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Title: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 04 August 2020, 13:06:55
03/20/3060 | Rhea Reformer Station, Talbot, Tanis System

Claude Goulet looked at the saturnine gas giant Talbot through the vidscreen carefully mounted on the inside of the fuselage. The planet's sickly atmosphere churned in an eternal struggle to regulate its heat. A victim of entropy like all things in the universe.

Dancing above Talbot's largest moon Rhea was their destination, a ramshackle space station mining rich volatiles erupting from it's icy volcanoes. A fleet of shuttle-craft mined Talbot itself diving into its atmosphere to collect atmosphere before bringing it here to be separated into components. All of it was very over his head but as a Marine he had a greater understanding of tech than a normal Clan Warrior.

He felt Technician 4th Class Juliet who sat back to back on the bench within dimly lit passenger compartment. Her quiet voice piped in over the faint ethereal music playing in his headphones, “Star Commander, do we have to go aboard that station? It looks like it is held together with foil.”

“Well Juliet, since you are checking your suit and seals every five minutes. I think you will be fine even if it falls apart. Unless of course you damaged the gaskets from overuse.”

She breathed deep of the sweaty passenger compartment. Not thinking about damaging the seals by incessantly checking them, “Can that happen!?”
“In rare cases. Your suit is not exactly top of the line Technician.”

“How can you be so calm Star Commander? We are about to go aboard an enemy station.”
“I have boarded stations where I knew I would be fired upon. We are on a trade mission so there should be little reason for concern. Evan and I are here if things get hot. Aff Evan?”

The Point Commander yelled from his seat closer to the exit hatch, “Aff!
Juliet, calm down or you are going to be watching this ship instead of me. Quiaff?”

Claude could feel or rather not feel the young technician finally stop fidgeting. That sort of behavior was unprofessional even for a novice. He held his own helmet, carbon black with red accents and an empty space once belonging to a unit emblem. Thinking over how he came to end up on this endeavor.

Things had been mostly normal for him and the others two months ago but that changed on Shadow when they made the decision that would affect the balance of power within their Clan. Most of the passengers were Technicians just out of apprenticeship, half conned into coming along. Evan was a junior Patrolman that had never been off-world before but had trained in space ops under him over the past two months. The only people that knew their true objective were Claude and the pilots.

A man's voice from the flight deck broke into his personal reflection. “Star Commander Goulet. Is your team ready?”

He opened an intercom channel with his fellow Star Commanders on the flight deck. Having all three Commanders of their 'task force' on the same vessel was terribly risky. However, Nina Tanaga and Joseph Kline were the only shuttle pilots in their small rogue group. They left behind the Merchant XO of their Type 96 Elephant with orders to return to Foster with the crew if anything went wrong.

Star Commander Goulet called out to the other seven passengers who all responded in the positive, their replies echoed in the enclosed space. “Aff, away team is ready.”

“Good we dock in ten. Act natural everyone.”

Claude closed the channel, “Evan is that Avenger stashed?”

“Aff Star Commander, It is hidden in Engineering. I will mark it after security checks the ship.”

The wedge shaped ST-46C fired its reaction control thrusters in a carefully orchestrated ballet orienting itself toward the expansive shuttle bay of the orbiting station. A spheroid C-1 and cylindrical S-7C orbit-to-orbit shuttle were grouped tightly on the approach toward the large shared bay. Light markers mounted next to the bay doors provided visual information to the incoming pilots, pitch, velocity, attitude. A radio beacon gave them a positive beep when they were on target and screeched if they deviated.

Star Commander N. Tanaga watched as SC J. Kline carefully kept their grouping. She was used to piloting much larger dropships than the fighter jock so she was just there to support him on final approach. He was used to the responsive controls of his Sabutai aided by a neurohelmet and FIC rather than manual operation. Despite that he mostly managed to keep their distance from an ancient S-7C with an even more sluggish drive and poorly maintained RCS. They drifted within twenty meters at one point evoking the Ice Miner shouting something in Tani at them via the radio before Nina silenced him. “So much for their legendary professionalism Nina.”
“These are among the best spacers in Clanspace Joseph. They live it. Space is everything to them in a way few could understand. This will not be a wasted trip. Our Kindraa are depending on us.”

“They would probably shoot us if they knew what we were about to do. Should we return and have failed there will be Reavings.”

“A greater incentive to come back with our prizes or die trying. The Fire Mandrills cannot endure more Reavings. When we return we can potentially change the whole clan for the better with Khan Carrol. This might be our only chance to get away with it.”

“I agree” With that the bay doors closed and all three shuttles watched and waited for the pressure to return. He keyed the microphone built into his Rook suit's helmet. “Attention all crew. We are now aboard the Station. Keep to the script with the Dark Caste and we will be fine.”

Once pressure returned the large airlock leading into the station opened broad, large enough to pass a light vehicle through. A trio of suited Harvesters walked out, each had 'Security' stenciled on their breastplates and helmets in both Tani and Standard. Their leader, identified by his bright red helmet waved a light torch at the familiar ships the crew disembarked and security inspected them and allowed their crews to connect gas transfer or slurry lines before heading into the station.

Finally they addressed the newcomer, “Mas-71, open your hatches and submit to inspection.”

The KR-61's side hatch and rear cargo ramp opened whisper-quiet on their well maintained servos. Three security people waited down the ramp. The smell of hydrazine and noise of air exchangers filled the bay. “I'm Security Chief Cobie. Who's the Commander here?”

SC Nina Tanaga stepped forward, the Harvester looked her over admiring her new Rook piloting suit. The dark green and red suit was far nicer than anything he had seen in this system before. In fact it was still rare even among the Snow Ravens yet both she and SC Kline had one.
“You have an invitation from Newgrange but that will only get you as far as this bay now.” The Security Chief eyed them over, “You need something more to go through that door.”

Nina couldn't hide her irritation, “Excuse me Chief Cobie but we were told by our Newgrange contact that all we needed to come aboard this station is an invitation. Since when did those conditions change? We spent less than two weeks in transit.”

She looked toward Claude then back at Cobie, “Seems rather fast to change such a long standing tradition.”

Cobie and his associates looked at the large Marine and smaller Patrolman in their Combat Space Suits, “I can turn you back right now stranger.”

SC Joseph Kline piped in, the Kline Kindraa often served as intermediaries between feuding factions so this was a natural extension, “Chief, let me show you what we have brought for your station.”

Joseph walked up the ramp followed closely by the Chief who left his guards to watch the rest of the crew. The cargo bay was neat and brightly lit far more so than the passenger compartment just on the other side of an airlock and stacked with large metal boxes marked by alphanumeric codes. He opened one of them with a release of fog, within it were packages of red meat marked with the Merchant emblem of Clan Smoke Jaguar on a bed of dry ice. “Where did you get this?”

“We took it from a Jaguar station defended only by a Point of Elementals. All that was left of the garrison on Londerholm.

There's two more lockers of meat, this whole cargo hold is filled with the pillaged Jaguar luxuries. All of it can belong to this Station if you let us through.”

The Security Chief's eyes were wide with greed and envy, a diet of processed semi-solids could be replaced for a short time with real meat rather than the bland flavorless textured plant protein. His Station could have trade goods for years with sixteen tons of isorla from a dying Clan. Black market goods completely safe from tracking by Watch authorities.

Chief Colbie pulled out his seal and stamped all of them with the station's emblem, “Consider yourselves my personal guests. I do have to impose a small task for your crew however, especially the big guy. I will certainly make it worth your while. A recommendation to the Superintendent will go a long way to aiding whatever you came here to do.”

“I suppose this must be something dire if you need outside assistance from strangers.”

Colbie looked uncomfortable and mildly ashamed, “Yes, Concerning Jaguars actually. A shuttle load arrived two weeks ago with an invitation from Newgrange just as you did. However, they smuggled weapons past my security. They refuse to leave and give us no reason to do so besides their weapon violation and piercing queries in the Canteen. Otherwise they have been well behaved and paid for services rendered.

Do you think you might be able to deal with them? My people are afraid to do so.”

“I think we can handle it. However, I am going to ask you something rather uncomfortable. Follow me.”

SC Kline and Chief Colbie returned after a few minutes with a long reflective silver weapon bag that Kline placed into Evan's hands. The young man was wide-eyed and confused because he knew what was inside. “What are you doing?”
“The Chief says its fine. We might need it to deal with a problem of theirs.”

“What kind of problem needs this?”
Kline said nothing but exchanged a look with the young Patrolman. “If the Chief is okay with it I guess I am too.”

Ten minutes later Point Commander Faye Freelander sat in the Canteen of Rhea Station watching the main door surrounded by her fellow Jaguars. Her gray jumpsuit was open exposing the black tank top with the Smoke Jaguar insignia printed on it and holstered pistol underneath. She could not understand why for all the cold empty quiet space outside this station was so unbearably hot, crowded, and noisy.

A dusky skinned and well built man floated in and drew her attention. She knew almost everyone on the station that had passed through during the past two weeks of their nearly three month long mission to look for Khan Lincoln Osis' supposed subversion. She couldn't tell whether he was armed but expected that he wasn't no one was armed on this station except her people. Their firearms were her team's sole advantage over the safety obsessed spacers.

They were not subtle in urging her team on, but without more intel her team wouldn't be able to make it on the Tanite worlds. These worlds where were they thought they could find more data about Dark Caste subversion of Smoke Jaguar before issuing a report to her Khan. For now they were unwelcome guests but not enemies.

The strange man was followed by two other strangers, one a clean cut young man with a silver bag and the other a blonde apparently right out of sibko. The couple took some food packages out of the table and placed them in the heater while the larger man floated over to her table and grabbed onto one of the handholds. “Hail strangers, what brings you here?”

“We are here on business.”
“What a coincidence. I am also on business. What business brings Smoke Jaguar Warriors to this station?”
“Confidential business, I cannot speak further of it.”
“So be it. Are you aware that Huntress is under siege by the Second Star League as we speak.”

The Swords were in an uproar at hearing that their capital was being attacked by spheroid surats. “You lie! Prove it!”

The man reached into his pocket and pulled out his comm-pad, a short video played showing bright white COMSTAR Warship with Mt Szabo and Lootera below. “That can't be!
The Khan wouldn't have allowed it.
The Council wouldn't have allowed it!
We have to go back!
Everyone pack up now, send an HPG to confirm these rumors and catch a ride on a Cobra Jumpship toward the Cluster.”

As she was un-clipping herself the man reached forward and pulled her pistol out of her holster. The young man at the other table had an automatic shotgun leveled on the rest. “Neg, Claude Goulet challenges Faye Freelander for possession of her command.”
The Jaguar tensed before throwing all her weight and might into a fearsome jumping palm strike, “Un-augmented here now!”

The Mandrill Elemental lifted his chin and bit down preventing a nose break instead his teeth and jaw audibly cracked. He lost the pistol and began flipping before catching a strap with his right foot. Claude reached out grabbing the smaller Jaguar Warrior's jumpsuit with his right arm. Before he could hit her with the left she grappled it locking her legs around his free leg and began striking his kidneys and liver while protecting herself from rear elbow strikes. Claude exhaled with each strike tensing his muscles to protect vitals.

