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Author Topic: Falcon's Fall (AU)  (Read 11879 times)

Jaim Magnus

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Falcon's Fall (AU)
« on: 25 January 2011, 22:29:01 »

Some quick notes before reading. 
This is from an alternate timeline of mine that is still in the works.  The Clan invasion came from the "south" of the map, resulting in significant changes.  The FedCom no longer exists, because the Sarna March was taken by the Clans.  Clan Wolf took Terra and reformed the Star League.  The Capellan Confederation and St. Ives Compact no longer exist.  After the Wolves took Terra, the Jade Falcons abandoned their corridor to take Vega.  The theory being that taking the world where the original Star League charter was signed would regain some honour for the Falcons.
Ulric Kerensky is the ilKhan.  After taking Terra, he restored the Star League and declared a temporary cease fire to allow the Inner Sphere the opportunity to peacefully join the League.  Only Rasalhague, Regulus and Skye have taken him up on the offer.
Kael Pershaw is Grand Loremaster of the Star League and Protector of Terra.  As such he commands both the Ebon and Unity Keshik’s, units made up of warriors from every member of the League.
That being said, enjoy!


Chapter 1

Turkina City, Vega
Jade Falcon Territory, Clan Domains
2 October 3054

Timur Malthus, saKhan of the Jade Falcon’s,  stalked the halls of the Jade Falcon military headquarters, fuming.  He simply could not believe what Elias had done this time.  The unmitigated gall of the action!  It could lead, at best, to censure by the Grand Council, at worst to calls for absorption.  Determined to avoid that at all costs, Malthus began to plan, and called a meeting of his most senior and loyal officers.  Soon gathered were Loremaster Easton Buhallin, Galaxy Commander Marthe Pryde, and Star Colonel’s Aidan Pryde, Rosendo Hazen and Persis Anu; men and women of honour whom he trusted completely.

Once gathered Timur stared at his friends and officers, unsure how to begin.  He was saved by the ever irreverent Aidan Pryde.  “Alright Timur, why exactly are we here?  My Irregulars were to be lifting off for manoeuvres and hour ago.”

Marthe Pryde sipped her drink and nodded in agreement.  “As was the rest of the galaxy.  I am curious Khan Malthus.”

Timur took a deep breath.  “Several issues have recently come to my attention.  The lesser of these issues is that Khan Elias authorized the creation of dozens of secret sibko’s nearly twenty years ago.  These sibko’s are now ready to test out.  This will allow us to form three or four additional galaxies.”

“And what is the greater of these issues?” came the raspy voice of Persis Anu, whose throat had been damaged some years ago in combat.

“Khan Elias intends to use these forces to drive the Wolves from Terra and seize the mantle of leadership of the Star League.”

The assembled warriors looked on in shock.  “Crichell has gone insane, quiaff?”

“Neg Marthe.  He has apparently planned this strategy out in some detail.  He has even gone so far as to place agents… assassins… to eliminate the ilKhan.”

Rosendo Hazen shook his head in disbelief.  “That is sheer lunacy.  The rest of the Star League would descend upon us in a wave of vengeance.  He flirts with our annihilation.”

Aidan sat quietly, fingers steepled together in thought.  “If Elias Crichell is allowed to succeed, the Jade Falcon’s will be destroyed.  Either the other Clans will devour us, or we will have thrown away all honour.  How much support does this plan have?”

The question brought a grimace to Malthus’ face.  “Galaxy Commander’s Senza Oriega, Vandervahn Chistu and Samantha Clees either support or assisted in the planning.  Plus whatever officers he has tapped to command the new galaxies.  This would give Elias effective command of six galaxies, likely more,” he informed the rest.

“We are undone,” rasped Anu.

Marthe and Aiden exchanged a significant glance.  “Neg,” Marthe stated fiercely.  “We are Jade Falcon.  We do not admit defeat.  We find a solution and persevere.  We have done so before.”

Hazen frowned.  “Speak plainly Marthe.  What do you mean?”

“A culling,” came the brutally plain reply of Aidan Pryde.

“My sibkin speaks truly,” Marthe stated by way of agreement.

“Have we truly reached such a point?” asked the ever reserved Easton Buhallin.

Timur moved to regain the initiative.  “It would appear so, old friend.  Though it breaks somewhat with tradition, I would put the matter to a vote.  Do we cull those who would destroy us?  I, Timur Malthus, do vote aye.”

A round of ‘aye’s’ followed, until only the Loremaster remained.  Buhallin closed his eyes and bowed his head.  “Aye.”

“Seyla,” intoned the assemblage.


So another few quick notes.  I'm using many characters that people will be familiar with, but also a few new ones.  Also, some established characters may be a little different due to different experiences in the invasion.
Aidan Pryde is still alive, because there was no battle that took the place of Tukayyid.  His garrison cluster repelled a counter strike against St. Ives, which was taken around mid-3050,  and was rewarded by being made a frontline unit... Turkina's Irregulars.  He knows that Diana is his daughter, but tries not to pay to much attention to this fact, focusing instead on her abilities as a warrior.
Star Captain Joanna died in glorious combat as a member of the Falcon Guards.  She was always an interesting character and I would have kept her around, but I figure she deserved a chance at the fate she so desired.  The Falcon Guards never suffered the humiliation of Twycross.
Horse is a Star Captain in the Irregulars, which is a dumping ground for misfit troops with outstanding abilities. 
The Irregulars are part of Sigma Galaxy.  Sigma was formed in 3052 for the invasion of Vega and is commanded by Marthe Pryde.  It's a small galaxy as yet, only 3 clusters, but makes up for it with combat prowess.

« Last Edit: 16 October 2012, 18:28:32 by Jaim Magnus »
BattleCorps - Righteous Fury, Sorrow of Eden, Lady of Steel, I Was Lost, Forsaken : Legacy - The Forgotten Places : Shrapnel - Scavenger's Blood : ELH Chronicles - View from the Ground

Jaim Magnus

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Re: Falcon's Fall (AU)
« Reply #1 on: 25 January 2011, 22:32:03 »
Chapter 2

Unity City
Terra, Clan Domains
16 October 3054

MechWarrior Diana ran down the ramp and twirled around in circles, laughing.  “Did you ever think you would breathe the air of Terra, Horse?”

The grizzled older warrior followed his young charge at a slower pace, idly scratching at his beard.  “Not really.  It’s just a planet Diana.  No different from scores of others.”

