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Author Topic: Foxchase (Another completed K-verse story, comments welcome)  (Read 4080 times)

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #30 on: 28 January 2022, 23:26:52 »
What does Dag have left?

Enough  >:D

Chapter 5 – Ghosts of Past and Present

In the shadow of Mount Wotan Morgana squared herself to the shooting range targets delivering slow precision shots from sticks (Biathalon style), standing, crouching, and prone from her CSP carbine to targets out to three hundred meters. The suppressed report of her rifle was quickly lost to the pines and berms surrounding the canyon. Through the clanging of brass on stone she heard a light utility vehicle park on the gravel drive next to the range and yet continued her practice.

Minutes passed and two more shots from her rifle rang out over the shooting range before she heard the truck door shut and the sound of combat boots on gravel. Slightly behind her she heard someone open her metal ammo can. Another steel target went down under her shot eventually completing its circuit to stand up again.
“You left with sixty rounds three hours ago but still have five remaining.”
“And forty bullseyes.”


A dark form appeared beside her shouldering his own rifle. “What happened to the other fifteen.”

Another clang emerged from the gong like target. “Just outside the circle. So, I couldn’t count them.”

“Losing your touch?”
“Hardly.
You think you can do better?”


He unlimbered the CSR-7 full sized rifle and aimed it toward a different cluster of targets. “Depends on what you mean by better. I know I can get almost sixty in the kill-box in as many seconds.”

She fired another one and landed it on the bullseye. “That’s not good enough Sig.”

“Depends on your context. Have you ever had a group of Exituri swordsman try to charge you at less than ten meters away? After you force marched across a blazing cloudless desert whose very air chokes you with salt.”

“Neg.”

“Well, I have.”
Siegfried fired off a whole magazine next to her raking across five different targets before reloading and doing it again. The steels creaked as they rotated around showing fifty-seven impacts within the torso region of the target. Startled birds flew across the range as he cleared the rifle and dropped the mags into his gray BDU pants pockets. “If you are done playing around. We have our first mission briefing in an hour.”

Three rapid shots landed in the bullseye of three targets. “I take it you are here to collect me.”

“We have another hour and it’s only a twenty-minute drive. I am sure you would have been done before you were late.”
He pulled out a pair of insulated metal pans and jars. “I even brought your lunch.”

“To what do I owe the pleasure?”


Sig settled on a small picnic set up of logs likely scavenged from the nearby woods. His rifle rested across his lap as he opened the pan to find a layered lunch of chicken, vegetables, and flatbread. He poured out steaming tea into the cup attached to the other jar. “I need to eat, and you do too.”

From his pocket he produced a small tin of fragrant spices and added a few pinches to the meal. “The pleasure is whatever you make of it.”

His fork and spoon clanged on the tin. “Besides our last encounter ended poorly because of you. I was there to congratulate you. It was a tough fight, and I was worried.”

Morgana stood opposite him laying the top parts of the pan on the stump but not eating ‘with’ him per say. “You broke into my hotel room.”

“Good thing I did too because you obviously had a shuttle ticket purchased under a fake ID.” Her brown hair dye had washing out revealing her natural blonde over the past few days. Again, marking her as different than her brothers. “and a jar of hair dye in your pocket already.
Besides I was on the receiving end of an unpleasant visitor recently and wanted to see how it felt.”

“Did it live up to your expectations?”

“Aff, both intruders left without what they wanted.”
“Serves you right.”
This close she caught a whiff of the earthy peppery aroma of the spices Sig had added to the bland ration. “Where did you get those?”

“Shiloh. A type of Ras-El-Hanout or so I hear. You want some?”
He placed the small tin on her side of the stump. “Careful this mix is potent, I made it myself.”

She sat down across from him and put a small pinch of the spices on a piece of chicken. “When did you become such a gourmand?”

He shrugged, “I picked up hobbies in MechTech school that you just did not see.”
“Apologies, but maybe it is related to fact that your She-Jaguar’s sister was busy trying to kill me.”
“Technically they are only half-sisters, or so she says.”
He ripped a piece of flatbread to pick up a clump of veggies. “Besides she’s gone.”
“Good riddance.”
“Agreed.”


She picked up the spiced piece with her fork admiring the vibrant colors of the powder. She ate it, immediately turned red, shoved the whole flatbread into her mouth, and downed her canteen. “How do you eat this Sig? It’s made of fire!”

Siegfried laughed and offered her another canteen. “It did say it was potent.
That said you get used to it.
Just like you get used to being a Warrior. Its always uncomfortable, frequently colorful, and occasionally you find yourself under fire.”

mikecj

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #31 on: 28 January 2022, 23:55:02 »
Thats one way to rebuild a relationship- melt her tastebuds.
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 #32 on: 29 January 2022, 18:24:06 »
Thats one way to rebuild a relationship- melt her tastebuds.

She was warned.

Sig’s Romero Motors LUV pulled up to the Wolf’s bunker under the watchful eyes of machine guns camouflaged in the nearby brush. A heavy gray gun truck and sentries belonging to Zeta Galaxy maintained its position just off the road. They stopped Sig and Morgana a good thirty meters away before confirming their identities using their respective codices and dropped the heavy wedge barrier installed at the mouth of the yawning tunnel. Speed bumps further slowed their advance beyond a colossal metal door that could be rapidly deployed to protect the underground bunker from attack.

Amber light from the sodium lights covered everything in a sickly hue. They turned down Y-branching tunnels designed to deflect even nuclear missile strikes. The once quiet bunker was a hive of activity as buses moved the HPG’s staff from their temporary lodgings to and from the ongoing repair project. Still their scant possessions, heavy equipment carried aboard the Trojan CWS Vordermark, or recovered from the wrecked Union-C CWS Nine Two Five cluttered the throughways. Techs in exoskeletons picked through the wreckage loading salvageable equipment or metal to be recycled at Weibetal’s foundries onto heavy flatbed with great crashes.

Finally, Sig pulled into the mech bay where a Trinary of Battlemechs waited for their pilots poised for action. Technicians sat at portable consoles adjusting the DI computer to adapt to the Antarctic windy terrain they expected to deploy in. “I see you have made your selection. Good to see I made the cut.”

“You did. We would not have gotten here without your eyes. It is only appropriate you should deploy in Stiletto once more against your first opponent.”


Morgana noticed Stiletto was next to Sig’s (and Alaric’s) Supernova with its bruiser looking Highlander-style hands and quad forearm mounted laser ‘barrels.’ A Conjurer, Komodo 2A/C (in the deep blue green almost purple Spirit Cat colors strangely), and Vixen were all lined up alongside one another. “I also wanted a fifth Jumper.”

“What is the plan?”

“I am not in charge of the planning. Selection was a joint decision between the Star Commanders. Brade, as the most combat seasoned officer will serve as acting Star Captain. If we are successful, that should put me on a short list for actual Star Captain.”

“In a hurry to climb the ladder Siegfried?”

“The Wolves did not bother to give me an opening chance at Captain in my Trial of Position despite my request for a legacy one. Seems the SLDF does not want to give Clan Warriors a chance to advance without some ‘experience’ denying Ristars like myself their rightful position. Much like they put my initial Trial to earn Warrior status on hold till I completed the MechTech training on Solaris.

Since I have defeated at least two Battlemechs in series before I think I could have managed a third.”

“When did you do that? The Exituri do not deploy many mechs according to what I read.”


His pause lingered on suspicious as much as his hastened speech. “It was a practice match in the Tangerine Desert…with some people I met at the Training College.”

“That is pretty impressive for a Gecko
(Chameleon IIC).”

 “It sure would have been.”

They approached their mission briefing room where other MechWarriors waited outside. “What was that?”

Sig opened the curtain and entered the room. “I will maybe tell you later.”

Morgana waited outside mildly confused about the exchange with her ‘brother’ while the other MechWarriors entered. “He’s just messing with me. Right?”