Reaching down to break her hold resulted in elbows to the back of his head. Claude was surprised that Faye was trained in dirty unarmed fighting in free-fall he normally had an advantage in this arena over grounders. He reached up toward the handholds on the ceiling suspending himself like a brachiating monkey reaching toward branches. His legs wrapped around her waist and pulling her off the floor before putting a huge hand around her throat. Off the floor she was defenseless against his superior upper body strength. He stopped when she passed out before causing permanent harm. The blonde immediately began to resuscitate her.

Faye woke up on the Canteen's table with a period of intermittent coughing and deep breaths. The blonde teenager was there, with her pistol pointed. The young man still had his shotgun on the rest of her unit who were being disarmed by Station Security. “Welcome to Clan Fire Mandrill Faye. I am MedTech Sera, your savior. Claude did a number on you. You're lucky he did not kill you.”

Her voice came through weak after her choke out, “You do not know what you have done freeborn surat. IlKhan Osis will hear about this.”
“That seems unlikely. Figure your Swords were sent out on your own and not expected to return. Lincoln probably even forgot about you already. Not that your Clan will be around for much longer. Think of yourself as a trendsetter.”

She lifted herself tentatively, “We have an important mission.”
Sera kept a neutral expression though looked interested at Faye's chest, “So do we, though I don't know all the details. Suppose we are equal now.”
“You still have my gun pointed toward me.”
“So I do. I'd really like that holster of yours Point Commander. This..doesn't fit in any of my pockets. Come on get up.” Sera turned her around taking the jumpsuit down and stripped the holster rig from the former Point Commander. “Bondcords will come soon. So don't you worry about accessories.”

Star Commanders Kline and Tanaga stood in front of Station Superintendent Hogan a wiry spacer of about fifty though lack of gravity made aging different between spacers and grounders. He was strapped in before a viewscreen that showed the present view of Rhea from the station. “You have done me a great favor by getting rid of those intrusive Jaguars. What does Clan Fire Mandrill need from my people?”

Nina Tanaga's brown eyes glittered in the reflection of the lights, “This task is not sanctioned by the Clan. Its more of a personal mission of incredibly risk.

How would you and your people like to be an ally of the next Khan?”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 06 August 2020, 12:43:26
03/08/3059 | Black Mesa, Dagda, Pentagon Worlds
Five dark blue mechs jumped through the thin air landing on dark basalt. The exhaust of their jump jets blew away debris with Burrock markings. Star Captain Seth Irons kept his eyes glued to the Active Probe readout on his Neurohelmet. His Nova S panned looking for Burrocks and their Dark Caste allies in Black Mesa's rugged terrain. Three Points of Elementals hung on to their Omnimechs. The pair of Incubus mechs on point poked their pulse laser 'rifles' into narrow canyons.

“They are here somewhere. Elementals disembark and provide close cover. Watch for traps.”

Elemental boots cushioned by their boots landed on the rocky terrain and began searching likely hiding places for Bandits. Tense silence was broken by loud explosions that echoed off a nearby ridge. An Incubus leg flew high in the air crashing nearby and almost taking out an Elemental before it came to a stop sparking over the rocks.

Seth turned toward the location just in time to see a Wyvern IIC kick in the cockpit of the stricken Incubus. At its feet was a collection of heavy infantry wearing mismatched uniforms but brand new weapons and armor.


More infantry climbed over the edge of their pits before readying their weapons for combat. Three more mechs appeared from the void atop a flare of jump jets to clear the pit. Seth's eyes got big when he saw the boxy form of a Hunchback IIC. “Oh hell.”

His starmates took a moment to collect themselves but launched into evasive maneuvers. Two Huntsmen narrowly avoiding a double burst from the Hunchback that could have crippled the mechs in the opening volley. If it weren't for the polarized camera feed project on his cockpit the muzzle flare of the Devastator Double X's muzzle flash would be blinding.

Seth fired his six heavy lasers, invisible pulses of coherent light melted most of the Hunchback's armor plating and the exposed elements turned cherry hot. Despite the massive cooling system built into this unit he could feel the temperature rise in the cockpit. Both Huntsman took fire from the shoulder mounted rocket launchers of Dark Caste Bandits. The Wyvern IIC's missiles blasted into one and the gun of a Clint IIC hit the other. Shattered and slagged armor plates fell from the combatants.

The Huntsmen fired back aided by the remaining Incubus who chose the more nimble Clint IIC as its target. All three fired their 14.7mm machine guns at the Bandits inflicting casualties on the heavily armored but still fragile infantry combatants caught in the open. Adder Elementals launched their shoulder mounted missiles at the Wyvern threatening to topple it but the pilot kept his feet. Cries of pain and explosions filled the air along with hot lead and burning lances of light.

At this range Seth could hear the Hunchback reload its autocannons, “Bring it Bug!” He jumped away figuring that the Burrock had marked him for destruction after having almost all the armor stripped off his mech. His instincts were right and the Hunchback turned to face him at close range striding over the blackened earth beneath the skeletal form.

Another roar was let out over the battlefield, the Hunchback struck true with three of the four shots the final one whizzing past the Nova's low slung but wide form. The armor display went from green to red in an instant and two of the brand new heavy lasers on his left arm were crumpled from the impact, their thermal fins shattered and the power supply burned out after their final volley. Seth's heavy lasers cut the arms off the enemy mech and bit deep into its legs but it still had a final shot in its magazines.

The Nova was blown off its feet by the impact and a laser had pierced the center damaging the gyro. It took all damage from its fall on its right arm. Now grounded he was in the worst possible position to take on the Hunchback. This Burrock stood firm while the battle raged on behind him between the forces roughly equal to one another.

Seth grunted as he struggled to stand the mech up against pivoting the arms up and getting its feet under it the Nova stood shakily against the Hunchback. The cockpit temperature rose and Seth felt the cooling built into his jumpsuit increase circulation. It would be cooler running now that two of the six heavy lasers were offline but all four machine guns were active.

Finally the Burrock fired its final round obliterating the Nova but the remaining four lasers and machine guns chewed up the cockpit and core utterly killing the Dark Caste conspirator. Seth ejected into the thin mesa air thick with missiles. He landed wrong breaking his left hand and giving himself severe abrasions on the unforgiving stone.

The Star Captain reached down to his survival kit and found the respirator attached to a four hour breathing bottle. The hypoxia was already settling in and it was either death or glory now. Seth needed one of those Dark Caste LSSUs and a chance to exfil. He opened panels in his chair to reveal a matte black Gauss SMG, two extra mags, and cylindrical 'satchel' battery for it beneath.

A large explosion sounded behind him and he saw the Incubus' machine gun ammo cook off throwing shrapnel nearly a hundred meters away. Elementals were fighting hard against the Dark Caste crawling up from their pits and firing inferno SRMs to fry the operators inside their suits. The hollow thump of satchel charges sounded above followed by Seth feeling the rumble of a rock slide. Part of a cliff fell down taking a damaged Wyvern and Huntsman off the mountain.

Dust and smoke from the fires covered the eerily quiet battlefield that moments ago was filled with the crack of rifle fire and whir of missiles. The remaining Huntsman punched its way out from the scree before returning to fight the Clint that had avoided the landslide. Some Elementals had survived as well they charged the dazed Bandits, closing into melee with their battle claws and preventing further inferno SRM fire.

The mechs closed fighting at close range, Seth scrambled over the debris field toward the sound of rifle fire. He saw one of the Bandits charge an Elemental, the man was stopped by the huge claw punching into him but detonated a suicide vest tied to his LSSU. The explosion threw up rocky debris that clattered around him and burst eardrums but left nothing behind but a crater.

With a burst eardrum and concussion Seth fell down coddling his SMG in his arms but kept it pointed at the enemy. Three ran by fleeing a combat scarred Elemental suit that bounded behind them. He fired on them, hypersonic metal darts punched through their body armor dropping them immediately. The Elemental walked over to him, he could see its markings now, those of Clan Burrock. He fired upon it but the darts bounced off as it closed, he loaded another magazine, then another, finally it lifted him up with its claw taking a moment to inspect him. “You need a breather Star Captain and I need to get off this planet. Take me as your bondsman and we both live otherwise we die together.”
“You conspired with the Dark Caste.”
“Neg. I came here on my own. I told your Watch where to find this place but my suit is not as swift as your mech once was.”
“What about Hannah?”
“The other pilot, she will not make it off this mountain. More of my people are due to arrive any minute. I could just let you die but we can retrieve your BattleROM and record what is about to happen. You will be the sole survivor of a force that was double crossed and we can tell the truth. Eliminating more conspirators while saving your life and career.”
“Bargained Well and Done Burrock.”

03/10/3059 Location – Aegis CSA Ares' Might, in orbit around Dagda
Star Captain Seth Irons' hand had been splinted, his ears still rung however and there were numerous abrasions and cuts he gained after 2 days of SERE on the Black Mesa while dodging Dark Caste until he found a Star Adder unit. Next to him was a dark skinned Burrock, “This is Bowie Opriq, my bondsman, formerly of Clan Burrock's 15th Rapier.”

The pair stood before a tribunal of Star Adder officers one each from Epsilon and Delta Galaxy as well as the Keeper assigned to the Ares' Might. “You informed us that you have intelligence pertaining to the Dark Caste conspiracy among Clan Burrock. Particularly concerning the Black Mesa Bandits.”
“Aff, Bowie and I captured what really happened there. Please play it now.”

The room darkened and the display came alive showing the hunt, ambush, and final double cross of Clan Burrock against Mechwarrior Hannah's Huntsman through the Elementals' sensors. After sending a message that they surrendered the four slaughtered the remaining Dark Caste.

During the fight her mech was damaged extensively and would be unable to make the trip down. She powered it down accepting a ride from the Burrocks but was cut down outside her mech. They then pushed the damaged machine into a defile to hide it and moved on. They abandoned the Bandits along with Bowie and Seth to die of exposure.

“Thank you for bringing this to us Star Captain. You are to be transferred to Sheridan along with your Bondsman for evaluation, hospitalization, and debriefing. We will handle these dezgra Bandits with utmost haste in order to make it clear what we do with conspirators. Dismissed.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Kasaga on 07 August 2020, 05:56:40
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 08 August 2020, 00:49:53
04/18/3059 Location – Brim Zenith Station, Brim, Kerensky Cluster
Bowie Opriq was escorted under heavy guard along with his fellow Burrocks from their transfer ships, mostly older Lions whose corridors were far too small for the Elementals. He had been debriefed, authenticated, and interrogated on and off for almost a month by Adder Watch. They were justified in taking their time; Bandit Conspirators were still being found out, civilian processing centers came under attack by raiders, and large numbers of star-lift assets needed to be brought in to ensure security and complete the Absorption. Tough to run away if you can’t breathe outside your prison cell.

Brim Station was massive, most Clan recharge stations were on the Pentagon facing worlds of the Cluster due to the large volume of Merchant and Warrior traffic coming from enclaves on either side of the Shroud. His threat analysis was in overdrive surprisingly he hadn’t worn it out by now. He could see lower Caste paying close attention to him and the others as they passed likely Watch assets from the Sharks or Ravens that frequented these stations.

The Cloud Cobra enclave loomed large in front of them. That Clan had been allies to the Burrocks and were to the Adders. It was a neutral ground to continue sifting through the stories that each Burrock had about their clans dealing with Bandits throughout the Deep Periphery. Bowie was separated from the others and a Cobra agent joined the Adder Elemental assigned to him. Both led him to a small room with table and three chairs. “Ah more interrogation I see. When does the torture start? I grow weary of just talking.”

