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Author Topic: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)  (Read 2534 times)

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #30 on: 05 September 2020, 21:48:27 »
07/20/3060 Location – Eden, Pentagon Worlds

Star Colonel Zigfried Ravenwater stood just outside his blocky gray green camouflaged Rhino II Suit leaning against it as the Anhur transport moved beneath him. He walked over toward the open rear door to look out at the other three turbofan VTOLs in formation over the broken and waterlogged terrain of the Minotaur's Shatters. Four of the wasp like Donar Attack Helicopters operated in pairs just forward of the formation.

Below them five mud-covered Corvis Battlemechs lumbered through the swamp using their jump jets to cross large stretches of water but still having to mostly slog their way through. The machines were not as graceful as their larger relative the Stormcrow but they were functional and for a mech poor Clan like the Hell's Horses that was enough. These ones had been altered slightly to support the Counter-Insurgency effort by installing a six pack short range missile system in place of the pulse lasers under its left arm.

Hey keyed in to the Battlenet using his headset radio and signaled to the other Rhino operators that it was time to suit up, “Star Captain Kenneth, we are almost at the target position. The Shamblers may have armed their stolen Pouncers so I want you on full alert.”

“Roger that Star Colonel. Eyes peeled, weapons locked and loaded.”


The VTOLs broke off toward their objective and the Rhino technician already had the machine open. Every Elemental could suit themselves up but it went faster with help. Zigfried stepped in turning and locked his feet into the machine and hands into the waldos that would guide the small pulse lasers and heavy battle claw.

He used the chin keys to activate the startup sequence as the Tech dropped the rear armor plating that protected the power plant, extra missile cylinder, and an armored compartment carrying a stripped down Mauser IIC to serve as an emergency weapon. All the ambient noise dropped away until he activated the external audio.

The tech slapped the rear plating, “All systems green Star Colonel.” He heard the advanced short range missiles load into their tubes and the holding clamps release, “Weapons ready.”

The Anhur pilot came in over their local Battlenet, “Rhino Point One, we are approaching the combat area. Attack choppers are stirring it up right now. We are not going to stop! So watch your step.”

Star Colonel Ravenwater walked his suit toward the rear ramp where the flak jacketed and tethered technician was looking out with his assault rifle. The sounds of battle were rapidly approaching and the ground was growing closer. He held up five fingers and when they counted down the Rhinos jumped out splintering branches and using their jets to cushion the landing.

Zigfried could hear the Anhur's jets power up and fade away as the lightly armored transport cleared the combat zone. The sounds of bullets clanking off his armor keyed him into the enemy's location. Twenty Rhino suits were dispersed on the approach and most took cover behind the trees like the unarmored Patrolmen they were until Zigfried had trained them.

The 40th was lacking more modern Power Armor suits due to a Clan-wide shortage of Harjel that had seen many Trials of Grievance against the Diamond Sharks that controlled the distribution of this valuable substance. His Technicians had spent the past two years tinkering with them and had used many techniques that were perfected in the modern Gnome to repair and enhance the old suits.

Rhino Point One stood firm in the face of the machine gun assault. Zigfried advanced toward the enemy machine gun post and fired his pair of Advanced SRMs which exploded in clouds of shrapnel that silenced the weapon. He effortlessly snapped the gun with his heavy battle claw. “We are Clan Warriors. We do not hide from dezgra Bandits. All Points advance!”

The Rhinos advanced through the withering firepower breaking up strong points with their missiles. As they approached the perimeter an anti-personnel mine went off under Zigfried' feet lifting him off the ground and knocking him on his back. “Star Colonel!”

Zigfried shook his head and his world came back into focus, the audio sensor had cut off saving his hearing but the concussion was apparent. He pushed the heavy battle claw into the ground and lifted himself up using the myomer enhanced muscles of the battle suit.

The suit turned toward an enterprising and bold enemy that was unceremoniously cut down by his laser. “Like the Pilot said, watch your step Horses.”

Star Colonel Ravenwater and his Rhinos pushed deeper into the camp while Donars launched missiles at targets of opportunity outside the camouflaged tent camp. They were taking light machine gun fire from the woods but it was nothing the combat vehicles were not capable of handling. He heard a massive explosion and saw a portion of the tents ripped apart by the back-blast. “Reki?”

“Aff, Star Colonel. Four-Two is knocked out but alive.” The Donars aimed their lasers at the recoil-less rifle armed jeep and slagged it. “Any sign of those Commandos?”

“Neg, Sir. Dirtbag Bandits. Heaviest weapon till that Reki were grenade launchers. Crude ones at that.”


The Donars came in over the radio, “Lots of Bandits fleeing into the forest. Missiles are dry.”
Anhurs were beginning to land and the Suit Techs were trading out missile cylinders. “They will outrun us too. Star Captain, any sign of those Pouncers?”
“Neg sir. This camp is abandoned. Far as we can see they were here recently. Left some tools behind.”


The planetary Battlenet broadcast an alert to all Warriors planet wide.
Petrograd Bay Spaceport Raided by unknown forces
Hostiles hijacked Lion dropship CHH Stirrup, last reported vector was toward Abaddon Heights.
Severe civilian and Warrior casualties, Unity Merchant CHH Tonya Grimheald damaged.


“That's them. All Points load up.” As he stepped back into the Anhur he disabled the radio and muttered, “I can't believe I have to ask the Falcons for a ride because Bandits stole mine. Star Colonel Zywot will never let me live this down.”
« Last Edit: 06 September 2020, 14:48:28 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #31 on: 06 September 2020, 21:28:02 »
Zigfried stepped out onto the granite plateau in the shadow of his spheroid C-1 at the Elizabeth Hazen starport. Before him the Enclave of Rubat stretched out encompassing the entirety of this lush cool valley. The piercing cry of a Jade Falcon on the hunt above a nearby lake echoed off the rocks. A storm was approaching and the wind was already blowing mist in their faces.

His fellow Elementals of the 40th Mechanized Cavalry Command Point wore black and blue combat uniforms complete with armor and sidearms but no helmets just their duty caps. “You certain about this Star Colonel?”

He looked over toward the pair of spheroid dropships that dwarfed their tiny drop-shuttle. One was a well used Unity freighter. The Unity was the standard light duty transport plying the stars in the tightly intertwined Pentagon Worlds where there was lately a deficit of materials after more than three centuries of exploitation.

The other dropship was a Sassanid still in Smoke Jaguar colors but with the insignia of Clan Jade Falcon's Zeta Galaxy. “Aff, we need that Sassanid to reach the Abaddon Heights. Its to high for our helicopters and to far to reach with the force we need by any other means in a reasonable time.”

A small green and gray painted off-road truck approached them at high speed over the tarmac. A Patrol vehicle by the lights and stripes armed with a Heavy Machine-gun mounted in the back. “Here comes the welcoming party. Keep your hands off the sidearms. We are not here to fight, quiaff?”

The Elementals waited a moment longer as the gun truck pulled next to them and the gunner lazily pointed it in their general direction. Two short (to an Elemental) Patrolmen stepped out with their gray armor over a green uniform with the Falcon patch on their right shoulder. Each carried an Avenger Automatic shotgun in their hands, with a medusa whip and radio on the vest. “Identify yourselves.”

“Zigfried Ravenwater, Star Colonel of the Fortieth Mechanized Cavalry of Clan Hell's Horses and my Command Point. I order you to take me to Star Colonel Zywot. We have urgent Warrior business.”

“You cannot give us orders Star Colonel.”
They stopped mid-sentence as something came over their radios. The patrolmen looked at each other and lowered their weapons disappointed.

“She is expecting you. Hop in.” Their leader looked toward the machine gunner, “Doug get in, let the Elementals have the bed.”

With that the machine gunner dropped the tailgate and jumped down cramming himself next to his fellow Falcons in the cab. Five Elementals stepped into the bed standing two on each side with Zigfried standing leaning forward on the cab. A light rain started and as they descended the hill they could see just how dark Rubat was. “Looks like we are not alone Star Colonel. Khan Pryde has moved many of her people out of the Pentagon Worlds as well.”

“The Pentagon Worlds were once the heart of the Clans but there are not enough people to sustain it any longer. If it were up to Khan Fletcher we would just abandon our homes wholesale. I do not wish to leave the Homeworlds. What can the Inner Sphere provide that we cannot acquire here?”


His subordinate Nova Captain Murphy spoke, “Terra.”
Zigfried spit over the side, “So what! We leave our worlds to take over one. Terra can burn and nothing will change. Hundreds of worlds have been lost to reclaim an office that no longer exists why should we join them. We have advanced beyond that, let the Khans fight for their vanity. The Great Father left that place with no intention to return.”
Magnus, the very young Elemental that had taken his Trial of Position last month ahead of schedule to fill an urgent void in the Cluster, “Seyla! Star Colonel.”

The Elementals went down the access roads plied by container transports slowly working their way up the rain slick road. They stopped after about twenty minutes at a large hanger like building near the star-port. Just after stopping the Patrolmen dismounted noticeably leaving their weapons in the truck, “This is your stop Star Colonel. We have been ordered to take you back when you are done with your Warrior business.”

Star Colonel Ravenwater and his Horses stepped down and walked toward the entrance while the Patrolmen walked over to a nearby shelter to smoke their cigarettes. Only a few lights were on outside the structure so they aimed for the brightest ones. Two unarmored but armed Falcon Elementals stood guard and stopped them asking for codices before escorting them inside.

Two dozen Falcon Elementals were engaged in a competition within while the rainstorm began picking up outside filling the astroturfed hanger with a pounding din. Multiple pieces of exercise, martial arts, and sports equipment were neatly stacked up on the green. Lined up against a wall stood a row of squat double clawed and machine gun armed Salamander power armor suits interspersed with the lighter EXO-FIVE suits used by Freeborn Elementals during their initial training and infantry heavy weapons operators.

A blonde Elemental woman ran up and with the aid of a strap threw it 120 meters away with enough force to knock the wooden dummy down to the cheers of her fellow competitors. Even the Horses clapped at the impressive display of athleticism which drew the Falcons' attention to them. The Falcons bid them to come over and they followed led by the Star Colonel stopping just short of arms reach.

The older Warriors, a unarmed and unconcerned faded blonde Amazon, stood before the graying black haired scarred and muscled Horse in his combat harness. She playfully tapped Zigfried with the Amentum (Javelin throwing) strap wrapped around her wrist. “Ziggy. It has been a long time. How are things in Petrograd?”

“This is not a social call Jaunie. You know precisely how they are.”
“Aff, I expected you to come here after that little incident at the starport. The real mystery is what you want to give the Jade Falcons for my help?”

“Depends on how much help you are offering Falcon. Those Salamanders look combat ready and your Elementals in good condition despite being callow youths or one step from Solahma.”


“While I have heard that your second hand Rhinos are a little worn out,” she looked at the boyish fifteen year old Magnus that stood a head over her, “and your Warriors need more seasoning. Seems you robbed the creche Star Colonel Ravenwater. This boy are barely out of puberty. Are you using his young blood to get a little boost yourself?”

She leaned in a passed her hand through his hair, “You have seen better days Star Colonel.” He didn't move and she whispered to him, “I want the Jagatai Star waiting at the Armorworks outside Yang's Baazar just for the use of my Sassanid transport pending a Trial of Possession. The Jade Falcons will maintain full control of the ship even if you are victorious. Failure will result in a double loss of material and honor to the Horses.”

She returned to her Falcons and he stood slightly taller, “Acceptable, not like I have pilots for them yet or would know what to do with them. I need more support than that. These Bandits are a threat to both our Enclaves you should be interested in dealing with them permanently as well.”

“I would but they are only attacking the Horses and not even your home enclaves on Irkutsk just the ones you recently acquired from the Wolves.”

“Because it is the one with the Mech factory. I would like our Trial to cover an Elemental Star from your Cluster preferably with incendiary ordnance to burn them out and air cover from your fighters in case the Bandits make a run for it. Better a lost dropship than one in Bandit hands.”


The Falcons perked up at the possibility of combat that had thus far been denied them. Their Touman had taken great losses during their Refusal War against the Wolves. Khan Pryde had poached many Warriors from the homeworlds and filled Zeta Galaxy with unseasoned Warriors right out of training or grizzled veterans recalled from recent Solahma postings.

