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Author Topic: Foxchase (Another completed K-verse story, comments welcome)  (Read 4018 times)

AlphaMirage

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Prologue - Trial of Position
03/18/3080
Camera drones swarmed from one of many monolithic mobile towers marking this rocky continental desert. Scattered among the stones are wreckage painted every color of the rainbow when not charred. Turbofan drones buzzed the fortified tower marked with a segmented circle of ten different colors, one for each of the recognized Clans, appeared behind them with a flaming S7 inside. The virtual flames subsided leaving behind a steel S7 logo.

Two individuals materialized into the shot.
“Welcome to the Circle of Equals. Another wonderful day in the Tangerine Desert right Felicia?”
“That’s right Rob. As usual ‘Circle of Equals’ is providing live video coverage of Clan Trials to our valued subscribers on Solaris Seven.”


Half of the desertscape faded away to be replaced by the face of a young woman. Her honey blonde hair swept across a face bearing a faint dueling scar along the left side from her upper cheek.

“We have a very special Trial this afternoon. Morgana of the Fox Bloodhouse is up for her first Trial of Position today.”

Felicia fiddled with her long hair. “I just love her hair in this shot. Is it weird that I want her stylist?”

“Not in the least. Like her mother Morgana cannot take a bad picture.
This trial has been long anticipated. Her brother Siegfried completed his own last year and has joined the many Wolves serving as part of ongoing SLDF peacekeeping operations on Shiloh.”

“How unfortunate for him. Morgana has a distinct pressure on her that isn’t shared with her brothers, and it shows. Watching her has been very exciting.
From her debut Featherweight match two years ago.”


Appearing next to her picture was a clip of a bloodied Morgana engaged in a brutal MMA cage match against a woman with Jaguar patterned tribal tattoo across her back.
“That was a nail-biter. Bookies lost big after the Judges gave her the win by points. Still a controversial move with the SGC (Solaris Gaming Commission).”
“It caused riots in Neon City Rob.”
“I remember. It was great television. Just like when we all cheered for her after she won bronze at the Biathlon of the Xandria Winter Olympics last year.”


A still of her in a heavy white parka shooting an assault rifle at a head sized target fifty meters away appeared. “Full size assault rifle with live rounds. Clanners don’t do half-measures.”

“It was actually only semi-auto but that’s true. If they have a choice, they will choose the hard way.”

“Her opponent today is another bad girl with a reputation. Sandra of the Lager Bloodhouse. She’s fresh out of the kennel and on the Fox hunt.”


Her scowl, messy brown hair, and a wolf’s claw facial tattoo marked an obvious outsider with an ill temper. Compounding this were clips of her fighting with Constables and carrying a ‘Disintegrate Not Integrate’ sign. Another picture showed her in cuffs against a S3C (Solaris City Clan Constabulary) with a defiant smile.

“It seems apparent their Bloodhouse Leaders see this as just another venue to resolve their conflict.

With the introductions out of the way how bout we talk business.”

Felicia made a kissy face and leaned over to face him. “I love it when you talk Mechtech Rob.”

The silhouette of a blocky mech appeared. Its dark shape gradually morphed until it became the live picture from one section of the desert grid. “Morgana has chosen a Hunstman as the base layout today with a Kinslaughter ERPPC, Armstrong Cannon, Streak Six, and Anti-Missile System. Most of the firepower of a Summoner in a smaller chassis that costs half the price. There is a good reason it is the Clan Council’s workhorse these days.”

Opposite it was a sleek bird legged design with paddle-like arms and a squarish torso. “Sandra has gone for the hot rod today, a modified Shadow Cat Alpha. Flipping arms mounting dual Type Seven NC long-range lasers on a mobile platform supported by a Streak Six and Angel ECM package. Look for her to keep the range and her options open.”

“Maybe we will see a critical MASC failure today.”
“Anything could happen. There was a rather spectacular ammo explosion earlier.”
“Don’t remind me. It messed up my brackets.

Tony, I’ll get back to you with that money.
Right after this commercial break.”


AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #1 on: 04 October 2021, 15:06:55 »
Morgana’s HUD read ‘00:00’ as her Huntsman Omni-mech, ‘Gwen,’ lurched forward leaving deep footprints in the orange sands. Her foe was only visible by the dust left in her wake. Sensor ghosts created by the Angel suite danced across her feeds obfuscating her true location.

Her eyes moved straining to establish visual contact in this maze of sandstone crevasses. ‘Gwen’s’ sensors automatically adjusted themselves to focus on where its pilot searched while keeping passive elsewhere. “Hide and Seek…I can see why you liked the Shadow Cat mother. Gave you the option to hide from any problems you couldn’t outrun.

Sandra probably finds it amusing to harry me in such a manner.”


She caught a glimpse of the agile mech through a narrow crevasse at the far end of her range. A snapshot did little more than eradicate whatever unfortunate reptile might have made that ridge its home. Sandra’s lasers vaporized the warm desert stone after failing to connect.

Now that they had an idea of the other’s location each woman angled for the kill chasing one another while taking cover in shallow sandstone canyons furrowed into the windswept wasteland. Scattered blows were exchanged rending steel and stone with high explosives and focused energy.

Within a deep canyon Morgana’s cannon echoed off the walls as missiles took flight. Its kinetic shell created a crater and rain of splinters that gently tingled on their armored canopies. Morgana felt the impact of high explosive warheads after most missiles made it through the protective cloud thrown up by the whirring Anti-Missile System.

Cracks formed beneath the armored canopy of the ferroglaz as her head was thrown against her chair. Her neurohelmet’s padding cushioned the blow to her skull but her teeth felt the impact. She shook her head to clear her vision, “and to think of all the dental visits.”

Her own Streaks arced away from the Shadow Cat despite having a confirmed targeting solution. Blinded by Sandra’s Angel Suite their errant explosions pulverized stone and covered everything in a thin film of scarlet dust. Shattered armor plates, cracked stone, and blunted flechettes formed a smoking shrapnel on the canyon floor.

Dusty clouds formed as the Shadow Cat lifted off the ground. Hot in pursuit ‘Gwen’ did the same. Their jump jet exhaust created an orange haze in the canyon lingering for minutes before settling atop the eroded sandstone.

Charged particles erupted from Morgana’s right arm and a cone of sub-munitions detonated across the Shadow Cat’s chassis. “Stop running away you b….”

At its apex Sandra’s lasers found their mark drilling through the ablative fibers the heat of which formed clouds of vapor that rapidly cooled and fell as dust. Morgana kept ‘Gwen’ vertical taking up the last few meters with a jogging gait across the rough terrain.

Sweat poured out of every part. Heat sinks strained to keep myomer muscles and sensitive electronic components within their operating limits. Her heat gauge rose noticeably as the Shadow Cat sprinted across a shallow earthen bowl set in the landscape flipping its arms to fire behind it.

A shot from Morgana’s Kinslaughter caught her opponent in the right leg. Jagged endo-steel bones tore into its calf myomer bundle. Carbonized electroactive polymers seized up forcing a stutter step as she wheeled around to take her shot.

Sandra’s lasers vaporized more of ‘Gwen’s’ ablative coating leaving a black mark on its right breast, just another black spot. Morgana noticed her armor diagram was blood red or bright yellow everywhere. She could only imagine the tortured form of exposed ribs and disintegrating armor plating.

Despite its growing damage Sandra’s Shadow Cat stood defiant. Dust devils danced between them. Morgana saw one of the monolithic camera towers ringing their Circle of Equals. “Such a grandstander Sandra. You just love getting your picture on the news.”

“Some of us have to work harder to be heard Morgana. I am not the one that has their picture everywhere. Now it is time for your very public humiliation.”

“That remains to be seen. That bum leg must hurt Sandra. Let me put you down quietly.”
“Give it a try Princess.”


The Huntsman’s reactor redlined as she pushed through minor damage to its containment field. She felt the heat of battle and first stage of heat stress as her weapons roared another time. A moment of silence fell across the landscape as the headless Shadow Cat fell to the dust. Its pilot killed where she stood in view of thousands of paying spectators.

Half of Morgana’s mech exploded as her missile magazine detonated. Large parts of it joined the scattered debris settling across the windy waste. It took a knee with its last bit of power before drunkenly falling to its side with crash to eventually settle on its back.

Morgana’s head ached as she climbed out of the cockpit. Even through the tinted visor of her white neuro-helmet the sun was blinding. The medical chopper drew closer, and she felt bile rising in her throat. She looked around to find a clear path to the ground down the now lifeless hulk of metal baking in the sun.

After sliding down the wreckage Morgana tumbled across the dusty ground. Her neuro-helmet clattered on the stones before her as she rose to scramble behind a nearby boulder. She hurled out her breakfast on the orange ground hidden from the camera tower.

She wiped the sweat and bile from her face with a damp handkerchief from her cooling vest as the medevac helicopter’s blades threw up sand and pebbles.

Wrangler

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #2 on: 04 October 2021, 18:12:08 »
Tag
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
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AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #3 on: 07 October 2021, 15:02:56 »
Twelve hours later Morgana leaned on a coach in desperate need of new upholstery. Neon landscape of Solaris City beckoning from the other side of a cool rain-streaked window. At the sound of the lock disengaging, she turned to face a young man standing in the entryway. 

In practiced familiar contempt she looked him over, his jacket damp from drizzle. “What if I were naked Sig, or had company?”
“Then I suppose that would warrant an apology Em.”
He brashly settled in the sofa chair opposite her. “but here you are fully clothed and alone in the dark, instead of celebrating.”

His eyes were drawn to the table between them. “How is your head?”

Morgana drank some of the fizzing water before her, a small pill vial lay beside it. “Pained. Feedback fatigue, you know?”

A flask appeared from somewhere inside his jacket. “Intimately.” Siegfried took a deep pull from it. “Alaric says the Scientists need a few generations to dampen the effect, or they could you know make a better neurohelmet. You think they would have figured it out by now. Anyhow as the first Trueborn of the Fox Bloodhouse. We unfortunately do not have that luxury.”

He took another sip, she refused when offered. “Lucky us. Well, you and me at least. Alaric has his own problems.
How did you get in here?”


One of the hotel staff keycards was presented with a flick of his wrist. A wolfish smile caught the reflected light from the cityscape. “I politely asked for a key.”
“Since when did you become Prince Charming?”


The card found its way into the outside pocket of his gray military jacket marked with insignia from the 2SLDF and Clan Wolf. “I may not be the spitting image of our late uncle Victor, but I have my charms and… skilled hands.”
“I am certain the hotel maids eagerly enjoyed both.”

“Being deployed on Shiloh for almost a year did not give me a lot of options. Exituri women are as likely to kill you, in surprisingly imaginative fashions, as couple with you. Pity because they are gorgeous, tanned, and often topless.”