Both snakes looked at him incredulously, the Cobra started, “Well he did ask for it, Kren.”
“Do you think we need to torture you Bowie? Cause I can maybe work out some aggression.” He looked over at the Cobra Watch agent longingly, “if Carver leaves the camera off a little longer.”

The Watch agent nodded and Kren cracked his knuckles. He was a large specimen for Star Adder who never put much time or effort into their Elemental lines. At ‘only’ 190cm and 130 Kilos (an MMA super-heavyweight) he was equivalent to most Marine Elemental blood-lineages, Ravens and Hellions ran a little smaller, but puny to True Elemental Armored Infantry. The Burrock average was 210cm and 160 Kilos (Big NFL Offensive Lineman) which was middling, around Coyote and Mandrill size, compared to the giants of Clan Hell’s Horses and Ghost Bear who repeatedly split the events in the Martial Olympiad.

“Give me your best shot Snake.”

The Adder Elemental delivered a punishing hook to the abdomen the force of which thumped off the wall. Bowie tensed his muscles dampening the powerful blow then relaxed and sat down on the bare chair, “That’s good. I’m satisfied now. Just wanted to make you earn it.”

He breathed deep taking a moment to satisfied with his circumstances, “I miss that.”

Kren was surprised that Bowie hadn’t bothered to protect himself and sat down without incident despite being unfettered, “You miss being punched?”

“I miss being around my Elemental brothers and sisters. Wrestling, boxing, drinking, the whole thing.

My Point was completely wiped out.”

Carver sat down and bid the reluctant Kren who sensed something off to do the same. Kren waited until it became uncomfortable then proceeded to take a seat. The Cobra turned on the video camera which beeped and began blinking red, “Yes, that is what the initial reports stated among other things. It was one of the easier things for the Adders to verify. What happened at 'Boomtown Station' the day you were abducted?”

“It was a regular day walking the hills, a wildfire had just gone through and exposed a vein of titanium. A mining survey team was sent out conducting soundings to survey the area that thus far we had not needed to exploit. One of the bombs went off and our Geologist received unusual readings, something man-made where there was no record of Brian Caches. He reported it to command and we were awaiting heavier equipment and more people to investigate it. This was five cycles before the Adders arrived.”
“Why was a Point of front line Warriors assigned to guard the team?”
“Bandit activity had recently increased nearby. Two survey teams had gone missing in other places nearby. A Ranger team sent to find them found no trace, it was as if they were never there. My Point was on world already and was tasked with the assignment.”
“Why your unit? Why not a Solahma squad?”
“My Point Commander Sean was involved in a low level contraband operation. Earned some credits on the side selling Artisan tchotchkes to lower caste without paying the import duties. A Merchant complained to his Factor and it got to Star Commander Brandon. Sean was embarrassed and Brandon assigned us to this detail as punishment in order to keep our codices clean when he chose not to refuse.

It was supposed to be a temporary hardship operation, ten cycles out and then we would be sent toward Albion for a normal rotation. It was except for the still located about 4 klicks North of our camp.”

Kren gave him a sour look at the admission of the second round of dezgra activity. “Don't give me that look Elemental. You do it too and if you don't then someone on your Star does and nobody talks about it.”
Carver tapped his stylus on the Noteputer, “Interesting, none of this was in the report.”
“My mind was a little fuzzy. Couple of weeks off-world and those drugs going through my system cleared up some things in my memory.”

The Watch Operative tapped something on the noteputer and after reading the Burrocks initial bloodwork showing a cocktail of pharmaceuticals. Their names meant nothing to him but most were in some way related to sedation and some of the more interesting ones had been abandoned by SLIC (Star League Intelligence Command) prior to the Exodus. “Seems reasonable to me, this interview was primarily for fidelity purposes; but if you have new information please continue Elemental Opriq.”

“So the night I was abducted, Quiaff?”
“Well I was drunk. I remember that...strangely, or was I for whatever reason my memory is a little hazy but I recall there was no alarm. The Bandits arrived using Sneak Suits to get past the perimeter sensors. We had good sensors too which meant they were really good Sneak Suits.

I tried to fight them off, two came for me, I recall breaking the nose of one and broke my knuckle hitting the helmet of the other. They were intensely strong, almost Elemental level but much smaller like regular Warriors no bigger than you Carver, no offense.”

The Cobra didn't seem to mind being called small most of his Clan was even smaller to fit with their more Aerospace focused Touman and space colonies. “None taken, please continue.”

“Well I am certain I killed one of them, I remember seeing a dead body at my feet and blood on my hands. Then I blacked out, they dosed me with something, something really strong, and I was out.”

Carver continued to run his stylus over the noteputer while Bowie talked doubled checking previous minutes and Kren kept a close eye on the Elemental. “There were trace amounts of a Carfentanil analog in your initial blood work. It is a very powerful, fast acting, but rapidly metabolizing sedative often used on Elementals so that is a reasonable assumption. What do you remember next?”

“I remember a drill. Fast high pitched, could smell something burning. I was restrained with thick irons anchored to a cold damp stone wall. Hewn stone not concrete, like a mine shaft.

I woke to screaming, one of the technicians that were part of the group was restrained in a chair while a surgeon was putting something in his head. Something chrome, an implant of some kind, it was dark, motion, five people, three armed, two unarmed plus the Surgeon.
The name Juergens comes to my mind I don't remember who said it.”
“Juergens you are certain?”
“Aff, does it mean anything to you.”
“It was a Widowmaker blood-name. Do you remember anything about insignia? Did they have a uniform?”
“No, one of my captors had a tattoo of a spider web tattoo sleeve down her left arm. Its one of the common Bandit motifs we learn in Sibko. I paid it no mind at the time.”

The agent moved his stylus across the tablet tapping rapidly on icons a writing out in exquisite script. “Tell me more about her? Is she Juergens?”
“No I never saw Juergens. I remember hearing it but my head was restrained, I couldn't look over to see who it referenced or who said it.”

“Very curious. I will have to see if the Adders collected any DNA from the Black Mesa Bandits to compare to Widowmaker bloodnames. How about a break?”

The trio called for a break allowing Bowie to collect his thoughts and Carver sent Kren out to get lunch. Carver left when he returned to send out an HPG. Bowie put down his fork having the whole hour to leisurely chow down on his lunch “I really like the food you guys have. Its hard to find good falafel on Dagda not a lot of halal food there, or food in general unless you go to the gray markets.”

Carver was still eating his shawarma, “Your codex specifies no Cloister affiliation. Are you a Qarani or Ka'ani?”

“No I am not one of your faithful that needs a special diet. Are you?”
“I love shawarma and ambas but I am a Rossei.”

“Born Nova Cat but ended up in the Clouds.”
“True Warriors are strong in Mind, Body, and Spirit. I choose to believe what I do because I derive strength from it and the brotherhood of our friends.”
“Speaking of friends; what has happened to Star Captain Irons? I thought we would be on the same vessel.”
“The Star Captain has come down with a blood infection. He is stable and convalescing aboard the Black Adder heading toward Sheridan along with other injured Warriors and Burrock isorla.”

“Good, I would hate all my labor to have been in vain.”
Bowie placed his hands back on the tabletop showing the three strands of his bond-cord the only fetter that he decided didn't need to be broken yet.

“I have made a query of Kael Pershaw's people regarding Widowmakers on Dagda.”
“All the way to the Loremaster of the Clans. Impressive.”
“No I have never seen the man. Though I hear he is something awful to behold and likes to keep it that way.”

“Now what did the Dark Caste do to you? And how did you escape? The more descriptive the better, I can bring in a Doctor to interpret what you experienced and then explain it to you at our next meeting.”

Bowie began unbuttoning his BDU jacket. “Can I get some whiskey first? Its going to be painful to relive that week.”

“Whiskey after. I need to see your pain and record it for my own records.”
“I would rather let Kren punch me a dozen times with dusters.”

“That is why he has them. If its difficult we can try hypnosis it might be easier on your mind. We cannot let your return to Warrior status if you are damaged.”

Bowie lifted his shirt and showed off a tapestry of surgical tattoos and scars, “You underestimate how hardy Burrock Elementals are. We never break from pain.”

A single tear came down his eye catching the overhead light, “but I was damn close.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 08 August 2020, 23:04:43
05/18/3059 Location – Central Military Academy, Truscott, Sheridan
Star Captain Seth Iron's left hand had been amputated. He was given the option of medical retirement as a Academy Trainer or reassignment as a Keeper; but chose to stay in the field, install a prosthetic hand, and heal. The Star Adders had lost many Warriors, more than anticipated and that was with 60% of the Burrock Touman surrendering. They needed everyone they could get ASAP.

An alarm buzzed from his hand which now had a Commpad and his Codex installed. The matte metal shape was eye level and willed the thumb to move. After a moment it did so and he painstakingly focused on the prosthetic touching it slowly to each finger in turn. Perspiration came down as he concentrated on it outside under Sheridan's harsh sun and humid summers. He did seven more then made a fist, knife hand, salute, and other forms that required greater connection.

Lost in his focus he didn't see a woman walk up from the side to meet him in the botanical garden he was standing within. “There was not a nicer looking one, Seth?”

Now interrupted the hand went back to its programmed rest state, slightly bent wrist, and curled fingers. He looked toward the interrupting young woman. She wore the Star Adder summer uniform, dark blue Bermuda trousers trimmed with red and a short sleeved white shirts with a gold stripe.

“Gabriela. I was almost done, you broke my focus. This one is quicker to learn and I am eager to get back into the field. I can wear a glove if the need arises. ”
“You need to be able to use it if someone interrupts your concentration and not looking at it. Otherwise they will not be let you pilot an Omnimech again. Quiaff?”

He moved over to a fountain leaned on the stone and placed the hand on it. A dull sense of pressure came into his mind from the phantom limb, “Aff, it has been a month. The doctors say it will take three till my dexterity returns. You should be on the training field. The Touman needs more Star Captains.”

She followed him over and placed her hand on the warm metal form. His touch was dulled but he could feel the pressure on the top of his hand. “I see no reason to put myself in the sights of a Headhunter yet.

I have been assigned as your pilot for an upcoming training exercise. Would you like some food?”

“Aff, you are going to be in my lecture in two hours anyhow. What exercise?”

Both walked away towards the Bayfront district. Gabriela held his prosthetic providing stimulus to Seth's brain. Ultimately he willed it to bend into hers but the pressure was too much; she yelped in pain pulling it away and began massaging it. “Sorry, please accept lunch as my Surkai.”
“I accept your Surkai. I suppose it was too much to ask of you yet.”

They sat down at a seafood restaurant, from their position on the upper deck there was an impressive view of Valiant Bay surrounding Truscott. Sheridan's sun was setting and the cloud was filled with warm tones reflecting on the white caps below. “Control is never to much to ask...but I sometimes lose it around you. Tell me more about this exercise. I had not heard about before you told me.”

“Training Peacekeepers. The Underground is still too strong. Our intel was wrong.”
“I thought the Steel Vipers' Auxiliaries had them in hand.”

“There was another attack.”
She opened the note-puter held under her arm placed it on the table and clicked a link for a video shared over the chatter-web. A large factory complex was still smoking after a major fire with teams of Laborers and Technicians spraying it down with water.

“A big one on the Dagda Industrialplex. Bandits made off with almost a Cluster of Glass Spiders as well as spare parts, ammo, and the Overlord tasked with transporting them off-world. Four hundred were killed or missing and the star-port sabotaged.