The young woman rounded on him, fire in her eyes.  “Where is your sense of destiny Horse?”

“Must’ve left it back on the homeworlds.  Now focus girl, we have a job to do.  Can’t lose sight of that.”

Diana straightened up before him.  “Very well Star Captain.  How shall we proceed, oh great leader?”  There was a mischievous gleam in her eyes.

Horse let out a long suffering sigh.  “What did I do to be saddled with the Colonel’s brat?”

“You are just too good at your job.  And I suppose my father trusts you to look after me.”

Horse just snorted and continued towards the spaceport.  “C’mon.  We should check in with our Wolf hosts before they lose what little sense of humour they have and come lookin’ for us.”

Diana finished her with her sweep of the room and put away the scanner.  “There are no listening devices.  We can speak plainly.”

Horse was stretched out on his bunk, boots kicked casually onto the floor.  “Good.  Then we can try ‘n figure out exactly what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Dian sighed.  “We are to find Khan Crichell’s assassins.  It is fairly simple Horse, even for one of your advanced years.”

“As simple as that?  Diana, these warriors are prepared to throw away their personal honour and risk destroying our Clan.  There is nothing simple about this situation.”

“Certainly there is.  These warriors plan to kill the ilKhan.  We will stop them.”

“There are hundreds of Jade Falcon warriors on Terra.  Any one of them could be who we’re looking for.  We’re looking for a needle in a haystack.”

There were several moments of silence before the young woman spoke again.  “Horse, should we not warn the ilKhan?  Is it not our duty to protect him?”

“Always with the difficult questions.  Honestly I don’t know.  Warning him may lead to action against the Clan.  We wait for now and warn him only if we have no luck.”

“And what of Kael Pershaw?”

Horse grimaced.  He and Pershaw had a troubled past.  As commander of Terra’s garrison Pershaw had access to every warrior on the planet.  He would be invaluable to their investigation… so long as he wasn’t part of the conspiracy.  “I have a meeting scheduled with him for this evening.  He’s presiding over a council session right now.  Something to do with the Azami.”

A grin creased Diana’s beautiful face.  “If that’s the case, then I shall leave you for now and enjoy the sights of Terra.”

Horse made shooing gestures with his hands.  “Good, be gone.  I need to think.”

Kael Pershaw sat behind his desk, his breath a laboured wheeze assisted by implanted devices.  The council session had almost run on schedule today.  The only issue had been the Snow Ravens continued arrogance of their absorption of the Steel Vipers.  Khan Megan Sukhanov needed to be taught a lesson, but that could wait for another day.  For now he scanned over the readiness reports of the forces on Terra, giving special attention to those directly under his command.  Three reinforced clusters, making him a defacto Galaxy Commander.  His two Keshiks and the 3rd Bear Guards… all for the exclusive defence of Terra and the ilKhan.  Enough to defend against any paltry attack the Inner Sphere could make.  The most difficult part was uniting the warriors of various Clans effectively, but his Star Colonel’s were performing admirably so far.

A tone sounded and Pershaw glanced at his terminal with his one good eye.  It was a reminder of his meeting with and old ‘comrade.’  He signaled his aide that he was ready.  Moments later Star Captain Horse entered the office.  He saluted then took a seat.  “Kael Pershaw, I’d say it was good to see you again, but we’d both know I was lying.”

Pershaw let loose what passed for a laugh.   “In some ways I’ve missed your freebirth audacity.  But my time is precious.  The Star League is a difficult taskmaster.  What is it that could not be entrusted to regular communications?”

“As you wish.  Khan Malthus has discovered a plot by Khan Crichell to assassinate the ilKhan and seize Terra.  He plans to usurp the role of ilClan.  To this end he has dispatched agents to your forces, who will rise up upon receiving his signal.  Khan Malthus feels that if this were to occur, the Jade Falcons would be destroyed.  We need your assistance to discover these agents and stop them.”

Pershaw settled back into his chair.  “Then you shall have it.  Though I do not like Ulric Kerensky, he has proven himself a capable leader.  Elias Crichell has ever set his goals too high.  Though I am no longer a warrior, I cannot stand such underhanded tactics.”  Pershaw pressed a control on his console.  A moment later his aide, Star Commander Asch, entered.  “Asch, I am temporarily attaching you to Star Captain Horse.  You will assist him with everything he needs.”

“As you command sir.”

Pershaw stood and offered his good hand to Horse.  “Good hunting Star Captain.”

“Of course.  I am Jade Falcon.”

The Steel Vipers were given the task of invading the Taurian Concordat.  While they were eventually successful, they were so weakened and had orchestrated so many atrocities that the Snow Ravens called for their absorption.  The Ravens were granted the right, and successfully absorbed the Vipers.  They took only the choicest worlds, though many had been reduced to cinders in the Vipers mad efforts to pacify the Taurians.
Oh, and the next section will deal with the forces off Terra.


« Last Edit: 16 October 2012, 18:30:17 by Jaim Magnus »
BattleCorps - Righteous Fury, Sorrow of Eden, Lady of Steel, I Was Lost, Forsaken : Legacy - The Forgotten Places : Shrapnel - Scavenger's Blood : ELH Chronicles - View from the Ground

Jaim Magnus

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  • Assisting you and your enemies equally.
Re: Falcon's Fall (AU)
« Reply #2 on: 25 January 2011, 22:35:02 »
The ‘loyalist’ invading forces are Aidan Pryde’s Turkina Irregulars, and Persis Anu’s 20th Talon Cluster, both from Marthe Pryde‘s Sigma Galaxy.
I figured many of the warriors who were in the canon Falcon Guards under Aidan would have ended up in his Turkina Irregulars here.
The defending forces are the Jade Falcon Galaxy under Vandervahn Chistu.  Mar Helmer’s Falcon Guard, Gran Newclay’s 3rd Falcon Talon Cluster, Devlin Hazen’s 7th Falcon Regulars, Dev Iler’s 9th Talon Cluster, Dana Gorga’s 12th Falcon Regulars, and Eyrie and Solahma cluster.


Chapter 3

Vanguard City, Kaus Media
Jade Falcon Territory, Clan Domains
16 October 3054

Aidan Pryde couldn’t help the grin that creased his face.  After more than a year he was finally getting back into real combat.  He and his troops were about to perform a combat drop, as stipulated in the hasty batchall with Vandervahn Chistu.  Chistu was coming after him with all elements of the Jade Falcon Galaxy on world.  But Aidan, true to form, had a couple of surprises up his sleeves.  One was Persis Anu’s 20th Talon and her strike at the spaceport.  The other he was about to spring.