“They sound delightful. Your Zolotse not biting anymore?”
Sieg attempted to conceal the sting, but a slight motion in his jaw revealed pained truth. Their relationships were strained by deployment, disposition, and disinterest. Despite ‘external’ efforts nothing had yet bridged a widening gap.
“Things are in constant state of change. Relationships among them. Perhaps your attitude as well.
I am not certain what your issue is today. I can only recommend you see a therapist or hire a hooker…I understand they have quality specimens of both here on Solaris Seven; or go to Solaris Four again to blow off some steam.”

“Still on probation from the last time.” Morgana looked at her knuckles hardened by training. “Something about unjustified assault by, and of a non-Warrior, outside a Circle of Equals.”

“A pity. Well, you are a Warrior now so that will not happen again.”
He placed a battered red star next to her water on the table. “Enjoy your commission Morgana. I anticipate you will have a long and illustrious career…or a short and tragic one.”

Siegfried pulled a dark red beret from his jacket’s epaulet and donned it as he moved to depart. “Alaric and I will see to it that your paperwork is delayed until you settle any unfinished business.”

“You mean mother will.”

He stood right next to an open door. His head was a shadowy silhouette between both the painful light and her tranquil darkness. “You may call her mother. To us she is just our Bloodhouse Leader.
Katherine Fox never chose to be anything more for us.
We were not…special to her,
unlike you”


Only after she got up to throw the deadbolt did she return to look at the red star. ‘Soviet scarlet’ enameling worn smooth by use until it showed off the blued steel beneath. At the sight of ‘Lisichka’ (Little Fox) she threw the medallion across the room.

Its tinny impact sounded immense in the small silent room. “Leave me alone!

It is what you were best at.”

Morgana gathered herself up on the couch and cried.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #4 on: 10 October 2021, 09:52:10 »
Chapter One – Ruins of Tharkad
04/03/3080
Marsden, Tharkad’s moon, was high in the sky revealing little of the snowy landscape outside with its faint light. The rumble of the New Danube River flecked with frost could be heard nearby. Slivers of Marsden’s moonlight penetrated the room’s vertical blinds to stab into Morgana’s aching head.

“I really should not have drunk so much after just getting over FF…but it was my decant day.”

She woke from a comfortable slumber in a moonlit room rolling over to hide in the darkness beneath layers of comfortably warm blankets. She almost closing her eyes rocked by the deep breaths and familiar smell of her companion. Before that happened a ghostly white '04:14' appeared from somewhere in the room. “What are you?”

Her partner’s hand limply falling onto the bed as Morgana slipped from his grasp to don a robe and slippers. She walked across the warmed floor toward the flickering hologram. Its source was a flat black box with a crystal in the middle to capture the projection. It was little more than a fancy alarm clock from the pre-War days where such a thing as fun and frivolous gadgets existed on this world.

“Were you watching us this entire time little clock?”

 A stern finger pointed to the object. “If so, keep it to yourself.”

Her partner groaned and rolled over to reach where she was. Upon finding she wasn’t there he rose to a sit stretched his arms over his head. His lean naked torso was accentuated by the light squeezing through the partially open curtain. “Ready for round five Em?”

“How about breakfast instead Arne?”
“Normally I would find that appealing, but oddly not at this moment.”
“Tragic.”


Arne donned his own robe only loosely tying the sash around his waist. “For us both.” He gently nudged an empty bottle of Red Star Vodka toward the nightstand. “Good thing we only got a small bottle.
How about I get quick shower while you make coffee. Then we change places?”

His hand gently gripped his sash as he looked toward the bathroom. “Unless you want to share?”

Letting just enough of her own belt out to whet his appetite before sashaying over to him.
They neared for a kiss before she gently pushed him toward the bathroom. He backpedaling to avoid tripping over her discarded clothes. “The New Danube is not going to run out of water anytime soon.”

He caught himself before leaning back into the wall. “Such a tease. You had me there for a moment.”
“You had me there all night.”
She leaned her head toward the now disheveled bed with a smile. “Did that not satisfy you?”
“I could be more.”

With a subtle motion she closed her robe and put a hand on her hip. “I will take that under consideration, but not before breakfast.”

Morgana sought out the savory, smoky smells now filling this modest but comfortable house. She cleared the corner to see hardy smorgasbord of cheese, crisp bread, and sausage laid out on the rustic but well-crafted table. In the light she first noticed the custom molding and colorfully contrasting warm wood tones. All of which she hadn’t paid attention to last night.

A chair was pulled out for her which she occupied with as much grace she could muster this early in the morning. “When did you develop refined tastes? I still remember when you were just another rough and tumble Rassie refugee. Like I was pretending to be when we first met on Donegal.”

He sat down across from her a steaming mug of sweet chicory/coffee au lait, the best this icy planet under rationing could muster. She expertly folded a napkin in her lap, used a fork to precisely skewer a sausage link which she finely sliced on her plate before daintily consuming the morsal. “Your Swedish was very good. I fully believed your act.

I suppose I acquired what you call ‘taste’ when I could find and fix fancy items at rock bargain prices. Too many nice houses were abandoned after…”
to late he realized it touched someplace deep and dark inside Morgana as he muttered. “The war,” under his breath.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #5 on: 13 October 2021, 10:04:52 »
Morgana did her best to maintain composure despite Arne’s muttered finish. They both lost to many friends on this planet and others. Obviously deflecting she smiled at him, “Here I thought you were just another HPG technician. Where did this cross-caste talk come from?”

Arne followed the conversation doing his best to match his highborn companion only to instead choose comically failing at it attempting to raise a slight smile. “If you would have consulted my codex before jumping my bones Mechwarrior you would see that I am classified as an Artisan now.”

“There was not enough privacy on my express shuttle to release built up…tension without attracting attention. I apologize for my lack of due diligence.”

He raised a blonde eyebrow at the comment while she continued eating. “Easily forgiven.”
“I would think a new HPG would need more techs. What exactly is your Artisanal talent?”
“It’s the first in a new Clan-enhanced HPG system, so it mostly runs itself. We just need to ‘change the oil’ as it were,”
He paused for a moment, “Although sometimes it is actually oil for the heat exchangers.”

“To answer your question though my talent is in restoration. There is so much discarded stuff on this world that just needs a little love,”
His hands brushed over the table between them following the walnut’s grain brought forth by a warm brown stain. “And it becomes beautiful.”

She leaned back in the chair arms folded. “I hope you don’t intend to treat me as your latest project.”
“I wouldn’t dare. You are beautiful already, and not broken despite how you talk sometimes. You need to loosen up on yourself.”

“If only it were that easy. Why join the Wolves Arne? You had a choice, unlike me.”
“You could have failed or refused your Trial, done something different. Run away again.”

“I knew mother would always find me eventually so that wasn’t an option. If Sandra didn’t kill me in the desert and I lost she would have found a different way to keep me under her thumb. At least as a Warrior I can issue Refusals, even against my own Bloodhouse Leader.”
“The very same woman whose armed recovery team broke in on us coupling. That was scary and embarrassing. Yet it was your mother that went away red-faced.”


There it was again, ‘Mother’ implied a great deal more care and empathy than Katherine had deigned to show for most of her “daughter’s” existence. “She still doesn’t respect my limits.” Morgana brushed her chestnut brown hair with her fingers. “I had to dye my hair and travel under an alias I brought on the black market. Even then I suspect she can find me. All of that merely slowed her down.”

“What are you afraid she’ll make you do?”
“Assign me to Kerensky’s Vision so she can parade me around the Council while trapping me in a high tower like when I was a girl, and thought it was fun.

I was far enough for me and visible enough for her on Solaris Seven.”
Unconsciously she reached for the scar earned in a bar brawl against a Stone Lioness on Solaris IV that she concealed during her trip here, “despite my indiscretions.”

Pent up despair suddenly revealed itself in private company. “She still treats me like a doll! And I hate her for it. I don’t know how to escape her.”

Arne embraced her gently tears rolling down her cheek and onto his warm woolen sweater. “I’m sorry you feel that way. Considering I don’t know where you are going with all the stuff you asked for. I won’t tell them anything if they come.
Do what you need to do, but you should probably confront her. Maybe she just doesn’t understand how you feel.”

“You’re probably right Arne.”
Inside her head she thought, ‘because that would require that she still have a heart. If she ever had one to start.’

Wrangler

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #6 on: 13 October 2021, 14:04:38 »
Uh-oh.....someone has gone psycho...
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants
-Editor on Battletech Fanon Wiki

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #7 on: 13 October 2021, 21:16:58 »
Uh-oh.....someone has gone psycho...

If by that you mean the spectacular documentary movie Psycho then maybe, certainly shares some themes. There is a shower scene in the outline

----

“This is a relic!”

Arne looked crestfallen at that remark, the sheet that previously covered the gray vehicle in its heated garage. “If by that you mean a classic.” He tapped the hood with his free hand generating a hollow echo off the concrete walls. “It’s vintage, manufactured in twenty-nine eighty-seven on Tranquil, for what would become the Wolf’s Dragoons.
Hardly ever used, less than eighteen hundred kilometers on the odometer.”


Morgana peered through windows at the utilitarian matte back trim with crimson backlit instruments. “No way! The Dragoons.
How did it end up on Tharkad?”


He shrugged, “Don’t know, found it in the Mount Wotan Motor Pool. Verified the VIN code with the Thunderbird registry in the Homeworlds. Astonishing that their databanks survived the Sundering, but that’s bureaucracy for you, more durable than ferrocrete.
Was hoping to sell it for a good price to the Snord Irregulars, but you can borrow it. There’s one catch…but its easily dealt with.”


She put fists on her hips. “I will not couple with you in the backseat.”

That bold statement rendered him dumbstruck. He regained composure with a circular gesture. “Let’s circle back to that. Don’t be so quick to dismiss it Em. I’m open to a limited number of alternative options if you had that in mind.
I didn’t, mind you. I assure you it’s very clean. Although I don’t know whether Alexandria would think that added value. Story is just as interesting to them. Nevertheless, there’s a different catch.”


Impatient blue eyes focused on him putting him more on the defensive. “What’s the catch Arne?”

He settled in the driver’s seat, powered up the truck, and gestured for her to sit in the passenger seat. Something she reluctantly did by adjusting her Kodachi to the opposite hip. Morgana noticed there were a few more gadgets and displays in the instrument cluster which displayed the new stylized Clan Thunderbird crest. “It has a manual transmission.”

Dave Talley

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #8 on: 14 October 2021, 00:52:33 »
“It’s vintage, manufactured in twenty-nine eighty-seven on Tranquil, for the Wolf’s Dragoons."