They want to make sure you stay sharp. I hear rumors of a new command as soon as you are whole.”

Seth placed the prosthetic hand under his chin trying to improve his proprioception with the device and willed it to move, “We lost a lot of Star Colonels to Headhunters during the Absorption. Not many Second Gens make it to that rank before becoming Solahma.”

“Not many second gens are blooded. You were Ristar once. Perhaps you will earn your own Cluster.”

The fish fry lunch arrived and smelled magnificent courtesy of a variety of spices from the Adder colonies. “My opponents in a Trial of Position will have something to say about it.”

Seth concentrated on his left hand trying to grip the fork in it. It failed to respond and fell from his grip. Instead he was forced to cut and use the fork separately. “Savashri! This dead weight is not helping.”
She smiled at him, “Keep at it. Maybe stick to kebabs for little while longer.”
“My own cluster...that would be something.”
“I never met a more deserving Warrior.”

Back at the Central Military Academy, Star Captain Seth Irons' stood before a crowded auditorium principally of Star Adder and Steel Viper Star Commanders and Mechwarriors from Sheridan and New Kent. His prosthetic hand was held in the folds of his jacket while the laser pointer was in the other. A holomap of the Inner Sphere popped into existence and after that the Occupation Zones of the Invading Clans were highlighted. “This is our enemy. They will not rest while we are still active and I expect that they will counter-attack for the failed Operation – REVIVAL.”

A Viper shouted out from the gallery, “It would not have happened if we had invaded instead of the Jade Falcons.”

“You had your chance on Tukayyid Viper. We read all the reports. It was a sad performance that I would expect any Adder Sibko to surpass.” He looked down at the computer console in order to queue up another holomap. The AAR report of the Steel Viper portion of the Battle of Tukayyid resolved on the screen.

“You did not even face a force equal to the other clans! Yet you were soundly defeated and that defeat resulted in an excellent Warrior Khan resigning her post in shame. The Wolves rightly showed you all up because they pay attention. Now if you would please sit down and listen for once.”

The Vipers were in an uproar at their dressing down. Shouts of “Grievance!” arose from their throat that were canceled out by those of the Adders and near fist fights broke out between the Snake 'Allies.' The crack of a Seth's pistol broke through the chaos and created a small ventilation hole in the roof.

“Silence! If you want to fight take it outside! This is place to learn how to be better Soldiers. If you cannot sit through it and potentially learn something you are free to leave.” The audacity of the action kept the crowd spellbound. They returned to their seats without further incident and the pistol returned to his holster. Once more the Inner Sphere appeared around Seth.

“Now as I was saying before. I expect the Inner Sphere to launch counter-attack by the end of the year or early next. The Truce still has time remaining but they have almost a decade to rebuild their Toumans.”

“How would they find the Homeworlds Star Captain? We are nearly a thousand light years from the Coreward Draconis Combine.”

A wire frame model of a Merchant Jumpship in COMSTAR markings came into view. “Exhibit number one. The Outbound Light appeared above Huntress eleven years ago breaking our isolation. We launched REVIVAL to stave off potential Inner Sphere aggression while retaining his edge.

That failed miserably and the latest reports from the Invasion Corridors show that the Inner Sphere is increasingly capable of defending themselves. Our few advantages are eroding and if the political environment changes with the Great Houses they will attack us.

Starting with the Invasion Corridors. I expect the Smoke Jaguars will fall first.”

Gabriela yelled out, “What makes you so certain Star Captain?”

A world popped into view followed by a simulated cannonade toward the surface, “The city of Edo on Turtle Bay was destroyed by the Essex destroyer CSJ Sabre Cat. This followed by other Smoke Jaguar failings, particularly on Luthien and Wolcott. Cultural studies and our old records of the Draconis Combine will not allow this dishonorable action to go unpunished. As soon as they have the might they will attack.

The other candidate would be Clan Jade Falcon for their failings on Twycross, with the Somerset Strikers, Incursion toward Coventry, and Red Corsair but I give it a fifty percent confidence unless Archon Katherine Steiner ascends to First Lordship of the Second Star League.”

Katherine Steiner's picture gathered via open sources by the Diamond Shark Watch on Twycross appeared above. The Steel Vipers mulled over fantastic possibilities. Their Homeworld rival taken out by Spheroids particularly such a frail non-Warrior like this Archon. It would be such sweet irony for the Falcons to finally eat the crow they so rightly deserved.

“So they will come for Huntress.”
“Yes, like I said I expect they already have plans and the rest of this lecture will be how we might profit from it.”

Meanwhile on Luthien the capital of the Draconis Combine First Prince Victor Steiner-Davion continued his convalesce from the failed assassination of himself and Princess Omiko Kurita. Deep within the Imperial Palace he sat gingerly. Precentor Martial Anastasius Focht, Coordinator Theodore Kurita, and ISF Director Subhash Indrahar assembled for the final briefings for OPERATION: SERPENT just as the opening waves of BIRD DOG launched.

An unexplained chill went down his spine, “So it has begun. Next stop, Huntress”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 13 August 2020, 13:07:58
08/14/3059 Location - Star Adder Proving Grounds, Sheridan, 170 kilometers NNW Truscott

Star Captain Seth Irons and Star Commander Gabriela walked side by side in the misty pre-dawn hour. Their objectives were the mechs mounted on transporters that were now bogged down in mud from a rainy evening and being painstakingly unloaded and armed by SAPG Techs. Yesterday everything was moved into the Circle of Equals for his Trial of Position. At stake was command of the 17th Cavaliers of Delta Galaxy and rank of Star Colonel.

To win the trial Seth needed to defeat an equal force led by Star Captain Bryza Meytani, the senior officer of the 17th Cavaliers who had also recently returned to active duty following injuries sustained during the Burrock Absorption. Delta's Keeper has decreed the cut-down as 2 Omnimechs as both Command and Rank were at stake, so he needed a partner and one had bid herself straight to the Keeper without bothering to consult him.

Seth carried the handle of a hard shell that contained his neurohelmet safely locked in his cybernetic hand. “Gabriela, why insist on being my partner? This is a live fire Trial against hardened veterans.”

She tied her braid back enough to allow the neuro-helmet in her pack to sync properly, “You would do the same if it were me, quiaff?”
A muffled 'aff' came from his mouth, “Do you think I am not capable of doing it?” Seth attempted to say something but was interrupted, “You think I might get hurt!”

He looked away then she grabbed his arm twisting him to face her even though they could barely make each other out in the darkness. “I may be ten years your junior, but I am not some sibko girl! I am a Star Adder Warrior.”

They walked faster toward the transporters. Opening her arms to balance on the plank of wood laid over a previously dry creek bed that now ran with muddy water. Seth was slower to cross the plank being both older and less nimble than the young woman ahead of him. He could still hear here talking but couldn’t make out the words. She was talking to herself thinking he was listening. By the time he caught up with her she was saying, “We had a life, yet we make that choice and all those sacrifices to be Warriors. We learned to care about something other than war. I chose to fight for our Clan because I am good at it. I tested top of my class in creche, I could have been a Scientist just like your parents are.”

She looked over to him before returning to their objective their mechs just ahead of them, “Maybe you choose because as a Second Gen you strove to succeed where your parents had 'failed.’

You earned your Bloodname by nomination. I heard it was because the Irons' Bloodhouse could not take the risk of losing a generation of Mechwarriors against your Guillotine in a Melee.”

Seth smiled remembering that day and the pride of his geneparents. By design all Trueborn Warriors never knew their geneparents or their vatborn 'children.' A delay of no less than fifteen years was in place after a Warrior’s death except in strange circumstances. He knew some Trues read their geneparents' codices in creche. Those entries were more about what they did, not how they felt about it. His lectures were available on the chatterweb, his 'children' might learn something about him someday from those. Just as he had honed his fighting skills with his father before Tathis Sibko so might he mold their minds before they went through the same thing.

He came back to himself after spending an idle moment daydreaming about what the next generation would look like. He missed something that Gabriela had said, “Why do you insist on being Star Colonel of a Front-line cluster? Do you think being in a provisional one beneath you?

I wish you could just stay on Sheridan with me and Kappa. You looked happy as an Academy Trainer. More so then when you visited my Sibko as a Ristar of the Fifth Assault fighting for REVIVAL.”

They were now at the feet of their Omnimechs, his Sidewinder and her Linebacker had just been put in the upright position after being carried on their backs from Truscott. “Now you sound like a schoolgirl. I do not want to be given something Gabriela.

I have been offered command of Clusters in Mu and Rho but the Star Adders need me on the front line. We are entering dangerous times. Better to fight our foes as far away from Sheridan, and you as possible. Quiaff? Let me go first into the fray. I can still visit during rotations.”

She removed her neurohelmet from the pack and handed it to her Tech, “or I could join you. When we win this trial there is an option for promotion and reassignment to replace the newly promoted Colonel. You said the Adder’s need more Star Captains, so I worked it out with Delta's Keeper.”

Seth tried to protest, “I am front line quality Star Captain Irons. The Wolves came to Sheridan during their Harvest. They Trialed my Star for 'training maneuvers against spheroid opponents' after hearing I wanted a Linebacker. They promised me one if I joined them, instead I won one from its bewildered Star Captain; who was sent packing to Strana Mechdy empty handed.

We are in this now. I do not want to hear anything more from you unless it is combat commands, Quiaff?”

She accepted the technician's final check of her cooling suit and neuro-helmet before ascending the ladder towards the low-slung cockpit. Gabriela closed the hatch, lowered the blast shields over the cockpit, and began powering up her machine.

An Adder MechTech was still waiting while Seth watched all this happen, “You picked a feisty freeborn as a partner today. Um...Star Captain I need to conduct final checks on your cooling suit and neuro-helmet, Keeper's orders.”

Seth turned towards the man and released the hard case that stored his neuro-helmet to the tech who also ensured there was nothing amiss with the cooling system and that everything was according to bid with the helmet. “Everything is in order Star Captain, reactor is on standby, all ordnance loaded. Good luck sir.” The SAPG techs waited until he was in the cockpit before removing the ladder and returning to the task of winching the now much lighter mech transporters toward the road. Gabriela and he would have to walk through the mud toward the agreed upon Circle of Equals eleven kilometers away. “Keeper Ajete, we are en route to the Circle of Equals. ETA ten mikes.”
“With plenty of time to spare Star Captain Irons. Star Captain Meytani is on standby. The Trial will begin as soon as you enter the Circle.”

Gabriela fell behind while she had greater land speed her Linebacker lacked the jump jets of his Sidewinder. Sometimes she needed to make a detour to bypass particularly treacherous terrain and ford swollen rivers that he could simply boost over. This discouraged Seth, her mech was an excellent design in open areas but without jets close or broken terrain would disadvantage her. “The Circle of Equals is on higher ground. It should be drier.”

Her voice was hard she seemed annoyed by his concern, “Star Captain Irons, this is my home field. I know what to expect of the terrain up there and a few things they will not be expecting. Stay focused on your part. I will do mine”

The perimeter of the four-square kilometer Circle of Equals appeared on his HUD as a ghostly wall just as the dawning sun began to crest the horizon to their west. Within moments of entering the area Delta Galaxy Keeper Ajete was monitoring it from the SAPG central bunker and declared the start of the trial.