Star Colonel Zymot thought about it for a moment and gauged the eagerness of her Third Falcon Velites who were hungry for action and recognition. “I agree but I want your boy Magnus.” She pointed at Magnus, a handsome teenager with no real combat experience, “to fight my girl Katar,” a young woman stepped forward with a lean and powerful body complete with newly inked tribal tattoos, “Un-augmented on the disk.” she pointed toward a circular platform suspended about three meters off the ground. “First one to fall loses. I want to see if the Horses' training and Elemental genes are still strong in spite of recent failings. Otherwise it will not be worth my time or Warriors despite their urge to fight or the danger these Bandits might pose.”

Both shook hands gripping each other as tight as if they were arm wrestling one another, “Bargained well and done Star Colonel.”
« Last Edit: 15 September 2020, 18:56:35 by AlphaMirage »

Wrangler

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #32 on: 15 September 2020, 16:23:01 »
This such a good story, thanks keeping going with it AlphaMirage!
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AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #33 on: 16 September 2020, 19:01:38 »
Magnus walked forward from the throng of his now adopted brother Elementals toward Katar. She did the same and their Star Colonels made space for them to size each other up and the other Falcons set about preparing the Circle of Equals for their Trial. She looked around seventeen to his fifteen full of lean muscle and Falcon pride. He would ultimately grow beyond her but for now she was a close to even match and it was evident that Star Colonel Zymot had a sharp eye for fair competition.

She sized him up as well, her braids bobbing slightly as she took his measure. “You are not a Horse Elemental Magnus. How did you come to Eden?”

“I was a Ghost Bear. Our convoy was intercepted along the Exodus Road by the Inner Sphere’s task force. They relocated us after taking our jump ships and we were returned to the home-worlds by the CHH Steel Shield coming back from the Wolf Occupation Zone.”

“I am not a Falcon either. Former Smoke Jaguar; the Falcons took possession of my Sibko and our Enclave in Amur before Huntress.”

“This has been a very interesting year for both of us then Katar.”
“So, it has.”
She extended her hand and he took it both clamping down to test the strength of the other, “Good Luck Magnus, you will need it.”

Both combatants walked toward the ring that was waiting for them. Magnus removed his fatigues revealing the kinetic bodysuit beneath. This suit improved the reaction time of the myomer muscles of power armor much like a neurohelmet and was a holdover from an earlier age; modern power armor like the Salamanders and EXO-FIVEs no longer needed it but the Horses' ancient Rhino suits did. Once Katar mounted the disk it was raised three meters off the ground from its six cables spaced equidistant around the five square meter disk.

The Warriors were allowed a moment to catch their balance and both did with no issue. Elementals frequently operated on moving objects, they rode or ripped into vehicles, jumped over the battlefield firing down on opponents, or if serving as Marines like Katar was likely destined to had to operate in a restricted and uncontrolled environment. Very little actual combat against anything but Bandits was done with feet on the ground so you got used to it or washed out into the lesser Warrior castes of Armor or Patrol. They all knew the rules already, first one to fall loses.

A bell rung from the ceiling, Katar circled Magnus and the disk wobbled with their shifting weight forcing both fighters to absorb the difference with their legs. He shot forward for a take-down but she evaded using the support cables with one of her hands and launching a Savate style reverse kick that pushed him back to the disk's edge. Magnus caught one of the cables and avoided the follow up strike that would have toppled him. Both used open hand strikes, low kicks, and attempted to reap or thrown down the other to the ground where they might fall off. Katar and Magnus alternated offense and defense as they fought around the wires in an intricate and violent display that was more akin to dance than combat. Each gave enough ground hoping the other would overshoot and give them an opportunity to go over the edge.

Ultimately Katar made the fatal mistake five minutes in falling for Magnus' feint and being pulled over the edge and into the mats below. The Falcons paused upset that their entertainment had ended but eager to get into real fighting. Katar was lifted up and patted on the back by the Falcons who quietly kept their mixed feelings to themselves. Theirs had been an impressive display of martial skill if ultimately on the losing side but now they got to fight for real against Bandits.

Magnus jumped down from the disk and shook her hand, “Pleasure fighting with you Katar.”
Both took a moment to catch their breath and Katar socked him with a light punch, “I almost had you Ghost Bear. Doubt this will be the last time we meet one another in a Circle of Equals. Next time will be different.”

Star Colonels Jaunie Zymot and Zigfried Ravenwater took a moment whispering harshly to one another. Zigfried abandoned the whispers for shouting, “You mean you already had them there!”
The Falcon was signaling something to one of her subordinates, “Of course I did Ziggy. I was going to Trial for those pilot-less Jagatais and kill those Bandits as soon as you lost the Starport. Now I get them without losing anything and have you to help me.”

She received and handed him a phone handset, “All you need to do is tell the Armorworks Factor to hand them over and we can go get your dropship back.” Zigfried walked a short distance away to speak with the Merchant in charge of the factory there and inform him of the Trials terms. Jaunie and her Falcons began suiting up in their Salamanders which animated with an animal like hunch and pair of razor sharp claws. The sound of the hanger doors opening and Aurochs Heavy Transports backing up filled the nighttime air.

“She had this all planned already.” He looked over to Katar who was walking toward one of the EXO-FIVE units. It wasn't the best front line combatant against heavy vehicles and Mechs but could carry weapons easily capable of laying waste to infantry while protecting its user from most small arms. “You took a dive and set me up.”

She stepped back into the suit which closed around her but left the visor open, “Maybe.

Rematch some other time Magnus.”


The suit visor came down followed by the armored faceplate as she stepped past him joining the other Falcons loading into the transports.

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #34 on: 16 September 2020, 22:10:25 »
Meanwhile in Yang's Bazaar the Armorworks Merchant Factor Leopold was still on the phone with Star Colonel Ravenwater when the Falcons arrived in a small convoy of five wheeled vehicles, two APCs, two Tankers filled with Ammonia and Hydrazine, and an Ordnance Transport and its trailer loaded down with bombs and missiles. They presented themselves to the Horse Patrol outside and demanded to speak to the Factor.

A slender brunette woman stood outside the Patrol station with hands on her hips while the Patrolmen had their hands on their sidearms. She was already in her bright green Talon Aerospace Flight-suit with a bomber style jacket over it with the words 'Filigree Flight' emblazoned on it in gold.

Leopold stepped out and the woman eyed him sharply, “About time Factor Leopold.
I am Star Commander Mia Binetti of the First Falcon Dragoons. I am here for my fighters. We have a lot of work to do,”
she looked at her wrist mounted comm-pad, “and less time. Show me where they are.”

The Factor spoke to the Patrol Captain and the Horses reluctantly took their hands of their sidearms or lowered their rifles. A Patrol truck powered up and led the Falcons to the ten Jagatais that were supposed to join the flight wing of a Horse Comitatus Patrol Jumpship. Now the brand new recently painted Strike Fighters belonged to the Jade Falcons. The APCs disgorged their passengers, a complete flight crew for a Fighter Star whose Warriors and Technicians composed mostly of Raven Abtakha. Both bird Clans had come to an alliance under their Khans Marthe Pryde and Lynn McKenna to protect their interests from the ascendant Snake Alliance whose Steel Vipers had launched multiple violent Trials against them.

Star Commander Binetti was pleased that the fighters were already armed and in several different configurations no less. Her Ordnance Carrier was only there for bombs and ammunition and carried no omni-pods while her technicians already had enough to do readying the fighters for combat. The tanker loaded fuel tanks with liquid ammonia and hydrazine that would also circulate in the heat sinks while the Techs attached bombs and extra fuel tanks to the wing hard-points. Within an hour they were ready for takeoff; record time and testament to the Raven's hard earned experience with omni-fighters. They even had time to paint on the Jade Falcon and Zeta Galaxy emblem on the fuselage.

Mia climbed the small ladder which folded back into the fuselage with the help of a technician. She closed the cockpit and activated the APU which provided starting power through both the on-board stores of hydrazine powering the RCS and a superconductive nuclear thermal battery adjacent to the reactor. The Falcon Fighter pilot donned her neurohelmet a miracle of modern science with its own basic life support and a direct link to the fly by wire and targeting systems.

A technician stood in front of the sleek fighter and she went down the pre-flight checklist, coolant circulation, control surfaces, RCS nozzles, life support, heat shielding, comm systems. She engaged the armored cowling that would envelop the cockpit and heard it latch into position, the neurohelmet filled with an AR view outside the craft receiving stimulus from RADAR, MICRO, IR, UV, GAMMA, and other spectra flashed into her view as the on-board computer synergized them all together. The two parallel computers checked themselves and confirmed they were operational. “All techs clear area for ignition.”

All the technicians and their vehicles moved away taking cover in a bunker nearby as the flight line came alive, she activated several toggle switches in a precise series. “Activating SPARC. All Points standby.”

The SPARC (Selective plasma activated reactor core) system was the key to Aerospace engines and made them the most complex pieces of machinery in the galaxy. Compact high performance nuclear fusion powered rockets capable of launching a fighter into space within minutes by themselves. Even the powerful engines of Warships were less complex than their smaller cousins. Warships were amazing for their compact KF drives and immense nuclear fusion reactors that were less powerful by weight but pushed the limits of known physics even to the Clans that didn't lose most of the knowledge of the Star League.

The fusion engine activated with a roar as the coolant began circulating preheating itself from the thermonuclear furnace within and pressurizing propellant systems. The initial pressure was released with minor out-gassing of Ammonia before the system sealed itself. The Jagatai fighter warmed to 473K and that was cold for this fighter but hot enough to burn all the skin off anyone touching it without proper protection. Heat shimmers surrounded each of the ten fighters that were readying an Elephant walk combat pattern.

“Successful ignition. Raising bottle to decomp.” The reactor powered up heating some of the ammonium nearly to its decomposition temperature of 1073K almost as hot as regular jet exhaust.

“Bazaar Tower this is Filigree Actual. We are ready to take off on your mark.”
“Filigree Flight, skies are clear. Take off when ready.”

“Roger Filigree Flight on me.”
She tipped the throttle forward and flew almost vertical until she was high in the stratosphere and rising. The hard burn to suborbital rapidly depleted her fuel tanks and she discarded the excess carbon fiber tanks which flew behind with those of the other Falcons. The tanks would deploy parachutes for later recovery if feasible but were relatively cheap to manufacture. Eden opened up below her and the horizon rose until they were in the exosphere and suborbital allowing the planet to rotate below them. Atmospheric flight switched over to suborbital mechanics as they adjusted their heading toward the wasteland escarpment of The Abaddon Heights on the dry cold continent of Novy Sakhalin.

Back at the Elizabeth Hazen Starport Magnus waited aboard the Sassanid CJF Ruby Velite. The Horses had rapidly transported most of the 40th Mechanized Cavalry and 232nd Combat Engineering Star there via C-1 Spheroid small craft and were currently loading them into the dropship's cargo bay. While the Sassinid normally carried only 75 Elementals there were far more than that packed into the space. Burnt Umber Salamanders, Jade Green Elemental Suits, Dark Gray EXO-FIVEs, and recently repaired Black and Blue Rhino suits lined up in 4 rows of 25 cradles.

'Above' them the cargo bay was packed with Patrolmen waiting beside up-armored gun-trucks and troop transports. Each of the vehicles carried the equivalent of a Elemental worth of weaponry but was more fragile and required three people to operate to the fullest. Long benches were anchored into the deck where the heavily equipped but still 'Light' infantry would wait out the two hour long suborbital hop to the Abbadon Heights from Yakut.

Ten Hell's Horse Ares Light Tanks and a pair of Falcon Wildfire (Chaparral IIC) Arrow IV Carriers would provide the major offensive punch but would take time to unload once they reached their destination. Until then it was up to 100 Elementals, 400 Mechanized Infantry, and Filigree Flight to hold the line against whatever awaited them.

Star Colonels Zymot and Ravenwater expected fierce resistance from the 'Radioactive Spiders' as they had come to be known and had spent the last hour going over the battle plan within the Ruby Velite's planning room. The Abaddon Heights were filled with radioactive minerals that not only made sensor tracking difficult but could be lethal to an un-shielded human within several hours of exposure despite the gene editing that all modern humans carried dating back to the earliest days of the Age of Exploration and Terran Hegemony.

These edits which were done whether or not the subject wanted it (most did) and made them more resistant to the rigors of space travel, infection by exotic diseases, or the conditions of marginal colony worlds which had coincidentally raised the lifespan of everyone with the exception of Clan Laborers and Combine Serfs. However no Laborers or Serfs died of cancer or heart disease instead it was often accidents, bad water, toxic dust filled with heavy metals or oxides, and malnutrition that killed them.