That would be 18 years before they came to the IS in canon
Resident Smartass since 1998
“Toe jam in training”

Because while the other Great Houses of the Star League thought they were playing chess, House Cameron was playing Paradox-Billiards-Vostroyan-Roulette-Fourth Dimensional-Hypercube-Chess-Strip Poker the entire time.
JA Baker

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #9 on: 16 October 2021, 16:04:16 »
“It’s vintage, manufactured in twenty-nine eighty-seven on Tranquil, for the Wolf’s Dragoons."

That would be 18 years before they came to the IS in canon

If mechs can make it centuries imagine what the vehicle fleets could manage.

------

Wordlessly Morgana looked at the instrument cluster, stick, and three pedals on Arne’s side of the truck. “What do you mean it’s a manual? They have been obsolete for centuries!”

“Apparently, back then the Clans saw automatic transmission as a bourgeoisie excess. Must have felt the effort needed to make an automatic gearbox for civvies took away from military production in some capacity.”


Her eye twitched slightly in something between nervousness and frustration. “I can’t drive this.”
“Piloting a Battlemech is harder than driving a stick shift.”


A flip-out key came to his hand, the ring accompanied by a three Clan logo tokens, Thunderbird, Wolf, and Stone Lion. Arguably the most eye catching of the ten and with the ‘Circle of Equals’ programs broadcast throughout the Inner Sphere via Clan Council operated HPGs known everywhere. “This little growler survived because nobody wanted to learn how to drive it. So, I’m going to teach you.

We have big empty highways in New Olympia so it will be easier to learn than before. Unfortunately, most traffic is one way, off-world, and not many new cars come back.”

 
The garage door opened to dark silhouetted buildings and early autumn snows. New Olympia built in the shadow of its once grand sister city beneath the rocky forms of Mount Wotan and its kin. Tharkad’s weak sun wouldn’t rise over the mountains until nearly midday and cloudy weather caused by the warmer air coming off the North Ocean to the East frequently obscured it this time of year.

They drove through this land of shadow and light, dark and bright. No longer did cosmopolitan towers, designed by some of the Inner Sphere’s most respected architects, stand proudly proclaiming the wealth and pride of the Commonwealth. Gone was the metropolitan traffic of luxury automobiles easily gliding along a broad motorways. No more streetcars sped silently along immaculate greenways toward Interstellar corporate offices. Beneath them the New Danube carried no barges laden with goods to and from the Spaceport hidden on the other side of the mountains. The grand railways that once flanked it had long been picked clean for scrap steel on a planet once known for its industrial might.

Only one of the ‘The Five Sisters,’ bridges whose elegant spans once gracefully crossed the New Danube, had been restored to operation but not its former glory. Two streetlights flickered until one only a lonely light stood vigil.

Billboards advertised opportunities off-world or among the Self-Defense Force. Only one caught Morgana’s attention this one extolled the Steiner-Davion Foundation’s work to repair the damage of the Jihad. She stared at the sign which oddly didn’t have a picture of the former Archon-Princess on it. “All the money in the Universe won’t fix what you did Katherine.”

She saw flickering red lights atop Tharkad’s HPG antennae farm. The compound stood tall over the former COMSTAR one, now turned into a nature preserve, its cratered campus turned to a lakeside attraction. A dedicated road connected it to the highway. Flashing lights appeared ahead next to their exit. She was beginning to get a hand on the downshift. “Slow down Em. We have to lift a gate.”

“Gate?”
She looked over the half-lit valley the only buildings of note were churches rebuilt post-Jihad and pre-constructed barns for the sheep grazing what was left of its vast parkland. Her headlights illuminated the red and black arm barrier as Arne hopped out and creakily lifted the pendulum gate.

The small adjacent security booth was dark and empty. “It’s supposed to be guarded too. Not that the TSDF bothers anymore, everything worthwhile has already been stripped. Now it just stops joy riders.”

Arne returned to the truck rubbing gloved hands to combat the cold. “The roads aren’t maintained anymore. Budgetary problems or so General Bohm says.”

They drove north over Tharkad City’s once smooth but now littered with rocky debris pavement. Its once beautiful boulevards hidden beneath snow only visible with reflective poles. Tharkad’s legendary winter and Blakist fire had eroded away the city until it was just a moldering expanse of concrete. One where walls jutted out like the jaws of an ancient beast ready to fall on unlucky travelers.

At the base of what was once the Triad Heights they bypassed another gate warning of hazardous roads. The Growler crawling over landslides avoiding the damaged drop-off of its perilous switchbacks. She watched Arne grow increasingly concerned the further they rose.

Morgana stepped out onto what was once the Marble Plaza surrounded by the ruins of almost three hundred buildings, once the envy of Empires. The only point of reference she had left was a large Lyran Commonwealth’s flag crinkling in the chilling western winds.

It had been a decade since she last stood in this location. Memories of its grandeur and destruction intruded on her, sensations she hadn’t felt in a long time. Light crept over the mountains reflecting off white snow contrasted with blackened crumbling stone.

 Cold seeped past her worn red AFFC surplus coat, the only thing turning her numb or so she told herself.

“It looks like a graveyard.”

She felt a firm hand on her shoulder, turning she her tearful face reflected on Arne’s sunglasses. Behind them the Commonwealth flag creaked lightly on the breeze.
“Are you okay Em?”
“I had nightmares about what it would look. I only remember the ashes falling over the mountain. We didn’t fly over it on the way out.”
Morgana stepped toward the ragged edge of a ruined retaining wall. She knelt and crumbled some of the snow in her gloves before breathing deep.
“At least a graveyard is more peaceful than a battlefield.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #10 on: 07 November 2021, 22:39:10 »
Chapter Two – A Land of Green and Gold, The Ore Mountains
04/08/80 Location –Tharkad, Lyran Commonwealth
Snow blew sideways as another fierce storm arrived from the chaotic Marsden Sea. The handheld searchlights of two Stinger Battlemechs illuminated armed TSDF troopers and their dogs who moved between a motley assortment of vans, trucks, and cars, most one step from the junkyard. A shapeless form shouted at the smokers huddled about shelter of the leeward side of a fallen road sign.

“Zussamen Jürgen dein nächstes! Bewegen Sie Ihren Arsch, dass es kalt wird!”

Jurgen finished his smoke crushing it beneath his heel, “Fick dich sergeant.” He rubbed his hands and looked at his men. “Ich weiß es nicht. Brüche auf Brüche.”

They did the same slinging their rifles over their backs once more. “Zurück an die Arbeit”

The squad returned to their posts shuffling between the bright lights and honking horns of impatient and ungrateful citizens. Long lines of vehicles laden with cargo were vigilantly searched for contraband and the individual identity cards checked for active warrants. Everything from unlicensed weapons, unauthorized salvage, powerful drugs, bootleg liquor, and forged papers were recovered daily making Göttesgag safer for their absence.

His flashlight shone into a gray truck with very nice trim. A pale brunette was behind the wheel, her AFFC surplus maroon coat’s rank insignia and epaulets were replaced by neon punk band logos. She had a crescent moon tattoo in line with but slightly below her right ear, a necklace of colorful beads, and a torc bracelet on her left wrist. Jurgen rolled his eyes, either she was a hooker turned courier, or another ditzy backpacker looking to join one of the cults springing up in the woods before realizing she enjoyed electricity and plumbing. “Papiere bitte vermissen”

She tilted her head at the inquiry and responded in a soft voice barely audible over the din of her truck’s engine. “Ursäkta jag förstår inte tyska”

Beneath his breath he muttered. “Kein anderes Rassie-Mädchen”

A quick cough cleared his throat before he tried standard and gestured to her with his palm up. “Papers please miss.”

Nothing registered on her face. “Bara svenska ledsen”

It was too cold and late for her nonsense and if the line didn’t clear before curfew there was going to be another riot. A quick search of the truck revealed nothing warranting further inspection. He waved her through wishing to leave the foul weather behind for a warm barracks and dram of schnapps.

“Beeil dich.
Hurry up.”


On an icy windswept field outside town the growler came to a stop amongst other vehicles and their increasingly irate passengers. “That would never work on Solaris. Für immer wachsam my ass.” She set out into Göttesgag’s streets which radiated out in concentric arcs from the narrow-gauge rail station, Autobanh, and ports until the center of town looked like the eye of a cyclone. Apt, given its reputation as a rowdy boomtown and last outpost of ‘civilization’ on Northern Bremen.

However, it reminded her of Kobe in Solaris City with the wealthy living closer to the palisaded TSDF compound overlooking a disconnected stretch of Autobanh turned light airstrip. The Silver River Quay seemed to be the slums probably due to frequent flooding and warehouses encircled the larger sheltered ocean port looking out over the ice filled Marsden Sea.

Morgana stalked through the streets keeping vigilant of the inebriated and surly loggers, miners, sailors, and fishermen which filled the street despite the impending curfew and dreadful weather. Bars occupied every corner permeating the area with the smell of ale and fried food and a cacophony and punk and death metal bands. Scantily clad women lounged behind glass euphemistically advertising their ‘services’ to popular music. Junkies slumped in the shadows of sheltered alleyways. Patrols walloped troublemakers with pickaxe handles, ran down thieves and other petty criminals, or picked up those unable to get out of the weather under their own power sparing them a slow death to exposure.

She consulted with some locals to find a hostel along the western ‘radius’ near the rail station. Morgana opened the heavy wooden door closing it firmly behind her to keep out the weather. Inside the light and warmth from a nearby stove livened her spirits. Someone had placed an elegant tea kettle atop it which whistled briskly until she moved it to a cooler area. A young blonde woman whose braids were adorned with in a rainbow of clacking beads arrived at the sound of the kettle. “Hello, can I help you?”

“Hi, my name is Maggie. On the shuttle ride here from Solaris I heard Espen recommend this place. I’d like a shower and bed for the night please.”

“Amber…How is Espen?”
“He said he was looking for work in Weibetal.”
“Scrap melter? Guess thing didn’t work out on Solaris. Too bad he couldn’t come back.”
“It’s a tough place to make a living unless you’re a crook, famous…or a politician.”
“Espen was unfortunately too famous at being a crook.
Maggie why don’t you put your pack in a locker. I’ll turn the hot water on for the shower, then we can talk barter,”
She got uncomfortably close, and Morgana instinctually reached for the kettle. “Unless you are interested in working it off.”
“Barter will suffice.”
“Pity, because you’re very cute. You’d clean up.”
“I have a boyfriend, and that’s not really my scene.” The other woman backed off with a mildly disappointed look.