Roughly four kilometers away a Summoner and Hellbringer powered up and began to maneuver to the southern grid where their enemy lie. They ensured over-watch of one another and spaced themselves 500 meters apart. The lasers and autocannons on their arms swayed with each stride helping the omni-gyro balance the heavy mechs but they could be made level immediately if needed.

Zell was expected but not required in Adder trials. Smart positioning was key, exposing yourself was deemed a reckless action. As was trusting your foe to be honorable. Even the prideful Jade Falcons were known to seek pragmatism at times in pursuit of victory. Adder trials often had two mechs working together to allow more complex tactics than those required of Lone Aces so common in other clans and force the Warriors to pay attention to their situation while offering plenty of chances for individual Glory.

The combatants saw each other approach through the trees. Seth called out the Summoner piloted by Star Captain Meytani trusting in his superior firepower and endurance over the enemy's maneuverability. Gabriela faced the Hellbringer, her opponent carried slightly more weapons but was slower and with slightly less endurance.

Both sides opened with their long-range missile racks, 55 missiles flew into the sky followed by deadly lances of light and electric blue arcs of man-made lighting from PPCs. Each missile exploded mid-air covering the battlefield with a veil of thick white smoke against the damp conifers. A magnesium bright muzzle flash erupted from the right arm of Seth’s Sidewinder followed by the whorl of a Gauss projectile cutting through the gathering smoke. He could see the high velocity round impact the Summoner dead center and the associated armor plates deforming and shattering.

The Star Captain celebrated in his cockpit, “First blood Meytani. I have been a Warrior since before you were in Sibko. Glad someone pays attention to my lectures on concealment at least.” He triggered something with his left hand that created a series of simulated pulses in his HUD from the active probe mounted high on his right torso and engaged ghost target mode on his ECM creating a series of electronic signals that would confuse the Hawkeye 62 system of Meytani's Summoner.

Above the battlefield the crew of an Anhur VTOL watched the battle progress capturing footage for later analysis at the CMA. From their bird's eye view they could see the four mechs break into two separate duels putting the smoke and trees between them while remaining close enough for the Star Captains to use their jump jets and come to the aid of their Star Commanders if necessary.

Gabriela pushed her white blue Linebacker to the max catapulting it toward rocky ground that provided some camouflage. She came to an halt wheeling around to aim her large pulse laser and ten pack of missiles toward the menacing Hellbringer surrounded by smoke swirling in the mountain breeze. The lasers struck true damaging its right arm and her intended target the pair of lasers mounted beneath it. More smoke billowed forth ruining the aim of his auto-cannon, a double tap of 40mm shells went high blasting shards of stone that clattered on the top of her mech. One of the two lasers hit her machine on the right arm damaging the armor that protected her triple medium pulses. She wanted to draw the Hellbringer toward the stones and cut it to pieces there with her hidden quartet of heavy small lasers.

On the other side of the forest the blue grey Summoner launched another volley of smoke followed by its PPC toward the Sidewinder. Both PPCs impacted and the sudden discharge of energy slagged torso armor on both Warriors. This was followed up by a series of small explosions from the paired ten pack missiles that scattered low sending up clods of dirt and gravel that barely reached ankle height of the war machine. His Gauss rifle missed the mark instead splintered trees in an almost 300 meter line of woods behind Bryza. Her voice came in over the radio, taunting him despite the damage sustained by her mech. “Are you losing your touch old man?”

After several minutes of failing to goad her enemy into close terrain and cursing the fact that Adder Hellbringers have 25% more armor than those of other Clans Gabriela had to go on the offensive or risk losing out in the long range sniper duel between the two mechs. She dodged missiles fired in her direction but took a laser to her mech's head in the process.

The blast melted away most of the armor damaging the life support just below her cockpit. Emergency beacons squealed but were silenced. She triggered the explosive bolts to free the shell which dropped to the ground with a thump and vented the warm air. Now in an open canopy she could feel the cool mountain breeze that smelled of white phosphorous smoke mixed with rain and wildflowers.

Her enemy took the full brunt of four pulse lasers that cut deep red hot slices of armor off the top and staggered the machine. Its pilot maintained control and readied another volley as she ran off to the cannon side bringing her out of arc with its main firepower contained in the other arm that barely hung on by the myomer. She let everything go at once, four pulses and four heavy lasers cut the right torso apart and went deep into the core. The damage sustained was to much for the reactor to bear and it shut down venting plasma into the atmosphere.

Seth watched the Summoner he had been maneuvering against for the past several minutes switch targets firing off a canister shot of grenade sized sub-munitions at something hidden from him by smoke. He finished the enemy off with a solid double tap of the Gauss rifle and PPC that knocked the Summoner off its feet and destroyed its gyro so it would not rise again.

When the smoke cleared he could see a motionless Linebacker and the fallen Hellbringer less than sixty meters away. “Gabriela, we did it!”

In the Anhur orbiting the battlezone the SAPG technicians reported that the Trial was over with Seth Iron's victorious. Both the Sidewinder and Linebacker were standing but they could not believe what they were about to witness. The Sidewinder walked over toward the Linebacker then proceeded to fire a Gauss rifle into the downed Hellbringer's head and crush the fallen Summoner's beneath its feet. “Keeper we have a situation.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Artifex on 13 August 2020, 16:52:31
Okay, what the ****** was that killing off defeated foes?!  :o
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 14 August 2020, 09:42:16
08/16/3059 Location – Justice Annex, Fort Absalom, Truscott City, Sheridan

Star Captain Seth Irons wore a fresh black eye and multiple bruises just barely concealed beneath his blue gray duty uniform along with all the scars that come with a violent but long life. He stood in the middle of a sparsely furnished chamber. Opposite him were three benches, one high and the others lower but just above his eye level. The doors on both sides were blocked by a pair of Adder Patrolmen.

They didn’t seem that threatening compared to others he had seen. However, freeborn Elementals with weighted gloves, bad attitudes, and worse assignments were a very real threat as evidenced by the black eye. He had learned over the past two days his Bloodname was no protection for him in the stockade especially among those that knew who he was and why he was here.

There was motion behind the bench and the door opened to reveal a mature male Warrior not much older than himself wearing the formal uniform of Clan Star Adder. He wore the rank insignia of an Inquisitor, what passed for lawyers among the Clans, and the Meytani Blood Seal replaced that of the Cluster on his brooch. He took his position behind the right-side bench.

Another man entered closer in age but also an Inquisitor except with the Irons Blood Seal. Seth’s eyes were drawn to him recognizing the man from his past. Not that it was surprising. He knew almost every Irons of note whether they liked it or not. The signs of recognition and incredulity were apparent. Not that he intended to hide them.

He muttered something under his breath and the Patrolmen behind him shoved him, “What was that? Speak up slug.”

The Irons Advocate waved him off, “Its fine Patrolman. I can guess what he was saying.

Been a long time Seth. You never make our meetings.”

“You never wait for when I get around to it Michael. Why am I not surprised Sparrow sent you to be my Advocate?”

“I am the best Inquisitor in our Bloodhouse. Having plenty of practice because of you.”

He lifted a cybernetic arm over the bench looking down at Seth’s left hand with a burn scarred visage, “Seems you have one of your own now. About time you faced consequence for your actions. You should be grateful I deigned to appear, but Perot insisted that I speak in your defense.”

One of the Patrolmen shouted out from behind the bench, “All rise for the Loremaster!”

Loremaster Dagmar Lahiri ascended the steps looking small but hiding great energy for man nearly sixty. He had a distinguished codex, was one of the youngest Keepers, first Aerospace pilot to command a Galaxy, walking right off the battlefield at the request of the Khan to become Loremaster. The man had distinguished himself in all manners of Adder society earning respect for his fair judgment and cunning intellect.

Seth once more was taken by surprise he had expected an inquiry followed by a speedy Grievance and Refusal. The Loremaster being here meant something else was afoot. Dagmar sat down followed by the Inquisitors while the Patrolmen returned to their ready postures.

He activated the holo-projecter hidden in the ceiling to show the Sidewinder’s BattleROM as the Trial played out at triple speed to its fateful climax in silence. The display lingered like a phantom above him in the display cube showing the last moments of Bryza Meytani before her life was snuffed out by his Omnimech's feet.

“Star Captain Seth Irons you stand accused of the dishonorable executions of Star Captain Bryza Meytani and Star Commander Kurt Daniels. Both formerly of Delta Galaxy’s Seventeenth Cavaliers Cluster in a Trial of Position regarding command of said Cluster and the rank of Star Colonel on the Star Adder Proving Grounds two days ago.

Meytani Inquisitor Cyril has demanded the right to Reave your legacy and lineage from the Irons Bloodhouse. Do you have anything to say in your defense before I ask your Advocate to speak on your behalf?”

“May I speak freely sir.”
“Stay on topic.”
“I would like to dismiss my Advocate.”

Inquisitor Michael hardly moved but Seth could see him grimace, “Inquisitor Michael is known as a fair arbiter of The Martial Code. On what grounds do you seek his dismissal?”

“He covets my bloodname. I am the one that injured him in the Trial of Refusal he issued to my Bloodright. Then I piloted his former Stormcrow in the REVIVAL trials with the Fifth Assault.”

With that Michael stood posed to leap over the bench, Patrolmen on both sides readied to intervene. “Savashri! You damn Freeborn! Can you not see that I am trying to help you?

You never think of anything but your own Glory and that is why Gabriela and the others are dead! Just like your former commands. Yet Star Killer Seth Irons always lives. No one looks back to see the mess that is your Codex and I’m sick of it. What will it take to end you?”

He turned to the Loremaster and adjusted himself, “If it pleases the Loremaster I will accept my client’s dismissal.”

Dagmar pondering it a moment, “Motion dismissed. Inquisitor Michael please stay for the remaining proceedings. Perhaps Star Captain Irons will retract his request. Now back to your defense Star Captain.”

“I would like the BattleROM to be wound back approximately three minutes from this moment with audio enabled. I will determine the mark.”

An unseen technician returned the display cube to moments before the Summoner was mortally wounded. Both machines had multiple armor breaches and critical damage. A well-placed strike could have easily ensured a double kill leaving the fate of the trial in the hands of their partners currently fighting it out nearby.

Seth’s voice came in over the radio, “Star Captain I am offering you hegira. Power down your weapons.”

The voice of a dead woman came in eerily clear, “Neg, all it will take is one more shot.”

Seconds later the Summoner made an unexpected turn firing its autocannon towards an unseen target. The turn put it in an excellent position for Seth’s weapons to punch through its core and immobilize it with a solid gyro kill. It crashed back into the dirt unable to keep itself vertical. The smoke clears revealing the Linebacker standing motionless next to a face down Hellbringer venting steam.

An exuberant Seth came in over the radio, “Gabriela we did it!”

A slight pause followed, “Star Commander do you read me?”

The Sidewinder walked toward the Linebacker with an increasingly anxious Seth still talking on the radio, “Speak to me woman. This is not the time for a silent treatment.”

Once the Sidewinder reached the Linebacker the cockpit camera captured what remained of the Star Commander shredded beyond recognition by an LBX cluster munition at close range. Star Commander Daniels didn’t see the Sidewinder aiming the Gauss round that would punch through his mech’s head.

Star Captain Meytani though, she saw the foot coming down on her because she attempted to block with the Summoner's arms but was to slow. The tech shut the projector off just as the cockpit glass crushed.

“As you heard I offered Bryza hegira before she broke Zell to headhunt Star Commander Gabriela, possibly knowing that her cockpit was compromised. She chose to fire cluster munitions at my partner rather than me even though I was the easier target and she could have disabled my mech in the process.