Toggling over to broadband communications he began to speak.  “Warriors of the Jade Falcon Galaxy, I am Star Colonel Aidan Pryde, commander of Turkina’s Irregulars.  It is my hope that many of you do not understand the repercussions of the mission you about to embark upon.  Elias Crichell, Vandervahn Chistu and others plan to take war to Terra.  They plan to overthrow the ilKhan and install themselves as masters of the Star League… a coup on the scale of Stefan Amaris.  I represent Timur Malthus and all those loyal to the true path of Turkina.  Join us in maintaining the honour and integrity of the Jade Falcons.  Stand by these traitors and you will be culled.”

“A fine speech, Star Colonel, but will it do any good?” opined Star Captain Alejandro.

“Only time will tell.  Now Irregulars, prepare to drop.”

Skimming above the city, the Overlord-C dropship opened its doors and began disgorging the Mechs within.  Once the 45 Mechs had debarked, the dropship peeled off and made to interdict the spaceport.

Aidan kicked in his jumpjets to prevent his Summoner from slamming into the ground. While far from a gentle landing, little damage resulted.  A quick scan showed that his cluster had hit its mark.  A brief march through the city would place his forces at Chistu’s headquarters which, if he was lucky, would limit the fighting.  Aidan throttled up to a slow walk, linking up with his unit as they began to surround the gamma galaxy headquarters.  Only blocks away, the Irregulars found their way blocked by the Falcon Guards.  Aidan quailed at having to fight this premier unit, but quickly damped those feelings.  The die had been cast, and the fate of his Clan was at stake.

Another Summoner stepped forward, displaying a grotesquely enlarged version of the Falcon Guard insignia.  Aidan’s radio crackled to life.  “This is Star Colonel Adler Malthus, commander of the Falcon Guards.  You have clearly lost your mind Pryde.  You are disobeying the lawful orders of our Khan.  Submit and your punishment will be less severe.”

Aidan couldn’t help it, he laughed.  “You clearly know very little about me, Star Colonel.  Surrender has never been part of my vocabulary.  What has become of Mar Helmer?”

“Mar Helmer was not fit to command this unit and was removed.”

“A shame.  I would have preferred fighting an honourable opponent, but you will have to do.”

An inarticulate cry of rage came over the com before the line went dead.  Adler Malthus’ Summoner lumbered forward, a long blast from his auto cannon ripping across three of Aidan’s Mechs.  There would be no zellbrigen in this fight.  Aidan activated his jump jets and backed up, giving himself enough range to trigger his PPC.  Malthus ignored the damage and continued closing range.  Aidan fired both his own auto cannon and shoulder mounted SRM’s.  The damage continued to build and become overwhelming when an Irregular Kit Fox and Mad Dog loosed their own volleys.  Malthus’ Mech stumbled and fell to one knee.  As the Mech tried to regain its feet Aidan targeted the cockpit and fired his auto cannon again.  The high velocity shells ripped through the armour like butter and shredded the delicate human being inside.  The Mech toppled to the ground, useless.

Not sparing another thought to his vanquished foe, Aidan advanced, intend on taking the fight to Chistu.  He targeted an Adder next, the light mech no match for his Summoner.  A half dozen well placed shots and the Adder collapsed, its right leg but a memory.  The fighting was brutal, Falcon against Falcon, each side sure they represented what was best for the Clan.

“Star Colonel,” came the oddly dispassionate voice of Jula Huddock.  “Opposing forces to the rear.”

“Stravag!”  Being caught between two clusters was not a good place to be.  “Do your duty Star Commander.”

“Your will be done.”

Putting the new forces out of his mind, Aidan continued his relentless advance.  More Falcon Guard Mechs fell before his onslaught, but the damage began to take its toll.  Armour was scoured from his trusty Summoner and his shoulder mounted SRM detonated in an explosion that rattled him about his cockpit.  Several displays shorted out and numerous systems were damaged.  And yet there was a battle to be waged.

Aidan and a reinforced star waded forward, slashing their way through the Guards defences.  At last they reached the headquarters.  At once Aidan’s heart sank.  Confronting him was Chistu’s command star and the bulk of another cluster of troops… the 7th Falcon Regulars.  Daunting odds, but a true warrior ignored the odds.  Aidan stepped his battered Summoner forward, until he was opposite a Gargoyle.  “Galaxy Commander Chistu, I am here at your headquarters as we agreed.  Face me in personal combat and let us end this pointless destruction.”

A laugh came over the com.  “How very honourable of you, Pryde.  However, you have underestimated me.  Hussar’s, destroy this blight!”

Moments passed before another officer answered.  “Neg, Galaxy Commander.  You agreed to a batchall of personal combat during Star Colonel Pryde’s approach.  I will not allow you to dishonour myself or my troops with such flagrant disregard for our customs.  We will form a circle and allow none to pass until one of you falls.”

Rage filled Chistu’s response.  “Hazen!  Once done with Pryde, I will deal with you!”

“Bargained well and done,” was Hazen’s reply.

Aidan couldn’t help another grin.  “Now then Chistu, let us finish this.”  With those words, a fierce battle began.  Chistu’s Gargoyle got off a devastating opening shot with its AC20.  The long burst chewed through the armour on Aidan’s left torso, opening a rent that exposed his internal structures.  With so few weapons, a damaged mech and being outclassed by ten tons, Aidan was at a severe disadvantage.  But he was a Jade Falcon warrior.  He would never surrender, not even in death.

He charged forward, firing first with his PPC then with his auto cannon.  The PPC melted armour from the Gargoyle’s leg while the auto cannon scoured away chest armour.  Chistu returned fire with four medium lasers.  The lasers burned furrows into Aidan’s already battered armour.  Chistu followed with another auto cannon blast.  Warning klaxons sounded in the Summoner, alerting Aidan to the loss of his small laser and a heat sink.  Gritting his teeth, Aidan lunged his mech forward, blasting at Chistu with his PPC again, doing minimal damage.  A carefully targeted burst from Chistu’s auto cannon and Aidan’s PPC was severed at the elbow, the ruined weapon crashing to the ground.  Another blast from the lasers cracked the engine shielding of Aidan’s mech.