Magnus and the others remained in their suits as the Sassinid went through its pre-flight check and lifted off veering southward toward the icy continent of Novy Sakhalin. Without an acceleration couch the thrusters seemed so much more powerful and he was never good with spaceflight. Power Armored suits shook and rattled in their cradles before going into free-fall. The cradles kept the suits in their proper orientation and the machines were designed for this purpose particularly the EXO-FIVE Light Armor which was a popular one used by Armored Marines although the Salamander was growing in popularity as it had Harjel and two claws whereas the X-V didn't. The verdict was still out however as no Armored Marines had engaged each other inside the corridors of a Warship or Space Station in more than 20 years.

Time slowed during their suborbital hop but he could hear constant radio chatter, Filigree had taken off right on schedule and had matched velocity. A small cheer went out among the Elementals as a bombing run by ten Aerospace fighters was a great way to soften opposition and punch holes that could later be filled with SRMs. The revised battle-plan came in over the battlenet which gave the troopers a half hour of preparation to memorize geological points of interest that might hold enemy strong points.

The Heights were a vast and rugged uplands part of a massive rift that had created an escarpment greater in size than the Grand Canyon of Terra. This has unearthed a large number of heavy metals and more importantly uranium and thorium which provided the fuel for Nuclear Fission Reactors still used in Enclaves, Space Stations, and other Large Craft despite the existence of fusion power.

Outside Mia Binetti and Filigree Flight could see the Ruby Velite on RADAR. Their mission clocks ticked down and their noses dipped toward the surface once more. “Ruby we are diving in. Switching back to atmospheric flight mode.” The heat of reentry caused the heat shielding tiles protecting the fuselage to glow bright white. All of her Jagatai A's weapons were shielded against the heat by a mixture of armor, heat sinks, and a recessed bay protected by a sliding door. As the heat died down and the plane returned to the atmosphere the bay doors opened on all surfaces exposing the heavy cannon, PPC, and missiles.

The surface grew larger as she dove faster toward the target area, the radiation would scramble sensors but a Lion dropship was impossible to hide and that meant it was likely a trap.

One she was going to dive right into the jaws of with her fighter screaming like a Jade Falcon. Squat double Flak cannon armed Hachiman and Gauss armed Glass Spider AAA units revealed themselves. As she neared they angled their weapons up to fire at the incoming fighters.

Her bombing sight focused in on one of the lumbering dome headed Mechs. She flipped open the switch that enabled the KKD (Kinetic Kill Device, nonexplosive bomb).

“Talons out Filigree.” Three 1 ton molded depleted uranium slug fell free at Mach 10 bracketing the target. Her KKDs smashed into the Glass Spider shattering its right leg and causing it to fall to the rocky ground. The other two caused huge impact craters. Mia nosed up to evade incoming fire and slow down while clearing the flight path for the rest of her Star.

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #35 on: 18 September 2020, 17:51:49 »
A countdown timer activated itself in the HUD of Magnus' Rhino slowly ticking down from 15:00. As impossible as it seemed he had taken an hour-long nap while the dropship traveled along its parabolic trajectory toward the target area. The world outside his visor was the same as he had left it but the racked Jade Falcon Elemental suits in front of him were coming alive inside their restraints.

Star Colonel Zymot's sharp, biting voice came in over the Battlenet, “All Points. We drop on the target in fifteen. Updating tac map feeds now.” A small topo map appeared in the lower left quadrant of his HUD. “Filigree is presently suppressing the enemy but its quiet out there no sign of the missing mechs lots of infantry. Hazard Flight will take over when they Bingo.

EXO-FIVEs will secure the dropship. All others attack the Bandits and keep them away from the Mechanized Forces.

We will burn them out cave by cave if we must. That is all.”


The former Ghost Bear ran through his diagnostics just as he had done hundreds of times before in Sibko and a dozen times since taking his Trial of Position last week. His Power Armor had a large energy pack constantly trickle charged via an NTB but required an outside generator to recharge in a timely manner the meager voltage of the NTB could barely run the re-breather mask presently on his face. He manually cycled the cylindrical magazine that held his missile reloads ensuring it was operational and verified that his laser was as well. Diagnostics complete Magnus clicked a button on the inside of his helmet with his chin signaling Rhino Four-Two's readiness.

Ten minutes later the bay doors opened beneath them and a torrent of thin cold air filled the cabin. Magnus' feet were hanging thousands of meters held in place with steel supports. Once the countdown reached zero, he and the others were released into Eden's stratosphere like so much confetti. A moment of primal panic filled him threatening to overcome his training, but he maintained control as he tumbled through the air. With a sharp tug that strained the steel cable mounted to his suit the drag chute deployed.

A Rhino was not designed to fly but all Elementals were trained for HALO type operations. Freezing cold air roared past, and the ground grew worryingly closer; the extra 500 Kilos of his suit over the Falcon ones made the Rhinos fall faster. His suit’s computer engaged its descent protocol burning at the precise rate needed to bring the heavy armor down for a ‘soft’ landing. Halfway through the deceleration the Falcons began doing the same with their more powerful jump jets followed by the EXO-FIVEs which were light enough that their parachutes were capable of doing most of the work.

One of the Jagatai from Filigree flew through their formation in a power dive launching its missiles at the threats growing larger in his visor before it flared back to the skies. The Elementals of the Third Velites and Fortieth Mechanized Cavalry landed before the smoke settled with a thump. Their Sassanid’s thundering engines faded as it continuing to the landing site to unload the others.

The Warriors were surrounded by Bandits who paused as they processed the unexpected drop of so many Armored Infantry in their midst. Their helmets showed no expression but their bodies did; they realized they were outnumbered and horribly outgunned. Falcon Salamanders took advantage of the surprise igniting their flamers with palpable menace before turning them on the clutch of infantry who fled in terror only to be cut down by laser fire.

Heavy weapons opened fire on the exposed Elementals from concealed positions in the rocks, machine guns rounds whistled by chipped stone with each impact, mortar bombs thumped and created small craters, and the smoke of rockets filled the air. Hell's Horsesmen advanced into the firestorm trusting their heavy armor, weapons, and hard earned skill hunting dezgra foes such as these.

They were followed by the Elementals and Salamanders whose hunched and monstrous forms firing inferno missiles which arced awkwardly into concealed firing positions spreading deadly napalm upon impact. Sounds of ammunition cooking off or detonating bouncing off the boulders filling the air with a harsh din. Mercifully no one could smell the barbecued Bandits or white phosphorous, the screams of the wounded and dying were lost in their helmets or the sounds of automatic weapons fire.

Taking advantage of the confusion the EXO-FIVE Warriors jumped toward the 40th's Lion dropship CHH Stirrup raking enemy positions from above with their weapons and executing any injured Bandits they found with Myomer enhanced armored gloves or boots. Their objective was to secure the flight deck and activate its weapons; failing that they were to deny the asset rather than allowing the Horses' to face the dishonor of losing their transport to Bandits.

Dozens of Infantry stormed out of their bunkers in a desperate and frenzied charge knowing they could not outrun or outgun the Warriors. Rather than burn hiding in their fighting positions they intended to die on their feet. The Clan Warriors were happy to oblige but could not stop all of the soldiers scrambling over the boulders with surprising ease. Bandits closed to melee range with the Warriors intentionally getting between them to break unit cohesion and create a cross-fire condition.

Magnus was in the second line with the rest of his Point when they were overrun with hostiles scrambling over the boulders. They were heavily armored but surprisingly agile. The pulse laser in his right arm fired vaporizing a section of the gray ablative vest but it held. He heard the alert that signaled a malfunction in the laser's power supply and the device sparked as an anti-material rifle hit it in just the right spot to disable his primary anti-personnel weapon.

His Rhino's acoustic sensor triangulated the rifleman marking him with an orange triangle visible in the AR. The final pair of missiles streaked toward that location and Magnus was rewarded with a spray of crimson mist on the gray stone. Using the voice commands the missile pack disengaged landing a short distance behind him and making the suit more agile. Other Rhinos were doing the same joining their Falcon Elemental counterparts currently engaged in a brutal close quarters battle against the fanatical bandits.

Shortly after there was nothing left of the Bandits but meat and bone with the Salamanders being particularly brutal in melee. Filigree was Bingo their high performance Aerospace fighters lacked endurance in 'heavy air' being optimized for space combat but capable of both. Hazard Flight was five minutes out but the Elementals saw the eight stolen Pouncers bounding over the cliffs toward them.

Star Colonel Zigfried Ravenwater came in over the Battlenet. “All missiles on me.” Out of the Trinary only a Star of Elementals had missiles remaining most of them Rhinos and very few reloads at that. The Horse and Falcon Elementals scattered but the missile unit stood firm in the center led by Star Colonel Ravenwater who had mounted the still burning skeleton of a Glass Spider Battlemech. “Prepare yourselves Elementals. Here they come.”

Wrangler

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #36 on: 18 September 2020, 22:10:07 »
Wow, this is intense!
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #37 on: 19 September 2020, 01:07:23 »
Cell Colonel Vorgen Wells leapt over the cliffs in his Pouncer not expecting to see the carnage that awaited him. He did not believe the reports as they started filtering in but did when he saw the remains of his infantry battalion staining the gray land with red blood. One hundred Hell's Horses and Jade Falcon Armored Infantry had dropped far faster and in greater force than had been predicted and more were unloading behind him pressing against his rapidly depleting garrison. He had expected the Jade Falcons to fight the Horses after embarrassing them as greatly as he had; not ally and aid them against his forces. Something was missing in his intelligence reports and there was no escaping the inevitable now. All that remained was to take as many of these Warriors down with him as possible.

He zoomed in on the center of the formation and lifted an eyebrow at the sight of the Horse Star Colonel standing defiantly in the center. His heavy suit was scarred with hundreds of bullets and four missiles, “Rhinos? We were supposed to take possession of them. Well you know what they say about military intelligence.

All Mechwarriors maintain range from the Elementals. Our Pouncers can pick them off at a distance.”


The long range RADAR station mounted atop a nearby mesa radioed to him, the voice filled with static due to the grounding effect of the peninsula but clear enough. “Sir, another flight of Jade Falcon Omnifighters are inbound. Two Points of Visigoths, one of Scythas. ETA five mikes at current velocity.”

“Damn! All Points advance. Make it difficult for those fighters to strafe us into oblivion.”


Eight Pouncers walked forward firing bolts of man made lighting toward the Elementals who ducked behind rocks. Lucky shots shredded power suits and the operator inside with high energy particles. Clan Warriors leapt from cover to cover setting each other up for solid shots on the light mechs. Colonel Wells crushed one of the Falcon Elementals that attempted to take his legs out from beneath him.

A volley of SRMs crashed into his mech followed by laser pulses that threatened to knock the Bandit Leader to the ground for removal by the unfeeling claws of Elemental Warriors. He fired his own missiles which scattered across the enemy formation and vaporized another Falcon Elemental that sky-lighted itself on a nearby ridge.

Their missiles expended the suits' discarding their missile launcher. Now unencumbered they swarmed over the enemy mechs rending armor; a Falcon Salamander cracked the cockpit of a mech spraying flames into the helpless Mechwarrior and causing the machine to topple into the earth with smoke rising out of the cockpit.

Like many Omnimechs the Pouncers lacked hands and couldn't remove the Elementals swarming over their machine. They would not be any safer if they dropped and rolled and there was no water nearby to drown them out. However they were 'safe' from the Falcon Aerospace fighters that blazed overhead. Those fighters released their bombs which smashed into the mountainside blasting the remaining Flak guns concealed within to scrap iron.

Magnus Ghost stepped over toward one of the fallen Falcon Elemental suits, the Warrior's ID was lost, charred beyond recognition but their laser was operational. He reached over with his battle claw and removed his damaged pulse laser replacing it with a standard version and looked toward the melee with anticipation. The Bandits had closed to stymie Hazard Flight overhead and kill as many of his fellow Warriors as possible. There was no depth of depravity for these chalcas Bandits that flaunted the Widowmaker name in defiance of the Clans.