It is possible that I was too hasty with Kurt. Though he may have conspired with her there is no way she had a clear idea of how damaged Gabriela's Linebacker was without hearing it over comms. I will seek Surkai with the Daniels Bloodhouse only if it is proven he was not complicit in the murder.

However, Bryza was still an active target. She failed to shut her mech down and cede the trial when grounded. She could have shot me in the back given the opportunity and still won the Trial.”

The Meytani Inquisitor spoke up, “Slander! Bryza was an honorable Warrior of Clan Star Adder. These accusations impugn her legacy as surely as you have ended it. The Meytani Bloodhouse will not forgot what you have done. You will face justice for the crimes you have committed Star Captain Irons.”

Dagmar looked over to Michael, “Any more words Inquisitor?”

“I have spoken my peace Loremaster and offer no further comment in the defense of my client. The Irons Bloodhouse will support whatever judgment you impose on the Star Captain.”

“You are dismissed Inquisitors. Star Captain Irons and I will discuss his judgment in private and announce it by hour's end.”
Both Inquisitors saluted and walked out the doors opened by the Patrolmen. Loremaster Lahiri signaled to the Patrolmen who left leaving the two Warriors alone in a darkened room.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Brother Jim on 14 August 2020, 12:58:32
Tagged !!   :thumbsup:
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 14 August 2020, 17:21:39
Figured I would put these up here as well for the original and IS vision of this AU which is already an astonishing 500+ pages. Enjoy if you haven't read them before.

Katherine, pt 1, White Wolf of Ragnarok (

Katherine, pt 2, The Third Transfer (

Katherine, pt 3, The Price of Glory (
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 15 August 2020, 08:23:53
Loremaster Dagmar Lahiri stood up from his bench and nimbly dismounted it in a way no man nearly sixty should be capable of. He stood about Seth's shoulder height and launched a fierce punch right to his solar plexis that doubled the Mechwarrior over with coughing fits. “Look me in the eye Warrior!”

Star Captain Irons collected himself taking a step back and leaning slightly to look the smaller Aerofighter Pilot in the eye. “Better. I hope you understand the situation that you put me in.”

Seth tried to resist the urge to cough or stand tall once more, “I do not know that I do Loremaster. Please enlighten me.”

“You killed two Bloodnamed officers during a routine Trial, while we are at war with the Burrock Underground. That would be treasonous enough.”

Lahiri stalked the room while Seth remained in place, “in normal times I would have let the Meytani Reave you without any further consideration.

However, we are not in normal times and you will be spared only because we need everybody. The Burrocks are proving harder to digest than we projected. I cannot afford to lose more combat hardened officers even rogues like yourself.”

The Loremaster returned to the bench leaning against it and opening up his comm-pad, “That Trial even resulted in the death of a Star Commander on the short list for reassignment. The only thing that could have stopped her transfer to Delta was the thing that did.”

“I was not made aware that there were already plans to move Gabriela to Delta.”

“Why would you? You are not her commanding officer. GC Turgidston had threatened to Refuse orders to take her away from Kappa but not if she volunteered. She already had a slot lined up and requested to compete as your partner to make it an official Trial. Her service history is not nearly as checkered as your own.”

He paused after typing something out the pad, “We need more officers like her in the Touman. Smart, players. Now I must tell GC Talasko that he is down three more officers! And I cannot send him the fourth he needs due to political reasons lest I have three bloodhouses feuding like a bunch of Kindraa.

He will have to source replacements and bring in more Mechwarriors from the Provisionals or questionable Burrocks to fill out his Clusters.

Things are about to get much more dangerous here in the homeworlds, because you are right.”

Seth gave the man a confused look, “About what?”

A verdant world with two continents separated by a shallow green ocean appeared in the holoprojector at the command of the Loremaster's pad. “Do you recognize this world Star Captain?”

“Huntress, quiaff?”
“Aff. How would you defend it?”
“How would I defend it? Against whom?”
“The Inner Sphere.”

A queer sense of deja vu and bad omens filled his mind, “I still do not follow sir.”
“You have done whole lectures about the threat the Inner Sphere might pose to the Homeworlds. Don't tell me you are left mute now that you have a captive audience of something other than star eyed Sibkin.”

Seth passed his hand through the immaterial sphere, “It was all theory crafting Loremaster. Wargames, lessons for the Academy Sibko and Kappa. Just like my father taught me.”

“Now it is real...imagine yourself as ilKhan Lincoln Osis, hulking, stupid but cunning Elemental that he is. How would you defend Huntress?”

“Does the Inner Sphere have Warships?”

“Assume they do. How would you stop them?”

“Huntress claims to have an SDS. It dates to the Mongoose Absorption, has never been used, and is likely moldering and in poor repair. Fighters would be scattered on bases groundside and reserved for destroying dropships. Whatever Warships I have in system would be kept in reserve to check the Spheroid vessels. Using nuclear weapons if I must against their largest vessel to inspire fear if nothing else.”

Lahiri imagined such a scenario. No Clan had used nukes since the Not-Named destroyed Dehra Dun and the Snow Raven's genetic repository in their early history. The Smoke Jaguars and Jade Falcons might be the least likely to use them proud as they were. Nuclear weapons were dezgra better to let their clan die gloriously then live with the shame of such a deed. “You think Osis might use nukes?”

“If they have them it would be foolish not to. Though that is not saying much for Lincoln. Regardless I think even the Jaguars would use nukes if truly pressed. It would be a lesser dishonor than losing one's capital to chalcas.”

“What about on the ground?”
“How many are there on both sides?”
“Unknown, presume three Galaxies bid against one of the FedCom's RCTs, and another in kind of Great House military.”

“They would send some of their best units to ensure it was done right. The Free World’s League and Capellan Confederation would likely not however, neither were affected by REVIVAL. League politics would prevent it and the Liaos have historically kept their best units close. A tradition which continues according to the Dragoon reports.”

“You have read all of the Dragoon reports.”

“My father was a Scientist specializing in military analysis. He could not cut it as a Warrior but kept the interests of one as a Watch Adjutant. I memorized the reports in creche and refreshed myself each rotation through Central.”

“Now back to the ground.”

“I cannot predict how that will happen. The Jaguars have too wide a range of Star Colonels and Galaxy Commanders. Some are cautious, others reckless, and their actions will be dictated by the Spheroid attackers unless we can maintain air cover which the Jaguars likely will not be able to accomplish. I suppose the Spheroids would aim for the military factories on world but whether they do so for capture or destruction I cannot tell.”

“Now to political theory. How could this attack be interpreted by the Grand Council?”

“As long as the Inner Sphere comes with the clear objective of Annihilating the Jaguar, I think they will do so unmolested in fact there may be enthusiastic support from some clans for their demise. It will not be done without significant cost however a wounded or cornered animal is the most dangerous kind and the Jaguars would be both on Huntress.”

Seth turned toward a table hidden away and drained a water bottle, “How do you know they are coming?”

The Loremaster with a wave caused the globe of Huntress to disappear, “We have been cultivating a relationship with their Merchants since the beginning of REVIVAL. They meet their impossible quotas if they are short avoiding punishment, and in return we get information from the Occupation Zone.

They have told us that there is hushed talk of a general withdrawal and mention of almost completely unguarded Enclaves. Our Watch is looking into both inquiries but we must be prepared for your scenario to come to pass.”

Seth leaned against the bench looking at the digital clock display suspended above them in the holocube it read, 17:58. “This has all been very interesting but what is to happen to me.”

“I am going to give you what you Star Captain.”
Loremaster Lahiri watched the display change to 17:59, “and then take it all away. I can think of no more just punishment than that. Though there will be calls for Grievance because of it.”

04/22/3060 Location – Star Adder District, Katayusha City, Strana Mechty

Khan Cassius N'Buta stood before his Keshik most of its Warriors looked haggard and far above their average age of 32. The man was tall and thin with furrowed brows that suited those of an aging Patrician of the late Star League. For fifty-six years he had served his Clan with pride accomplishing much during his thirty year tenure as Khan.

His brilliant political maneuvering had made the Star Adders the premier power in the homeworlds. The Burrock Absorption had not gone to plan initially but Bandits were once more a low level threat courtesy of the 'reformed' Burrocks that now helped rebuild and expand his Touman. The loose alliance with the Steel Vipers and Cloud Cobras had yet to solidly but that was mostly due to Khans Steiner and Zalman having disagreements and grudges with one another not anything the Adders did.

The past year had been a massive learning experience for the Snake Alliance and it didn't presently seem to be slowing down. First Prince Victor Steiner-Davion, Princess Danai Centrella, and the other notables of the Spheroid task force were guests of Khan Vladimir Ward. All were presently enjoying a prestigious dinner at the Wolves' Enclave of Golden Mountain. He had called for a Trial of Refusal against OPERATION:REVIVAL itself and in the process would complete the de-facto Annihilation of Clan Smoke Jaguar begun months ago. IlKhan Lincoln Osis had plead his case but failed to convince the Grand Council that the Jaguars were worth saving. His final Binary would face the Prince tomorrow in the Bloody Basin.

Cassius faced his Cluster sized Keshik's Star Commanders and Captains most of them were aged Ristars that his Loremaster promoted for temporary duty. Their predecessors, younger very promising Warriors, had been reassigned to man vacant posts in Alpha and Beta Galaxy while the Provisionals and Burrocks filled out the other three Front line Galaxies. “The First Free World Guards have bid a company against the cutdown of a Binary for their portion of the Trial of Refusal. Who seeks this bid?”

All raised their hands which was hardly a surprise. “Any bids below the cutdown?”
Star Captain Seth Irons raised his hand, “I bid eight Points. My Nova with only a Triplet of its Elementals using the new Corona suits.”

The other Officers looked at him like he was mad. Clan Omnimechs were quite capable of taking down two to one odds in the open. However, the heavy weight Free World Guards had chosen the marshlands near the Perium Swamp as the Circle of Equals terrain that favored endurance and firepower over range and mobility. The Corona Battle Armor had only just come out of testing and no Warrior Elemental or Mech had used it in a Trial yet, certainly not one of this magnitude.

The Khan was completely calm, “Ambitious bid Star Captain very far below the cut-down but not impossible. Is anyone willing to match this bid?”

No hands were raised, taking worse than two to one odds in that terrain was reckless.
“Star Captain you win the right of commanding this Trial. Make the Star Adders proud tomorrow.

Keshik Kuraltai dismissed.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 15 August 2020, 10:59:38
Super tag
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 15 August 2020, 23:50:07
04/22/3060 Location – Circe IV, Pentagon Worlds

Star Commander Claude Goulet waited in his seat aboard the militarized S-7AC 'Scarab' gunship piloted by Tanite Harvesters. It was indistinguishable from the normal versions that plied star systems through the Inner Sphere and Clanspace servicing orbital infrastructure. The Scarab class however was equipped with heavier armor, retracted in its nose was a pair of large pulse lasers and anti-missile systems while smaller lasers were mounted on sponsons and electronic warfare gear operated by a Tech behind the flight deck. If they got close enough there would be no chance a transmission would reach the Jump Points and alert the rest of the forces in system.

Presently they were approaching the mothballed Mongoose Fleet's caretaker station orbiting a Neptunian Ice Giant at the far end of the Circe system. Faint transponder beacons appeared on the RADAR display attached to the broken vessels for navigational purposes. Blue white Circe IV (Clarke) grew larger on their view-screens and if one zoomed in they could see the station's lights pulsing faintly against the black velvet of space.