Amber returned to sat across from ‘Maggie’ who had opened her cloth rucksack for inspection. Laying on the waxed fabric were silver chains of varying sizes, a large vial of gold dust, full set of bronze Clan SVII challenge coins, beads of semi-precious stones, and other assorted valuables.
“Just room and board for a night?”
“I’ll probably need some more supplies as well. Going into the mountains tomorrow on a hunting trip. Don’t have a list drawn up yet however.”
“Got a spare women’s coat? Outfitters don’t care to stock women’s sizes up here.”

Morgana presented the one she had taken off to reveal a tight turtleneck sweater. “I can spare this one, there are three more like it in my vehicle. All mil-surp.”
“That seems fair. Would you be willing to part with all three? As you might have seen walking in, women up here don’t tend to wear a lot of clothes.”
“I had noticed that. I doubt it had anything to do with time in the sauna either, despite the advertised ‘steamy massage.’ Four seems steep though for room and board unless you throw in some sweeteners.”
“We do have a sauna if you are interested in that kind of thing. How about breakfast and a few days of trail food?”
“I’ll pass on the sauna, don’t want to get too sweaty before bedtime. I tentatively agree however as long as its decent food and not some expired MREs.”
“Are any of those still around? I haven’t seen anything like that in years. So is our business concluded then Maggie?”
“Bargained well and done.”


They shook on it stood up and entered the bunkroom where ten young people in either various stages of undress or bedclothes wiled away their evening whittling, weaving, reading, or chatting in their own sections. “Everyone this is Maggie. Also, you have one hour before they turn the power off.”

They all groaned. “We know.”

Morgana secured her rucksack with her own lock stripping down in full view of everyone before second-guessing herself. Sometimes she forgot that growing up in refugee or work camps had removed any concern for privacy among the Spheroids just as it had the Clans who already lived in such communal environments. So, she stripped away layers of clothes in the bunkhouse before walking its length toward the small, shared bathroom.

One of the boarders looked up from his book. “Nice tattoo Maggie. Looking to join the Druids?”

She stopped to look at her pale thigh where a dark blue Celtic style Wolf covered a sizable portion of it. “No, I already tried that on Solaris…It didn’t work out. Just heading North tomorrow for personal reasons.”

Every world invaded by the Shadow Division’s cybernetic monsters had seen a strong rise in naturalistic cults catering to the ‘primal’ desires of impressionable young people. Overcorrecting for the destruction caused by advanced tech they varied between hedonistic communes, hardcore ecoterrorists, and truly primitive groups that practiced bloody rites in remote wilderness. Tharkad had experienced a noticeable drop in its Protestant faithful for such cults who clustered on the less developed Franz continent.

“Watch out for Brigands.”

Concern, not fear showed on her face. “Since when do the Ore Mountains have brigands?”
“They showed up on a boat a few months ago, overpowered the police and fled into the forest. Heard they were Blakists and are now hiding out in some old mines. That’s why the TSDF is up here in force.”


Another boarder chimed in from the higher bunk. “Or so they say. I think it’s all a hoax to justify skimming some resources off the top.”

She sighed. “Ever since they showed up this town has become a bore.”

After showering Morgana settled on the narrow lower bunk beneath Amber as the lights went out and the storm drowned out snores and other night sounds. She woke to retrieve the other coats replacing them with her wolf fur-lined clothes from Xandria, Solaris VII’s Arctic region. Her surplus coats bartered away as agreed before a hardy breakfast prepared by one of the other boarders. A basket containing pemmican tins and cylinders of fuel alcohol were delivered shortly before she intended to depart.

Fellow boarders waved as she departed to join the hoards of workers heading up the river, across the sea, or deep into the woods. She refilled the Growler’s fuel tanks, at exorbitant cost, before North across gravel or icy rammed earth roads running through the former wilderness preserve now filled with placer mines and lumber camps. Armed sentries manned positions behind roadside abatis leading to their associated compounds but didn’t impede her progress. The Ore Mountains were white with snow dominating the countryside and breaking up the clear blue skies above her.

Her travels were only paused to stretch and eat pemmican warmed on a running engine block. While different than the Clan MRE’s she was issued in Xandria she felt familiar memories of long trips back in her youth within the mountains. Late in the day she approached the only road leading to her destination, a perilously narrow one for such a large vehicle. She saw the massive hole in the road just in time to stop before the tires went over the jagged edge. Morgana carefully backed up leaving the engine running before gripping her rifle and barely squeezing past the truck to inspect the gap.

“Verdammt!” Her swear echoed off the rocks and glacier below. She took a deep breath and thought about what to do. “This isn’t a Royal Road anymore and it only goes to a few places. The TSDF probably doesn’t even know its out.”

A carving on the rock caught her attention she crouched and checked ridges for sharpshooters but found none. She crept toward it carefully inspecting the graffiti. A downward point sword with a circular quartz embedded into the pommel. She reversed the truck through the winding pass concealing it under pine boughs in a nearby gully. Her rifle magazines, belt, and pockets were filled from a can of 6.8mm CSP.

Morgana waited for the sun to set behind the mountains. She heard wolves howl at the rising moon, perhaps the same ones Vlad had given Katherine so long ago, the ones she truly grew up with in these woods. The quartz she cut away from the carving was crushed beneath her rifle butt. Its sparkling remains caught moonlight during their fall onto the glacial tongue below.

“Word of Blake. Guess it wasn’t a hoax after all.”

Reaching over she recovered the billhook she had embedded into the trunk of a fallen spruce. “I can’t wait for a chance to bleed you white.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #11 on: 15 December 2021, 22:54:46 »
Chapter Three – Great White Huntress
The Northern Ore Mountains rose high above the Bremen continent, its air thin, cold, unsettling, and biting. Snowfall and high winds forced Morgana into an unmapped cave as further travel particularly the technical climbs became impossible. The faint light of her lightbar reflected off the polished surface of a silver TBC (Terran Belt Confederation) round. She closely admiring its mint marks a grand artistic pattern so unlike the Clan’s plastic POGS. “Talk about a long-term investment. To be sitting on so much wealth for centuries.”

She heard a noise at the cave entrance, immediately covered the light while readying her rifle in the same motion. Her coin dinged against bare rock as she crawled in the dark toward the sound. Dim light and hushed speech bounced onto the craggy walls beyond her elevated squeeze. Morgana’s muscles strained as she leaned precariously over the edge trying to look below at the entrance.

Her handhold was to slick, Morgana lost her grip, and fell two meters on the cold stone two meters below. By the time she recovered two rifles were pointed at her by men dressed in winter camouflage. Above her, out of reach was her own so she stayed prone only partly acting at being stunned with her hands out, ready to pounce if necessary. They spoke in Swedish keeping the rifles pointed in her direction and at a safe distance.

“She doesn’t look like a Blakist.”
“They don’t have distinctive looks and there’s more dangers than Blakists out here. Looks like she meant to ambush us.”
“She’s unarmed what could she do?”
“Give away our hiding place. She clearly didn’t hike out here by herself in just that red-coat.”


A third person stepped in she whispered, “Helvete,” into the stone. It was already not a sure thing two on one. She couldn’t fight three people by herself. From somewhere out of Morgana’s sight came a women’s voice that she recognized. “Rayna?”

They slightly lowered the rifles as Morgana rose to her knees with hands up as a darkened figure appeared behind them. “How do you know her?”

Morgana knee-walked into the light. “Don’t you recognize me?”

The darkened figure jogged forward and embraced her before pulling her up. “Morgan! I thought you were dead.” She ran a finger over her scar, “What happened to your face?”
“I added an A to my name so it might have showed a ghost record. Got in a fight with a Smoke Jaguar, twice.”


Both men put their rifles aside, “What’s going on here?”
“Morgan…a was my charge. We grew up together. What are you doing here?”
“I just wanted to get away. Go back to the lodge, hide, I guess. Find you, I’ve been out of the loop for a while. You’re still listed as missing.”
“From what? Are you in trouble?”
“Katherine,”
she looked slightly away, “my…mother at least for a little while. It’s hard to explain.”

“Well, you can’t go back there yet.”
Two Blakist Broadsword pins were tossed onto the stone at their feet, their shining black finish catching the lantern light. “It’s a little crowded right now.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #12 on: 30 December 2021, 20:51:29 »
Despite the blizzard raging outside Morgana felt warm consumed like the pine the fueled their small fire by a comfortable familiarity. Of family camping trips interrupted by any of the storms that blew across the mountains without warning in all seasons. Her now depleted rations and unwelcome news of Blakists occupying her childhood home seemed distant.

“And then I jumped on the building as the COMGUARD mech fell through and then everywhere was filled with explosives from the Arrow four missiles. Sig stood over me next to all the wrecked mechs until I came to with a broken arm and Alaric concussed.

We got lucky to limp behind Wolf lines. Katherine was furious with us and everything but grateful we made it out when so many others didn’t.”


Her posture deflated, “I spent the rest of the battle in the infirmary.”
Streams of tears came from her dripping onto the stone. “Helpless as Tharkad was razed by the Shadow Divisions. I only came back for the first time a couple days ago.”

Rayna attempted to wipe her face only to be pushed away. “You were only a girl Em.”

“And Siegfried was only a boy! But he stood watch in the mountains with a pulse rifle alongside The Guard Dogs. Alaric helped the Techs because they wouldn’t let him do the same due to his concussion. I couldn’t do anything! It was like Archon’s Redoubt all over again. I hated it…and me.”

“You did enough the first day just by getting out of the city. If you hadn’t called in the artillery your brothers and you would be dead.”

“I saved three people out of many thousands.”
“You did what you could don’t beat yourself up about too much. I understand you wanted to do more.”


Morgana wiped her own tears away and withdrew slightly into her sleeping bag. “What happened up here?”

Pine needle tea was poured into everyone’s cups. Morgana smelled the mildly resinous aroma and dreaded the bitter taste, but it was at least something flavorful even if she wasn’t the fondest fan. “We lost satellite comms when the Dire Wolf blew up the HPG. We didn’t hear about the battle until it was almost done, and you were gone by the time the network was back online.”

Andrejs, who Morgana inferred was either Rayna’s husband or at least boyfriend based on their body language, took a sip, and spoke up for the first time since pointing his rifle at her. “Fortunately, there is nothing strategic this far north. Hardly any people to terrorize either. Everyone was armed even before the Generalissimo took over and remain so. In defiance of the TSDF junta in some cases but mostly to protect themselves from brigands.”

He pointed to the enameled coat pins hanging from his rifle sling, “like these Blakists.
The Ore Mountains are a very out of the way place or were. We were having a lot of trouble with vagabonds before the Blakists showed up they would have to if they hadn’t destroyed the road”


Matias, his brother she was told, took his steaming tea, and headed out toward the cave entrance to stand first watch, Rayna settled next to Andrejs clearly fatigued from whatever travails they had endured in recent days. “We got lucky I suppose and with the Triad burned we thought all trace of this place and us was lost to the records. Katherine went to great lengths to hide it.”

