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Author Topic: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)  (Read 7160 times)


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #60 on: 23 November 2020, 01:31:20 »
Liquidity Crisis

01/16/3062 Location – Strato Domingo, Kerensky Cluster

The thrusters of Aegis Cruiser CDS Bloodlust burned white hot, its long thermal plume clearing the much larger fleet it was escorting. CDS Sea Fox, one of Clan Diamond Shark's two Newgrange Yardships was pulled out of mothballs and had its jump core repaired to serve once more. A small fleet followed in the wake of the factory ship CDS Poseidon and much smaller Merchant Carrack CDS Star Swimmer. The vessels were massed out with goods bound for Thule from the factories and refineries on-world. Poseidon itself was due to be deployed halfway down the Exodus Road and had received an elevated number of assault and carrier dropships for its protection.

Burning toward them was the Liberator Warship CCS Spirit in the Sky escorting a small fleet of Merchant dropships. It was a regularly scheduled arrival and drew no notice to Star Commodore Nathan Sutherland beyond the proper handling of any other large spacecraft. The Ensign assigned to his comm console yelled out, “Captain, we are being hailed by the Spirit.”
Commodore Sutherland looked down to ensure his uniform was proper for a fellow Captain and of course it was, “Put them on the screen Ensign.”
“Aff, sending it to the main screen now.”

A middle aged man with rugged features wearing a powder blue CSS appeared on the screen causing a mild panic, “Commodore Sutherland, I am Xavier Hill, Captain of the CSS Spirit in the Sky. As such I am issuing a Trial of Possession for the Star Swimmer's cargo. I bid my Liberator to the task.”

Commodore Sutherland paused taking in the suddenness of this event, Tamaron and Strato Domingo had been having challenges lately. Khans Koga and Sennet almost Grievanced each other over Hargel at the last session of the Grand Council. The were talked down by Marthe Pryde of the Jade Falcons and Lynn McKenna of the Snow Ravens who backed it up with a Joint Naval Star of Warships sitting at the Zenith of either system all last year. There was no preparation for this incident. “You are seriously challenging me for the Star Swimmer's cargo? Quineg? That cargo belongs to Clan Ghost Bear and it is under our protection.”

“Then protect it or do not Commodore. There is no more Clan Ghost Bear in the eyes of Khan Koga and yours is the only other Warship in system. If you will not protect it then I will begin sending the boarding parties and loading it into my dropships.”

“The Bloodlust will not allow you to do that Commodore but this will be known and you will suffer for it.”
“Bargained well and done then Commondore.”
“Bargained well and done.”

Commodore Hill disappeared from the screen and the Captain pressed the alarm for general quarters. Klaxons blared out throughout the ship and its escorted vessels. The Aegis was a slow ship but was already far ahead of the others. The Bloodlust and Spirit in the Sky would have to burn off velocity for them to have any chance of capturing a moving cargo or engaging in a meaningful fire exchange. Captain Sutherland triggered the intercom, “Attention all hands this is the Captain speaking. General quarters. Load all guns and missiles standby for additional instructions. Damage control report to your bunkers. Suits on and begin depressurization sequence. Fighters on standby.”

An hour later the two Warships neared the far end of their effective engagement range. Powerful naval lasers lanced out from the Bloodlust but the Liberator was better equipped for this long range utilizing heavy particle cannons that tore into the Aegis' armor plating. The carried momentum brought the Warships closer however as the Spirit could not turn to decelerate without giving Captain Sutherland a good shot at his vulnerable thrusters. The Shark managed to use his skilled crew to 'cross the T' bringing the fearsome Armstrong cannons of its broadside into play against the faster Liberator's bow.

The Spirit in the Sky's heavy particle cannons blazed across space bracketing the Aegis cruiser but these weapons still missed. CDS Sea Fox's immense bulk was behind the Aegis and as it turned the forward aspect of the massive Newgrange was right in line with the Bloodlust's amidships. A poor firing solution by one of the Coyote gunners resulted in damage to the Sea Fox and devolved the Trial into a melee.

Diamond Shark fighters and gunships boosted forward from their Potemkin mothership filling the RADAR screens. This school of fighters burned hot toward the Liberator which turned and burned along with its compliment of dropships back toward the Zenith rather than face them. Commodore Sutherland opened a channel to Loremaster Angus Labrov currently on-world for clarification of his orders.

A while later the message returned and Angus' dark skin and white hair were visible in the message, “Star Commodore you did the right thing. The Ghost Bears trusted us with this cargo and we are not going to let them down. I will elevate this to the Khan lad but send a technical team to assess damage and that will determine the next steps.”

Nathan opened a channel to his tech chief, “Daren what kind of damage are we looking at?”
“Relatively minor all things considered Captain. Everything can be repaired while we are underway.”
“Good, only fix critical systems Chief. The Loremaster wants us to send a tech crew to the Sea Fox and see if she needs anything.”
“Aff Sir. I will have one assembled and en route within a half hour.”

Isle Azul, Strato Domingo

Loremaster Angus Labrov sat next to a noteputer looking out at the churning oceans of Strato Domingo from the other side of the window. In the distance he could see the stacks of the Hargel refinery and Dominique City through the smog that was mostly naturally occurring on-world. The computer buzzed and he opened it to see a diagram of a very large tuning fork with a big hole in it. CDS Bloodlust's Chief Tech had determined that it was fixable but not on the timelines projected considering other projects in the works.

Projects like the Diamond Sharks relocation to the Chainelaine Isles. That hulk was going to serve as a large space station but that had been the scrapper in him thinking. The scrapper that helped rebuild the Shark's Touman after Tukayyid and who was working closely with the other Khans to allow the Diamond Sharks continued profit and thus viability. Since the Touman had been rebuilt their excess was eagerly brought up by the Coyotes. They should suffer but they also don't need to know his true intentions.

Angus picked up the phone dialing something into the retro style pad, a young woman's voice rang gently on the other side, “Merchant Factor's Office. Aff Loremaster how can I help you?”

“Can you put me on with Lorenzo?”
“Right away sir.”

The voice of a very mature man that sounded every bit as worn as Angus came over the line, “Lorenzo, I want you to draw up plans to embargo the Coyotes bring Louis and Moriz into it with you. It will allow us to idle more factories so we can begin moving them; and show the Coyote's that they can howl as much as they want but we will not be intimidated.”
« Last Edit: 09 December 2020, 19:23:58 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #61 on: 23 November 2020, 22:58:46 »
01/20/3062 Location – Hall of the Ancestors, Tamaron, Kerensky Cluster

Khan Sullivan Koga stalked about her chambers in a fury unseen but certainly noticed by the Laborers that were to clean it up again today. “Dezgra Diamond Sharks! Damn you Labrov. I would shoot you myself. Your Clan has already declared War on me I should return the batchall.” She threw a metal decanter through the window that separating the adjacent room shattering the plate glass into wicked shards that crunched under her boots. Her fury momentarily sated with the destruction of something she collected herself donning her uniform and stepping out into the corridor where the cleaning crew waited silently.

A young man dressed in the Coyote’s formal ‘powdered blues’ with a gauss pistol at his side waited a short distance away. His unit insignia matched no Line Galaxy because he was Watch and their symbol was like that of the ancient terra SAS, a winged dagger on black field. “Marlowe, you had better carry some good information. I have had my share of bad this week.”

“I am afraid I do not OvKhan. SaKhan Clearwater and Loremaster Parker confirm what Merchant Factor Kavindra informed you of yesterday. The Falcons have withdrawn the Clan’s credit, the Sharks have called their debts, and the Ravens will not upgrade the CCS Howling to a Feral Battlecruiser or continue working on the CCS Broken Sea without upfront payment or a change in our situation.”

Sullivan walked briskly through the halls which were decorated with murals pulled from scenes in the Coyote Remembrance. She paused at the one that depicted the Blood Scandal that began the Clan’s death spiral with the death of 2000 traitors and a third of the Clan’s bloodhouses dormant due to the dishonor they represented. “I will not have my Khanship end with this Clan. I want solutions!”

“You know that we are looking for them as well as all threats to the Clan and your leadership of it. Thus far our assets in the lower castes and ranks report that the full impact of these event is not yet understood. We may yet have time to avert this crisis and find avenues to sink political rivals with it.

Commodore Sutherland was not well respected among his peers. It will be easy to sink him after this debacle if you wish.”

“I very much do. Is the Council assembled yet?”

Marlowe looked at his gauntlet comm-pad, “Aff, Scientist General Ricarda has just arrived.”

“Good. You are dismissed Watch Captain.”
The Khan turned around and he was already gone down one of the stairs to continue his work. Skullduggery was chalcas but she created many enemies during her reorganization and needed a proactive and powerful Watch. Without her support the Touman would instantly turn on it for their actions during her reign. Actions that had seen high-ranking Warriors’ ambitions flatline at the feet of her Timber Wolf in a Circle of Equals before they could be realized.

The Coyote Watch learned from their Wolf counterparts. Wolf Loremaster Katya Kerensky’s ways were well respected by Sullivan who felt she was a kindred spirit and deserved the Khanship more than that whelp Vladimir Ward. Now she needed their help more than ever and hoped that they were ready for this great challenge.

Sullivan Koga, Khan of Clan Coyote, burst into the door and strode forward to the head of the holo-table in the situation room. On the sides were the four highest ranking lower castemen in the Clan.

Merchant Factor Kavindra, an overweight woman with a keen mind for numbers and hunger for younger lovers. Khan Koga did not judge her for her looks or company but by results and the woman was a sharp negotiator. She was renowned as the only person to go solo against the five-person Jade Falcon Central Bank Committee. The deal she inked for Khan Steele was so perfect it got the Bank Chairman fired by former ilKhan Elias Critchell for negligence.

Master Technician Onyda, a disgraced Aerospace pilot who rose to Chief Engineer of the CCS Ancestral Home when it was the Coyote’s flagship. His actions and the scars he bore because of them preserved the ancient Texas battleship despite a catastrophic KF drive malfunction. It was his idea to use the ship as a training vessel for Techs and Warriors rather than scrap it.

Senior Laborer Hillard, a wide nosed Elemental and former Foreman of the Coyote Industrial complex on Babylon. He oversaw the historic factory’s dismantling, relocation, reassembly, and activation on Tamaron. As Senior Laborer he now personally led operations for the sprawling San Mateo Industrialplex some hundred kilometers away.

Finally, there was the hawk-eyed freeborn Aerospace egghead Scientist-General Ricarda whose research had led to the Advanced Tactical Missile, the newest weapon in the Coyote’s arsenal. The man also served as Chairman of the prestigious Richard Tchernovkov Polytechnic Academy. Another of his many tasks was coordinating joint research projects with other Clans. Ricarda was easily the most lauded person in this room besides the Khan herself but he undertook his duties with humility for without the Khan’s patronage he would be nothing.

Within the holo-table were the high-rez profiles of SaKhan Ravenna Clearwater, the young Ristar currently on the Pentagon world of Babylon with her Silver Keshik and premiere Delta Galaxy. Loremaster Alan Parker’s wizened face filled another quadrant; the old Warrior managed the Coyote and former Widowmaker Enclaves on Strana Mechty serving as the tempered Voice of his Khan to the Grand Council.

In another of the quadrants was the Kerensky cluster and Pentagon Worlds. Each of the Clans were represented by a color and each world portioned by color based on percentage occupied. The fourth quadrant was left for the Khan to control, presently it was filled with a wireform diagram of the Liberator warship CCS Spirit in the Sky whose Captain was responsible for this latest mess.

Khan Koga settled into her chair and the others followed. “We all know what happened and we cannot change that. We can only look forward and take control of our fates.

I will not have our work undone by this embargo. If you have any pride in this Clan and me, please present any solutions you might have to our shared problem.”

Sullivan released control of the panel to the floor who paused for a moment as they absorbed the Khan’s apparent despair. Ricarda was first to answer, “Khan Koga, we can innovate or engineer our way out of this difficult situation. I understand that it was faster to buy battlemechs from the Sharks to grow the Touman but there are ways we can supplement what we have with older material from the Brian caches.

The Goliath Scorpions believe they have located hidden caches formerly belonging to the Burrocks in Star Adder territory. Your Warriors can take this ground from the Adders who might not even know they are there. My scientists can equip Technicians with the appropriate sensors to find and access them.”

Onyda and Sullivan looked particularly interested, “It is a valid plan OvKhan. I have one as well. This will be difficult for the Warriors to shoulder but you are the proud defenders of this Clan and already willingly sacrifice mightily for our benefit.”

Sullivan urged the Technician the cut the crap and get to the point, “If I can be allotted enough Technicians, we might be able to better automate the San Mateo Industrialplex and increase our domestic productivity.” He looked toward Kavindra and Hillard, “It will require capital investment and buy in from the Laborer Caste and reduce the support we can give the Warriors for a time. Perhaps a year or so till we are finished and two or three until we can increase staffing to sustain the larger touman and machine capacity. However, it will pay dividends, require only domestic resources, and we can cost share or sell the tech to the Hell’s Horses and Goliath Scorpions.”

Hillard agreed with the plan and Kavindra took the floor, “OvKhan presently we are overdrawn on our accounts to the JFCBC. The Sharks and Ravens demand their payments now in violation of the contract terms. However, rather than fight off Labrov’s Loansharks in council or within a Circle of Equals we can use the Hell’s Horses.

Presently the HHS Armageddon is en route to Kirin from the Inner Sphere massed out with refined minerals and components. It will arrive in system sometime next week. If you can convince SaKhan Delaurel and Horse Merchant Factor Sonja that we can provide greater value here on Tamaron; we can settle our debts with the Sharks using its cargo.

There may be enough left over to provide a suitable down payment for the Ravens to continue with the Broken Sea and we can replace these materials when the Morning Star arrives in two months without great disruption. I cannot fix our credit with the Jade Falcons at this time. We have nothing they want at the moment. Our Clan can lean on the Horses to sustain us long enough that the Falcons will see that their embargo was ineffective.”

Onyda broke in at the end, “What of the Howling Merchant Factor?”
“The Kirin Yards are capable of completing the upgrade to a Feral Battlecruiser. The Horses wish to expand their naval touman now that they have a stronghold in the Inner Sphere and regularly transit the Exodus Road.

We have a mothballed SovSoy cruiser around Tranquil that we can barter to them for slip space and resources. I believe Khan Fletcher will gladly broker space and time for another Warship to fight the Ghost Bears in the Inner Sphere. However, the Kirin Yards do not have the capability to forge new KF drives yet and we will need the Ravens for at least that portion of the Broken Sea’s production.”

Khan Koga watched and listened as the Coyote’s lower caste worked their way through hypotheticals. Her council was coming up with ways to maintain the work of their generation and preserve the Clan they held dear. It almost brought a tear to her eye as she swore that the Diamond Sharks would feel her wrath when this was through. Her Clan would not be brought down by debt or despair once more, it would roll over and take abuse from anyone. As the Wolves retreated to the Inner Sphere the Coyote stood poised to take their rightful place at the head of the pack.
« Last Edit: 24 November 2020, 02:10:22 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #62 on: 24 November 2020, 21:13:18 »
Has the Feral Class Battlecruiser been posted yet?  The story evolving in interesting ways!
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #63 on: 25 November 2020, 02:27:15 »
Has the Feral Class Battlecruiser been posted yet?  The story evolving in interesting ways!

I posted it here

Coyote Repossession

Chatterweb Log. Public Terminal.San Mateo City.Tamaron.Kerensky Cluster
Guffaw.SI need to come in Skog almost caught me by the tale. Always checking my watch to see if my time is up.
Fortunate.Sun Sorry to hear about your troubles at work. If you can you get to the Deli for us we can make something happen.
Guffaw.SI will catch the next streetcar to the Deli. Tell OS I will not be long and might have something special for her.
Fortunate.SunFeel free to make it a party. Look forward to seeing you. Do not forget to wear bells.


Star Commander Rex leapt from the hovering (Union-C) CCDS Silvermoon using his jets to clear the thruster plume and land softly on the rocky beaches of a quarry lake near Delios’ inland sea. His Conjurer’s feet left a deep impression in the gravel quickly trodden over by the rest of his Star. The Silvermoon boosted away after executing a textbook nighttime hover drop of his strike force. Rex activated his mech’s thermal sights turning the bright blue chemical laden water grayscale.

He noticed something peek out from a nearby gully mostly hidden by the steam from the Silvermoon's thruster.

“I saw something two hundred meters north-northwest. We did not bring any probes and this area was supposed to be quiet. Check out it, Hu.”

The Incubus walked forward avoiding the use of jump jets that might reveal their position. Their dropship had been brighter than their jump jets ever could. However, it was gone now and there was no need to draw more attention to their position, the steam had concealed their short drop to the surface. Sharks would be tracking the Union-C as it deployed the slower mechs of Charlie Trinary closer to the primary objective while he could take the secondary with his Star.

Hu’s Incubus peered down through the ravine activating the spotlight attached to its rifle like pulse laser. “Some caves, very small and wet. I see no signs of activity.” The large man shaped mech turned to rejoin the Star. Its spotlight turned off but the element within still glowed as the residual heat faded to darkness in their thermal sights.

“There was something there.”
“Maybe an artifact in the computer Star Commander. How many times has your mech been repaired properly in the past five months?”

All of his Star's machines showed uneven paint jobs from the nearly five month long repossession campaign that Khan Koga called in wake of the Shark's embargo. “Properly, maybe twice. Imperfectly more than a dozen times.”
“Well if you can find a technician ask them about that.”
“Either that or it was something that can wait till morning. We have an objective to achieve.”
The Star set out to the West seeking to reclaim what was once theirs from the Diamond Sharks.

Within the gully three figures emerged from their hiding holes, all wore dark blue dry suits, their faces covered by a re-breather helmet.  “Do you think they know where the cache is?”
“It seems that way. Either that or they just intend to pick the ruins once more as others have before.”
“We have been through but should inform the others.”
“Aff. The Controller was very direct in that point.”
“He didn’t need to kill Jean-Pierre to prove it though. I miss that fellow.”

Rex’s command worked their way a short distance through the stubby woods. Delios was once home to a variety of artisanal industries clustered around its inland sea. In the 30th Century it was a primarily Coyote colony shared with the Nova Cats. During their decline it was lost to the Diamond Sharks who improved on the Coyote's work to great profit. In the early 3050s Smoke Jaguar Warriors under Leo Showers raided it for raw materials as was their standard tactics. In order to sustain his Touman Khan Lincoln Osis clear cut forests, over harvested fields and fisheries, and strip-mined hillsides in the process turning once idyllic environments into industrial wastelands that were only just beginning to heal.

He looked toward the North where Rebekah's Star was heavily engaged with elements of the 35th Cruiser Cluster around a minor factory town. His command was not as well supplied so they were sent after easier prey among the 79th Strike Cluster that was still badly mauled from fighting against the Steel Vipers on New Kent. This was something the Coyotes could emphasize with as several Coyote Clusters were pushed out over the past year during the Viper's latest offensive. The Khan ordered the planet reclaimed however and so it shall be.

The command paused near a cliff covered in large boulders, “All scopes clear Star Commander. We are certain this is the location we are seeking quiaff?”

Star Commander Rex checked his unit's GPS and confirmed the coordinates, “Aff, Perhaps we were given bad data.”

A Star of Battlemechs stood around confused, “This data came right from the Watch Colonel quiaff? Where is this cache?”

“Maybe there are hiding within it.” Rex looked back at the quarry lake, “or it is below the surface.”

“You think that the entrance to a Cat cache is somewhere under that lake?”
“Aff, what better way to conceal it from detection and infiltration. Our machines have lasers we will not be defenseless.”
“True but none of us have experience with this manner of attack. Perhaps we should wait for specialists.”
“There is no time for specialists. If there is nothing there we will regroup with Charlie and take Belle's Wharf. There is still time for us to catch them.”
“Aff Star Commander. Whatever you say.”

Five mechs waited beside the very cold water that had flooded the quarry and killed several hundred Laborers in 3054 after the Jaguars dug to deep without checking the water table. Before becoming a sand quarry it was a relatively quaint Nova Cat mining town best known for the quality of its semi-precious stones. They had no way of knowing how deep the water was and no map of its bottom from which to navigate. Rex and the others instead activated their inertial navigation units to aid with dead reckoning.

Each Mechwarrior ensured that their cockpit shield was in place and prayed to the Great Father their seals would hold. The Conjurer and its Starmates used their jump jets to dive into the lake creating a load splash and rippling waves that bounced off the opposite shore. Darkness and cold surrounded Rex as he sank into the lake's murky depths. His 'gun light' activated and after a short time he could feel his feet settle onto the muddy bottom.

As the mechs settled on the bottom they looked about, the Horned Owl's 'eyelight' was activated making it look like a cyclopean lighthouse, the Clint II's paired headlights and Griffin II's chest light joined the Incubus' gun light each glowed faintly to illuminate the silty brine.

Before diving they had agreed that anyone who finds something would mark it and find their nearest Starmate to pass it down the line. Communication underwater was limited to the standard hand gestures that any child learns when they pick up their first rifle at the age of 6. Rex consulted his INS and continued on the course he laid for himself.

At the entrance to the cache a group of 'Water Elementals' with seaweed like 'ghille' camouflage propelled themselves through the water. Each of the modified mining suits concealed themselves next to or within the flooded remains of quarry machines and dead Shark mechs. Lights penetrated the depths as the mechs neared but the WE operator saw it in 3D as built in SONAR identified the metal behind that light in sharp relief as well as giving up to date ranges.

A series of sharp clicks emanated from one of the units toward a nearby hydrophone.
“Black Pearl Star is in position to drown some stray dogs Controller.”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #64 on: 26 November 2020, 02:37:56 »
Star Commander Rex’s gun-light illuminated about a hundred meters underwater before it was lost to darkness and silt. Thus far there was nothing down here but some rusty old industrial equipment and lots of wet sand.

A bright glint of metal and bright blue paint caught his attention. The rest of his Star spread out carefully walking along the lake bed while searching for this elusive cache’s entrance. Rex neared the wreckage finding the angled hood of a Phantom D Omnimech with a 79th Strike Cluster insignia on its shoulder.

His Conjurer took a knee in order to get a closer look at the face down Diamond Shark. There was a small amount of battle damage on the unit. Delios was a warzone however and the Sharks were engaged in a delaying action to salvage as much as possible before the Coyotes reclaimed the world. “What happened to you Warrior?”

The Battlemech flipped the fallen mech, it crashed into the sand sending another cloud of debris. Massive holes in the armor of its center torso seemed the likely cause of deactivation but it was curiously precise for such intense damage. Either the Warrior was very unlucky or faced a very accurate foe. The cowling protecting the cockpit was breached but there was no mechwarrior inside. “Curious.”