Aidan knew his options were running out.  He saw but one possibility, but it had a chance.  Forcing his brutalized machine forward, he triggered a long burst from his auto cannon.  With the range so close, Chistu did exactly what Aidan expected.  Aidan walked right into the quartet of medium lasers.  The beams of high intensity light pierced the shredded torso and struck the engine once more.  Aidan slapped the override switch and charged directly at Chistu.

With the grinning skull of the Gargoyle looming ahead, a brilliant light overwhelmed Star Colonel Aidan Pryde, and then there was nothing.


Persis Anu was being shaken about the interior of her cockpit, enduring the discomfort of an orbital insertion.  The ablative shell blew off her Warhawk, allowing her to at least see her destination… the Vanguard City spaceport.  She activated her attached jump jets in order to slow her descent.  Her scanners showed that the Irregulars dropship was already on scene, strafing the fighters of Gamma before they could be launched.  This had the added advantage of granting her cluster a virtually uncontested landing.

At last her mech touched down, a reverberating clang passing through its superstructure.  Detaching the jump pack, Anu immediately began marching forward.  Her weapons charged, she waded into battle.  She picked out an Adder at extreme ranged and targeted it, firing both PPC’s.  Though striking off centre, the paired shot managed to divest the Adder of one arm.  The Adder, which had been running forward, stumbled and crashed to the ground as the warrior failed to maintain their balance after losing sever tons of armour and superstructure.  Sparks spewed from the mech as it slid across the ferrocrete of the runway.  The pilot attempted to right their mech, but Anu was having none of that.  Once her PPC’s cycled, she targeted the knee joint and fired.  The Adder was effectively out of the fight.

Swiveling her torso, Anu quickly took stock of the situation.  Her clusters lightning strike had caught the spaceport garrison off guard.  Many of the opposing Falcon warriors were standing down, unwilling to fight fellow Falcons after hearing Aidan Pryde’s broadcast.  Those who refused to stand down were fighting to the death.. Persis watched as several points of elementals swarmed over the Hellbringer piloted by Star Captain Tarsus Redmond.  The elementals were desperately trying to shred Tarsus’ mech, to the point the was forced to eject.  Seconds later the Hellbringer exploded, its reactor having overloaded.  Only a few of the elementals managed to limp away.

At last the spaceport was secure, completing the first phase of the operation.  Leaving two of her trinaries to guard the port, Anu gathered the remaining elements of her cluster and a few of the surrendered warriors and began a high speed march towards Chistu’s command centre.  Phase two of the operation called for her to rendezvous with the Irregulars and force Chistu to submit.

It was a good plan, but like all good plans did not survive contact with the enemy.  Once in the city proper, she found several trinaries blocking her path.  Clearly these were warriors committed to Crichell’s plan and as such deserved no mercy.  Not that mercy was a concept that Anu, as a Jade Falcon warrior, was overly familiar with.  She keyed a quick set of orders to her subordinates.  “Charge past the enemy machines and make for the headquarters.  Destroy any and all opposition in your path.”

Anu found herself facing off against one of the rare Jade Falcon Timberwolves.  The bird legged machine had been outfitted with SRM’s, autocannons and medium lasers… all deadly in a close range fight such as the one she was facing now.  Yet Persis had equipped her Warhawk with an LB10X autocannon, having anticipated the close quarters battles.  Said autocannon ripped into the boxy shoulders of the Timberwolf, detonating the missiles contained in one.  The CASE system saved the mech from total destruction, but the force of the explosion threw it to the ground.  A pair of her MechWarrior’s blasted the fallen mech, crippling both legs and an arm.  It was out of the fight but salvageable.

She pressed on, a reinforced trinary accompanying her while the rest of her force spread out to assist the Irregulars secure Vanguard City.  Anu and her scratch force arrived at the garrison headquarters just in time to witness the fiery conclusion of the duel between Aidan Pryde and Vandervahn Chistu.  Once the golden fire of the reactor faded, Anu could see only the blackened remains of two mechs.  There did not appear to be any survivors.

Anu, having monitored communications as she closed in, knew exactly what was happening.  She immediately opened a channel to Hazen.  “Star Colonel Hazen, by trial of combat Star Colonel Pryde has proved the right of his position.  Signal to your compatriots in your galaxy.  For all who abide by Aidan Pryde’s victory there shall be no penalty.  Any who ignore it shall be declared dezgra and hunted down like the filthy surats they are.”

Hazen replied quickly, as if hoping for just such a declaration.  “I shall abide by the result Star Colonel Anu.  It shall be my clusters surkai to aid you in hunting down any you deem dezgra.”

“You honour Turkina and the Clan, Devlin Hazen.  I shall ensure it is not forgotten.”  Persis knew the battle for Kaus Media was nearly complete.  The loss of Aidan Pryde was a loss for the Clan at large, and would be keenly felt.  What remained was to be seen was how well the rest of the Culling was progressing.
« Last Edit: 16 October 2012, 19:09:45 by Jaim Magnus »
BattleCorps - Righteous Fury, Sorrow of Eden, Lady of Steel, I Was Lost, Forsaken : Legacy - The Forgotten Places : Shrapnel - Scavenger's Blood : ELH Chronicles - View from the Ground

Jaim Magnus

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  • *
  • Posts: 7797
  • Assisting you and your enemies equally.
Re: Falcon's Fall (AU)
« Reply #3 on: 25 January 2011, 22:36:24 »
Chapter 4

Gershtad Spaceport, Kessel
Jade Falcon Territory, Clan Domains
16 October 3054

In a display traditional of her, Samantha Clees had granted safcon to the truncated forces of Marthe Pryde’s Sigma Galaxy.  Out of respect for her former subordinate, Clees had further agreed to a bid of one cluster and a command star to battle for possession of Delta Galaxy.  Though held under sway of Elias Crichell, Samantha Clees proved herself unwilling to dilute the strength of Clan Jade Falcon.

Marthe Pryde had performed a scratch reorganization of the forces under her command.  She built a core trinary of heavy and assault mechs, mostly equipped to snipe from range.  The rest of her force was comprised of two trinaries of highly mobile light and medium mechs, as well as a full elemental trinary, led by the popular and reflective Star Captain Selima.  The force was highly unusual and surrendered tonnage to Clees, but her higher mobility would surely confuse her tradition bound opponent.