“Me…To hide me.”
“Because she wanted to keep you safe. I would do the same to my kids.”


Morgana drank the rest of her drink and curled up into the sleeping bag, whispering “No you wouldn’t. You’d try to make sure they had a normal life. Nothing about Katherine and I is normal. Hasn't been for years.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #13 on: 19 January 2022, 08:46:30 »
04/09/80 Location – 60km NW of Xandria Olympic Village, Solaris VII

Two men rode upon a snowmobile slowly navigating the twisting path of the Winter Olympic training grounds that were adjacent a large nature reservation in Grayland’s northern expanse. Solaris’ sunlight shone brightly on their blue polarized visors each wore and the bright red coats of the SCCC contrasting sharply with both the gnarled northern pinelands and Xandria’s White Mountains.

“No wonder she didn’t answer. This place is remote doubt they get a good signal.”
“Yeah, and they probably like it that way. It’s also inaccessible for much of the year. Good view though.”


The pinelands parted into a glade filled with the quaint summer cottages of wealthy Solarians. Their architecture was mostly Germanic or Slavic reminiscent of Grimm’s Tales or Dachas of Terra’s Russia. Both men dismounted the machine which sat alone in the central garden of the compound.

“No smoke from any of the chimneys Bruce.”
“Morgana might be as cold-blooded as her mother Jason.”
“You ever met a woman that wasn’t cold at least most of the time?”


Each man dismounted the snowmobile setting their crampon spiked boots into the late winter ice. “You got me there.”

They looked around taking in the rustic atmosphere. “Which number was it again?”
“Dispatch didn’t give us an address, so I guess we just look around for her.”

Both drew their large flashlights keeping their carbines slung behind, “Look around for the highly trained arctic commando Clan chick. Roger that Corporal.”


Bruce tapped Jason lightly with the flashlight, “Cram it.”
“With haste Corporal.”


They stood facing one another, “You gonna be like this all day?”
“Not if you let me drive the snowmobile back to Xandria.”

“Fine you can drive it back but keep it under fifty until we return. It’s damn cold out here and I don’t want to hike back.”


They set about knocking on each door of the cluster, “Clan Constable! Open up.” Proceeding carefully into each house to inspect it as per their orders.
“Doesn’t look like she’s here.”

“It hasn’t snowed here in at least a week too, there’s no sign of any tracks, or anything out of place in the houses. My guess is she was never here.”
“What a shock. A Steiner-Davion telling lies. Who would have thought?

Guess we will just have to report Mechwarrior Morgana as AWOL.”


The Constables shrugged and sighed their exhales creating clouds of fog, “Again.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #14 on: 20 January 2022, 09:36:58 »
All-Watch Bulletin from Solaris City Clan Constabulary – Missing Mechwarrior presumed AWOL
Name on File – Morgana
Date of Detection – 04/09/3080
Last Known Location – Unit# 508 16 Champion Plaza, Xandria Olympic Village, Grayland, Solaris VII

Affiliation – Clan Wolf | Rank – Mechwarrior | Callsign – “Ember”

Vitals | Sex – Female | Hair – Blonde | Eye – Blue | Age – 20 TS | Height – 167cm | Weight – 54Kg

Distinguishing Features – 5 ear piercings (3 left 2 right), thin scar over left cheek, golden crescent moon tattoo behind right ear, black tribal wolf tattoo on upper left thigh

Known Aliases – Morgan Elizabeth White, Angelica Post, Maggie Westhold
Known Languages – English, French, German, Gaelic, Swedish

Approach with Caution! Considered Armed and Dangerous

04/12/3080 Location – Archon’s Private Hunting Lodge, Northern Ore Mountains, Tharkad

With the weather breaking and help from the others Morgana peered over the valley where she grew up one that was as changed as she. The large landing strip that had been new when she was fostered here was still there, as was the large Alpine lodge she spend much of her youth in, but the trees she had played in were cut back and turned into abatis defended by small watchtowers on stilts. Their spotlights passed over the benighted snow as ghostly white clad soldiers patrolled the perimeter from the other side. A mortar pit, fixed machine guns, and roving patrols of armed civilian crawlers provided firm defense against infantry attacks for the growing compound.

Through her multi-spectrum telescope she saw each bore an insignia of the broadsword of the Word of Blake Militia skewering a Clan Cameron Star. She felt the thunderous roar and blazing jet plume of a ST-46 aerodyne shuttle over her shoulder. The flattened wedge-shaped shuttle was coming in for a landing, its thrusters reversed, the wheels screeched as they threw out smoke from the impact, a drag chute deployed, and the brakes grew red from the heat of their work. It slowed down reeled in the chute and taxied to a metal hanger that formed the nucleus of a small collection of Quonset type prefab barracks under camouflage netting.

Andrejs whispered over her shoulder, “That’s new they didn’t have that when we left a week ago.”

Morgana zoomed in on the barracks, “Those aren’t the normal SLDF issue pre-fab structures.” She fiddled with some filters on the tripod mounted spotting telescope. “They are arctic huts. I know because I lived in them while I was training in Xandria for the Olympics.”

Rayna was right behind her, “Morgana, you were in the Olympics? Wow. Did you win?”

“I medaled.”

“Where did the Blakists get them then?”

“Watch reports hint that the robes have been hiding out in polar areas because they are harder to survey from orbit. A number of Baleena subs used for arctic expeditions went missing when Tatyana Trans-Ocean was destroyed.

Perhaps they ended up with them and that ST-Forty-Six while living in Sutherland this entire time.”

“What brought them back?”

“Opportunity, I guess, the TSDF has been handling Northern Bremen with a light hand hoping to get rich or at least reduce dissent. Maybe the Blakists saw this and decided to act, take control of a region covertly.”



Deep in the valley Major Dag Kesselring, dispossessed Count of Cold Harbor (on Maestu, a Clan Wolf occupied planet), former Commander of the COMGUARD’s 66th Division, and mastermind of the Tharkad City attack (that almost killed Morgana and her family) stepped out into a hanged filled with the saluting soldiers of his Remnant Battalion. He wore no helmet or balaclava instead his short brown hair was lost beneath a pale gray watch cap. His white and woodland camouflaged uniform was newly acquired and the same as those used by the TSDF as were their weapons. To any far away observer they were indistinguishable until you got close enough to see the Blakist Remnant and their rank insignia.

“It is with great pleasure that I step on Bremen once more. We will no longer endure our icy exile beneath the desolate glaciers of Sutherland.

Here we will rebuild and once more Tharkad will feel Blake’s Wrath.

I will take even greater pleasure in enjoying the traitorous Empress’ vacation home while we do it too.”



Four people pressed themselves against freezing rock upon an overlooking ridge unable to see the bustling interior of the hanger. Morgana’s warm breath creating a fog in the freezing darkness. “I have to report this before they get any further. Except that will reveal my location to the Watch.”

She felt Rayna’s gloved hand on her shoulder, “You have to go back to Clan Wolf and stop running away and pretending you are someone else. You can’t crawl back into behind a child. You’ve seen too much.”

“I know, it’s still not fair. Though at least I can make sure this place doesn’t get worse. I’m just afraid sometimes that I made the wrong choice and am on a bad path.”


04/16/3080 Location – Bremen, Tharkad

Morgana, Rayna, Andrejs, and his brother returned from the mountains, depleting Morgana’s supplies in the process. Good thing too because otherwise no one would be able to fit inside. The woods were just as filled with armed militias and security teams as before although now that she had three other partners, they wouldn’t pose a threat to her. “I’ll drop you off in Göttesgag and then head back to Tharkad City to report to the Watch in person. Otherwise you might get in trouble for helping me.”

“Thanks for the ride, Em. I would have been quite the hike.”

“No problem.”


She pulled around the bend to find a Clan Constabulary checkpoint in front of her.

“Okay maybe we do have a problem.”

mikecj

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #15 on: 20 January 2022, 10:12:33 »
Pretty bold coming out into the open even this much.
There are no fish in my pond.
"First, one brief announcement. I just want to mention, for those who have asked, that absolutely nothing what so ever happened today in sector 83x9x12. I repeat, nothing happened. Please remain calm." Susan Ivanova
"Solve a man's problems with violence, help him for a day. Teach a man to solve his problems with violence, help him for a lifetime." - Belkar Bitterleaf
Romo Lampkin could have gotten Stefan Amaris off with a warning.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #16 on: 20 January 2022, 14:39:28 »
Chapter Four – Unwelcome Company and a Familiar Fate

04/17/3080 Location – Asgard Bunker W65-14, Mount Wotan Military Reservation, Tharkad

When the LCAF High Command left Tharkad they put Mount Wotan in mothballs shutting down all but the most critical systems. That left it cold enough for its short-term residents who were almost always from Clan Wolf or Diamond Shark which leased storage and office space in the caverns below due to the complex’s location near the spaceport, HPG, and Tharkad’s largest city, Olympia.

Morgana’s footfalls echoed off the cold lonely stone urged on by her female Constable escort, a stern Stone Lion from Ghost Bear stock. She had no idea what time it was but had been woken up far too early from her freezing jail cell. “Where are we going?”

“Your Inquisitor is here. He wants to see you in Interrogation.”


She thought that was terribly fast, whoever this Inquisitor was must have already been on world when the AWB went out. “Where are the others?”

“They are not Clan. So they are at the Nagelring Stockade in TSDF custody.”
Her heart dropped as the TSDF wasn’t known for being particularly accommodating to prisoners.

“Who is my Inquisitor?”
“You will be introduced when we arrive.”
“Can we stop by the ladies’ room first. I need to freshen up.”
“No time.”

“You already strip searched me and scanned by coat. You know I don’t have any lockpicks on me.

I can’t get out of this place anyway. It’s a bunker.”


A jerk of the chain attached to her cuffs pulled her forward and brooked no further discussion. “Watch your mouth Mechwarrior.”

Something was off with this Stone Lion. “You are a Dominion exile. You’re pissed because the others are from Rasalhague, and I talk like them.”

The Constable swung around and delivered a precision chop to her nerves causing one of her arms to go tingly and numb enough that she didn’t feel the bruise that would likely form beneath her skin. “I am pissed because you will not shut up. Now stop talking or I will gag you.”

Morgana drifted off in thought as she was led closer to the ‘front’ of the complex where more Castemen worked on a multitude of projects in support of a greater purpose within the narrow confines of this military bunker. She had never been to the Homeworlds but when she was hiding within Archon’s Redoubt many Castemen mentioned agoraphobia as a common fear having lived their entire lives beneath the surface of hostile worlds or within the confines of the Clan’s vast fleets of spacecraft never seeing the sun or nature. Having lived beneath a clear open sky or beneath a canopy of trees for almost her whole life she couldn’t even begin to wonder how that would feel.