She opened the curtain and into a dimly lit room where fifteen MechWarriors, an Inquisitor, two Dropship Captains and Elementals, and three non-Combat Adjutants {Watch, Tharkad’s Sheriff, and a member of the Wolf S(upply)&S(support) Command} collected around a flat ‘sandbox’ style monitor. Morgana took up an open spot next to Star Commander Brade, the local Mech Commander. The monitor displayed a desolate patch of rocky ground marked only with grid coordinates.

Wolf Watch Adjutant Phen opened the briefing, “This as far as we can tell is our objective's location.” His hands moved over the graphic created a zoomed in picture in picture. “Because Sutherland is so windy tracks are very ephemeral. Nevertheless, one of my Hawkeye’s got lucky a few days ago and we have been watching it closely ever since.”

He selected a particular stretch of the picture and made it fill up almost half the screen. “These are the tracks of a Dreadnought Mark Two.” A wireframe model appeared beside it. “These started as up-engined Behemoths designed to carry heavy trailers under fire. We maintain a few for large siege platforms or to salvage destroyed dropships. However, it is mostly used in polar expeditions.

“According to our best records and they are fragmented this area is home to a secret LOKI installation.”
The whole topographic map disappeared replaced by another 3D model that resembled a termite hive. "This is most recent model on file. Inside is a fission reactor and sufficient closed ecological systems to last a long period of time.

We presume this is a secret prison abandoned shortly after Katrina Steiner deposed Alessandro. Thus, this blueprint is almost seventy years out of date. However, as you can see it has plenty of room for a large contingent of Remnant forces and provisions for their defense. We do not know how long the COMGUARDs have been in possession of it or if the TSDF or LCAF were aware it had been occupied.”


The view returned to a wider topo map of the area. “Reassuringly there is no evidence that large dropships landed anywhere near here in decades. Even a decade of wind would not obliterate the trace left behind from a Spheroid dropship and the terrain is too mountainous to allow an Aerodyne landing.

My surveillance craft would be able to locate any reinforced pad sites or runways nearby using their scanners.

We know they possess submarines but even the Baleenas they possess are incapable of carrying a large cargo load.”


Points of interest appeared on the map highlighted in red, “These areas show evidence of defensive works based on our closest observations. From the air we cannot determine what could be concealed within it. However, the footprint is consistent with direct fire weapons likely autocannons of some kind. Likely lower caliber fast firing guns rather than super heavy cannons.”

A yellow wedge emanated from the points in multiple directions with slices taken out for rocks. “This is the engagement range for ultra fifty three mil anti-tank guns. The Watch has determined this to be the most likely weapon based on historical preferences for the Word of Blake Militia.

Star Commander Brade has presumed this fortification developed under Precentor Dag Kesslering while developing his plans.”


Brade, the local Star Commander and formerly retired veteran of the Warlord Era, stepped forward as Phen returned to his position. “Based on the latest commando attack I believe that Kesslering or one of his direct reports is in command of this Remnant. That was precision attack developed and almost executed flawlessly. Something that a common Adept would not be able to do on their own.”

He zoomed the map further out with a yellow circle emanating from the Remnant base. “With that in mind we must expect artillery will come into play. Many TSDF light howitzers were lost during the battle and never recovered.

Thus, my and Karis’ Star shall deploy from Black Bones (Sig’s Lion) outside this line to the East which marks a Thumper’s effective range. We will then separate and envelop the Remnant position to the North and South diluting any fire support they possess.”


The man drew out lines encircling the enemy position. “Prior to this Star Commander Siegfried’s Jump Star will deploy in a hover drop from the Vordermark downwind of the Remnant’s location to the West.

Captain Kendrik will then land the Vordermark next to the Black Bones. Together they will ready the reserve infantry and their transports under the command of Star Commander Keck. Keck will execute the sweep and clear of the compound if the Mechs get it open.”


Siegfried stepped forward from Karis’ right shoulder, “What sort of opposition do you expect Brade?”

“Possibly a level Three Battalion. Maybe with a few extra level Two Demi-Companies. Are you afraid Sig?”

“No but you have seen the size of that compound. There is a plenty of room for unwelcome surprises and we can only deploy a Trinary with the Union-C wrecked.”

“I agree. Presently I am treating this as a recon in force mission. If we face too much opposition. We are to return to the dropships and await further reinforcements from the TSDF or SLDF.”


Karis also stepped forward to address the acting Star Captain. “What kind of support can we expect on mission?”

“Assuming Inquisitor Alaric can keep it online there will be extensive surveillance data streaming in from the Foxhound. Additionally, Phen has authorized the four Hawkeyes to be equipped with full HE bomb loads so twenty mark threes. Although it is not their normal mission so danger close is not likely in the cards.”


Morgana spoke next, “When do we launch?”

The other MechWarriors appreciated that someone had the courage to ask an obvious question. “Tomorrow.”

"We will transfer the Mechs and equipment to the dropships tonight under cover of darkness. All participants are to be secured inside your dropship berths with the hatches sealed.

Watch Adjutant Phen will provide a more current situation report by tomorrow morning. We will depart sometime before noon for the long sub-orbital flight to Sutherland. That should give us several hours of dim light to conduct operations.

Everyone is to report here at nineteen hundred sharp. You have a few hours to get some work done so get to it.

Until then you are all dismissed.”

mikecj

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #33 on: 29 January 2022, 18:28:41 »
No plan survives contact with... well anybody
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.

DOC_Agren

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #34 on: 29 January 2022, 23:13:27 »
bring it on
"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 #35 on: 30 January 2022, 00:26:53 »
Forklifts, Laborers, and Technicians loaded ammo, armor, and handheld weapon pods onto flatbed trailers pulled by rumbling C-47 Ordnance Transporters within the Mech Bay. Missiles of every manufacture were gently nestled into a honeycomb like shell riding on the C-47s turtle like back. Star Commanders Siegfried, Karis, Brade, and Keck huddled near one of the LUVs shouting over the increasing din as another man approached. The huddle broke up with each heading off to handle their own last-minute details.

“Arne, If you here looking for a replacement truck you cannot have this one.” Siegfried slapped a 17th Wolf Regulars sticker on the vehicle. “See I just claimed it.”

One of the C-47s lurched forward with a throaty bellow of its diesel engine.  “You can have one of those if you want.”

Arne looked over his shoulder as the C-47’s tracks struggled under the heavy load. “I will pass. The Olympia Metro Polzei probably would not allow it on their roads. Understandably I am not on their nice list right now.”

He stopped for a moment as the tractor blotted out every other sound. Arne continued only after it was a little bit away and the noise level returned to merely high. “Although it does get very snowy here.

I was actually looking for Morgana.”


Sig shrugged his shoulders, “I have not seen Em since the briefing a few hours ago. You might have better luck speaking with Alaric.”
“He has not seen her either.”

“Well, we know she will be here at nineteen hundred.”
Sig checked his watch a luxury diving watch that Arne knew costed far more than any Star Commander made. Although it could have been a gift from Katherine who remained one of the wealthiest women in the Inner Sphere despite her exile to a New Malibu mansion on Kerensky’s Vision. “So, come back in about an hour and half. Until then she could be anywhere.”

Sig climbed up the tubular frame of the utility vehicle to get a higher perch. “All the LUVs are accounted for so she cannot be far. Although this place is a maze. So good luck and keep your eyes open. It is getting a little crazy in here.
My sister would probably not appreciate her friend being run over by a truck.”


A disconcertingly wolfish smile appeared on the Warrior’s face. “Unless she is bored of you.”
Arne responded with a cheerful and confident smile. “I keep it interesting. So does she.”

Siegfried leaned in on the shorter man. “Try dating a Canopian woman.”
“Hard pass. I have been to Solaris Four’s Tarot Exclave before and that was enough.”
“Then you are a smarter man than I realized Artisan.”