A blinking light caught his attention, the mech's torso twisted underwater to find the Horned Owl whose lights emitted from the cyclopean visage of the humanoid shaped mech. Hand signals from the unit confirmed what he suspected, there were more, a whole Binary of drowned Diamond Shark mechs all in a similar condition. It was time to withdraw and report this unusual situation to command.

Unable to use their jump jets they instead had to slowly walk out of the water watching for whatever killed these Mechwarriors. Magscan, the only Mech based sensor that worked well under water was active looking for anomalies such as a fusion reactor.

Rex watched his step and the screen filling out magnetic anomalies. No active reactors besides those of his Starmates were found. “There has to be an enemy mech around, nothing else could have done that much damage so accurately.”

The farthest reactor signal fell off causing the Star paused waiting for the MagScan to update. A reactor does not just shut down without warning particularly when there are no other Mechs around. “Where did you go Hu?”

Four Mechs clustered together like surrounded soldiers, each machine covered a 90* arc and each other’s back.

Force Commander Brodric ran silent, deep, and dark within his underwater combat armor. If the Rasalhague Amfibiekåren on Constance had this level of tech Clan Ghost Bear wouldn't have made him a refugee. Now he was satisfying his vengeance one dead Warrior at a time and didn't care which Clan they belonged to, they were all the same to him.

These Warriors were bunched up making the approach tricky, but they could not see or move well in this dark water. Their movement stirred up sediment further degrading their LOS. Passive sonar allowed them to ‘hear’ the enemy which the onboard computer parsed together into a near real time display right to the visor.

Rex’s eyes were glued to his sensor display until he saw a dark mass slowly float toward the formation just beyond the light. Once it came into range it looked like bunch of duckweed come unrooted from the lakebed and he relaxed his guard, until it moved against the current and separated into battle armors trailing a kelp like camouflage behind them. “Undines!”

He leveled the pulse laser rifle and fired a rapid high-power burst that cut through the enemy battle armor, but his regular lasers missed the agile swimmers. This went unanswered by a swarm of torpedoes which was unexpected. Rex backed up crashing into Jen's Clint II. The sudden shock caused both machines to lose their footing before crashing into the sandy bank and jarring their rookie Mechwarriors.

The Lamprey's continued their approach as Brodric cursed this Mechwarrior and its pulse laser that had taken the lives of his men. Their sacrifices would be honored when this Mechwarrior joined the others whom this lake had claimed tonight.

He tracked the slow-moving machine dodging laser fire that created a small steam explosion in its wake. His targeting computer used a fast ultrasonic pulse to range in the enemy and finalize the targeting solution for his Lamprey's magnetic mine launcher.

Two mines found their mark drawn as they to the powerful electromagnets surrounding the reactor. Seconds later their explosive charges detonated creating a massive over-pressure crumpling and deforming the Conjurer's armor plates with damage so extensive that water flooded its reactor chamber drowning the nuclear fire within. Rex's Conjurer fell back into the sand dropped by the concussion as much as the power loss.

The gun light continued to shine on Brodric but its laser would no longer carry death to his combat divers. He usedl the massive but precise rents in the core to move about on his claws. Upon reaching the cockpit the Rasalgheti ripped the armored cowling from its mountings.

Within was a young man illuminated by red tactical lighting. He was certainly the youngest he had seen today no older than his own son. There Mechwarrior showed no signs of fear even in his current situation, the Sharks were in a panic attempting to bribe him into spared them. Instead this man, 'Rex' from the helmet was looking him right through the viewpoint.

Rex looked out at the strange Elemental faintly illuminated against the he inky dark waters. Its heavy bulbous helmet had no face but he could see what appeared to be quartz view ports for eyes. The was painted with a black octopus whose tentacles wrapped to the back.

Two heavy battle claws rested on the glaz. He felt another explosion nearby of the same type that had crushed his his conjurer.

He reached for the Avenger auto-shotgun attached to his seat and aimed it through his own cockpit glass, mouthing, “If am going to die I will do it fast and with a gun in my hand,” before pulling the trigger and sending a three round burst of solid tungsten slugs toward his foe.

The shots penetrates but caused little damage against the Lamprey's armor even at this range. Where the slugs punched through however a stream of water followed, Rex fired again but didn't hear it this time deafened as he was after shooting the shotgun in such close quarters.

All it did was speed the flow.

He kept at it until he ran out of air and ammo while the octopus faced water monster watched him.

05/15/3062 Belle's Wharf

The morning sun brought no relief to the Coyotes, Star Commander Rebekah's Star was in no shape for additional combat after fighting the 15th Cruiser. They were replaced by tankers from the Reserve Trinary who completed the final push to acquire the mines nearby.

Worse news was filtering in as dawn illuminated the ruins around her that had traded hands several times over this five month campaign. It was a strategic point due to its shuttleport and Harbor.

Right now she was sipping tea and looking at a smoking wreck of a small cargo ship blocking the harbor just barely visible as the morning mist burned away.

A female SibCadet ran towards her, the young woman's gray fatigues were dirty but the body armor and Gauss SMG on it were clean. Khan Sullivan Koga's Repossession Campaign against the Diamond Sharks had pressed everyone into service. SibCadets regularly supported their Warrior brothers and sisters gaining valuable experience on a real battlefield.

Good performance would allow a 15 year old Cadet like Cara a chance to undergo her Trial of Position ahead of schedule. “Star Commander Rebekah, I was looking for you.”
“What is it Cadet Cara?”

The brown haired teenager paused to catch her breath breathing deep to fill her lungs with the temperate heavy sir of this planet. “I looked for Star Commander Rex at the Cluster Aid Station like you asked but he is nowhere to be found.

Even Star Captain Cyne has no idea where he could be. His Star failed to rendezvous here as planned last night and they have no one to spare for search and rescue.”

The girl looked past her slightly older counterpart toward the situation in the harbor, “not while the harbor is blocked by that wreck. What happened?”

“Mines. Has to be the Sharks. They did not want to fight for it again so they wrecked its value to us and redeployed their force.”
Rebekah walked up a short stairway to the main road where her now perfectly tuned gray jeep was parked on the street. “Come with me Cara. I will talk to Cyne myself.”

Cara strapped herself in easing her SMG over the seat belt and adjusting it to her recently obtained armored vest. Between them were a pair of Mk.39 Pulse Laser Rifles on their charging cradle behind them the back bench seat held enough supplies for a small scout team as well as Rebekah's armored vest. A vest they were all supposed to be wearing now.

The girl looked strangely excited, “Can I drive Becky?”

Rebekah looked over to her put on her helmet and sunglasses, “Not this time. Maybe when you are older.”

Cara glared at her, “But you are only...” The rest of the sentence was lost as Becky hit the supercharger throwing the girl into her seat as they burned rubber down the abandoned seaside roads in search of her brother.
« Last Edit: 26 November 2020, 09:44:06 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #65 on: 02 December 2020, 21:55:32 »
A gray jeep passed a large faded wooden sign 'Belle's Wharf' with multiple bullet holes in it hanging from a chain. The sleepy seaside town but more importantly its strategic harbor was the focus of Coyote operations in the southeastern section of the Inland Sea. Now it was ravaged, quaint houses stacked along the hills ripped apart by weapon fire, glass storefronts destroyed from concussion and banditry over the past five months.

Smoke rose from the slowly sinking supply ship in its harbor. More rose from the east behind them. Fire apparatus, and the quad legged Water Strider pumper mechs sped past the jeep on the wharf road.

Cara watched the surprisingly graceful industrial-mechs pass over them, they were odd designs manufactured like all quadruped industrial-mechs by the Goliath Scorpions; the only clan maintaining specialty forces for different environments to support their Seeker Warrior-Ascetics. “What happened now?”

She turned on the console radio to listen to the civilian dispatcher, “Unidentified forces have launched an incendiary attack on Eastshore. Requesting all emergency response and Warrior reinforcements to secure the area from further damage.”

Rebekah was still keeping an eye on the road ahead dodging the emergency responders while maintaining speed, “More bandits. This world is lousy with them.”
“Why not the Sharks?”
“To messy, they aim for maximum impact on strategic targets. Otherwise they would have to spend resources repairing it.”

Their jeep turned tightly as the road was becoming more filled with debris and equipment nearly tilting over but stayed on two wheels until before it slowed settling down with a thump and continuing to accelerate. Cara, the young Sibcadet breathed deep, “Good thing I had the belt on Becky. I almost went out the side.”

“Not the first time we almost rolled this vehicle.”
The pair continued to speed across the hills watching the smoke rise behind them on their way to headquarters.

At the 202nd Battle Cluster's HQ (Burrock Abtakha) Star Colonel Manali Danforth stood over the holographic map table with his Coregn, the 'Warrior-Adjutant' that oversaw the Cluster's support assets. “Have we managed to identify the attackers Cyne?”

The trueborn Warrior had only retired to serve in the support corps after losing an eye and hand in combat early in his career. The eye was replaced with cybernetics while the hand was vat grown that had taken years of training to fully utilize. “Neg, reports are still coming in from Patrol assets first on the scene. Thus far we have determined that the attackers were four semi-submersible missile boats, did not come within five hundred meters of shore, each launched three or four volleys to ensure ignition before they broke contact.”

“Not even the alert hovers could reach that area in such a short time. Why there? There is nothing strategic worth damaging.”

“If I may speak freely Colonel.”
The nodded, “I think the objective is to terrorize civilians and undermine our credibility by demonstrating that our Warriors cannot protect them. They appear to know we are unable to control the Inland Sea.”

“Then we must find their base and dispatch them Cyne.”
“Or abandon the world Manali, as the Sharks appear to be doing.”

The Star Colonel stood taller, “The Khan will not stand for that. Our Warriors cannot be defeated by a group of Bandits. Pressure on the Sharks is why they are abandoning their enclaves.”

“We have been on world for five months. During that time the Sharks have abandoned thirty percent of their holdings. We have claimed about forty and I think they continue to fight this delaying action while they look for something that they do not want us to discover.”

Manali paused to think, “Another scandal? Like the Burrocks. Or some secret project they lost control of?”

“Unknown. Our Watch assets have been tasked with internal security not recon. Recent Bandit activity has made me reconsider previous actions in a new context. The Sharks have been acting strange recently.”

“I agree, it is something that worries the Khan and is why we must uncover the source of this rot on world and address it properly. The Pentagon insurgencies were surprisingly well resourced we cannot have Delios be another Dagda.”

“Should I task more Patrol assets on protecting the shore and harbor?”
“Aff, impress civilian craft if you must. This Cluster has fought too hard to have our position compromised by Bandit interlopers. I am heading out to the field in order to maintain pressure on the Sharks and maybe find some answers.”
“Your Kingfisher is waiting for you at the depot Colonel.”
“Keep me in the loop Captain Cyne.”

Just as the Commander departed as two young women burst into the HQ tent. Cyne calmly completed his manipulations on the map table which would give direction to the Sheriff's men. As the cyborg raised his head Rebekah couldn't help but notice the artificial heterochromia of his bright blue cybereye and brown regular one. “Commander Rebekah, Cadet Cara. Can I help you?”

Rebekah walked sternly toward the older Warrior, Cyne watched her intently the young hotshot thinking she was bound to screw up or blow up soon enough unless she calmed down. “Where is my trothkin Captain?”

“If I knew where Commander Rex was; he would not be listed as missing in action with the rest of his Star.”
“Are you not looking for him?”
“I have no Patrolmen or salvage crews to spare. All Patrol assets are patrolling the shore looking for those unidentified missile boats, salvage crews are recovering ammo and equipment from the DCS Dawn, and firemen are dealing with the conflagration and unable to assist in search and rescue.

If you would like to receive the task to search for your trothkin’s missing Star I will send you the coordinates where the Silvermoon dropped him. I understand that your Conjurer sustained heavy damage last night so you can use this as your duty rotation for today while the Techs repair it. As Cara has no other tasks at the moment but to aid you, she can join you if she pleases.”

He input the coordinates for last night’s drop into the holotable which panned easterly for about seventy kilometers until it settled on an old gravel quarry. This quarry and many others dotted the rough glacial topography of the Scablands adjacent to the Inland Sea, which was in fact a massive glacial lake left over from Delios’ last ice age. “The Silvermoon dropped him here, our Watch found a set of coordinates that we believe lead to an old Nova Cat cache. He was sent to recon and recover it if possible.”

Cara synced her gauntlet comm-pad to the map table, “That is about an hour drive from here in the jeep. At least the way you drive.”
Cyne looked at Rebekah curiously, “You have a vehicle? I was not aware of this and I am responsible for the Cluster’s motor pool.”

Rebekah neared him almost pressing a finger to his chest, “Tell your people not to touch my vehicle Captain. It is registered to Rex and me on Tamaron. We maintain it, I do not need your help, but he does need mine.”

He moved into Cara’s space and she stepped back to give him room, “Then I would hurry Commander. Who knows what could have happened to him?”

Both women turned their backs to exit the tent passing a shocked Patrolman who had stepped away from his post for a moment to smoke. The main camp was buzzing with activity, Patrol officers and Infantry from the Echo Trinary walked around with their hands on their weapons. Mechwarriors and Armor Crews maintained their equipment alongside Technicians under the supervision of Chiefs. Tallasi heavy transports eased their way into camp on their caterpillar tracks loaded down with damaged Mechs and containers of provisions. These were unloaded by Laborers and restocked into Quonsets marked with the Coyote Quartermaster’s logo.

Near one of these Quonsets was the motor pool where five off-duty Laborers stood about admiring Rebekah’s jeep. She shrilled, “Get away from my Jeep you louts!” This caught their attention as did the very athletic blonde wearing civilian clothes under her armored vest that carried a sidearm. “Sorry girlie. Its an older model, they do not make them like this anymore.”
“They never made one like this. Its special, mine, and GET OUT OF MY WAY!

“Whoa there, Warrior.” They started backing away after seeing Cara who still carried her SMG, “We gone you see. Keep on your way.”

Cara was already buckled in by the time Rebekah started the quiet fuel cell engine, “We will do it in a half hour.” She put sunglasses on before peeling out of the camp at high speed scattering a group of Infantry shouting obscenities.


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #66 on: 03 December 2020, 20:27:35 »
Rebekah's jeep left the town of Belle's Wharf behind heading toward the rugged terrain of the Eastern Scablands at reckless speed. Unfortunately, paved roads transitioned to poorly maintained gravel roads about ten minutes out of town. These trails and reports of Bandits in the area forced her to slow the pace in order to avoid falling into a trap.

The Scablands despite their unpleasant name were at one time pleasant to live in. Once home to many Nova Cat enclaves at the turn of the 30th Century living alongside Coyotes and Diamond Sharks. Until the Smoke Jaguars strip-mined and clear cut its forests in a vain effort to sustain their flailing touman during Operation: REVIVAL. Clan Diamond Shark attempted remediation, but landslides and banditry damaged its infrastructure making it increasingly unprofitable and out of reach.

Cara watched empty windows and roof tops when they passed through a quiet abandoned village still flying a ragged flag Nova Cat flag even years after their Abjuration. Its town sign long since fallen leaving only the chains hanging and tinkling in the wind. A flash of movement in a darkened alleyway caught her attention but Rebekah was moving fast enough that she could not confirm it and they quickly passed through the ghost town without incident.

She looked over to Rebekah who was intent on the road ahead dodging potholes and collapsed roadsides, “Should we really be out this far without backup Becky? I know Rex is your trothkin but this seems reckless now.”

“Cold feet Cara, maybe you want to walk back to town?”

The teenager steeled herself at the rebuke. “I am a trueborn Coyote Warrior cadet not some airhead civie. Bandits do not scare me,” she pulled the Gauss SMG tight holding it like a treasured pet against her armor vest, “but we are in uncontrolled territory and not properly equipped to fight off an ambush.”

On a nearby hill three uniformed men sat in a cutout beneath a camouflaged tarp around a small but powerful radio. Each was behind a tri-pod mounted telescope from which they could just barely make out Belle’s Wharf and its surrounding waters almost 40 kilometers away. Equally they could just barely make out Quarry Lake 58 and the rusty bulk carrier a short distance away next to its industrial quay.

“We have motion coming from the West. Coordinates on the scope.”
One of the men peered through the complex scope already shifting into position to track the contact, “Gray soft top civvie four by four Jeep, older model, no markings, tinted glass.”
“No markings?”
“Aff, no markings. Just passed through the old Cat village on the gravel path.”
“Older model, the Coyotes wouldn’t have brought one with them, but they are the only ones occupying Belle’s Wharf now that they sent the Sharks Northward.”
“Its not a Patrol vehicle. We know they use pickups. Should we tell the bike team to intercept?”
“Its probably some Merchant cad looking for some privacy with his girlfriend. Inform the Cell Captain to pause recovery operations until we can confirm their heading. There are a few paths that will lead them past the Lake.”

Rebekah and Cara passed through the dense forest along the decrepit roads heading toward their destination. Spur roads broke off from the main path heading toward nearby quarries and mills. Small cervid like creatures crossed dangerously close to the fast-moving jeep before disappearing into the thick shrubland that was their home. Both Warriors kept a close eye on the embankments for animals and human lying in wait.

Cara’s stomach growled, “We should shoot one of those deer and take it back with us. I am sick of fish.”

“It has taken a while for me to adjust to it as well but that is what is locally available to the Quartermasters. Almost all of Delios’ inhabitants live near and off the Inland Sea.

There is a pistol carbine in the back somewhere. When we find Rex, I will shoot one myself and we will have a feast.”

“I hope you do find him Becky. Cyne did not seem to have much urgency to find his missing Star.”

“He is a failed Warrior, little better than a Merchant now even though he plays at it. Cyne deployed once and it was a dismal failure that cost him his eye, hand, and the respect of his Peers. Even the Colonel is suspect. What the Burrocks were implicated with should have rendered them Annihilated rather than absorbed by the Adders, I do not trust him.”

“Who do you trust?”

Rebekah paused a moment while considering the innocent but important question, “People I can count on.”

They approached the final group of hills leaving the jeep hidden in a nearby stand of brush. Rebekah added an under-barrel grenade launcher to one of the Clan standard Mark 39 ER Laser Rifles, dropping a pair of grenades into her belt pouch along with spare power cells. Cara took the other keeping her compact Gauss SMG on her back. Both wanted to get in fast and get out faster preferable with Rex but if he was gone to at least know what might have killed him. They stuck to the brush careful to avoid sky-lighting themselves to any observers on the other side of the valley.

 Both went prone and crawled the final couple of meters until they saw Quarry Lake 58, there were no signs of battle visible in their scopes nor of any mech movement from their current position. The ground was heavily exposed with only small structures, some piles of debris or gravel, and abandoned machines for cover. Across the way they saw no signs of observation in the rifle scopes across any of the spectra it tracked. Cara whispered, “They would have at least done an aerial survey quiaff?”

“Aff, that is standard protocol, but I think they might have recon birds looking for Sharks and these unknown Bandits. This area is a low priority.”
“But the Watch thought it had a cache.”
“That is what Cyne said yesterday. I searched Rex’s codex backup on the Cluster database; it has no record of this mission or of him even being missing in action. He is still listed as medically inactive.”
“But he got out of the MASH unit last week. How can you do that?”
“He is my trothkin, we share DNA and I am very clever. I do not think even Cyne knows that I could do this. Something is off about this world and I am to find out.”
“You should tell the Watch.”
“I would tell the Khan herself if I can reach her. I want to set up an observation post and wait until nightfall.”

She dangled the keys in front of the girl she was starting to treat like a little sister, “Do you want to drive my Jeep?”

Cara looked both excited and confused, “What? Why? For real.”

“If anyone observed us, they might not know how many people were inside. If you drive up one of the spur roads to one of the other quarries or the Inland Sea and set up the solar panels, they might think you are just some airhead civvie on a joyride to catch some rays and that they can continue whatever they are doing in this area.”

“That is a good plan. How did you get so clever?”
“Coyotes are tricksters in many mythos. Something for you to reflect on while you are getting a tan. Of course, you will have to take off that uniform. Anyone watching you needs to think that you are not a Warrior cadet, or they will get suspicious.”

Cara began loosening the poorly fitted vest for her still maturing body, the fifteen year old needed help getting into and out of her armor as it had to be held on with more straps than Rebekah’s in order for her to move with any comfort, “Aff, you need supplies anyway.”

Both snuck back to the Jeep and after a quick lesson on the advanced features Cara sat in the driver’s seat wearing her tank top undershirt and shorts while the rest of her uniform was rolled up in the back along with both of their armored vests. Instead Rebekah carried gear more appropriate for scouting than combat and also wore civilian clothes swapping out her weapons for Cara’s SMG which was more concealable if she were discovered.

“I will keep the radio handy so if either of us get into trouble we can help each other out. If we are very lucky Cyne might send out Patrol teams looking for us that will draw out the real enemy.”

“Be careful Becky, you do not know what is out there but there is at least one Star of missing Warriors. Try not to join their ranks.”

The Jeep pulled away hesitantly, slipping slightly on the gravel road as the novice driver accustomed herself to its operation. Upon their height the recon team marked the vehicle as departing for the West after about thirty minutes outside the Quarry. Its speed had reduced from the approach and then it turned onto one of the spur roads leading toward a former Nova Cat Merchant’s Villa overlooking the Inland Sea. It traveled up and parked outside, they zoomed in to find a lightly clothed young woman setting up the Solar charger for the jeep and sitting on its hood sunning herself. “Cell Captain Brodric we have ID on the mark from earlier. Confirmed to be a young woman, likely teenager, brunette, sunning herself near the abandoned Villa Roja. Roads are clear all the way to the Wharf.”

“Roger that Overwatch. Central has changed the timetable and urges caution to all Cells. Something big is about to go down today. We will wait till nightfall to continue recovery operations. Maintain your position.”

“Affirmative Cell Captain, Overwatch will maintain position.”
The masked soldier looked toward the other pair, “Brodric wants us to stay here. Anybody have something good to eat? or is it just MREs again tonight.”
“We only have the Salsa chicken left James.”

They shrugged, “Not even hot sauce can make that taste good.”

Elsewhere Clan Coyote Epsilon Galaxy Commander Silas Kufahl looked out over the Inland Sea from Pier Ten of Deep Harbor, one of the larger enclaves on-world and the largest one currently controlled by the Coyotes. He arrived via The Spirit in the Sky with reinforcements two days ago to help end the stalemate between Nu Galaxy and the Diamond Shark’s Omega Galaxy. It had required a personal appeal to Khan Koga herself as she was reluctant to let him leave her supervision. The two had a history of quarreling with one another and he made no secret of his feelings toward her reorganization in the past.

He could not argue with results however and had regained his Galaxy Commander berth fairly in the Circle of Equals returning to his rightful place and bringing his own supporters close for potential action against her should the opportunity arise. Chatter had drawn the attention of the Coyote Watch however and he barely escaped their brutal raid on one of the opposition cells.