In a move designed to rankle Pryde, Clees had chosen the 2nd Falcon Jaegers as her unit, the cluster Marthe had commanded prior to her promotion.  Marthe knew that Clees was attempting to unnerve her, but she was a warrior and would destroy her foes.  Indeed, it gave Marthe a slight advantage for she knew the style and tactics of those she faced.  Predictability would be their bane, while unorthodoxy would be her boon.  Something she had learned from years of combat and her infamous sibkin.

Marthe marched forward in her Summoner.  She would command the anchor force personally, knowing it would draw the Jaegers in.  She left the mobile force in the capable hands of Rosendo Hazen, one of her most experienced officers.  She had learned that delegation was just as important to victory as planning.  It was for this reason Marthe chose those unorthodox warriors not snapped up by the Irregulars.

Her advanced scanners detected the approach of Clees’ force.  “Loose the slips!” she cried, one of the few orders she would give this day.  The seventy-five elementals began bounding forward, screened by a force of medium mechs.  The other units of the mobile force split in two directions, left and right, to harass and encircle the forces of Samantha Clees.  In contrast, Clees was heading straight in.  Sound Clan tactics.  At least they were before the invasion.  Times, Marthe knew, had changed.

Marthe scanned ahead, looking for the Summoner piloted by Clees.  She detected many of the mechs… it was quite common amongst the Jade Falcons.  Ultimately it did not matter.  All of her foes would have to be vanquished.

Her elemental trinary was the first to make contact with the Jaegers.  The armoured infantry bounded and swarmed, tearing into the Jaeger mechs.  Several of the armoured warriors were taken down by A-pod equipped mechs, while others were sniped right out of the air.  The rest managed to reach their targets and inflict severe damage.  Marthe watched as a Warhawk fell to the combined efforts of ten elementals.  The elemental strike created just enough chaos in the Jaegers’ line for the pincer units to swarm in.

The pincer mechs were not unopposed.  Many Jaeger mechs turned their formations to counter their charge.  The heavier weapons of the Jaegers tore into the light machines of the pincers.  A Hellbringer brought devastating fire against a Kit Fox, peppering the torso with missiles before scoring a cockpit hit, disabling or killing the warrior within.

Falcon cries permeated the comm channels, bit it did not matter.  No one was issuing orders anyway.  Each side viewed the other as rebels, and Falcons could not stomach rebellion.  It was a kill or be killed fight, and everyone knew it.

Marthe began a slow forward walk, the mechs of her trinary moving in lockstep.  In clear disregard for zellbrigen, Marthe targeted enemy mechs as they presented themselves. She may not have even been the first to ignore the ritualized form of combat.  It mattered not, from range Marthe staggered fire using her LRM’s and PPC, causing as much damage as possible.  Her supporting trinary was doing likewise.

Clearly there were some who recognized her, for she came under mass combined fire from a captured Dire Wolf and upgraded Atlas.  The power of the assault machines was incredible, literally chewing through her armour and devastating her mech.  Both her engine and gyro were damaged, and she lost her left arm, which mounted the PPC.  A wave of vertigo washed over her, and she felt herself losing balance.  Her mech stumbled and fell over backwards.  The impact with the ground rattled her, and she felt chips break off her teeth.

Seeing her fall, Marthe’s troops flew into a rage.  The assault mechs that had cut her down were annihilated by the combined fire of a star each.  Once finished with them, the forces under Marthe’s command waded in giving no quarter and asking for none in return.  By the time she levered her mech back to its feet, the battle was a fierce and uncontrolled melee.  With her gyro out of alignment, she had to be careful.  But she was an experienced warrior and knew what to do.  She leveled the autocannon and put a long burst into the rear armour of an Ice Ferret.  The light mech lurched and shuddered as the powerful weapon penetrated armour and destroyed the gyro.  The light mech collapsed.  She searched for another target, careful to avoid her own troops.  She fired at a Kit Fox and missed, her aim thrown off as she took several gauss rounds to the torso.  Alarms sounded and control systems shorted out.  Her mech died around her and fell to the ground again, this time not to rise again.  The jarring impact caused her to black out.

She came to some time later, the concerned face of Selima, his suit helmet opened, looking down on her.  “By the Great Father!  Are you alright Galaxy Commander?”

Marthe took stock of herself.  “I believe so.  What is the status of the battle?”

“We appear to be winning.  Star Colonel Hazen has the Jaegers on the run.”

“Excellent.  Give me access to your communication system.”  The elemental complied, opening a panel and handing her a headset.  “Galaxy Commander Clees, or the ranking Jaeger officer.  This is Galaxy Commander Pryde.  If you surrender now, I will spare your forces.  I will only make this offer once.  Refuse and my forces will destroy you.  Any survivors will be cast aside, fit only to be bandits.  What say you?”

“This is Star Captain Nurten Buhallin.  As senior surviving officer, I accept your offer.  All Jaeger units stand down.  Let there be no further conflict amongst Turkina’s brood.”

Marthe slumped back, relieved.  She looked up into Selima’s grinning face.  “You have done it Galaxy Commander.”

“Indeed I have Star Captain.”  She looked out her shattered viewport at the field of devastated mechs, Falcons each and every one.  “But at what cost to the Jade Falcons?”
« Last Edit: 16 October 2012, 19:10:48 by Jaim Magnus »
BattleCorps - Righteous Fury, Sorrow of Eden, Lady of Steel, I Was Lost, Forsaken : Legacy - The Forgotten Places : Shrapnel - Scavenger's Blood : ELH Chronicles - View from the Ground

Jaim Magnus

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Re: Falcon's Fall (AU)
« Reply #4 on: 25 January 2011, 22:38:23 »
Chapter 5

Unity City
Terra, Clan Domains
16 October 3054

Star Captain Horse walked into the headquarters of Unity Keshik.  The Keshik was formed from members of all the Clans and dedicated solely to the defence of Terra.  The prestigious unit was under the authority of Kael Pershaw, but the daily operations were seen to by Star Colonel Rook Talasko, a Star Colonel from the Star Adders.  He shared the superiority complex of most Adders, an opinion exacerbated by his post.  Yet he was proving surprisingly easy to talk to.

“I understand your concerns Star Captain,” Talasko was saying, “but I assure you the loyalty of all under my command is beyond reproach.  Even suggesting otherwise impugns their honour.”

“I mean no offence Star Colonel, but we must route out any potential threats to the Star League, don’t you agree?”