Two truckloads of Clan Wolf auxiliary infantry drove past them. Combat rucksacks and body armor were mounted outboard like shields on a Viking longboat. Extra ammo belts fell out of the folds and a slender concussion grenade hung from every D-ring on their armored vests.

Following it atop a low trailer was the sleek predatory form of a gray and white camouflaged 'Tundra Wolf' mechanized transport. Each tracked vehicle had an automatic grenade launcher protected by a gun-shield affixed to the gundeck. A wicked looking machine gun draped with ghostly white rag camo was attached to the passenger seat’s forward looking pintel mount. The cylindrical magazines for both weapons followed alongside carefully stacked ammunition crates.

“Is all that ammo going to be necessary?”
“Not for me. I am running lasers in my Hypernova experimental unit.
Have you ever heard of an Actuator Enhancement System?”
“I cannot say I have.”
“Well, you will.”
Siegfried pulled himself into the LUV’s driver seat, turned its engine over, and activated the yellow hi visibility strobe light all the utility vehicles shared. “After I smoke a few Blakists with it. Maybe I will even crush some cockpits with my bare hands. I do have some good hands.
Do you box Arne?”

“Aff.”
“Good for you. How about you and I share the ring when we get back Arne?”
“I will politely decline your offer Siegfried.”
“Suit yourself. I will do it one handed if that changes anything.”
“It does not but thank you for offering a handicap.”


Siegfried drove off and left Arne to his own devices. He faced Morgana’s Griffin and looked both ways before he set off across the mech bay. “Well, I guess we start where it all did.”

Morgana sat in the darkness of Stiletto’s cockpit by herself holding her neurohelmet in her lap. Its amber visor faced her with occasional streaks of a ghostly blue status indicator. The chain ladder leading to her Griffin’s head had been pulled up behind her. The noise of which had been easily lost to the din outside.

She heard something ting and fall down the cockpit’s armor plating. “Stupid rocks.”

It happened again and again before she decided to raise the cowling and look above her to see if the ceiling was an imminent hazard. Another pebble tinked across the ferroglaz before falling downward toward a Technician. Morgana opened the head’s side hatch where Arne waited down below.

“Seriously Arne! Are we teenagers?”
“I was thinking something more along the lines of Rapunzel let down your hair, but that sounds fine too.”

mikecj

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #36 on: 30 January 2022, 14:56:51 »
 ;D ;D ;D ;D

He's well-grounded in the classics.
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 #37 on: 30 January 2022, 17:16:00 »
Arne heaved himself into the Griffin head’s crawl space. Larger mechs than her Griffin could mount a folding jump seat behind the Mechwarrior but he could only assume the max height of a tight crouch constrained as he was by the equipment installed into the ferroglaz and steel shell. Morgana leaned back resting her upper body on the rear of her command chair. Faint steady light from the canopy illuminated only one side of her body. He leaned back against the Active Probe module until their legs intertwined on the plates.

“I was worried you were going to leave before I got a chance to wish you luck. How do you feel?”

“Better than the last time I took this Battlemech into a live fire zone.”
She tapped the gray and red cooling vest next to her. “At least I have a cooling vest and can fit in the harness this time. Although I don’t need a vest it since it is going to be lower than negative forty outside.”

“Downright icy, but nothing you aren’t used to I suppose.”
“Suppose so. Although I am worried, that I am not ready yet. It’s going to be a tough mission. We will likely lose some people.”

“You will save a lot more though. I think Tharkad and you need that closure.
I have never seen you happier than you have been in the past week.”


A quaint smile appeared on her face, “It’s what I wanted to do after witnessing it firsthand.
Be able to help people. I just wasn’t able to do it before.”

“That’s not how I heard it and it’s in the past anyway.”

“Arne, can I tell you about a secret in case I don’t come back?”
“I cannot accept that you won’t come back; but you can tell me anything you’d like.”

“I appreciate that. I really do.”
She dangled the codex charm in the light and breathed deep, “It’s about Katherine and I.”

“I’m sure your mother kept a lot of secrets.”


Morgana nodded, “More than I will ever know,” her voice became shaky, “but I found this one out by accident right here a decade ago. Well not right here as in under Mount Wotan but in this cockpit.”

She paused for a moment and Arne saw her weighing the phrasing, “I am Katherine Steiner-Davion’s clone. Daughter of Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner-Davion long dead before I was even decanted.

A retread and she never told me.”


Arne showed no sign of shock at the revelation, “And?”

Morgana became increasingly agitated. “What do you mean And!?
She lied to me for my whole life up until that point!”

“So do most parents to their kids. My dad was a Mob knee-cracker in Xolara, mom had me when she was sixteen. I grew up on the streets while you had for a time two parents that appreciated you and brothers that may have insinuated threats against me.”


She was torn between annoyance at her brothers and the other agitation. “What?”

“They were very polite about it though.

Look I can’t call myself an absolute fan of the former Archon-Princess, but she was no worse than any Successor Lord since the fall of the Star League. That ultimately makes her temporary presence as Empress of two realms a net positive.

Your aunt,”
he paused attempting to parse the curious particulars, “older/younger sister Yvonne wouldn’t have led the Outback to its present state without her intervention. The Federated Suns and Tikonov Republic was able to endure the aggressions of three States during the Jihad because she ruthlessly put down any opposition and empowered it to act independently when she was absent.

Without Katherine’s relationship with Vlad Ward and the Clans we would be in even worse shape, and you wouldn’t exist.”

“How can you dismiss my secret so casually!”

“Why do you let it control you so much? I think you have it all wound up inside you because you discovered it at a period of great trauma, and that just put you over the edge.
You are your own person and I love that person just the way she is. Nothing about you being your mother’s twin sister changes that.”

“But…”

“No buts, do you really think that Siegfried and Alaric don’t know? They only treat you different because you were Katherine’s favorite and lived a charmed life. It happens in every family, even a less strange one that you find yourself in. I assure you that Alaric is going to be doing quite well once I finish furnishing his shuttle, and I would keep an eye on Sig, he’s probably trouble.”


Her arms crossed over her chest, “This is not how I expected this conversation to happen.”

“That’s the great part about life.

It’s filled with interesting surprises.”



Meanwhile deep within his bunker Lord Major Dag Kesselring, unofficial Count of the icy wastes of Sutherland, stood over the command room of Castle Kesselring, his final redoubt. A laser bounced off a series of weather satellites from Olympia informed him that the Wolves were on the move. “Begin fueling the Swordfish. We will have company soon.”

An Adept activated the LOKI fortification’s defense grid. The logo of his Blakist Remnant force turned yellow in the upper corner of the command viewer. Two Swordfish launchers concealed in a nearby mountain and connected via a cable began to slowly turn green. The facilities main bay was filled with the clammer of weapons being distributed to infantry and small cars loaded with Tornado and Purifier suits set out to their forward positions to wait for the incoming attack.

mikecj

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #38 on: 30 January 2022, 17:33:00 »
Nice family type chat.
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 #39 on: 31 January 2022, 11:09:52 »
05/08/3080

At 21:00 hours Morgana stepped out of Stiletto and into the mech bay of the CWS Vordermark. The inside panels of the doors had been painted with a red and black spiderweb pattern. Alaric and Sig exited the ‘Hypernova’ onto the elevated walkway. “What is up with the spiders Alaric? You know I am not a fan.”

“Blame Khan Rhyde. He is the one that wants to bring back all the Widowmakers. Apparently, he has already decanted sibkos of each on Tamar.”

“Just great! So, Clan Wolf will become Clan Wolf Spider.”
She shoved her gloves into her insulated brown jumpsuit. “Maybe the Jade Falcons will take pity on me. If only their colors were not so terrible.”