The Horseman rushed toward one of the olive drab Pouncers leaping onto it and latching on with his battle claw and crumpling armor panels as his 1500 Kilo mass crashed into the frame. That Pouncer moved ever so slightly with the impact of so many Elementals on it but its gyro adjusted keeping it upright. Magnus crunched into panels ripping them as he approached the cockpit's cowling. Already it was damaged by laser fire and power armor claws and he finished it off ripping through the glass and his claws found purchase on something. He looked over to the Falcon Salamander that was already aboard, “Rip the canopy. I think I have him.”

The Salamander dug both of its claws into the armored mounting for the ferroglaz and allowed Magnus to remove his claw before they lifted the canopy and flung it on the stones. Within the cockpit was a helmeted Mechwarrior reaching for his pulse laser pistol which was knocked aside by the Falcon before Magnus pulled him free from the seat and out of the cockpit. They both landed just outside while the Mech just stood there in its passive stability stance.

Magnus held the Mechwarrior aloft, “Why do you fight us? What have we done to your people?”

His foe lifted his visor, he was an older man with distinctive dueling scars on his weather-worn face. “Because your kind are failures, anomalies, monstrosities. My people will be free to do as we please, not as Nicholas Kerensky demanded.
We are just the Vanguard of a greater movement that will shake the very halls of Strana Mechty.
Your days are numbered Warrior,”
He armed a mini-grenade concealed in his cooling vest with a remote trigger, “mine have ended.”

That small amount of explosive was enough to kill him with only minor damage to the armor except for the splatter blinding the external cameras. Reports from the other soldiers were positive as Bandits were breaking contact and scurrying into their underground redoubts. The 232nd Combat Engineers had deployed Sappers but it was going to be a process to dig up and deal with them.

Star Colonels Ravenwater and Zymot agreed to cause a rock-slide entombing the Bandits rather than lose more Warriors chasing them out of an abandoned uranium mine. The Mechanized Warriors, EXO-FIVE units, and Tanks were left behind with the Lion. Elementals collected their fallen and boarded the Sassanid. Magnus' armor had been critically damaged so he and many other battle scarred suits were trapped in their suits until Techs could cut them out of them. They walked back into their racks for transport. Another hour wouldn't kill him he had been on duty for eighteen already with little shut eye.

As soon as the dropship lifted off he drifted away again weightless and thinking over what the Bandit was talking about. He woke to the Falcon pilot alerting them they were nearing their destination. The wounded were evacuated first to waiting MedTechs and the Technicians began to work on the damaged suits freeing their operators from twisted endo-steel and solidified Harjel. Each of the dozen major panels were removable and beneath them was a sub-layer filled with coolant tubes, pockets of Harjel, and the bundles of myomer musculature that animated the frame below.

Magnus' frame was damaged from a rocket assisted fall which required the use of heavy equipment and he queued with others. Techs cut away the armored breastplate with saws throwing out sparks in the repair bay. Damaged sections clattered to the deck and were pushed into a pile of other tortured components covered in black Harjel and dried blood.

The Jade Falcons returned to their Enclave on Rubat with 20 fewer Warriors and 10 new Aerospace fighters comfortable in the knowledge that the Bandit threat was reduced for the time being. Magnus joined the others at Vesta's sole Hotel where the exhausted Warriors were enjoying a quiet moment after showering and eating everything in the kitchen.

He was withdrawn; today was his first major combat and they were back to back grinders with a brief interlude of facing down a fellow Elemental with the success of a mission on his young shoulders. Zigfried walked up to him taking him in and patted him on the shoulder, “You did good work today kid." He raised a glass and his voice. "Tomorrow will be different Warriors," they shouted back in a powerful unified chant that could be heard down the block, "For better or worse. Through Hell and back again.
Hurrah for Zeta.”
« Last Edit: 19 September 2020, 01:10:29 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #38 on: 21 September 2020, 07:32:40 »
07/28/3060 Location – CFMDS Mastodon, Circe IV L-4 Point

Star Commanders Freelander, Tanaga, Kline, and Goulet assembled again in the Mastodon's Wardroom. Their dropship was serving as one of the anchor dropships to the massive cage-work NCS Roland Tusker. Nina and Joseph looked very tense compared to Faye and Claude who had spent much of the past two months training the Newts in microgravity martial arts and enjoying the fine accommodations they had aboard.
JK: “You both look good.”
CG: “Thank you Joe. You two should go over the Wusong sometime for a change of scenery and some rest.”
NT: “We will take you up on that soon Claude. Now that the Mastodon has completed its work.”

FF: “How did your mission go?”
NT: “The Huisman (Black Lion) and Franklin (Cameron) are stabilized for now. Good thing we came when we did, and that Joe set up those beacons. If we had waited longer or been less through it is likely they would have precipitated a Kessler Runaway that would have seriously damaged and likely destroyed the other ships in the Ghost Fleet.”
JK: “Glad to hear my solo Satellite missions were worth it in the end. That's rarely the case.

We also pushed the Painkiller into a gravity assisted slingshot orbit that will fling it toward us in the next 45 days. It is much easier to slow it down then get it moving in the first place.”


NT: “We do appreciate all the help you provided to us Joe. However,” She looked toward Faye and Claude, “Star Commander Kline will be leaving us within the next ten days.”
CG: “Why?”

The holo-map appeared over the table marking the planets and orbital habitats in the system. Joseph triggered something on his comm-pad and a line circled Inward toward Circe's third planet. “Nina and I think that I can help more on the inside now that the Newts are here in force. The CSR Tenacity is due to arrive in twenty days and is heading to Lum from the Inner Sphere so will pass through Shadow.

Ten days from now is the nearest launch window to the Raven habitat orbiting Perses (Circe Three). Superior Regnar said they were already planning a shuttle run to pick up supplies for their 'mining operation.' I can tag along and book passage aboard their Unity which is due to launch toward the Nadir Station in twelve days.”


Claude looked over at Nina, Joseph Kline was the only one among their main band that was not either wanted for piracy or for being a Bandit ('Political Enemy'). He had real orders to search the Tanite worlds for opportunities the Mandrills could profit from now that the Burrocks were gone. Thus far he could legitimately say he found some among the Newts and Harvesters.

His piloting skills were not as valuable to them now, but his diplomatic skills were immensely so. They would return with the Warships and clear their names but right now the Fire Mandrills would just as likely blast them as talk. It was bittersweet though Joseph was a good Warrior with a vision that was so lacking among the Mandrills.

Faye spoke before either of the Mandrills did, “Do you intend to take the data from the Caretaker Station with you?”

“Aff Faye. I will present it to the Loremaster on Shadow along with our analysis and videos from our POVs. It will get to the Blood Spirits through ilChi Keller and probably the Snow Ravens too through their own back channels. That is the best we can do.

Hopefully that will take enough time that we can get the Warships out of this system before the Ravens come and look. We have been lucky they have been busy moving the last of the Ghost Bears to the Inner Sphere and do not have Warships in system. Especially with the Roland Tusker and Wusong here.”


Claude shook his hand, “Good Luck Joseph. You will be missed.”
“I am not leaving yet Claude.”
He used data-gloves to close the holomap and the Wardroom lights returned to their normal settings. “Not until I try out those simulators, I heard some of the Newts talking about on the Wusong. I think I can beat their high score.”
Faye looked at the pair, “I do not know about that Kline. They might be poor martial artists, but these Newts can fly.”
“Well give me and Nina some time to shower and change. Meet you in the shuttle bay.”


The pair floated away toward the officers’ quarters while Faye and Claude pushed off toward the shuttle bay. They had spent enough time aboard the Wusong that the Mastodon's now sparsely occupied accommodations looked rather shabby by comparison with only brief bursts of color from air scrubbing plants rather than the rainbow murals, vibrant greenery, and lack of smell aboard the Habitat dropship. They were however far better than the barren, cramped, dank gray maze most Clanners experience aboard one of the poorly maintained Condor troopships used to transfer large numbers of lower caste from one planetary Enclave to another particularly along the Exodus Road where collars were at a premium and comfort not even a priority over air, water, and food in that order.

They floated toward their fighting ring which was scuffed in several places reminiscing about the time spent training the few Harvesters brave enough to try learning the Warrior's Art. Those few now were helping them teach the Newts how to defend themselves which was a Chalcas thing, but he was already a Bandit and she was sent on a suicide mission by a dead Clan. “Seems so long ago now Claude.”

“I know but it has only been two months since we were last aboard and five since we met. Time gets rather fuzzy with twelve-hour days. This had been an eventful year and I doubt it will slow down anytime soon.”


Claude's comm-pad buzzed, “I guess they are ready for us Faye. Our showers were never that fast.”
Faye smiled, “Still aren't”

In the shuttle bay they met the few remaining Harvesters that had been assigned to help Nina and Joseph with the tug mission and would now be transferred to the Roland Tusker/Wusong composite Station. Their Dropship had been running a skeleton crew with most of the Harvesters being transferred to the cageworks. They grew up, lived, and died on space stations and this was one of the more impressive ones they had seen.

As the S-7 set out on its trip it was dwarfed by the massive NCS Roland Tusker whose main body was crafted from the shell of a Mammoth dropship. The dropships whose Fusion Reactor was replaced with a less expensive and lower powered Nuclear Fission one. Four mounts formerly used for the thruster nacelles were transformed into re-configurable gantry arms that gave it the appearance of a squid floating in the void of space.

These arms contained all the machinery to support the repair yard large enough to engulf a Monsoon Battleship. Each arm had taken four days to unfold as the station had to be transported with them pressed back in order to fit within a jumpship's KF field and protect them while the vessel was tugged along by its fleet of small craft. It was a treasure long in the making for the Newts. Presently both the Lola III Muraca and Essex Rondeau were docked nose to nose with only 100 meters between them under the 'skirts.'

Its cousin and originator the NCS George Knox was a half size prototype still in high demand among the Free Guilds as it was capable of repairing a Monolith or Leviathan, the largest jump-ships in existence, but more likely to be repairing Tramps and Merchants, the most common kind among the Guilds. Newgrange could create another one and could even make an O'Neil cylinder like those of ancient Terra but lacked the population pressure to need one.

Kline brought the S-7 shuttle into a final approach vector to the Wusong's shuttle bay passing under the field of fire of the station's triple laser mounts designed to protect the station from debris or hostile action. Lasers automatically tracked incoming contacts friend or foe and were always monitored by the gunnery team within the Tusker's command room. The Wusong hung off the opposite end of the cylinder from the repair facility aligning its nose docking collar to the station's allowing workers and cargo to pass freely between the two vessels.

As the shuttle bay cycled, they floated out into the composite station. Newt crews were sending out shuttles toward the 'outside' of the Warships not presently covered under the envelope to continue their salvage operation. Kline and company passed very active Newts and it felt like they were in a small city as this jump mobile station was even larger than the Rhea Reformer Station.

The spacers had settled in over the past two months and continued their hard work. They could feel vibrations from cargo cages sliding 'down' the tension wire running through the central shaft toward the 'bottom' of the station. Workers that lived in the dropship or were visiting it came up in the same cages unless there was something worth returning to the Behemoth's vast cargo bays and workshops.

Joe went toward the Arcade while Nina went to the Sauna. Claude and Faye hung onto the outside of one of the cages with a group of Newts all heading 'down' to the station for another training session. They got off at the appropriate frame to reach the access port for one of the contrarotating Gravdecks that circled the mid-section of the Roland Tusker at approximating 0.35g; the lowest gravity a non-Spacer phenotype could acclimate to without massive supplementation.

Inside was their twenty-man seed platoon of FireNewts (as they had started calling themselves) working out on the machines their uniforms were cut and colored Black and Green like those of the 23rd Air Assault that Claude was formerly a part of and claimed he would be again. Sergeant Carson, a tough as nails but lithe of body Harvester who had been under Claude’s tutelage since Rhea hopped over to them, “Sir, Maam. I just put the team through their physical training portion. We’re ready for tactical training.”

Claude looked over to Faye, “Down for some Search and Destroy Faye?”
The Jaguar looked over the platoon thinking about who she would pick for today's exercise, “Always.”
« Last Edit: 21 September 2020, 07:35:46 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #39 on: 30 September 2020, 01:46:49 »
09/01/3060 Aboard the FCV Manai, Grand Archipelago, Fortuna (formerly Fasa)

A hawk nosed man was semi-visible in the dimmed lights of the holo-tank sitting between two other dour fellows a thousand light years away. His voice was low, almost growling, and very German. “Scientist-Controller we have not received an update on our project in months. Where is Doctor Viken?”