Talasko seemed about to comment, but Asch quickly jumped in.  “Loremaster Pershaw himself has approved this investigation.  And do keep in mind we are not investigating your entire unit, only the Falcon warriors within it.”

The Star Adder warrior stroked his scarred chin.  “Very well, if you must.  But I insist you report your findings to me at once.  Any such warrior will be declared dezgra and purged from my unit.

“As you wish Star Colonel.  Now if you would kindly show us to a terminal?”
Diana wandered the streets of Unity City, marveling at the sheer ostentatiousness of the city.  Normally she would have mocked the Wolves for making the city so, but she knew that they had simply restored the city to its former glory.  She was amazed at the numbers of lower castes moving about, many of them showing clear signs of being spheroids.  She supposed she would have to accept them.  The people of Terra had become part of the Clans and as such were worthy of respect.

Hearing the close approach of booted feet.  Diana spun and was confronted by a thin warrior in the uniform of the Jade Falcons.  There was something wrong with his features, something weasely.  She felt herself take an immediate dislike to him.  Still, he was a fellow Falcon.

“I did not mean to offend you, warrior, but could not help but notice that we are the only two Jade Falcons here.  I wondered if I might join you in your exploration of the city.  I am Star Captain Ravill.”

“I am Diana.  I see no reason not to.”

“Excellent.  I have some thoughts on where to go first.  If you would follow me?”

Diana was getting a strange vibe off this Ravill and was unsure exactly why.  He was a Jade Falcon like herself, but she felt the way she normally did around enemies.  She finally decided she would follow him to discover what exactly was going on.

“I know of a shortcut we can take to the Star League museum.  I have never seen it myself, but have heard it contains many interesting artifacts.”

“Lead on then,” Diana gestured.

With a gracious bow the Star Captain moved ahead.  Diana still felt the danger tingle and it set her on edge.  She flexed her fists, stretching the spiked gloves she had inherited from Joanna.  It was well she was clued into the danger.  Partway down the alley Ravill turned to face her, a less than friendly grin on his face.  Ravill cracked his knuckles and drew a very nasty looking knife.  “I was so pleased when I heard you were coming to Terra.  I can remove a blight from the line of Pryde’s and serve my Khan at the same time.  It is not often one gets such an opportunity.”

Diana felt rage building up inside.  “You talk too much Ravill,” so saying she charged forward.  She spun in a circle to avoid Ravill’s clumsy knife thrust, then continued the spin, landing a crushing blow to Ravill’s cheekbone.  She felt the bone shatter beneath the blow and smiled.  Ravill staggered back and countered with a long slash from his knife.  It failed to sink in deeply, but did slice across her ribs.  Hissing in pain Diana closed in and delivered a pair of hammer blows to his kidneys, causing him to grunt in pain.

“What happened to removing a blight Ravill?  So far your performance is pitiful.”

Her comment elicited a cry of rage from her opponent.  He lunged forward, the dagger a blur, until she failed to dodge and felt the blade bite into her face, blinding her left eye.  But the eye was a small price to pay.  She punched forward and crushed his larynx.  Ravill collapsed, gasping for breath.

“I would ask who sent you, but I already know.  Nor does it surprise me that he would send someone as incompetent as you.  And as you die, gasping for breath, know that a freeborn has beaten you, and that she will win a bloodname while you are consigned to the drain.”

Ravill stared at her with hate filled eyes.  He slowly turned blue, unable to breathe, before finally expiring.

Spitting on Ravill’s corpse, Diana staggered out from the alley, the pain of her wounds finally beginning to tell.  As she finally collapsed she saw lower castemen rushing over to her.  With consciousness fading away, she smiled with the knowledge that she had done her job well.
The last Jade Falcon officer to be interviewed left the room, leaving Horse alone with Asch.  “So that’s it then.  They all check out.  I find that strange Star Commander.   What information we do have suggests that there’s at least one highly placed traitor.”

Asch shrugged.  “And yet your own interviews clear all of them.”

“Yes, and that disappoints me.  Somewhere on this planet is a Jade Falcon traitor.  I will find this warrior if it is the last thing I do.”

Asch stared at Horse.  “Your dedication… impresses me.  Forgive me, but I would not expect it of a freeborn.”

Horse smirked, though it was a bitter expression.  At that moment Star Colonel Talasko entered the office.  “Star Captain Horse, you are required at the Simon Cameron Memorial Hospital at once.  Your aide, Warrior Diana, has been brought in with severe injuries.”

Horse was shocked.  He looked at both officers, then left at a run.

“I too will take my leave Star Colonel.  Please contact Kael Pershaw if anything outside the ordinary occurs,” and with that the young officer departed.

Sterile air and the hum of machinery marked the interior of the hospital.  Diana lay on an operating table while doctors and medical technicians stitched up the knife wound and sealed her damaged eye socket, ensuring no further hemorrhaging would occur.  Horse stood outside in the observation room, having been exiled there by the spheroid staff.  At last a doctor approached him.

“How is my warrior doctor?”

The woman sighed.  “She’s fine, but refuses to be outfitted with an artificial eye.  She claims that the injury is a badge of honour or some such warrior BS.”

Horse couldn’t help but grin, at Diana’s decision and the doctor’s opinion.  “But she will live.  That’s all that matters to me.  When can I see her?”

“Tomorrow.   She needs time to recover for now.”

“Then I shall see you tomorrow doctor.”

Pershaw’s office was kept dark, as always.  Asch entered silently, knowing that the Loremaster would have a difficult time hearing him.  It made this easier.  Asch crept up behind the old man, who could scarcely be called a warrior at this point.

“And to what do I owe your presence Star Commander?” Pershaw rasped in the dark.

Asch grimaced.  The old man was still full of surprises.  “I am here at the behest of our Khan’s, who feel that you have betrayed the Jade Falcon’s.”

A dry chuckle escaped from Pershaw’s ravaged body.  “They feel I have betrayed the way of Turkina?  Yet they send a boy to eliminate me.  You accept the idea of killing me without a trial do you?”

“A warrior follows orders.”

Pershaw spun his chair around and stared at the young warrior with his one good eye.  “Then do your duty.”

