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Author Topic: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)  (Read 1523 times)

ErikModi

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House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« on: 01 October 2021, 22:18:35 »
-1-

New Avalon Military Academy, New Avalon
Crucis March, Federated Commonwealth
19 May, 3049


Anders Northman tugged again on the high collar of his dark green dress uniform and wondered why the things were so damnably uncomfortable.  In order to look nice, it seemed, one had to suffer.  He twisted his neck as he looked in the mirror, trying to see if the tight, high collar was pinching folds into the flesh of his neck.  He breathed out, a fine tremor of nervousness running through his body like feedback from an ammo explosion.

A gentle knock on his door was followed a moment later by the door opening as a stunning redhead, as tall as Anders’ own six feet, entered, her own dress jacket hanging open to reveal the tight white tank top hugging her lean form.  “Nervous?” she asked as she entered Anders’ room.
Anders managed a weak smile.  “A little bit.  Come here, I want to show you something.”  Anders held out one hand to his girlfriend, the other tapping a control on his
information desk.

“I’ll bet,” Megan replied, pulling her jacket off her shoulders and letting it and its attached silver-trimmed cape fall to the floor.  She crossed quickly to Anders, took him in her arms, and kissed him passionately.  Before Anders could reply, the screen on his desk resolved into an image, and a deep, authoritative, yet cheerful voice filled the room.

“Hello, Anders Northman,” First Prince Hanse Davion said as Megan gasped, pulling away from Anders and clutching her arms tightly to her chest.

“You jerk!” she cried to her boyfriend.  “Why didn’t you warn me?”

“Relax, it’s a recording,” Anders replied.

“It is my great pleasure to congratulate you on your graduation from the New Avalon Military Academy,” the First Prince continued, oblivious to the couple’s indiscretion.  “I understand you’ve accumulated exceptional marks in many of your classes.  For generations, the Federated Suns has relied on House Northman’s service.  You are the first generation of Northman to be born and raised within the Federated Commonwealth, and I’m certain you will prove yourself now as your ancestors have before you.  It is my greatest privilege to count men like yourself as not only valued servants, but honored friends.  You have my gratitude, my respect, and my best wishes as you graduate from NAMA and begin your career in the Armed Forces of the Federated Commonwealth.”  The image faded, and Megan stood stunned a moment before turning to Anders.

“He. . . the First Prince knows you?”

Anders smiled.  “Actually, we’ve never met.  My family has served his for a very long time, so sending out things like this is just one of those official things he has to do.  Every noble’s kid at NAMA got one exactly like this, I’ll bet.  With varying degrees of sincerity.”

Megan smiled.  “And how sincere was he to you?”

Anders shrugged, and smiled back.  “In the top thirty percent, would be my guess.”

Megan slowly snaked her arms back around Anders, pulling him against her.  “So, you wanted to impress me with your noble heritage, your close personal connection to the throne of the FedCom, so I’d just melt in your arms and do whatever you wanted?”

Anders smiled, his nose tip-to-tip with Megan’s.  “Not exactly.  I was hoping to impress upon you how important it is to act all proper and ladylike during all the boring crap of the graduation.  You know, the lineup for the pre-ceremony, the pre-ceremony, the ceremony, the post-ceremony ceremony, the after-ceremony reception, the post-after-ceremony party-“

“Fine, fine, just stop saying ‘ceremony.’  And promise that I can get all improper and unladylike once we’re alone.”

Anders hugged Megan tightly.  “Absolutely.”

***

“Lord Anders Northman and Megan O’Brien.”

As the herald announced them, Anders and Megan entered the reception hall, arm-in-arm, both still in their uncomfortable yet undeniably impressive dress uniforms.  Several of their classmates nodded to them, a few who were close friends approached for congratulatory handshakes.  More graduates filtered in along with parents, siblings, friends, and anyone else important enough to be invited to the graduation party of arguably the most prestigious military academy in the Inner Sphere.

House Northman occupied a comfortable middle-ground in the hierarchy of noble houses in the Federated Suns:  large and important enough to enjoy the perks of status and privilege, but not so large and important that others felt threatened.  The patriarchs of the Northman line had a long history of committing themselves fully to the service of House Davion, as well as tolerating no interference in their affairs.  Other nobles, especially those from the former Lyran Commonwealth, took seemingly endless joy in scheming and backstabbing for any shred of power, real or imagined, that they thought they could attain.  The Northmans made it very clear that they did not play such games, had no patience for those who did, and would not hesitate to defend themselves ruthlessly if attacked.  It wasn’t for nothing that House Northman’s personal military was called the Viking Guard.

Unfortunately for House Northman, the Viking Guard had been all but obliterated during the Fourth Succession War, leaving the House military effectively non-existent.  Anders and his father, Edvard, had been rebuilding the unit for years, even while Anders was away at NAMA.  Anders had already recruited Megan to join the Viking Guard as his second in command, and the unit was ready for deployment, even if it was strictly small scale.

All of this meant that Anders and Megan enjoyed relative privacy during the reception, as the other nobles spent only the bare minimum amount of time protocol and courtesy required before moving on to other, more distinguished, guests.

“Well, aren’t you two cute?” a light Scottish brogue teased.

Anders looked up to see a woman with close-cropped honey-brown hair standing over them, arms crossed over her breasts, squeezing them up just enough to prominently display the AeroPilot wings on her dress jacket.  “I think you wandered to the wrong area of the party,” Anders replied mildly.  “In fact, I didn’t think they let AeroJocks in, on account of the smell.”

“Oh, like you get to talk?” the pilot retorted.  “MechJocks stink so bad it’s a wonder you can smell anything else.”

Anders stood, stepping closer to the woman.  “I’d advise you to take that back, flybitch.”

“And I’d advise you to watch your tone, mudder.”

Like a striking snake, Anders grabbed the woman, who grabbed him back, the two swaying back and forth a moment, before Anders lifted her in the air, accompanied by a cracking sound.

“Blake’s Blood, that’s good!” the woman cried as Anders set her down.  She pressed a hand to the small of her back, where Anders had held her, and flexed her spine.  “No one cracks my back like you, Northman.”

Anders smiled.  “Always a pleasure, Keira.  Having a good time?”

“I am now,” Keira MacLeay replied, looking around before waving over another AeroPilot.  “All those stiffs were getting to me, you know?”  Keira was of the minority of NAMA attendees who didn’t come from some kind of powerful family, lacking either political or financial connections.  While most “peasants” who attended places like NAMA went out of their way to be solicitous to their “betters,” Keira made no secret of her tendency to judge others solely on their merits, and find them lacking more often than not.  Such brazenness had initially drawn Anders to her, and her skill as an AeroPilot had led him to offer her a position with the Viking Guard.  The two maintained a friendly version of the traditional MechWarrior/AeroPilot animosity.

The pilot Keira had waved over arrived.  Jake Sakuma had partnered with Keira for many training flights, and the two had developed a rapport.  Anders had insisted both join the Viking Guard’s AeroLance, intending the two promising students to be the backbone of the unit's AeroSpace support.

“So, have you two thought about my offer?” Anders asked.

“We have,” Keira replied.  “We’d be happy to join the Viking Guard.  What kind of planes do you have for us?”

Anders smiled widely, hugging Keira again and shaking hands with Jake.  “In anticipation of you two saying yes, I had my father acquire two Chippewa W10s.”

Keira and Jake smiled at each other.  The CHP-W10 was a House Davion variant of the Chippewa, a popular AeroSpace fighter, and the major assault training fighter at NAMA.  Not only were they familiar with the craft, but the two pilots like its specs.

“You’re still banking on making this a mini-RCT?” Keira asked.

Anders nodded.  The Regimental Combat Team was a Star League-era concept recently revived by the AFFC under Hanse Davion.  A full regiment of combined-arms troops training to work together to their maximum potential.  “We’ve got ‘Mechs and fighters, as well as a Rhino Fire Support Tank, Ontos Heavy Tank, Devastator Heavy Tank, Schrek PPC Carrier, and four Vali artillery tanks,” Anders grinned widely "with Arrow IVs."  The Arrow IV artillery system, lost in the early Succession Wars and only recently rediscovered, fired missiles capable of homing in on targets designated by specially-calibrated lasers.

Jake whistled.  “That’s some serious long-range punch.  Planning for the ‘Mechs and infantry to do the close-in fighting?”

Anders waffled his hand back and forth.  “Sort of.  ‘Mech Lance composition is still a bit in the air, but I gather we’ve got a good mix there.  We’re not currently planning to field infantry units.  Too much cost for too little benefit.”

Keira took Anders’ hand.  “We’re looking forward to serving with you, Anders.  Wheels up tomorrow?”

Anders nodded.  “DropShip takes off at noon.  I can’t wait to show you guys around my home!”

“Lord Duncan Fraser and Lady Anne MacDougal,” the herald announced, and the group of House Northman sworn turned to look as their nemesis arrived, arm-in-arm with his beautiful but empty-headed noble lady.  Bedecked in a brand-new dress and jewels which were probably worth as much as a light BattleMech, she smiled pleasantly and nodded to anyone of sufficient social station to be worth talking to, while easily and completely ignoring anyone who wasn’t.  Duncan and Anne had both studiously cultivated what Megan had termed “Noble Blinders.”  For all practical purposes, in their perception, anyone below the status of Knight Bachelor simply didn’t exist.

Anders wrinkled his nose as Duncan Fraser worked the crowd, following every letter of proper noble protocol perfectly, yet armored in an air of noble arrogance.  Anders wouldn’t have been able to stomach the man even if their families hadn’t been enemies for generations.

Of course, protocol required the two to spend a certain amount of time formally acknowledging each other.  Duncan and Anne approached Anders and his friends, sparring nary a glance for anyone but Anders.  Duncan bowed and Anne curtsied.  “Lord Anders, you remember Lady Anne?”

Anders nodded.  “Of course, Lady, a pleasure to see you again,” Anders replied, struggling to keep his face pleasant and polite long enough to get through this.  Duncan’s familiarity in using his first name with his title was irksome, but they did know each other well enough for protocol to allow it.

But two could play the nettle-with-protocol game.  “I’m sure you remember Miss Megan O’Brien, Lord Duncan?” Anders said.  Megan was unfamiliar with high protocol in Federated Suns, but knew enough to know that, while a curtsey was probably most appropriate, her uniform gave her other options.  She snapped off a quick salute, not waiting for Duncan to return it, since he was not technically a superior officer yet.

Now forced to acknowledge a commoner, Duncan gave her the briefest of bows, and Anne twitched her knees in the barest sketch of a curtsey.  “Of course, Miss O’Brien,” Duncan replied.

Anders interrupted him, knowing he was in the middle of thinking up some kind of thinly-veiled snark.  “And Miss Keira MacLeay and Mr. Jake Sakuma, excellent AeroSpace pilots.  They’ve both decided to join my family military.”

Being forced to acknowledge two more commoners was bad enough, but those commoners also being AeroJocks only made it worse, a fact Keira was more than happy to rub in.  “So good to meet you again, Lord Duncan,” she said, extending her hand, forcing Duncan to not only acknowledge her, but actually touch her.  As soon as he touched her hand, her other snaked out to grab his wrist, pumping his arm enthusiastically.  Duncan’s polite façade slipped, and he looked as though he was afraid mediocrity was contagious.  He tried numerous times to surreptitiously pull his hand away, but Keira kept a tight grip on it until she finally let him go.

Duncan looked back and forth among the members of Anders’ party, suddenly at a loss for words.  After a few moments, he evidently decided that the needs of protocol had been satisfied, as he bowed, exchanged meaningless well-wishes with Anders, and departed for the next group of nobles he was required to hobnob with.

The group broke up into small chuckles as Duncan moved out of earshot.  “What did you do to him to piss him off so much?” Jake asked.

Anders shrugged.  “It goes back generations, and no one’s really sure of the details anymore.  Legend has it that the heir to the Fraser Duchy wanted to marry the Northman Duke’s sister.  There were some preliminary negotiations, but we made it clear the deal was contingent on the Lady Northman agreeing.  The bride and groom in potentia finally met at a big fancy to-do somewhere, where the Lord Fraser, according to our version, spent most of the night trying to convince the Lady Northman to find a secluded corner somewhere.  He eventually gave up, and shortly after midnight was found in a coat closet with, depending on which version you believe, a waitress, two waitresses, a waitress and a waiter, or his thirteen-year-old cousin, gender indeterminate.  Obviously, the wedding was called off, and House Fraser was kindly asked to have nothing further to do with us.  But to hear them tell it, Lady Northman spent the whole night teasing the Lord Fraser until he couldn’t take it anymore, then left him high and dry to seduce the bartender.  They politely brought up Lady Northman’s uncouth behavior, and we accused them of besmirching the family honor and left in a huff.”

“So what really happened?” Keira asked.

Anders shrugged.  “Who knows, who cares?  Our families have been enemies ever since, and it doesn’t really matter anymore who started it or why.  It’s part of our identity, and it’s not going away any time soon.”  Anders sighed sadly.  “I’d say it’s a shame, a terrible waste that we can’t just put it behind us and be friends. . . but Duncan is such an ******.”

Author's Notes

So, it's been ages since I've done anything with this, and have sadly lost the passion to keep working on it.  I have twelve chapters. . . well, 11 and part of 12, but decided I'd just go ahead and post it for any who are interested.  My intent had been to finish it as a book, then attempt to get it published by. . . whoever was publishing BattleTech fiction when I finally finished it (the basic idea has been growing since FASA, I started writing sometime around FanPro, I believe).

The idea initially was to just follow Anders and company through the Clan Invasion and assorted other drama, culminating with their role in the FedCom Civil War.  Pretty ambitious, maybe too ambitious, which is why it's largely faded for me.  But, some might be interested in reading what I had.  If nothing else, I'm proud of some of what I did accomplish, and consider a few other points valuable learning experiences.
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #1 on: 01 October 2021, 22:34:48 »
-2-

WarShip Talon
Jump Point, unnamed system
Beyond the Periphery
1 July, 3049


“Get out of my way, freebirth.”

Eva suppressed a grunt as the trueborn MechWarrior’s shoulder slammed into her, spinning her half around and knocking her aside.  The trueborn continued down the corridor, paying no further thought to the young woman.  Eva carefully kept her annoyance off her face; if any other trashborn should see her glaring with contempt at one of their own, it would go badly for her.

As she straightened to continue her own way, another voice rang out.  “He told you to get out of the way!”  Another trueborn pressed his hand against Eva’s breast, shoving her violently against the wall, nearly knocking the wind from her.  She adjusted her tank top where the warrior had shoved her, still feeling the imprint of his hand.  While they would never soil themselves by coupling with one, some libidinous trueborns were not above molesting a freeborn when they could get away with it.  Which was always.

Eva checked the corridor for any more trueborn in a hurry, then continued on her way, running a hand through her honey-brown hair and wondering, not for the first time, why she had ever bothered becoming a warrior.

Among the Clans, the Warrior Caste was the pinnacle of honor and respect.  All the other castes existed specifically to support the Warriors.  The Clan breeding program, which produced the so-called trueborn from the pairing of genetic material from exceptional warriors, was intended to create the finest warriors humanity had ever seen.  As a result, even trueborns who washed out of warrior training tended to lord their supposed genetic superiority over the freeborn, created through the natural coupling process.  Eva’s parents had been Technician Caste, but all her life, Eva had dreamed of being a warrior.  She had entered a freeborn sibko and endured her Falconers’ brutal and derisive training methods, and finally graduated a MechWarrior.  And despite all that she had gone through, she was still abused, ridiculed, insulted, and disrespected.

Eva arrived at the simulator pods for her daily training.  “You are late, MechWarrior,” the Falconer chastised her.

“I am sorry, Falconer.  I will not let it happen again.”  She was only late because of the trueborns who had shoved her around, but there was no point in trying to explain that.  Even a trueborn would not be able to make that excuse fly, since no true Jade Falcon warrior should ever allow themselves to be manhandled without declaring a Trial of Grievance against their aggressor.  While Clan law gave any warrior the right to declare such a Trial against one who grieved them, it was the unspoken law of the Jade Falcons that the only recourse open to freeborn was to shut up and take it.

“See that you do not.  Pod Five.”

Eva marched to her assigned pod and stripped off her boots and pants, leaving her clad in her white tank top and matching shorts, then slipped into her full-body cooling suit.  Tightening down the seals, she climbed into the pod and slid the hatch closed.  She connected her cooling suit to the pod’s receptors, and shivered as the pumps flickered to life, causing the cold liquid to tickle her skin through the suit’s inner layer.  The simulator pod was designed to recreate ‘Mech combat as realistically as possible, including spiking the cockpit’s internal heat in response to the “heat” generated by the simulated weapons fire.  Thus, the cooling suit was just as important in the simulator pod as it would be in an actual BattleMech.

Once she was satisfied the suit’s seals were tight, Eva reached up and drew the compact neurohelmet from its rest and settled it on her head, fastening it to the cooling suit.  She then pressed the power button to start up the simulator.

The neurohlemet synched with her nervous system, causing a momentary bout of dizziness and disorientation which she barely noticed, thanks to her extensive training.  The screens and readouts in the pod came to life, the main holographic screen down for the moment.  Eva wrapped her hands around the controls, a joystick at her right hand and a throttle lever at her left, as she placed her feet on the control pedals.  The ‘Mech status screen was blank save for one flashing row, instructing Eva to select her training ‘Mech.  Pressing a toggle next to the screen, she gripped the joystick again and navigated the selection menu, settling on her personally preferred ‘Mech:  Summoner, Primary Configuration.  A high-caliber autocannon occupied the ‘Mech’s left arm, an LB-10X variety that could also fire cluster munitions, behaving not unlike a gigantic shotgun.  The right arm contained an extended-range particle projection cannon, a weapon which created a devastating stream of charged particles that could melt the entire head off a BattleMech in one shot, and was one of the more accurate and reliable weapons at longer ranges.  Rounding out the ‘Mech’s arsenal was a fifteen-tube long-range missile launcher perched high on the left shoulder.

“Target training commencing,” the Falconer’s voice announced over the cockpit’s speakers.

The holographic main screen came to life, stacking a full 360-degree view into a 180-degree display.  Top and bottom center were devoted to the ‘Mech’s fore and aft views, while displays left and right covered the left and right firing arcs.  Eva nudged the throttle upwards, and the simulated ‘Mech began to march ponderously through the simulated terrain.  Numerous targets, from BattleArmored infantry to combat vehicles to opposing ‘Mech’s to AeroSpace fighters filled the simulation.  Eva consulted her radar screen and began plotting a course in her mind to reach the maximum number of targets.

There was no return fire or damage accounting in this simulation; it was a straightforward test of accuracy against a variety of targets, mobile and stationary.  Eva would be docked points for misses, and so refrained from firing the LRMs.  If only one of the fifteen missiles hit, her score would still be tallied as fourteen misses.  Similarly, she avoided using the cluster rounds for the autocannon.  While the spray of ten pellets may increase her chance of landing some hits on the target, it would still count each missed pellet against her.