Alaric gently slapped her on the back. “Uvin Buhallin would bid a whole Trinary to get a Fox like you. Just to spite Katherine if nothing else.”

Sig looked over toward the Hypernova. “I would like a chance to take him down in my own Hellbringer.”

“What is he says, ‘Never blink when a Hellbringer is around.’ That would be a quick duel, Sig.”


Their brother’s hands circled big to emphasize his statement as they walked toward the galley. “But it would be legendary. I can see it now,
the dusty windswept plains of Twycross, home of the Falcon’s greatest disasters.
Two Hellbringers face to face in a Circle of Equals. Lightning crashes and a victor emerges from the blinding exchange.
Me, Siegfried Falconslayer!”

“You are living in fantasy world Sig.”


Morgana waved to a young woman with copper hair leaning against the rail. “Hi Cammie, glad you made Sig’s cut. Your Vixen will be really helpful.”
 
“I look forward to it Morgana. I already booked you sim time from twenty-three to oh two hundred.
Hover drops are an advanced technique. You will need the practice.”

“Thanks, I really appreciate that.”
“No problem.”
Bright smiles beamed on both their faces. “Happy to help.”
As Morgana walked by Cammie and Alaric locked eyes. He exchanged a polite nod, and she slightly declined her jumpsuit’s zipper communicating everything they needed for their ‘evening lockdown’ from 23:00 to 02:00.

The Vordermark’s galley was sparse and cramped built for about half the now embarked passengers when it was merely an intra-system transport in the home-worlds. Morgana and Alaric both declined Siegfried’s offer of his volatile spice mix and suffered their rather plain rations. After they finished their meal Siegfried put his arm on the table opposite Alaric. “Arm Wrestle, loser gets top bunk.”

Alaric put his magnetic cup onto the adjacent table, “I will save us both the trouble and allow you to have bottom bunk. You are larger than I am, and I do not think you would even fit top anymore.” He consulted his timepiece 22:45, stood up and collected his mess-ware. “If you will excuse me, I have Inquisitor business to settle before I go to bed.”

Sig looked oddly defeated, “So did you always arm wrestled for top bunk?”
“Aff, I did not have my own room until I lived off-base at the Technical College.”

“Wasn’t Sonya there almost every night?”

“Neg! Blocked it all out. Do not bring up her name.”


Sig abruptly stood up and gathered his own mess-ware. “I am going to play cards in the Wardroom. See you in the morning Morgana.”

Morgana completed her simulator training and took a long hot shower in the women’s bathroom. Cammie came in while she was leaving and stopped in her tracks. “Oh hey Morgana. Did not see you there. Ah....” She dashed into the still dropping shower bay. “Bye!”

She ended up in her own quarters settled on the bottom bunk and thought.

'Is everyone always so weird before a mission?'

mikecj

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #40 on: 31 January 2022, 12:14:06 »
Yes.  Yes they are.   ;D ;D
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 #41 on: 31 January 2022, 14:37:41 »
Chapter 6 – Sutherland

Morgana felt weightless as she fell into darkness. Her limbs failed to respond but her nerves burned, guts churned as panic took over. Eyes darted about taking in everything, azure mirrors on a blank plane.
‘Respond!’

Nothing happened and she could see or rather not see a yawning endless abyss below her. The sensation of cold wind passing through her hair only heightened her fear. Her lungs ached for air, but none was to be found although it should be all around her. ‘There has to be air. There’s wind. I can feel it.
It’s not working. I can’t breathe!

Someone help me!’


The black hole shattered into millions of star fragments as she woke up hyperventilating on the floor, next to the cooling vent. Regaining control of herself she slowly rose to her knees to see her blanket and sheets strew about the quarters. “Good thing I had the room to myself. That would have been difficult to explain.” She reached the micro-fridge built into the wall and downed a full metal bottle of water. Talking to no one in particular, “I don’t know if I can do this. Is it too late to back out?

They would understand, right? It’s my first combat mission and I’m nervous.”


Bile rose in her throat as she remembered her Trial of Position and the MechWarrior she killed. “That Trial didn’t count even if we were using live ammo. We did that in practice before.” The clock on the wall showed three times, Zulu Terran (Spacecraft Standard), Local Tharkad Time (08:45, ten minutes before her alarm), and the mission clock which was counting down toward their launch window at 11:00.

Morgana washed her face in the shallow sink and breathed deep a few times. “You did fine in the jump simulator last night. Stiletto can withstand a little rough handling, she has before, and you didn’t know what you were doing then but you do now.”

“You just have to trust yourself and everyone else.”
Her hands clutched the metal sides of the sink with a white knuckled grip, “And that’s hard for you because you have been lied to and let down too many times by people you trusted, but you need to get over it,” she released them and immediately felt relieved “and move on.”

Elation rose in her heart, she looked down at her hands, and toward the locker with the magnetic tag ‘Ember’ above it where her jumpsuit, cooling vest, and neurohelmet proudly hung. “Was it really just that easy?”

Star Commander Siegfried waited outside the door after knocking at the appointed time. Morgana answered already in full combat dress with her neurohelmet couched in the crook of her elbow on its holder. “You look ready Em.”

“I am.
Let’s do this.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #42 on: 02 February 2022, 23:11:55 »
Sutherland, dark and empty is an alien world set apart from Tharkad by a stormy ocean with thirty-meter-tall waves blown by cyclonic winds gusting in the hundreds of kilometers per hour. This made Tharkad’s southernmost continent only navigable via submersibles or spacecraft. Not even satellites passed through the forgotten continent’s skies.

Today was different though. Morgana felt weightless and had to remind herself that she was in fact in space and not numb despite the cold void surrounding the dropship. A mission clock appeared in her HUD 10:00 and lowering. Siegfried’s firm voice cut through the detachment she was attempting to manage along with her vitals.

“MechWarriors, detach external power and prepare for drop.”

Her hands flipped several switches and felt a familiar pit in her stomach as the DI computer asked for DNA authorization in the late General Alicia Savinson’s voice, former commander of LOKI, the Lyran Commonwealth’s ‘internal security force.’ The fact that Archon Katherine Steiner-Davion utilized her chief executioner’s voice for her Battlemech seemed to speak volumes about her mindset when she first acquired the Griffin known as Stiletto.

Stilettoes were assassin’s weapons and Katherine employed many assassins.

Was she just another of her tools?

Is that why it was DNA locked in the first place!

Was it meant for me all along as part of another of her devious plans?


Her vitals spiked, sweat poured down the nape of her neck despite the full body cooling suit she was wearing. Alaric’s messenger her via the BattleNet text chat, ‘Calm down Ember. Save whatever it is for after the mission.’

She lowered her visor and saw the mission clock at 02:14 and counting. The CWS Vordermark entered the terminal ballistic trajectory as it could not run engines and hover drop Battlemechs without frying them. Its bay doors opened to the frigid wasteland below. Wind howled through the dropship’s interior eerily plucking tie downs like a harp. Poorly secured cargo tumbled out the door falling to their destruction as its pitch adjusted.

The Hypernova and Komodo went out first walking off the edge in an apparent bout of madness. Camie’s Vixen and the Conjurer followed behind leaving Stiletto teetering over the edge peering down to the darkness below. Its red running lights reflected off the Widowmaker’s spiderweb pattern which glowed under the light. Morgana took a deep breath trusting Stiletto’s own self-preservation as much as her own skill.

Stiletto’s jump jets adjusted her attitude to a stable landing position. Sig and Alaric’s Hypernova’s jump jets burned bright against a cloudless black velvet sky illuminated only by Tharkad’s dim star peeking over the horizon. When the drag chute deployed her head and the advanced neurohelmet atop it crashed into her command chair’s headrest despite her attempts at bracing.