The sound of a gunshot filled the room.
« Last Edit: 16 October 2012, 19:11:57 by Jaim Magnus »
BattleCorps - Righteous Fury, Sorrow of Eden, Lady of Steel, I Was Lost, Forsaken : Legacy - The Forgotten Places : Shrapnel - Scavenger's Blood : ELH Chronicles - View from the Ground

Jaim Magnus

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Re: Falcon's Fall (AU)
« Reply #5 on: 25 January 2011, 22:40:19 »
Chapter 6

Turkina City, Vega
Jade Falcon Territory, Clan Domains
16 October 3054

And now it came down to it.  By now the other commanders would be well into their assaults, hopefully crippling the dezgra action planned by Crichell and his lackies.  For Timur it was the moment of truth.  Having polled the warriors of the Turkina Keshik, the saKhan knew he could count on them to back his move.  He was hoping that Crichell would accept a personal challenge, but somehow doubted it.  Timur knew the man.  Crichell was manipulative and far too interested in furthering his own glory.

So it was that Timur marched into the headquarters straight into the planning centre.  The warriors present stared at him, some with visible contempt, for these were Crichell’s extremists, believers in his terrible vision.  Crichell himself stood at the central holo table, scanning detailed troop movements.  He looked up as his saKhan and warlord approached.  “Ah Timur, I was about to come find you.  I see that you have dispatched Sigma Galaxy, but have neglected to include their orders.  Would you care to correct this oversight now, quiaff?”

Timur allowed a slight smirk onto his face.  “I would indeed Elias, amongst other things.  I have sent Galaxy Commander Pryde and her command to stoop your mad ambitions,” at this many of the surrounding warriors cried out in anger, “for the preservation of our Clan.  I hereby challenge you to a trial of grievance!  Your rule will lead us to disaster and therefore must end!”

The uproar only increased, several officers leaping forward as if to lay hands upon their saKhan.  A harsh gong sounded from the speakers of the holo table and Loremaster Easton Buhallin stepped forward.  Grudgingly the gathered warriors settled down.  “A challenge has been issued.  Elias Crichell, you must respond.”

The senior Khan grimaced, his dismay at any holdup evident.  “Very well, I accept and name Senza Oriega to fight in….” he halted as Easton Buhallin interrupted, as was his right as Loremaster.

“I am sorry Khan Elias, but you cannot name a champion.  The challenge was directed at you and you accepted.  You must fight saKhan Timur yourself.  Will you fight augmented or unaugmented?”

Crichell responded, looking decidedly ill.  “We will fight augmented.”

The Loremaster nodded then turned to Timur and raised a questioning eyebrow.  Timur looked confidently at Crichell.  “We will fight now on the Elizabeth Hazen Proving Grounds.”


It took just under an hour to prepare the proving grounds for the trial.  Timur sat in the cockpit of his Warhawk, silently recalling everything he knew of Crichell’s fighting style.  The senior Khan had not participated in battle since the earliest days of the invasion, and even then had only fought battles he was sure to win.  Timur could not believe he had once respected Crichell.  Perhaps that only showed how far the man had fallen.

The designated time came as a tone sounded from the com panel.  The trial had begun.  Timur throttled up his mech and began scanning for Crichell.  There was scant cover on the field, but enough that Crichell’s location was not immediately evident.  He spied a moving mass of metal off to the right and knew he had found his opponent.  His targeting computer was having trouble with the other mech.  It was 100 tons, outweighing his by 15 tons, but Timur knew he possessed more skills than Crichell.  There was a reason he was the warlord of the Clan after all.  The computer finally identified the target as a Turkina, a prototype machine meant to serve as a premier unit for the Jade Falcon’s.  Crichell was trying to give himself an edge by piloting an unknown mech.  It was a reasonable strategy, but Timur had faith in himself and the known quantity of his Warhawk.

Elias fired first, firing a paired gauss rifle and PPC.  Both shots connected, ceding early damage to Crichell, but no vital systems were hit.  Timur throttled up and charged, a moved the elder warrior was unlikely to expect.  Once up to speed, Timur triggered his paired PPC’s.  The beams only succeeded in scoring a hit on the left leg, but managed to fuse the knee, hobbling the already slower machine.  Crichell responded with an LRM volley, but Timur managed to duck most of them.

The battle became a game of cat and mouse, with Crichell using the limited cover to a great degree, while Timur bulled after him.  The Turkina’s hobbled leg slowed it somewhat, but the inclusion of jump jets offset that.  Crichell’s method was to run to cover and trade a few shots before running again.  Timur’s Warhawk was taking serious hits, but remained functional.  Every time Timur closed in he fired his two AC/10’s, the deadly weapons carving into the Turkina’s armour, sanding it away a ton at a time.

Timur knew the battle would come out in his favor.  Crichell was too much the politician and too little the warrior these days.  Even in a superior mech, one of the finest ever produced by the Jade Falcons, he was losing.

The end finally came when Crichell landed too heavily on his damaged leg.  The fused and battered limb finally snapped under the strain, sending the massive war machine to the ground.  Timur stalked forward, firing to disable the arms of the Turkina.  At last Timur Malthus stood towering over his opponent.

“Admit defeat Elias.  I have no desire to kill you.”

“Bah, that was the point of this, quiaff?  You seek the glory of becoming ilKhan yourself.”

Timur snorted.  “How little you understand me.  We have an ilKhan, one who came to power based on criteria you chose.  What you intend would destroy us.  And that I cannot allow.”

Crichell barked a laugh.  “The results of this trial will never stand.  I have the loyalty of most of the touman’s commanders.  We will continue to Terra regardless.”

“Listen to yourself Elias.  Do you not understand how deluded you have become?”

“It is my destiny to be ilKhan!”

“Not in this lifetime.  You have refused to yield and leave me no choice.”  Timur carefully centred the Turkina’s cockpit in his sights and triggered his PPC’s.  The charged particles melted through the viewport and incinerated the man inside.  Timur activated his comm, which was being monitored by the Loremaster.

“Warriors of Clan Jade Falcon, Elias Crichell is Khan no more.  He died as a warrior defending his mad aspirations.  His defeat shows how wrong his plans were.  I invite, no demand, a kurultai of warriors be held.  All combat operations are suspended until further notice.  We must take stock of ourselves and determine a new vision for our future.”
« Last Edit: 16 October 2012, 19:12:54 by Jaim Magnus »
BattleCorps - Righteous Fury, Sorrow of Eden, Lady of Steel, I Was Lost, Forsaken : Legacy - The Forgotten Places : Shrapnel - Scavenger's Blood : ELH Chronicles - View from the Ground

Jaim Magnus

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  • Assisting you and your enemies equally.
Re: Falcon's Fall (AU)
« Reply #6 on: 25 January 2011, 22:42:13 »
Chapter 7 - Aftermath

Turkina City, Vega
Jade Falcon Territory, Clan Domains
27 October 3054

The Clan Council chambers were crowded with nearly every bloodnamed warrior of the Clan.  Hundreds of warriors murmured amongst themselves, clearly divided into two primary groups; those who had opposed Crichell and those who had supported him.  A tiny minority of warriors remained silent, those who had maintained their neutrality, waiting to see who would emerge victorious.