Using her PPC and rapid-fire slugs from her autocannon, Eva easily wiped out the first targets, a Star of vehicles.  She alternated shots between her PPC and autocannon, taking down the five vehicles in rapid succession without technically violating the Clan tradition of engaging only one target at a time.

After the first set of vehicles, Eva moved on to a Point of Elementals, the Clans’ battle-armored infantry.  Five of the one-ton suits packed enough firepower and armor to be a rough match for a ‘Mech, and thus five suits made a Point, five Points making a Star.  The Elementals were much smaller, so she placed her shots very carefully, making it through with only one miss.  She steered the Summoner toward the next targets, which turned out to be a Star of ‘Mechs.

Eva was just drawing a bead on the first ‘Mech when her radar pinged.  Checking the display, she saw a group of five blips in V-formation moving toward her at high speed.  AeroSpace fighters, designed to function equally well in the atmosphere of a planet as the vacuum of space, were a cornerstone of modern warfare, and a huge threat to ‘Mechs on the ground, since their high speed meant they could overfly a target, unloading their full weapons complement and streaking into the distance without exposing themselves to prolonged, concentrated fire.  Fortunately, this was just target practice, so Eva didn’t need to try and chew through all the fighter’s armor and structure.  Unfortunately, the speed at which they were moving would make them difficult to hit.

Eva aimed upwards, dropping her targeting reticle onto the lead fighter, and squeezing the trigger for her PPC.  The charged particle beam sizzled through the air, clipping the fighter and removing it from the field.  Eva quickly moved to the next fighter, just to the left of the lead, and fired again.  The fighters were closing so rapidly that this shot was actually a bit easier, though compensating for the fighter’s speed chewed up more time then Eva would have liked.  By the time she got a bead on the third fighter, at the end of the right leg of the V, they were almost on top of her.  She barely missed the third fighter.

Swiveling her ‘Mech’s torso, she drew a bead on the last two fighters, and let fly with her LRMs at one while targeting the PPC at the other.  Splitting fire was not only frowned upon in the Clans, but dividing attention between two targets made both shots more difficult.  Eva clipped both of her targets, though she winced as she noticed ten of her fifteen LRMs go wide.  Then the fighters were gone, and she was back to her ground-bound targets.

Eventually, after the simulator tracked one hundred targets total on the board, the simulation shut down.  Eva watched as a secondary monitor tallied her score.  Not as high as she would have liked, but higher than she had expected.  “Impressive scores, for a freeborn,” the Falconer’s said over the ‘comm.  “Maneuverability simulation commencing.”

Eva ground her teeth as the pod loaded the next sim.  She knew trueborns who did not score half so well who had been promoted and assigned to more prestigious units than she could dream of.  But there was nothing for it; among the Clans, especially Jade Falcon, a freeborn could only ever be inferior to a trueborn.

The maneuvering simulation tested a pilot’s ability to control a ‘Mech under extreme conditions, forcing them to move from waypoint to waypoint within a certain timeframe, calibrated to the ‘Mech’s top speed.  This presented challenges such as running and turning, which could cause a ‘Mech to skid and fall down, especially on pavement, and entering water up to waist deep, where the different resistances between the water at the ‘Mech’s legs and the air at its torso could cause it to fall.  Other impediments, such as woods and hills, made it imperative to regulate the ‘Mech’s speed carefully.  Eva kept her ‘Mech upright the whole way, though she did cut a few waypoint timers a lot closer than she would have liked.  One of the reasons she preferred the Summoner was that it was one of a few Heavy ‘Mechs equipped with jump jets, allowing the ‘Mech a limited form of rocket-propelled flight.  The top speed of the jump jets was only equivalent to the ‘Mech’s walking speed, and so was too slow for most of the maneuvering required, but the ability to quickly move up and down changing elevations or jump over hindering terrain made it invaluable.

More simulations followed, testing every facet of Eva’s control over her ‘Mech, and she passed all of them with scores that pleased her, though she knew she could always be better.  The Clans always expected you to be better.

Author's Notes

Holy perspective switch, Batman!  Yeah, part of what I was experimenting with was alternating chapters between Anders in the Inner Sphere and Eva in Clan Jade Falcion.
 I had a plan, which I'll elaborate on later.


The Jade Phoenix trilogy is uncomfortable to read in many places because of abominable crap Aidan has to go through while posing as a freeborn warrior.  But that's good, meaty character drama, so I wanted to try my hand at it, really dig into how freeborns have it in Jade Falcon, and see what kind of a character develops from that.  Some of the Eva stuff I'm quite proud of.
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ErikModi

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  • Posts: 304
Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #2 on: 02 October 2021, 12:42:18 »
-3-

DropShip Dragonfly
Transit orbit, Logandale
Crucis March, Federated Commonwealth
14 July, 3049


The DropShip moved serenely toward Logandale, ancestral home of House Northman.  The world had steadily grown closer over the last week and a half, from a tiny pinprick indistinguishable from the backdrop of stars to a glowing blue ball dominating the dark.  Logandale was on the cool side of temperate, with prominent ice caps at the north and south poles.  Eighty-five percent of the planet’s surface was water, mostly open ocean, encouraging a seafaring culture.  Two super-hurricanes, with insufficient landmass to blow themselves out, permanently circled the equator, carefully charted by the weather satellite network.

The largest landmass was an island, similar to Earth’s Australia, in the northern hemisphere.  It was on the rocky hills on this continent’s west coast where House Northman had their palace.  This continent, called simply “Northland,” was also home to the planet’s only major spaceport.  Transit to the other inhabited islands was possible via boats and aircraft, and any invader would quickly learn that this homeworld was defended by the single largest wet navy in all the Inner Sphere.

In the DropShip’s observation lounge, Anders and Megan watched as the DropShip closed on the planet, hanging in weightlessness, Anders with his arms wrapped around Megan’s middle, Megan’s arms wrapped around his own.  The months in transit from New Avalon to Logandale had been rough, as all space travel is, but had also given the young couple a great deal of time to enjoy each other’s company.  They’d even managed to do some work on the Viking Guard.

“This afternoon, we’ll be home,” Anders whispered in Megan’s ear.  “I’m really looking forward to showing you around.”

“I’ve met your Dad before, dear,” Megan replied.

“I don’t mean to Dad,” Anders clarified.  “I want you to see my home, where I grew up.  I want you to love this planet as much as I do.”

Megan smiled, squeezing Anders’ arms around her tighter, but risking no other movement in zero-G.  “I’ve never really been attached to places, Anders,” she replied.

Anders nuzzled Megan’s crimson hair.  “I know.”

Megan turned to look at Anders, sending them into a lazy spin.  “I appreciate the thought, though.  You are so good to me.”

He smiled, and kissed her again.

Logandale Spaceport, Logandale
Crucis March, Federated Commonwealth
14 July, 3049


Six hours later, the DropShip had landed at Northland’s spaceport, where Anders and Megan disembarked to an escort from the planetary militia, decked out in navy blue dress uniforms with Thor’s Hammer shoulder patches and matching berets.  The captain of the guard, a young blonde woman, stepped in front of Anders and saluted, then bowed.  “Lord Northman, welcome home.  I’m Captain Elisa Loken.  My men and I stand ready to escort you to Northman Palace.”

Anders returned the salute, and motioned Captain Loken out of her bow almost before she started it.  “Thank you, Captain, I’m honored to accept.  This is my close friend, Megan O’Brien.”  Captain Loken nodded to Megan, then returned her undivided attention to Anders.

“We have a hovercar standing by for you, my Lord, if you’ll follow me?”

“Lead the way, Captain.”

The guards fell into formation around them, and walked them to an identical trio of hovercars, as heavily armored as they could be for their light weight.  The Captain ushered Anders and Megan into the middle car, before getting in herself with one of the militia guards.  The other guards piled into the other two cars as the engines hummed to life.  Megan recognized the loud, deep thrum of a powerful engine, and knew that these cars could outpace just about anything that could be sent after them.  Hovercraft devoted a full twenty percent of their total weight to their impressive engines, and while this limited the amount of armor and other equipment one could carry, it all but ensured the only thing that could catch a hovercraft at flank speed was another hovercraft.

After armor and engines, most of the weight of these hovercars seemed to have been devoted to luxurious interiors.  The passengers sat in comfortable leather couches, with end tables in easy reach.  The tabletops had been specifically designed to hold the matching glasses with no sliding or toppling, no matter how fast the hovercar travelled or how intense the maneuver the pilot put it through.

Anders reached into the small cabinet and produced a bottle of Drambuie, a honeyed and spiced Scotch whiskey, and poured a bit into two snifters.  “To home,” he said, holding up his glass.

Megan clinked her snifter against his.  “To the Viking Guard,” she replied.  They both sipped the sweet, smooth liqueur, rolling it around on their tongues to savor the taste before swallowing, the warmth of the alcohol spreading slowly through them.

“It’s a pleasure to have you back, my Lord,” the Captain said.

Anders smiled at her.  “I’m very happy to be back, Captain, thank you.  Anything I should be made aware of?”

The Captain shook her head.  “Nothing noteworthy, my Lord.  Things have been quiet.”

Anders nodded.  “Things have been mostly quiet since 3030.  Nineteen years since the end of the Fourth Succession War. . . ten years longer than the next longest gap between Succession Wars.  We’re overdue.”

The Captain nodded.  “It does seem that way, my Lord.  Rest assured, whatever comes, we’ll be ready.”

The hovercars zipped along Logandale’s streets towards Castle Northman.

***

Castle Northman was set on a high hill above Buri, the capitol city of Logandale.  The castle’s main wall was set two hundred meters away from the castle itself, twenty meters high and ringed with anti-ground defense turrets.  The wall had only a token anti-air defense, with the bulk of anti-air turrets at the castle, the reasoning being that most aircraft wouldn’t waste time at the wall and simply fly to the castle to attack it directly.  The castle’s built-in defenses were supplemented by eight combat vehicles and four BattleMechs berthed within the castle itself.  The trio of hovercars pulled through the wall’s main gate and followed the winding road up to the castle where they pulled into the main hangar.  As Megan and Anders exited the vehicle, they saw an older gentleman awaiting them, dressed in noble garb reminiscent of the FedCom dress uniform, but done in the purple-and-gold of House Northman.  He smiled broadly as he saw the couple.

Anders approached his father and shook hands firmly before being drawn into a massive hug.  “It’s good to be home, dad.”

Duke Edvard Northman hugged his son fiercely, before pulling away and looking him up and down.  “You look every inch the noble warrior,” he said.  “I am so proud of you, son.”

“Thank you, dad,” Anders replied, turning to motion his girlfriend forward.  “You remember Megan?”  Anders had introduced them the last time his father had been able to take leave from his responsibilities as Duke of Logandale and visit NAMA.

“Of course I do,” his father replied, reaching out to take Megan’s hand gently in his, raise it as he bowed, and brush his lips across the back of her hand.  “It’s a pleasure to see you again, my Lady.  I am honored and pleased you have decided to come here with my son.”

Megan nodded, the honorific she had no right to flustering her.  “Thank you, sir.  It’s. . . great.”

Edvard smiled.  “I’m sure you’re tired after your journey, but while you’re here, I just have to show you.  This way.”

Duke Northman led them through the hangar, from the vehicle section into the ‘Mech section.  The lance of ‘Mechs stationed permanently at Castle Northman were in their berths, techs crawling over them running routine maintenance.  Another set of berths held four more ‘Mechs, the lead a heavily customized BattleMaster.

“Dad. . . she’s beautiful!”

The BattleMaster was an 85-ton assault-class ‘Mech, made up of angled slopes and boxes.  The 'Mech was painted an overall purple, with gold highlights at the hands, chest, and weapon protruding from her right forearm.

This particular BattleMaster, named Freya, had been in the Northman family since before the fall the Star League, and had served the family faithfully the whole time.  She’d been extensively customized over the generations, maintaining a level of technology that the Inner Sphere as a whole had only recently rediscovered.  The most extensive modification had been switching out the ‘Mech’s standard internal structure for the lighter, bulkier Endo Steel.  The weapon on the right arm, which in most standard configurations held a PPC, now contained a large pulse laser.  The four forward-facing medium lasers remained high on the left and right torsos, with one each facing rear on the left and right sides.  The dual machine guns and six-tube short-range missile launcher were likewise the same models found on most BLR-1Gs.  Double heat sinks, bulkier than normal heat sinks but able to dissipate twice the heat for the same weight, gave Freya the ability fire all her weapons with only a marginal buildup of internal heat.  But by far her most startling customization was the four jump jets, located in the pod-like structures common to all BattleMaster lower legs, giving her incredible maneuverability for an assault ‘Mech.  The weight savings of the EndoSteel structure and double heat sinks not only gave Freya her jump capacity, but also allowed her to mount a TAG laser system, recently recovered Star League technology that could paint a target for guided artillery missiles fired from the equally brand-new-old Arrow IV launchers, the main weapon on the Viking Guard's four Vali artillery vehicles.

Next to Freya, a brand-new VTR-9D Victor BattleMech stood in its berth.  An older design, the Victor had been given top priority in new tech redesign by the Federated Commonwealth after several Star League-era technologies were rediscovered.  The brand-new, upgraded Victor swapped its right-arm class-20 autocannon for a gauss rifle, a weapon that used magnetic coils to hyperaccelerate balls of metal.  The weapon did 25% less damage than the old autocannon, but had over 200% the range, which allowed the relatively fragile assault ‘Mech to keep its distance from its opponents.  The two medium lasers in the left arm had been upgraded to pulse lasers while the left breast four-pack SRM launcher had been left alone.  Like Freya, this model of Victor had been redesigned using an Endo Steel chassis, rolling the weight savings for the lighter internal structure into its advanced weapons and an extra ton of armor.  The Victor had always been considered something of a support and skirmish ‘Mech, despite its 80-ton weight.  It had a relatively high top speed for assault ‘Mechs, and further increased its maneuverability with jump jets, allowing it to maneuver close to opponents and unleash its devastating short-range firepower.  To achieve its maneuverability, sacrifices had been made in the weight of its armor protection, leaving the Victor vulnerable to attack from ‘Mechs in its own weight class.  The 4D redesign had attempted to address these shortcomings by replacing the short-ranged autocannon with the longer-ranged gauss rifle and adding armor, though the design was new enough no one was yet sure how well it would work in the field.  This individual 'Mech had been further upgraded, swapping the single heat sinks for the double variety and removing five tons from the 'Mech's cooling system.  This weight had been allocated to a TAG laser, three more tons of armor to max out the 'Mech's protection, and an extra ton of short-range missile ammo.

The third ‘Mech was another heirloom:  the MacLeod family Highlander, named Connor after a distant ancestor.  Another jump-capable assault ‘Mech, the 95-ton Highlander, like the Victor, had a gigantic gun barrel for a right forearm, though the Highlander protected the gun somewhat with two massive, tapered armor plates along the top.  In an odd mirror of the recently-upgraded Victor, original Star League-era Highlanders carried a gauss rifle in the right arm, while this Highlander had been forced to downgrade generations ago to a class-20 autocannon.  The right torso held two medium lasers, while the left contained a quad-firing five-tube LRM launcher, loosing twenty long-range missiles per volley.  The back of the left arm contained a six-pack SRM in linear launch tubes.  Slower than both the Victor and Freya, the Highlander made up for it with an impressive mix of long- and short-range firepower, as well as thick armor and its jump jets, allowing it not only improved maneuverability but the ability to perform the infamous “Highlander Burial.”  Jump-capable MechWarriors could attempt to land (more accurately, drop) their ‘Mechs onto opposing forces, typically other BattleMechs.  The considerable weight of the other machine could do tremendous damage, and since most ‘Mechs had their heads squarely atop their bodies, it provided an excellent chance of crushing the cockpit and the opposing MechWarrior along with it.  Highlander pilots were fond of the tactic, generically known as “death from above,” so much so that when performed in a Highlander the tactic was given a new name:  the Highlander Burial.  The 'Mech had likewise been modified with double-heat sink technology, and surrendered one ton of long-range missiles to mount another TAG laser.

The last of the rebuilt Viking Guard’s Command Lance was a Marauder II.  The Marauder was popular heavy BattleMech, weighing in at 75 tons, while the Marauder II was its bigger, meaner brother with a prison record.  The mysterious mercenary unit Wolf’s Dragoons had originally commissioned the ‘Mech and used it quite successfully in the Fourth Succession War.  After the war had ended, the Dragoons allowed the ‘Mechs to be sold freely to any Successor State.  Edvard had purchased one of the 5A models, which used an extra-light engine to make the most of its 100-ton weight, the heaviest a BattleMech could be built without collapsing in on itself.  Armed with an extended-range PPC over a medium laser in each arm and an LB 10-X autocannon over its forward-sloped hull, the ‘Mech seemed underarmed for its size, but the accurate PPC and laser weapons were devastating in the right hands, and the versatile autocannon could drill holes in heavy armor or scatter shots across a ‘Mech’s body, sandblasting armor or finding tiny chinks to damage internal components.  Jump jets compensated for the Marauder II's slower speed over its lighter progenitor.  The 'Mech had a serious design flaw in the form of heat management:  due to space considerations, the 'Mech was only able to mount single-strength heat sinks, and the ER PPCs pumped out insane amounts of heat, forcing the MechWarrior to manage their weapons fire carefully.  This Marauder II had sacrificed one ton of its regular autocannon ammunition to include another TAG laser, letting the entire command lance designate targets for guided missile support from the lance of artillery vehicles.

Anders noted another peculiar trait common to all four ‘Mechs.  “They’re all jump-capable,” he observed.

Edvard nodded.  “I want the Command Lance to be as mobile and well-protected as possible.  Jump-capable assault ‘Mechs seemed the best way to do that.”

Megan had approached the Victor, and was looking the sparkling war machine over, admiring its fresh purple-and-gold paint scheme.  “This one’s mine.”

Edvard smiled.  “Of course.  Anders told me you had a preference for the Victor.  I want all my warriors to have the best equipment.”

Megan looked at Edvard, surprised.  “You. . . you bought this just for me?”

Edvard smiled.  “After a fashion.  The Victor is still a great ‘Mech, and a House Davion favorite.  Every military should have one.”

***

Later that night, Megan stood in her room, debating on what to wear.  Anders’ return from NAMA was occasion for a formal dinner, something Megan had insufficient familiarity with.  None of the clothes she owned, even ones Anders had bought for her during their time at NAMA, were quite up to her understanding of what would be required of a noble lady.  Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, Edvard had anticipated her need, and stocked an armoire in her room with a variety of gowns.  Megan was totally at a loss to understand what the various levels of material, cut, and detail meant in terms of formality.  She loved Anders deeply, but times like this highlighted how terribly out of her element she was in pursuing a relationship with him.

A gentle knock sounded at her door.  Grateful for the distraction, she turned to the door and hollered “Come in!”

The door opened, and a young woman entered, holding the door for Duke Edvard and closing it behind him.  “I hope you’re settling in well, my Lady,” Edvard said, carrying a polished wooden box in his arms.