On the other side were a young man and woman, both finely featured with darker skin than the pale spacers. The man spoke first, “We believe he was killed by your project's test subjects and his station needed to be destroyed to contain the breach. All that remains are his off-site backups, but we have not yet had time to free a Scientist to oversee the next step.”

There was a brief pause as the message transmitted nearly 1000 light years and 20 QR 243 HPG Relays away, “We do not appreciate these delays. Your predecessor promised us results. Our Convoy Protection Forces demand more capable soldiers.”

Taking a deep breath, the woman spoke, “You cannot rush this project Major. We are working with a great deal of uncertainty with the protocols and have our own security issues. I am certain The Chairman can send more crates of Mark Thirty-Nine Pulse Rifles to assuage the Captain-Generals.”

Major Meyer became more animated which was blurred during to the low fidelity of their tenuous FTL broadcast, “We do not need more rifles! The Hansa can buy comparable ones from the Lyrans. You on the other hand are the only ones that can give us super soldiers from your 'Iron Wombs.'

Your Chairman has built up good will and credit among the Council. I will inform my Captain-General that you,”
he pointed to the man, “Scientist-Controller Calloway, are less than reliable. We have paid for Viken's services for years now and want his data transferred to Lubeck. If you cannot give us what we want. We will do it ourselves.”

“Only The Chairman can authorize a transfer of raw data.”


There was a moment that was filled with the gaunt spacers' grimacing, “We expect to receive what we paid for! Meyer out.” The holo-vid turned off.

“That could have gone better Dexter.”
The woman stood up and secured the room ensuring the holo-tank built into their gardener ship was secured and no longer transmitting to Fortuna's HPG. “It could have been much worse too Mary. At least he wasn't demanding a refund, our projects are running a little over-budget right now, something I am sure The Chairman will mention later.”

“Meyer is asking for even more with a data transfer.”
“I know. We only just secured the physical data from Circe to protect it here on Fortuna. Our father will not be pleased.”


His stepsister fiddled with the radio and returned the holo-tank to the immersive aquarium idle screen, “He won't do anything; The Major’s project is a small one for the HSF. We already have the capability to make their soldiers. Viken was merely playing around with crossing Elementals and Spacer phenotypes.

I wonder how they performed. Was his death quick? or did they take their time?”

“Either way what you say is True Mary, The Council of Merchants will not complicate things with their HPG link to the Homeworlds in our hands. Nor jeopardize the Free Guilds Jumpships we have been sending their way. Newgrange has been the best ally we could ask for.”

“We do our part for them as well.”


Dexter finished securing the holo-tank before placing their plates in the assigned place for a steward to pick up. Their annual full day conference with the Society’s allies in the Hanseatic League drained the HPG relays’ fuel tanks due to the power needed to manage the bandwidth. There would be a welcome period of silence as their jumpship tankers passed by to refuel them before returning to the normal transmission schedule. “We have been down here all day. Let's go topside. We have an hour before the meeting with Doctor Matsuda.”

“At least we won't have to worry about a nearly five-minute delay with him. He is only two relays away.”


They walked topside past other more utilitarian workers tending a multitude of aquariums, terrariums, and aquaculture ponds. The interior of the ship smelled of salt water and fish cooking for their evening meal in the galley.  Upon reaching the deck they were bathed in the warm light of Fortuna’s sun setting behind one of the many volcanic islands of the Grand Archipelago. Waves from the primordial blue-green oceans crashed over the lichen and seaweed covered rocks that were just beginning to reach a state of self-sufficiency after generations of careful tending.

FCV Manai was one of a large fleet of ‘Gardener’ ships plying its placid seas spreading nutrients and seeding it with life adapted to its oceans. Those vessels were of a similar type as those developed in the Tanis system to mine Alexandra's arsenic laden waters.

With fresh air in their lungs the step-siblings returned to the dark interior of their ship to eat their meal while watching the ongoing meeting of Chairman (of Fortuna) Henry Hyouk and Chief Administrator (of Newgrange City) Dakou Wong. The Newts reported they were ahead of schedule having taken full advantage of this year’s confusion to liberate a number of spacecraft from around Bearclaw before the Snow Ravens claimed the system.

Finally their time came and Doctor Matsuda of Tanis, presently on Newgrange, came in over the the holo-tank while they went over the logistics of The Society's looming revolution in the Pentagon and Tanite Worlds. After an hour their schedule was complete.

They went to the observation deck to mingle with the other crew members of the FCV Manai. The deck was noticeable vacant with less than a dozen crew milling about in a much larger area. This vessel didn't have its full complement yet. Tomorrow they would pick up the latest batch of 'Guppies' that would take up most of the room for expansion.

Dexter leaned against the railing looking to the side as Fortuna's small moon rose to its zenith, “The Tanites retaining the services of Mandrill Marine to train their soldiers is a surprising revelation.”
 
Mary quaffed a batch of the latest distilled spirit from the ship's brew-master before spitting it over the railing, “Soloman needs to work on his feedstocks, yuck.

Well the Mandrills have plenty of opportunity to hone their skills fighting each other. We should try to build off of this. Its not like the Fire Mandrills will be a threat to our agenda in the future.”

“Mary you are an insightful thinker but terrible drinker.

If we can back the Hellions and Mandrills they might take the Star Adders and Coyotes down a notch. The Jade Falcons and Diamond Sharks will continue the futile effort of maintaining strength in both the Homeworlds and Inner Sphere.

We can make them choose the Inner Sphere and make our job easier. Already the Khans have to be thinking about it, so much room for expansion and a siren's call leading them to Terra.”


He toasted the moon's shadow on the calm ocean, “and like those sirens, it will lead them to their doom.”

09/02/3060

A Free Guilds Mule landed on a cloud of water vapor burning out of the morning sky just ahead of the FCV Manai. That ship's crew watched it through filtered glasses that blocked out the white hot thermonuclear light. It was followed like any water landing as the vapor diffracted light like a prism creating a broad rainbow.

Dexter and Mary had changed out of their formal clothes to more breathable ones like those worn by people from Terra's Oceania region. The ship pulled into the dock as trams arrived from the Starport carrying the newest fifteen hundred souls to join the thirty million in system.

Mary looked out with binoculars at the new arrivals, “Think the Hansa left any cute ones this time?”

He joined her with his own pair of binoculars, “Oh Mary, you know those Bavarian bastards always keep the cute ones to themselves.”

The trams opened up and unloaded groups of people, some families but mostly singles with lowered heads and little more than the clothes on their backs. They were recruited (mostly voluntarily) and shipped across the stars from the Hanseatic League as payment for Society Tech. “We are lucky if we get decent workers out of these wretches.”

Wrangler

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #40 on: 30 September 2020, 08:18:15 »
Oh does the wheels of intrigue turns!  Great chapter, AlphaMirage!

By way, happy 25th chapter!  :D
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #41 on: 02 October 2020, 18:36:05 »
10/12/3060 Location – FCV Manai, Grand Archipelago, Fortuna

The weather had taken a turn for the worse of late and it made Erika’s stomach, already stressed by so much change even worse. She had been confined to quarters or kept in the infirmary under medical observation by the Ship’s Surgeon who like her didn’t have a surname. Now that she thought of it most of the ‘natives’ here didn’t have any.

She didn’t mention it keeping her head down as she was accustomed. Maybe they all left bad history behind almost a year of jumping through the Deep Periphery to this alien colony and bringing it up would sour the relationships she was trying to build. Already her workmates were growing weary of her seasickness and lack of productivity, 600 crew needed new clothes to replace ones worn out over the voyage or unsuitable to the new tropical environment they found themselves in and only six people were assigned to make them within a very ambitious schedule and a woman down.

A young man with tanned skin showing around the rolled-up sleeves of his coveralls and sun-bleached blonde hair walked in. The workroom was crammed with bolts of colorful fabrics and filled with the hum of sewing machines at work. He immediately caught the attention of everyone in the room including the one guy. They all paused for a moment as he tip-toed around the machines to drop off nested aluminum containers off at her station. “You should eat something Erika. You look paler than normal and that’s saying something.”

Erika looked at the food but felt nauseous already, “Ron, I’m not hungry right now. I have to get back to work.”
 
She returned to her work stitching the relatively basic template that had been given to her for mass production. Ronell squatted down next to her watching her work, “Have you been taking the medicine that Mary gave you? It will take time for you to adjust especially if you never go above deck. The medicine can help.”

“You never take anything anyone gives you to help you. All it does is hurt in the end.”
“This isn’t Kooken and Mary is not some Malthusian Mob doc trying to take advantage of you.”

She pulled another piece of cloth from the pile beside her and squared it and herself, “She’s as touchy as one and I don’t trust her.”

“All the natives are a little touchy here. They live really close to each other in comparison to us. Her ‘bedside’ manner might be unprofessional but everyone under her care is in good health and spirits.”

“I will think about eating but right now I’m busy.”
“They are vacuum containers so lunch will still be warm when you get around to it. I have to get back to work as well.”
He kissed her forehead, “See you tonight,” then exited the room which quickly filled with the buzz of sewing machines and whispered gossip consisting of phrases like “lucky” and “he’s too good for her” among others less than flattering.

Ron found his tools where he left them and hefted the bag over his shoulder in the endless quest to fill work orders. The Manai had launched from the Grand Archipelago Anchorage less than three months ago and the Fortunate (as they called themselves) had left most of the interior unassembled. According to Dexter the architects had designed it to be easy enough to build in while afloat especially when you had new people constantly arriving to add to the labor pool.

The Hansa moved were moving tens of thousands to this colony each year. An impressive feat for an almost thousand light year voyage if he counted right and assuming each jump was the full thirty light years possible with the current understanding of KF drive tech. Those jump collars were loaded both ways with passenger liners or cargo freighters supporting a chain of space stations and smaller habitats between Hansa space and this colony, wherever it was in the Deep Periphery. He was curious and afraid of what the Hansa were receiving in payment for this massive Starlift.

Ronell walked on a catwalk above one of the 10 massive aquaponic bays aboard which all had retractable roofs that opening to the tropical sun above when the weather was nice. Some of the new workers tended various seagrasses, vegetables, and fish under the careful supervision of more experienced Aquaculturists. Every one of the prospective colonists had to receive additional training over the past 18 months in space to keep order aboard the ships. Failure to do so resulting in forfeiting their slot and making them liable to pay their indenture a certainly less pleasant way.

Being on the high seas again brought back memories of his youth on Radstadt’s abundant oceans working alongside his father, a widower who took his son out of school to work and learn aboard his fishing trawler. They had fled to Solaris VII during the Year of Peace brought about by Tyra Miraborg’s sacrifice and hid behind the mighty AFFC that only just held the Clans in check at great sacrifice.

The sacrifice grew more costly during the catastrophic earthquake of 3056 that leveled many of the tenements outside Solaris City. His father died when a building collapsed on him while he was volunteering to work search and rescue before people from other worlds arrived to help including then Princess Katherine Steiner-Davion and her fiancée who unfortunately died in a freak accident. Their community had banded together during to save themselves and after to rebuild.

They found a supportive partner when Katherine ascended to the Archonship and her brother left for New Avalon. She quickly and very publicly threw down corrupt and exploitive nobles seizing many of their family assets in criminal courts before elevating dispossessed Rasalhague nobles to their places and executed the worst offenders as the common criminals they were. However, more went 'missing' or died under mysterious circumstances including her younger brother Peter. All the nobles involved ultimately fell in line to pledge resources and honored their pledge to her.

Mary bumped into him as he was rounding a corner, she grabbed him to prevent herself from falling but in the process opened her lab coat. Beneath was the minimal clothing she and most of the natives wore consisting of a sarong type skirt and short top that exposed most of her cacao midriff. She still held onto his arm, “I am terribly sorry Mister Anderson. How clumsy of me.”
“I felt the wave too Doctor. Terrible weather, glad I could catch you. The deck does not look very comfortable.”
“We should go someplace that is.”
“I don’t think that would be appropriate.”


She placed her hand to his forehead, “You seem a bit feverish why don’t you come down to the infirmary with me.”

Dexter Calloway intervened putting his hand on her shoulder and gently pulling her off Ronell. “Really Mary?”

She buttoned up her coat and scoffed, “They are the cute ones, neither of them will couple with me and you are going to take them away. I wanted to get my chance before he leaves.”