Now in free fall Morgana could see the Vordermark throttle up its engines her viewscreen adjusted for the glare even as she saw two more bright flares emanating from black gravel mounds far below her. Stiletto’s DI computer identified the unknown contacts as ‘Swordfish’ arcing toward the Lion dropship Black Bones to their east. The twin flashes of explosions could be seen even this far away.

“Mayday!
Mayday!

Black Bones coming in fast and hard.”


Clan Wolf’s Jump Star landed amid their own rubble piles just as, “brace for impact,” came over their radio.

mikecj

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #43 on: 02 February 2022, 23:31:48 »
And the LZ is hot!
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 #44 on: 04 February 2022, 10:40:01 »
Tortured metal squealed as the spheroid Black Bones executed a crash landing slightly off vertical leaving behind a steam of wreckage. The Lion dropship teetered before grounding itself upright by digging a deep trough. Still smoking holes blasted into its blackened fuselage as it came to a rest. Torrents of coolant and fuel streamed freely from rends that even the Hargel oozing out of the armor could mend.

Two more missiles streaked above Morgana and her Star, heading in the direction of the Foxhound orbiting above them. Its crew executed evasive actions and focused their powerful sensors at it to blind the offending device. Her four Hawkeyes streaked out of the sky dive bombing the offending launchers like avenging angels their leading edges cherry hot from reentry. Twenty bombs smashed concrete and gravel while explosions roiled across the hill.

She felt the sonic boom even as her Battlemech cut out the top end. The Hawkeyes nosed up, redlined their thrusters, and rocketed back atop faintly incandescent plumes of superheated air. Tracer rounds the color of heated metal created whorls in the clouds generated.

Moments later the mountains erupted spewing black smoke and pulverized stone high into the sky. The battlefield was littered with debris as stone and mortar shells began raining down on Morgana’s Star. Updates from the Foxhound streamed in revealing two dozen large infrared contacts scattered around the compound and dozens more smaller ones. Blakist tanks came to life as they neared the outer perimeter their energy weapons spitting high energy particles toward the Wolves. Rapid firing autocannons chittered from concealed bunkers peppering the Wolves with anti-armor projectiles.

Multi-Trac visors filled with targets as more intel was forwarded from the Foxhound to Alaric’s command console and finally to his constituent Star. Static crept in from the localized signal jamming but was kept at bay by the Command Console and recon dropship. Sig’s Hypernova returned fire, the Battlemech’s hands and lasers precision guided by the prototype’s smart actuators. Scorch marks began appearing on the armored turrets of the flat white Myrmidon and Goblin tanks causing them to drop down as another wave of mortar and artillery fire from the Inner Perimeter washed over them.

Alaric kept the steady drone he used while interrogating for his battlefield chatter, brief, brusque, and businesslike. “Morgana and Camie, take right and deal with an enemy flanker.”

Autocannon rounds exploded across the Hypernova’s torso as the Conjurer and Komodo broke away to the left in order to pursue another flanker. Artillery shelled added to Sutherland’s desolate moonscape all around the lone Battlemech.

“We will hold center and deal with the base defenses.”

Once more Morgana plunged into a canyon in pursuit of an enemy mech although this time her opponent wasn’t a punk cadet with a grudge against her Bloodhouse but a Blakist veteran with their back against the wall. Stiletto’s active probe picked up the enemy mech as it jumped behind them. Camie’s Incubus ducked and spun pointing the PPC ‘rifle’  in her mech’s hands at the enemy Lynx.

Morgana did the same with Stiletto’s Kinslaughter, but the enemy’s jump ruined both of their firing solutions. The Incubus’ shoulder mounted machine guns did superficial damage while Stiletto’s Artemis guided LRMs found their mark. Invisible energy beams from the Lynx’s lasers slagged armor on both women’s machines and without pause the enemy jumped away again in the direction of the enemy base.

Camie’s Incubus stood upright once more, “Alaric did say we should deal with it although it’s probably a trap.”

Stiletto’s jump jets vaulted her into the air and onto a nearby ridge giving her a glimpse of the crash site, "Only one way to find out.”


Four lasers cut through the Black Bone’s jammed Mech Bay door panel followed by two fists. Wrenching with every kilogram of Myomer the gap widened enough to allow the stout strongman looking Challenger to step through the void and onto the battlefield. The BattleMech’s head tilted slightly under its MechWarriors control aiming a point laser at the Black Knight in the lead of an approaching contingent of Blakist Battlemechs.

Acting Star Captain Brade, only a lowly MechWarrior for the Second Battle of Tharkad growled, “It is going to take a lot more than that to kill this old Wolf.”

Inside his Black Knight Lord Dag Kesslring was only mildly surprised to see that the Wolves had somehow survived their dropship’s hard landing and were slowly forcing their way through the Assault Mech sized hole Brade had created. “Finally a worthy adversary.”

Wrangler

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #45 on: 05 February 2022, 11:41:11 »
Things are heating up now!
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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mikecj

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #46 on: 06 February 2022, 11:18:05 »
Dag needs to win this quickly and displace.
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 #47 on: 06 February 2022, 22:58:30 »
Dag needs to win this quickly and displace.

He has no dropships so its really a race to see how many Wolves the 66th can kill before they eventually send more.

-------

Mortar rounds hammered the lone Hypernova like an endless steel rain. Around it the air was thick with the gravel and splintered stone thrown up by near misses. It advanced steadily into an ongoing barrage of autocannon fire the reinforced positions proving difficult to dislodge with the lasers it had at hand. Blakist tanks shifted forward at irregular intervals exchanging fire with their own lasers and particle beams.

Alaric opened his collar and increased the fluid pressure on his cooling suit as the cockpit temperature rose steadily despite the frigid wilderness outside. “Guess we did need these cooling vests Sig even though its thirty below outside.”

He toggled the trigger and slagged the turret of a Myrmidon which exploded with a bright blue flash. “I do not leave home without it; and not just because it makes it easy to pick up chicks.”

“Doubt either of us have any trouble in that department. We are Foxes.”
He strained to maintain control of the Battlemech which was beginning to experience the damage it had accrued over the past several minutes of combat. Explosions stitched a steady path across their increasingly bare torsos. Hot cooling oil sputtered out of a damaged radiator until HarGel filled the breach. “Where is everyone Alaric? I do not feel confident about our current situation.”

“Ember and Cam are still hunting that Lynx. The others are en route back after losing the Starslayer.”


Siegfried zoomed in past the tank’s firing line, seeing groups of snowmobiles armed with missiles racing toward them paced closely by a Blakist Scarabus whose cyclopean head he knew housed a TAG. “They better hurry because once that thing gets to us. Its going to get dicey.”

Above him his brother tapped into the gunnery sight and saw the jagged edges of the Scarabus’ hatchet. “Was that a joke?”


To the South Morgana and Camie’s Battlemechs sped through the canyons in hot pursuit of the enemy Lynx who proved difficult for the pair to pin down. “He is leading us away from the others Ember. We should turn back.”

“No, we have to catch him. This Lynx is heading toward the Black Bones and other Wolves.”
She looked at the latest status update for the Hypernova with growing concern, “They might need our help more than Actual.”

“We are clearly looking at….”
The rest of her transmission was lost as a canyon wall exploded half-way down. The resulting landside caught the Incubus in a rockslide that dashed the Battlemech against the opposite wall like ragdoll. Morgana saw the mirror like sheen of Tornado suits jumping down to take advantage of the situation. Stiletto was hip deep in scree, but Morgana worked the machine’s legs to free herself from the bind. “Not today!”

Stiletto pumped its legs through the fallen rubble toward the actively camouflaging suits which made their weapons appear to be floating as it held by a ghost unless you had an active probe. The Griffin kicked one of the suits sending the armor flying into the canyon wall with a satisfying crunch.