His reputation however was preserved no one had seen him at any of these meetings which were often conducted in the Chatterweb using careful phrases to escape filters. It was to close though and there was no real escape for him. He had made to much noise before and was a suspect in any actions against Koga’s reforms that had seen greater power centralized in her and her supporters. There was hope though it would cost him his honor and reputation, but it may save him from the Khan’s firing line.

He watched a dark-skinned young woman wearing abundant jewelry, a short top, tight skirt, and wedged sandals with pinned up hair walk onto the pier. Her slender chain belt was filled with jangling coins and other shiny objects that drew as much attention as her wardrobe and striking makeup. She slowly walked over to stand beside him and also looked out toward the setting sun. “Waiting for someone special Mechwarrior?”

She turned to him batting her eyelashes all the way, “Maybe it’s me.”

Silas looked past her though his gaze was drawn to her makeup and tattoos on the abundant exposed skin, “I am waiting for a man. Move along Surat.”

She mouthed something and feigned anguish, “You did say Surat aff. Not something else”

She leaned in attempting to touch his arm, “Otherwise that would be very rude, there is no need for insults. I am very selective but change my mind frequently. Sure, you are not flexible. Its going to be cold soon.”

He batted her away and felt a prick on his wrist from one of the pins now in her hand; then a cold fear as his nerves failed to respond. His lips were numbing as his heart beat faster in a panic spreading the chemical further faster. “What did you do?” He attempted to shout and draw attention to himself, but she put her hand over his mouth and his muscles refused his commands to throttle her and take the antitoxin she surely must carry.

“I did nothing, this synthetic tetrodotoxin my brother made though will do everything I require.
You have roughly seven minutes to live if the previous tests on human subjects are anything to go by.”

She pushed into him and he numbly fell over the railing and into the surf, “That is of course if you don’t drown first traitor.”
« Last Edit: 08 December 2020, 09:50:12 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #67 on: 09 December 2020, 00:45:33 »
Rebekah kept her body close to the gravel hiding in her makeshift blind as the sun neared the horizon. The rough rocks were becoming even more uncomfortable as time wore on. She raised the binoculars careful to avoid revealing her position with a glint. There had been no activity in the quarry but based on reports she had sifted through over the past two months these Bandits seemed to be crepuscular. Showing their faces in the light might be to much to ask but maybe twilight or darkness would bring answers. Whether those would be welcome answers had yet to be determined.

As the sun set she noticed motion on the lake's surface zooming to watch a cyclopean Horned Owl float to the surface like a dead fish. Without more advanced night vision she couldn't make out fine details and the insignia were blacked out. She had a hunch it might one of the lost mechs from Rex's Star.

The lifeless war machine drifted slowly to the far shore driven by some unknown source. Rebekah spotted the movement of a Tallasi heavy transporter running dark from the direction of the Inland Sea. This new arrival made a wide K turn before backing its large flatbed trailer into the water using some kind of boating ramp.

She noticed something unusual as the floating Horned Owl neared the shore. A dozen strange shapes emerged from the water's surface with their claws on the floating mech. “What are those?” Zooming in she saw rounded helmets and armor but no distinct markings.

Becky snapped the best pictures she could in the low light conditions and inferior optics while the exoskeletons were securing their salvage. Once the task was complete the Tallasi departed and was shortly replaced by another. As they sunk once more an Incubus rose to the surface. “Elementals? Underwater Elementals. How can we fight them there?”

Her radio found its way to her hand, but she hesitated to use it. Cara would come in the jeep but if anyone was watching the roads they would certainly be ambushed on the road back to Belle's Wharf. Opening a datalink to Cyne would be obvious to anyone watching emissions exposing her position. Better she lay low collecting intel, trust Cara not to drive into a likely trap while ignoring her stomach and joints for some time until she found out what might have happened to Rex.

Four more mechs came and went but no Conjurer appeared above the waters. At 03:44 that night the strange Elementals awkwardly mounted the Tallasi which departed from the quarry lake and was not replaced. She waited until the sun was almost up before hiking back to the Rally Point.

Her assistant was waiting there in the bushes dressed in a gray utilitarian outfit with fresh clothes to replace the damp and increasingly uncomfortable ones that Rebekah was wearing with ones from her bag. “Had to bypass the Belle's Wharf checkpoint. Something big happened last night. They were more attentive than usual. We have to get back before Reveille. Did you find anything?”

“So much.

I will tell you while I drive.”

Cara tossed the keys to her and she crossed over to the driver's side seeing a dent in the quarter panel and scratches on the door. “We are going to talk about your driving skills later.”

The young woman hastily got in the car, “It was my first time. I need practice.”

“Pull something from the motor pool.”

At Belle's Wharf Star Colonel Manali Danforth stood before the assembled Warriors of the 202nd Battle Cluster and its support elements standing in the burnt out ruins of Eastshore. His graying black hair waved in the sea breeze as the sun crested the horizon.

“Warriors of Clan Coyote, we are dealing with an enemy that we do not understand. That they say we cannot understand. The Bandits of Delios believe that we lack the will and ability to counter them. I intend to prove them wrong. Too many of our kin have been lost to their cowardly actions.

Henceforth I am ordering that we divide the Cluster into its component Trinaries. The weak hearted Diamond Sharks have allowed this wound to fester.

We will rip off its Scab by deploying in dedicated Hunter Killer missions to root out these Bandits until they have no safe haven on land or in the sea.

Galaxy Commander Leo Koga, trothkin to our Khan, has given me full support for this operation which we will conduct according to Burrock counterinsurgency strategy.

We will dig deep
Rip their support from the earth
Then burn them out of their dens.

Tomorrow begins OPERATION:CAUTERIZE to stop the bleeding on Delios and reclaim the Scablands.

All Warrior Cadets are to take an expedited Trial of Position today and prove their worth to the Clan.

I expect you all to prevail.

That is all. Warriors dismissed!”

Rebekah worked her way to Star Captain Cyne's command tent in disguise while Colonel Danforth oversaw the decamping operation. She bypassed senior Warriors collecting their specific patrol areas and objectives invisible to the higher castes who likely though she was there to clean or maintain something.

A Patrol Officer barred her passage into the tent with his rifle. She presented her codex, “I am Star Commander Rebekah, I have an urgent report for Cyne. Let me through!”
“I don't believe you. In fact I am putting you under arrest for impersonating a Warrior.”
As one of the younger Warriors in the Cluster she was often mistaken for one of the SibCadet Auxiliaries but had never been accused of impersonation. Most of the time she was in uniform but hadn't enough time to change in order to make Reveille which they did by the skin of their teeth.

The Patrol officer lowered his rifle in order to reach his cuffs but she twisted the rifle and smashed the stock into his nose which spurted blood as he was unable to defend himself from the surprise action. She pushed him through the tent flap to find her Star Captain, a 24 year old Tamarian whose windworn features marked him as a trainee at one of the northern sibkos receiving his briefing for their upcoming operation.

“Triston thank the Great Father you are here.” She pointed to the Patrolman, “He said I was a fraud.”

Triston looked just as surprised as Cyne at the interruption and the sight of a Warrior in now blood covered Laborer clothes. The patrolman staggered up and drew his sidearm aiming at her only to have it chopped down by her Star Captain. “You are dismissed Patrolman, clean yourself up, and expect KP duty for the rest of the week.”

He paused looking at Cyne for any support but found none, rebuked he gathered his weapons and departed the tent. “Alright Rebekah you had better have a good reason for everything that just happened or you will join him.”

“I do. I swear it on my genemother.”

Cyne figured he already had time with Triston and this would get to him eventually anyhow better to save the breath. “Be quick about it. We have much to do this morning and not enough light.”
“I will Star Captain.”
She held out a datacard. “May I use your map table?”
The maptable flared to life presenting her grainy 2D images in a viewing cube which played out in fast forward to the keen interest of the Star Captains.

Once her presentation was complete she began walking out with Triston. “Stay Commander Rebekah. I would like to speak with you.” She paused staring into his blue unblinking cyber eye, “Captain Triston you are to begin implementing the Galaxy Commander's orders. Quiaff?”

“Aff, Star Captain. Rebekah, I will see you at the barracks.”

Once the Star Captain had departed he beckoned her over to him once more, “That was a reckless action Commander Rebekah. You could have endangered yourself, your auxiliary, and by extension the Cluster. You understand quiaff?”

She looked down careful to avoid staring at the scars that marked the transition between his regenerated hand and original body. “Aff.”
“Good, I understand that you are looking for your trothkin Rex. I admire that dedication and will require it for a special mission. You seem rather comfortable and clever masquerading as a lower caste. The Watch is looking for someone with your abilities. You can even take your little SibCadet."

Rebekah took a moment to think over it. They were on the eve of a grand operation, Bandit hunting while a dishonorable assignment was necessary sometimes even for a front line Cluster particularly if they were well organized. However, a secret mission masquerading as a lower caste was ever so slightly lower but could be more impactful than her Conjurer against some Bandits even if they were high tech and well organized. "What kind of mission?"

Cara C(oyote) waited near the bustling motor pool. Her Trial of Position via simulator would be conducted later today which signaled that they lacked confidence she could succeed so she couldn't help but feel nervous. Her ranking in the Sibko was poor, she was just hanging on, and had almost washed out before being deployed as an Auxiliary. Was she good enough to warrant a Battlemech of her own, did the Coyotes even have one available? If she failed would that be it finally she would end up as a Tech to serve another Warrior as she had done the past three months with Rebekah.

Her young age (15) was not a detriment, Jade Falcon Khan Marthe Pryde had taken Warriors a year younger than her to Coventry to fight the Inner Sphere and remind them that the Clans were still a real threat. Some would say she was too successful as those actions had formed the Second Star League that destroyed the Smoke Jaguars and still occupied most of Huntress. Rebekah was only two years older and five months into her Career she was already a Star Commander although she only had three Mechs piloted by green Warriors including herself under her command.

The young woman pulled up in her jeep almost as if she had read her mind. "Why are your clothes bloody Becky?"
She looked down bobbing her blonde hair in the process, "Oh right, it is not mine. I have to stop by the barracks and get spare clothes anyway. We are going on a road trip."

Cara looked at her for a long moment, "We...But the mission. My Trial of Position."
"We have a different mission and you are coming with me. Road trip to Deep Harbor. Your Trial of Position has been postponed."
"On whose authority?"
"Cyne's, check your codex."
She opened the display built into the codex bracelet and indeed it confirmed what Rebekah had said although it much terser verbage. The teen was dumbfounded, how could this have all happened in less than fifteen minutes? "What about Rex?"
"I think he is gone as much as it troubles me to admit it. I asked Cyne to send divers to that lake to confirm and gather more intel but it seems the Bandits got him. I will deal with them when the time comes.
What I observed went straight to the Galaxy Commander who is adjusting the battle strategy to deal with a primarily amphibious threat. So even though Rex sacrificed his life for the Clan he might have saved others from the same threat in the process.

Until then we are going after the big fish. Something is rotten in Deep Harbor and we have been tasked with looking into it."
« Last Edit: 09 December 2020, 07:55:21 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #68 on: 09 December 2020, 08:39:54 »
This is interesting thread of stories.  So this is the third thread of stories of the The Other War has? One with the renegade Mandrills, one with Star Adders, now Coyotes.

Rebekah sounds like she result of Society's mixing up genes from other Clans, but she on the "Wrong Side" of the War, if there was a side to begin with.  Except the Vipers, their just universal jerks but i'm not sure about them in this setting / AU.
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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #69 on: 09 December 2020, 21:34:38 »
This is interesting thread of stories.  So this is the third thread of stories of the The Other War has? One with the renegade Mandrills, one with Star Adders, now Coyotes.

Rebekah sounds like she result of Society's mixing up genes from other Clans, but she on the "Wrong Side" of the War, if there was a side to begin with.  Except the Vipers, their just universal jerks but i'm not sure about them in this setting / AU.

Well the Renegade Mandrills are mainstream now. The Adders will come back into play soon enough but in my timeline nothing terribly interesting happens to Seth during this time. Vipers are still and will always be jerks to everyone.

The Strana Mechty Summit


Coyote Khan Sullivan Koga stalked through the upper corridors of the Hall of Ancestors looking out over the lights of San Mateo. “Marlowe, why am I only hearing about this now!”

The Watch Captain hustled despite his pace his footsteps were silent even as Koga's boots rapped the stone floor, “We had to wait for confirmation from the Diamond Sharks. OvKhan.”

“Why did the Diamond Sharks have to tell me Silas Kufahl's corpse ended up in some fisherman's net!
He was under Watch and had already been missing for two days. What happened to his tails?”

“Unknown OvKhan. They have standing orders to maintain silence unless they detect something, except for a twice weekly maintenance signal to their controller on Strana Mechty.”

“Why did no Star Colonel report his absence?”
“He was not AWOL as far as they were concerned. According to his latest itinerary he was going to conduct diplomatic discussions with Blake Hawker, his opposite number in command of Omega Galaxy.”

“Did Hawker confirm this?”

“Neg, OvKhan. There were no communications intercepted between the two other than Batchalls.”

“As ordered. Galaxy Commanders are not empowered to conduct diplomacy. Even if this one thinks they should still be SaKhan. If Barbara or any of her Commanders want to talk terms they do so to the Triad.

So if he was lying and intended to go somewhere or talk to someone but did not tell his subordinates. Was he defecting?”

“There was no signal intercepted saying such a thing. Were you planning to move against him?”

“No, he may have been a Galaxy Commander but it was better for him to think he had command where he was visible rather than toiling away under the shadow of obscurity. He could not back it up in a Circle of Equals against Ravenna to maintain his title as SaKhan.

However, we have been getting close to the opposition leadership. Maybe he got spooked that we would find something damning.”

Marlowe motioned to the Golden Keshik guards to clear out. This was going to be another rough night. They parted taking up their sentry down the hall secreted in alcoves. “It is rather convenient that Clarissa's Watch Officers lost their tail only to have him end up dead in the water.”

“Have Silas's task force reported in now that this is known?”
“It is not widely known OvKhan, SaKhan Labrov has thus far only told you and Barbara. The Shark Medical Liaison on world is keeping it compartmentalized due to sensitivity. Loremaster Jerrico is unaware as far as I know.”

“Tell me more of this poison found in his system.”
“A type of Tetradotoxin, found principally in ocean life .There are several dozen deaths on Delios every cycle due to it due to improper preparation of seafood. The dose was small, only enough for temporary paralysis; but combined with the drowning that was sufficient to be lethal.”

“Something his supporters would think has just enough ambiguity on whether it was an assassination or accident.”

“It would seem that way.

In other news from Delios the Bandits have been quiet since Star Colonel Danforth launched CAUTERIZE yesterday. So far they have no contacts but continue the search. Recent intelligence reports that they Delios bandits are amphibious and well organized capable of disappearing Mechwarriors and their machines without a trace. No trace has been found of their heavy equipment so it is unknown if they possess any battlemechs besides those they might have salvaged from the field.”

“Disappearing Mechwarriors much like the late Silas Kufahl. Quiaff?”

“Aff. However that explanation may not satisfy Epsilon's Star Colonels once they are made aware of this incident. It is better to tell them about this development ASAP in order to head off dissent.”

Sully halted and punched through the drywall going all the way to the middle of her forearm without wincing. “DISSENT!

We are in this quagmire because of what Epsilon Galaxy's Warship did to the Sharks!

Commodore Hill admitted that he failed to authenticate orders to engage the Bloodlust. Orders that must have come from Epsilon's Command Chain. That unsanctioned engagement has stalled my reforms while making us look weak to the other Clans. Now we have this embarrassment of being unable to take a world of fewer than two million with two Galaxies while the Sharks are withdrawing even one.

If anyone even mouths a word of dissent in Epsilon I will personally shoot them!”

“I would not advise that course of action. Better to win them over with actions and a semblance of trust. You do not need to antagonize any more senior officers already on guard after the purge earlier this year.”

“I will fight any enemy of Clan Coyote foreign or domestic whenever I desire, always.

Silas' retrograde nostalgia worshipers are the worse breed of Warriors since those necrosia dipping Scorpions of the Seeker Corps. To worship an empire lost due to their own foolishness and failure; yet none are smart enough to see that. At least the Scorpions learn something, even if it might be wrong.

As my reformed sibkos rise through the ranks,”
She brushed the gypsum dust from her fist, the fine white powder falling gracefully to the marbled floor, “they will leave the past behind like so much dust and assume their rightful place as a power in the Kerensky Cluster.”

“Seyla Khan Koga.”
Marlowe peered at the Khan's bloodied fist, red blood on white dust. “Should I summon a MedTech?”

“Neg, get me a Scribe.”
“What for?”

“I have to send a message to Kael Pershaw and it needs to have no room for wily interpretation. Barbara (Sennet, Khan of Clan Diamond Shark) and I need to have a summit on Strana Mechty under the aegis of The Loremaster of the Clans and deescalate.”

“You would admit defeat.”

“I will accept detente to focus on domestic problems. Khan Sennet will accept and the Jade Falcons will welcome our continued business with them if only to prevent more Clantech from falling into the hands of the Spheroids.

I also want to find out why the Sharks are still protecting their Delios Enclaves so vigorously.

The faster I can demobilize Epsilon the easier it will be to control its Star Colonels. Or perhaps they need to go to Priori in order to combat the Star Adders far from here with just enough supplies. With any luck the snakes will claim my rats and call it a win.”

“A wise move Khan Koga.”

He tapped something on his Commpad, “A scribe is en route. I will try to find out what I can regarding Delios before you depart.”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #70 on: 18 December 2020, 01:38:38 »
Gravel crunched under the tires as Cara looked out over the River Avon flowing majestically toward Delios’ Inland Sea while fiddling with a small forester’s knife. The knife, tent, and tools in the jeep along were part of the disguise. As were their clothes, utilitarian outerwear available at any exchange allowed a pair of fit young women to carry on without drawing attention to themselves. A narrow concrete bridge lay ahead but it like many others had been damaged by a multitude of compounding disasters this year.

Rebekah got out, yelled at nothing in particular on this abandoned stretch of road. No other vehicles had been seen over the past few hours. Even the small Civi microvans or motorcycles that were now responsible for moving goods and people were absent. Medium weight Ute and heavy Tallasi transporters were deployed to the Scablands to supply Coyote Warriors hunting for bandits in that area.

Her young companion combed out her hair and whispered “keep your cool Becky” to the radio unheard by her companion who’s growing frustration became more evident as delays and detours piled up. She stopped before the cones blocking the path and kicked stones into the water below.
“We couldn’t take the ferry! Now we can’t take the road! How are we going to get to Deep Harbor?”

She looked at the map again, while she was a sub-par Warrior, she paid attention during orienteering which was good since the GPS in their comm-pads were acting glitchy. The radio said it was something about satellite timing issues. Apparently, Technicians were on it but until it was resolved satellite links would grow increasingly unstable requiring the reactivation of terrestrial backups by the civilians.
“We could always just leave the jeep behind and find another way. The river port of Avon is less than a dozen klicks North of here. Its bridge is out but they should be able to find us another way to the city.”

Rebekah rubbed her head, breathed deep, and agreed. “Fine we will find another path…and leave the jeep behind.”

Less than twenty minutes later the jeep rolled past small microvans and Kei cars sharing the road with motorbikes and regular cycles loaded down with parcels. Large OD, Coyote Tan, and Gray Ute flatbeds blocked the main throughway. Their contents were in the process of being broken down and ported by hand for transfer across the River Avon and beyond.

Parking was non-existent as the town seemed to suffocate under the strain in its vital arteries. Road closures required the women to reverse into heavy pedestrian traffic heading toward the quay. More than once Rebekah required her partner’s forceful intervention to avoid hitting someone with the back of her jeep which was much larger than the microvans double parked in the street.

They found space along the riverbank which would bog down most other vehicles. Across the river the scene was the same, Avon’s bridge had partially collapsed under the weight of an overloaded Coyote Epsilon Galaxy Tallasi. The heavy transport still hung from the broken span, its tires tentatively dipping into the river, metal backbone bent at an unnatural angle.

A short hike brough them back to the town square which was packed to the gills. Cara was drawn to a selection of small off-white freshwater pearls displayed on rich black velvet cloth laid out on the ground just outside the main stretch of vendor stalls. After smelling food being prepared nearby, she was drawn back to more practical concerns. “I am hungry Rebekah.”

“What would you like?”

Each woman’s head was on a swivel, some people here were likely Bandit sympathizers and their jeep was noticeable enough to warrant further investigation. It was cleared of any Watch related material but that did not mean something could not be planted while they were absent. Regardless it needed to be left behind if she was to ever get on with the mission.

Both shouldered their packs squeezing through the dense crowd gathered under the watchful eyes of the Patrol officers in this impromptu market. Cara before locked eyes with the elderly man furiously sautéing food in the wok before him just outside the market proper. Another woman presumably his partner cheerfully chopped vegetables and steeped leaves into a large kettle atop its own brazier.
“Let’s get something from them. They seem trustworthy.”

Her partner nudged her and whispered quietly amid the cacophony, “Do not deviate from our story.”
“I remember. Don’t you forget that I am closer to a civilian then you are now. Drop the formality or you might give yourself away.”

Rebekah vacillated between her immediate and future concerns, she was a Ristar Coyote Warrior, Star Commander in charge of the smallest and youngest Star in her Trinary with a long future ahead of her. It was difficult for her to change her language, personality, and attitude when out of uniform despite practice.

“How about you take the lead in conversation? I will keep an eye out for a chance to get across the river today.” The younger woman nodded in agreement and took point ducking and weaving through the mass before them until they reached the alleyway. Their haggard appearance and worn clothes drew a sympathetic eye from the woman, who poured the mysterious brew into a pair of earthenware cups drawn from a rack behind them. “You girls look like you have a rough couple of days.”

Cara smiled at the woman, then drank some of the slightly bitter herbal tea that was just a shade darker than her hair, “We have. My sister and I couldn’t catch the Belle’s Wharf ferry. Now all the bridges are out, and we’re stuck on this side of the river. We haven’t eaten a real meal in two days, had to hurry out of the Scablands before the Coyotes went hunting.”
“Oh, you poor dear,”
she pulled a pair of plates off the rack with accompanying cutlery, “Sorry we only have what we were able to scrounge up from our house after our village flooded in the latest storm. Do you have POGS? Network is acting up.”

Her stomach growled as Rebekah and handed over a handful of the work credits (POGS, Purchase of Goods & Services). Each gray disk had a Coyote crest hologram on one side and a number value in a different pearlescent color on the other (1 blue, 10 green, 100 red). When an Enclave changed hands the Clan crest on its new POGS changed but all physical money still spent the same.