Megan nodded.  “Well enough, your grace.”  As she and Anders had grown more serious, she’d begun studying and paying attention to proper forms of address, something she’d never been educated in nor cared about in her youth.

“I am pleased to hear it.  This is Elissa.  She’s offered to serve as your handmaiden while you’re with us.”

Megan felt herself blushing slightly as she shook her head.  “That won’t be necessary, your grace.”

“I’m sure you’re quite capable, my Lady,” the Duke replied, making the platitude seem absolutely genuine.  “But I insist.  An extra pair of hands can always be helpful.  And this is for you.”  The Duke approached Megan and opened the box.  Megan gasped.

Inside, resting in the deepest purple velvet Megan had ever seen, was a matching set of jewels so beautiful they stole the young woman’s breath.  A delicate golden tiara encrusted with amethyst gems cut to sparkle dazzlingly was the centerpiece of the collection.  In the center of the tiara, the largest gemstone, bigger than Megan’s thumb, had been placed over the House Northman family crest.  Matching earrings three inches long rested to either side of the tiara, and a wide necklace filled the slot below, with matching bracelets.  The gold of all the pieces was elegantly filigreed, the gems placed close enough together to enhance each other’s sparkle but not so close as to overwhelm or obscure the intricate metalwork.  Megan gawked for what felt like minutes, and was still picking out new details, which only enhanced the set’s overall beauty.

“These have been in the Northman family for generations, proudly worn by the Ladies of the House.  My mother gave them to my wife when our marriage was agreed upon, and today I give them to you.”

Megan swallowed, trembling.  “My lo– your grace, I can’t accept this.  It’s – it’s too much.”

Edvard smiled.  “Of course you can, my Lady.”

“I’m no lady, your grace.  I’m. . . I’m just the brat of a tech from a third-rate mercenary company and whoever knocked her up in some Periphery dive.  I can’t- I shouldn’t wear something like this.”

“My marriage to Anders’ mother was arranged, did you know that?”

Megan blinked, confused by the sudden change in topic.  “No, your grace, I didn’t.”

Edvard nodded.  “A smart match between House Northman and a lesser noble family, sealed with the promise of a third daughter.  I remember the first night we met.  She was resplendent in her rich gown, and I daresay I was quite dashing in my dress uniform.  We sat in the middle of a great table in a great banquet hall, our families on either side of us, and we could think of not a blessed thing to say to each other.  We tried, by Blake how we tried.  But within an hour it was painfully obvious we had no common interests at all.  By the end of the night, we both knew we felt absolutely nothing for each other.  We didn’t dislike each other, but there was no spark, no attraction.”

“What did you do?”

“I went ahead with the marriage.  It was a smart match, and I could do far, far worse.  But I was drawn to a young maid in the kitchens.  She was sharp, that one, intelligent and well-read, and not afraid to say things few others would dare say to one in my position.  Nothing ever happened.  I was betrothed, then married, and I would not shame my wife and my family so.  But there are still nights I wonder how differently life would have been had I traded that smart match for that sharp kitchen girl.

“Anders loves you.  I can see it in him, and I can see it in you.  You make each other happy in a way I could never have hoped for him.  It would be my greatest pleasure to welcome you into my home, into my House, as Lady Northman.  This-“ he hefted the box- “is my way of giving you and your relationship with my son my blessing.”

Megan groped for words.  “Thank you” seemed so inadequate, but in the end it was all she could come up with.  “Thank you, your grace.”

Edvard nodded, setting the box on a small table.  “It is my honor, my Lady.”  He bowed, turned crisply, and left the room.

Elissa closed the door behind him, then glided over to the armoire.  “Do you require assistance selecting a dress, my Lady?”

Megan shook her head.  “I’d love some, but please, I’m no lady.”

Elissa smiled.  “You’re the consort of Lord Anders, my Lady.  That entitles you to the honorific.”

Megan arched an eyebrow.  “Consort?”

Again Elissa smiled.  “The nobles have terms for everything, my Lady.”

“Please drop the ‘my Ladies.’  I want to feel like I’m still a person.”

Elissa’s smiling face grew serious.  “Nobles are still people, my Lady.  The ones who forget that are the ones you need to watch out for.”

Megan had to admit that Elissa had a point.

“Come, my Lady.  I’ll help you select a dress.”

***

Anders stood outside the main banquet hall, at the base of the stairs leading up to the main living quarters.  Instead of his AFFC dress uniform, he wore the dress uniform for his Viking Guards, steel grey jacket and slacks with purple highlights and gold trim.  The click of high-heeled shoes on stone drew his attention up the great staircase, and he gasped.

Elissa had picked a dress that complimented Leon’s own dress uniform, rich purple with steel grey and gold highlights.  The dress was off one shoulder and, Anders would soon discover, low-backed, leaving bare a lot of Megan’s creamy, freckled skin.  The hem of the dress was low enough to be dignified, but high enough and slit up the sides to show tantalizing flashes of leg as she walked.  Elissa had helped Megan with her hair and makeup as well, the makeup understated, matching the dress and contrasting with Megan’s scarlet hair and emerald eyes.  Her hair was cropped short at the front and sides for better contact with a BattleMech’s neurohelmet receptors, but Elissa had managed to style it up in the front and draw the shoulder-strands in the back into a weave of locks that draped elegantly behind her.

Anders gawked at her, and Megan noticed his reaction, smiling.  Unconsciously, she stood a little straighter, her steps down the stairs becoming more graceful.  Anders collected himself as she neared the bottom, extending his hand.  Knowing enough courtesy to respond properly, Megan extended her hand, back up, fingers pointed down.  Anders took it gently, bowed, and brushed his lips against her knuckles.  “You look absolutely beautiful,” Anders said.

“I feel-“ Megan started to say she felt ridiculous, but looking at Anders in his dress uniform, and the way he looked at her, she realized she didn’t feel that way.  At all.  “I feel amazing.  Thank you.”

“My pleasure, my Lady.”  Anders released her hand, and turned halfway away from her, cocking out his arm.  “Will you permit me?”

Megan nodded, and slipped her arm through his.  Together, they entered the banquet hall.

***
« Last Edit: 02 October 2021, 13:40:11 by ErikModi »
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #3 on: 02 October 2021, 12:42:29 »
Castle Northman's main banquet hall was huge, able to accommodate hundreds of people at its vast tables, and decorated in all the finery one would expect of a major noble house in service to one of the Great Houses of the Inner Sphere.

But tonight's celebration was not being held in that room.

One of Castle Northman's small banquet chambers, suited for twenty or thirty people at most, was where Duke Northman had decided to host this smaller, more intimate gathering.  Sections had been removed from the main table, giving it comfortable seating for the dozen or so attendees, while a buffet table against one wall allowed for polite snacking before the meal would be served.  The decorations in this room were more humble, and perhaps more honest, than in the main chamber.  The flags of the Federated Suns, Lyran Commonwealth, and combined Federated Commonwealth were not present, while the House Northman coat of arms was smaller than in the main banquet hall.  The oil-on-canvas portraits of generations of Dukes Northman and trophies of military glories and rewards of noble service were replaced with family holos and pictures, commemorating not only the Northmans but their close friends and subjects.  Megan was particularly drawn to an image of Anders' father, posing with a beautiful raven-haired woman.  Standing next to the couple was a large man in a kilt and his redheaded wife.

"That was taken a year or two before Mom died," Anders said, noting her interest.

"She was beautiful," Megan replied.  "I'm sorry," she added, though she really didn't feel it.  Family had never really been something she'd understood a great deal.  All her life, she'd thought people were just a little bit crazy for wanting to spend so much time with their relatives.  Growing up, she'd begun to grasp the concept on an intellectual level, but she still just couldn't understand why people had such strong feelings for their parents, siblings, and children.  It just had nothing to do with her own experience.

Anders nodded.  "Thank you.  It was. . . a long time ago."

"Megan?" Keira asked as she approached, mouth open.  Her and Jake, as two more founding members of the revitalized Viking Guard, had also been invited.  Both wore the same dress uniform as Anders, and were gaping at Megan's gown.  "I barely recognized you!" Keira continued, pulling Megan into a brief hug.  "You look like a princess."

Megan smiled.  "Thanks, I'm starting to feel like one around here."

"Just don't forget us humble nobodies when you're exchanging Christmas cards with Prince Victor Davion and Kai Allard," Keira replied snidely.

"Oh, I won't."  Megan assured her.  "Wait," she asked, turning to Anders.  "Is that something you do?  Christmas card lists for the rich and powerful?"

Anders shook his head.  "Not really.  Some families send us things on certain holidays, and we're obliged to respond in kind, but I never really kept track of the details.  The House Steward has all that stuff written down somewhere."

"Ah hope tha' doesn't include meh," a thick Scottish accent rolled out.

Anders turned, and beamed at a large man who approached the group with an equally big smile on his face.  The new arrival wore the Viking Guard dress jacket, but added a sash over it that matched the purple, gold, and grey tartan on the kilt which replaced his trousers.  The two men gave each other a great back-slapping hug, and Anders turned to begin introductions.  "I'd like you to meet my family's closest friend, Aaron MacLeod.  His family has served mine for generations.  Aaron, these are my friends and fellows in the Viking Guard.  Megan O'Brien, my second, Keira MacLeay, head of our AeroSpace force, and her wingman, Jake Sakuma."

Aaron shook hands with each in turn, rumbling a greeting.  Keira's own light accent deepened slightly as she returned Aaron's salutation.

Anders steered the group towards the refreshment table as they spoke, Aaron and Keira beginning a highly technical discussion about AeroSpace fighter tactics and deployments.  Despite being a MechWarrior, Aaron had a keen grasp of AeroSpace options, and Anders left them to it.  Plucking a cracker and a rectangular slice of pale cheese from a tray, he broke one end off the slice, placed it on the cracker, and handed it to Megan.  "Here, try this."

Megan took a bite.  The cheese had a rich, creamy texture and buttery flavor, complimenting the crunch of the buttery cracker.  "This is amazing," she said.

"It's called havarti.  Danish butter-cheese from Terra."

Megan's eyes widened.  "You got this all the way from Terra?"

Anders smiled, taking a bite from his own cheese-topped cracker.  "Oh, no.  Some people brought the recipe and means with them when Logandale was first settled.  My father buys from the best havarti maker on the planet.  It's somewhat delicate, doesn't travel well by JumpShip."

As the couple snacked on their cheese and crackers, several of the other guests came up to introduce themselves.  Anders knew all of them, of course, old family friends, allies, and subjects.  Megan struggled to remember her courtesies, mostly not talking with a mouthful of delicious havarti.  Everyone was unfailingly polite, though Megan noticed several people giving her not-entirely-friendly glances when they thought she wasn't looking.

During a lull in the introductions, she leaned over to ask Anders.  "Why are some of those ladies giving me the stink-eye?"

Anders smiled, and whispered back.  "They've all got stories, but they're more or less the same.  Families that hoped I'd marry one of their daughters, or daughters who hoped to marry into my family, and are realizing that option is no longer on the table, thanks to you."

Megan looked to one of them again, and saw the woman quickly avert her gaze, pretending to be totally engrossed in what someone else was saying.  "I'm sorry if I'm causing your family difficulties."

Anders shrugged.  "They'll get over it.  We're still good to our allies, and that will never change if I have anything to say about it."

Finally, servants entered the room bearing food, setting up the large dining table for the meal.  As the assembled guests moved to their seats, Lord Edvard Northman followed the last servant into the room, and stood by his seat at the head of the table.  Anders took Megan to stand at his father's left hand, while Aaron guided Keira and Jake to their seats at the foot of the table, before moving to his position at Lord Edvard's right.  As Edvard took his seat, Anders pulled out Megan's chair, seating her as was proper, before sitting himself.

Two more servants circled the table in opposite directions, filling tall glasses with golden mead.  After it had been filled, Megan reached for her glass, but Anders gently took her hand in his own, running his thumb over her knuckles.  She began to reach with her other hand, and Anders squeezed.  Looking at him, she saw his practiced noble smile gracing his lips, and noticed the faintest shake of his head.  Megan rested her other hand atop Anders' hand, getting the message.  It wasn't yet time to drink.

Lord Edvard's glass was the last one to be filled.  He took it in his hand and raised it, and only then did Anders release Megan to do the same.

"Noble and trusted friends, I thank you for your attendance," Lord Northman began.  "We gather here to celebrate the return of my son, Lord Anders Northman, from the New Avalon Military Academy, where he scored exceptional marks.  He comes home to us in the grandest tradition of Lords Northman before, to serve the honor of House Davion and the Federated Suns with all of his being.  He returns to take command of our proud and noble Viking Guard, to lead them against the enemies of the Federated Commonwealth in honor and glory.  He brings with him his special friend, Lady Megan O'Brien, who will serve with him in the Viking Guard.  Of all the noble traditions the Guard is heir to, I believe my son has started a new one."

Megan blushed lightly.

"I also wish to extend my hospitality and thanks Miss Keira MacLeay Mister Jake Sakuma, fellow graduates of young Lord Anders, who also follow him into the noble ranks of the Viking Guard.  Our new focus on combined arms is sure to succeed with fine pilots like yourselves at its vanguard."

Edvard turned facing Aaron.  "Lord Arron MacLeod, your family has served mine with honor and distinction since before the fall of the Star League, and it is my honor that you continue this tradition.  A Northman and a MacLeod fighting side-by-side are a match for any force in the Inner Sphere."

Aaron raised his glass higher, nodding to Edvard in respect.

"And to the rest of you, my honored friends, I am most pleased you are here to help us celebrate this new day for the Viking Guard, House Northman, and our honorable lieges of the Federated Commonwealth."  His speech done, Edvard sipped his mead, and the guests followed suit.  Then the food was served.

The meal was traditional cuisine from the Scandinavian region of Terra, locally produced on Logandale.  There was Swedish sausage, seasoned and spicy gray meat in a natural casing tied in a U-shape, cut into medallions by the servants before being placed on the guests' plates.  There were Swedish meatballs, also seasoned and spicy, seared brown before being baked all the way through.  Brown beans were spooned into small bowls, similar to baked beans Megan was familiar with, but with the added sweetness of molasses and tang of vinegar.  Fruit soup was placed in another bowl, dried slices of apples, pears, apricots, figs, and luknams, soaked and boiled with golden raisins to form a syrup, and spiced with cinnamon.  Quillar pudding, plain shredded quillar cooked soft and baked in custard, lightly seasoned with nutmeg, formed a counterpoint to everything else.  Megan soon discovered that the deceptive plainness of the pudding was a welcome change from the sweet, spicy, and tang of everything else.  Finally, small plates held slices of dark brown rye bread, with butter, naranji marmalade, or sliced havarti.

"Anders, this is amazing," Megan said, after having sampled everything on her plate.

"I know," he replied, smiling.  "I've missed this at New Avalon.  And we'll miss it again as soon as we get deployed to wherever it is we're going."

Author's Notes

Yes, I'm a huge sappy romantic type.  Sue me.

Some might raise eyebrows that I have such a heavily Scandinavian-themed House in the Federated Suns, instead of Rasalhague.  I'm heavily Scandinavian myself, and adore that part of my heritage, and like fictionalizing it for worlds like BattleTech.  Rasalhague. . . well, they're largely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, while the Suns probably isn't going anywhere ever.  Also, the Suns has more of the noble culture I wanted to explore here than Rasalhague.  If I was going to rewrite this and really challenge myself, I might move House Northman to Rasalhague and see how they adapt to being pummeled by the Clans, becoming a ComStar protectorate, and then transitioning into the Ghost Bear Dominion.

Speaking of "if I were to rewrite this," I'd probably change up the composition of the command lance.  Honestly, I can't be the only one who thinks the things on the back of the Unseen BattleMaster's calves look like jump jet housings, and for many years I've been experimenting with BattleMaster builds that could include jump jets.  I'd probably make the BattleMaster more stock, maybe have it be one of the Command Console variants to show it's still a LosTech heirloom, and I'd probably swap the Marauder II for an Atlas or an Awesome or something.  And not be so gung-ho about trying to get zero-heat alpha builds (something I tend to greatly prefer) on all of them.
 To make the whole thing a little less ostentatiously expensive.


Megan's encounter with Edvard when he gives her the jewels really started to make her character stand out for me.  Part of my problem here is that. . . Anders never really spoke to me as a character, not sure why.  Megan, on the other hand, popped up with her backstory and all these complicated feelings about being invited to be the Lady of a prominent noble house.  Focus might have shifted a bit more towards her as the story continued.
« Last Edit: 02 October 2021, 13:41:10 by ErikModi »
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #4 on: 02 October 2021, 14:02:50 »
-4-

WarShip Talon
JumpPoint, Unnamed System
Beyond the Periphery
July 15th, 3049


Eva scanned the zero-gee gymnasium, searching out her quarry.  The spacious room was filled with warriors doing what they could to keep their bodies trim and fit during the long months of travel between stars, with little opportunity to leave and experience real gravity.  The WarShip transporting them steadily towards the Inner Sphere had rotating decks that supplied artificial gravity through centrifugal force, but access was carefully rationed to ensure all had their fair share of time on them.

Eva had been in one twice.

Finally, she spotted the man she was looking for, standing in a circle with three other warriors bearing the same unit patches on their white tank tops.  Thin and slender, he was almost exactly Eva's own weight and height, small for a MechWarrior.  His shaved scalp made his head look bigger, and combined with his compact frame made him look almost like an AeroPilot instead of a MechWarrior.  Suppressing a smirk, Eva walked up to him.

"You are MechWarrior Jonas, quiaff?"

The man spared her the barest of glances, not breaking the rhythm of conversation between him and his fellows.  Eva waited a moment, then spoke again, louder this time.  "You are MechWarrior Jonas, quiaff?"

Jonas continued to ignore her, but one of his friends turned to her.  "Leave, freebirth.  We do not require you here."

Eva bristled at the foul insult, but showed no sign thanks to years of practice shrugging it off.  "MechWarrior Jonas, I would speak with you."

"I would not speak with you," Jonas finally replied, turning to her.  "Now leave us be before I have you sent to the infirmary."

"Then I offer you the means to do so.  You pilot a Summoner, quiaff?"

"What of it?"

"I challenge you to a Trial of Possession for your OmniMech."

The four trueborn warriors stared at her a moment, then broke out laughing.  "Ah, thank you for your fine joke," Jonas said.  "Now go."

"I do not joke," Eva replied evenly.

Again the warriors considered her, this time lacking in amusement.  "One such as you has no place in a front-line OmniMech," Jonas answered after a moment.  "Withdraw your challenge."

"I will not withdraw.  I will fight you for the right to pilot your 'Mech, or you will forfeit and grant the right to me.  These are the only options before us."

Jonas' eyes narrowed, and he stepped forward, invading Eva's personal space.  Eva stood her ground, refusing to be intimidated.  "I order you to withdraw your challenge and end this foolishness."

"We are of the same rank, MechWarrior Jonas, and in different units, so I am under no obligation to obey your orders."