Ronell looked over to the other man seeing himself in the reflection off the sunglasses tilted over his forehead, “What is she talking about? Take us away. To where?”

Dexter gently pushed her away, “Mary, don’t you have patients to see?” The woman turned and stormed down the nearest ladder-stairs toward her infirmary. “There now she’s gone. I’m sorry Mister Anderson, my sister’s normally not like this.”
“Your sister? I thought she was something different to you Dexter.”

“Well Stepsister, same father, different mothers. She has a hard time understanding that there is such a thing as a closed relationship.

She thinks you don't want to couple with her because you hate her of find her repulsive, not that you or Erika won't out of loyalty to one another. Almost all of her ideas on romance come from very low quality dramas we imported from the Inner Sphere.

Soap operas I believe they are called. These inspired her to become a physician in the first place."


Ron gently placed his bag of tools onto the deck, “So what is this about you taking us somewhere?”

The man pulled out a tablet computer pulling up the file on Erika and Ronell Anderson, “I have a new assignment from the Colony Chairman. For it I need a few people with a particular set of talents. A bodyguard, several technicians to support my operation, and a thief.”

“You want Erika to steal something for you?”

Dexter was immediately animated, “Precisely, I need her to help me steal something from Clan Jade Falcon.”

“The Jade Falcons?”
“Yes, and she is the perfect candidate. She was sent to prison after stealing a very valuable shipment from the Malthus Crime Family. The Hansa severely derated her price; they are a little biased against thieves, being Merchants and all.
 
We got her for a steal and now I need her to steal for me.”

“Erika left that life behind on Kooken(‘s Pleasure Pit) and how are we going to get to Clanspace. It must be months away. Do you have a map?”

Dexter laughed uncomfortably loud and long, “Do I have a map? Oh, that’s good Mister Anderson. I needed that today.”


He pulled up a local star chart of the space surrounding Fortuna one jump away from the Pentagon Worlds and seven from their destination.

“It is three weeks of travel. You are already in Clanspace Mister Anderson and we are going to Ironhold, right in the heart of it.”
« Last Edit: 03 October 2020, 00:27:57 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #42 on: 04 October 2020, 00:13:38 »
Ronell was rendered speechless for a moment and took the noteputer from the strange scientist. “Wait...Fortuna is less than one jump from Clanspace?”

Dexter reclaimed his noteputer just in time to prevent it from falling from the spheroid's nerveless fingers. “I really depends what you mean by Clanspace. This world was originally settled by people dissatisfied with Nicholas and Andery Kerensky's new direction for their society.

So it could count as Clanspace to some; the main cluster recognized as the Homeworlds is a few more jumps away. However, we are a proudly independent band of colonists dedicated to showing the Clan Warriors just how powerless they truly are.”


Ronell's nerves came back to him in a fury, “How powerless they are! They rampaged over the Rasalhague Republic in months undoing the efforts of generations of my countrymen!”

The scientist gently placed his hand on the tanned former Rasalgheti pushing him gently to a partially open door and empty storeroom before closing the door. “I hear many stories from your fellow countrymen. Sometimes we even give them an opportunity to fight back elsewhere. I assure you the Clans are not the invincible threat they present themselves as. They are certainly powerful but their power is brittle especially here in the Homeworlds, particularly now that the Smoke Jaguars are all but Annihilated.”

This shocked him even more than the other things he had heard in the past five minutes, “The Butchers of Edo Bay Annihilated?”

“By a reborn Star League deployed all the way here from the Inner Sphere. Your Third Drakons in fact soundly stopped the Hell's Horses best Warriors on fair terms during The Great Refusal. As of now the Clans are in something akin to shock and we have a chance to destabilize them even more. We have to take this chance and I want Erika's help but...”


He paused for a moment gathering his thoughts in the oppressive half-light of this compartment that divided his face in light and dark portions. “I'm not sure how to persuade her. I need your help and am willing to offer both of you a great deal in reward for this operation. By year end everything should be in place for us to move out. Until then just work it a little bit, I will try as well. Make her comfortable.”

“You are asking a lot of us Scientist-Controller.”
“And I will return it five-fold. Whatever you want I will endeavor to acquire. Money, fame, better work assignment, whatever you like. This operation is a risky one but it will be worthwhile in the end.”

“What is it you are trying to steal?”

He wagged his finger at the taller man, “No, no, no. I need her unconditional support and trust in me. I trust that she can acquire it and that is all that matters.

If you excuse me Mister Anderson, I have an incoming transport to Anchorage. Have a good day.”


The smaller man pushed out the door and before Ronell could even follow him was gone leaving him with more questions than answers and the few he gave didn't ease his mind. He had signed on to a colony mission hoping to live the rest of his hopefully long life peacefully in the Deep Periphery only to be taken right to the doorstep of the enemy of his youth. Suppressed memories came back overwhelming him as he sat down on the deck with his back to the metal and legs pulled towards him. Not even the trapped tropical warmth inside the ship was enough to stop the chills.

16 October 3050 06:58 Kjakan Village, Radstadt, Contested World

Night seemed to last forever but there had been no sleep just like the past three days. Ronell and Gustav Anderson were exhausted having spent the past two days aiding the Third Radstadt Militia fortifying their home village. Many sandbags had been filled by the hands of stout lads and grizzled elders that swore to never allow their planet to once more fall to foreign powers be they Snakes, Elsies, or these bloody Wolves.

Every able bodied man pulled out their rifles and brushed off their mandatory service training. Heavy construction equipment had been pressed into service as artillery tractors and to make the beach as impassable as possible but half of the Third Bataljon had to withdraw from Kjakan forcing them to consolidate their fighting lines. A breakthrough in Tonsburg called them back to garrison the Black Lotus prison, the best stronghold to resist a ground attack on-world, the final fallback location should they lose the capital.

The Anderson's fishing trawler along with everything afloat had been tasked with transporting cargo and naval mines to slow the progress of the 37th Wolf Strikers rampaging along the Sound Chain. They had little effect, the enemy's machines were too new, fast, and deadly. Their strength never seemed to ebb no matter how many cannon rounds Kungsarme tanks or gunboats poured into them. They shook off damage that would crumple a normal Battlemech and returned the next day as new as if they walked off the factory floor from whatever Deep Periphery hellworld they originated from.

Now they were manning one of the dozen anti-air guns brought into position on the hills where he once used to take girls up to show them 'the stars' when he was in town. His dad called the handsome blonde teen “a sailor through a through. One of these day's he'll have a girl in every port,” to much raucous laughter in the pub.

There was no laughter now, by this afternoon there might not even be a pub if there was even still a town. All they could do was hold until the First Prince sent more reinforcements. There would be none from the Lyrans or Draconis Combine, all were under siege by these same aliens and had been for most of the past year. The once might Successor States were losing world after world under their assaults, some so fast they couldn't even call for help, the Free Rasalhague Republic stood an even poorer chance but that never stopped its people.

Ronell adjusted the helmet he had been issued and felt something on the side of his arm he looked over to see his friend Karl passing him a flask. “Calms the nerves or so say Jan. I would trust the Tyrian on this one he spent a dime in the Black Lotus.”

He took a quaff of the harsh vodka, “Scrapping the bottom of the barrel Kar?”

Small chuckles spread among the youths assigned to this double Zeusbolt AAA gun mounted in a hole they dug into the side of a hill facing the ocean and fortified with earth and timbers bound together with whatever spare ferrocrete they could find. All of them were nervous about their younger siblings, girlfriends, sisters, and mothers that had been evacuated to the plains under COMSTAR's Aegis. They didn't trust the Wolves wouldn't fire on them but they couldn't risk a misunderstanding. If their men fell it was likely over for them anyway. “Seems we all are Ron.”

That moment was interrupted by the gunboats patrolling just offshore firing their own RADAR guided AAA guns into the sky. Bright tracers cut into the pre-dawn sun like a reverse shooting star their distant report a dull thump against the hill. The boys dropped into their fighting position and elevated the cannons at the incoming Aerospace fighters angling for a bombing run on the shore bunkers.

Ronell stood by with his cannon rounds ready to drop them into the drum which normally would auto-feed but hadn't seen a PM since he was born fifteen years ago and jammed if there were more than five rounds in it at a time. Karl was the loaded on the other side. Three boys controlled the elevation and transverse wheels and fire control while more were tasked as runners to transport rounds from the bunker they shared with the south battery or working on the radio and basic RADAR sensor they had installed to provide guidance.

Their radio operator had installed a pair of speakers hardwired to his location and spanning the south end of this hill. “Four Fighters coming in from the East. Loaded for bear, gunships report they are engaging. Shore batteries are locked and loaded. All units report they are in their positions. Standby for ranging to fire control.”

Suddenly the world around him burst into light and sound as the flak rounds fired off in rapid succession to a target they couldn't see. In the mass of Flak the Wolf fighters had to drop their bombs in the water and regain altitude burning high and fast into the sky which was now lit with illumination rounds from militia mortars.

The beach was covered in a bloody red hue as 'Toads' walked out of the ocean covered in seaweed like creatures from the abyss. They were fired upon first by the few Marsden II and Bulldog tanks stationed in defilade behind ferrocrete walls, mined dunes, and interlocking trenches filled with support weapons and infantry. Despite the heavy fire the Toads leapt into the air over the mines and into the trenches engaging the militia in close combat with their machine guns. Militiamen leapt out of their foxholes in fright and some were cut down by their own side's machine guns firing on the Toad behind them.

Suddenly the gunboats were on fire as the returning Aerospace fighters strafed them amidships and ignited their fuel drums. Some exploded throwing shards of metal far into the sky as their magazines cooked off. The Sound was glowing red from the life vest's beacon and fire reflected off it in the pre-dawn twilight. On the beach the first ring of trenches was lost along with at least a platoon of men but the Toads had been ripped apart by their infantry's heavy weapons.

A small cheer went up that was rapidly silenced as the first of the Wolf Omnimechs crested above the tidal zone. This group of five was led by a the blocky mass of a Man of War with the intimidating Mad Cat, lithe Fenris, reliable Thor, and downright lethal Loki right behind all of which were in their Prime configurations and carrying more Toads. The radioman came in over the speaker in a panic, “Ten incoming fighters, coming in sleek and fast. All gunboats are down. We are it for top cover now.”

Once more the world around him erupted in flames, the more heavily armed Manticores were moved forward to combat the Mechs under the fire support of Hunter missile tanks and their more heavily armed but fragile LRM carriers. Ronell's hill was strafed by a Goth fighter that blew their bunker killing some of the ammo runners. A piece of shrapnel cut his arm but he was able to bandage it and two of the other boys that were injured. “We have to get off this hill! We're too exposed.”

They looked down at the beach which was now filled with Wolf Mechs fighting over the mine-laden dunes and through the infantry and armor assigned to stop them. Some were heavily damaged but not as badly as the armor, two Bulldogs were on fire and a Marsden had blown its magazine and turret clean off. Black smoke filled the air, they looked around and saw it was coming from the village where the mobile HQ was based.

“Grab your rifles and let's see if there are any grenades left at the forward position.” The seven lads shouldered their MOE 8mm Semi-Auto rifles and finding the other position 'in tatters' (to put it politely) they instead went down the hill to find the MOE Machina (Semi-Portable) machine gun posted up on a bed of sandbags. It was abandoned but functional along with half a dozen of the large Maxi-grenades equal to a pair of normal sized ones, and several ammo boxes. “Damn Cowards. Karl and I will take the Em Gee, everyone else gets a grenade and helps hold our extra ammo. Doubt our rifles will do anything against Toads.”

Just as the squad began their descent the hill was strafed again. Rockets blasted right into the heart of their position and caused some of the timbers to fall down the hill and crash into the forest below with a frightful noise that hastened their departure even more and lightened the bowels of a few. They found more militiamen in the forest many of whom had been injured on the beach and asked about the status of their fathers, brothers, and cousins. No one knew but they patched them up and moved on along familiar back routes to the village finding more injured and no small number of dead among the trees.

The squad stopped upon hearing a Mech crashing through the trees near the pub, the slender gray machine had been code-named the Vixen but despite its sexy name it was murderous against infantry. They backed up to the Pub as the machine stopped looking around and over like some kind of metal giant ready to consume mere children. It moved on in search of more visible prey willing to shoot back.