Slowly the numbness in her arm ebbed, replaced with pins and needles, then a dull throb. They stopped next to a heavy door marked with an alphanumeric stencil. “This is the place.

I am going to restrain you to the table and your Inquisitor will arrive within an hour.”

“What?! You said there was no time to stop.”

“There is for you but not for me. I have to attend to my other duties.”


She was shoved forward into a sparse room with a bright light, metal table, three chairs, and a recording set up built into one side of the table. “Unlike some people.”

Her cuffs were pulled forward and the chain put through an eyebolt in the metal table before her until it was locked closed. The Constable departed and Morgana could hear the door lock. She shivered from an uncertain combination of the cold around her and the uncanny feeling of eyes watching her through the mirrored wall.

“Sadistic Sow.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #17 on: 21 January 2022, 23:51:04 »
Ten minutes passed by slowly while Morgana thought through the implications of her detention. Her previous ‘wilderness excursions’ were not met with as forceful a response by the Clan Authorities, and she worried it might have gone too far this time. That and the longer she was in here the more time the Blakists had to establish themselves in the mountains. Yesterday had gone swiftly with none of the arresting Constables bothering to listen to anything she had to say. This unique feeling made her blood boil, she seethed whispering “I should have stayed in those damn woods!” harshly.

“No, you should have stayed on Solaris Seven and out of trouble.” A familiar voice said from the doorway. The voice was replaced by a young brown-haired man wearing a well-tailored gray suit, high end watch, and fashionable but purely ornamental glasses over hazel eyes.

Morgana attempted to stand up from her chair, but the handcuffs arrested her full ascent. The chair fell back, and she was left half-standing across the table. “You’ve got to be kidding me!
Why are you here Alaric?”


He placed a large file marked ‘Morgana’ on the steel table just out of her reach. “Junior Inquisitor Alaric to be precise.
Mechwarrior Morgana, I do not need a reason other than being here to bail my little sister out of the stockade.”

“Of all of the injustices that Katherine has inflicted upon me over the years. Why is it that being decanted two weeks after both of you seems the most aggravating?”


Alaric walked over to the side of the table with the padlock and produced a key. “You better not do that Alaric. I am quite capable of kicking your ass even with my hands cuffed.”

“Touché. At least let me right the chair so we can have a civil conversation.”


She paused for a moment before giving him the nod to do so. Morgana returned to a seated position opposite her brother who eyed the recording device next to him. “I think we will just start off the record. That is if you do not mind Mechwarrior.”

“You are the Inquisitor?”

“I am.”

“How? You are too young to have completed the training.”
“It helps when you are personally tutored by the woman that helped write most of the new Clan Council’s Code of Justice.”


A long moment of silence was interrupted by Morgana, “And how is our mother?”

“Distraught that her defiant daughter never visits her.”
“Good.”


“Why do you make things so difficult on yourself Morgana?” He opened the thick manila folder and began paging through it. “We are going to have to come up with a plausible excuse for this.
I do not think ‘being lost in the woods during land navigation’ or ‘involved in a search and rescue exercise’ will cover it this time. Since you have taken your Trial of Position you are a Clan Wolf Warrior now and there could be argument for desertion by the many enemies of our bloodhouse.”

“How did you find me so fast?”
“I was already on Solaris Seven dealing with a little mess that Siegfried left behind. It is not important, well yet...”


He shook his head while paging through her files, “That said there are only four express shuttle routes originating from the Solaris system and I did not think you would head for either New Kyoto, Bolan, or Irian. I stopped at Tharkad since this is our mother’s homeworld and you grew up here. It was either here or Donegal.

Now I did not anticipate you being discovered quite so quickly. Your previous record is ten days aff?”
“Eleven.”
“Apologies, these records are just so imprecise at times.”
Alaric pulled one of the bespoke pens from his jacket pocket and marked something on the paper. “There I corrected that little error. So, your current record is now almost twenty days, very impressive.”

Alaric continued to not bother to turn the recorder on and in fact deployed a flat square that began emitting faint white noise. “Where did you get your fake id? It was very good.”
“I know people.”
“As do I now. Our brother kept very interesting friends on Solaris.”


Morgana’s left eye twitched exaggerating the scar that Malice left on her face. “If you expected shock, you will not receive it. I am very well acquainted with Sig’s friends, particularly his lady friends.”

“I see. You know your boyfriend and I had a very long conversation yesterday.”


Her fist restrained by the cuffs weakly hammered the table, “Arne had nothing to do with this! and he is not my boyfriend.

“I disagree on both counts. However, it was mostly about sourcing nice furnishings for my shuttle.”
“You have your own shuttle now?”

“Between you, Sig, and Mother. I will always have something to do. So yes, I do. It is a very nice, slightly used Mowang Courier that I acquired through perfectly legal means via a private businessman in Cathay.”

“Why does that sound like something a seedy lawyer would say on a holovid?”
“Are you going to sit here arguing about my personal business? Or are we going to get to what you can do to get out of trouble?”

The white noise filled the volume as Alaric withdrew the stylus from his tablet computer. Morgana sat calmly opposite him, “How bout we use ‘covert recon against Blakist Remnants?’


His eyebrow’s peaked in interest. “Do go on.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #18 on: 23 January 2022, 12:17:45 »
Another night (she presumed) went by in detention although Morgana caught a passing glance at Rayna and the others while she was being escorted to her better though still spartan accommodations. It was kind of strange, the room must have belonged to a LCAF officer prior to the Wolf takeover of the facility as it was better than her barracks. Fresh clothes, an electric kettle, and hot shower in an attached bath were waiting for her when she arrived although she still had nothing to do but wait on the cot, sleep, and try different looks with her hair when she wasn’t sleeping.

Morgana answered a knock on her door. Alaric was on the other side wearing the gray and brown, standard Wolf undress colors that even she preferred. “Ready for breakfast MechWarrior?”

She looked around and found that only he was in the corridor outside. “No cuffs or guards?”

“Are they necessary? This is a bunker after all.”

“So, am I not a prisoner anymore?”
“No, you still unfortunately are but that does not mean we need to be uncivil. We may even soon have a chance to make things right.”


Alaric took the lead although Morgana was quickly walking abreast of him. “I see you took those stupid glasses off.”

“Those glasses are effective at opening doors Em. They make me appear less threatening than other Clan Warriors. Additionally, its accessorizing. You understand or at least you did before you decided to be an ascetic.”


They sat across from one another in a private room already furnished with coffee in vacuum flasks and a large breakfast. “I tasked a recon satellite to confirm what you said.”

“You can do that?”
“As the ranking Justice official on this planet I can.”
“Low bar.”
“Yet one I jump over regularly.”
“What did you find?”
“Nothing, suspiciously.

I think the TSDF has a mole that is why I brought Rayna and the others here from the Nagelring. They are material witnesses to Blakist Remnant activity and as such are under jurisdiction of Two SLDF’s Criminal Court.”

“Thank you.”


“It is my job. Just like being a MechWarrior is yours. There are only four other Clan MechWarriors and five Battlemechs on planet under our control. We must get some off-world reinforcements as I figure the Sixty-Sixth still has more than that.

That may take some time. Time enough to get that fifth Battlemech operational.”

“I presume you want me to pilot it. What model is it?”

“A Griffin Six Sigma Two Cee and yes because you already have experience with it. Are the only one that can in fact.”


Her eyes got wide as she struggled to not spit out her coffee. “No!

It is still here even after all this time!”

“It never left that bunker. No one else can get it to boot up.”


Morgana stood at the feet of ‘Stiletto’ her mother’s Griffin staring up at it with trepidation. The same one she had taken during the escape from Tharkad City. A mech that could only be operated by two women in the entire Inner Sphere that just so happened to share the same DNA. Katherine Steiner-Davion and Morgan Elizabeth White.

That was before she became Morgana. Her codex charm was wrapped around her palm the same one that had informed her that she was a clone rather than a normal daughter. The moment everything changed.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #19 on: 24 January 2022, 14:07:43 »
The next day Mech Bay W65 was frenzied with activity as the Wolf Battlemechs (Griffin 6S2 C, Conjurer, Charger/Challenger C, Commando II/C, and Corvis)  stood in a neat row surrounded by Technicians and MechWarriors. All the machines except the Griffin were in the midst of loading ordnance into their internal cargo bays under the watchful supervision of Technicians, reasonably safe in their powered and slightly armored exoskeletons.

Arne stepped over a large cable running from a rumbling portable diesel generator to the machine. Its black smoke was immediately captured by  the adjacent exhaust fans. He gingerly stepped over the gurgling hose attached to a coolant truck leading right to the Griffin’s rear right torso. Morgana stood atop a scissor lift guiding the hands of a sleek humanoid looking Shugosa LoaderMech to the Griffin’s right arm mounted large pulse laser. A nearby container marked ‘Gwen” on the side was open and Arne could see a Kinslaugher ERPPC along with an Artemis guidance package and lasers which were likely intended to replace the older machine’s weapons.

Over the left shoulder three other brown suited Techs were in the midst of reconditioning the LRM launcher and its Artemis IV guidance package. He stopped next to a Descartes XXV diagnostic computer plugged into the Battlemech’s DI computer enraptured by endless streams of code cascading down the screen like a verdant waterfall. Alaric, the curious Inquisitor, sat nearby his fingers racing across his Noteputer’s keyboard. “I brought the case from your shuttle as requested Inquisitor. Who’s Ember.”

“Its apparently my sister’s callsign. Since she likes to be called Em and spends so much time in the cold, thus Brr. Then it became Ember.
She left it behind on Solaris when she went AWOL.”


He opened up the hard-shell case to reveal a white neurohelmet with ‘Ember’ written in red print along the back. “Now if you excuse me Arne. I have to plug this into the DI computer, sync it up with the old system, and then try to update everything to the newest Clan OE.”

Alaric downed a ruby red and black Wolf’s Blood energy drink as he reeled out the sync cable till, he could plug it into the Descartes, “Probably going to be an all nighter.
Depends on how much Loki crapware I have to bypass.”

“Wait you are Morgana’s brother?”
“Aff.”

“I don’t notice the family resemblance.”

“We get that a lot.
Very strong maternal heritage among the Steiner women.
Take a look a Katrina, Melissa, Katherine, and Morgana. So similar, it is rather eerie actually.
My brother and I take more after our genefather. He was a good Warrior the Inner Sphere is lessened by his absence.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard Morgana talk about him.”

“She was always mother’s favorite. Didn't spend a lot of time on Tamar.