"I am trueborn, you filth," Jonas replied, face reddening in anger.  "That makes me your superior, quiaff?"

"Neg," Eva replied, her own anger giving her words force, but not contaminating her thoughts.  "We are both MechWarriors of the Clan Jade Falcon, which gives us both equal right to the weapons and equipment of our caste.  What we are strong and skilled enough to possess is ours by right, quiaff?"

Jonas opened his mouth, then closed it, seeing the trap she'd laid for him.  If he disagreed, as was his instinct, he would be admitting that he had not properly earned the right to pilot his 'Mech.  If he agreed, he would be admitting that Eva had the right to attempt to take the machine from him.

After several moments of internal debate, Jonas nodded.  "Aff.  If you wish me to prove my right to the Summoner, you shall have it.  You are the challenger, how shall we fight?"

"With hands and feet," Eva replied.

Jonas nodded.  "And our battle shall be here, now."  He backed up, not taking his eyes off Eva, as his friends spread out to form an impromptu Circle of Equals.  "Bear witness as I educate this freebirth filth about what it means to be a true warrior."

Eva had no final barb, content to let her opponent think he'd succeeded in nettling her.  Instead, she dropped into a fighting crouch, modified to allow use of the adhesive shoes that allowed her to move around in the microgravity of the stationary WarShip.

One of Jonas' cohorts raised his hands above his head and clapped twice, signaling the warriors to begin their fight.

Jonas lunged immediately, putting himself off-balance, his fist rocketing towards Eva's face with all his body's mass behind it.  Eva pushed off of the deck, floating above his clumsy attack.  She gripped his shirt with both hands and flexed her arms, sending them both spinning back towards where Jonas had launched his attack from.  As their lazy spin completed, Eva pressed her feet to the deck, gaining anchorage, and brought her arms down, driving Jonas' head and shoulders into the floor.

The speed and inertia Jonas had hoped would make quick work of the presumptuous freeborn warrior cracked his skull and bruised his brain, sending him instantly into unconsciousness.

The other three warriors gaped at their fallen friend, bouncing off the deck to start sailing slowly through the air.  The whole gym had gone deathly quiet, and the unconscious Jonas was almost out of reach before one of his friends reached up to snag his pant leg, preventing him from careening to some far corner of the large room.

Eva looked to the three of them with lazy eyes.  "It would appear I am victorious, quiaff?"

***

Two hours later, Eva stood outside the office of Galaxy Commander Quentin Roshak, fighting to keep a huge grin from breaking out on her lips.  She had been certain she could defeat Jonas -- she would have been a fool to challenge him otherwise -- but even she had not dared believe it would be so easy.

She had been waiting for nearly half an hour, preparing herself to accept the duty of piloting a front-line OmniMech.  Her unit, composed almost exclusively of freeborn and warriors too old and undistinguished for proper service, would still likely only be a garrison force, and would probably see no real fighting during the invasion.  Still, she would have her Summoner.

Finally, Quentin Roshak's aide informed her that the Commander would see her now.  Fighting harder than ever to keep from smiling like a fool, Eva entered the office.

Quentin Roshak was nearing forty years old, his career extended well beyond that of most Clan warriors by his skill with a 'Mech, his ability to lead his troops to victory, and his winning of a Bloodname.  Eva felt a momentary pang of jealousy, knowing that no matter how well she performed, there was one Clan honor that would forever lie beyond her.

"MechWarrior, I have read the report of your challenge.  An admirable victory."

"Thank you, Galaxy Commander."

"You will not be piloting Jonas' Summoner."

Eva's jaw dropped in shock.  "Commander, how is that possible?  I won a proper Trial of Possession, by rights-"

"Yes, the Summoner is yours by rights of Trial.  But Jonas is still a MechWarrior under my command, and it is my duty to ensure all my warriors are able to perform at their peak.  Jonas cannot do that in your Rifleman."

"Then find him another front-line 'Mech.  Sir."

If Quentin Roshak noticed the lag between the end of Eva's statement and her application of his salutation, he showed no sign.  "There are no other front-line 'Mechs available.  We are not flush with materiel here, we have brought with us only that which we will need, so far from the Pentagon Worlds.  I cannot afford to let any good 'Mech go to waste in a garrison unit."

Eva took a deep breath, trying to stop herself from saying what was on her mind.  Her mouth betrayed her.  "Then transfer me to take Jonas' place."

Quentin Roshak waved the suggestion away as though it were an annoying insect.  "Impossible.  I need only the best machines on the vanguard, and only the best warriors in those machines."

"Clearly, I am a better warrior than Jonas.  How else could I have defeated him?"

"You beat him in one brawl.  That tells me nothing of your skills in a 'Mech."

"My test scores-"

"Your test scores place you in a second-line garrison unit.  You will pilot a second-line garrison 'Mech.  That is the end of it, MechWarrior."

Fury knotted in Eva's belly.  It took every ounce of self-control she possessed not to scream, yell, or strike out at her commanding officer.  Swallowing her anger and battered pride, Eva nodded.  "Understood, Galaxy Commander."

"Good.  That will be all."

Spinning so hard on her heel she nearly launched herself off the deck, Eva stormed from Quentin Roshak's quarters.

***

Later that day, Eva again reported to the simulators for her daily training.  As she fastened herself into the module, she brought up the computer to select her 'Mech.  Confused, she opened the 'comm line to the Falconer.

"Yes, MechWarrior Eva?"

"There seems to be a problem with the simulator computer.  The 'Mech selection screen is frozen."

"Neg, MechWarrior.  Records show you have insufficient training time in your assigned 'Mech, so it will be preselected for you until further notice."

Eva ground her teeth, but let none of her irritation seep into her voice.  "Understood, Falconer.  Ready to begin."

As the module started up, Eva refamiliarized herself with the loudout of the Rifleman IIC.  An Inner Sphere design dating back to the days of the Star League, the Rifleman had been kept up to date with advances in technology by the Clans' scientist caste.  Five tons heavier than the original Rifleman fielded by the Star League, the IIC variant used four large pulse lasers in place of the original's two large lasers and two class-five autocannon.  The extra tons allowed it to carry significantly more armor than the under-protected original and add an extended-range small laser in the head for backup fire at close ranges.  While ostensibly still an anti-aircraft and fire-support 'Mech, the Clan upgrades to the Rifleman allowed it to perform a wide variety of roles.  There were certainly worse 'Mechs Eva could be stuck in.

She kept telling herself that all through the training exercises.

Author's Notes

Yeah, that's probably not at all how Clan Trials are supposed to work in practice, but it was fun.  If I'd tried to publish it and was told Eva would never get away with trying to pull something like this, I'd think of something else to fill this chapter.  No idea what, but I'd think of something.  I'm sure.

I could picture it being that, while yes, by the letter of the law, any Clan Warrior can challenge any other for their assigned 'Mech or even place in a unit (sort of combined Trial of Possession/Position), there are all kinds of unwritten rules to discourage doing so frivolously, especially to say that freeborns should very much not challenge trueborns (and I'm sure there are written rules against using the Trial of Position to attempt to affect Klingon Promotion).  Eva's just an outlier who realizes that the written rules should be more enforceable than the unwritten ones.

Otherwise, just keeping up with Eva and showing that she's something of an exemplary specimen among Clan warriors, her talents wasted because of prejudice.
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

DOC_Agren

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #5 on: 02 October 2021, 18:22:39 »
Interesting..
Eva and Megan are 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!"

snakespinner

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #6 on: 02 October 2021, 19:01:29 »
Good story, really enjoying the characters.
With the Battlemaster just wondering why you keep the machine guns when you have a Pulse laser, seems redundant.
I always remove the mg's when i modify the BM. :thumbsup:
I wish I could get a good grip on reality, then I would choke it.
Growing old is inevitable,
Growing up is optional.
Watching TrueToaster create evil genius, priceless...everything else is just sub-par.

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #7 on: 02 October 2021, 22:52:21 »
I don't mind having machine guns.  They're rarely useful, but nice in the right pinch.  Plus, I was tending to go by "accurate to the mini" at the time, and this was back when you could get Unseen BattleMaster minis (at least, the original germination of the idea was), so I stuck mostly with what could be seen on a "proper" BattleMaster.
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #8 on: 03 October 2021, 09:00:50 »
-5-

Northman Palace, Logandale
Crucis March, Federated Commonwealth
18 July, 3049


Anders sat in the Palace office for the Viking Guard, looking over the rosters of prospective candidates for the unit.  The crews for the Vali and Rhino tanks had been recruited, and now Anders was looking at MechWarrior applicants to take the last spot in the Command Lance.

Sadly, available MechWarriors were in short supply.  Few were cut out to pilot BattleMechs, and those who were had so much invested in them by whichever institution trained them they were rarely allowed to slip free.  While technically a unit in the Armed Forces of Federated Commonwealth, the Viking Guard and other similar House militaries were not maintained by monies, materiel, or personnel from the state, but were instead left in the care of whichever nobles raised the unit.

There were few prospects, and fewer Anders considered to be a good match for the unit he wanted to build.  In the end, he felt there was only one worth talking to, and she was due in his office at any minute.

A knock sounded from the door.  Anders closed down his noteputer, calling out "Enter."

The door opened, and a slender young woman entered.  Her dark hair was all but shaved, only a faint black stubble covering most of her head.  It was longer at the top, but only just, showing thick black hair that would likely snarl and knot uncontrollably if left longer than a few inches.  Anders suspected this, rather than neurohelmet receptivity, was the primary reason for her choice of hairstyle.

"Private First Class, Marge Catlin, reporting for duty, sir!"  Her heels clicked together smartly, she snapped off the crispest and most precise salute Anders had ever seen, and pulled her body into an attention stance so rigid even looking at her made Anders' back ache.

"Private, at ease, before you sprain something," he said with a smile.  With another economic and precise motion, Private Marge Catlin fell into parade rest.  "I said at ease.  We're not here for rifle drill or parade formation, Private."

The woman relaxed marginally, and Anders sighed internally.  Progress, sort of.  "I've reviewed your file, and your marks are quite impressive.  There wasn't much before you enlisted, though.  Any insights you care to offer?"

"Sir, anything relevant to my posting should be in my file, sir."

"One sir is more than sufficient, Private."  Anders paused, regarding the mystery before him and how best to go about cracking it.  "Before I approve your transfer, I'd like to know why you want to leave your current unit and join the Viking Guard."

"I have no current unit, sir.  My leave from the Ridgebrook Capellan March Militia has already been approved and completed.  I am on leave pending reassignment, and I hope that reassignment will be with the Viking Guard, sir."

Anders nodded.  "But why did you leave the Ridgebrook CMM?"

"I didn't feel I was living up to my potential, sir."

"And why is that?"

"The Ridgebrook CMM is a glorified listening post, sir.  Drills, tactics and strategy, but mostly just keeping an eye on the Crappies and Bulls."  Anders nodded, recognizing the derogatory terms for the Cappellan Confederation and Taurian Concordat.  "I want to be transferred somewhere I can actually do something, sir."  Looking into her eyes, Anders saw what he was looking for:  a hunger, a thirst, a desire.  Not to prove herself, exactly, but to put her training and skills to use, to rush out and meet the enemy guns blazing.  It was a desire Anders shared, tempered by his duties and responsibilities, and it would make this young woman a valuable addition to his unit if it could be harnessed.

"I understand.  Welcome to the Viking Guard, Private."

The military discipline she wore like armor prevented her from cheering, jumping around in excitement, or even smiling.  Instead, she snapped off another salute, so forceful Anders was surprised she didn't give herself a concussion.  "Sir, thank you sir!  I won't let you down, sir!"

"First order, cut back on the sir's.  No more than one per breath, please."

Logandale Training Course, Logandale
Crucis March, Federated Commonwealth
20 July, 3049


Two days later, the newly-minted Command Lance of the Viking Guard was engaged in their first training exercise.  A training course had stood twelve kilometers south of Palace Northman since before the fall of the Star League, used to hone the skill of both the Viking Guard and Logandale's militia.  Primitive by modern standards, the training course consisted of several easily-repairable structures that only vaguely resembled the 'Mechs, vehicles, and infantry they stood in for.  Immersion was provided by transponders that painted false images over the 'Mechs holographic targeting display in the magnetic resonance and thermal imaging scan modes.

"Okay," Anders began, addressing his lancemates as they approached the start of the training course.  "We're going to take this slow and careful.  Stay in formation, call out targets, focus fire.  This is straight weapons practice, we'll save maneuvering, artillery tagging, and armor and aerospace co-ordination for another day.  Copy?"

"Copy, sir," Marge replied.

"Got it," Megan answered.

"Yo," Aaron said.

"Engage."

The four 'Mechs stomped into the winding hills that made up the course.  The first target to pop on Anders' screen was tagged as a Crusader, an impressive heavy 'Mech.  A split second later, another target, tagged as a Victor, was highlighted.  "Crusader, alpha, priority."  The Crusader had more long-range weapons than the Victor, though the latter could do much more damage up close with its massive autocannon.

Anders triggered his large pulse laser as he entered maximum effective range.  Blue darts of energy stitched holes in the ersatz 'Mech's right side.  Two blue bolts of artificial lightning whizzed by his head, momentarily turning his screens to static as Marge opened fire with her PPCs.  Both bolts drilled the image dead center.  Megan's silver Gauss slug and Aaron's flight of twenty long-range missiles finished the job of deleting the Crusader from their screens.

"Good job, good job.  Bravo, Victor, primary."  More weapons fire made short work of the second 'Mech as well.  The team kept moving, the quicker Victor and BattleMaster matching their speed to the slower Highlander and Marauder II.  They'd cleared five more targets with no problem when the training course threw a curve ball at them.

The lance had just downed a fake Atlas, 100 tons of pure destruction, when two more targets came live.  Just next to the Atlas, an Awesome came to life.  Bearing three PPCs, a real AWS-8Q could deal serious damage.  On the lance's left flank, a Centurion appeared, almost right in Marge's face.

"Contact, india, Centurion!"  Marge opened up on the well-armed medium 'Mech with everything she had, while Anders, Megan, and Aaron took down the Awesome.

Marge's LB-10X autocannon blasted armor from all over the Centurion, while her two medium lasers gouged its left and right arms.  The twin PPCs blasted away its left and right torsos, leaving the 'Mech defenseless.  The course's computer gauged that sufficient damage had been done in a short enough time to effectively destroy the 'Mech, and deleted it from play.

But all that firepower came at a price.  Marge's Marauder II, already running in the yellow thanks to almost constant use of the twin ER PPCs, spiked up past red as the heat from all its weapons flooded its airtight armor shell.  The radiators and cooling systems simply weren't up to the task of dissipating that much heat all at once.

"Marge watch your heat!" Anders cried.  Marge noticed the warning lights flashing in her cockpit, slammed her fingers on an emergency coolant dump for the 'Mech's right arm, where the ammunition for the autocannon was stored.

Too late.  The propellant for the depleted uranium slugs and shot ignited from the intense heat.  A chain reaction of explosions worked its way up the 'Mech's arm and shoulder, and the Marauder's arm plumped like an overinflated balloon before the 'Mech's entire right side was swathed in flame, showering the area in armor shards, mangled ferro-titanium bones, and useless scrap that had once been some of the most advanced weapons in the Inner Sphere.

***

"We can plug in a new arm easy enough," answered Command Sergeant Major Howard Blin, Chief BattleMech Technician for the Viking Guard.  "Duke Edvard ordered spares for all the 'Mechs. . . well, all the ones we could get spares for, anyway," he added, tossing a glance at Anders' BattleMaster.   "We'll have to replace the right torso, too.  That XL engine is all messed up, we'll have to replace half the shielding.  It'll take a few days, but we'll get her ready for battle again, no worries.  If it weren't for the CASE in the right torso, it'd be quite a different story."

Anders nodded.  Another recently discovered piece of lostech, Cellular Ammunition Storage Equipment was capable of redirecting the force of an internal explosion -- like that of two tons of autocannon ammunition -- relatively harmlessly out specially-designed panels in 'Mech's rear torso.  The technology was too bulky and temperamental to protect a 'Mech's arms, but in the case of Marge's Marauder, the CASE system in the right torso prevented the explosion from moving any further.  A 'Mech not protected by CASE would have been completely destroyed by the force of so much ammunition detonating at once.  In fact, many people witnessing a 'Mech's death by ammo explosion assumed that the fusion reactor powering the massive war machine must have gone critical, turning it into a walking nuclear bomb.

"Thank you," Anders replied.  "I want that machine back up and running as soon as possible."

"No problem, sir."

Anders nodded, then turned and walked across the 'Mech bay to his lancemates, all still clad in their cooling vests and shorts.  Marge shot to attention as soon as she saw him approaching.  Angry red burns decorated her temples, the result of the feedback shot through her neurohelmet as half her 'Mech had been explosively obliterated, delicate electrical components short-circuiting before being blasted into oblivion.

"Sir, I take full responsibility and await disciplinary action, sir!"

Anders sighed.  "What did I tell you about all the sirs, Private?"

"Apologies, sir."

"As for disciplinary action. . . well, you got off light.  Lostech saved your ass today, Private, and don't you forget it.  That ammo explosion could have obliterated your 'Mech, and likely you with it.  Best case scenario, I'd have a hundred tons of completely useless 'Mech and fifty kilos of only slightly less useless pilot.  So, here's your disciplinary action.  You are, immediately, this very second, to report to the simulator pods.  You will spend the rest of the day in there running random combat simulations in your Marauder.  You will not leave except for meals and when you get so tired you start falling asleep at the controls.  Immediately after you wake up tomorrow morning, you will report to the simulator again, and spend all day tomorrow running random combat sims.  You will again not leave the simpod except to eat.  After dinner tomorrow night, I will review the records of your simulator actions.  Every single time you push that 'Mech past 30% heat will earn you another simulated run.  Every time you blow your ammo because you get too hot, you'll spend another day running sims.  Am I understood?"

"Yes, sir!"  Marge saluted and broke into a jog towards the simulator room.

"Well, that oughtta do it," Megan said quietly at Marge's retreating back.

"Are ye sure ye want her?" Aaron asked.

Anders nodded.  "Did you see her gunnery records before her 'Mech blew?  She's a better shot than I am.  'Mech weapons are in that girl's blood, I swear to Odin.  If she can learn to keep her cool, literally and figuratively, she'll be a holy terror."

"Maybe we should modify her 'Mech?  Strip out the AC for a laser so there's no ammo?" Megan suggested.

Anders shook his head.  "The last thing this nuclear death trap needs is another energy weapon.  The autocannon builds up pretty negligible heat compared to everything else, so it'll be good to use while cooling down from the PPCs.  We ran hotter 'Mechs than this at NAMA."

"Chameleons were never meant to see live combat, though." Megan noted.

"True, but the Marauder II was, and it's been used successfully for quite some time.  It's not the 'Mech that's at fault here. . . well, not entirely."

Megan looked to where Marge had vanished from the 'Mech bay.  "I guess we'll find out, won't we?"