They cut back toward the square only to find a kelp covered Mad Cat in the midst of finishing off a Bulldog tank. The heavier machine crushed the turret of the machine with its powerful bird like legs and looked every bit like a throwback to dinosaurs if they also had missile packs and lasers capable of accurate and lethal fire beyond a kilometer. The Wolf Mech torso twisted before they could find cover and its machine guns spewed out death. Ronell felt one of the bullets hit his leg and passed out from the pain.

He awoke with a scream startling Mary and Erika in the brightly lit infirmary almost causing each of the women to fall into the tables behind them. Ronell checked his leg and found the scar was still there but not the wound. “Where am I!?”

Erika was still closest and she embraced him, “Calm down Ron. You're safe on Fortuna. One of the greens brought you down here after finding you passed out next to your tools. Mary came to get me. You have been working to hard.”

He returned her embrace but whispered, “I wish that was true Erika.”
“What part?”
“I wish we really were safe here.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #43 on: 05 October 2020, 21:23:26 »
11/18/3060 Location – Pirate Point B55-218-TW (Lan Zhenzhu, “The Blue Pearl”), Cloud Cobra Satrapy

The bridge of the Essex destroyer SLS Rondeau erupted in applause at the successful completion of the final jump from Circe. Claude, Nina, and Faye congratulated the skeleton crew of Newts on a job well done and successful homecoming. It was not a simple task to steal and resurrect a ghost ship and without them none of it would have been possible. The Zenith Stationmaster came in over the microwave bands from the small ‘lighthouse’ habitat that provided traffic control and a recharge slot to incoming Jumpships and now Warships, “Captain Tanaga, welcome to the Lan Zhenzhu system. SLS Shanghai is currently orbiting Kuxing. We are sending you a flight plan. Do not deviate and follow all nav beacons. Confirm.”

Nina watched as a flight plan materialized above the holo-table that took them to the ninth of the dozen worlds of Lan Zhenzhu. “Captain Nina Tanaga of the SLS Rondeau confirms course. We will begin our burn in ten minutes.”
“Affirmative Captain. Good fortune to you and your crew. Stationmaster out.”


She floated over to the Helm station and plugged the flight plan into the Warship’s renovated nav-computer. Faye was monitoring Comms and Sensors. Claude had suited up and moved down to Engineering ready for damage control. The thrusters were certified operational around Circe by the Roland Tusker. However, they only used them at less than half gee to reach their pirate point. This was the first full burn this machine had undertaken in centuries there were bound to be a few bugs.

“Claude are your teams ready?”
“Aff, Captain.”
“Okay activating thrusters now. Point one (gee) per two minutes.”
She confirmed something on the system’s computer with the Newt there, “Power Plant is hot. All non-critical systems are cold.”

The throttle edged slightly, and the thrusters came alive throwing out superheated plasma that began to slowly accelerate the 620 Kiloton vessel toward The Blue Pearl’s ninth planet. Rondeau gradually picked up acceleration until Nina was pushing its cruising max of 1.5 g. One of the Newts shouted out, “Thruster pod temperature is rising but within acceptable limits for now Captain.”
“That is what they are supposed to do right?”
“Aff, Captain.”
“Can we push it to the Max.”
“I wouldn’t advise it Captain.”
“We’re doing it anyway. What’s a shakedown cruise for if we aren’t going to push the limits? Our velocity is still not that high. Better now than later.”
“Very well Captain.”


Klaxons rang across the ship as the High Gee alarm went off, Claude’s voice came in over their personal communicators. “What are you doing Nina?”
“Seeing if anything will break before we get to Newgrange better to find out now when they can fix it. Quiaff?”


Down in Engineering Claude shrugged his shoulders, he was already strapped into one of the reinforced jump seats designated for Damage Control personnel during combat maneuvers. “You are the Captain Nina.”

He looked around at the other FireNewts in their SCCs already securing the rest of the straps in their chairs. “We are secure down here.”

Other stations confirmed their readiness and Nina pushed the throttle higher into the yellow zone of 2 gees. “Thruster pods are heating up. Cooling is fully engaged Captain. We will max out soon and have to shut down pod three. Its temperature is rising rapidly.”

“We are going all the way to the edge. Push those Interplanetary Sevens to their limits. This is a Warship Newt. Safety is secondary when you are already in harm’s way.”
The throttles ticked up painfully slow as she continued accelerating. Behind them was a blazing trail of plasma reaching out three times their length. Alarms blared on the bridge and down in Damage Control. “Thruster Pod Three’s shielding is impaired. I have to shut it down or it will burn itself up Captain.”

“Do it!”


One of the three Thruster pods glowed white hot as the plasma ate through a hole in the magnetic shielding that channeled the fury of a sun behind them. The Titanium, Tungsten, and Ceramic structure were beginning to soften before the pod was shut down immediately and flushed with non-recirculated coolant that formed a trail of Ammonia gas behind them and dissipated the heat saving the metal from melting and ceramics from cracking. Chief Engineer Lou and his team walked up to the Bridge followed by Claude and two FireNewts. “Captain, we have to do a full underway assessment on Pod Three. I have called the Shanghai and asked for a team to expedite repairs. They should arrive in thirteen days. Until then we can only safely cruise at zero-point eight gee without putting undue strain on the other pods which will also need to be assessed and serviced.”

Nina was quiet for a moment, “I understand Chief Engineer. It needed to happen though; this is a Warship that will likely be going into combat. I need to know what it is capable of; we cannot do that if we simply cruise at safe speeds.”

The Newts walked away quietly attending to their many tasks, the high gee maneuver had shaken several of the fuselage panels off and caused an industrial exoskeleton to smash into one of the water tanks. Claude looked at her with a wary eye, “Do you think that was reckless Star Commander?”

He paused a moment, “Aff.”

Nina eyed him as he neared, “That doesn’t mean it wasn’t necessary. You were not wrong Nina. This is a Warship. It will likely see combat sooner rather than later. I would rather serve aboard a proper Warship then something that never exceeded safety limits.
We are Warriors and our ways are not the same as these Spacers. Space suffers no fools Nina; they live under constant threat from mundane hazards. It makes them timid, but we can give them confidence to push those limits. Faye and I see it all the time in training. They fail to commit and overthink every action. They live with an action having an equal and opposite reaction every moment of their lives. Everything is circles to them, but we need them to be arrows.
Direct
Lethal
Grounded.

It is going to take time. Have patience and understand their plight.

Now I must put a few more FireNewts into my quiver.”


Claude turned to the helmeted and armed FireNewts, he reattached his helmet and readied his laser rifle. “Move out men! We are going to the range.”
« Last Edit: 08 October 2020, 23:21:33 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #44 on: 19 October 2020, 13:02:11 »
04/03/3061 SLS Shanghai, Lan Zhenzhu (Terra RC -122.574, 1768.831, Strana Mechty RC -154.874, 1.022)

Scientist-Controller Calloway's ten-person team used a partial command circuit arriving in a remarkably small transient point in the Lan Zhenzhu system aboard a Free Guild Scout Jumpship. The circuit and expertly executed transient jump reduced a ten-week transit to an amazingly fast three. All were grateful to reduce time spent in the cramped S-7 shuttle; sitting on bags while eating clan space rations and trying not to strangle one another over unavoidable smells.

To make the otherwise long transit their shuttle would have needed to fill its large cargo bay with more reaction mass and supplies for the eighty-day intra-system burn to Kuxing. Instead its cargo was prime fish stock destined for the SLS Shanghai dancing gracefully in its elliptical orbit that neared almost all the planet's seventy-two moons and dozen space stations. Some of these moons were large enough to be called dwarf planets with their own thin atmospheres. All were occupied by at least a few colonists if only to babysit automated mining operations. This planetary group was Newgrange City in the same way as the Gardener ships formed the Fortuna Colony as they drifted within the Grand Archipelago and both were similarly sized.

However, nothing floating on Fortuna was nearly as big as the Shanghai which was nearly five times larger than their new home vessel at 2.8 kilometers long. Although the core of the vessel took up only third of that. The rest was shipyard volume or engineering and although they were never empty no one lived there.

The passengers aboard the shuttle watched their tiny craft maneuver perfectly between the constant traffic of shuttles and dropships around this vessel and its enclaves on Kuxing’s moons. Once inside the screen cut out and they heard the docking clamp secure them to the ship with a metal on metal sound followed by hissing as the bay was re-pressurized and the ramp descended.

Ronell Anderson exited first being just as comfortable on a spaceship as one on the ocean. He floated toward the far end of the tunnel before anchored himself to the deck that had moved 'down' from the 'ceiling' allowing shuttle passengers to safely disembark. The others followed and looked in amazement at an ornately decorated airlock. Sparkling and intricate calligraphy was inscribed round the circumference and a Bagua (Yin/Yang with extra script) was painted on the center.

Hallie, one of their fellow Rasalhague refugees, looked at the script with interest, “What are all these letters Dexter?”

The Scientist-Controller pulled out his stylus and started at the top, “Each of these are spells to keep out void spirits and protect the ship from misfortune or its enemies.”

“The Newts believe in magic?”
“Something like that Hallie. This vessel is not only a shipyard and city in of itself, but a Taoist temple and Cloud Cobra Cloister. It occupies a very interesting technical position in Clanspace that borders on chalcas or unclanlike behavior. The original purpose of this was to protect it from occupation but now many of its inhabitants are followers.”


More people came from behind them having disembarked from their own craft. Erika looked back and clung tight to Ronell’s shoulder. He looked over to see what worried her so; six grim faced, pale, unarmed troopers wore the sharp cut gray LAAF Militarpolizei style uniform of the Hansa Convoy Protection Force, “CPF Waldemar” was printed down their right sleeve in a bold flowing Gothic font. Four others wore the familiar olive drab SLDF style fatigues of Clan spacers with a Bagua patch on their shoulder, “SLS Shanghai” was printed in block letters down their left sleeve, but unlike the others they had a pulse laser pistol on their thigh. He patted her shoulder with his other hand and whispered, “Its fine. They don't have the power here.”

Finally, the airlock opened with an electric whir the Bagua unlocked and rotated open creating ephemeral kinetic art. On the other side were four longshoremen wearing portable exoskeletons with small thruster packs but instead walked into the shuttle bay. The guests entered the now vacant airlock it cycled and exited into a central hub connecting the guest shuttle bays.

Dexter motioned for them to stop and allow the Hansa and Newt Pilots to check in with the armed CSOs (Customs and Security Official) who watched the CPF warily. Erika whispered to Dexter, “You told me they wouldn't be armed here?”

“No, I said only the Shanghai’s crew could carry their arms but often chose not to.
In fact, if there were any Cloud Cobras aboard and they saw them or the Hansa it would result in serious trouble. The Newts must have a reason to increase the guard they declined to tell us; or are conducting a show of force while the Waldemar is in-system.
Either way it is good to know we don’t have to fear any Clan Warriors aboard.”

“What is the Waldemar?”

The Scientist-Controller waited for the Hansa to be out of the chamber before continuing, “The Waldemar is a Titan carrier and the biggest ship in the Convoy Protection Force. Those troops are likely pilots coming back from exercises with the fighter group.”

Ron leaned in, “When did the CPF get a Titan? I thought they were extinct.”
“Not in Clanspace the Newts traded them a refurbished one last year.”
“What did they get in return?”
“I will answer that question later Mister Anderson.”


The Customs Officers looked impatiently toward the newcomers wanting to process them and get back to more interesting duties. Dexter, Ronell, Erika, and the others presented their codices and submitted their bags for inspection and processing. They were given three computer tablets with maps and relevant information about the ship’s systems and schedule.

Like most spacecraft it functioned on a 12-hour clock but that was familiar enough to not be disruptive. They were escorted into a waiting room while the CSO personnel inspected their bags for contraband or weapons. During that time the group looked over the map and reviewed the Captain’s Law eager to avoid offending their alien hosts.

After an hour passed the CSOs returned their luggage and Dexter distributed polished metal ration coins and their room keys to the team. A large dusky man wearing a red and black uniform they didn’t recognize floated in waiting patiently but saying nothing. “I have to leave you for a few hours. Feel free to wander about but check your comms regularly. We will meet again soon, until then stay out of trouble.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #45 on: 19 October 2020, 21:58:50 »
In one of the SLS Shanghai's three SCIFs (Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility) behind a squad of CSOs and two heavy doors sat Scientist-Controller Dexter Calloway, Chief Administrator Dekou Wong, EcKhan (and Shanghai's Captain) Dax Loew, and Watch Agent Kobi. Dexter's features were harshly lit in the glare of the holo-projector “Dekou you didn't tell me the Mandrills were already here with the warships. This had better not interfere with our jumpship revitalization project.”