Faye Freelander, Jaguar abthaka, had transmitted her high level clearance codes but there was no guarantee of cooperation once they breached the station. The Mandrills were here to steal vessels from the Cache without the Council or even their own Clan knowing about it. Today the Grand Council had more important things to worry about then a distress signal from a space station that may or may not go through.

Former Jaguar's Sword Point Commander Faye Freelander and Harvester Squad Leader Konrad headed up their own 'Chalk' of seven troopers. He was with the same Marines he had under his command since Shadow. They had seen him through the Feud started aboard the CFM Rancor that resulted in 'unscheduled live fire exercises' and 'training accidents' between the Mick and Goulet troops embarked. He couldn't return without allies capable of overturning the Grievance between the two Bloodhouses instead going AWOL with the CFMDS Mastodon to protect himself.

The pilots' voice rang over the intercom, “Five minutes to go Star Commander. Still nothing suspicious from the Jaguars.”

“Aff, all Chalks arm up.” The sounds of compact Gauss SMGs being racked filled the cabin and the guns were attached by carabiner straps attached to D-hooks on the side. Each Marine carried a pulse laser pistol on a thigh rig, a sheathed 'buster' forced entry tool on the vest, two retractable grapnels attached to high tensile wire and wire cuffs hung from their belts. Three magazines, an LSSU, and two extra power packs filled their pockets. All of them held onto their handles as the gunship maneuvered toward the docking bay.

Konrad looked immensely satisfied, the shiny new weapons contrasted with their worn out space suits. “This is way better than we normal get. Can we keep these after we done Star Commander?”

“Aff, extras from the Rancor's arsenal. The Micks don't need them anymore.”

The other Harvesters nodded their heads, “Nice, you fine, Mandrill Marine man. Happy you come to us for aid.

Now we steal things, yeah?”

The cabin lights dimmed and went red activating the shoulder and gauntlet mounted lights of the suits. Each trooper dropped their armored visors covering everything but a narrow slot for the eyes and adding extra protection to the neck dam. Claude looked at the time display in his HUD, “Yeah, Two minutes. Form up.” He clicked the weapon selector to burst fire, “Weapons hot.”

The Mandrills stood in the lead with Jaguars behind and Harvesters in the back. The gunship had its port hatch attached to the station and the light was still red while the docking bay re-pressurized. When the light blinked green the hatch was opened from the flight deck and Claude Goulet and his heavily armed strike team burst into the bay to very confused but unarmed Jaguar Technicians 'stalking' (a particular form of tactical walking when using magnetic boots) with weapons ready.

He triggered the speakers, “Stay where you are!” before returning to the radio, “Faye keep moving to your objective. Konrad put them in the Scarab and hold this bay.”

Two “affs” came over the radio and one of the bolder Techs ran toward the alarm and was put down with a silent three round burst. His blood sprayed out forming crimson globules in space.

He wheeled around at each of the techs in turn, “I am serious! No one move! Hands up!” The remaining two Techs complied and were secured in the Scarab before the Harvesters took up defensive positions behind parts of the station. Mandrills and Jaguars split up and pried open the thin metal doors leading into the station.

The walls of the station were thin it was after all not a combat installation instead it was overseen by a Scientist. As they stalked about the alarm blared and the lights went out, “Faye was that you?”

“Neg, Claude. There are lots of cameras here. The Station Controller probably activated them.”

Emergency bulkheads sealed in the corridor. They weren't difficult to bypass but took time, time that could be better spent securing their objectives. “Savashri Scientist!”

At the controls Station Controller Viken watched the intruders with interest while he suited up and holstered his Gauss pistol. They were under attack and while the colors were those of fellow Jaguars since they had the Sword's command codes, a team was painted up like Mandrills particularly their elite 23rd Air Assault, and more from an unidentified third party attacking his station, none of this was easy to explain.

One of his cellmates called out from console on the other side of the large station. “One of their teams are approaching my laboratory. We are being jammed so my techs are purging the datacores. The others will have to rely on our off-station backups.”

“Ensure everything is lost Jan. We can't take chances and will have to activate the security team.”

“They are not ready yet! You don't know what they will do.”

“We cannot allow these interlopers to uncover what we have done here. I will issue the order now. Meet me in the Armory. Go outside if you must to avoid them.”

“Aff Controller.”

Viken opened up another intranet channel on the other side was a large man already in his own Combat Space Suit. He saw the thin form of Viken in the video phone, “Arsenal, activate and arm the security team.”

With a nod Arsenal triggered the wake up procedure for his clone soldiers. They were in the spacer barracks arrangement known as a 'Bat Cave' where their individual sleeping bags were suspended from the 'ceiling.' Slowly the halo visors attached to their heads powered down, something was injected into their necks, and then the speakers emitted a shrill frequency that was inaudible to the older Scientist who had been removed from the field in disgrace prior to REVIVAL.

The twenty troopers woke, tearing themselves out of their bags with strangely long arms almost a throwback to humanity's primate ancestry. Each was already dressed in a Combat Space Suit. Arsenal stood before them, “Wake up!”

He triggered something on his gauntlet computer that opened the door into the armory. “Gather your weapons!”

Each of the troopers grabbed onto the straps built into the walls and swung themselves into the armory triggering their magnetic boots, readying their clantech Mausers, and doffing their helmets. After a quick buddy check they all stood before him with rifles shouldered. “We have intruders. Your orders are to kill them by whatever means.”

The troopers broke into teams of five and nimbly moved via overhand straps with their Mausers strapped into cargo netting on their vests.

Faye Freelander waited while her Pointman tried to pry open the latest of their bulkheads. They had not encountered any armed resistance yet or seen anybody at all really. The CFMDS Mastodon, Star Commander Kline's Point of Batus, and another Scarab gunship filled with Harvesters was coming in from the other side of the planet having been informed of their situation. Kline's two Batus stood ready to intercept any small craft that might escape the net with their rocket pods and lasers.

Something was off about this station but she couldn't put her finger on it. With a grunt the Jaguar opened the door but his helmet was struck with a laser rifle which burned away a large portion of the visor which did its job. If it wasn't there, well the gore would be contained in the helmet but it would never come clean. The Jaguar detached the red hot piece of metal before it damaged the suit.

“Contact! Fall back!” The Swords were experts in CQB but they were operating at a tactical disadvantage having no explosives. This was supposed to be a lightly guarded installation capable of only token resistance and likely to fold quickly. Now they had Mausers, grenades, and body armor.

“Claude, Konrad we are taking fire.”

Claude Goulet took cover around a corner as an under-barrel grenade burst into flechettes that shredded the structure. He used his gauntlet bore-scope to look around at the strange fighters on the other side. They seemed to fire from impossible angles with their long arms. He hadn't seen much of their bodies yet. “Same here. Konrad sitrep?”

Ten of the strange Marines pinned down the Harvesters. Their laser rifles burned some of the Scarab's armor and Harvesters had taken injuries from the grenades which we more effective in the open terrain. One of the flank mounted small pulse lasers activated on the gunship and cut the soldier down.

Gauss darts put small holes in the armor behind the unknown security team that ducked and hid around corners before aiming their heavy laser rifles at the light infantry. “The bay is still secure for now...”

“Hang in there Konrad, reinforcements are on the way. They are going to grapple across. We don't want to open the bay doors and depressurize the sector. Use the airlock to let them in.”

Konrad looked over at the airlock built into the bay door. There wasn't much cover there but he looked at the empty cargo boxes secured to the deck. “I'm going in one. Suppressive fire on my mark.”

“That crazy boss man.”
Each of them loaded a new magazine, “We with you. On your mark.”

The other four Harvesters stood up and fired off rapid bursts of their Gauss SMGs toward the bad guys while Konrad floated toward the open containers and hid himself in one. He threw a grapnel that found purchase on a bar near his target location and triggered the recoil action that slowly pulled him across the open airlock. The lasers struck the thick metal but slagged it rather than the man inside. By the time he cycled the airlock and let more troopers in they had the security team on the run.

Claude was in a difficult position still pinned down and wishing he had a PA(L) rather than a CSS. Through quick hand gestures he transferred the plan to the rest of his team. Each nodded in turn, three troops opened up on the targets while the other two hung onto each other with the lead man having his head in the crotch of the other. They pushed off the wall and were given another push by the trio with their free hands.

Evan and he went feet first toward the enemy distracted by the enfilade. As they neared the opposite wall they split and magnetized the boots attaching themselves to the wall taking the shock with their knees. Before they settled they went full auto in the midst of the enemy. The Gauss darts punched through the CSSs and embedded themselves in the backplate. They were followed by the other trio who could not move as quickly as they needed to swing themselves off the straps. Within thirty seconds their enemies were floating dead in the station and they were back on mission prying through the bulkheads in a darkened space station full of surprises.

Faye Freelander dodged the vibroblade bayonet of a security trooper it was so close she could hear it zing past her but if she hadn't bent back she would have lost her head. The slash had been thrown hastily from the heavy rifle and caused the man to spin himself. With both hands on the rifle he had trouble finding straps to anchor himself even with his strangely shaped boot. It was not a solid form with a 'tread' of magnets like her own but had two 'toes' like the Jika-Tabi worn by some DCMS ashigaru infantry and many spacers.

She drew the buster tool on her breastplate and readied it while holding on to one of the straps. With perfect timing and a solid three point hold she slammed the axe head into the man's visor shattering it and cleaving into his head. The bayonet came with a thrust that she barely avoid by shifting her core to the side. It cut through the station structure like it wasn't even there and she deactivated it from the off-side lest she injure herself on a dead man's bayonet and never hear the end of it.

Globules of blood floated between them and splattered themselves on her visor whose water resistant coating shed them bouncing them off until they found the station walls. She looked down and saw that her suit was damaged and showed pale skin and red underneath she hadn't completely avoid the blade but it was only a graze. One of the other Jaguars looked at her still holding the axe in her hand with a dead man's gun in the other. “I am injured but I will be fine.” She released the tool and unpacked one of the many patches carried on all space suits removing its adhesive backing before placing it over the hole.

They continued on to their objective with the additional manpower and special tools of the Harvesters they made short work of the flimsy barricades put in their way.

Outside Star Commander Joseph Kline noticed a docking bay open. His fighter was cockpit 'down' relative to the station with the armored cowling already in place, “Guys I have movement out here.”

A KR-61 Shuttle burned out at flank speed. “We got a runner. Collie you are with me. Intercept and destroy.”

He issued a tight beam broadcast to the shuttle as the Batu B's changed trajectories and gave chase. “Unidentified shuttle This is Star Commander Joseph Kline of Clan Fire Mandrill. Return to the station or face destruction. You have thirty seconds to alter trajectory before we fire.”

Thirty seconds elapsed putting the shuttle dangerously close to escaping the jamming. 160 Rockets and a dozen laser pulses made short work of the target before they could call for help.

Claude arrived at what the markings indicated was the command center. A single man sat restrained in the chair but the other consoles were vacant. He aimed the seized Mauser at the target, “Check it out Evan.”

Former Patrolman now Marine Evan circled wide keeping his SMG leveled at the man who wore no insignia or nameplate on his suit. A Gauss Pistol was in his hands with a single hole in the visor right in the 'T.'