Author's Notes

Finally, what you all tuned in to see:  big splosion!

I think I customed that Marauder II slightly to move the ammo from the torso to the arm, under the reasoning that, while CASE can't be put in the arm, it can block the explosion from doing damage past the right torso, so. . . hey, I forget exactly my reasoning.  I do remember fighting with the Marauder II in MegaMekLab for quite some time before figuring out it's impossible to add IS double heat sinks to it, so reluctantly had to run it mostly stock with a rather punishing heat buildup.  Addressing the drawback in training felt fun.

The "emergency coolant flush" was my attempt to narrate the Piloting check to avoid an ammo explosion.  Since you can make an increasingly difficult check to avoid an ammo explosion at high heat levels, clearly the pilot is able to do something to affect this.  I rationalized it as basically seeing if you could trigger an override of some kind in time, and since the cause of an ammo explosion is the heat making the ammo cook off, I rationalized that it would be a localized coolant dump to keep the ammo, and only the ammo, below the temperature of kablooie.  If it's been established elsewhere precisely what this Piloting check represents, I'm unaware of it.

Marge is a nice contrast.  The other members of the Viking Guard are all very close, so somewhat less formal than military protocol normally requires.  Marge is an outsider, and a very eager and by-the-book soldier.  I wanted to make an interesting dynamic among the Viking Guard, which only would have gotten more interesting.  I'll talk about that in due course.
« Last Edit: 03 October 2021, 09:08:49 by ErikModi »
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #9 on: 03 October 2021, 09:25:23 »
-6-

WarShip Talon
Transit Orbit, Botany Bay
Rim Worlds Republic, The Periphery
21 August, 3049


"We'll see action here for sure," Elias said, settling into a seat.  Several freeborn MechWarriors had gathered to watch the first bidding of their part of Operation Revival.  One of several small observation rooms circling the bridge of the Talon, this was the only one the freeborns had been able to find that wasn't crammed with trueborns also eagerly awaiting to see if they would fight this day, or if their units would be bid away as their commanders competed to win the right to lead the assault.

"You're dreaming," Martell replied.  "Nothing but bandits and pirates out here.  They won't send more than two Stars, tops."

"Exactly.  None of the trashborn would sully themselves fighting these dregs.  They'll throw a couple freeborn Stars at them and call it good."

"Keep dreaming.  The trashborn are fighting beak and talon to get in on this assault, because it's the first combat against the Inner Sphere.  Once they start engaging the real warriors, then we'll get all the bandits and pirates the Sphereoids have to offer."

Elena chimed in.  "More likely, we'll get rooted on some conquered planet, where our only duty will be to march our 'Mechs around once a week to remind the people that Clan Jade Falcon owns their world now."

"You're being awfully quiet, Eva," Elias noted.  "What do you think?"

Eva thought a lot of things, but kept them to herself.  "Whatever will be, will be," she said simply.

"What does that mean?" Elias asked.

"Hush!" Elena cried.  "They're starting!"

The two Star Captains shook hands, then proceeded to opposite ends of the holotank that dominated the bridge.  On the massive screen above them, dozens of multicolored, six-pointed stars appeared, representing the OmniMechs, OmniFighters, and Elementals the two officers had at their disposal.  Tiny boxes clipped to the belts of the freeborn MechWarriors lit up.

"See!" Elias exclaimed.  "I told you we'd be fighting!"

"It's just the opening bid," Martell countered.  "It always includes everything.  We'll be gone before the second bid is done."

The words were barely out of Martell's mouth when the other Star Captain posted his counterbid, slashing the forces by half.  All the lights on the freeborn's belt units went out.

"Stravag!" Elias exclaimed.

"Told you," Martell said smugly.

Eva stood and left the room without a word.

***

The fighting lasted mere hours, and the battleROMs of the engaged 'Mechs were available by the time Eva reported for her daily simulator training.  Loading up the feeds from the battle for Botany Bay, Eva instructed the computer to build a new version of the battle that she could play out within the simulator.  Still forced to pilot her Rifleman, she waded through the Inner Sphere forces, though she felt calling them "forces" was overly generous.  She allowed her mind to wander just enough to create the fantasy that this wasn't a simulator battle.  That she had been bid to fight, placed in her favored Summoner, and was participating in one of the first battles of a long, glorious, and historic war.

The simulator battles left her flushed with energy that intensive exercise failed to bleed off.  After a meager meal of ship's rations, she found herself quite inadvertently walking in the direction of the freeborn men's barracks.

Martell opened the door at her knock, and she took a double-handful of his white tank top, adorned with the Jade Falcon symbol.  She kissed him deeply as she shoved him back into the room.  Martell took control just in time to guide them to his bunk, grabbing the frame for the required leverage.

Men and women wandered in and out of the room as Eva and Martell coupled, paying them little notice.  When they had finished, sweat lazily floating off both their bodies, they slipped into the zero-gee bunk, Eva's excess energy finally expended.

"Do you think we'll get to fight at all?" Martell finally asked, one finger tracing the light scars on Eva's left arm.

"I do not know," Eva replied.

Author's Notes

It was around here that the Eva sections really started getting difficult to write.  Just what is the day-to-day life of a Clan Warrior like, especially a freeborn who can't expect to be bid to fight any battle of note?  What do they do with their day, on and off duty?  How much time is spent on duty versus off?  What can I have Eva do that doesn't just seem like filler?

In this case, it was doing her best to not go insane with frustration.  The Clans' casual approach to sex is one of the more interesting aspects to their culture, and after being denied release of tension through actual combat, Eva decided a good bout of coupling was the next best thing.  I imagine a lot of freeborn warriors in the more traditional Clans live their entire lives frustrated:  being trained and honed to be a warrior, struggling against all odds to be accepted into the Warrior Caste, then denied the ability to participate in any meaningful battles.

As for why Eva isn't in a more progressive Clan like Wolf?  Well, there's a reason for that.  I'm sure some of you familiar with the particulars of the Clan Invasion have an idea where these threads are going.
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

snakespinner

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #10 on: 03 October 2021, 18:15:34 »
With the Mad II you only need 16 to 18 DHS.
Plenty of room for them.
That's 32 to 36 heat dissapation enough for running and the ERPPC's plus LBX.
The only problem will be if you continually alpha strike.
Enjoying the story. :thumbsup:
I wish I could get a good grip on reality, then I would choke it.
Growing old is inevitable,
Growing up is optional.
Watching TrueToaster create evil genius, priceless...everything else is just sub-par.

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #11 on: 04 October 2021, 09:07:23 »
-7-

Northman Palace, Logandale
Crucis March, Federated Commonwealth
30 August, 3049


"Romulus?" Anders asked.

"Romulus," Edvard replied.

"We're going to Romulus?" Anders asked again.

"You're going to Romulus," Edvard replied again.

"Romulus?"

"Anders do you need to have your hearing checked?" Edvard asked, none too gently.

"Apparently so, because I can't believe what I'm hearing.  Why are we being sent to Romulus?  It's in the absolute back-end of the Lyran side of the Federated Commonwealth!  It's seven months away from here!"

Edvard shrugged.  "Marshal Morgan Hassek-Davion sent out these orders.  Ask him."

"Marshal Morgan Hassek-Davion sends out all orders for troop movements in the AFFC.  That's his job."

"Do you really want to tell the Marshal how to do his job?"

Anders cringed.  "Touche."  Anders paced back and forth.  "But why Romulus?  Why not somewhere we could. . . be useful?"

Edvard arched an eyebrow.  "Useful?  You mean charge into a Draconis Combine or Capellan Confederation unit and lay waste to them?"

"For starters," Anders replied.

"Anders, the Viking Guard is still miniscule.  Four lances does not a conquering army make, and you have yet to fully train and integrate.  The Marshal recognizes your unit's value, but also its woeful lack of experience, personnel, and materiel.  The AFFC is still working on becoming one solid army, instead of two.  That's why Suns units are getting transferred to Lyran worlds and vice versa.  You'll be working with the Romulus Militia, and they with you, to strengthen both units and the AFFC as a whole."

Anders grumbled.  "I bet Victor Davion isn't being exiled to some backwater."

"He's been assigned to the Twelfth Donegal Guards Regimental Combat Team, who have been stationed on Trell I for the last twelve years."

Anders grimaced.  "I stand corrected."

"This is an important assignment, Anders, regardless of how you may think of it.  You may not see lots of action, but that will give you time to settle in as commander of the Viking Guard, and to keep up the process of rebuilding it.  Look at it as an opportunity to test the waters before diving in."

"We're ready to dive, dad."

"I disagree.  And that's no reflection on you or the people you've assembled, they're a fine group.  But you've only just graduated from NAMA, and most of your personnel are equally fresh.  You don't need to leap into the fire right away.  When you're ready, the fire will find you."

***

"Well, this assignment sucks," Megan said.  She was in her chambers -- she just couldn't think of her opulent surroundings as anything else -- packing up her necessities.  Anders leaned against one wall, frowning with his own discontentment at their orders.  In the background, contrasting with the couple's dark mood, jaunty Irish folk music rang from the tiny music player on Megan's nightstand.

"It's important, Dad says," Anders replied.  "Besides, Marshal Morgan Hassek-Davion signed the orders himself.  I certainly don't want to argue with him."  Anders hesitated.  "Well, I do, but I wouldn't get very far."

"Oh, you'd get far," Megan replied.  "Out past the Outworlds Alliance, probably."

Anders chuckled.  "Yeah, sounds about right."

The music stopped as the track changed.  "Ooh, listen to this," Megan said, reaching over to turn up the volume.  "This song always reminds me of Hanse Davion."

Anders listened as an absolutely beautiful female voice filled the room.

Daddy Fox went out on a chilly night,
Prayed for the moon to give him light,
For he'd many many mile to go that night,
Before he came to the town-O.
Town-O, town-O,
For he'd many many mile to go that night,
Before he came to the town-O.


The opening had been a solo for the vocalist, save the last three lines where male backup vocals had come in, and now strings, a drum, and flute joined to create the melody.  The tempo also picked up.

He ran till he came to the farmer's pen,
The ducks and the geese were kept therein,
He said 'a couple a you are gonna grease my chin,
Before I leave this town-O.
Town-O, town-O,
A couple a you are gonna grease my chin
Before I leave this town-O.

He grabbed the grey goose by the neck,
Threw it up across his back,
And he didn't mind the quack quack quack.
And the legs all danglin' down-O
Down-O, down-O,
He didn't mind the quack quack,
And the legs all danglin' down-O.

Oh, the old grey woman jumped outta bed,
Outta the window she popped her head,
Cryin' "John John, they grey goose is gone,
The Fox is on the town-O.
Town-O, town-O,
John John the grey goose is gone,
And the Fox is on the town-O."

He ran till he came to his nice warm den,
There were the little ones eight nine ten,
Sayin' "Daddy daddy, better go back again,
Must be a mighty fine town-O.
Town-O, town-O,
Daddy daddy, better go back again,
For it must be a mighty fine town-O."

Oh, the Fox and his wife without any strife,
Cut the goose with a fork and a knife,
And they never had such a supper in their life,
And the little ones chewed on the bones-O
Bones-O, bones-O,
They never had such a supper in their life,
And the little ones chewed on the bones.


As the song finished, Anders regarded Megan with a quizzical expression.  "How does that remind you of the First Prince?"

Megan smiled gleefully.  "Well, his nickname is The Fox, so that counts.  The Town-O is obviously the Capellan Confederation, and the Grey Goose is all the worlds he took in the Fourth Succession War.  The Old Grey Woman and John John are Romano and Maxmillian Liao respectively, the "little ones" at the den are all the people who benefited from Hanse's gains in the war, specifically Justin Allard and Candace Liao, with the "Bones-O" representing the worlds Hanse turned over to them to form the St. Ives Compact."

Anders nodded.  In a bizarre way, it all fit perfectly.  "I wouldn't bring that up the First Prince if we ever meet him, though."

Megan's grin widened and she batted her eyelashes innocently.  "Who, me?"

"I'm serious, dear," Anders replied, though his own budding grin killed the import of his words.  He levered himself off the wall.  "I'll leave you to finish packing.  We leave first thing tomorrow."

"Actually, there's something I need your help with first."

"What's that?"

Megan pulled off her shirt and threw it to the floor.  "We've been here over a month, and haven't given this bed a proper breaking-in yet."

Anders smiled, approaching Megan, his hands circling her body to unhook her bra.  "We'll have to fix that, my Lady."

Logandale Spaceport, Logandale
Crucis March, Federated Commonwealth
August 31st, 3049


The sun was barely creeping over the horizon, as though the morning itself resented starting so early.  Long predawn shadows shrouded the spaceport in a grey haze, broken by the harsh white light of the tall floodlights.

Blinking his eyes against the crusty feeling of sleep still haunting them, Anders walked Freya up the gentle slope just beyond the spaceport.  As he crested the rise, the sight before him took his breath away.

The Viking Guard traveled on two DropShips, massive vessels designed to shuttle cargo and people from the surface of planets to the jump points where even more massive JumpShips waited to poke holes between the stars.  The two DropShips of the Viking Guard were so completely different anyone who didn't know better would think they weren't related at all.

The main transport vehicle was the Nostromo, a six thousand ton Fortress-class DropShip.  The Fortress had been designed as a combined-arms carrier, capable of transporting a full company of twelve BattleMechs, an equal number of heavy combat vehicles, and three full platoons of infantry.  It was impressively armed and armored, capable, in theory, of securing its own landing zone from which to deploy its troops.  It even boasted a weapon seen on no other DropShip:  a Long Tom artillery cannon, to provide supporting fire to its ground troops while landed.  To most efficiently carry its payload, it was designed like a giant ball.  Six stubby landing legs folded out of the bottom of the ball, which was chopped flat to accommodate the massive engines that allowed the ship to enter and leave orbit.

Next to the Nostromo, completely dwarfed by her big sister, was the White Star, a Leopard CV-class DropShip.  Cigar-shaped with two oblong engines on either side and a massive tail fin, the White Star carried six AeroSpace fighters in launch bays that could catapult them into combat in deep space or atmosphere.  The overlarge tail fin was designed to reduce the visibility of the ship's drive emissions, a largely futile gesture since detecting anything in the vastness of space was ridiculously easy.  The narrow boom connecting the tailfin to the rest of the craft was also easy to damage in combat, or simply through maneuvering in an atmosphere.  As a result, most Leopard CV DropShips never actually entered atmosphere unless absolutely necessary, instead launching their fighters from low orbit to reach ground targets.  Weighing in at nineteen hundred tons, she was less than a third the size of the Nostromo, but every bit as important to the operations of the Viking Guard.

The White Star was a new addition to the Viking Guard fleet.  In the battles before the Fourth Succession War, the Viking Guard had traveled on the Nostromo and two other DropShips, both Union-class.  The Union was designed to carry twelve 'Mechs and two AeroSpace fighters, bringing the Viking Guard of the time up to a 'Mech battalion in strength, but woefully lacking in air support.  The Nostromo had carried a few tanks for fire support and infantry for police actions, but 'Mechs had always been the primary focus.  And while they were incredibly capable war machines, 'Mechs could not do everything at all times.  This overspecialization had contributed to the Viking Guard's destruction, as well as the loss of both Unions.  Anders and his father had rebuilt the unit with an emphasis on combined arms, partly as a response to that tragedy, but also to fully utilize the functionality of their remaining DropShip.

"Wow, that's quite a sight," Megan said over the command lance's private frequency.

"Indeed.  Take a good look, we won't be seeing these from the outside for quite some time."

Anders led the 'Mechs in a march down toward the Nostromo, shifting his radio over to the ship's command and control frequency.  "Command Lance, Viking Guard, ready to dock."

"Copy, Command Lance, clear to proceed to bay one."

As the 'Mechs approached, the sun crested the horizon, the golden light shining temporarily on the massive machines before they entered the Nostromo's elongated shadow.  The wide bay door was easily large enough to accommodate two 'Mechs abreast, but Anders marched the lance in single file.

Command directed the 'Mechs to their individual cubicles within the cavernous bay.  "Freya, slot one.  Victoria, slot two.  Connor, slot three.  Tyr, slot four."  The MechWarriors guided their 'Mechs to the cubicles, turned a sharp about-face, and backed into the holding area.  As Anders popped the hatch out of his cockpit, techs and assistant techs were already swarming the machines, securing them for the long flight.

"Don't you worry none, sir," Command Sergeant Major Blin stated as Anders reached the deck.  "Well buckle her in tight.  Won't even scratch the paint."

"Thank you, Sergeant, I appreciate that."  Anders hung his cooling vest in the nearby locker, retrieving and slipping into his shipboard fatigues.  He met the rest of his lancemates near the center of bay.  Designed to hold twelve 'Mechs and all their attendant support personnel, the bay felt empty with only four, though it was still a flurry of activity as people prepared for launch.

"Hold on a moment, savor this," Anders said.

"Savor what?" Aaron asked.

"The last real gravity we're going to feel for the better part of a year," Anders replied.  "Enjoy it while it lasts."

Three astechs darted by them, carrying a hefty load of equipment for stowage.  A curse rang out through the bay as more parts refused to be battened down properly.  "Maybe we should savor it somewhere else?" Megan suggested.

"Good idea."

Author's Notes
When I saw a planet named Romulus was one of the first in the Lyran part of the FedCom to be taken, I knew where my Viking Guard would have their first run-in with the Clans.  It's just too amusing.

That song is an actual Irish folk song, the version here sung by a local band I saw at RenFest a few years back.  Sadly, their version isn't up on YouTube, but there are others if you want to seek it out.  It does seem to map oddly well onto the events of the Fourth Succession War, at least in my bizarre mind.

And yes, I stole my ship names from Alien and Babylon 5.

EDIT:  Found a video of the band I mentioned performing the song above.  It's not great quality, but still better than other versions I've found, in my opinion.  https://youtu.be/13BcuqEoljA
« Last Edit: 06 October 2021, 08:28:37 by ErikModi »
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #12 on: 04 October 2021, 09:13:12 »
-8-

WarShip Talon
Transit Orbit, Here
Federated Commonwealth
March 6th, 3050


There had been several more battles as the Jade Falcons fought their way through the Periphery.  In each battle, the freeborn warriors had been the first ones bid away.  Eva and her fellows grew ever-more frustrated at constantly being denied the chance to participate in glorious battles.  New battleROMs came to the ship after each day's fighting, letting Eva pretend to participate in the simulators, but even that fantasy quickly failed to excite her.

She had still not been granted permission to select her own 'Mech for simulator training, and she didn't dare risk alienating the Falconers by asking them about it.  As a freeborn in Clan Jade Falcon, letting a trueborn know you wanted something was the surest way to have it forever denied you.

The only thing that even momentarily quenched her thirst for real battle was her increasingly-frequent visits to the men's barracks, and she was not particularly choosy about with whom she spent her time.  Her wantonness in partner selection caused several Trials of Grievance among the male warriors, something she would have taken some pleasure in had she paid any attention.  When she wasn't coupling, the only thought on her mind was the feel of a real 'Mech beneath her and a real enemy to shoot at.