The man muttered as he stirred the rich fish stew now simmering in the wok, “If it wasn’t for those Coyotes the bridge would still be in service and we would be in the city already.”
His wife spooned a portion on the plate with additional veggies on the side. Both Watch officers dug in with gusto, “We are making so much money though. Wouldn’t it be nice to go to William with a gift?”

Rebekah finished her meal first exchanging another coin for more tea, “Who’s William?”
Vance chipped in, “Our son, he’s a Shipwright Artisan in the city. Worked on the Overseer’s personal vessel, he did. Heck of a lad we couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Two shirtless men joined the group; sitting on the blanket laid out for guests, each covered in sweat even though it was autumn, “This is good Vance. Thanks for the tea Donna. Really hits the spot after lifting so much.”
“Caught the fish this morning. Donna and I are happy to have some repeat customers.”

One of them chuckled, “You have only been here a day, hardly enough time for regulars, but if you open up an eatery down by the docks you have my recommendation.
Word is the Overseer is sending a repair crew this evening to recover the Tallasi and put a temporary span in. He was furious with the Star Colonel Nyriev for breaking his bridge but had to keep it low key until Epsilon Galaxy redeploys.”
“Where are they going? When?”
“No idea, they don’t hang out at the same bars we do.
Did hear the Galaxy Commander hasn’t shown up in a few days. No one seems to miss him though so he could just be taking in the local color.”
“Deep Harbor is hardly colorful now, unless you like grayscale.”
“It just needs a good deep cleaning once things go back to normal.”
“Whenever that is, we got plenty of water and pressure to spare.”

They packed up their mess kits and stretched sore muscles, “Better than hauling boxes across the river. Transporters normally have trucks.”
“Handling and Porter are in the job description Cory.”
“We need some more Elementals. They could just wade this little water with their hands full.”
“They’re plenty busy at the docks.”

Both Coyotes had been out of the loop on communications during their travels their disguise not giving them access to an encrypted radio they were due to pick up from the city safehouse. A missing Galaxy Commander was cause for immediate concern. If only they were able to get to the city that first day maybe something would have changed. “Wait! What’s the fastest way to get to the city?”

Cory looked them over and wondered why a pair of teenage girls were out here. “What’s your hurry little ladies? Just stay put, cash your credits and camp in the woods.”

“We were brought over to operate forklifts at the docks and get out of the way of the Warriors.”
“They got Elementals and Exos they’ll be fine. If a shop runs out of goods for a few days, it won’t kill anyone…but if you are in a hurry for a booty call with your boyfriends in the city the fastest way to get there is to pick something up,”
he pointed toward the post-lunch crowd gathering around one of the large trucks, “and take it across to a Ute on the other side. That is the price of passage nowadays. There is a bus running back to the city’s central depot. You can get anyway using the tram from there.”

Each laughed as they walked away, “The Toll is Toil. I should use that later.”

Rebekah looked toward Cara who was finishing her cup of tea. “Time to move...” She paused awkwardly, thinking about her lost trothkin, “Sis.” Waving goodbye to keep up appearances they got to work.

The six wheeled Ute was loaded own with small crates which were passed on and taken across the river using a small river barge. Its Captain looked weary, half dozen Laborers crossing even more so. One of them nodded to the teens,

“Get it while the getting's good girls. Habormaster Benedict is paying premium rates in coin till this is over. Almost worth the hassle of moving all these boxes by hand. Plenty of light stuff to carry, pays the same.”
“Its not like we are going to be stacking SLATs Dave.”
“No way, its all going to Jerry. Couple of bad calls at the Dome last week. You think a couple hard days of moving boxes is gonna hurt you haven't been an Elemental's punching bag.”

Cara noted the name Jerry in her mind, he sounded like a potentially useful underworld source for someone capable of offering SLATs. The two highest denominations in Clan currency, silver and gold bars respectively worth 1000 and 10000 credits a piece. These were only used for trade with other Deep Periphery states when barter wouldn't satisfy their needs and it was deemed a poor idea to fight.

The barge crossed passing the scavenged supply crates still strewn in the river serving as navigational hazards rather than a source of replenishment for Coyote Warriors. Upon arriving at the Western Quay the tired women boarded the bus and set off for the final four hours of their journey catching a brief catnap. They woke just as the sun was settling on the sprawling intertwined enclave of concrete, metal, and wood that was Deep Harbor.

Along the dock Mary walked along as street lights activated, they bathed the boardwalk in the yellowed hue of sodium vapor which mixed with the sickly neon glow of dockside public houses and those of ill repute. She looked down at the high tide where motion stirred from the deep, figures clad in dark wet-suits racing to the safety of the shadows below. As she breathed in the salt air, “Wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now.” She too disappeared into an alleyway, “Things are just getting interesting.”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #71 on: 18 December 2020, 10:30:35 »
This is ever the mysterious mystery action pack who done it.   Question, Where Rebeka?  Is this eden?
"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
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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #72 on: 20 December 2020, 01:49:07 »
This is ever the mysterious mystery action pack who done it.   Question, Where Rebeka?  Is this eden?

Rebekah is there she's just not feeling at the top of her game right now. Not Eden.


A sonic boom that shook the windows roused Cara and Rebekah from their slumber in the middle of the night. They rolled onto the carpeted floor of their safehouse peering outside through a small window. Becky pulled out a monocular sight trying to get a better view. An egg-shaped dropship slowly descended on a plume of white fire to Cape Valiant, the primary Starport and Warrior Cantonment on Delios.
“Looks like an Overlord.”

Cara stood behind her careful to avoid stepping on their still packed bags. Their luggage and mattresses took up most of the floor space which was already just enough for both of them to have their own space, “Whose? and are picking up or dropping off?”
“Can’t tell. Thrust plume is too bright from this distance. They are definitely going down.”

The event was over before long, distance and darkness prevented a positive ID but there were no raid sirens blaring indicating an enemy was about to attack. Rebekah yawned, curled back into her sleeping bag, gently cradling a matte gray Gauss SMG next to her. “Go back to bed. We will look into it tomorrow.”

Instead of listening Cara watched Rebekah sleep for a few minutes. Despite her brash and sometimes carefree exterior Becky was still grieving deep on the inside. Her quick acceptance of Cyne's offer to be a Watch operator gave her a mission of revenge and distance from spaces linked her now deceased brother. She told Cara around the campfire that she chose their cover for practical reasons, but she intuited emotional ones as well, they were pretending to be sisters for a deeper reason.

Rex and Rebekah had spent their entire lives together, from their time as creche duty-children to graduating Sibko and receiving honors from the Khan together. Now the only person she had was Cara, which was unfortunate because she didn't think that was wise. She opened her comm-pad, careful to hide the slight light from her partner sleeping less than a meter away, continuing to read the reports that had so enraptured her ever since she received them less than a week ago.

Cara woke up to the morning sun, no alarm or Rebekah who left a note saying that she was going to recover the jeep alone and would return sometime that evening. Free for the day she headed out into Deep Harbor, the largest, busiest, and loudest Enclave she had even visited.

Streetcars rolled quietly through narrow streets on rails connecting the five formerly separate districts that over the years combined into one Enclave. Cara walked past Patrol officers on their motorbikes watching fleets of microtrucks pass through the streets in good order. Some abrupt communication was required in the form of very noisy horns compared to the quiet fuel cell or battery driven vehicles.

Finding the source of the Patrolmen's coffee Cara walked into the plain storefront finding it packed with Castemen wearing jackets with the deer's head logo printed on many of the vehicles outside, one that belonged to no Clan or Guild she recognized. She ordered breakfast and settled in a corner table intrigued by the strangers, their origin, and accent. Once they exited she walked up to the shopkeeper cleaning the table, “Who were those people? I have never seen anything like them.”

The shopkeeper, one of the loosely defined Artisan subcaste licensed to operate independent (but monitored) limited ventures in Clanspace, looked the small girl over taking in her disguise of a forestry apprentice likely on a break. “You must have spent a long time in the forest girl. They're workers for Sambar Sundries, an IS Free Guild brought here by the Hell's Horses. They started working in Deep Harbor two months ago.”

He pointed outside to a building under construction nearby, the steel and fiberglass skeleton reaching over the sprawling but shallow Enclave. “Started building that about the same time. Its Guildmaster cut a deal with our Harbormaster. All of our heavy transports were pulled away to support Warriors in the Outlands and the few that have returned were basically scrap. Don't know how we would have kept the Shipyard and Starport operating without them. They tip good too.”


Seeing her confusion the middle aged shopkeeper came to a realization, “Right, of course you wouldn't know that. You're so young, might have just tested down and out. Its extra POGS for good service.”
“But good service is expected.”
“Not to these Spheroids.”
He leaned in, “Don't tell anyone but I overheard that they make nearly fifty percent more than the locals. Most are using it to bring family to the Homeworlds aboard Hell's Horses ships.

I am just collecting my fair share. Eventually might have enough to afford my own Dacha in the hills where I can fish all day and get away from the salt air and city life for a time.”

A Patrolmen walked into the shop drawing shopkeep's attention while Cara absorbed what he said.
“Shopkeep, I want some of those, sweet things, that those Free Guilders walked out with. Now while we are idle.”
“One large order of Fattigman cookies coming right up Kevin.”
While he pan fried some dough and drenched it in sugar the Patrolman looked Cara over from behind an open faced motorcycle helmet, “Where is your assignment Apprentice?”
She presented her codex which was quickly reviewed and returned, “As you can see I am unassigned Patrolman. Our Foreman messed up the transfers in the hurry to get out of the Scablands.”
“That was more than three days ago. Why have you not been reassigned?”

Just in time to avoid that question the shopkeeper arrived with an oily paper bag. “Here are your sweets. On the house as usual.”
The Patrolman looked at the bag, then Cara, and back to his partner outside, his radio squawked with the code for a traffic accident and brawl. He whispered clearly in to the shoulder mic, “Confirmed Kappa-Six en route. You girl, get your assignment squared away. Deep Harbor has no space for idle hands when busy ones are full.”

He grabbed the bag throwing it into his saddlebags and set off with sirens and lights on to the incident site. The portly shopkeeper gave her a small paper tray of the sugary fried dough, “Made some extra for you too skinny girl.” She reached for POGS, but was waved off, “No charge. Enjoy. Take another coffee too and continue your wanderings. However, if you want a new assignment I could use some help.” Another crowd of Sambar construction workers poured in for their morning break. “Doubt business will calm down anytime soon.”

Cara walked down to the docks with her sweet cargo in hand avoiding packed streetcars, dodging pedestrians, and micro-trucks attempting to bypass stopped delivery trucks by driving on the curb. This behavior didn't happen when the Patrol were around. Cara noticed they were quick to issue fines to Free Guild vehicles for even the most minor infraction. It was such a different and chaotic place than the Coyote garrison town of Belle's Wharf with its ordered Warrior camp and Cyne managing local interests.

Arriving at the boardwalk she watched the waves come in and leave breaking on the jetty thrust into the Inland Sea to protect the recreational area nearby. While she ate her sweets on a bench she was deep in thought having never considered that the Coyotes might have impressed the entire civilian road transport fleet to support their deployment. She knew how many truckloads of material her Galaxy consumed in a week and heard locals complain about Coyote Warriors eating them out of house and home. Belle's Wharf more than doubled in population with Nu's Warriors and support teams.

Finishing her tray of cookies she said her thoughts aloud, “No wonder they want us to leave, but I don't want to go anywhere.”

A voice came from her side, “You don't have to go anywhere. I just want to sit.”
Cara looked over at the source of the mysterious voice, a svelte MedTech whose raven hair was mussed and sweaty and features were similar to her own suggesting a hybrid Aero-Mechwarrior heritage. Her white ambulance had a red Cameron Star painted on it and was just large enough to put one stretcher in the bed with a larger version of the Clan's LSSU trauma system on the cab top. “stretch my legs, and share a conversation with someone not crazed or twice as large as me.”
Eager for some company Cara patted the bench and the MedTech sat smoothing out her scrubs which had a small amount of blood on them and a stun gun poking out of one pocket, “You have no idea how many perfectly handsome men I had to stitch together today. Some were even imports all the way from the Inner Sphere,” she sighed, “what a waste.”

The stranger stopped for a moment, “Oh right I forgot to introduce myself how rude. I'm Mary and you are new around here.”
“How do you know? There are three hundred thousand people here.”
“True but not as many Foresters. They tend to cluster around the shipyard or construction sites. I spent a lot of time there for industrial accidents and the like. Less now that Sambar is taking over a part of it. Certainly makes my billing easier.”
“How long have you lived her?”
“About six months. Are you ever going to give me your name?”

Something was off about this MedTech but she wasn't sure if she was flirting or knew more than she was letting on. “I am Cara Forester.”
“Pleasure to meet you Cara.”
Mary stood up stretching her body out to the sea and removed a card from her pocket. “If you ever need a checkup feel free to call me and make an appointment at the clinic. My door is always open,” she headed back to the ambulance, “assuming I'm there of course.”

The ambulance started without a sound and departed back toward the Shipyards. Cara looked at the strange woman's card which only had three lines made to appear handwritten on it, 'Mary MD, Pier 28 Free Clinic, Deep Harbor'

She felt something hard in it and extracted a data-chip hidden between the paper with tweezers conveniently left behind on the bench.


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #73 on: 21 December 2020, 11:44:13 »

Loremaster of the Clans Kael Pershaw stalked through the halls of The INTELSTAR Building, home of the All Clan Watch (ACW), within the former Widowmaker Enclave of Katyusha City. Barrel chested Elementals of the Ebon Keshik followed him, grim faced and broken like himself.

Absent an ilKhan he was the unifying power of The Clans called upon to mediate disputes, run Katyusha City, the Kerensky’s Pride above it, and render justice on those imprisoned aboard the Prinz Eugen orbiting the scorched planetoids of the inner system. Presently three hundred souls sat in limbo awaiting his judgement aboard the prison ship mining metals for the Strana Mechty Shipyards. Their number consisted of the worst criminals, traitors, and thieves among the Clans. Most Eugenites’ fate would be airlocking to him they were hardly worth a bullet but given the mercy of a reasonably quick death after enduring so much suffering.

One of his staffers passed the group, like many of the ACW he an Aerospace phenotype, slightly built people with more robust nervous and circulatory systems whose reflexes were trained to a hair trigger and capable of precise action under duress. Many among the Mechwarrior centric Warrior leadership felt the phenotype had failed due to the Aerospace Corps many defeats during REVIVAL and sought to reduce their number. Kael publicly disagreed calling them out for their own failures to heed the Dragoon reports and on the ground. A rebuke unwelcomed to all but the Aerospace Warriors who flocked to the All Clan Watch when their reflexes started to fade.

Another walked up to him, “Loremaster, Brian Pryde wishes to speak with you about urgent events on Ironhold.”
Kael paused there was only one ongoing operation on Ironhold that his pupil, now Loremaster of Clan Jade Falcon, was supervising, “Now copy this down precisely. Tell him.

Act fast. He will not stay put long once he finds out we are onto him.”
“Aff Loremaster.”

Coyote Khan Sullivan Koga sat across the table from the dark-skinned Barbara Sennet, Khan of Clan Diamond Shark both women had said nothing to the other after arriving. Each were just staring into the other’s brown eyes divining intent, gazes fixed like lasers on another while they awaited the Loremaster of the Clans whose arrival was heralded by an Ebon Keshik Elemental entering and saying, “Safe Sir. No throat tearing or hair pulling yet.”

Kael Pershaw entered behind the much larger man causing both Khans to stand out of respect for their different reasons. In the Clan Hierarchy, the Loremaster of The Clans and a Clan Khan were the same although the Loremaster was not given a vote in the Grand Council except as a tiebreaker.

The cyborg’s inhuman machine legs moving with the most efficient stride under his robes, his prosthetic left arm hidden under a half cloak, and the burned side of his face hidden under a mask with only the bright blue machine eye staring out from the cloth while the pale skin and steel of his natural side were revealed. “How very disappointing, I suppose there will be time for that later.”

He sat down with the assistance of his Ebon Keshik bodyguards whose towering forms were clad in matte black armor and whose helmet crests almost reached the ceiling. Each carried a large ballistic shield on their back and a ‘slick’ Mauser IIC rifle slung in front of them. The Mauser’s sword like bayonet carried on their belt. One of them plugged one of their power packs into the batteries of the Loremaster to sustain his cyberware. If he ran out of power, they were to carry him; into danger, die for him, and be proud to do it.

After Kael was settled the Khans did as well. Both waiting for the signal to give their opening statement, in person meetings were normally preceded by dozens of HPG messages and back channel talks with only the final duties left to the leadership. As such the Loremaster expected that the Coyotes and Sharks were only awaiting his final approval to satisfy their needs. “Khan Koga, you called this summit so you may proceed with your opening statement.”

“Loremaster, rather than having continued Trials of Grievance, only adding more blood to already muddied waters I want to know why the Sharks have deployed so many forces to defend such a small territory as Delios? And why even given irrefutable evidence that the Spirit in the Sky received illegal orders and was sabotaged by the late Silas Kufahl they continue their feud?

Clan Coyote will not accept these continued sanctions and I will not hesitate to call a session of the Grand Council to address it should it continue.”

Barbara Sennet leaned forward as if to engage in some thrashing herself, “Very well Khan Koga, in confidence.” She looked over to Pershaw who dropped the shade and activated the white noise generators. “Delios’ Enclaves have irregularities in their census that we uncovered while more Warriors were deployed there.

Irregularities that your Warriors threaten but whose spread at least goes to Babylon.

We are not talking tens of people either but hundreds of thousands missing throughout our territory. Your Warriors are threatening my Watch’s ability to complete this audit. I suggest you check your own populations to see who might be missing, where they might have vanished to, and what happened to the supplies allotted to care for them for however long this has been occurring.

Once we are done our audit Delios can be yours for the small price of repairing the Sea Fox and our feud can be tabled for now and all sanctions lifted.”

Sullivan thought this over, the Coyote Census population was slightly higher than 74 million, hundreds of thousands missing in reality was huge. Entire cities could be inflated and the conspiracy behind it siphoning off huge numbers of supplies for unknown purposes. This was a dire threat, but she understood why Sennet needed to keep it a secret. It was something that had snuck up on the Warrior Khans who had a long history of letting the civilian castes manage their own affairs. She would have to talk to Kavindra and Loremaster Kufahl about how to fix this problem.

“Bargained Well and Done, Tamaron will finance the repairs for damage done to the Sea Fox by The Spirit in the Sky.”

Barbara looked at the sly Coyote with appreciation hoping she would agree to fix the whole hulk but there was already a buyer in the wings.
“As agreed Delios can be yours once we are finished. I suggest you hurry and complete your own assessment we may have shown our hand to the conspirators over the past months.

By the way. The Blood Spirits will greatly appreciate their new Yardship.”

Kael and Sullivan both looked at Barbara in surprise, “You are giving the Blood Spirits a Yardship.”
The Shark stood to exit the chamber, quite pleased with herself, “Me, no. Sullivan is giving the Spirits their new Yardship. I have already prepared the press release.”

An Ebon Keshik Elemental opened the door for her, and she departed leaving the Coyote Khan speechless. The Blood Spirits had moved their aggressions for the Burrocks to Star Adder. A huge public transfer like a Newgrange changing hands would result in more pressure coming her way from Khan N’Buta who saw the Coyotes as the rival power he needed to defeat in order to cement his Snake Alliance’s dominance in the Homeworlds.

That she had been so easily tricked made her furious, the Blood Spirits would not come to her assistance when the Star Adders came for her Enclaves, because they knew the truth they could not be bargained into aiding her elsewhere, so concerned were they for their own safety. They would likely flee and leave the Coyotes constricted by the Star Adders, a fate that was unacceptable.

She stood up and stormed out toward her subordinates waiting outside. The Coyotes would die before they become anyone’s pets.


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #74 on: 23 December 2020, 13:32:19 »

Rebekah watched dozens of muddied Tallasi transports roll down the highway only illuminated by their headlights from the roof of an office building. Tattered tarps secured a numerous supply crates and drums being returned to Deep Harbor’s port. Star Colonel Danforth’s unsuccessful OP:CAUTERIZE failed to uncover a Bandit stronghold in the Scablands despite his best efforts.

Epsilon Galaxy was being withdrawn to deal with the latest Star Adder aggressions toward Londerholm. The breadbasket world was key to any population expansion on the harsh Homeworlds and was the site of fierce Trials between many Clans over the years. Nu Galaxy was to remain on station ensuring the security of Delios until its transfer to Clan Coyote was complete at year end. Captain Cyne ordered his agents to stay put and continue surveillance.

She turned over to Cara watching the latest launch of an Overlord to the Carrack CCS Solar Blaze orbiting above. “Dark Caste activity is likely to pick up now that the pressure is off.”

Cara nodded, “Do you think they will attack the city? This area has been cold for weeks, no sign of Banditry.”

“They must have agents here. Galaxy Commander Kufahl was murdered in this city!”
The late Silas Kufahl was of her same bloodhouse. It seemed particularly personal that the enemy had killed two of their number in the past month in such a chalcas fashion. Bloodhouse Master Sancia Kufahl decreed that a Grand Melee would be undertaken by year end to determine who would inherit his lineage. Becky was trying for a sponsorship but had to undergo the Rites of the Coyote before being considered.

“Jerry was a dead end though just a low-level bookie. We don’t know enough about this place yet to know when something is off. We need better training.”

“I have watched terrain change before and tracked animals across Drum Canyon with binoculars. We have unlimited access to shipping schedules and the Valiant’s launch windows. Something won’t add up and then we investigate, then something else will be wrong, repeat until we find the root of this infestation and then we call in Danforth’s QRF.”

Now that the dropship had boosted out of view Cara looked down concerns visible on an elfin face, “We will find you a mech if they attack. You can fight alongside me.”

The younger woman kicked pebbles from the asphalt roofing tiles, the small stones rolled down the metal overhands and fell into the parking lot below, “I don’t think I can do it, be a Warrior. Serving with you has been nice but I can’t stop thinking that I should just quit to become a Tech.”

Rebekah was shocked, she knew her friend was not the best Warrior, but even inferior ones still served their Clans in various capacities. Technicians were much lower in the totem pole of Caste ranking despite their contributions serving all Castes. “Why would you do that? Is it that boy you were coupling with in Belle’s Wharf?”

Her companion went red with embarrassment. She thought she was being discrete while that was occurring. She hoped that she hadn’t let on that something else was bothering her more than a dalliance with one of the local Techs. A tech who introduced her to the forbidden lore that the Clan Warrior caste was attempting to censure about life in the Inner Sphere. “What NEG!

My own Pack Master has so little confidence they scheduled my Trial of Position last. They expected me to fail fast. I don’t want to fight. It was fine to pretend, but now I can’t say I want to endure the grind. Sibko was enough for me, this assignment is wearing me down.”