Surprised that their quarry had escaped the trap the Tornados leapt into action using their armored gloves and years of Anti-Mech training to find handholds on the thrashing Griffin. Morgana felt deeply and personally violated by the Blakist incursion on her BattleMech’s armored skin. She attempted to thrash and grab the suits, but they dodged Stiletto’s fists which only succeeded in harming itself. Camie’s Incubus shifted some of the scree off it and weakly shifting its upper body. The lower part clearly trapped and likely damaged. “Ember hold still. I will shoot them with my machine guns.”

Every instinct in Morgana screamed at her as the Tornado’s prepped the satchel charges attached to their bandoliers. She was a Clan Warrior, but she hadn’t any experience dealing with swarming infantry. Camie’s voice was pained no doubt she had experienced a major trauma as her mech slammed into the stone. “Fast and clean please.”

“No guarantees.” The Incubus’ quad machine guns fired in unison perforating the PA(L)s with dozens of 14mm API rounds. They fell off like dead lice, but the overspray covered Stiletto in ugly scars as the grenades exploded. Between the grenades and machine guns her Kinslaughter PPC suffered damage to its power coil.

“Camie my PPC is damaged.”
“Well, my Mech’s legs are not responding, and I am not feeling so hot. I would give you mine, but we don’t have time. You still have missiles and lasers and that will have to be enough.

Cover me up, the batteries have enough power to keep me warm.”
“You want me to bury you?”
“Aff, come on Ember. I will be fine.”


Morgana paused unsure what to do. The status reports from Sig and Alaric were worrying. Many Wolves had been KOed, injured, or their mechs and vehicles were trapped in the Black Bone’s wreckage, Sig’s HyperNova was critical in several locations and the other pair of Battlemechs in their Star had been lured into a similar trap with less success. The artillery was too thick for the Vordermark to land nearby and there were only a few IndustrialMechs on-board and none of them were ready. They both knew that every Wolf was needed if they were going to eke any kind of victory out of this mission.

“Do it!”

The rapidly cooling Incubus was concealed beneath the canyon rubble with a few swipes of Stiletto’s arms. Morgana jumped out of the canyon and surveyed the battlefield before her.


Star Commander Brade’s Challenger pressed forward through a hail of firepower impacting its hardened armor. Missiles from his Wolves streaked overhead as scattered artillery shells took their toll on the already compromised Wolf Mech’s armor.  The assault mech’s imposing silhouette clearly visible amidst the melee particularly in the infrared spectrum as his Triple Strength Myomer gave increased strength to each movement.

Shells streamed endless out of the Rifleman II’s back as the 66th’s lasers burned holes in the Wolves’ tough hides. With nowhere left to retreat for either side they both had a mind for blood.

The first casualty was a Crab 27b which folded under the relentless firepower of the Twin Terrors (Great Wyrms) of Tharkad. They subsequently were disabled by the Blakist Scarabus with a lot of help from laser guided munitions. Blakist motorized infantry astride snowmobiles surrounded and brought down the already damaged and awkward looking Lobo 1. Its star-mate, a Wolf Hussars Lobo 3, ripped the whole formation to shreds with its machine guns and AP Gauss Rifles before they could swarm and kill the Mechwarrior inside.


Back to the West Sig and Alaric played a dangerous game of cat and mouse evading the snowmobile infantry with their jump jets by forcing them to detour hostile terrain. A little luck that all the artillery was facing the other direction and Alaric was good at projecting ghost targets didn’t hurt either.

“We cannot keep this up. They are going to corner us eventually.”

“That would not be very smart of them.”

Sig slaved the data gloves to the mech’s hands giving the ‘bring it on’ gesture goading the Blakist Scarabus which seemed to be eager to get a kill on the lone Assault mech which had been firing its weapons at the enemy tanks rather than it.

“What are you doing Sig? Just shoot him!”
“Trust me, you will like this.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #48 on: 07 February 2022, 13:45:24 »
Morgana worked through the Diagnostic and troubleshooting for her PPC her eyes always looking for another cliff-edge about to fall onto her and bury her just like Camie. A dead women’s voice calmly told her, “Caution. Capacitor and Emitter damage. Partial functionality to ER-PPC restored.” The weapon icon blinked yellow in her HUD as the Kinslaughter came back online, at least for now, as the DI computer rerouted power to the PPC’s capacitors. “One wrong move, those plates touch, and I am going to feel it.”

A wave of nausea passed through her as she remembered her last encounter with neurohelmet feedback. Even though Stiletto had a Damage Interrupt Switch it still would not be a comfortable sensation. Above her the Foxhound beamed down updated maps revealing a concealed passage to the Brade’s Binary. With the ERPPC hanging on by a thread she dared not jump and revealed her location even if she could see how close she was getting to the enemy. Her ECM suite jammed any wireless sensors as she kept low.


On the other side of the ridge the Wolf Binary clashed with a whole Level II of Blakist Battlemechs. The Scarabus raced through the Wolf lines cutting a deep gash into a Wolf Hussar Shadow Hawk II. Combined fire from the lighter Hussar Star in pursuit cut it down in its tracks before it could disengage. Meanwhile Brade’s Tharkad Guards Star was under constant fire from the Black Knight and its wingman. The assault class Rifleman II while not an equal to the Clantech variant it was more formidable than the original. The two engaged in bounding overwatch with one getting closer and sharing armor effectively between the two of them.

Brade’s Challenger was on the move juking between ridges to gain any bit of cover from incoming fire. Lord Kesselring kept his finger on the trigger burning cavernous holes into the Star Commander’s lumbering Battlemech. “Reinforced Structure, Hardened Armor, lasers, and a bad attitude. A particularly effective combination, bravo. I suppose only the big guns will do then.”

Four Thumper shells exploded above the Challenger scattering cluster munitions around the Wolf’s heaviest mech (on this side). Mortar shells rained down on the lighter mechs shattering armor with their explosive payload or scattering smoke charges to obscure and break up formations. Smoke whipped past them caught in the unceasing vortex of Sutherland’s jet stream that had ablated every bit of life off the continent long ago. Kesselring’s tanks crested their berm on his command entering the fray with their main guns augmented by missiles. Some of the Wolf mechanized infantry managed to escape their stricken dropships contributing their own weapons in support of their embattled brethren.


Opposite them Sig and Alaric’s Hypernova stood toe to toe with a Scarabus they had little hope of evading. “Time to rip that bandaid off Al. Hang in there.”

Its feeble compliment of lasers did little damage beyond another of the Battlemech’s heat sinks. Its Hatchet was poised to strike, and it did so deep in the left breast of the Hypernova where coolant gushed out like clear blood plasma. When the gushing died down the light mech’s head was crushed under a double hammer fist by the Hypernova.

Siegfried pulled the hatchet and arm off with the assistance of the assault mech’s precision actuators pushing the stricken mech over to crash into the gravel below. The DI computer powered down the afflicted double heat sinks reducing the lost cooling oil.

“You going to tell me how you got so good at doing that?”
“I learned a lot in Tech School.”
“Sure you did.
So you are saying this had nothing to do with that favor I did for you on Solaris.”


With its cooling marginal Siegfried powered down two of the four lasers, “Absolutely nothing Alaric. Inquisitor-Client confidentiality.”

“Right.”
The smoke blew across the compound into their faces as Alaric’s hands passed over the keypad, “So Camie needs some help. Can render aid.”

“This cockpit is too small for the three of us. Its barely large enough for both of us. I will not have her sitting on your lap.”

“Where would you get an idea like that?”


The Hypernova set out toward the Southern Canyons and Camie’s buried Incubus. “Experience.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #49 on: 09 February 2022, 19:29:12 »
Brade’s lumbering Challenger went down under the unrelenting shelling unable to outmaneuver the artillery that pinned him in place before hammering him down. Lord Kesselring’s Black Knight mercilessly burned through the Wolf mechs now flanked by the Starslayer and Lynx in their midst.