Now beat it and take her off my hands before she passes out from exhaustion."


The neurohelmet's visor display glowed yellow as it was recognized by the Descartes, "I don’t need her till the morning, at the earliest.”

Wrangler

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #20 on: 24 January 2022, 17:37:31 »
Intriguing story.
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AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #21 on: 24 January 2022, 22:37:19 »
Intriguing story.

Appreciate it as always Wrangler

---

Fierce winds whipped across the frozen volcanic wasteland of Sutherland. Due to the weak light of its lesser star Sutherland was even darker and colder than Terra’s legendary Antarctica which it paralleled. Dim running lights marked the edges of the runway plowed into the rock. Rock which cracked beneath the wheels of a ST-46 aerodyne shuttle like dried bone.

Like Antarctica the only human inhabitants of this benighted realm belonged to the Word of Blake or had while such an order existed. White wraithlike forms appeared from hidden hollows burrowed into the nearby mountain. They guided the shuttle into a hanger concealed from overhead surveillance while the running lights darkened. The red searchlights of a bone white engineering vehicle removed all trace of the shuttle’s landing ensuring their base remained invisible to the TSDF and Wolf Satellites above.

Major Dag Kesselring stepped off the shuttle as the great insulated doors closed on the ready bay of what remained of his 66th COMGuards. His XO stood at the edge of the ramp looking concerned. “How did the Wolves find out about the Ore Mountains Lord Kesselring?”

The pair walked past white clad troopers cleaning and maintaining the numerous and powerful small arms they had inherited from the Blakist Militias retreat post-Second Battle of Tharkad. “Unknown, the Rasalhague captives were taken into Wolf custody before our people could get to the Nagelring.
Our mole barely gave us enough time to hide or smuggle out our gear. The buildings were left behind. However, we received those from the TSDF, so the Wolves won’t be able to trace them. We were lucky this time, but I expect company shortly.”

“Are you putting the Sixty-Sixth on high alert?”

“I am Akiva. Inform the troops to be ready to move out as soon as we detect incoming dropships. Clan Wolf only has four mechs on planet. They will take time to prepare and so shall we.”


Dag clambered up the ladder to perch atop one of the three Dreadnought Mk II Articulated Tracked Vehicles in the hanger. The monstrous treads of the Land Train were as tall as he was, this unit and others of its type now served in many other Remnant forces as a prime mover. One capable of loading and moving 100 tons of cargo at a decent speed across even the most rugged country.

From his loft perch he could see his Level II of white and gray camouflaged Battlemechs, his modified Black Knight 6b, Akiva’s Rifleman II, a Crab, Starslayer, Lynx, and Apollo. Three levels IIs one each of Myrmidon, Goblin, and Hunters were arrayed nearby undergoing maintenance under the careful supervision of COMGuard Adepts. A dozen towed Imperator Ultra-5As and six Armstrong Thumper Howitzers were already loaded on their transport pallets ready to be craned onto a flatbed for transport to their final destinations.

He heard his XO climbing up behind him and faced the man. “I’ve waited a long time for this day Akiva.
Today we drink because soon we might die and I’m oddly okay with that.
It beats living like a fugitive when I did nothing wrong.
I look forward to sending a few more Clanners to Hel before I go.”


Akiva’s burned visage faced toward the tattered 66th ComGuard’s standard salvaged from the ruins of the Tharkad City HPG after it was bombarded by the Dire Wolf. Upon it a lone knight stood facing a barbarian horde.

“Me too, for Edo and Tharkad City if nothing else.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #22 on: 25 January 2022, 10:24:33 »
04/25/3080

Two light gray Hawkeye OF-IIC Aerospace fighters bearing the roaring Clan Wolf insignia zoomed over the desolate icy landscape of Sutherland. The bug-eyed helmet of its female pilots and their dark red spacesuits made them appear more alien than a normal Clan Aerospace pilot.

“Foxhound this is Rover three, Rover four and I have finished up this grid section. No signs of Blakists found. Coming up for fuel.”

“Roger that. Take a breather you two.
Rovers one and two are en route. Flight plan transmitting now.”

“Hope they have better luck than us. Confirm receipt of flight plan now. Coming into alignment.”


Above them the WWS Foxhound (Leopard CV IIC) fired its RCS thrusters as it came into position. The Foxhound had to orbit in a Molniya orbit in order to stay in communication with its four Hawkeye recon planes (Cheetah IIC with sensors and stealth instead of weapons) and keep the area under observation using its Naval Comm-Scanner Suite. These observation planes and the dropship were covertly built with assistance from the former FedCom ONI Sigma Six branch before it was subsumed into the broader 2SLIC post-Jihad. Multiple satellite imagers, gravity and magnetic sensors, and broad antennae absorbed every wavelength of the electromagnetic spectrum and registered every manner of particle phenomena originating from Tharkad’s ‘uninhabited’ hemisphere below. It was only a matter of time till the Wolves would taste blood once more on Tharkad.


Morgana looked out over the New Danube from the overlook near Arne’s house adjacent to the Giant’s Walk that once connected the Starport to the now ruined Triad complex. The past week had gone by incredibly fast. Stiletto was finally operational having completed a weeklong refurbishment after a decade of non-use. She hadn’t gotten over the emotions she felt in its cockpit which felt so small now that she was a grown woman, but which had once held vast potential. Marsden, Tharkad’s moon had almost completed another cycle to the waxing gibbous she arrived under almost three weeks ago.

A barge was being towed upriver toward the Starport where the Wolf Reinforcements had landed with a Union-C and supplemental Trojan filled with Clan Warriors eager for another chance to rid themselves of the ongoing pestilence of Word of Blake Remnants. It was personal on Tharkad since Precentor Dag Kesselring had betrayed them and almost managed a complete coup via a surprise commando raid before the real battle began. A battle which resulted in the deaths of too many Clan Warriors and even more civilians. Kesselring was reported KIA, but his body and Black Knight were never recovered by Coalition forces before they had to continue onward to Terra.

She threw a rock into the thawing ice choked river and caught a glimpse of something large swimming behind it that was soon lost in the wake and whiteness of the ice. “I really need some sleep.

I’m seeing river monsters now.”


It appeared again further downstream, a dark shape bobbing only visible because it wasn’t reflecting moonlight like the river and ice surrounding it. A squat boxy shape like that of a missile tank turret. Panicked she stumbled through her coat until she found her comm-pad and engaged the weak zoom function of the device while concealing herself in the bushes. Three shapes bobbed up the operators feeling confident they were no longer under threat of observation from Olympia.

“Prowlers”

With the comm-pad still in hand she attempted to call Alaric or the HPG but only got static.

“We’re under attack. Again.
They just don’t know it yet.”

mikecj

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #23 on: 25 January 2022, 10:34:29 »
Clever, clever Blakie.
There are no fish in my pond.
"First, one brief announcement. I just want to mention, for those who have asked, that absolutely nothing what so ever happened today in sector 83x9x12. I repeat, nothing happened. Please remain calm." Susan Ivanova
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Romo Lampkin could have gotten Stefan Amaris off with a warning.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #24 on: 25 January 2022, 14:32:46 »
In an adrenaline-fueled frenzy Morgana burst through the door to grab the growler keys and warm up the old truck before she rushed upstairs to Arne’s bedroom where he lay there comfortably dozing just where she had left him.

“Wake up! I need you.”

“That’s sweet Em maybe later.”


She grabbed his shoulders shaking the young man vigorously into the mattress. “Not in that way! I need your help.”

He lifted up halfway rubbing his eyes. “What is it?”

Immediately she had to figured out how to parse what she had seen. “The Word of Blake is going to attack the Starport from the Canal with an LP barge, some tanks, and who knows what else.”

“They’re not harmful unless you handle them incorrectly.”

“No! Not that kind of LP Arne.”
She ‘gently’ slapped him across the cheek to wake him up faster. “The explosive gas kind. I need to send a message to the HPG.”

Arne began to collect himself but was still in the mid-sleep phase. “Call them, WolfNet open twenty-four hours unlike my eyes.”

“I tried on my mobile, the landline, and even my handheld radio. Everything is jammed. I need a stronger transmitter than whatever is jamming us in order to send out the warning.

We are running out of time. We won’t make to the compound before it’s too late. What is the strongest transmitter within a ten-minute drive?”


Haste began to show in his actions as he woke up and began to reclaim control of his faculties. He held his left hand to his jaw. “The local Polizei precinct.”

“You remember everything from radio school quiaff?”

“Aff, why?”


She grabbed the pistol belt from her nightstand, strapped it around her pajamas, and checked the magazines inside. “Because you are going to need it. Put on your shoes and grab a coat. We need to leave now.”

Both of them scrambled downstairs and into the garage leaving the front door open to the cold as they sped across the frosty asphalt past houses that blended into the darkened hill-scape. After a few minutes of driving she ended up opposite the precinct eying the barriers and gate beyond.

Morgana kissed him on the cheek from across the console. “Arne, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way because I know you put a lot of work into this vehicle, but whatever Alexandria was going to pay you for this truck.” She revved the engine and watched the tachometer jump into the red zone. “Katherine will double it. So hold on tight.” The engine screamed as she put it into high gear and accelerated toward the barriers. “and I’m sorry.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #25 on: 26 January 2022, 20:45:31 »
Twenty Minutes earlier…

A New Danube Canal Guard looked up into the cloudless sky above. “Moon looks beautiful tonight. I hate how Tharkad City was destroyed but at least you see the stars now.”

Another one leaned against the gunwales as they waited for the canal tug to take up the load. “It was nicer a couple days ago when the aurora reached down here.”

“Yeah, that was some solar storm. Weird that it took out the pipeline…”
Two light gray shadows detached themselves from the gunmetal colored tank. They each moved slow until the shadows warped as they wrapped the myomer enhanced garrote built into their Tornado PA(L) suits around the necks of the NDC Guards. Before they could make another sound all that could be heard were two large splashes into the icy Marsden sea.

Through the HUD the Acolyte Commandos could see their seventeen brothers, the team’s three Prowler infiltration vehicles just barely visible atop the surface, just over the horizon were another trio of Cetus missile submarines presently preparing the Wolf HPG’s swan song, and the final trio of Baleena submarines that launched the whole operation. Lurking somewhere in the city a mobile EWAR suite disguised as a commercial truck was getting ready to shut down everyone’s comms within the metro area for the next hour. With no other hostiles in sight the Tornado’s powered down their adaptive camouflage systems to reveal the mirrorlike plates beneath. Rapid fire hand gestures communicated the message, “Begin placing charges,” to all involved.