“We haven’t done anything yet.”
“That’s the problem, I crave stimulation but can’t take to much. Not doing anything is making me antsy there are to many unknowns about these Bandits. None have been captured and they are using completely alien equipment in comparison to anything we have.”
“That is why we have to find our what they want and how they intend to get it Cara.”
“But how! There’s no pattern other than they attack from the ocean and leave within ten minutes after firing some missiles.”
“Or they lurk below the waves and take unsuspecting prey like my brother and the others. Drowning them like animals.
Make no mistake Cara these underwater terrorists are sadists of the highest order and they will not stop terrorizing civilians and we Warriors are the only thing that can stand against them.”
“But we haven’t been. When Danforth left the attacks around Belle’s Wharf stopped.
Nothing was found in the Scablands.
We can’t even verify it was these same Bandits that sabotaged the bridges. The locals might have done it on their own, to make our Warriors bypass their town.”
“You have been reading too much chatterweb conspiracy.”
“You don’t feel the same way? How can you ignore it now? You heard how they talked about Colonel Nyriev in Avon. Do you think that is an isolated incident?”

Rebekah paused for a moment, being undercover meant that the civilians had dropped their guard around her. There was much chatter about dissent among the castemen of Deep Harbor. Many were envious of the recently arrived Spheroid Sambar Free Guilders. The Grand Council’s information cordon failed to contain rumors, true and false, and a rising Second Star League winning the Great Refusal showed that the Clan Warrior caste was not invincible.

“How can you say all of this?”
“I say it because it might be true. It is awful that Rex was killed but he was in a fight that he could not win. Silas was responsible for a lot of suffering; this entire trade embargo and invasion was part of a conspiracy against the Khan and not his first.”
“What are you talking about now Cara?”
“I’m sorry Rebekah but this is going to be our last night together, but I can’t hide the truth from you anymore.”

She presented a data-pad to Rebekah who tentatively took it and scrolled through the pages. Contained within was a Top-Secret Scientist order written by codenames. Cara, as a Mechwarrior/Aerospace hybrid from a Strange Sibko (one consisting purely of hybrids used to benchmark Scientist capabilities) had a 97% compatibility with the Clan’s EI system. There were orders to secure her and other Cadets to serve as test subjects for a secret project at an undisclosed location. Silas Kufahl was to take control of the targets serving as Nu Galaxy auxiliaries on the date of his poisoning. Of the eight, one was killed during her Trial, six are unaccounted for, and then there was Cara.

“Who gave this to you? Do you trust them?

There is no way this could be verified.”
“I hope you find one because I believe it. So much so that I have already agreed to join the people that gave it to me.”
“Your defecting to the Dark Caste.”
She put her hand on the small revolver she kept in her waistband, “What if I try to stop you?”

Cara started walking backwards toward the stairwell leading to the roof, “You won’t because you care and want the best for me. It is why I felt safe entrusting you with those secrets. I wish you luck sister; because I don’t think we will see each other again.”

The door closed behind her and Rebekah stood there still with her hand on the revolver for what seemed like an eternity, once more alone under the stars not knowing what was happening to her. Her focus was broken by an explosion by the docks. She raced over to the side and saw the orange glow of a fire, heard the sounds of machine guns and sirens, and began to smell the smoke drifting away from the ocean caught in a night breeze.

Instead of taking the stairs she looked down and saw the fire escape, Rebekah leapt down, dropped hard on the grates before throwing herself down the stairs in a rush. She hustled down riding the final ladder to the ground where it hit with a solid bang on concrete. Keys in her hand she did a bootleg reverse, heading toward the Harbor district at high speed, passing minitrucks and riding up on the curve to avoid stopped Tallasi transports caught in traffic.

Unable to go any further through the traffic with her jeep she stopped next to the lumberyard where a Bunyan (Crosscut Dual Saw) Workmech sat idle behind the razor wire. With Codex in hand she used her jeeps floor mat to cross the obstacle. After quickly climbing the ladder to the cage cockpit and attaching the neuroband that controlled the machine she used a Watch override code to power up the Fuel Cells and animate the machine.

With only chainsaws she was doubly disgraced by being forced to use a Workmech only capable of melee attacks, both of which were below her station as a proper Warrior. “Savashri, Its better than nothing."

Now at full power she moved the industrial equipment over fences and towers of shipping containers toward the sounds of rifles and spreading fire. During this time familiarizing herself with the dataglove macros that controlled the two chainsaws that took the place of her hands. The sounds grew louder and were joined by missile fire impacting the buildings behind the engagement zone where the Deep Harbor Patrol attempted to contain the enemy long enough for the QRF to respond.

The darkened cylindrical form of an Urbanmech II was slumped against a building along her route. Its torsos ripped apart by ferocious enemy fire the likes of which she had only seen a handful of times. DHP had a Star of light mechs in inventory with another in Securitymechs modified for riot duty with even less capable weapons and armor.

“Cara, this had better not be your doing. I will bring you in if it is.”

She turned the corner and was face to face with a mech that looked like a Mandrill but with smaller missile racks, only one of which was open while the other was behind a reinforced panel. Painted on its otherwise blue-gray exterior was a black octopus whose tentacles reached in all directions of the mech. Caught by surprise she had the initiative and spun both chainsaws up to full speed before sending them crashing down on the enemy.

Sparks and shards of metal bounced off her cockpit as the chainsaws cut into the hostile machine. The Mandrill used its hands to grab her machines’ wrists and strained to push them back. As the myomer was stressed it caused the flimsier Workmech to shake from the strain. A small head mounted laser cut into the industrial plating near her cockpit dangerous close to the power cell while a salvo of missiles impacted her torso. The Workmech was not designed for that kind of damage but was sturdy enough to resist despite warnings blaring from the gremlin DIU computer about serious damage.

Rebekah mustered all the strength of the industrial myomer to carve another jagged slash through the squat machine. The Mandrill however had long arms and its pilot was clever enough to slip one of the chainsaws and kick her Workmechs legs out from under her. Unable to resist the powerful kick the Bunyan’s fragile structure failed and toppled the machine.

Another larger Mech passed her fallen machine this one like the strange Mandrill looked streamlined but there were obvious similarities to the Lupus, Clan Coyote’s first Omnimech, in its design. The Mandrill walked backward; its strange hunched form aided in locomotion by powerful arms covering its larger cousins’ retreat to the sea.

Ten minutes later she was rescued by the Deep Harbor DRT, who were surprised to see a seventeen-year-old girl who clearly engaged enemy battlemechs with a forestrymech. Taken to Cape Valiant after presenting Warrior credentials she found herself in front of Nu Galaxy Commander Leo Koga, trothkin to Khan Sullivan and who shared most of her physical features as well as a more cerebral nature.

“What happened to Cara? Captain Cyne informs me that you personally requested her be under your command. Yet they found no trace of her in the affected zones.”
“She was captured by enemy agents prior to the attack. I was in pursuit of them prior to commandeering the Forestrymech.”

He tapped something out on his comm-pad, “Why was this not communicated to the QRF or DHP?”

She hesitated not expected a full interrogation and wondering if they were aware that Cara might have had contact with Dark Caste prior and were testing her own loyalty to the Clan. “I was not thinking clearly at the time Galaxy Commander.”

“Perfectly understandable Rebekah. You were not trained to handle this kind of situation and I will note this on Cyne’s review. It is not his place to give orders to former Warriors without direct release from his Star Colonel. Danforth may have been tacitly culpable but they both put a Warrior and Cadet in harm’s way unnecessarily. Tell me more of the capabilities of the machines you witnessed.”

“One appeared to be some variant of the Mandrill, two shoulder mounted missile launchers, one of which was closed, and a small laser in the head. The other looked like a Lupus but I suppose one that can swim. I could not see how many missiles it had or what kind of lasers it might have used.”

“That tracks with prior reports, we believe these machines are splitting their munitions between torpedoes and regular LRMs. Damage assessments and BattleROMs also lead us to believe they use heavy laser technology. Principally used by the Star Adders,”
he tapped his fingers on the task, “who maintain even more Lupus machines than we do.”

“Do you think the Star Adders are behind these attacks Galaxy Commander?”
“There are certainly no reports of them suffering similar attacks and it would be in their nature to ensure their hands remain clean. How they would get the tech is unknown however so I cannot speculate without more evidence. Do you wish to undertake this assignment Commander?”

 “Neg, Sir. I request permission to undertake the Rites.”
“On which World?”
“Ambitious choice for one so young. Who do you wish to join you?”
“None, I will Hunt alone.”
“The Coyotes of Kirin are among the most ferocious and clever carnivores in the Homeworlds. Quiaff?”
“Aff, that is why I seek to hunt them.”
“By yourself?”

Leo Koga could not tell his Warriors how to undergo their Rites. This Warrior was driven almost to madness or perhaps sadness enough to commit suicide by nature. He was aware that her trothkin and she had formed a very close bond which had been traumatically broken and replaced with another who had been taken from her. Their Commanders had tried to separate the pair to no avail each refusing to leave the other’s side. He could not object lest he draw the wrath of the Tsalagi Cloister that was strong in his Clan.

“If you insist then that is your choice, but Coyotes are a pack. A lone one will draw undue attention.”
“That is my hope Galaxy Commander.”
“Then I will grant you permission to travel to Kirin and transfer you to Shaman Great-Oak for preparation. He is aboard the Solar Blaze already en route to that world.”
She stood to get up but was gently held down by the larger older man, “I hope you find what you seek there Rebekah, whatever it may be.”
“Thank you.”

Rebekah stood atop a ridgeline looking out over Kirin’s equatorial grasslands which teeming with herds of wild animals and the predators that preyed on them. Shaman Great Oak stood beside her; his wizened face hidden beneath a headdress of blue gray Tamaron Thunderbird feathers. He picked one out and handed it to her, “Child you know the history of Thunderbird and Young Coyote, quiaff?”
“Aff, as a child of the Kufahl and Kerensky lines it is in my blood, Shaman Great-Oak.”
“Remember it to remind yourself of the challenges you will face and take heart in its message.”

“One day, OvKhan Dana Kufahl walked the deserts of Strana Mechty with Andrey Kerensky. Upon mounting a rise, they witnessed a Young Coyote hunting a large ram with the assistance of a magnificent bird recently imported from Tamaron; whose wings were as long as Young Coyote was long.

Their cries rolled like thunder over the rocky steppe as Thunderbird’s talons tore deep into the ram distracting it enough for young coyote to strike the killing blow. Young Coyote opened the ram before sitting back on its haunches, allowing Thunderbird to eat first out of respect.”

She placed the feather into her blonde hair which had grown long during her time on Delios, checking her pack, spear, and warm fur lined clothes one last time before setting out in the grasslands.
“Together they still hunt the Land, Sea, and Sky as one. As do we Warriors that honor them.”
« Last Edit: 25 December 2020, 12:24:27 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #75 on: 23 December 2020, 22:07:16 »
Epic story your telling.
"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
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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #76 on: 24 December 2020, 18:47:43 »

Greypeak like many other Enclaves on Tathis and other hostile homeworlds was a 'mushroom habitat' with a ferroglaz dome spanning what was effectively a pit mine to protect the inhabitants. Massive fans vented smog from the top floors while fresh air pulled in from outside was filtered and warmed by the refinery complex and nuclear fission reactor powering it. The once backwater had doubled in population and quadrupled in production over the past two years but only just enough to keep up with increasing demand after the Jade Falcons kicked the allied Steel Vipers out of the Inner Sphere.

A Desperado (Thug IIC) stood outside within the orange zone where vented air increased the local temperature, a 'heat island' in this twilight realm. Within it Star Colonel Seth Irons waited for confirmation of his heading. A large RADAR contact had been picked up by one of their remote stations put in place to monitor the weather but additional sensors were added to give them advance warning should Coyotes or Bandits try to attack.

His formation, the 983rd Adder Sentinels, were still being rebuilt after almost being destroyed by the Coyotes prior to his assignment. They were tainted by political affiliation with 'Starkiller' whose terms of exile to this dreadful world forced him to accept the dregs of the Warrior Caste. Just because they started out low didn't mean they had to remain so. However, for each 'reformed' warrior and 'reforged' machine poached another class of rejects arrived with broken machines. Seth was thus forced to rebuild forever like some Sisyphean task with full knowledge that he would never benefit from it or rise from his post no matter how much he did.

He set off westerly followed by the his Star. Light machines piloted by inferior Warriors who had an Assault mech piloted by an experienced Mechwarrior to back them up. Three lighter machines raced ahead while the Mandrill, a relic long kept at the bottom of a Brian Cache that looked every bit the part piloted by Zoe, his greenest pilot, kept pace with the larger Desperado.

Their running lights were the only thing visible on the wind scoured and temporarily benighted landscape beyond the enclave. While it was not as large a concern for the smaller mechs his own had to watch its step. The Desperado easily crushed the tuff, ashy rock held together by ice until it compressed into a soft mineral rich sedimentary stone.

“Wonder if someone did not heed the flight notice. Colonel.”
“Well they must have been desperate then, that grit will tear up any intake. Already the techs are changing the filters every four hours just to make sure we do not choke on it. Its never been this bad and I was here for my whole Sibko time.”

Scouring winds stripped the battlemechs to bare metal just as they tore away lesser stone from old volcanoes forming plugs, cores of ancient volcanoes, which dotted the otherwise eroded landscape like a petrified forest made of frozen fire.

“You have to take a look at this Colonel Irons.”

Seth and Zoe approached through the black blizzard to see the wedge shape of a Fury aerodyne dropship which had attempted an emergency landing on the wrong stretch of ground. Ten of its nearly thirty meter height was below ground and its wings had been ripped off during initial approach from the North. The fuselage was canted but the eroded emblem of Clan Ice Hellion could just barely be discerned under the bright lightning arcing between ash clouds which was only growing more frequent.

“I thought the Hellions withdrew from their Enclaves on world?”
“They did, at least the ones we know about. Curiously this is the old symbol not Drake's new one.”

Khan Xander Drake had been one of the big winners during the Wars of Possession following the Great Refusal. His ascension had revitalized the Hellions, one of the weakest Clans, by association with peer (Fire Mandrill and Cloud Cobra) or superior Clans (Jade Falcon and Snow Raven). Khan Marthe Pryde 'contracted' his touman fostering a deep enmity with the Steel Vipers who had the tides turn on them in the Homeworlds and Occupation Zones simultaneously during what was called 'The Hegira War'.

Despite receiving a large prize from the Falcons his lightweight Touman had paid a steep price. As pressure increased from the Adders Hellion territorial gains were fading as fast as his ambitions. The Clan was consolidating by transferring Enclaves to slightly stronger powers more capable of holding Snakes at bay.

“No sign of life Colonel.”

The Desperado took a position atop one of the many small volcanic plugs yet to be turned to dust from the scouring winds. “This was not a survivable crash. We are not equipped to deal with this kind of wreckage. A salvage crew will have to be deployed in order to determine what happened. However, it is too dangerous to do so now. We have less than thirty minutes before the plume circles again.”

Seth's mech pointed to the low and narrow profiled Rattlesnake opening a channel to the scout, “Mark deploy a beacon, this wreck will be buried under ash by the time we return.”


A small drum fell from the back of the machine landing gently in the tuff. It rolling for a short distance before righting itself, deploying anchors to hold it fast against unrelenting winds. Winds that were rapidly intensifying into a 'black blizzard' capable of damaging battlemech armor or tearing apart an unprotected human with grains of abrasive traveling at more than 200 kilometers per hour

“Lets move before these wings catch flight and crash into one of our mechs. Mine can take it yours not so much.”
“Roger that Colonel Irons. Sentinels RTB”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #77 on: 25 December 2020, 01:41:13 »

The Jousting Ground, once home to Azami Judicial Duels, now served as a popular Circle of Equals among the 214th Jaguar Dragoons. Located at the foot of the Kabah Cashbah, an ornate sandstone fortress built within a desert mesa overlooking an oasis. A fortress that at one time protected its Sheikh during constant low level wars fought over scarce resources during the Succession Wars.

It now flew a stylized Smoke Jaguar banner with Azami illuminations. Stunningly colorful pictographs of tribal desert warriors were engraved along the mesa base and Mech sized obelisks that clearly marked boundaries. Goliath Scorpion Seekers agitated to visit its archives but were not yet allowed into any Occupation Zone.

Standing next to one of the markers was a gray Arctic Cheetah, piloted by Mechwarrior Faye, her opponent, Shandra, was within a tan Mist Lynx on the far side of the Grounds. In the middle was a Supernova piloted by their commander and Bloodhouse Leader, Star Colonel Eric Freelander of the 214th Jaguar Dragoons.

Colorful kites with script illuminated in gold fluttered in the breeze while sand blew lazily. Blue clad spectators waited for the clock to tick down for what would likely be a very impressive duel. Faye and Shandra had recently arrived from the homeworlds and shortly after they established themselves another Freelander succumb to the hemorrhagic fever endemic to Azami worlds, no doubt through fraternization with the locals despite warnings and history.

Faye's hair and scant clothing were damp from sweat despite the battle not even starting yet. To make up for the five ton difference of her newer machine she bid away her cooling suit for this Trial of Bloodright. Instead she wore a sarashi and shorts, even though the Arctic Cheetah was cool running, heat was relative and it was hot outside already. Her eyes were glued to the HUD as it was the only way she could see outside, the armored cowling having been lowered at T-2 minutes. Seconds lingered longer than she thought possible each timed with the drops falling from her braids.

At T-30 seconds she turned the reactor output up from its standby power granting more power to the myomer muscles, her mech's jump jet ports opened, pouring out low grade heated air which cause her mech to shimmer on the desert sands. Across the way Shandra's Mist Lynx did the same the narrow profiled machine animated its skinny legs, its missile locking into place from their rest position.

As the clock wound down the Supernova's arms lowered and it stepped back marking the official start of the Trial. Faye came off the block like a sprinter her reactor pouring power into the myomers as the Mist Lynx did the same.

Each circled the other exchanging salvos of long range missiles which corkscrewed through the sky only to find air as the agile machines evaded easy target locks even at jousting range. Their impacts threw up sand and drew cheers from those assembled. The light machines leapt into the sky like eagles attempting to find the other with closer range weapons. Having found none they crossed the nearly kilometer diameter ring in less than a minute without straining the machine or its Mechwarriors.

Running low on LRMs both tried once more to circle the ring trying to pin down their swift footed foe having only done minimal damage to the lightly armored combatants. Both targets were moving so fast that targeting was doubly difficult even at close range. The Arctic Cheetah was slightly faster and better armored than the Mist Lynx but its pilot was growing heat stressed in her confining cockpit and her opponent was more familiar with her Omnimech's capabilities. Mist Lynxes had earned the callsign, 'Koshi,' or Small Death, for their ability to best the light mechs DCMS typically employed. While newer and superior in some ways the 'Hankyu,' as the DCMS called the Arctic Cheetah, did not have as dire a reputation, yet.

Ultimately Faye and Shandra ran out of ammunition within seconds of one another, each only carried minimal ammunition to reduce the risk of ammo explosion destroying the lightly armored mech should something go through. With a pair of medium lasers Faye now had the advantage in range and mobility against Shandra's shorter ranged secondary weapons capable of reaching out only a fraction of her own range. Still was suffering from the heat, her brown skin was now glistening with sweat, and she seriously considered lifting the armor protecting her cockpit.

Her mind was in overdrive but was growing more clouded as she baked in the cockpit little larger than her own small form. She activated the safety override the cowling lifted exposing the ferroglaz screen and mounting cage which was open to the blistering hot air outside. Faye accelerated her full speed moving nearly half the width of the ring in ten seconds but provided a cooling breeze. Eric's voice came in over the radio, “Mechwarrior return your armored cowling to its proper position.”
“Neg, I have to die somehow, it is either going to be the heat or Shandra.”

A brief pause fell over the Jousting Grounds as the spectators gasped that a Warrior was facing down a Mech with her cockpit open. “Very well, it is your choice Mechwarrior. Continue on.”

Both Mechs pursued the other like charioteers in the Circus Maximus. Faye was in the clear lead and everyone knew that it was only a matter of time. Unable to match the ground speed of her opponent Shandra instead tried to bottle her up against the border using jump jets in order to bring her within her own engagement range. The Mist Lynx's small lasers and machine guns could get into effective range or her streak missiles get a positive target lock. Faye kept one laser in range alternating which arm fired to the back each time she changed direction while keeping her cockpit safe.

Thirty seconds later the Mist Lynx was down after its left torso was slagged by laser fire. After a release of plasma from containment the reactor shut down. Shandra's Mist Lynx stumbled and ended up face down in the sand. A great cheer erupted from the crowd who had not expected to see such a hard fought Trial between two light mechs. Small incendiaries filled the sky with brightly colored smoke, loud booms, and bright flashes.

Faye's Arctic Cheetah exited the Circle of Equals while the salvage techs recovered the battered loser. Shandra looked genuinely shocked at the events that transpired. “I thought I had you Faye.”

She looked at the damaged Arctic Cheetah, during the chase some of the Mist Lynx's missile managed to connect early on stripping the almost non-existent rear armor from the chassis but did not cause any critical damage. “Another good shot and you might have. There will be more chances.”

Star Colonel Freelander waited just long enough for the Techs to load the fallen mech onto a tracked mech transporter which rumbled away toward the depot. The next round of Warriors were readying for a Trial of Position but would have to wait until after the Rite of Recognition. Eric's Supernova crouched near a scaffolding and he descended it in his gray cooling suit. “Well fought Faye Freelander. Your formal induction ceremony will take place this evening. Until then return to base.”

He shifted toward Shandra, “Mechwarrior, you may remain on station if you wish. Take the transport back when you are done.”

Faye's Arctic Cheetah walked past the the Huntsman and Storm Crow piloted by the next participants. Azami youth tended to their animals and their families enjoyed their rations under large tents whose canvas bodies fluttered in the wind.

In order to enforce quarantine over the latest round of hemorrhagic fevers the Smoke Jaguar base was moved from the main city to the outskirts. The tent and container city was encircled with concertina wire and gabions filled with sand and rubble particularly near the underground ammunition bunkers despite them always being mostly empty.

Overworked and sunburnt Technicians and Laborers drank from square water bottles while resting in the shade of one of the tents acquired via local Merchant contacts. Two damaged light mechs was considered an easy day to them compared to the Mauler covered in scaffolding nearby which while dangerous looking lacked nearly all its weapons. The DCMS Assault had become something of a vanity project for the Star Colonel who ordered its weapons upgraded to Clantech despite lacking the proper facilities.