A great explosion went up behind him as the Thumpers were silenced with a deafening roar of the Hawkeye’s coming in for another bombing run. White hot shards of metal tore through steel and sinew.

With some of the shelling halted the Wolves rallied forcing the Blakists back toward the defensive perimeter of their bunkers. Cluster rounds from a Wolf Regulars Predator increasingly damaged critical systems even as it hung on by a thread.

Kesselring’s Black Knight ‘Zero Point’ covered the limping Rifleman II as it fell back. “I have to switch to single shot. Ammo’s critical.”

“Affirmative.”


Dag felt the heat rise in his cockpit as sweat streamed freely down his back. ‘Zero Point’ had never fully recovered from his defeat during the Second Battle of Tharkad. It had not seen much action in the past decade while he attempted to fix it. Unfortunately, the Black Knight due to its association with the Sol Protectorate and WoB Militia had just like the Grim Reaper and many other machines (Flashman, Gurkha, Firestarter, the Celestial Series and most Krupp/Skobel Products, Titan, Grand Crusader, and Rising Star) been forcibly put out of production post-Jihad and parts were scarce even if you weren’t a war criminal.

He zoomed in on a Hussar Lobo attempting to flank him scoring a direct hit against the smaller mech’s left torso which resulted in a minor explosion from a damaged AP Gauss. The Lobo withdrew in its odd loping stride that reminded him of the AFFS’s Mark I Infiltrator. “I will keep them at bay.”

Zero Point was hit by several small missile volleys that clustered worryingly close to the rear of its center torso. Kesslering switched to rear view and saw a pair of slender IndustrialMechs holding a ten tubed missile launcher underhand. Behind each he could see they were holding two more of a similar type on the rear mounted lift hoists.

“How truly desperate of you. To send in the technicians before the battle is over.

Shameful really.”


He looked over to the side to see his Apollo fire off his last volley of missiles which downed the critically damaged Lobo. He pointed the Black Knight’s left arm toward the interlopers. “Get them and pick up some missiles for yourself.”

“Affirmative my Lord.”
The Apollo leaned over to wrench one of the Challenger’s arms out of the stone with both hands. Thus, armed it set forth to deal with the IndustrialMechs as Akiva’s Rifleman fired behind itself at the Predator taking off another limb even as Cluster munitions tore into its rear armor.

Only a pair of Great Wyrms and a miscellaneous collection of heavily damaged Wolf mechs from three different units remained as present obstacles to today’s victory. No longer did the Clans treat their Warriors as disposable, in the modern era they were as precious as an Inner Sphere nobleman and thus ransomable. With a whole Trinary of MechWarrior hostages and a dropship he could perhaps yet bargain his way to friendlier territory. He knew some of his allies had accepted sanctuary in the New Rasalhague Republic and they would certainly aid him.

Unseen to him or anyone amid the battlefield Stiletto crouched behind a small ridge with its right arm bracing against the stone just as one would brace a rifle on terrain while hunting. “Practice how you fight. That is what you always say right Sig?”

Alarms rang intermittently reminding Morgana that the ERPPC she intended to use would likely explode or suffer other serious damage should she even attempt to fire it. “Well, I don’t have any sticks, but I have been waiting half my life for a chance to make this shot.”

The DI computer displayed an even more precise reticle marking the very limit of this Battlemech’s accuracy pointing towards Zero Point or rather Dag Kesselring inside. “It has to be perfect.”

She slaved the arm to the datagloves in her hands and squinted slightly while looking down the ERPPC’s actual bore sight. “And it will be.

Cause I only have one chance.”


A blue-white flash erupted from the Kinslaughter as its capacitors overloaded exploding from the excess amperage of the Griffin’s thermonuclear reactor. Temperatures hotter than the sun consumed the mech’s arm and the light blinded her even through the virtual dampeners.

Streams of chaotic particles collided with the Black Knight downrange striking its unstable reactor. This set off a chain of events that saw the magnetic confinement crush down to the angstrom scale and explode like the kiloton of TNT completely consuming Zero Point in a flicker of starlight illuminating the benighted wasteland around them for nearly ten kilometers with blinding light. Nearby infantry clawed at their visors, dropped their weapons, and fell to the ground from the flash.

EM Waves momentarily scrambled even the hardened computers of the Battlemechs. The emissions were strong enough to force the Hawkeye’s above to revert to analog instruments and controls until they could reboot their flight computers. Above them Foxhound reported, NucFlash!,” to the TSDF naval units positioned several hundred kilometers away.


When Morgana finally blinked her dry and bloodshot eyes clear she saw Stiletto’s right arm was missing and that she had fallen backward after losing that extra stability. She pushed the mech up with the opposite hand and saw only charcoal where Zero Point once stood.

“I did it!”

Then the nausea of the neural feedback hit her hard. Only bile came out,

all over her jumpsuit. “Be a MechWarrior Morgana, its great.” She pulled a handkerchief out from the jumpsuit’s pocket and placed it over the stain,

Seeing the situation dramatically change one of the Blakist’s opened a radio channel in the clear,

“I am Akiva Bruntê, current commander of the Sixty Sixth Division.

We want to talk terms of surrender.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #50 on: 10 February 2022, 23:49:06 »
Chapter 7 – Closure
05/12/3080 Location – Monument Park, Olympia, Tharkad


Upon the bloody basin, a great battle was met,
Many fell but without regret.
A golden prince stood against the baying horde,
Although he fell in battle,
He did so on his own accord,
His sword always upraised upon a sun that shall never set,
We can never forget the sacrifice of those few
They died with great honors as their due
Wolf Clan Remembrance 3060:48:145


Morgana, Alaric, and Siegfried stood at the foot of a great stone obelisk inset with the Golden Sunburst and Clenched Fist of the Federated Commonwealth. The golden disk it was carved into was illuminated by an eternal flame. Surrounding it were lesser monuments memorializing all those that participated in the Great Refusal, Clan and Inner Sphere alike. Other memorials were dedicated to those that participated in the Smoke Jaguar’s Luthien, Jade Falcon’s Coventry, and Ghost Bear’s Irece Campaigns that had jointly solidified the Second Star League through which the Word of Blake was narrowly defeated.

The one that the Clans now belonged to from former enemies to exalted heroes that had taken Terra, not to conquer it as initially intended but to liberate it from COMSTAR and the Word of Blake and allow it to participate in the greater Sphere once more.

Behind them were the decaying ruins of the Cathedral of the Heavenly Host portions of which still showed damage from when the Word of Blake razed Tharkad City and killed hundreds of thousands in the process. Among the steles were hallowed names, Vladimir Ward, Phelan Kell, Morgan Hasek, Kai Allard-Liao, Andrew Redburn, and more. Most of those that had survived the harrowing expeditions of Operations: BULLDOG, BIRD DOG, and SERPENT later fell before the liberation of Terra was complete.

Although Siegfried wasn’t one for emotion Morgana knew that seeing their genefather’s name on the stele stirred up something in him. Whether it was pride, sorrow, or something else she couldn’t tell. Ever the inscrutable sphinx Inquisitor Alaric looked calmly across the names taking them in for future ruminations. Morgana teared up at the memorial plaque for the Second Battle of Tharkad that had killed so many people she considered friends and had almost claimed her as well.

“Do you think it was worth it?”

Alaric put his hand on her shoulder, “Kesslering is dead, you generously gave Rayna’s family the bounty. They will face justice for their crimes, a full Magistrate Court is en route from Arcturus. Already we have begun rolling up a ring of collaborators within the TSDF.

That is all we can do for them, even if it is imperfect closure. Your work is done here Morgana and you have done a damn good job for an erstwhile deserter. This is where I will do my part.”


He let out a great exhale and the trio returned to the idling Slipper LX hover car. “You and Sig can take my Mowang. I doubt I will be leaving this planet anytime soon. My…the paperwork might kill me as surely as any Blakist.”