Administrator Wong, a thin boned man who wore orange tinted glasses due to a life of artificial light, “It didn't matter for your timeline and the third round of revitalization is already complete. Fortuna does not dictate terms to the Shanghai! Did you expect our workers to idly make more spare parts until a new project is greenlit? My people grow restless with your cautious moves and weary of servicing these ships for the outsider Hansa's benefit; despite their utility to our worlds.

They demanded a challenge for their skills and these rogue Mandrills dropped one right into our lap! These Warships and soon more will ply the stars and their guns will again protect us from afar, better because Mandrills will be at the helm. By the time we are done all of the Ghost Fleet and our heritage will be restored by our hands! You can't tell me that isn't worthwhile, morale has never been higher.”


The Scientist-Controller pressed forward fully into the idling holoprojector, “I was reading the battle report for the Mandrill's Circe operation to the Ghost Fleet. That was one of our stations! You should have told us. We have HPGs for a reason. The Hansa are hounding us for a return on the project Viken was working on there.”

Dax interposed himself between the Scientist and Merchant, as Captain they paused and gave him the floor. “It was a misunderstanding, the Jaguars' Swords' codes got them into the station without incident. We perhaps foolishly thought the Marines would not go in guns blazing but I understand their mindset.

Star Commanders Freelander and Goulet had no idea that the station would be friendly so they acted to protect themselves and take control the way they were trained to. Viken didn't intend to contest them until the Mandrills and Harvesters attacked his personnel and started breaching the station.

However Administrator Wong is not wrong we are not going to stop until the Ghost Fleet is restored. That is the new plan and it has already been approved by the Chairman. Your mission is also no longer necessary. We have new information regarding the Falcons.”


Dexter looked at the Captain, “You tell me this just now.”

“Its brand new, Kobi please enlighten Doctor Calloway.”


Agent Kobi shifted forward from his dark corner, the Technician was a specialist in SIGINT and Naval Codes working the Kerensky Cluster for the Newts. The holoprojector came to life with the expanded high level map of Clanspace including the Occupation Zones and their established lines of supply and communication. “Over the past year the New Kent system has experienced a fifty percent increase in shipping from Star Adder and Cloud Cobra enclaves including this system. The Shanghai alone has produced fifteen hundred tons of spacecraft components as tribute to the Khan over the past year. This obviously drew our attention and solidified a pattern we were already seeing between these three Clans.

Two months ago we decrypted an HPG transmission from the Steel Viper Flagship Dark Asp. The origin point was a Jade Falcon orbital near the Diamond Shark occupied Chainelaine Islands. Khans Pryde and Zalman are still in the home worlds so this makes us believe the Steel Vipers will soon launch an attack on the Falcon's Occupation Zone that might eject them from the Inner Sphere.”

The map zoomed in on the Kerensky Cluster each world was shaded proportionally with an associated Clan. “If the Snake Alliance has decided to make an enemy of the Falcons then we only need the Coyotes or their allies to fight the Snow Ravens. That will remove two of the three strongest Clans from the Homeworlds or at least diminish them possibly to a point of absorption.

The Diamond Sharks can be harried by the Hansa and presently have no shortage of enemies in the homeworlds, both coalitions want to remove them to prevent embargos or trade deals to the other. Our sabotage of the Hargel supply last year has cost them financially and politically while slowing Warship Yards and Battle Armor Foundries throughout Clanspace, except for the Shanghai of course. The discovery of Harjel around Twycross has empowered them and will greatly benefit the Occupying Clans in the coming years at the expense of the Homeworlds.”


Captain Loew once more took control of the projector, “It is unfortunate our sponsored Bandits were not able to overpower the weakened garrisons on the Pentagon Worlds. Eden was a particularly big loss, an error that we cannot afford, and a sign of things to come.

We must continue watching how this plays out. As Khan Ward solidifies his occupation zone empowering his homeworld allies the Jade Falcons could become the superpower in the Kerensky Cluster or part of a dominant Triad with the Snow Ravens and Diamond Sharks.

Right now I suggest we come up with a new plan to bring Khans Koga and Suvorov into this fight. Khan Fletcher is focused on the Ghost Bear Dominion in the Inner Sphere and SaKhan DeLaurel focused on incorporating their new enclaves.

I am open to suggestions. There is nothing we can do to give the Vipers an edge so far away from our influence. It is up to their Warriors, and I wish them good luck. The Prydes need a good plucking.”

Wrangler

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #46 on: 20 October 2020, 20:59:18 »
So...Hansa been sponsoring the Bandit Caste and Society?
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
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AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #47 on: 20 October 2020, 21:12:41 »
So...Hansa been sponsoring the Bandit Caste and Society?

Mutually beneficial relationship that will be expanded upon in future chapters. The Shanghai and Fortuna Colony are just the best organized Dark Caste in the Homeworlds but there are others, The Order of the Blinding Eye (Etienne Balzac's people) is metastasizing in the Falcons' OZ as we speak but what we know as The Society doesn't exist yet.

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #48 on: 23 October 2020, 23:39:57 »
SLS Shanghai's corridors were an overcrowded warren of tunnels confusing even if you understood the Cantonese language which Erika and Ronell certainly didn't. Their tablet which was supposed to be translating was stuck in a loop saying “Hello, welcome aboard the SLS Shanghai. Follow all appropriate rules and enjoy your stay” in an accented sing-song voice.

After a short period of confusion they encountered a black haired man wearing an dark red robe. “Excuse me you seem in need of guidance. I am Wen, one of the Ship's Stewards.” He extended his hand toward Erika who was tempted to throw the tablet against the wall. “Mind if I take a look at your Prism unit?”

Erika handed the chatterbox tablet to the stranger who inserted a datachip. The machine blacked out and rebooted after a minute, “Sorry about that Miss. These Prism units are made dumb on purpose and sometimes they act up.”

Ronell accepted the tablet, “Thank you Wen, do you mind showing us our accommodations? This layout is a bit difficult for us.”

Wen looked at each of them and read the compartment number, “Ah so you are a couple. We rarely have couples traveling together. Most of our guests are singletons and any temporary workers don't bring their partners with them during their time aboard. There are no idle hands aboard the Shanghai.”

The trio used the straps and handholds built into the walls to move about within the corridors yielding to others translating their way through the microgravity tunnels of the habitat section of the Shanghai. “How many people are on this ship?”

“The Shanghai can operate with less than eight hundred core crew but there are berths for eleven thousand plus a few dozen guest quarters. Everyone has a generous NHV of about sixty five cubes in the habitat module compared to the thirty most SLDF vintage Warships provide for their crew The rest of this giant ship is strictly off-limits to our guests and not terribly interesting to you either.”


They rounded a corner passing rows of cramped capsules built into the walls. People sat on the extended capsule tops merrily chatting in their foreign tongue. “These are the normal quarters. A very roomy five cubes with all essentials built in. You are lucky enough to have a double berth room of fifteen cubes.

Since you are probably only here for a short while; I recommend a visit to the Eight Way Temple on Gravdeck three during your stay. It is truly remarkable, busy though so you will need to get an allocation ahead of time.”


Wen stopped and looked at the numeric markings on the wall, “Your accommodations are down the hall to the right.” He gently placed his hands on their shoulders and leaned close, “Just because I have to say this I advise you to refrain from coupling in your room. There are places aboard equipped and designated for that. It will make our jobs easier and your stay more comfortable.

If you need any more help please do not hesitate to flag a Steward down.”
With that he floated away.

Erika's face was locked into a state of shock at the nonchalant exchange, “Equipped and designated for coupling on a ship...On Kooken there were places like that but now I'm mortified yet intrigued.”

“With that many people it makes sense to partition that for everyone's sake.
” He felt a rumble in his stomach, “We should drop our things off and see what these ration coins can get us. It has to better than what we have been eating for the past two weeks.”

The pair floated along the narrow corridor until they found their compartment, touching the key to the lock opened the door into a spartan twenty cube apartment paneled with bamboo and plastic. Rings in the ceiling provided d-rings to suspend their sleeping bags from, one wall folded out into a table/bed opposite that was a panel concealing a small food/water prep area, Ron opened a floor hatch revealing a recessed locker just big enough for their shared duffel. The third wall had a small 2-d video screen with a keyboard below, information from the ship's central comm center scrolled by carrying system news and updates from the Clanspace's chatterweb.

Several message scrolled by but one was in bold, 04/01 - Clan Steel Viper launches invasion of Jade Falcon Occupation Zone. Grand Council calls for meeting regarding....

Ronell looked over to Erika, “The Clans are fighting each other in the Inner Sphere.”
She finished drinking from the newly filled bottle, “Good. Maybe they'll kill each other and the LAAF can their shit together to liberate those worlds. Won't shed a tear for a dead Clan Warrior. They're literally asking for it half the time.”

“You're not wrong about that. I won't forget, we may not be soldiers but if what Dexter says is true we can help hoist the Clans upon their own petard.”

“I didn't want to help him initially but you are right about that.”
She changed out of her soiled shuttle jumpsuit placing it in the bin for cleaning before changing into a turtleneck sweater, trousers, and soft boots with warm socks, AC on ships was always iffy and they had no duties assigned so no need for a uniform jumpsuit. “If my skills can help avenge the wrongs of the Red Corsair and her Clan then I offer them freely.” Ron changed as well donning his own pullover sweater, long sleeves, and pants.

The pair translated the signs and tunnels ('translated' is the official name for moving in freefall according to NASA) leading to GravDeck Two. They ended in a long but orderly line to one of the two transfer stations linking the five hundred meter diameter grav-deck rotating apart from the ship's superstructure.

Upon leaving the car they were met with a cacophony of three different languages, saw cohorts wearing patches from five different factions {Newts, Grays (Hansa), Tanners, Hexers (Pentagon plus Fortuna), and Mandrills}, and smelled freshly cooked food. Each ring was divided into ten segments split between dining and recreation. Racquetball, hand ball, and ping pong were popular choices in addition to the standard gym equipment which was packed with Newts undergoing their required exercise regimes. The pair passed a group watching a four man racquetball challenge eagerly watched by bookmakers and fans. Those games were even harder than in a gravity well due to the Coriolis effect 'swerving' the ball as the ground moved beneath the player's feet. As the ball hit against the goal zone there were cheers and groans from all involved as coins were exchanged on the sly.

One of the segments contained a Casino with Roulette, Baccarat, Poker, Sic Bo, and Mahjong. Erika looked at her ration coins and the games with relish, “We will have to come back another time. I think I can clean these guys out of their silver.”

“This is how you got into trouble on Kooken.”
She returned the coin holder to her belt, “Unreliable men are the reason I got in trouble.”
A young woman in a high slitted cheongsam looked toward Ronell and started to move toward him until Erika grabbed his arm. The woman went in search of easier prey. “You wouldn't let me down would you?”

He hardly seemed to notice instead looking at the menus of the food options in each of the five dining decks. “Of course not, I wonder if they have a brig aboard. This one looks good. Don't you agree?” She looked at the menu board which switched between Cantonese, Russian, and Standard along with a cost in coins for the options which ranged from today's 'Captain's Choice' broiled Ironhold Beetles over rice with ginger sauce to teriyaki marinated tofu with noodles, raw fish bibimbap served with hot pepper paste, and more common vegetarian fare that Spacers endured to sustain themselves.

While standing in line, Erika looked at one of the Captain's Choice platters pass them by and had never seen bugs that large, they were nearly the size of her admittedly small fist. “The Captain's Choice today is bugs?”

One of the Newts overhead her, “Don't be so quick to dismiss them. They have a very delicate taste young lady. more like crab. We get frozen crab from the Tanis system once in a while. Very expensive but worth every piece of scrip.”

After finishing their meal, playing practice rounds of Mahjong on the Prism unit, and watching a fearsome Ping Pong game that took up half a rec room the pair returned to their beds wiped out after a busy twelve hours. Upon waking and untangling themselves Erika opened the Prism unit to find a message from Dexter. 'Meet me at 08:45 in the Eight Way Temple.' She consulted the unit's clock leaning close and hanging onto a shirtless Ronell, “Dexter wants us to meet him in an hour. Do you want to check out this designated area we heard so little about?”

He wrapped his arms around her naked body, “How will we learn more unless we investigate?”