Meanwhile at the Canal District Precinct

Morgana raced past the Polizei gesturing and shouting wildly at her as she glanced the barrel barrier. At such an oblique angle the military tough Growler sent the barrels flying to the side where they crashed into a parked police van before bursting and filling it with slush. She held the wheel steady only letting up at the last minute to let the vehicle finally start spinning just enough that the rear end impacted the chain link roller gate. With so much momentum built up the Growler was arrested with incredible ferocity as it smashed through the sturdy fence, deforming the truck’s bed like an orange peel.

The airbags deployed and Morgana felt the worst whiplash she had ever experienced, and she had taken some serious blows when her Battlemechs had fallen. She felt around finding the push dagger she kept on her gun belt. A rush of foul-smelling air burst forward as she stabbed it into the air bag just as the Polizei collected themselves enough to approach her. Another thrust burst Arne’s airbag. “Great work Arne, those air bags worked like a charm.”

He shook his head and strained to open the door. “Speak for yourself. I think I bit my tongue.”

She sheathed the knife, unholstered her pistol, and fire several deafening rounds through the windshield with the intention of making the cops keep their distance and give them more time. “If that is your worst injury tonight. I think we can count that as a big win.”

On the other side two Olympia Metro Polizei took cover behind the slushed police van while drawing their own sidearms. They watched as two individuals kicked out the doors taking cover behind the “Metro Dispatch, we have a brown-haired man and woman in their pajamas at the precinct. The woman is armed and has fired on us. They have broken down the gate. Requesting backup.”

Their radios were filled with static, even after he repeated the previous statement. “What is up with these radios?”

The other policeman shrugged his shoulders a gesture hardly visible upon his heavy coat. “Its still two on one. She doesn’t have any armor.”

Gunshots rang out as the woman shot through the locks to their building. “But she could get some if she reaches the armory…and our sub-machine guns.”

They exchanged looks, raised their pistols, and crouch ran to their building wary of overlooking windows.


Inside Morgana kept her head on a swivel next to the heavy metal door leading to the radio room. Her pistol at the ready while Arne fiddled with his lockpicks listening intently and feeling for a catch. “Come on Arne. I could pick it faster.”

“But I can’t shoot as good as you Em.”


A small click allowed Arne to force the door open just as two voices yelled out. “Put down your weapon and surrender.” Morgana fired toward the shouting as she backed into the radio room right behind Arne. She closed and locked the door peering through the bullet proof glass view-plate to catch a glimpse of up-gunned officers.

“You have I don’t know. Five minutes maybe.”

Arne powered up the console and adjusted the aerial to face the HPG with a tight beam radio broadcast that might be powerful enough to cut through the jamming. “That’s all I might need.” His hands adjusted dials and decided to broadcast it in the open. "What do you want to say?”

“Tell them the Starport is in danger from the LPG barge. Also expect strikes against the HPG.”


He typed it up as text to further increase the broadcast strength and hoped the HPG hadn’t already fallen. “Message sent. I hope they got it in time.”

The police officers crept around the corner. Morgana unlocked the door and threw her pistol belt out into the hallway. She kept on the other side of the slightly ajar door. Her push dagger remained concealed in her palm in case these ‘policemen’ were Blakists in disguise.

“We are unarmed now Officers. I am Mechwarrior Morgana, my companion is Artisan Arne, both of Clan Wolf. I demand you respect my right as a Clanswoman to speak with Wolf Inquisitor Alaric before you attempt to arrest me.”

A short pause from the officers was all she required to confirm that they were likely not Blakists or at least were good at hiding it. They took up defensive positions not trusting her claims of being unarmed. “He better be a good Inquisitor Mechwarrior. You are looking at serious charges from the OMP.”


Minutes later they felt a rumble emanating from the direction of the Starport. Morgana panicked, had the warning been early enough to stop the Blakist attack?

Shortly afterward six large explosions could be clearly heard in the direction of the HPG.

She kept watch on the policemen lingering right around the corner when she heard her brother’s voice crackle on the police radio. “Morgana, status report?”

Morgana picked up the transmitter handset.
“Alaric, you’re okay! What happened!”

“I will tell you when we put the fires out, but It could have been worse.”


Tears streamed down her face as she crumbled against the radio set. Her adrenaline left her all at once leaving her numb and so very tired.

DOC_Agren

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #26 on: 27 January 2022, 14:21:36 »
I like Morgana
"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!"

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #27 on: 27 January 2022, 14:35:21 »
Morgana walked cautiously through the burned-out ruins of Tharkad City. Endless flames erupted from damaged natural gas lines spreading destruction in their wake. The sounds of irregular battles echoed off the walls of the man-made canyons. Glass littered every corner of the street fallen from the uncountable number of shattered windows above. Their sharp edges reflected a sky choked with noxious smoke. White ash fell like snow on asphalt half-melted from the conflagration that had just passed over it. Twisted and blackened pieces of metal were all that remained of luxury automobiles, trollies, barges, trains, and military equipment of every conceivable configuration.

The stench was horrific, the acrid smell of burned plastics, resinous odor of burned wood, and rancid stench of decaying flesh. Tree lined boulevards that once housed haute shops and cozy eateries were turned into splintered matchsticks. She felt for her tightening chest but found her arm swollen and bound in a splint. Her Olympian Warrior’s body had been reduced to that of a gaunt awkward pre-teen princess. One too weak to be of use to anyone.

A shimmering shape detached itself from the wreckage of a fallen Fafnir. She tried to run but it caught up with her after she tripped and landed in the glass. Blood ran down her legs and hand as she scrambled upward only to feel a hand grab her collar and roughly pull her up and around to face him. The active camouflage disengaged revealing a man-size creature covered in mirrors. She saw her blue eyes wide with fear in the reflection of its fractal visor. Ghostly green images bled through from the Tornado operator’s HUD.

Then a shot rang out and everything went black.


She shot up so quickly that she smashed her head into the hard metal seat in front of her. Stars exploded across her vision as Arne turned the light on and pulled her around to look at him. “If you get a worse injury from smashing your head against a bus seat than crashing a truck into a fortified gate you will never hear the end of it.”

They both chuckled as he put a butterfly bandage across the injury. To her right she could see the WolfNet HPG transmission complex still illuminated by multiple electric and gas fires. “It was a good thing we told them about the attack. The first wave of cruise missiles were aimed at the barracks.

You saved a lot of people’s lives tonight, Em.”


More tears welled up around her eyes and she laid on his shoulder, “Thank you. I really needed to hear that.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #28 on: 27 January 2022, 23:26:17 »
The flames had only just been extinguished by the spaceport’s fire fighters as Morgana’s armored bus reached the Wolf Bunker. Water streaming in from the damaged canal quay to pool in the blasted remains of the Tricial Steiner Memorial Starport’s industrial docks. A spheroid Clan Wolf Union-C lay on its side, a crumbled wreck that left little chance of survivors.

Alaric met them at the entrance to Asgard. “The crew had enough time to reach the escape pods Em. They couldn’t get the engine started fast enough. Unfortunately, the Star on Guard was completely obliterated in the explosion, but they stopped the whole starport from going up in flames. The OMB and Patrol are looking for the terrorists, but I expect they escaped to fight another day.”

She scratched her head, “But escape pods aren’t designed for use in atmosphere.”
“True. However, beggers couldn’t be choosers,”


He looked over her shoulder at the gathered pods, “particularly today.
We might be able to salvage their mechs given time. With the HPG down we will have to send a message on the tonight’s priority shuttle to Donegal and ask for reinforcements from Solaris Four. I know there are a few units getting ready to deploy to Shiloh.”


He tapped on his tablet to display the latest troop dispositions in the region. If the Tharkad HPG needed serious repairs this would warrant a major offensive, but troops were thin in this area with many being only transient between Clan territory and the Terra Core. “We can maybe request a temporary reassignment of the Seventeenth Wolf Regulars from the Galaxy Commander Carns.”

Morgana looked crestfallen, “But that’s Sigs unit and he’s impossible. I hate him.
He hates me.”

“He’s actually not that bad when he has an assignment or so I hear.
On leave though…I agree. Too much grit not enough polish.

He’s not a big fan of me either. Despite all I do for him,
and let me tell you I had to do a lot to clear up his mess on Solaris Seven.”


He opened his tablet computer to show Morgana a curiously four gunned Supernova with a full set of actuators. It looked very strange to see hands on such a large mech and these ones looked strangely dexterous. “We can give him a little something worthwhile though. I have a lead on this tech demonstrator with a command console undergoing testing at the Aur Arsenal. We might need that extra gear depending on how nefarious the Blakists are with their hideout, and I know how to operate it.

Based on our current assessment I expect the answer is that this Remnant is very nefarious, and we got lucky tonight.

Our brother would happily take an opportunity to lead an attack against some Blakist Remnant. Particularly if we gave him a nice mech to pilot even for a short time instead of that busted up Gecko issued to him on Shiloh. We just have to ask him nicely.”


Morgana looked out over the valley and sighed. “I guess if that’s our best option.
I will do it.”


05/05/80
Ten days later a tan and dark brown Lion dropship landed in the recently cleared TSMS Pad Five. Emblazoned on its side was the insignia of the 17th Wolf Regulars, crossbones sinking into an inky black field, a recently reincorporated, and mostly green, garrison unit of modest resources. The local Warriors and Techs in attendance had their Battlemechs out in the field and were still dressed in the olive uniforms of Clan Wolf after completing their morning maneuvers in the rugged hills of Mount Wotan in preparation for their upcoming mission.

Although only a Star Commander Siegfried appeared with the wolf fur lined half-cape of a Star Captain signaling his arrogance. This drew the ire of Star Commander Karis the MechWarrior who had taken command of the 9th Wolf Hussar reinforcements after (ranking) Star Captain Barra perished in the Blakist attack. Morgana too showed her distain for the show while Alaric remained serene in his Inquisitor robes.

Nine more Mechwarriors appeared behind him a diverse array of Warriors that had faced down heavy odds and the dezgra tactics of the Exituri Sand Reavers.

Alaric stepped forward and gave Siegfried a firm double handshake immediately defusing an awkward silence that might have led to conflict. “We are honored you have accepted our invitation Star Commander Siegfried. Your Seventeenth Regulars have pertinent experience fighting Blakist Remnant forces in hostile terrain. I trust you will apply everything you have learned upon the sands of Shiloh to snowy wastes of Sutherland.”

Siegfried’s face scanned those assembled looking intently at each one with a piercing stare he had inherited jointly from their parents. One that cut those unused to it to their very spirit. “It will be my pleasure Inquisitor.”

mikecj

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #29 on: 28 January 2022, 13:18:16 »
This'll be interesting.

So we have parts of the 9th Wolf Hussars and a binary from the 17th Wolf Regulars on planet?

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

 

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