, 14:31:10 »
1 ping only
"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!"

ckosacranoid

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Re: Blood and Scrap new
« Reply #7 on: 17 November 2020, 16:30:53 »
Nice rewrite and cool to see you back.
As for joining your countries army, thanks for your service in that country. I know it's not the USA. But thanking vets of any county is a good idea.

Artifex

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Re: Blood and Scrap new
« Reply #8 on: 17 November 2020, 16:53:32 »
TAGged.

Well done so far, also good on you, sir, doing your country a service, even only to figure out you're not made out for it.

ShiraUso

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Re: Blood and Scrap new
« Reply #9 on: 17 November 2020, 18:54:55 »
Thanks for the kind words guys!!! It really makes my day to check my post and find out that people are enjoying my work :)
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Elmoth

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Re: Blood and Scrap new
« Reply #10 on: 18 November 2020, 18:52:57 »
Cool story so far! Tagged!

My only thing is Anders. I know what you are doing there, but rationally he seems a poor choice for a piloting partner. An untested wild card that gets a PHX1-K for no apparent reason. I guess she could have done better but hey. The rest of the unit looks really cool.

I like the scrappy look of the whole thing. 2 platoons + 2 mercs (or a medium and 2 lights) being powerful forces in the periphery. I really like that approach. Well done!

Let's see how it continues.
« Last Edit: 19 November 2020, 03:45:35 by Elmoth »

cklammer

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Re: Blood and Scrap new
« Reply #11 on: 21 November 2020, 07:55:48 »
It is much, much better in thi second turn-around - I am enjoying the read so far  :thumbsup:

Brother Jim

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Re: Blood and Scrap new
« Reply #12 on: 21 November 2020, 22:48:13 »
Passive sensors Locked.
Relaying targeting information.

 

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