She dismounted while the Techs stopped their break to work on the engine killed Mist Lynx first. The 214th Jaguar Dragoons' camp had enough beds for a full Cluster but calling them such was overly generous. A pair of Elementals passed her on patrol standing tall in heavy armor while carrying Mausers. They lacked sufficient spare parts to repair the remaining Elemental Star's suits that struck such fear into the hearts of their enemies. Colonel Freelander could barely muster a full Trinary of Omnimechs most of which were recent arrivals, DCMS Isorla provided another Binary cobbled together with parts sourced from informal Quartermaster contacts. Although there was an Aerospace Trinary attached to the formation it was always off-world guarding Merchant jumpships.

Nevertheless the camp took up the same amount of space as one inhabited by a larger force. In order to complete the illusion the Jaguars within were given generous allotments, in fact due to desert parasites they had to take minimum two showers a day. This Faye appreciated, she removed her clothes before enjoying a luxurious shower in the empty bathhouse. After finishing she stood in the nearby courtyard to dry off and soak up the sun before changing into her hot weather uniform.

The evening meal came and went with a blessing from the Star Colonel who was a member of the Qua'rani Cloister and made no secret of it. Beta Galaxy Commander Mikhail Ward assigned him to pacify Kabah after a local Azami assassinated his predecessor. Kabah contained rich mineral resources and what little industry the Jaguars could muster they needed to maintain their Occupation Zone against constant DCMS aggression.

Thus far he was doing well and it was everything else falling apart that was straining the Jaguar Garrison on world. Kilotons of refined minerals were waiting for a dropship to receive them and the Dragoons were running low on ammunition and omnipods. Regardless he kept the unit together as there was no major Bloodhouse Ristar that thought to supplant him and cause unnecessary hostilities that might shatter the brittle unit.

Star Colonel Freelander raised a cup of the local date wine, “Warriors, It is my personal honor to welcome Mechwarrior Faye Freelander and Star Captain Corin to our midst.” The Quartermaster had sourced a number of local delights for the special event and the Dragoons' dug in. Even their lower Caste received superior rations although they were of course not allowed to dine with the Warriors, some lines could not be crossed.

After finishing their spread one of the tables was cleared and Faye laid supine atop it naked from the waist up. Such a thing raised no special interest, all Sibko facilities were co-op and it remained so throughout a Warriors' career, only lower caste cared to separate such things.

Normally a Jaguar bloodnamed was inked with a tattoo but that was less visible on the darker skin common in that Clan. Instead other methods were employed that had more visible effect while demonstrating considerable fortitude. Among these methods was electrostatic scarification, Eric had acquired one of the pencil shaped surgical tools from their MedTechs and stood poised over her abdomen with it in hand.

“You may request a topical anesthetic Faye, this is quite uncomfortable.”
“I can take it Colonel.”
“I believe you.”
He looked over to a pair of Elementals who nodded and took position at either side of her in order to hold her arms and legs down. When he touched the probe she felt like a million electric needles poking her all at once by the time he was done she was blacked out from the pain.

She woke up in a familiar room but it was not the one she was expecting although she was holding her brand which had faded over time but never would disappear on its own. Instead she was in her quarters aboard the Essex III CFM From the Ashes disappointingly not next to handsome Marine turned Kindraa Leader. By the time her alarm stopped and she verified that the date was not in April 28th 3056 but 3062 the intercom cut in, “Mission Commander we are approaching Sinclair. We still have not heard anything from the former Hellion Enclave on Delta. They fail to heed our hails.”

Coming to her senses and the present she remembered why she was here, “Well Commodore, Xander did say he feared something had occurred recently. I suppose we will have to find out.”

“Aff Commander, I will order the away team readied.”

Faye opened up the latest scans of the icy moon from the Essex's sensors, the base's fission reactor was still online, external comm systems undamaged as far as could be seen, and the shuttle pads were unoccupied. “What is going on there that Khan Drake failed to tell us?”
« Last Edit: 25 December 2020, 12:26:04 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #78 on: 25 December 2020, 12:02:28 »
Are we back in time? This confusing.  Isn't this 3061 or 2?
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #79 on: 28 December 2020, 00:55:50 »
Are we back in time? This confusing.  Isn't this 3061 or 2?

We did take a quick jump back, but it seemed the best way to bring things forward. It should make sense later.


“Mission Commander Freelander, we are five minutes out of Sinclair Delta.”

Faye looked out of the Scarab gunship's viewscreen to see their escorts. As she focused on them the smart screen enlarged the faint contacts to show Batu and Jagatai fighters from different Kindraa who were increasingly working as one. Sinclair, the terminal planet of the Babylon system, loomed over them. Its placid blue-green atmosphere was full of important gases but Clans had established Enclaves on or around its seven moons to mine their ice and ore.

Their target was Delta, a world similar to the moon of Triton in the Sol system and innumerable others throughout the universe. An icy dwarf planet with active cryovolcanoes powered by tidal heating that sustained the faint rings around Sinclair. It offered little but privacy and easily obtained water ice. “Executing a probe run. Hang on Marines.”

Twenty Marines checked their kit as the Scarab completed a flyby using its active probe. The Sensor Operator made his report using their local Battlenet. “No sign of dangerous radiation. Fission reactor is in low power mode. I am not detecting emissions from the comm array or movement from the garage.”

“Is the door open?”
“Neg. There are rovers outside, no pattern evident. Looks like they were locked out and dark, probably dead batteries.”

Faye disengaged her comms whispering in her own helmet, “Probably more than a few dead things.”

Remote Clan enclaves often went dark, sometimes it was not even reported until their resupply ship arrived. Almost always it was faulty equipment these enclaves skirted the edge. It often was only a technician's skill keeping everyone alive without proper support. A desperately needed component could be taken in a Trial and not replaced before there was a catastrophe. Sometimes there were signs of Bandit attack but that was less common and particularly rare in space.

Well except for the one they did of course.

“Pilot, drop us off near the farthest rover. I want a twenty kilometer orbit, Jagatais are to land and cover the Scarab.”

All three Point Leaders marked their approval with a green light in her HUD. She lowered the blast shield providing another layer of protection to the ferroglaz visor of her Combat Space Suit. Her force lacked Elementals, the mighty Warriors still deployed to Lang Zhenzu supporting ongoing FireNewt training. She looked across the way at the five man FireNewt team deploying with her to replace the now returned Harvesters. This was deemed a low risk operation but so had Circe.

Thrusters from the dark red Mandrill Scarab sublimated the white icy surface of Delta. A Point of Jagatais followed their noses pointed North/South while the gunship was aligned East/West. Faye stormed down the ramp with two Fireteams who took up defensive positions next to the rovers. Ten Marines followed them rifles shouldered, some carrying a large cylinder marked with chemical hazard logos, while others moved the hydraulic cutter and its separate APU from their handles.

FireNewts were Technicians first, Warriors second so they were first into one of the multi-segmented ice rovers whose design and operation was reminiscent of millipedes. The lead cab contained the engine for the jaw like harvesting apparatus that crushed ice, turned it into a slurry, and passed it to storage tanks in the rear. Faye watched them work, they ordered the trailers detached while refueling it with hydrazine from the gunship and a brief charge of the battery from their APU. After about twenty minutes the tractor came alive, its spotlights reflecting off the super cold ice of a dark moon at the far edge of a system.

The leader of the FireNewts came in over the BattleNet. “We are operational. If the door will not open for this rover at least we do not have to walk far.”
“Roger that Gao. Everyone load the heavy equipment into the cab and hang on.”

Faye's Marines kept their rifles at the ready but hung onto the outside of the tracked rover. It moved painfully slow but it was better than bounding across the 'cantalope' terrain, named after an extinct Terran fruit, marked with undulating hills rising from the subsurface ocean that fueled the cryovolcanoes on which the surface ice floated.

Delta's largest Enclave loomed large before them, a forest of microwave and radio transmitters grew from the East. To the West were large landing pads and handling equipment dropships collecting refined products to trade back to Babylon. The largest and most evident component was to the North on the other side of the surface access. An immense drill rig rose as tall as a dropship tapping through the glacier and into the subsurface ocean.

Something was up to the South however, as they passed the rovers they saw signs of damage to the silent darkened machines. “Stop Gao. I want to inspect this rover.”

Tracks halted and the riders dismounted while one of the spotlights was moved across the rover. Lightweight industrial grade plate was melted and recovered in rime. “Looks like a laser burn, possibly a Micro. Fan out and use the spotlights.”

She looked up at the From the Ashes, “Captain Tai, I am sending you a data upload with our findings. Looks like there was a battle here. Lighter forces, possibly just infantry using lasers. No bodies.”
“Should I send the other team down?”
“Aff. We might need the help. Tell them to bring the heavier lasers. We have all the forced entry gear.”
“Heading down in ten.”

Rover A-8 trundled toward the access point, standard procedure was to always keep Rovers in vacuum so there was no airlock outside. The door did not open when it came within proximity. Alpha team dismounted and the FireNewts got to work trying to force entry with the easiest methods first. Failing that there was enough firepower in Bravo to cut a hole through the armored doors large enough to enter.

Faye watched Bravo Point's shuttle land nearby its thrusters bright against the dim starlight of the rim. Dropping on the established pad was risky particularly when there was potential for radioactive or biological contamination. She was in no rush to see what was inside without those heavier weapons. “Tai, do another scan with the ship sensors.”
“Roger, coming back into position in twenty minutes.”

Gao hammered on the access panel, his suit was equipped with an advanced cryptocomputer that should have been able to unlock this facility like one would flip a switch. “Savasri! Someone put decent encryption on this facility and wiped the interface computer.”
“Can you get it open Gao?”
“Neg, we are going to have to use more forceful measures.”

Bravo team was just rolling in aboard their own rover, their 'heavy' combat space suits were augmented with greater lift capacity but no maneuver thrusters. This allowed them to carry heavier weapons and equipment than the standard version but only on planetary surfaces, not really in orbit or aboard a Warship, and they still had to be careful it had no additional armor but a Warrior could still use a heavy shield to protect themselves.

Their squad leader Silvestri 'Silver' stepped forward, the freeborn Mandrill Elemental was tall, not immensely so, but his bulk was more evident when compared to the lithe Jaguar. “Thermite or lasers?”
“There is lots of ice out here. Start with lasers.”

The man portable micro laser still packed twice the power of their Mark 39 Laser rifles but more importantly it contained a water-ammonia SLV phase shift cooling system occupying most of its 25 kilo mass. Their recently acquired rovers were loaded with the stuff and the Mandrills packed the snow around the large radiator fins surrounding the octagonal 'barrel' keeping the weapon cool.

'Silver' marked the area with a less powerful etching laser from the salvage gear lined his Warriors up in firing line. This maneuver was one of the first learned so the Mandrills marked their quadrants, switched the lasers to steady state, and held the trigger down.

Four lasers burned through the armored door as the radiator heat sublimated the ice packed around the barrel before it started to vaporize the liquid coolant circulating within the heat jacket. Their barrels glowed slightly red as the vacuum failed to transfer the heat contained within faster than it could be generated, “Should be weakened enough now. We have to cool down and change out.”

“Silver smash it open.”

He stood to the side of the damaged area readying the 20 kilo sledge in both hands his shadow dancing along the icy metal. “Stand clear.”

With a myomer enhanced swing the sledge shattered the brittle metal made weaker by the heat treatment and laser separation. A brief rush of vapor refroze within a meter joining the dry snow of this glacial wilderness. “Ladies first Faye, We cannot fit through this hole.”

She activated her rifle light and looked within the empty un-pressurized bay, the airlock indicator was blinking red. “Airlock was closed on alert.”

Silvestri crouched as best he could trying to look inside, “You determined that they were under attack.”
“However we do not know if from within or without. No bodies and the rovers were outside facing in.”

Gao leaned out of the rover, his red and gray suit contrasted to the icy wilderness beyond. “We should get inside to prep for an expedition its too open out here.”
“Gao you are with me, lets get inside and open this door.”

The FireNewts and Mandrills entered through the hole and searched around with their suit and rifle lights, Gao measured the room with his enhanced sensors, “This bay is too small for all those rovers outside.”

“This is just an antechamber the real garage is probably behind the airlock, but the Burrocks that built this place might have expected at least a few of them would be away at any time.”

“Or there is another installation.”

Gao plugged into the system and focused on the task of opening the airlock which would allow them access to the rest of the facility. “They could also have been left behind by the attackers.”

Faye hadn't considered this, each of the rovers was the generic type in use by all the Clans. Her Mandrills activated the manual override and used their APU to open the door allowing the salvaged rovers access to the garage. Their drivers backed them in and kept them on low power mode dimming the lights but still fully illuminating the space, “They might not have the black box or radio but each still has all their life support mixes.”

“Good,” She breathed a sign of relief, the oxygen in their rebreather system would last for about 12 hours of activity before it needed to be replaced but she would freeze before that happened if her battery wore out. There were now forty individuals that would need power and air on a mission that might take time. “Bravo, use the rovers to recharge your weapon packs. The APUs only have a limited amount of fuel that we will have to draw from them as well. We know the reactor is still online but who knows what is in there.”

One of her commandos closed the door and patched the hole with a panel torn off the rovers outside and his laser rifle. “We are secure, might even be able to hold an atmosphere.”

A FireNewt chimed in, “Too cold, it would just turn to liquid. Best we can hope for is some conduction from the reactor in this zone. Its fifty here, only ten K warmer than outside. An Enclave like this averages two eighty inside if it follows the old protocols, just enough to keep the ice stable.”

She looked toward Gao still intensely focused on opening that airlock, “Sounds downright balmy.”
Team Leader Gao through a crowbar down in frustration, “Damn, still cannot open it.”
Faye looked over to Silver, “Burn it open.” He nodded and pulled out a string of thermite carefully attaching it to the airlock door before getting out of the firing line. The Mandrill triggered the ignition creating a shower of brilliant white sparks aligned in the circle large enough for the standard suits to fit through, a small door in a much larger one.

After the magnesium bright fire faded the steel circle fell inward pulled by the atmosphere inside. Faye looked at it confused, normally there was a positive blowout when you forced open an airlock except in one circumstance, “No positive pressure. Bio-security protocol?”

One of the Newts peered in, “This was supposed to just be a mining outpost. Although that would explain the lack of thermal plume. Everyone there at least froze to death unless they found a secure compartment.”

Silver looked over his assembled Warriors, “Clearly it was more than what Khan Drake told us.”

Faye entered and manually cycled the rover sized airlock walking down the ferrocrete ramp to the turntable, where rovers and their crews would be readied only to link up with trailers outside. The overhead lights came on illuminating a site of extreme violence. A major infantry action to keep something inside had happened here and left its mark on the environment and machines. One rover with three flatbed trailers formed a makeshift barricade similar to circled wagons curving inward. “If he knew.”

She didn't know if it was fear or just the chilly environment that made her shiver as she leapt up into the flatbed to give it a closer look. Upon closer inspection she determined that the remains were that of a support PPC and heavy support laser. The weapons bore the carbonized mark of the Widowmakers but that meant they must have been from some long last Pentagon cache kept in decent repair. Faye peered toward the yawning abyss of the furnicular leading deeper into the station.

“With this much firepower what were they fighting? A tank, mech, or something else. And why did it want to get out?”
« Last Edit: 28 December 2020, 09:12:48 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #80 on: 29 December 2020, 23:19:47 »
The Mandrills stood around the wagons looking toward Faye for guidance, “There is no one here Mission Commander. Should we investigate further?”

This mystery continued to feed into her standing orders received on Strana Mechty directly from the late ilKhan Lincoln Osis  Even though she was a Mandrill Abtakha her heart and mind were still that of a Jaguar, “Gao, your team is familiar with this type of installation quiaff?”

“Aff, we have similar ones around Kuxing.”
He stepped forward so that she could see her reflection in the gold visor of his helmet.

She pointed toward the funicular, “I want your team to take point with Bravo Four. Silver will stay here with Bravos One and Two.”

Silver's body language could not be read through his suit. She was certain he would be irritated and didn't care, his heavy suits would be more useful in reserve. “Alpha will follow and take Bravo Three.”

Fireteam leaders nodded in affirmation, Goa's FireNewts boarded the car with their heavier counterparts carrying forced entry gear. They checked the vehicle and its lift wheel for sabotage. “The cars still have power and everything looks in good condition. No security console, looks like a fifteen minute trip.”

“Bottom is clear Faye. Signs of conflict but no bodies or other weapons. Radiation is increasing but we expected that as we move closer to the reactor.”

Faye looked down into the darkened tunnel, her helmet light's reflecting off the ferrocrete reinforced ice. She stepped into the spacious steel sled which contained a simple control panel built into one of the cage's support beams. Gravity even weakened would do most of the work going down, her force weighed nearly six tons although the industrial elevator was rated for fifty. The trip down was quiet, the other cab came up from the abyss its lights like one of the deep water fish that hunted by such things. In the red glow she saw something, a damaged ceiling panel. She looked over to one of the heavy suits and pointed up, “Lift me. I want to look at that panel.”

The Mandrill positioned himself below the panel, even un-augmented he could lift Faye without difficulty as gravity was so low on this world. “Looks like a helmet. I am gathering measurements.”
Gao was waiting for her at the bottom and replaced her to conduct his own inspection. “How would a helmet make it up that high with enough force to deform the metal. It must be nearly four meters.”
“I suppose jump jets but the depression is to large for an Elemental so it must be something completely different.”

FireNewts looked at their weapons which were perfectly serviceable against Rovers or an Elemental but inadequate for anything heavier, “If there is a half-sized mech in here than I must say I do not want to find it.”

Faye stepped out into the hub icy tunnels led out like spokes to a larger wheel ensuring there were meters of ice separating engineering facilities from workshops and living areas. SLDF Glyphs marked each of the tunnels but worryingly there was one marking radiation hazard. Gao noticed her hesitation, “This facility is powered by a fission reactor Mission Commander, keeping it warm and lit. If there was a containment breach we should have been able to detect it from orbit.”

She looked at the thermal readings around her suit, the trace atmosphere's temperature had increased nearly 30 kelvin which didn't make a lot of sense as they were going deeper into the ice. Looking around she saw pools of liquid nitrogen in low spots emitting vapor that rapidly condensed. “There are a lot of holes in the ice block Gao. How do we know this ice is stable?”

“Cracks should be fairly evident but in my professional assessment there is no danger. You should check the living quarters while my people head to engineering.”

Both teams split up leaving their Bravo heavy weapon teams behind to hold the center. Faye stalked through the glacier which was playing tricks with her eyes as temperature increased filling it with ultra-cold vapor instead of ice. Khan Drake's last census had nearly four hundred castemen here led by a Merchant Overseer but there was no sign of anyone. She stopped at one of the doors brushing off the frost to reveal a plate reading 'Simulator Room.'

One of the commandos was already there with a crowbar in his red-gray hand. Straining he settled back and another one came with an extension to force the frozen door open. What was on the other side was something that she hadn't seen before. Strange metal pods with clam-shell type lids propped open were arranged vertically like seats in an arena leading to a cylindrical holo-display that if not for the static could be mistaken for an icy pillar. She walked up to one of the pods inspecting it closely and found no control console on the inside, even the exterior was bare except for a status display. “Not like any Mech simulators I have ever used.”

The pillar of light in the middle drew their attention. She had learned enough about common operational commands living and working around the FireNewts that she tapped the keyboard to reveal the last log. A message dated to almost two months ago scrolled across the screen 'Z Oppenheimer taking on special cargo to Sanctuary. E'

“Special cargo?”

Goa's voice broke through the BattleNet, the view of his POV camera lingered on her HUD until she tapped the chin control to make it the main display. Large ferrocrete cylinders marked with radioactive signs lay in neat rows like a catacomb in the ice. “Tell me what that means Newt.”

“These are empty casks for used nuclear fuel.”
“Why is that a problem?”
“Used nuclear fuel can be reprocessed and enriched in a breeder reactor.”

The FireNewt kept realizing that Warriors didn't learn about chemistry or engineering beyond the fact that they could use them, “Weapons.”

she did a keyword search in her computer's database and found the name, The Father of the Bomb. “This is not a mining facility its a weapon research one. We have to find out how extensive it is. Also where and what this Oppenheimer ship is. Pull back to the hub until we can bring down more Technicians from the ship. I need to send a full report to the Kindraa Leader and were are not equipped to handle this.”

Investigation of Sinclair Delta Complex
Prepared by CFM From the Ashes Technical Group
Priority Alpha
To Mick-Kreese Kindraa Leader Claude Goulet, Shadow, Homeworlds Cluster

Investigation of Sinclair Delta facility resulted in the discovery of a group or groups of as of yet unknown Bandits. At least one of which is operating an unknown vessel known as Z Oppenheimer which is en route to some unknown destination with a cargo of nuclear weapons. Technical Group determines that based on transmutation efficiency and how much low grade material was in storage that it may have produced enough material for up to 200 nuclear weapons depending on size.

There is also evidence that there was a simulator training center and living space for up to two thousand. No production machinery was recovered from the site for either the main workshops or enrichment operations. Technical Group was unable to recover any usable intelligence from the facilities' central main due to ICE erasing relevant databases.

Despite the findings the facility is usable, the primary power plant and heat drill are operational and CFM From the Ashes is bringing it back online for diagnostics and rehabilitation. The Shanghai might be interested in expanding to the Babylon system to use its rich stores of volatiles and light metals.


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #81 on: 30 December 2020, 09:56:20 »

Star Colonel Seth Irons was grateful that he could not smell what was inside the quarantine facility outside Greypeak through his helmet. Nearly a hundred body bags were lined up in neat rows while MedTechs took samples for analysis. He leaned down to look at one of the crushed corpses, brilliant metallic tattoos were visible under the bruising. His Coregn Renner crouched beside him, the soft swish of their plastic overcoats audible in the external mic.

“Just like the others.”
“I know that the Hellions have some of the highest usage rates of EI among the Clans but have never seen so many in one place.”
“Nor have I heard of such a thing Colonel. Where do you think they were headed?”
“Unknown, I have requested a full log of all jumpship arrivals from the Diamond Sharks, but it is possible they used a non-standard point.”
“Likely even, considering the other cargo inside.”

Both men walked over the other bits of material pulled from the wreckage, four large containers of a viscous black liquid marked X67, heavily damaged Zorya light tank, and a trio of half-sized quadruped mechs with a distinctly feline profile reminiscent of a cheetah except with a scorpion like barbed tail and claws. While each was damaged in a certain way one could piece together what they once looked like, “Were we able to determine what these are yet Renner?”
“Neg, Star Colonel, I have the assay team working on the chemicals, but it definitely looks like Harjel.”
“There is no Harjel on Tathis.”
“It could be imported. These machines are very curious though,”
Renner moved his gloved hands over the machine’s exposed endoskeleton, “there is no cockpit, how would one control it?”
“Perhaps it is a drone,
” Seth looked at the Zorya’s smashed comm array, “I know we use something like this for target practice, responsiveness is to slow for actual combat.”
“Would it be possible to remotely control these machines in real time using EI?”