Easton Buhallin stood on a central dais, clad in his full ceremonial robes.  He thumped his staff against the ground five times, signaling for silence.  The assemblage gradually quieted and gave their attention to the man who embodied the history and honour of their Clan.

“Fellow warriors, we assemble in kurultai for the gravest of matters.  A khan has been slain and must be replaced.  More than that, we gather to heal the rift that has split the spirit of Turkina.  We shall not leave until these matters have been resolved.”

“Seyla,” intoned the crowd.

Timur Malthus stood, and Buhallin acknowledged his right to speak.  “Trothkin, the past several weeks have shown a great determination amongst all of Turkina’s brood, regardless of where you stood on the issue.  You came to this kurultai expecting to elect one khan.  I tell you now that you will elect two.  I hereby resign as Khan.  I do this to remove the last traces of division, for it was my decision alone that led to this conflict.  I open the floor to nominations.”

A great cacophony arose from the crowd, for none had expected this.  Even the Loremaster was shocked.  He thumped his staff again and eventually silence returned to the hall.  “A call for nominations has been made.  Are there any nominations?”

A general clamor broke out with many warriors being named.  The eventual choices boiled down to the Loremaster, Galaxy Commander Lisa Buhallin, Galaxy Commander Marthe Pryde and Star Colonel Persis Anu.  The Loremaster declined, feeling he best served the Clan where he was.  Lisa Buhallin cited her advanced age and bowed out.  The choice came down to Marthe Pryde and Persis Anu.  Persis won by a narrow margin, largely due to her handling of the situation on Kaus Media.  Marthe was genuine with her congratulations to her former subordinate.

Persis stood and bowed to the assembly.  Shen then ascended the central dais.  “I will make this brief,” she rasped in her damaged voice.  “You honour me with this election and I will not let you down.  I have in mind an exemplary officer to serve as my saKhan.  Star Colonel Devlin Hazen showed honour on the field of battle.  He is my choice.  If he desires the post I move that the kurultai elect him unanimously.”

From the sidelines Timur smiled.  Hazen was an astute choice, an honourable warrior who had been on the other side, yet refused to fall as far as his commander.  The prestige of his bloodname helped as well.  The nomination of Hazen sparked another round of conversation, but eventually the assembly agreed.  Devlin Hazen stepped forward and took his place next to Anu.

Loremaster Buhallin welcomed the new Khan and saKhan.  “We will now move on to other business.  Bloodname nominations and the death of Kael Pershaw on Terra still need to be addressed.”

Marthe Pryde stood and waited to be recognized before speaking.  “I nominate MechWarrior Diana of Turkina’s Irregulars for the Pryde bloodname formerly held by Star Colonel Aidan Pryde.”  That created an uproar, but at least served to distract from the recent conflict.

Hours later Persis Anu sat in the Khan’s office with Hazen and the Loremaster.  She was reviewing Crichell’s files, files that she had needed a member of the Watch to open.  “This cannot be correct.  How could such a massive breeding program be kept hidden?  Especially during the move from the homeworlds.”

Hazen shrugged.  “Elias Crichell’s best asset was his ability to distract others from his true goals.  The real question is what do we do with these sibko’s?  I am loathe to waste resources, and they are loyal to the Clan.  With a crash training program they could be serviceable within a year, eighteen months at most.  I suspect we could obtain an additional galaxy or two worth of troops out of them.”

Anu nodded thoughtfully, still trying to absorb her new status.  Never had she thought that she would be making such decisions.  “Indeed.  Assign Timur Malthus as their Falconer Commander.  He will instill the proper values in them.  And we shall begin negotiations with the Diamond Sharks for more equipment.  Keep the amounts reasonable.  We will also expand production here.  In a years time, the Falcons will truly be a force to be reckoned with.”


Chapter 8 – Aftermath 2

Field of Heroes, Unity City
Terra, Clan Domains
28 October 3054

Horse watched as the mortal remains of Kael Pershaw were lowered into the crypt.  Ulric Kerensky had chosen to honour him as the first Clan warrior to be buried on sacred Terra.  Horse was uneasy about the concept of burial, but knew the ilKhan was honouring the man.  Pershaw had been found dead in his office, the victim of an apparent assassination.  He had died a warrior, having managed to kill his assassin as well, a radical Terran technician who had apparently still had ties to ComStar.  Star Commander Asch had found them and reported the incident to Star Colonel Talasko immediately.  Such devotion to duty would likely take the young warrior far.

Diana stood beside him, still smarting from her injuries.  The new eye patch gave her otherwise beautiful looks a decidedly dangerous air.  “I think I’m going to miss that old man Horse.  He was flawed and ancient, but always did his best for the Clan.”

“Is it him, or your father you’re going to miss?”

Diana frowned.  “I don’t know.  But death is the way of the Clans, isn’t it?”

“Humph.”  Horse paused.  “You know, Marthe has nominated you for your father’s bloodname.”

Diana’s eyes widened in shock.  “How could she do that?  It’s without precedence!”

“Really?  Weren’t all the founders and their children freeborn?  Perhaps Marthe wants to return us to our roots, or maybe to honour your father.”


“And how does that make you feel Diana?”

She turned to him and grinned.  “It makes me feel good, like a part of my father will live on.”

Star Commander Asch sat outside the Grand Loremaster’s office.  Until Pershaw’s replacement was named he was to remain at his post.  This suited him perfectly as it allowed him to search out and tie up any loose ends.  He was unsure of his standing without Crichell’s support, but knew one thing for certain.  Others still believed as he did.  One day they would take action and purify not only the Jade Falcon’s, but the Clans as a whole.


« Last Edit: 16 October 2012, 19:15:55 by Jaim Magnus »
BattleCorps - Righteous Fury, Sorrow of Eden, Lady of Steel, I Was Lost, Forsaken : Legacy - The Forgotten Places : Shrapnel - Scavenger's Blood : ELH Chronicles - View from the Ground