Even more worrisome for her was the ever-decreasing number of freeborn warriors aboard.  At each planet, second-line units were left as garrison forces, while the front-line units, composed of pristine OmniMechs and trueborn warriors, and undeployed second-line units pressed ahead.  Eva dreaded the day she would be left behind on some forsaken rock or other, left to grow old and rot with little hope of ever seeing actual combat.  Elena's prediction was sounding more and more prophetic every day.

Finally, they had arrived in the Inner Sphere proper, a small world on the very edge of the Lyran Commonwealth called Here, apparently out of someone's attempt at humor.  Again, the freeborn units were all removed in the opening bids.  Once more, the battle was concluded in short order, as was the way of the Clans.

Reviewing and playing through the battleROMs of the attack on Here, Eva noted that these defenders were made of sterner stuff than those of the Periphery realms the Clan had been fighting up until now.  One section of the defenders employed a combined arms technique that succeeded, however briefly, in giving the Clan warriors some trouble, before the Clan forces swept into intense city fighting and rolled up the defenders.  The combined-arms unit fled the planet by the end of the day, and the Clan WarShips let them leave.

That evening, Eva lay in the bunk of a MechWarrior named Peter, her mind immediately shifting gears from the just-completed coupling back to thoughts of battle and glory.

"I'm to be deployed with the garrison forces," Peter said quietly.

Eva said nothing.

"It seems the militia is still fighting," Peter continued, not noticing or ignoring Eva's silence.  "But they've lost most of their 'Mechs and other heavy equipment.  They cannot hurt us."  Eva heard the tone of Peter's voice, and knew what he meant.  A warrior was supposed to fight other warriors in fair combat.  Sending 'Mechs after barely-armed insurgents would not be a warrior's fight, but a simple extermination of vermin.  It was not what they had become warriors to do.

Of course, their commander could always bid it down into a fair fight.  But that would likely mean sending Elementals with hand weapons, instead of their impressive battle armor designed to take down 'Mechs, to fight the militia on equal footing.  Either way, the freeborn MechWarriors would not see the sort of battle they'd signed on for.

"Perhaps the Lyrans will counterattack, and you can defend the Clan's new holding in your 'Mech," Eva suggested without conviction.

"Perhaps," Peter replied, equally doubtfully.  Suddenly, he seized Eva, climbing atop her.  "But for now, I have something better for us to think about."

Going stiff for a moment, Eva relaxed in Peter's grip.  She could certainly use another distraction.

Author's Notes
Yeah. . . I was really struggling to keep Eva relevant by this point.  She's got, I feel, a good chapter coming up, though.
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #13 on: 05 October 2021, 08:09:46 »
-9-

Firebase Gaul, Romulus
Trellshire, Federated Commonwealth
May 6, 3050


As quietly as he was able, Anders slipped through the door of the quarters he and Megan shared.  He smiled as the rhythmic breathing from the double-wide cot told him she was still asleep.  Silently, he removed his fatigues, tossing them atop the shared pile of dirty clothes at the foot of the cot.  Sliding underneath the covers, he draped one arm over Megan's middle.  She shifted in her sleep, molding her naked body to his.

The journey from Logandale to Romulus had been arduous, as was all space travel.  Floating weightless in DropShips for months on end while the JumpShips slowly recharged their drives with energy gathered from massive solar sails, the only gravity came briefly as their DropShip accelerated towards another JumpShip for a different leg of the journey.  While they had shared a cabin aboard the Nostromo, and the prolonged periods of weightlessness had allowed the young lovers to discover some interesting techniques, the zero-G beds did not easily accommodate simple cuddling.  The cots at Firebase Gaul on Romulus were a far cry from the feather beds and silk sheets of Castle Northman, but anyone who traveled the stars knew simple Earth-standard gravity (or a reasonable approximation thereof) was the most basic luxury of all.

Shortly after their arrival, the Viking Guard had been deployed by General Maxmillian Guerin of the Romulus Militia to Firebase Gaul.  A series of training exercises were being planned to pit the Militia and the Guard against one another, alternating as attackers and defenders, giving both units much-needed practical training.  It was planning for these engagements, and the planning of the engagements themselves, that kept Anders working well into the night.

He was already discovering what he didn't know about commanding a truly integrated combined arms unit.  His current headache was figuring out the deployment for his artillery vehicles in relation to his main force.  The artillery tanks were lightly armored and armed, their impressive guided rockets notwithstanding, so keeping them out of the enemy's reach was paramount.  But the farther they were from the main battle, the longer their destructive shells would take to arrive.  At best, they would be wasting ammunition shooting at targets already downed by the main body.  At worst, their artillery fire would arrive too late to do Anders' 'Mechs and tanks any good.  Deploying them with the main body would allow almost instantaneous arrival of artillery fire, but would place the artillery in danger of being attacked directly by fast-moving enemy elements they were ill-equipped to defend themselves from.

Megan moaned softly and shifted in her sleep, not in a pleasant way.  Anders tightened his grip on her, pulling her body closer to his.  His other hand reached up to stroke her hair, and he raised his head to whisper in her ear.  "It's alright, sweetie.  I've got you.  Shush."  Anders knew Megan suffered from nightmares, the content of which she didn't choose to discuss, even with him.  Anders declined to press the point, feeling that when she was ready to speak to him about it, she would.  In the meantime, he offered whatever comfort he was able.

Megan slowly relaxed, the nightmare passing.  Anders buried his face in her hair, inhaling deep breaths of her scent, and drifted off to sleep.

Firebase Gaul, Romulus
Trellshire, Federated Commonwealth
May 7, 3050


The shrill whine of the alert klaxon woke Anders with a start, as it was meant to.  The lights in the cabin came up instantly, and Anders squeezed his eyes shut against the blinding incandescence.  He forced his eyes to open to slits, letting them adjust.  A warning alert played next to the sound of the siren.  "Action stations, action stations, bandits incoming, bandits incoming.  Action stations, action stations, bandits incoming, bandits incoming."

"Frell me," Megan said, flopping onto her back and burying her face in the pillow.  "This had better not be a frelling drill."

Anders lurched out of bed and over to the comm station as Megan forced herself vertical and moved to the dresser, slipping into a sports bra and shorts.  Too preoccupied to enjoy the sight of his lovely lady dressing, Anders punched up the Militia HQ, barely remembering to check the outgoing transmission window to make sure he wouldn't be flashing the entire command bunker.

"Militia HQ Comms, go ahead."

"HQ, Viking Guard Actual, what the hell is going on?"

"Viking Guard, HQ Comms, stand by."  The screen blanked, and several long seconds passed, Anders' heart beginning to race as he listened to the siren and calm, repetitive voice announcing imminent violence.

The screen lit up again, showing a completely different person.  "Viking Guard Actual, HQ Actual.  Unidentified JumpShips appeared in-system at a pirate point."  The safest jump points into and out of any system were far above the poles of the sun, requiring days or weeks of DropShip travel to reach the habitable planets of the system.  Pirate points were closer, but more hazardous, as they shifted constantly with the motion of all the bodies in the system.  "DropShips detached immediately and began burning hard for Romulus, ETA less than a day."

"Any idea who they are?" Anders asked.

General Guerin smiled humorlessly.  "They call themselves 'Jade Falcons.'  Their commander contacted me as their DropShips were starting their burns.  He asked with what forces I would be defending this world."

Anders blinked in confusion.  "That makes no sense."

"I told him if he wanted to know, he could come on down and find out for himself.  He countered that he would be attacking with roughly half whatever force we offered in defense."

Now Anders was really confused.  Conventional military wisdom stated that a force attacking entrenched defenders should have at least a three-to-one numerical advantage.  "What the hell are they playing at?"

"I have no idea, but the Militia is digging in inside Romulus City.  I want you to remain at Firebase Gaul.  When I give the word, march hard at their flank."

"Copy, General, we won't let you down."

"And watch that artillery.  Remember, we'll be inside the city.  I don't want to do any more damage than absolutely necessary."

"Copy."  Defending a city from within was a risky gamble, and one technically frowned upon by the Honors of War.  Civilian collateral damage was to be kept to an absolute minimum at all times, and fighting inside a city all but guaranteed plenty of destruction.  But if these Jade Falcons were landing close enough, the General may not have had any other defensive options available.

The General cut communication, and Anders noticed waiting calls from the rest of the Viking Guard.  Patching them all through, he began to issue orders.  "Everyone saddle up.  We have hostiles inbound, ETA less than twenty-four hours.  Everyone get powered up and in defensive deployment.  Nostromo, start warming up that cannon.  White Star, get clear of the inbound vector, do not engage.  Today, all our training pays off.  Let's go make Hanse Davion proud."

***
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #14 on: 05 October 2021, 08:33:56 »
Seven hours later, the Viking Guard was still on-site, waiting for orders.  The invaders had begun to enter the atmosphere, and would be landing shortly.  Once that happened, things were going to get really interesting, really quickly.

The sun had risen a few hours prior, the golden glow of morning fading into the bright yellow of early midday.  Anders' troops were all keyed up from the rush to get on station, but now the waiting for the attack to come and disrupted sleep was starting to take its toll.

"Viking Guard, HQ Comms, bandits incoming."

"Copy, HQ."  Anders switched back to the Viking Guard frequency.  "Hostiles inbound to Militia position.  Get ready."

"Viking Guard, HQ, bandits engaging!"  The stress in the comm officer's voice told Anders something was wrong.  Punching up the data feed from the Militia, he frowned at the screen.  "This doesn't make any sense, the ranging data is way off."

"Viking Guard, HQ Comms, bandits incoming on your position.  Five, repeat, five enemy 'Mechs, inbound from sector 0307.  Be advised."

"HQ, Viking Guard Actual, copy and engaging."  Once more, Anders addressed his team.  "We have five enemy 'Mechs inbound from sector 0307.  Roll out, let's give them a proper welcome."

Anders throttled up Freya, the massive war machine stomping forward.  He kept his speed at three-quarters walking, keeping pace with the slower, heavier 'Mechs and tanks.  "Artillery Lance, maintain position nine-hundred, that's nine-zero-zero meters behind.  Be ready to drop the hammer on my go."

"Artillery acknowledges," replied Private 1st Class Seong-Yoon Chang, driver of the lead Vali Artillery Tank.  Most of the Viking Guard just called her "Singer."

The group moved in formation towards the enemy, the 'Mechs in the middle in a diamond, with Anders in the lead, Marge sixty meters directly behind him, with Megan and Aaron behind and to his left and right.  The four tanks posted at the corners, the Devastator and Ontos on point, to bring their close-range heavy autocannon and medium lasers to bear, while the Rhino and Schreck brought up the rear, to effectively use their long-range missiles and PPCs.  Overhead, the Chippewas flew circling cover patterns, looking for trouble.

The area outside Firebase Gaul was flat plains dotted with stands of trees, an ideal 'Mech battleground as far as Anders was concerned.  Open lines of fire with limited cover meant he was free to engage the enemy as he saw fit, and they wouldn't be able to easily box his people in inside a kill zone.

Half a click out, the enemy 'Mechs popped on his targeting screens, still well out of weapons range.  Anders looked at the display of the lead 'Mech, frowning again.  "Is anyone else's targeting display flaking out on them?"

"Copy," Marge replied.  "Mine keeps flopping designations, sir.  First it wants to call it a Thunderbolt, then a Warhammer."

"Same here," Megan replied.  "I get, of all things, flops between Marauder and Jenner."

Anders almost laughed.  Marauders and Jenners weren't even in the same weight class, separated by fifty tons.  "The other three. . . I get no read on at all."  He thought for a second.  "Okay, clear computers, begin recording under new files.  Designating targets and passing to you now.  Alpha looks to be the heavy, primary target, TAG it if you can.  Let's roll up nice and slow.  Nostromo, give us a Long Tom shell eight-one-zero meters out.  Artillery, start bringing those missiles in, we'll steer them when they get here."

Acknowledgements poured in through the radio as Anders started his lance forward.  Suddenly, one of the smaller 'Mechs began running towards them, covering an unbelievable amount of ground.

"Whoa, that thing is fast!" Megan exclaimed.

"Keep it together, just means it's a closer target."  Anders knew that hitting a 'Mech moving at that speed would be difficult, but he had faith in his team.  "Keep it together."

The 'Mechs and vehicles continued to move forward, though they were slowed by a copse of trees immediately in their path.  "Valkyrie flight, setting up for attack run." Keira accelerated her fighter forward, Jake far off to her left.

"Copy, Valkyries, good hunting," Anders replied.

The attackers closed with the defenders.  "Negative shot," Marge replied.  Three of the 'Mechs had just barely entered maximum range for her weapons, but her targeting computer could not confirm a lock at that distance and speed.

"Missiles away," Aaron replied, barely getting a lock on the fast-moving enemy.

"Firing," Megan added, triggering her Gauss rifle at a slightly more distant target.  Moving slower, it was an easier shot than the closer, more rapid target.

All of Aaron's missiles and Megan's Gauss slug missed their targets.  In exchange, one of the enemy 'Mechs, a hunched-over shape with apelike arms fixed outside its long, skinny legs, triggered twin PPC blasts at Anders.  Both shots missed, but Anders blinked, stunned.  I was sure I was out of his range!  On the tails of that thought, a blue beam of light streaked past his canopy from another of the attackers.  I know I was out of his range!  Three flights of five LRMs came from the tall, blocky 'Mech his computer refused to identify.  Only three of the missiles hit, blasting armor from Freya's left arm.  The heavy 'Mech scored a PPC hit on the nose of Jake's fighter, which also should have been impossible at the distance and speed the Chippewa was moving at.  "I'm hit!" Jake cried.  The PPC blast momentarily threw his instrumentation into chaos, and the melting armor of his plane's nose altered the aerodynamics in subtle but catastrophic ways.  Jake tried valiantly to keep the plane under control, but it slewed wildly before slamming into the ground, skidding into a deep furrow in the soft, grassy earth.

"Who the hell are these guys!" Marge cried, her military discipline slipping for the first time since Anders had met her.

"Shortly, dead meat," Anders replied.  "Move up, fire as they bear!  Jake, get the hell out of there!  Nostromo, keep those shells coming, close by one-eight-zero meters!"

Jake managed to trigger his liftoff jets, giving his plane some altitude and some hope of survival.  Keira banked her plane to the left, putting the heavy 'Mech square in her sights.  "This is for Jake, you bastard."  The ground-based Viking Guard continued to advance, but the enemy 'Mechs drifted to the side, putting most of a copse of trees between them.  Only Anders had a clear shot with his TAG laser, fortunately on the heavy.  Unfortunately, the shot missed.  With no targeting data, the Arrow IV homing shells plowed into the ground well away from their intended targets.

Few of the Viking Guard had shots at their targets, thanks to the intervening woods, and fewer still had locks that could potentially result in a hit.  Megan, Aaron, and Marge all took long-range shots at the small 'Mech identified as a Jenner/Marauder hybrid.  Miraculously, twelve of Aaron's LRMs hit, savaging armor across the 'Mech's legs.  One of Marge's PPCs lashed the bandit's right torso, vaporizing armor and melting away internal structures.  Most impressively, Megan's gauss slug tore through the enemy 'Mech's hip, severing the leg cleanly.  As the 'Mech began to topple, the still-standing right leg drove up into the savaged right torso, tearing it and the attached arm clean away.

The enemy's counterattack was focused entirely on Jake's hovering fighter.  SRMs from the fast-mover, a medium pulse laser and PPC from the hunched-over 'Mech, and LRMs and PPC fire from the heavy pulverized the nose of the craft, eliminating the armor and chewing away at the delicate structure that held the craft together.  The ship simply fell apart as its structure was destroyed.  "JAKE!" Keira cried.

"That's it!  Take these bastards down, NOW!" Anders roared.  He fed co-ordinates for the downed 'Mech to the Nostromo's Long Tom gunners.  One way another, in half a minute, it wouldn't be there anymore.

Keira blinked tears from her eyes as she set up for a new attack run, and the Viking Guard marched forward, accelerating to close the distance and avenge their fallen brother.  This time, all four of the Viking Guard 'Mechs had TAG shots at the heavy, Anders and Marge successfully painting the target.  The Arrow IV shells arced toward it too fast to track, delivering their high-explosive payloads.  One shell fell short, savaging the ground and spraying the 'Mech with dirt and sod.  The second detonated against the large LRM tube high on the left shoulder.  Its explosion triggered a second, the long-range missiles still in the racks detonating and consuming whatever was left of the 'Mech's left side.  The third missile landed directly on top of the domed head, obliterating it and the pilot in a flash of explosive fire.  The fourth hit the right arm, blasting away armor and ferro-titanium bones.

Now, the Viking Guard vehicles came into their own.  Finally having somewhat clear shots, three of the four opened fire, the Devastator still being too far from any of the enemy to effectively use its deadly short-range weapons.  LRMs from the Rhino and PPCs from the Schrek opened up on the hunched-over 'Mech, but the gunners failed to find the range.  The Ontos, armed primarily with ten medium lasers, which did not have the distance to reach any of the enemy, fired its backup twin ten-tube LRM launchers at the tall, blocky 'Mech, again failing to connect.  LRMs from that 'Mech arced back at the Ontos, destroying armor across its broad nose.  Armor shards stuck in the tracks, making moving the tank around significantly slower and more difficult.  The remainder of the Viking Guard and invaders traded fire furiously, but ineffectively.

The pilot of the downed Jenner/Marauder finally ejected, apparently having been knocked out at some point.  Anders found he didn't care if the pilot made it out of the blast radius of the incoming artillery shell or not.  Seeing the depressing accuracy of his forces, he ordered slowed or no movement, giving them the best chance at hitting their targets.  The hunched-over 'Mech closed rapidly, the fast-mover and tall-blocky retreating to another stand of trees.

"Split TAG targets, let's share the love," Anders said.

The fast-mover was caught in the blast of the Nostromo's arriving shell, shearing armor away from its arms and right leg, but not enough to impact its ability to fight.  The only target successfully TAGed was the hunched-over, all four shells blasting armor away across its chest and right arm, but again failing to incapacitate the target.  "It's up to us now, fire!" Anders called.

Having learned her lesson, Marge switched from her ER PPCs to her medium lasers and LB-10X autocannon, targeting the hunched-over 'Mech, though all her shots missed.  The Schreck opened up with its PPCs, scoring a hit on the hunched-over's right leg, while the Devastator finally got to fire off its big guns at the same target.  All six of its short-range missiles hit, impacting the legs and both sides of the body.  One of its powerful class-20 autocannon missed, but the second shredded armor and structure on the left arm, damaging the PPC housed there.

Megan's Gauss slug hit the fast-mover in the right shoulder, tearing the arm away and taking much of the right side with it.  Anders tried to capitalize on her shot with his large pulse laser, but failed to score a hit.  The 'Mech's damnable speed and the cover it was taking behind the trees made hitting it just shy of a miracle.  Aaron's LRM fire likewise failed to find the agile target.