“If it is then the Hellions could be working on a new paradigm shifting technology that we cannot counter. I will have to consult our Scientists and send a message to Sheridan.”

Two days later Seth, Renner, and Watch Commander Soula sat next to one another in front of the command room’s holotank. All non-essential personnel were banned due to the Top-Secret nature of this liaison. “Sheridan managed to access some of the datacore you provided. What we found was somewhat disturbing.”

Before them the holotank came to life, data streamed across the bottom but was incoherent to the Warriors on the other side. One of the quadruped machines which were apparently codenamed: BASILISK walked slowly across the volcanic ash. The sun hovered over the horizon as the rounded saucer shape of a camouflaged Asshur recon tank zoomed past along the foreground. A box marked the speed as it circled back ‘151 km/h,’ the BASILISK waited for the machine to come back. Appearing next to it was a digital line which the Asshur stopped at, its hover fans blowing ash around it in a great cone.

A countdown appeared and when it stuck zero the machines were off the races; the speedy hovercraft took an early lead but was being paced by the BASILISK which pulled ahead at the end to narrowly win. Its final clocked speed ‘165 km/h.’ “How can a machine like that move faster than a hovercraft? It could catch an un-boosted Fire Moth. Incredible.”

As the feed continued it showed that the machine was now limping, an Anhur hovered over the surface. Astoundingly it leapt onto the boarding ramp like a big cat on prey before disappearing inside, without stopping the VTOL closed its doors and flew away. A Fire Moth and the Asshur followed behind and the camera went black. “As you can see it appears that the Hellions were working on a fast attack vehicle, the like of which we have not seen before.”

Seth puzzled over the probable uses for such a thing, “An airmobile fast attack unit would be devastating to our mech forces. These machines would be impossible to pin down and could easily disrupt large battle theaters, perfect for Flurry Clusters and the Hellion battle strategy.”

He shuttered thinking about what it would be like to have to fear giant metal cats in his Thug. Spots, formerly Gabriela’s cat still clawed at him even after all these years of adoption. Despite that he would honor her memory by taking care of the irritating creature. Elemental attacks were already terrifying if you added armored Myomer enhanced Prides of lions it would be more so particularly if they hit at speed with surprise.

“Exactly and if he could re-task an EI operator with another one from a dropship or installation they could be a persistent and immediate threat. Already Khan Drake has proven disruptive to our strategic interests. He has two of our Warships and his previous contract agreement with the Jade Falcons must have given him access to their Scientists or resources to expedite R&D unless he is working covertly with another Clan.

The Hellions have a history of moving fast. If their Scientists can perfect this design or even remote operation via EI and get it into serial production our Touman could be in great peril.”
« Last Edit: 30 December 2020, 12:46:11 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #82 on: 03 January 2021, 02:37:52 »
The red sun rose over the fog shrouded dark green and purple grasslands of the Quivira Game Reserve. Rebekah eagerly awaited the warmth and light of day after twelve hours of freezing moonless night. Her commpad beeped with Shaman Great Oak's morning message. She pulled the gray device with its partially cracked screen from a rough leather pouch tied to the belt that held her furred clothes together. Today's passage was from the Tsalagi canon, the Shaman's choice of quotes seemed supernatural; inspiring her when she was feeling low, or encouraging her after a successful day although she never sent him any updates besides, 'All is well. Still looking for my Thunderbird.' A calming chime informed her that the message was transmitted.

“Will today be the day?” She asked of herself steadied by the stout hunting spear in her hands, a modern version that she had chosen, the grasslands were bare of trees so one could not be crafted on site. A month in this cold wilderness had yet to give her a vision or purpose but perhaps her mind was more occupied by other thoughts. Either that or she had just not experienced enough hardship, Drum Canyon had been harsher than the plains of Kirin which despite the freezing nights had cooler days and abundant easily trapped game.

She peered through binoculars at a grazing herd spread out over a dozen kilometers just rousing from their sleeping areas. These grasslands supported great herds of creatures thriving in its thin yet oxygen rich atmosphere. Kirin's axial tilt was nearly 20* making for intense seasons, in summer meltwater filled basins forming vast inland marshes thick with grass. Massive herds migrated hundreds of kilometers North-South with the seasons and her arrival coincided with the largest of these.

Through the lenses she could see thunderbirds circling the herd, their piercing cries echoed off the cairn like rocks erupting like giant teeth from a primeval maw. While they were no danger to the grazers below the animals knew they were often harbingers of coyotes. On Kirin as in Strana Mechty and Tamaron the synergy between the two helped them attain their full potential. Kirin was however less arid so prey grew larger and they followed.

Prior to dawn she had packed up her camp which fit neatly into a woven basket pack, her tightly rolled sheepskin bedroll mounted atop it. In her hands she carried the spear and her atlatl darts, their thrower hung from her belt along with her comm-pad, waterskin, and knife. While a Warrior could take any weapon she had chosen the most primitive in design. Killing a hundred kilo Coyote with a carbine counted but she was aiming for a bloodname and thus needed to impress someone enough for a sponsorship to the Grand Melee at the end of the year.

Rebekah set out to follow the herd on foot. She had refused to take a coyote yet although there were opportunities instead she choose to endure longer in the plains, think through what happened on Delios, and demonstrate all that she had learned in Sibko. Her Pack Leader Cairo, had thinned half her sibko with months long expeditions into the desert, by comparison Kirin seemed like paradise.

The mixed herd moved slowly across the plains content with grazing and browsing shrubs tough enough to survive the windswept lowlands. She followed behind gathering herbs and looking for camp locations. Wind speed increased dramatically mid day until it was throwing dust into her face with enough force that she had to don goggles. With little surface water to moderate climate and intense seasonal variance Kirin had immense winds coming down from the Southern Uplift during its summer.

A great mass of clouds filled with lightning gathered above the eastern highlands. She backtracked diving down into a Whakka burrow just as the wind began to howl overhead. The tunnel was just large enough for her to recline slightly although her blonde hair was tickling the roots above. Above she heard the thump of hail on the sod above and sounds of animals taking shelter to protect themselves in case it got worse.

“Might have some company soon,” she said drawing her long knife and flashlight while placing the spears beside her. She would be a snack if coyotes were nearby and chose to take shelter in the same complex. Large caverns were uncommon on the plains so coyote packs often occupied vacant burrows or made their own in order to shelter pups while hunting.

Above her the storm picked up while she breathed in the earthy scent of the roots and rich humus above her. Inside the burrow channeled wind blew past her tossing her braids tied with leather straps. A noise like the freight trains that passed her barracks on San Mateo surrounded her, “tornado. Gonna make a damned mess of the place.” The ground around her was unstable, clods of dirt fell from the ceiling threatening to engulf her, and heard the hole she entered in collapse.

Her watch alarm rang out marking the end of the day, in the tropics the sun set fast and she had lost an entire day hiding underground. The storm settled but the wind continued whipping across the plains. She heard a scratching sound, shifting position to greet anything trying to intrude on her with a spear point.

She lay in the dirt spear pointed back across herself to hold her ground as the coyote cleared the collapsed tunnel. Its great paws digging through the dirt hoping for an easy kill buried in the fallen tunnel. Rebekah aimed for its snarling jaws, as soon as it cleared she stabbing as hard as she could embedding the spear into the coyote which yelped in pain. Its teeth tore into her legs grabbing her boot and ripping her shin which bled under the claws.

Her arms came up defensively as it pressed forward to avenge the harm, clawing at her legs while attempting to bite off her left arm. Instead it found the carbon fiber spear shaft which cracked under the immense pressure. The spear was useless this close so she reached down to find her knife and hold back the assault.

Fearful she realized that during the struggle she had kicked it away and could not feel it. With a roll she turned the attacker aside before stabbing the bladed of her broken spear into the muscular neck of her attacker. Warm blood gushed forth from its arteries mixing with her own in the close confines of her would be tomb. She stabbed it again and again until it stopped moving lost in bloodlust and adrenaline. Exhausted she pulled out the comm pad and sent a distress message.

With her lifeblood draining from the deep scratches covering her body she pulled out every piece of cloth and clotting agent from the medpack attached to her belt. She sprinkled the powder into the long wound on her abdomen feeling the burn and gritting her teeth to suppress screams almost blacking out. With not other option she pushed through applying a pressure dressing to her left arm and bandaging the other injuries as best she could before succumbing.

A short distance away Point Leader Magnus Ghost was on maneuvers with the 44th Mechanized Assault, the aptly named Tornado Cluster. He looked out over the starless plains faintly illuminated in the running lights of his Point's Anhur which was racing over the grasslands in search of Hell's Horses for the Rite of Branding. His own brand was visible just below his sternum as were the others who had stripped down to a minimum, their AC unit was acting up and its fusion reactor warmed it well beyond the 12*C outside.

The pilot's voice appeared in his earphones, “Point Leader, we are detecting a Coyote distress signal nearby, should we divert?”

“Tradition and our honor demands we answer it.”
He looked toward his other Elementals lingering on a stoic blond Elemental, another former Ghost Bear now prospective Horse who understood and nodded. “We can look for horses tomorrow.”

Below them the Anhur's spotlights displayed carnage, Magnus fired his pistol several times to disperse the coyotes feeding off Tallasi killed by hail. The slight aerospace pheno pilots stood on the back ramp with SMGs at the ready. Light on the plains attracted attention from grasslands' predators. Elementals with headlamps set out toward the beacon. Magnus stood atop a small rise characteristic of Whakka, irritating mustelids that made these plains difficult to drive across, with the detector in his hand. “She is around here somewhere, look for entrances underground.”

Gunner called him over, a much to small hole for the large Horse Elementals led down into the burrow. “Get digging. I will get one of the pilots to recover her.” The Elemental called another man over and the two of them got to work digging down and stabilizing the hole for the rescue mission. Hell's Horse Aerofighters were much closer to their Mechwarrior brethren than even they were to the Elementals. Even for the slight pilot the Coyote was easily dragged out of the burrow and handed up to waiting Horses. Magnus looked over her with his flashlight, the blonde woman was covered in blood and pale from the lack of it, “Does she live?”
“Aff, there was a dead coyote tangled up next to her, so I guess only some of that's hers. Weak though, unless she gets some blood she will be a goner by the time we get her to a hospital.”
“We have to try, I will take her back to the Anhur. You get the others, time is of the essence.”

Magnus shouldered the wounded coyote pocketing the broken spear point she held in a death grip. He laid her out on one of the long benches that folded out from the side of the helicopter's crew bay. The bloody co-pilot returned to his post and the VTOL set off toward the nearest ranger station.

All Elementals were familiar with trauma medicine so they acted quickly to clean and bandage neglected injuries while separating her blood from the coyote's. Their medikit lacked fluids as the Anhur had been recently brought back into service after spending a decade in the boneyard. “She's your type Magnus. We can conduct a transfusion.”

He looked down at the young mechwarrior no older than himself, “I was saved from certain death once by strangers,” before rolling up his sleeves, “We are both Warriors perhaps we will even fight alongside one another someday.” The Elementals lowered the smaller Mechwarrior to the floor before setting up a tap from Magnus who laid down in her place allowing gravity and their hearts to do the work.

Rebekah woke in a hospital bed with Shaman Great-Oak sitting nearby on a large chair clutching his prayer beads. His wizened features were softened by sleep, his breathing relaxed and even. She looked down to see her injuries bandaged up with proper dressings, her pain dulled by some kind of drug. City lights were visible through the screened window to her left.

She sighed, a month of isolation and hardship had ended abruptly and in failure. Killing a coyote in self-defense was not hunting and needing to be rescued was worse than dying there. The whole trip and all that time would have to be repeated after she healed up.

“Why did I even bother to hit the distress call? Everyone I care about is gone.”
“Rather selfish of you Rebekah.”
Great-Oak's eyes slowly opened and he sat erect in the chair looking at her intently, “To diminish the sacrifice of another young Warrior in such a crass manner. Your hunt was a success and you have communed with the kachinas by bathing in the blood of the coyote.”

“I saw the skeleton man in a vision after my injuries. He danced along the shadows of my flashlight wearing a mask with a black octopus with moving tentacles. I felt as though I could drown in the rising darkness.”

The Shaman nodded at the admission, “You were very close to death when the Horses found you and brought you to this place.” He stood from the chair his bone, coral, and glass beads shaking gently with the motion. “Rest child and reflect on your vision. I will return to help interpret it when I am able.”

Great-Oak gently placed a leather drawstring bag decorated with intricate beadwork on the table opposite her, “The Warrior that saved your life entrusted these items to me prior to returning to the wilderness, as grave goods in case you died on the table. I am pleased that you can once more make use of them.”

As he departed she attempted to stand but was tangled up in feeds and bound together like a mummy. Only when a MedTech stopped by to check on her could she see what had been saved. Inside was her spear's broken point cleaned of blood but a visible token of her Hunt and Khan Koga's gold challenge coin whose weight was once more comforting in her hand just as it had been on many hard days.


Khan Sullivan Koga's face was visible from the vidscreens throughout Kirin, rapidly becoming the de facto capital of the Hell's Horses due to its proximity to Tamaron's dynamic Khan and rapid industrialization. CCS Howling had slipped its cage last week for its maiden voyage as a Feral Battlecruiser. The first full Warship upgraded at their new cageworks which had been vigorously defended against Snow Raven challenges to their supremacy. CWS Trossen long mothballed by Clan Wolf would replace it after the initial bugs had been worked out, already the Wolf Yardship Den Mother was in the process of restoring the ancient Sovetskii Soyuz around Tranquil.

Sullivan had planned a number of festivities for the occasion emphasizing the counter-Snake Alliance coalition with the Goliath Scorpions and Hell's Horses. The carnival atmosphere was fevered as with the hotly anticipated Kufahl Grand Melee neared. Kufahl Bloodhouse Leader Sancia had disapproved seeing her internal politics as just that, internal, as had the Loremaster. Their objections did not find the support required among the Bloodnamed however and a brief Trial of Refusal was won handily by the Khan's supporters.

Bloodhouse Leader Sancia led the participants in the ritual chants prior to engaging in this sacred challenge, Many would enter but only one would prove worthy of a blood-lineage as prestigious as Silas' had been. The sun set rapidly on the plains of Kirin and massive light-towers came to life marking the Circle of Equals.
« Last Edit: 04 January 2021, 10:36:11 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #83 on: 03 January 2021, 19:40:15 »
Interesting where this is going.
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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #84 on: 05 January 2021, 00:32:56 »
Rebekah watched the light towers power up in the distance back lighting the other fifteen Mechs competing for a Kufahl bloodname, each sponsored by one that carried it. Their menacing silhouettes moved like participants dancing a war dance around a bonfire. Without a moon they fought beneath the Veil of the Protector and Milky Way. Her own battlemech, a Masauwu, came up to full combat power. The ancient machine was one of the lucky survivors from an era before Omnimechs. Due to a shortage of new machines it had been pulled from a long neglected cache on Babylon's moon Ur.

Her long range vision focused on one of the combatants across the way. He utilized a prototype Tomahawk, the Coyote counter for the Adder Blood Asp that was proving so deadly in their hands. It was modeled after the ancient Marauder modernized with some Timber Wolf features but heavier. However, most of its capabilities were still unknown and inside was the House Master's Champion.

“Just need to outlast him.” She conducted a thermal scan to determine who she should attack first. Combatants were scattered over a nearly five square kilometer range providing just enough room for maneuver while maintaining excitement in observers throughout Kirin's cities. Nearest to her was a Stalking Spider, a quad hunter killer which skittered over the grasslands like a monstrous half-arachnid. Its weapon turret skewed in her direction, its four legs climbing over monolith stones in its way without breaking stride.

Already the plains were illuminated with bright contrails from missiles between the combatants, their explosions threw up dirt and filled the windswept plains with orange flashes and loud noises. Rebekah's cockpit armor slid down protecting the ferroglaz below its exterior displayed a skull mirrored on the engine shield below as it detected dangerous conditions. Already her mech was in motion skewing its main weapons toward her slightly faster and lower profile foe.

She fired her PPC and autocannon but was unable to track the spider which engaged its MASC system to suddenly sprint away leaving deep footprints in the coarse grass. The sudden acceleration threw off its aim, instead a particle beam arced over her mech's right shoulder into the dark sky. It used momentum and a well timed burst from jump jets to execute something akin to a backbend kickover changing a retreat to an aggressive frontal posture.

After witnessing such a feat of agility she was stunned, “Is there an Aerofighter gymnast in that mech, I didn't know that was possible.” She leaning back against the padded surface of her chair, “I doubt I have that much flexibility unaugmented.”

Continuing the pursuit was frustrating, even running at full speed she was losing ground against the backpedaling quad using its superior agility to best effect. Her foe skirted the edge of the Circle of Equals using its turret's full range of motion while trying to deny her the same. High speed particles shredded the Masauwu's armor but she returned the favor, the heavy mech's armor density prevailed and the lighter machine suffered critical damage to its primary weapon.

The turret sparked before being ejected from the Stalking Spider whose DI computer acted in defense of the machine. About twenty meters above the PPC's capacitors catastrophically discharged releasing megajoules of energy in an instant with a thunderous explosions and discharge of lightning. Even the polarized cameras providing Rebekah's HUD were filled with a blue-white afterimage of the explosion before they shut down. “Savashri!” Rebekah raised the front of her neurohelmet visor to look through the manual backups and let out a breath when she saw that the Stalking Spider had experienced a minor shutdown as well from the EMP.

“You expected this might happen. Even a battlemech can't spend a century in an orbiting cache without gaining some quirks.” Rebekah frenetically keyed the complex and precise code sequence written down on a notecard taped to her interface console in her chief tech's surprisingly elegant handwriting. As an older machine hastily refurbished the Masauwu was not as radiation hardened as a modern one.

An intense battle raged nearby between Jeremi's Tomahawk and a Star of lighter machines, the assault mech reenacting King of the Hillock and daring his foes to face the Master's Champion. Magnesium bright flashes from his Gauss rifle scrubbed any attempts at night vision on the field. His rounds seemed to home in on vulnerable locations shattering mech limbs while forcing their Mechwarriors to power down or flee.

Her computer processed the command line with a beep before turning black and restarting. Once more her helmet visor showed vital information as a ghostly blue mark on the glass. Even though she had evaded some of the spider's PPCs her armor integrity was orange-yellow throughout. She worked down the weapons systems and adjusted her comm feed, satellite reception out here was unreliable and her telemetry had blacked out during the EMP shutdown. The Stalking Spider had skittered away to the far end of the Circle of Equals unwilling to face the still potent heavy mech at close range, “Bitch. I am going to find you later.”

Sensing opportunity a heavily damaged Lupus was limping her way disengaging from the King of the Hill to take on the youngest and least experienced foe. As it approached she saw the white mask with black tentacles that she had seen on Delios and felt a chill run down her spine. The inhuman locomotion and broken state of the machine made it seem even more frightful and worth of destruction.

She steeled herself and charged forward toward the source of her fears. This time she was in an actual Battlemech and ready for a fight and avenge her brother. Once more her adrenaline was pumping, “cycle cluster shot.” The LBX autocannon opened its bolt drawing from the attached magazines.

Missiles flew toward her and the computer controlled AMSes on her shoulders activated throwing out a screen of flak that detonated the laser guided ordnance. Still the Masauwu took scattered damage reaching dangerous levels by the time she closed the distance. With its mobility compromised she was able to press the advantage, a cluster of submunitions ripped into the myomer of its damaged leg.

Unable to stand the Lupus fell in the dirt its extended forward section rested on the right side. She fired a flight of streak missiles into it. One of the explosion found a missile magazine causing a chain reaction that KOed the pilot from the feedback and initiated the ejection sequence that sent the unconscious pilot away from danger.

A quick burst from her small pulse laser stitched holes in the ground around the fallen pilot. Rebekah hardly noticed as she continued her attack. In the half-light she found half a Conjurer in the way, its pilot was talking gibberish and fired its medium lasers at her, in the light she recognized the frame number as Rex's.

“You monster!” She fired low with the streaks and LBX munitions, explosions peppered the enemy finding the gyro and dropping the machine on its back. “Where is my brother!” The Masauwu leaned over the machine firing the PPC directly through the rear armor to find the fusion power plant. Plasma vented quickly from the containment cell which went dark as its structure was compromised.

The Stalking Spider from before drew her attention, sticking close to her left cannon side, its smaller ball turret with its medium lasers lancing that side. Heavy short range missiles corkscrewed from it but were intercepted by her AMS, interceptor flechettes and shrapnel fell on the grass below setting off a minor fire. Cluster shot and her own SRMs tore into the legs which the pilot closed to protect her cockpit from the explosives. Upper actuators took the brunt of the impact and her own arm was critical,

“Detach magazine one.”

Within the DI computer the message was conveyed to the appropriate mechanism and one of the large magazines fell to the ground with a muted thump. Another round of canister shot tore into the front legs and forward structure of the Stalking Spider disabling its front right leg. Slowed the Spider attempted to disengage but was run down and finished off with a particle beam to its rear left leg. Its Mechwarrior powered down as the Mechwarrior admitted her defeat.

A thunderous crash and sonic boom tore the Masauwu's left arm off, its autocannon landed barrel first into the sod. Her radio crackled with a man's dark voice identified as 'Captain Jeremi, 7th Assault.' “You are doing very well for a rookie that earned your sponsorship in her Commander's bed, but I grow weary of you. This ends here.”

Rebekah turned to face the Tomahawk, which had absorbed an incredible amount of damage, however it did not seemed to have lost any capability during the entire fight. One of its bird like feet stood atop a fallen Man o War, the only other assault mech in this challenge which had been dominated by secondline machines due to a dearth of new ones. Grand Melees were devastating for readiness and the Coyotes could not afford to lose front line machines even for a major Trial.

Her cheeks burned, what Jeremi said was partially true. She had coupled with Leo several times during their transit from the Pentagon Worlds back to the Kerensky Cluster. More importantly there was nothing wrong with that, he was handsome, they were drunk, and space is cold and boring. However, the real reason the Khan had called in a favor to Shogi for his sponsor slot was that she wanted to test if her new Sibko system could surpass the old ways. Concealing an insult to Loremaster and Galaxy Commander Jerricho as well as House Master Sancia was merely a bonus.

She now suspected that the Jerrichos and House Master had their own plans while they had initially protested they had not hesistated to show off their own champion. All three made no secret of the disdain they carried or support they still wielded despite the Khan's attempts to minimize it. Indeed the fact that the Scientist Caste had allowed Jeremi to use the machine in public was no coincidence. She intended to not be so easy to bring down.