----

Nearby another car arrived as the Slipper departed across the Canal leading to the Starport. A middle-aged man with graying auburn hair and his slightly younger raven-haired wife sat in the front seat. “You should have stopped them. It might have been good for you.”

“Although I don’t think my sister still harbors evil intent toward me if she ever I did considering she is now retired. I still think it is unwise to approach her ironborn progeny without a pistol, backup, and a more formal invitation at least.

This is my third visit to Tharkad. I only ever visited my grandmother on Gallery before. I will stick with honoring the dead today before I dare to approach the living.”


She unbuckled her seatbelt and let out a young boy and girl who ran about the monuments playing hide and seek. “Emma, Arturo mostra algum respeito”

They reluctantly calmed down and clustered around their parents, “Sim, mãe”

The family laid down a bouquet of flowers at the base of the Great Refusal monument to the Bloody Basin. He pointed to two names, Danai Centrella, “Here,” Victor Steiner-Davion, “and here, are your Aunt and Uncle.

They died far away from even here and I am sorry you never got to meet them, because I am sure they would have loved to live long enough to meet you and be with us again.”

mikecj

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #51 on: 11 February 2022, 09:39:30 »
Nice little teaser.
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 #52 on: 11 February 2022, 19:51:50 »
05/15/3080
Morgana and her brothers waited on the Tarmac while the remainder of the Wolf Mechs were loaded onto the CWS Vordermark most of which were still bearing serious damage from last week’s battle despite the technicians’ best efforts. The whine of IndustrialMechs and flatbed trucks echoed off the mountains around them. Before them was a streamlined shuttle craft bearing Wolf colors (gray and red) undergoing its startup cycle. His Council Inquisitor seal was stenciled across the nose with the Clan Wolf and Council seals along the side.

“Nice paintjob Alaric.”
“Well, I could not make it all red. It had to look friendly. You should have seen it before.”

Alaric shook his head. “Looked like a Jade Falcon ship. Those Capellans have no taste, everything is all jade and gold to them. Its frankly appalling.”

One curt hug later and Morgana was ready to go. “Good luck Alaric. Thank you for everything.”
“Just doing my job MechWarriors.”

He gave a strong double handed shake to Siegfried. “Do not get to comfortable in there trothkin. I want it back post-haste.”
"Save your latin for the courtroom Inquisitor."


Their flight crew saluted Morgana and Siegfried as they boarded the shuttle and took their seats in its roomy ornate central cabin which still bore instructions and writing in Cantonese that were haphazardly taped over in standard. Morgana reclined on the well-upholstered bench in her normal undress uniform as the cabin lights dimmed across from Siegfried.
“Last time I was in a shuttle it was shoulder to shoulder. Even your shoulders are not that big brother.”

Siegfried gave her a bemused look shrugging his own shoulders. “Are you calling me weak?”
He growled at her and flexed his muscles. “I can bench two and half times my bodyweight, or you almost four times over, little sister.”

The pilot’s voice came over their headphones, “We are clear to depart Star Commander.”
“Aff, we are secure back here Hector. Proceed.”
“Roger that. Ten minutes to takeoff.”


A short ring of the maneuvering klaxon preceded the shuttle taxing across the tarmac. Morgana looked out the small window to see Alaric waving as the engines pushed ‘cold’ air behind them. He returned to his hover car and duties as an Inquisitor while she and Siegfried returned to their own, as Clan Warriors. The Mowang Courier streaked off from the Tracial Steiner Starport and off the planet of Tharkad heading toward the Zenith Recharge Station and further transport.



Two hours later Siegfried walked into the central cabin to see Morgana and the Shuttle’s Co-Pilot Rozá engaged in a vigorous bout of some video game which by the writing onscreen and voiceover work was imported from the Capellan Confederation. “Where is my stuff?”

Rozá handily outmatched his sister in the match causing her to hit her fist against the table. “No fair! You are an Aeropheno. You have faster reflexes!”
“Or maybe you are just bad at Dynasty Heroes Three Thousand MechWarrior.”
“I cannot even read the language.”

“Tīng qǐlái xiàng shì nǐ de went”


They faced each other in a playful but forceful posture. “I don’t know what you just said, but I bet it was smart.”
“I will take my meal pouch at fifty-four cee.”


They locked eyes barely containing laughter. “You would.”
The shuttle intercom chimed, and the pilot’s voice came in loud and clear. “Rozá report to the flight deck.”
She keyed the intercom. “Be there in a sec Hector.”
“Rematch later, quiaff?
“Aff.


She started another match unaware of Siegfried looming over her, “Where is my stuff Morgana?”
“It is in your room Siegfried, I unpacked everything into the drawers already, and let me say I have no idea where you picked up that underwear
(D.R.T.) and I do not want to know.”
“My room?”
“You are the ranking officer onboard, so you get the full-sized cabin to yourself.”
“What about you?”

 
Her avatar smashed through a series of colorfully uniformed mooks, each slash of the comically large sword punctuated with calligraphy onomatopoeia.
“Rozá and I are bunking together.
Although she better keep one eye open at night if she keeps making me look dumb in this video game.”


She looked toward the flight deck door with a mischievous smile. “and do you have any more of that spice mix?”

AlphaMirage

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Re: Foxchase (aka killing Kesselring, A K-verse story)
« Reply #53 on: 11 February 2022, 23:56:00 »
Epilogue/Teaser
07/22/3080 Location – Castle Davion, New Avalon, Federated Suns


(Sixteen-year-old) Princess Victoria Davion woke up in the Dawn Room still painted the vibrant lavender it had been since she arrived on New Avalon almost ten years ago. The windows opened with a touch and beneath her birds sang in the hedge mazes and peach orchards that ringed the home she had known the longest. She couldn’t escape the empty feeling she felt brushing her blonde hair and watching the barren room behind her in the reflection. One slowly stripped of its identity over the past weeks as her things were shipped to Albion or put into storage.

She sat on the bedside watching the sun rise across the endless rolling green hills punctuated by the occasional mansion belonging to one of Avalon City’s vibrant elite. A knock was heard on the door behind her, and she tentatively put her hand on the duffel bag that held the last of her personal possession. “Come in.”

First Prince Peter Davion sat down beside her on the bed. His stoic resolve only partially concealed the stress she knew he was experiencing. Duchess Angela Hasek and her Aunt Yvonne were at it again on their internal border disputes, troubles brewed on the Trinity Alliance border with the former St Ives Compact, and the Snow Ravens had subsumed the Outworlds Alliance opening a massive gap in the AFFS coverage. “It’s only a few dozen kilometers.”
“And a couple megatons of expectation.”
“I would not have encouraged you to go to AMA if I didn’t think you could handle it, Vicky.”

“I know,”
she moved her hand slightly off the duffel bag to reveal a hard copy of the Solaris Sojourner featuring her cousins, Alaric, Morgana, and Siegfried who had nonchalantly brought hundreds of WOBM war criminals including Precentor Dag Kesselring to justice and averted a major terrorist attack in the process, “it’s just, I guess it’s just a lot to live up too.”

He took a deep breath, “I understand. Honestly, this has been scary for me too.”
“Me going to the Academy?”

“Everything, you, Jacob, your mother, the Federated Suns. We all need a little encouragement.”


She embraced him with tears in her eyes, “I think you are great daddy.”
Peter returned her embrace, “Thank you sweetie. That means a lot to me.
I will miss you too. We will visit whenever we can. Promise.”

mikecj

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Re: Foxchase (Another completed K-verse story, comments welcome)
« Reply #54 on: 13 February 2022, 16:51:07 »
Get 'em Vicki!
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.

DOC_Agren

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Re: Foxchase (Another completed K-verse story, comments welcome)
« Reply #55 on: 13 February 2022, 18:08:10 »
INTERESTING VERY INTERESTING   :thumbsup:
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

 

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