Fortunately, a 'Mech moving that quickly, darting in and out of forest cover, is less than accurate itself.  The fast-mover's attacks all went wide.  The hunched-over 'Mech returned fire at Marge, scoring a hit with a medium pulse laser on her right leg and a PPC in the middle of her 'Mech's body, neither hit threatening for the heavily-armored assault 'Mech.  Tall-blocky's LRM fire was even more ineffectual, the pilot's accuracy compromised in much the same way the fast-mover's was.

Anders smiled.  "Nostromo, I'm sick of looking at that forest.  Get rid of it."  He fed the coordinates in, and the Long Tom shell was on its way.  The explosive force would shatter the trees, eliminating the cover the enemy was using against him. . . when it finally landed.  I should have thought of this at the start.

As the Viking Guard began to move up, Anders pulled them to a halt.  "We've got incoming shells we can't guide, let's hang back."  The 'Mechs and vehicles began to pull back into formation, keeping a distance from the incoming artillery.  I hope if they miss, they miss long, Anders thought.

Once again, the Command Lance TAGed the hunched-over, the artillery fire consuming the 'Mech in a brilliant ball of flame.  The Nostromo's incoming shell missed the designated target, exploding harmlessly.  Down to just the fast-moving 'Mechs, keeping the copse between them and the Viking Guard, another inconclusive exchange of fire followed.  "What if they retreat?" Megan asked.

Anders pondered for a moment.  "We press on as soon as it's clear, then go help out the Militia."

"Sir, we move much farther, Nostromo won't be able to back us up."

"That's not necessarily a bad thing," Anders replied.  The unpredictability of the Long Tom shells was not something he had counted on.

Again, Anders and his lance aimed their TAG lasers, this time at tall-blocky.  Megan successfully painted the target, but the 'Mech was too far from the incoming shells for them to correct in time.  The Nostromo's shell, this the one that had been aimed at the downed 'Mech before the pilot ejected, missed long.

Only Megan, Marge, and the Rhino had clear shots at a target, and only Megan connected, her Gauss slug stripping armor from tall-blocky's right arm.  The 'Mech's return LRM fire missed, but Anders was still astonished by these strange 'Mechs' ability to fire at targets that couldn't shoot back.  Marge had a point:  who the hell are these guys?

Anders directed another of Nostromo's shells at heavily-wooded area, in case the enemy tried to take refuge there.  He held the rest of his forces back, waiting for the remainder of the in-transit munitions to arrive before advancing.

Tall-blocky moved behind the trees, leaving fast-mover the only target for Viking Guard TAG.  Too fast to track, the 'Mech eluded the targeting lasers, and again the artillery fire was wasted.  Tall-blocky came around the woods in time for Aaron to snap off a shot with his LRMs, though they failed to connect.  One of the enemy's three flights of LRMs struck, detonating across Connor's right arm.  Fast-mover scored a hit with a medium laser on Megan's Victoria, burning a bar across her left breast.

"A medium laser?  Little bastard hit me at this range with a medium laser!"

"Confirm, Megan, medium laser?"

"Confirmed, though it packed a little more punch, damage profile says medium laser."

"That's not possible."

"Check out the damn armor report."

Indeed, Megan's 'Mech showed light armor damage from a medium laser.

"We need to end this.  Move up, keep left.  Circle around these woods and hammer them!"

Only Megan had a clear TAG shot at tall-blocky, failing to connect.  But finally, Nostromo's shell landed, obliterating a chunk of the forest the enemy had been using to make Anders' life difficult.  It wasn't enough to give all the Viking Guard clear shots, yet, but Megan, Anders, and the Rhino opened fire on tall-blocky.  Only Anders hit, his large pulse laser stitching holes in the left breast of the enemy machine.  Seven of the enemy missiles hit Megan's 'Mech, blasting away at Victoria's V-shaped torso.

Anders' attempt to TAG tall-blocky missed, but Megan nailed the fast-mover.  In a flash, the light 'Mech vanished completely as the Arrow IV missiles' explosive payloads obliterated it.  "One left, take him down!" Anders commanded.

Finally close enough to bring more of their weapons to bear, the Viking Guard unloaded on the remaining 'Mech.  The last 'Mech standing fired its LRMs again, tearing armor off of Freya's arms.  Anders returned fire, missing with his large pulse laser but hitting with five SRMs and one medium laser, scattering damage across the legs, left arm, and left torso.  None of the other Viking Guard were able to track the skilled pilot in his surprisingly agile machine.  Scans were showing it to be a medium 'Mech, between 40 and 50 tons, but it was moving like it weighed half that.  And no 'Mech that size with that big an engine should be able to take and dish punishment like this one could.

Once again entering danger from friendly artillery, Anders called a stop to his force, though he let the Devastator and Rhino move up a bit more, as they were farther from the planned landings.  As Anders had predicted, the enemy 'Mech moved to use the next copse of trees as cover, but to Anders' frustration, remained just out of the blast radius of the shell he'd ordered dropped there.  He's learning, dammit.  Because of the forest's interference, none of the Viking Guard were able to successfully TAG the invader.  Worse, the enemy had once again widened the distance, making it even more difficult for the Viking Guard to hit him.

"LRMs dry," Aaron reported.  "Ye got tae get me closer, I got tons o' AC ammo I hanae fired yet."

"Working on it," Anders bit back.

Laying off her PPCs, Marge fired her LB-10X autocannon, using cluster munitions.  The shotgun-like spread of the pellets increased the chances of at least some of them hitting, to no avail.  The Ontos' and Rhino's LRMs similarly went wide, as did the Schrek's three PPCs.  Megan scored good hits with her Gauss rifle and SRMs, severely damaging the 'Mech's right leg.  "If we can get that leg, we win!" Anders crowed.

"How is he still up?" Megan asked.  "We've dumped enough fire into him to knock him down three times over."

"Sweep the leg, and he'll go down and stay down," Anders replied.

Yet again, the Viking Guard were unable to TAG their elusive target.  The Devastator gunned its engine, crashing into the remaining woods and closing enough bring its SRMs and AC/20s into play.  The rest of the Viking Guard continued to close, giving artillery-target areas a wide berth.

Six of the bandit's missiles hit Victoria in the arms, but the Viking Guard returned fire with a vengeance.  Of thirty LRMs launched from the Rhino's nose and turret, eighteen found their mark, savaging armor on the bandit's left and right torsos, right arm, and even head.  Stripped of armor on the left side, one missile cracked the fusion engine shielding, spiking the 'Mech's heat.  Marge risked heat buildup to fire both PPCs and her autocannon again.  This time the AC shot connected, pellets damaging the 'Mechs left leg, right torso, and further chewing away at the naked skeleton of the left torso.  Megan's Gauss shot stripped all but the last vestige of armor from the left leg, rendering the 'Mech very vulnerable.

In response to the Viking Guard's advancement, the enemy 'Mech darted around the copse of trees, preventing most of the Guard from getting a sensor fix.  Only Marge and Aaron had eyes on him, but Aaron was close enough to unload his Highlander's firepower.  Of the exchanged fire, only five of the bandit's LRMs found their mark, striking Marge's Marauder II in the right side.

"Clear out!" Anders cried.  "Nostromo, wipe out this dinky forest!"

The Viking Guard moved away, knowing they had only half a minute before an artillery shell would obliterate anything in range.  The bandit reversed his previous move, swinging back around the copse, apparently frightened by coming face-to-face with Connor and Tyr.  Anders, Megan, and Aaron moved relentlessly to cut off the bandit's avenue of retreat, and the Devesator slowly but surely crunched its way through the woods to keep up the pressure.

Too close, the invader 'Mech couldn't evade TAG fire this time.  Arrow IV missiles arced in, blowing apart the 'Mech's right arm, taking the LRM ammo with it.  CASE equipment prevented the ammunition explosion from doing more than disintegrating the right arm, but it couldn't stop the artillery missile's payload.  The explosion claimed the remainder of the right torso, taking parts of the XL engine with it.  Including the containment breach from the left side, not enough shielding remained to keep heavy, non-fusible atmosphere out of the delicate mix of combining hydrogen, and the fusion reaction ground to a halt.  The remaining missiles obliterated what was left of the left torso and leg, but the 'Mech was already dead.

"HQ, Viking Guard, hostiles neutralized, repeat, hostiles neutralized!" Anders couldn't keep his elation out of his voice.  For a moment, a moment he would regret for the rest of his life, he'd completely forgotten his dead friend, Jake Sakuma. 

"Viking Guard, HQ Actual," General Guerin replied soberly.  "Extract and dustoff."

Anders gaped at the radio.  "Say again, HQ?"

"Extract and dustoff, Northman.  That's an order."

"Negative, HQ, we just took down five of the invaders, only one casualty."  A lump caught in Anders' throat as he remembered Jake's plane disintegrating.  "We can flank them and take them down."

"Negative, Hauptman.  I've already lost ten 'Mechs, five vehicles are destroyed with ten more inoperable.  We're falling back deeper into the city, but they're hitting us harder, faster, and longer than we can.  We've got a day, maybe two, before the Romulus Militia ceases to exist.  Get the hell out of here."

"General-"

"Someone needs to let the rest of the AFFC know what's going on here, Northman.  I'm uploading battleROMs to your DropShip, we'll keep up the transmission as long as we can.  Go, tell them what happened."

"He's right, Anders."  Keira replied, finally returning to the battlefield.  "I got held up by some bandit fighters, had to burn hard to lose them.  I got back as fast as I could, but the Militia. . . you didn't see it, Anders.  There's nothing we can do except die."

"No.  No!  There has to be some way we can help."

"There is," General Guerin replied.  "Make sure the next planet is ready for them.  Go."

Anders pressed his mouth into a line, grinding his teeth.  "Copy, HQ Actual.  It's been an honor, sir.  Viking Guard out."

"So, we're just leaving?" Aaron asked.

"Not yet we're not."

"Anders, trust me," Keira said.  "There's nothing more here we can do."

"Oh, yes there is," Anders replied.  "Nostromo, send out the recovery vehicles, double time.  This sector is secure for the moment, and I want to know just what the hell we're up against.  Soon as they have the bad guys' remains loaded, we're off.  Keep pumping shells downrange, Nostromo, and get ready for dustoff as soon as we're aboard.  Keira, head back to the White StarWhite Star, Nostromo, co-ordinate rendezvous, and make sure there's a JumpShip waiting for us, we're falling back to Evciler.  Make it snappy, people!"
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #15 on: 05 October 2021, 08:47:59 »
Author's Notes

Oh, boy.

As you can probably tell, I wrote this chapter based off playing it out.  It came out rather more "turn-based" than I liked, and I kept grappling with how to rewrite it, whether or not to replay the battle in its entirety, etc.  Part of what killed my interest in the story, to be honest.  I used MegaMek and Princess Bot, explaining why the Clan force here behaves in a somewhat unClanlike manner.

At the time I was writing this, I couldn't afford the latest BattleTech rulebooks, so was making do with the ones I had that were at least an edition behind.  As such, I combed through the rules trying to figure out if Jake survived the destruction of his fighter.  I seem to recall not being able to find anything definitive, but decided that this is the sort of thing that should be fatal in reality, so went with this being the sudden end of the glorious career of Jake Sakuma.  All because of one lucky PPC hit and one unlucky lawn dart check.  I also struggled a bit trying figure out how to get the fighter airborne and moving again.  Not sure if that was an issue with that version of MegaMek (not having full AeroSpace rules implemented, perhaps), the AeroSpace rules being rather punishing, or me just being dumb.  Also, Kiera sat out most of the battle because I forgot to allow return flyovers, so had to write her out of the battle after her one attack run.

Speaking of being stupid, Anders is not great with the artillery because I was still learning how to use it effectively.  I felt that fit his character, being a well-trained but badly inexperienced commander who didn't make the wisest decisions he could have.  Some of Anders' lack of tactical savvy is my own.  I just tend to march forward and shoot at whatever I can best hit until the enemies stop moving.  Yes, the Viking Guard is a Rasalhague-themed Davion unit using Lyran tactics.  I'm gonna go to the special hell.

The Clan Mechs involved here.  I know had a Summoner, "the heavy," I'm pretty sure "tall-blocky" was an Ice Ferret, "hunched over" I think was an Adder, I believe the Jenner/Marauder was a Kit Fox, and "fast-mover" was obviously a Dasher.  Yeah, that's pretty light to send up against four assault 'Mechs, four heavy tanks, two AeroSpace fighters, and an artillery lance.  But these guys are the main characters, they had to survive, but get scorched badly enough they'd take the Clans seriously as a threat.

All told, I'm somewhat disappointed in this one, but I do like the avenues it opened for the rest of the story.  Of which there is not much.

PS:  Cut it into three parts because this was a long one.
« Last Edit: 05 October 2021, 11:29:43 by ErikModi »
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #16 on: 05 October 2021, 09:00:05 »
-10-

WarShip Talon, Trell I
Trellshire, Federated Commonwealth
May 7, 3050


Panic gripped Eva when she was ordered to report to the DropShip Vigilante.  She feared her time had come, and this world would be where her career as a Jade Falcon warrior would end with garrison duty.

Her first glimmer of hope came as she arrived at the personnel transfer bay, leading to the tunnel which allowed passage between the Talon and the Vigilante.  Many warriors were gathered with her, but only a few from her own unit.  Even more heartening, several of the warriors were trueborns, though they had quickly separated into their own group, as far from the freeborn warriors as the cramped space would allow.  Eva's second clue that she had escaped garrison duty -- for now -- was that a falconer, instead of a proper Star Captain, was overseeing the transfer.

Once the last of the summoned warriors settled in, the falconer began to speak.

"You have all been brought here because sufficient time has passed since your last Trial of Position.  You must re-test to retain your standing as warriors of Clan Jade Falcon.  These Trials will take place on the newly-conquered planet below.  They will be concluded by local sunrise tomorrow, at which point you will return here to continue the invasion.  As I call your name, proceed to the Vigilante and take your assigned berth.  The DropShip launches in no more than one hour."

***

Six hours later, Eva thrilled at the feel of real gravity, but more importantly, the feel of her 'Mech around her once more.

She had waited patiently as the other warriors tested through their Trials, the trueborns going first, pitted against the warriors who had so recently taken this world for the Clan.  Predictably, there were no warriors who failed their Trials.  Re-taking Trials of Position, especially for warriors as fresh as Eva, was largely a formality.  Only older warriors, slowing from age and being surpassed by warriors two or three generations improved, really had to worry about retaining their warrior status.

Eva wasn't worried about being retained as a warrior.  She knew she was good enough, more than good enough, to hold her position.  She hungered for promotion.  In a Trial of Position, a warrior was pitted against three enemy 'Mechs.  According to the Clan rules of engagement, the zellbrigen, only the enemy the testing warrior engaged would fight back, unless the testing warrior fired on another target, opening the battle into grand melee.  A warrior who downed one target would advance one rank, such as from cadet to warrior in their first Trial, or maintain their current rank in a qualifying Trial such as this.  Each successive target engaged and neutralized would net the warrior a promotion to another rank.

In Eva's first Trial, where she earned the rank of MechWarrior, she had fully intended to pursue advancement.  While she downed her opponent easily, a lucky strike on her cockpit by a large laser had melted away all the armor protecting her, and seriously damaged the integrity of the 'Mechs control center.  Any further damage to the 'Mech's difficult to hit but vulnerable head would have cost Eva her one chance at becoming a warrior, and likely killed her.  She had been forced to content herself with simply entering the warrior caste, and still carried the scars along her left arm from where shards of heated armored glass had punctured her cooling suit to tear her skin.

Finally, her time was at hand.  The falconer told her to move her Rifleman into the field of battle, where she would meet her opponent.  Eva walked her 'Mech over the rises and ridges that marked the rocky terrain of this world.  As she crested a particularly tall ridge, using her jump jets to assist her ascent, she got her first look at the battlefield that had been selected for her.

Tall plateaus dotted the sandy, rocky plain, providing a maze through which her and her opponent would maneuver to unload their firepower upon each other.  Inwardly, Eva winced, knowing that the primarily long-range setup of her Riflman's large pulse lasers would be hampered in such close quarters, but she took some solace in the fact that even longer-ranged weapons, like extended-range large lasers and PPCs, would likely not be able to fire on her before she was also in range.

"MechWarrior Eva," the Falconer said over her 'Mech's comm.  "Your opponent will be a Phoenix Hawk IIC.  Neutralize your enemy and retain your status as a warrior.  Fail, and be removed from active duty and reassigned.  Skill."

Eva winced again.  The Clan version of the Phoenix Hawk had been nearly doubled in mass from its lighter Inner Sphere cousin.  Though it had fifteen tons on her own machine, it also moved faster.  Eva's only solace was that it was somewhat anemically armed for an assault-class BattleMech, carrying only twin Ultra class-ten autocannon and a pair of machine guns, the latter all but useless against any 'Mech.  The autocannons gave her some worry, both because the terrain would place her well within their effective range if she were able to bring her large lasers to bear, and because the pilot could, at the risk of jamming the feed mechanisms, double their fire rate, potentially matching the damage output of a devastating class-20 autocannon.  Her Rifleman still boasted more firepower, though she could overheat her machine easily if she kept up constant fire with all four large pulse lasers and the backup ER small laser, which could actually come into play in the gullies between the massive plateaus.

Eva moved to the right of a large, tall hill, seeking her enemy on her scanners.  She kicked her 'Mech into a run up the gentle slope at the base of the plateau, her scopes still reading negative.  Triggering her jump jets, she landed gently atop the lowest part of the rocky table, hoping the elevation would reveal her enemy.  The intervening rocky ridges were taller than she had thought, occluding her view of the opposite end of the battlefield, and too tall for her to clear in single bound of her jump jets from the valley floor.

Eva was faced with a choice.  Walk through the relatively flat terrain to her right, and potentially straight into the guns of her enemy, or try and find a rise tall enough to reach the top of the next plateau, gaining height advantage.  She opted for the latter.

She leapt her 'Mech again, forward and to the left, grounding at the base of a sheer cliff twice as tall as the Rifleman.  As she landed, her active probe system pinged, revealing the location of her quarry.  Some distance away, still out of sight beyond the massive cliff.

Eva wheeled her 'Mech around, marching towards her enemy.  Still unaware of her presence, he crossed her line of fire, and she let loose with everything she had.  All four pulse lasers scattered damage across the Phoenix Hawk's right side and both legs.  Startled, her enemy twisted around, snapping off shots from his autocannon.  Only one connected, but it stripped half the armor from the Rifleman's left arm.

Eva brought her 'Mech to a halt, the controls already slowing down as the heat affected the circuits responsible for controlling the machine.  As she did so, the Phoenix Hawk sprinted around her, parking itself right behind the Rifleman.  Eva smiled.