Her machine was already in motion shielding the vulnerable left side from the still fully functional Tomahawk. “Jealous? Perhaps Nathaniel is not to your fancy or he does not fancy you.”

The bird like foot crushed a portion of the fallen Man o War as his mech moved incredibly fast over the plains in pursuit. “MASC?” Many Clan assaults used the myomer circuit for an extra boost at lower cost in engine size but none could have survived taking on a Binary of mechs even if they were acting. Yet the Tomahawk had done just that.

She had three kills two were partials but he had dropped ten and was still fighting at one hundred percent his beginning strength. Obviously their weapons had an effect but not even a Dire Wolf could take on so many in an open field without losing at least one limb. Her PPC impacted its chest which looked so bare that it should have gutted even an assault mech yet the Tomahawk walked forward firing its heavy weapons completely unphased.

Rebekah struggled to maintain control under the onslaught just barely keeping her Masauwu upright nursing critical damage. His voice filled her ear, dripping with menace. “If you want to keep that relic in any kind of condition Rebekah I recommend you power it down now.” She ran another quick diagnostic, she had a PPC hanging by a thread but it had not been enough before.

He had three times the firepower and an unknown amount of endurance remaining. Finding this Masauwu had been a challenge she wasn't sure how long it would be before she would be in a Mech again if it was destroyed.

A cold pit formed in her stomach as her finger lingered over the shutdown command while looking at the Tomahawk less than six hundred meters away.

It shook as she pressed the button and powered her mech down.

“I yield Star Captain.”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #85 on: 05 January 2021, 08:37:42 »
Tough loss. Hopefully she will get a second chance at a blood name.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #86 on: 12 January 2021, 00:53:50 »
Tough loss. Hopefully she will get a second chance at a blood name.

She's only 18 she still has opportunity



Rebekah watched out the train window at the colorful canyons of Valence reminding her of Tamaron and happier days. The past month was a blur, so much had happened and some of its aftershocks would come to Babylon soon. Hopefully she could get ahead of what might happen.

News was delayed from the Inner Sphere but all everyone could talk about on this train was the latest upload and what might happen. The Draconis Combine had attacked the Ghost Bear capital of Alshain. During idle conversation with her fellow passengers during the ten hour ride from Port Logan it ranged from increasing raids on the border worlds to a invasion of Luthien. Nova Cats turned Hellions worried for their friends and family living in the Irece Prefecture between the Dragon and Bear.

She had nothing to say about the matter, not having a family to worry about any longer unless you count Cara whose ultimate fate still weighed on her. The 'turncats' castemen had become untouchable in the Kerensky Cluster and many migrated to the Pentagon Worlds or further down the Exodus Road. Rebekah expected she would never venture down, she would happily do so if asked but the present Khan's ambitions were in the home-worlds.

The train stopped at the remote outpost of Sumra, built into canyons as a redoubt during the Exodus Civil War. Rebekah dismounted the train and found no formal law enforcement checking customs or ID. Instead a squad of informal militia carrying Kaskan rifles, a copy of the ancient SKS complete with bayonet, slung over their shoulder patrolled the train looking for signs of trouble and taxes.

She paused confused at the latest change, “Where are the Rangers?”
One of the returning locals heard the whisper, “No Rangers here anymore girl. Sumra is a Free Town now. No Clan claims us so we have reclaimed ourselves.”

The man judged the smaller blonde woman dressed in artisan made desert wear with a rucksack, and her jeep on a flatbed. “If that is not your goal you better get back on and return to Port Logan. The Shiekh doesn't want any troublemakers in his territory.”

Claims of Free Towns were always met with Warriors dropping in to remind the inhabitants of the natural order. However, she was here on an unsanctioned mission to make contact with Bandits and clearly had chosen the right place. The Hellions had abandoned enclaves throughout their territory as the Star Adder's coils tightened around the upstarts apparently not bothering to tell anyone they left.

Sumra was so small it barely registered on a map, its remote and hostile location made certain it was rarely visited. The train also ended its trip here after visiting other remote mining towns that fed Port Logan and the Diamond Shark's industrial engine around the Shoshi'i Seas. However, that engine too was winding down or moving. Rebekah had witnessed massive industrial equipment being loaded into Mammoth dropships bound for somewhere else. This was interesting enough that she momentarily broke her radio silence to inform Leo of it via their pre-arranged chatterweb drop.

She paid her fee to the locals and drove the jeep off its flatbed circling the city to find a nomad encampment set up in the lee of a ridge to protect it and the herds from howling nightly winds. Her transit from Kirin aboard the CGS Andromeda had given her confidence in the Vaga nomad culture that still existed in remote areas of Babylon only searched out by the Goliath Scorpions.

After exiting her jeep a local girl ran up to her with a small basket in her hand containing Talasi biltong covered in fragrant spices, wrinkly desiccated figs, small polished stones, and crudely carved bone jewelry. The girl's accent was thick and her speech hurried, it was clear that she wanted to sell these things to a safe looking lady that might appreciate them.

Rebekah slowly pulled a pouch off her tunic belt, “How much for the whole thing, including the basket?”

The girl's eyes went wide, “The whole thing! Really? I normally can't sell this much in a week.”
“Well today is your lucky day then.”

A quick round of bargaining came to a fair price in Diamond Shark POGS overly generous to the girl, named Jenna, on Rebekah's part as she had little need for them, “What will you do with all your time and money?”

“I can make more and help my little brother.  We need medicine cause he got stung by a baby goliath last night and Mom is really worried about him.” She looked down, “This was all I could do.”

“It was a lot Jenna. Perhaps I can help your brother.”

Jenna's eyes looked for some of the distinctive pouches and decoration for one of their culture's medics, “You don't look like a medicine woman?”

“I have some training and supplies.”

“What would you want? We don't have any money besides what you gave me. My father has to work in the mines to pay back my uncle for what we lost.”

“Well you have eyes and I would like that,” she points at the jeep, “watched while I am gone. You are going to be here for a little while yes?”

“At least a week.”
“Than that is my price. I will evaluate your brother, if I can help I will, and someone will watch that for me. Its very important to me for more than its wheels, my brother and I rebuilt it almost from scratch.”

“Is he coming too?”

Rebekah looked off in the distance, “No, he's not here.”

The girl apparently did not pick up the implication but said the right words in a different tone, “I'm sorry, you seem to care deeply for him. Thank you for offering to help my family.”

She was guided by Jenna to the family tent where a young woman was patting the boy's head with a damp cloth. A brazier in the back had a closed kettle atop it and was burning something foul smelling but the wind help dissipate the odor. Rebekah was not a trained medic but she had learned how to care for scorpion venom in Sibko although the ones on Tamaron were mild in comparison to Babylon.

“Mom, This lady offered to help Tarin.”
The woman had clearly not slept. Even a baby Goliath could kill an adult man, and her son was hardly 10 terran. “Why would you do this?”

Rebekah laid out her medicine bag which included antivenom and other treatments for Goliath Scorpion venom, wisely deciding that such things might be necessary if she was wandering the desert and had a bad run of luck. She held back some tears while pulling the medicine into a needle failing to appreciate the irony of injecting something to heal something injected.

“Because I couldn't save mine.”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #87 on: 14 January 2021, 15:54:54 »
Rebekah sat cross-legged on one of the pillows within the Vaga tent admiring rustic decorations surrounded by noise of the tent flapping in the wind. She watched her patient carefully observing his breathing pattern and looking for a disruption that meant the antivenom wasn’t working. One hand was still on the unfolded medical kit and the other on her comm-pad scrolling through the SLDF manual on field medicine. Her only protection besides a knife in this harsh world was a needle, that satchel, some money, and whatever or whomever she could gather along the way.

Tarin’s mother slept quietly next to him finally relieved that her son had a chance thanks to her daughter’s fortunate encounter with a stranger. The girl had left in search of supplies with her newfound money. While searching for some tea she found the family’s victuals chest was almost empty. Taking only a small piece of what she purchased and a pinch of leaves for herself before quietly returned the rest, covering it with a piece of cloth. Unusual and difficult emotions roiled within her breast, “They were willing to sell their last ration to buy medicine in order to save their son, knowing even that might not be enough.”

She pulled up the empty vial she had injected less an hour ago. It was made in a Cloud Cobra biolab somewhere on Babylon. Their logo was that of an Ankh, an archaic yet easily recognizable and illustrated but non-religious marking preferred by Clan MedTechs or Physicians who often used it to mark their vehicles and buildings. “Why endanger the whole family for one sick member?”

The tea was weak, bitter, and made her feel mildly dizzy although that could just be regular dehydration. Jenna returned shortly with a bucket of market goods. She whispered the directions to water and handed the bucket to Rebekah while starting preparations for dinner, quietly gathering pots and bowls to avoid waking her mother.

Rebekah strolled about the active Vaga camp where women and children prepared their evening meal. Men began returning from the mines hanging onto rails attached to large trucks loaded with super sacks. None paid much attention to her as the desert clothes blended into the scenery, but she was focused on them. Many had Exiled or Widowmaker brands or tattoos openly even brazenly displayed apparently having no fear that Warriors would come and return the village to Clan control.

Her trip to the Qanat gave her the lay of the land for this remote settlement, small vertical wind turbines occupied the ridges their power cables snaking down the cliff to charging stations below. The Sheikh's men stood guard over the recharging ATVs and small trucks, twirling knives, smoking what passed for local cigarettes, or drank from pottery cups. It was a very disorganized force, likely drawn from lesser sons, which was both good and bad for her purposes.

With three hundred Vaga in residence the Qanat was busy with young women chatting about housework, cute boys just arrived by train, or catty gossip. Most in attendance were tanned natives with their kohled eyes, bright eye shadow, and earth toned clothes. There was a group of new arrivals like her however still pale from space, their underground habitat, or less sunny world with standard equipment.

She listened in to them talking about their plight in hushed huddled tones, “Khan Drake said we could go to any Hellion enclave and they would take the whole group but they're not here anymore. I don't know about this Sheikh or how long this Free Town will last.”
“We could try the Sharks again.”
“They're only accepting select castemen to fill in gaps. They won't take us all.”
  A train whistle blew in the distance, its sorrowful tone carried on the wind. “We're stuck for three days at least now, unless we can charter a vehicle to take us back.”
“What would we pay them with?”

The Cats opened their packs to take inventory, draw water, and consult with the locals on paths forward. Eager to engage in new conversation and exchange gossip the natives rapidly rattled off options while Rebekah drew cool fresh water into the bucket and her own canteen. Like most of her gear it was of Artisan manufacture and picked up at Port Logan's bazaar. She had gathered intel about the Badlands there as well, but informants neglected to inform her and apparently everyone that the Hellions were absent in Sumra, perhaps by design. Something to look into tomorrow when she entered the town itself, there were still too many unknowns and not enough time to risk it today.

Dusk fell quickly in the subtropical desert as the family ate tabbouleh and mutton. Even the restless wind ebbed slightly as thermal interference pushed it upward. Tarin was stable as far as she could tell but still sleeping, Jenna's family was grateful, and all four drank spiced liquor from tiny cups talking late into the night.

She learned much about the powerful Sheikh presently away with a warband engaged in the latest round of ongoing tribal wars over territory and resources. His tribe was winning, and it was only a matter of time until the badlands were consolidated according to him. The present militia were those that could not be reasonably trusted in the field, the actual Warriors were much better trained and equipped courtesy of the tiny wealth gathered around this remote outpost.

The father was older clearly of sturdy Elemental stock two generations removed, a large scar ran across his right arm from a sword battle in his youth. He walked with a slight limp likely from an injury either in battle or life that forced him out of the Warband. Reaching into the cabinet he proudly showed off a gilded Tulwar, well-worn buckler filled with stories, and a Kaskan rifle whose wooden stock was engraved with the family crest. As a fellow Warrior even in disguise she was honored to be trusted with such access in peace.

“The Sheikh will bring those dusters in line, probably take a few with him as hostages to keep them honest. Standard procedure.”
“Does the Sheikh have a name?”
“None that I know. Never seen his face either despite serving twice. If you see it once it’s likely the last time. He's not a very public person. If he's out of the palace he's likely on a warpath. His wives speak for and hold court on his behalf.”
“Well how do you even know he's real then? And not just a disguise these women put on.”
“I wouldn't entertain that kind of thinking newcomer,”
he leaned close, “it might draw attention to yourself. Even if it might be true you wouldn't make it out of the palace if you did find out.”

He reclined back wrapping an arm about his wife, “It would be a waste of a young woman like yourself to go about stirring up rumors. A tragedy for your tribe.”

Rebekah eyed the sword and rifle, “I have no tribe. Not anymore.”
“You could always join the Vaga. A strong smart girl like you would have the pick of husbands. If you wait long you could even impress the Sheikh if one of his fives wives passes, he holds a competition for a new one.”
“I think I will be fine on my own for now.”
“As you wish. Thank you for saving my son. I will endeavor to repay the favor five-fold.”
“Keeping my vehicle safe and tonight's meal and bed is all that I wish.”

She pulled out the beads and other small bits of jewelry that Jenna made, “Your daughter is a promising artisan. I hope you can apprentice her to someone to improve her skills or give her better tools.”

The girl beamed with pride at the compliment, “Thank you Rebekah. In time perhaps this place may draw traders from across the badlands and I find someone worthy. Right now, all it’s just a trading post and oasis stop for our herds.

We would have moved on if not for bad weather and fortune. The salt lakes are no place for a man my age, but I do my best to provide for the family.”

Her night was uneventful, sleep quick to come with the soft cool breezes so unlike the blast furnace of the day. Distant gunshots rang out but quickly disappeared, misfire or something loud spooked some outrider checking on the herd. The rooster crow woke everyone to the solemn business of the day. Boys came in from the pastures for breakfast before returning, girls and young women helped their mothers with chores and crafts while tending small children, the sick, and elderly, fathers and young men queued up for transport to the salt lakes or began working in their shops.

Rebekah waited until everyone settled into their routine before heading out, first to the Qanat to fill her canteen and listen in on gossip. News had come in by rider that one of the Sheikh's wives had died in the field from unspecified causes, setting the young women into a fit of hysteria. All began talking about what they were going to do to win his favor and how rich their family would become if they were chosen.

This Sheikh was too mysterious, so she listened in beyond the usual amount of information gathering. Having a better idea of the field-craft in play she kohled her eyes and although not as tan as a native had already dyed her blonde hair with black and henna back in Port Logan. Even her braids were done in a similar fashion courtesy of Jenna who tied them with tiny charms attached to colorful string, Her blue eyes had not changed, she noticed those were uncommon but otherwise she blended in perfectly. Having not yet mastered the accent she stayed quiet and ignored. New nomads always passed through Sumra and some bands insisted their women be silent in public.
“I bet one of those cat hussies are going to win his favor again, just like the last two.”
“Maybe he wants something different then.”
“Or he found something he really likes...”

Once it devolved to fashion tips and how their first wedding night would go Rebekah quickly lost interest. Seeing her sudden departure, she heard comments regarding the character of the seemingly flustered girl, “Do not judge me. None of you have coupled in space or with a man like I have. The stories I could tell...”

With her experienced eyes she could see how Sumra had become such a difficult position to take during KLONDIKE. The town was hollowed out of a small canyon much like a pair of pueblo villages. Overhangs were held up with reinforced pillars decorated with a colorful of murals and carvings, rope bridges and cable lines connected both sides.

The canyon between was the primary market, within the shadow merchants plied their wares. It smelled of spices, salt fish, and sausage prepared on small electric grills, labhna, butter, and cheese were spread on warm bread cooked in clay ovens garnished with fresh cut greens grown in hydroponic farms within the canyon. Rebekah insisted on trying it all, asking questions of goodwives, carters, and butchers to better understand this place so unlike what she expected. They were quite informative of local events, happy to see the Hellions gone, but spoke little of the Sheikh that ruled from the Eastern Palace above. She could not determine whether it was through ignorance, fear, or intentional obfuscation.

Within the town she encountered former Nova Cat and Smoke Jaguar castewomen working odd jobs or manning a market stall. All were carefully watched by patrolling soldiers whether for their own protection or otherwise Rebekah could not discern at the time.

She casually asked them about the Sheikh’s wives mentioned that morning at the local watering hole from their Clans. Initially they were guarded as they figured Rebekah, disguised as a local well enough for an outsider but obviously not a native, was resentful of their presence. Later she determined was a common reaction and the reason why. Several cups of tea later and with only mild implication that she was a former Warrior they informed her that since the Clanners, particularly Smoke Jaguars, were better soldiers given strong leadership this gave Sumra an edge over less accepting rivals. Their success however fueled distrust and anger with natives more accustomed to growing rich on plunder rather than laboring under the blazing sun in the salt mines.

In order to protect the non-combatants while the Warriors were away, the Sheikh picked a woman from each Clan so that anyone harassing them would regret it, as his justice was as swift, brutal, and capricious as the winds and often as loud. None had seen or spoken to him however nor knew his name providing no additional information not already in circulation, just like the POGS, SLATs, vials of gold dust, gemstones, or other goods trading hands in the marketplace.

However, it did increase Rebekah’s confidence that should she be able to appeal to him or the wives that might be strong enough to aid her mission. Smoke Jaguars and Nova Cats were fine Warriors, she had served alongside a number of abtakha from either on Delios and given sufficient equipment, things that she could provide, in exchange for a little favor, she might even be successful.

Rebekah walked through the labyrinthine lower west section of the Sumra before rising back into the light of its large open section. Construction here was relatively new and done with proper industrial equipment. Even now she heard the sound of jackhammers and other rock cutting tools echoing out of its galleries and saw men on ropes and scaffolds cutting into the stone for another reinforcing pillar. This was the residential section of town calm and quiet beside the sounds of work above. Small circle windows with shutters peeked out over the mosaiced plaza and stairways switch backed nearly 20 meters with solidly anchored railings on the side.

Across the way to the eastern branch the architecture changed becoming more brutalist. The Old Side housed arsenals, granaries, storehouses run by the Nova Cats. A grand palace opened from the north end of the plaza, barracks, and what passed for government buildings clustered around it. Her trained eye spotted elevated and concealed pillboxes with interlocking lines of fire on the large plazas below. To take down a fortress like this she would need at least a Trinary of Armored Infantry or a Cluster of unarmored and the casualties would be high with just what was visible to her and expected of a group of Bandits this large. Possibly there were hidden armories and sufficient supplies to withstand a siege if not Brian Cached heavy weapons and reinforcements that could come from outlying Satrapies.

The guard presence here was heavy but she had completed her initial run and stopped to rest in the shadows of an alleyway near the palace as the afternoon heat came in earnest. She lowered her hood and drank deep of the canteen still filled with cool water. “I think that is all I can do today. Now I just need to find some place to stay.”

A feminine but menacing growl emanated from the shadows, “You could come with us.” Two dark skinned swordswomen appeared from the shadows, an older and younger one, wearing a cuirass over their robes. She instinctually grabbed her own knife dropping into a defensive posture although it would be difficult to escape past them or win with a knife against a Talwar, “Who are you?”

The older one spoke while the younger moved closer sword out, “We could be your murderesses, or we might be friends. It depends on what you do in the next thirty seconds.”

“Where are you taking me?”
“Not very far at all. In fact, you are already next to the door. Now give the knife to Masika. We don’t want to hurt you.”
“Why draw swords then?”

They both took a half-step forward causing her to take a full step back, “It has a way of tell us how determined and difficult someone might be. For instance, Masika here cut me when we first met.”
“You deserved it Zahra.”
“True, at least you missed my face. The Sheikh might have been displeased.”
“You kept your guard up as expected.
” Masika tapped the side of Rebekah’s dagger with her sword, it was now fairly evident that this was the Jaguar bride as she had the decorative scarring common among them, “Now hand it over spy before I cut you too.”

Rebekah flipped the pommel and handed it to the Jaguar who calmly put it in her sash, “I’m not a spy.”
“We’ll be the judges of that. Now move.”

Zahra found a concealed keypad while Masika held Rebekah at sword point in the alleyway, a secret door opened and they entered, the door closed once more and the elevator began to operate.


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #88 on: Today at 11:27:58 »
Author note - I will add this to the wiki Wrangler, realized the chapter end was not as satisfying as I had hoped.

Zahra and Masika sheathed their sabers into ornate scabbards hanging from one of the many red sashes wrapped around their waists. Rebekah's eyes lingered on her naked blade on the Jaguar's belt, “You won't get very far even if you are successful.”
“I could hold you hostage.”

The young woman laughed and looked over to the other woman, “And escape how Rebekah. Besides we already are hostages.”
“How do you know my name?”
“I searched your vehicle early this morning.”

Zahra pulled out the sheaf of laminated paper that marked her mission location, “Masika found the maps hidden within your roll-cage along with a powerful satellite up-link. Very detailed, obviously you know someone with good intel or enough money to pay for it. You are not just a lost Clanswoman in our desert.”

The elevator dinged at a sub-level and opened out into a cool, dimly lit, and utilitarian corridor. Faded SLDF standard markings adorns the walls marking locations of strategic importance within the bunker. Zahra pushed her forward with the scabbard.
“So I have maps to some distant part of the desert what does it matter to you? Its over seven hundred kilometers away.”

“We Vaga know this place and avoid it. It brings a slow death to man or beast. A plague that killed my cousin two days ago according to the rider.”
“But I need to go there.”

They stopped at a steel door, she keyed in the code to a dark room. “There are much faster ways to find your death.”
“Is this really necessary? I'm not a spy!”
“That is yet to be determined. Masika search her.”

The woman stood before her unarmed but with her hand on the sword, “You can make this easy or difficult. Your disguise was very good for a Watch agent but you should have chosen more worn garments. I can still smell the dye. So take them off or I will cut them off you, and maybe a little bit more.”

Rebekah did as asked down to mere modesty and dropped the bundle on the floor, before Masika leaned in uncomfortably close fingering the braids tinkling the tiny charms, “I like what you have done with your hair at least.”

She pulled her forearms forward and Rebekah had to suppress her combative training to not throw her on the floor. Instead the Jaguar admire the Thunderbird feather and broken spear tattoos tapped into them in indigo and obviously healed injuries from her coyote attack, “very pretty ink and impressive scars.”

“It took a long time to be appreciated. Not enough opportunity.”
“Get used to it, and inside.”

Masika pushed her in hard enough that Rebekah had to backpedal lest she fall in the darkness. The door closed with solid slam echoing off silent walls. She heard their boots click on the concrete floor seeing nothing but a tiny sliver of dim light from the hall. “Bitches.”

Author Insert
Since I am almost 200 pages into this story with an almost even spread for the three main groups I want to get some feedback from the readership. This is a pretty large scale story for such a small region of space so it takes some time to develop and I just want to see how everyone is enjoying it. Any feedback good or bad will be appreciated.