One of the advantages of the Rifleman, and many newer OmniMechs, was ironically the lack of motive structures in lower arms, allowing such 'Mechs to do something no 'Mech with arms that more closely resembled human arms could do.  Eva rotated the Rifleman's arms at the shoulder, bringing them through a full one-hundred eighty degrees, pointing them squarely back at the Phoenix Hawk.  One eye on the heat gauge, she triggered three of her four lasers.

One of the weapons scorched the Phoenix Hawk's right torso, obliterating the remaining armor and chewing up the skeleton that held the 'Mech together.  Another blasted away at the right leg, leaving only a few shreds of armor untouched.  The third zapped the enemy squarely in the face, melting away all the protection for the 'Mech's head and severely damaging the sensitive systems it had protected.  Eva remembered well from her first Trial the brilliant flash of light, followed by the sound of outside air whipping around her.  The enemy's return fire scattered across Eva's back, dealing no significant damage.

Shaken by the head hit, the Phoenix Hawk pilot backed off.  Eva jumped her 'Mech forward, pirouetting in midair to land facing her prey.  The heat gauge nudged upwards in response to the ion fire, then skyrocketed as she fired her pulse lasers again.

Her opponent missed with both autocannon shots, but Eva's attacks were on target.  The large pulse lasers savaged armor on the Phoenix Hawk's left arm and right leg, leaving the arm bare of armor.  The energy needles prickling the leg ate away at the endo-steel skeleton, snapping and boiling myomer fibers from hip to knee.  One errant pulse shot into the ankle, severing the fibers that controlled it and fusing the joint completely.  Between the weight imbalance caused by the loss of tons of metal instantly converted to vapor and useless leg, the pilot of the Phoenix Hawk was helpless to keep his machine upright.  The 'Mech flopped onto its belly, crushing armor across its broad chest beneath its own weight.

Several seconds passed, and the machine lay still, Eva gripped the joysticks tightly, fingers ready to tighten on the triggers as soon as her opponent stirred.  Finally, static crackled over her neurohelmet's built-in headset.  "MechWarrior Eva, your opponent appears to be unconscious.  You have neutralized your target and retained warrior status.  Congratulations."

Eva smiled grimly.  "Falconer, I wish to engage another target."

"Neg, MechWarrior.  Your Trial is complete."

"I am capable of engaging and defeating another opponent."

"That may be so, but this is not a full Trial.  This is a retest to confirm you in your current rank.  That is all."

Eva gritted her teeth.  "Falconer, under the rules of a Trial of Position, I may-"

"I repeat myself, MechWarrior:  This is a not a full Trial of Position.  You have downed the one opponent supplied to you to confirm your warrior status.  The Clan has neither the time nor the resources to indulge every warrior who wishes to increase their rank right now, to say nothing of the time spent rearranging assignments and tables of organization to accommodate spurious promotions.  You are a MechWarrior, that is that, and you will clear the field to allow another warrior to take their Trial.  That.  Is.  All."

Jaw muscles clamping in rage, Eva barely managed to keep her ire out of her voice.  "Understood, falconer, returning to base."  She clicked off her radio, double and triple checked to make sure it was not transmitting, before giving voice to her frustration and rage in the longest, loudest, harshest scream she could manage.  Drawing in a ragged breath through her raw throat, she began to scream the foulest curses she could imagine, even as she steered her Rifleman back towards the Vigilante.

"Trashborn!  Filthy Wolf-pup suckling bastards!  Polluted wastes of genetic material!  Inferior, inbred, ancient, dead-end, cowards!"

Author's Notes

This one, on the other hand, I'm rather proud of.  Again, played out in MegaMek.  I forget which map I picked, but it was a lot of deep canyons and high plateaus, which I picked partly in hopes it would keep Princess from huddling in one corner as far away from me as she could get.  I forget exactly how I arrived at her opposition being a Phoenix Hawk IIC, whether I rolled randomly or picked something challenging but definitely beatable, but it turned out well.  Eva really got to strut her stuff.

Much is made, especially in Malicious Intent, about Clan Warriors continually having to prove they are warriors, so calling a halt to run a bunch of requalifying Trials seemed a Clanlike thing to do to me.
« Last Edit: 05 October 2021, 12:52:40 by ErikModi »
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ThePW

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #17 on: 05 October 2021, 10:25:30 »
uhmm.... Station Keeping, Helm. This better be more than Partial and more Certainly, NOT Abandoned. You can always do any desired Civil War action Separately because that starts over a decade later (and there is no need to rush, mate)  :thumbsup:

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #18 on: 05 October 2021, 10:34:41 »
Sorry, just a chapter and a fragment left.  The story just isn't speaking to me anymore.  If I did continue it, I'd basically be scrapping it and starting over.

Glad you're enjoying it, though, I appreciate it!
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #19 on: 06 October 2021, 07:46:37 »
-11-

DropShip Nostromo, Outbound, Romulus
Trellshire, Federated Commonwealth
May 7, 3050


Anders sat in his quarters, the gravity provided by the Nostromo accelerating towards the jump point keeping him in his place.  He watched the battleROMs from Romulus, watching strange 'Mechs, like the ones his unit had fought and many more besides, tearing through the Romulus Militia.  Everywhere, the story was the same.  'Mechs of the same tonnage hit harder at longer ranges, moved faster, and carried more armor than anything the AFFC could send against them.  And each battleROM ended the same way:  a flash of enemy weapons fire, then static.

The enemy went down, of course.  They weren't invincible individually, but collectively, their massed firepower was more than match for the defenders.  Anders' distantly analyzed the vids according to his training, and his military mind noted that the invaders were scoring on average 3.7 to one kill ratios.  More than enough to overcome their half-force handicap.

There was a knock on the door, and Anders barely stirred.  The knock was repeated, then the door opened, and Megan walked in.

"Anders, Blin wants to see you in the MechBay."

Anders didn't move.

Megan came and knelt beside him, resting her hands on his thigh.  "What's wrong?"

Anders still didn't say anything.

Megan stood, and slid into Anders' lap, cutting off his view of the holoscreen.  "Anders, snap out of it.  We got beat, but not bad.  We'll come back stronger, and kick these Green Chickens or whatever back wherever they came from."

"I failed, Megan," Anders finally said, weakly.  "I was there to protect that planet, and I failed."

"General Guerin was there to protect that planet.  You were there for training exercises.  There was nothing more we could have done."

"There should have been, there could have been.  I could have. . . I don't know, deployed sooner.  Been smarter with the artillery fire.  If we'd closed faster, if we'd taken them sooner-"

"The Militia still would have been overrun.  We were four 'Mechs, we wouldn't have made a difference."

"It was my duty-"

"You still have a duty!" Megan said sharply.  "You have a duty to get this information to people who can use it, not to sit here torturing yourself with it!  Next time we'll be able to win, really win."

"Next time?" Anders asked.  "Look at this."  He pushed Megan off his lap, and returned to a battleROM he'd watched many times, a part he'd watched many times.  From the gun cameras of a Spider, an Atlas faced off against one of the same heavy 'Mechs that had led the lance the Viking Guard had tangled with.  As the Atlas closed, the invader raised its right arm.  The azure electrical whip of the PPC shot at the 100-ton FedCom 'Mech's head, vaporizing it completely.  Anders paused the image as the decapitated Atlas began to fall.  "See that?  Our PPCs don't have that kind of power.  Only an AC/20 or your Gauss rifle can take a fully-armored 'Mech's head off in one hit."

Megan shrugged.  "The head armor was weak, took a shot earlier or something."

Anders shook his head.  "No, that's not it.  That Atlas was untouched, completely untouched.  That PPC has to deal at least twenty percent more damage than ours, and judging from other records I've seen, it's more like fifty.  How the hell do we stand a chance against firepower like that?"

"And the alternative is what?  Roll over, give up?  Do you want these Green Chickens-"

"Jade Falcons," Anders corrected.

"Whatever, to hit Logandale?  Do you want them to storm your family castle, eat up all your havarti?  Do you want them on Tharkad, or New Avlon, or Terra?  Or do you want to stand up, clean yourself up, and find a way to stop them right frelling now?"

Anders hesitated.

"We're with you, Anders.  The whole of the Viking Guard, we're with you.  And we'll be with you no matter what, but not if you decide to pack it in.  Ever since we've met, you've been telling me about the grand warrior tradition of your family.  Well, today's the day you stop talking it and start living it.  And I know which call the man I love would make."

The barest hint of a smile began to crack Anders' lips.  "You know something?  You're beautiful when you're right."

"And I'm always right," Megan replied, smiling.

Anders' budding smile blossomed.  "And you're always beautiful."

***

Anders grabbed a shower and bite to eat, then headed down to the Nostromo's 'Mech bay.  Command Sergeant Major Blin was waiting for him.

"We transferred what's left of Jake's fighter to the White Star," Blin began without preamble.  "It's toast, but the techs over there are pulling what they can.  Most of the equipment is pretty intact, despite lithobraking twice."  "Lithobraking" was a play on the term "aerobraking."  Aerobraking involved using a planet's atmosphere to slow a ship's descent, while lithobraking meant doing the same with the actual planet.  It was really just a fancy term for crashing, and piloting instructors at NAMA were fond of telling their students that certain mistakes would result in them "lithobraking into a low synchronous orbit."

Anders nodded, swallowing the lump that rose in his throat at the mention of Jake's name.  "We'll need those parts soon, I'm sure."

Blin nodded.  "But here, this is what I really wanted to show you."  Blin guided Anders deeper into the 'Mech bay.  Scattered across the floor of the bay were the remnants of the 'Mechs Anders and his team had destroyed.  Techs were crawling all over them, beginning salvage operations.  Lying on the deck, twice as long as Anders was tall, was an oblong shape with a hexagonal cross-section.  The end near Anders looked like an emitter, but he still couldn't figure out what he was looking at.  "I give, what is it?"

"It's an extended-range particle projection cannon, main weapon of that beast over there," Blin waved toward where the artillery-ravaged heavy 'Mech lay.  "What's fascinating here is that it's all encased in this. . . pod."

"Why?" Anders asked, feeling his own curiosity growing.

"Well, there's contact plates here and here," Blin pointed out.  "With what look like plugs for power and computer cables.  Once we undid the bolts holding it in, this baby just popped free."

Anders raised his eyebrows.  "Modular?"

"Looks like.  Aside from the bones and skin of the 'Mech, and necessities like engines and heat sinks, nothing's hardwired in, at least not that we've found so far.  The weapons and equipment of these 'Mechs seems to follow this same design, so they can be reconfigured at will, and pretty fast."

"How fast?" Anders asked.

Blin shrugged.  "I can't say for sure.  At a guess, popping in and out a weapon like this would take an hour or two."

Anders whistled.  "That's. . . unbelievable."

"One word for it.  The good news is, everything seems compatible.  If I can work it free from the shell safely, I should be able to wire it in to one of your machines."

"You really think so?"

"Can't see why not."

"What's the performance?"

Blin grinned widely.  "We haven't actually fired it up, obviously, but gauging from the draw the electrical components are designed for, I'd say this thing puts out the same heat as our ERPPCs, and does fifty percent more damage.  The particle focusing apparatus is more efficient too, so I think it'll actually shoot farther."

"Certainly seems that way," Anders mused.  "How far are you on salvage?"

"We've only just started with the big one, figured we should get your 'Mechs in order first."

Anders nodded.  "Let me know how it goes.  You run into any snags, you let me know immediately.  I'll want a complete manifest of this. . . this. . . this newtech salvage when you're done.  NAIS will be incredibly interested in all of it."

"All of it, sir?"

Anders grinned.  "Well, they shouldn't need duplicates of everything, should they?"

Blin returned the smile.  "Exactly my thinking, sir."

Author's Notes

Anders Heroic BSODing here seemed right.  He's young, cocky, thinks he's Odin's gift to MechWarriors, and his name will be writ into the history books with every battle he wins.  Not precisely arrogant, thinking he's better than everyone else, just that sense in the back of his mind of being "young and immortal" that many young people have.  Here's where he loses that.  And of course, Megan is there to snap him out of it.

Going along with whether or not Jake was actually dead, I wasn't sure if his fighter survived in any measure, since it was the AeroSpace equivalent of cored.  In the end, I decided to trust MekHQ on this point.

I hadn't realized while writing (or it hadn't been firmly established) that equipment mounted in OmniPods aren't compatible with non-OmniMechs and vice versa.  I'd assumed that you could just open the OmniPod, take out the gear, and you had a piece of equipment ready to install the old fashioned way in non-Omni.  Chalk it up to Blin being a little overly optimistic.  I also know the Summoner has fixed jump jets, Blin hadn't gotten that far in his salvage efforts yet.  And yes, I was planning for the Viking Guard to start installing Clantech on their 'Mechs.
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

ErikModi

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #20 on: 06 October 2021, 08:26:11 »
-12-

WarShip Talon, Inbound, Twycross
Trellshire, Federated Commonwealth
May 9, 3050


Eva ran.

Her feet thudded solidly on the deck, sending shockwaves up her calves and thighs, jolting breaths from her chest.  Her arms pumped in time to her legs.  Sweat poured down her skin, soaking her clothes.  Fire burned in her breast as she struggled to keep air moving in and out of her lungs against the throbbing aches deep in all her muscles.

She had, finally, again been granted time on the grav deck of the Talon, and she was making the most of it.  She ran as hard as she could on the track that made up the majority of the large, circular room.  The rotating cylinder deep in the ship had enough space for a running track, a few weightlifting areas, and several benches and chairs to allow warriors to rest between exercises.

Eva had made the conscious decision, when she first saw she would be allowed two hours on the grav deck, that she would run.  Run until she literally could run no more.  She told herself she wanted to see how her body had deteriorated during the long space voyage from the Pentagon Worlds, to know exactly what kind of physical shape she was really in.  Deep down, in a place she was barely even aware existed, she knew it was the best way to burn off her increasing anxiety, frustration, and fear.

And so she ran.

Fatigue and breathlessness set in quickly, but she kept pushing.  Muscles began to ache and complain, and she kept pushing.  Joints began to scream in silent protest, and she kept pushing.  Her legs and arms grew heavier and heavier in the centrifugal gravity, and she kept pushing.

Finally, she could push no more.  Her body flat-out refused to go any farther, and she used the last few steps to not-quite stagger over to a bench where she could rest.  Blood thundering in her head and chest, lungs aching for air, she sat, and tried not to let the fatigue tremors that wracked her body show too much.

“Finally decided to slow down, quiaff?” a voice asked from behind her.

Eva turned, and saw MechWarrior Elisa, another freeborn, moving to sit next to her on the bench.  “Aff,” Eva replied.  “It was a good run.”

“You’ve been running since before I got here.  I was beginning to wonder if you were ever planning to stop.”

Eva shrugged nonchalantly.  “It is good exercise.”

“I was planning to do some weights.  Would you care to spot me?”

Eva felt intense pain as the back of her right thigh spasmed and cramped, and she subtly shifted her weight to put pressure on the spot.  “Not at the moment, I fear.  I need a bit more time to catch my breath.”

“Understood.  I can wait.”

Author's Notes

And that's all I have.  Sorry.

Future Plans:

I do have a rough idea where I was going with all this.  As I said, the initial plan was to follow the Viking Guard from the start of the Clan Invasion to the end of the FedCom Civil War (about which I still know basically nothing.  I was going to research it, honest).  They were going to sit out most of the Chaos March stuff, because Megan was going to get pregnant.  Likewise, while they'd participate in Operation BULLDOG, they would not accompany Prince Victor into Clan Space, having a little one at home to think about.

In the more immediate future. . . the location tag of the last chapter should really tell you where this is going.  I believe this chapter would see the freeborns kicked off the grav deck by the Falcon Guard, Eva herself perhaps having a run-in with Joanna (I'd have to do more research to make sure her appearance here would be accurate).  After that, yes, Eva's career as a garrison warrior begins on Twycross, and she laments that she's been sent to her slow, wasting death.  How little does she know.

In running things in MekHQ, by the time the Nostromo reached Evciler, it had been taken by the Jade Falcons, too.  Basically, they'd jump in-system and see FedCom survivors burning away from the planet, with orders to fall back even deeper into Lyran space.  Then the Viking Guard would be tasked to meet with the forces planning how to respond to the Clan Invasion, eventually joining Victor's assault on Twycross.  In the aftermath of the battle, Anders would find a Clan MechWarrior trapped in the cockpit of her Rifleman and rescue her.

Thus does Eva consider herself a bondswoman to the Viking Guard.  Anders doesn't quite get the concept, but finds himself seeing a lot of untapped potential in this strange woman, and learns that her loyalty has pretty much already been transferred to them (the Jade Falcons would likely be entirely uninterested in ransoming back a freeborn, even if the Inner Sphere knew how to negotiate such a thing).  So, when enough salvage was gained, Anders would present Eva a salvaged Clan Summoner, figuring she'd be most familiar with the machine, and wanting one specifically for the Viking Guard due to the reporting name of Thor (that's some good omen right there).
 Eva would have been exceptionally grateful.  Not sure if I'd have her join the command lance, turning it into a command star, or have her join a different lance.  Anyway, partially as a result of this, Eva would offer to couple with Anders.  Hilarity ensues at the culture clash, as Anders tries to explain to someone with no concept of fidelity that he's flattered, but has to decline.  It would get especially funny when Eva goes to Megan to try to understand why Anders turned her down.  The two were actually going to become pretty good friends as a result.


Megan's upbringing as the dependent of a small merc unit would also come up, as she gives Anders the idea to start recruiting for the Viking Guard from mercenaries dispossessed by the Clans (because the Clans hate mercs).  I never really settled on what Anders' sales pitch would be. . . after all, mercs are mercs precisely because they don't want to tie their loyalty and fortunes to an established power.

And at some point, Anders and Duncan would reconcile slightly, admitting that, at the very least, they are fighting on the same side against the Clans, and can at least respect each other as capable warriors and commanders.  I was going to bring in another song like "Daddy Fox" to play on the eve of a battle both would be involved in, after a dinner or something with much trepidation about facing down the Clans again:

Fine friends and companions come join me in rhyme,
Come lift up your voices in chorus with mine.
Come lift up your voices all grief to refrain,
For we may or might never all meet here again.

So here's a health to the company and one to my lass,
Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass,
Let us drink and be merry all grief to refrain,
For we may or might never all meet here again.

Here's a health to the wee lass that I love so well,
Her smile and her beauty there's none can excel,
She smiles on my countenance as she sits upon me knee,
Sure there's no one in this wide world as happy as me.

So here's a health to the company and one to my lass,
Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass.
Let us drink and be merry all grief to refrain,
For we may or might never all meet here again.

Our ship is at harbor she's ready to dock,
I wish for safe landing without any shock.
And if never we shall meet again by land or by sea,
I will always remember your kindness to me.

So here's a health to the company and one to my lass,
Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass.
Let us drink and be merry all grief to refrain,
For we may or might never all meet here again.
Best Served Cold (Clan Wolverine AU)

House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)

DOC_Agren

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Re: House Northman (Partial, Abandoned)
« Reply #21 on: 06 October 2021, 18:01:08 »
The Viking Guards story has been a good one, I hope you would consider writing more.
"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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