“He's dead sir. Self-inflicted.” Claude crept close and confirmed the shot before securing the Gauss pistol and holster onto his webbing. He looked around at the blinking consoles, “Where are the others? Must be six consoles here. There's only three techs in the docking bay.”

Faye came in over the radio she had been exploring the 'lower decks' after securing engineering. The Harvesters were already on cleanup of the twenty combatants while the Mastodon docked. “Star Commander you should come take a look at this.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Kyryst on 16 August 2020, 01:08:37
Wow. Nice fight scenes. So, we are seeing the Society revealed early, huh. Can't wait to see what happens next.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 16 August 2020, 07:12:56
Oh. The society? Well that's a interesting twist. I forgot about those guys.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 16 August 2020, 19:32:45
Wow. Nice fight scenes. So, we are seeing the Society revealed early, huh. Can't wait to see what happens next.

We already saw a bit of them in the Dagda entry. They will continue to play a critical role in this story just like they did in canon but smarter this time.

Claude Goulet stood on the bridge with the rest of his team suddenly on alert with the Jaguar calling in concerned. “What is it Faye?”

The Jaguar synced her helmet's POV to the Battlenet maintained by the Scarabs. What Claude saw in her camera was carnage. All space stations had 'storm shelters' to protect crew in the event of a solar storm, micrometeorite swarm, or enemy action anything else could be handled by small lasers mounted in strategic points on the fuselage. Within the one Faye was looking into she saw no few than a dozen men, or the parts of them, and multiple hole punctures leaking water globules from the radiation insulation tanks.

Claude was trying to figure out what did these people in, “Its not lasers so not the Marines. Grenades?”

Faye's POV panned around, putting her fingers in one of the leaking holes to find a clean round edge. “It's too clean. This was a heavy rifle of some kind.”

One of the Jaguars was looking around and signaled her to come over toward a crunched portion of the superstructure. Claude's blood went cold as he saw the distinctive pattern of an Elemental's battle claw crumbling the station's walls. “We have a rogue Elemental suit.”

She lifted her Mauser into the field of view. “If there is an Elemental on the loose I would feel a lot better with some heavier weapons.”
“Neg, Faye get your people up here.”

Claude tried to turn on one of the vacant consoles but was met with a lock-screen and routines that flashed epitaphs at him. “They locked the cameras down we need eyes on this station.” He whirled his finger the tactical sign for form up and follow and the Mandrills fell in now very alert to the new danger. The team immediately went into motion heading toward the shuttle bay.

“All teams drop whatever you are doing and return to the docking bay. Konrad pick three splicers (Harvester slang for Hackers) to come up here and help Faye get me eyes. I also need a rock launcher and two shields capable of taking a burst from a heavy machine gun. We are going hunting.

Kline he might be outside do a frame by frame search with your fighters.

Nina abort docking maneuver if this Elemental gets on-board its over for your people.”

Kline's Batu was running low on fuel (reaction mass technically) but Claude needed him outside. He bellied up to his Wingman who transferred the ammonia before slowly heading back to the Mastodon. The second Scarab joined him but kept its distance. The gunship was much larger than his aerospace fighter and not quite as nimble as the Viper interceptor, it did however have an active probe that might find their target faster especially if he was hiding behind protrusions on the fuselage.

The RCS jets on his Batu fired as he approached within twenty meters of the habitat station. This was a dangerous distance, an Elemental suit configured for Space Ops could easily make the jump to board his fighter to rip off the cockpit or use the machine gun to punch through the few soft spots on all fighters.

He engaged the tight beam RADAR and pointed it toward the station engaging in a sweep. Elemental's ceramic carbide armor reflected it differently than the normal ferro-aluminum used to protect stations from the normal hazards of their environment. The task was still like finding a needle on a piece of metal you needed to feel it out without getting pricked. Each 'slice' of the station was marked with the interior frame number to make servicing the antennae and surface components easier.

Three hundred meters away on the other side of the station the Scarab Gunship maintained a standoff distance of fifty meters. Behind the flight deck a dedicated crewman manned the active probe searching the station on all frequencies. Its weapons were fully extended and moved with the cockpit gunner's helmet just like that of a Donar attack helicopter but about six times larger. The gunner and sensor operator detected a thruster pack engaging.“We have him Claude. Section B, Frame five, compartment twelve.” The Gunship turned but was not fast enough to catch the Elemental before he entered an out of sight maintenance airlock.

Claude shouldered a tube while Evan and Kosha carried the makeshift shields cut from heavy boxes on the docks by the Harvesters' hydraulic cutter-spreader 'jaws'. Each of the Mandrills shed their lighter weapons and carried the heavy Mausers that would have a limited effect on the battlesuit. They looked towards the alphanumeric markings in their own compartment, the enemy location was relatively close they might reach him before the airlock cycled. “Kline get over there. We will try to pin and push him out.”

“Aff, RCS engaged.”
Outside J. Kline simply slowed himself and waited for the right frame to come into view from the rotating station and altered his attitude to reach the coordinates. The Gunship adjusted its own position giving the fighter plenty of room to maneuver around them.

Inside the Mandrills split into two groups holding the corridor next to the airlock each located at a right angle to the other. The Elemental had just reentered and was being suppressed by the under-barrel grenades and high power lances of the Mausers (which unlike the original was an ER laser rifle rather than a pulsed variety) but the power packs were running low. The makeshift shields had protected them from some machine gun bursts but the Elemental had more ammo than they had armor. Two Mandrills had been injured already and withdrawn.

Behind the Elemental Claude saw the outline of the airlock that Arsenal had used to reenter.

“Can you cut through the station hull? Just around the Airlock.”

“Aff, stand clear.”

Joseph adjusted his targeting module to create a circle and fired its seven pulse lasers and over twenty seconds had breached the lightweight armor. Inside the station Claude and the others braced themselves as the air vented. Emergency bulkheads closed to prevent more atmosphere from being lost to space. The Elemental suit was solidly locked onto the ground looking towards him. He shouldered the recoil-less rifle and fired a solid slug that silently adhered to the damaged breastplate. The Elemental didn't move but Claude was sure he was laughing about how ineffectual the weapon was...

Right until the high powered rocket booster activated and blew him off his feet and out the hole into empty space where he was cut to shreds by precision guided pulse lasers. A rock launcher was not a weapon but was a tool used by naval salvage crews to move heavy objects. In this case a one ton Elemental suit and its operator.

Joseph came in over the radio, his fighter was positioned in line with the hole and he could see the CSS of Claude. He turned and tipped his wings before disappearing from sight, “Nice lay up Claude. See you soon.”

“This is Goulet, the rogue Elemental has been dealt with. I still want all salvage crews to operate in trios and keep your helmets on. I want a report on what we are dealing with in an hour.
Mastodon you should be clear to dock after picking up Kline.
Scarab two can we get a ride? Bulkheads are sealed for a reason this time.”

Scarab two slowly moved toward their location 'dropping' a remotely operated STABO cable for the final twenty meters. The cable's 'top' thruster pack slowly entered the station and the Mandrills hooked onto the line using their suit harness and were gently pulled aboard.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 17 August 2020, 07:07:51
An hour later Star Commanders Claude Goulet, Nina Tanaga, and Joseph Kline were joining by Superior Derek Regner in the small Wardroom of their Type 96 Elephant dropship. The Superior was a lifelong spacer and while they had grown to understand his behavior, he was a bit off to those that grew up with ground beneath their feet and a sky above. They had picked him up along with the other Newts aboard Newgrange City and put the veteran Engineer in charge of salvage operations.

He looked around and only saw three faces, “Where is the Jaguar?”
“She is interrogating the Laborers we captured during the raid. We need to know what happened in that station.”

Derek zipped up his OD jumpsuit covering the black undershirt with the SLS Shanghai logo. “I am afraid I cannot help you there. The station's computers are locked down harder than a cloistered nun. My people couldn't recover anything useful from the erased drivers either. We did find something interesting in one of the compartments though.”

He broadcast something from his gauntlet comm-pad to the holo-projector set up in the table. An Iron Womb marked with alphanumeric code and an unknown logo. “This I've seen before in a Merchant report from WP 531. Makes me wonder what they are doing here and who they might really be.”

Claude put his hand on the laser pistol he always carried with him, “Something to do with those weird Marines?”

“Not sure you will ever verify that, but it seems plausible. Where they got the Iron Wombs and Mausers from is a mystery. If they have our tech it had to come from somewhere.”

Nina put another image up from Claude's gun-camera of the strange Marines, “and they have made improvements too. I wish we had a Scientist that could interpret this. We'll have to settle for Sera and Zack's analysis because I cannot send a cadaver to our own people. Too many questions will be asked, and we are not authorized to be here in the first place...”

Another image appeared of the dead man in the control room that was now aboard the Mastodon. “Once everyone is patched up, we need to find out who this guy might be.”

Derek once more took the lead changing the holo-image over to the RADAR globe of their surrounding area. “Indeed...if this is a Bandit operation then the only thing that might be keeping the station from broadcasting a signal is our jamming. I recommend we keep it active until Joseph and Collie deal with any comm satellites nearby.

I can erase the cores something could be waiting in a low-level system to be sent to the array.”

Joseph was still in his flight suit with the Aerofighter neuro-helmet attached to his rig already, “Satellite hunting.” Derek piped in before he could continue, “We will send a gunship to provide sensor support and fuel as necessary.” Joseph walked out less than eager to accomplish this very boring but necessary duty that all pilots had to engage in.

“Meanwhile I have my people searching the station for any salvageable tech or supplies. The Mastodon should deorbit that station before we begin the recovery operations.”

The two remaining officers looked at him with confusion, they had intended to use the station as a habitat during the operation even though their dropship could support the 110-man crew (30 Mandrills, 5 Jaguars, 20 Newts, and 55 Harvesters) and dozen smaller craft (10 Shuttles, 2 Omnifighters) for months without resupply. “Don't worry. This isn’t the first time I have looted a naval cache. Making things look like accidents is something of a specialty for me. Once we are done here it shouldn't warrant any further investigation by the Ravens and we can work in peace.”

Nina as Warrior in command of the ship couldn’t argue with the logic and agreed that the crew wouldn’t want to work in a habitat that carried strange experiments inside. Who knew what those scientists were working on? “I agree, do you think three days will be enough to fill the hold?”

“Aff, it will be enough to move aeroponics, tools, spare parts, volatiles, and other consumables from the station to here, likely a week to set them up inside. There definitely have been modifications to this station over the years and it likely carries some interesting objects aboard but that is all we need for extended operations. Salvaging any scientific equipment will take longer.”

“Tell the Harvesters to not touch any scientific apparatus. Better to let that stuff burn up then we worry about what it might be. Video and images will have to do. I will take some Techs from the Mastodon over when we have embarked the necessary cargo to chronicle our findings and covertly report them to the Watch when we come back in.”

“As you wish Commander. Now if you will excuse me, I am going to suit up and head over to the station.”

Derek walked out leaving Nina and Claude in the darkened wardroom. “This isn’t what we expected Claude. Sorry about putting you in danger.”

“I am a Marine Nina. Its what I am trained to do. Those Scientists were not expecting a Marine raiding party, or we surely would have lost the station or more men. Only ten out of the twenty-five were injured with no fatalities. I would consider that a miracle any day.

Something is strange though. They had to know who Faye was or at least had some idea for us to get this close with her codes. The ilKhan gave her a mission to find out the rot in the Jaguars but how many others are there. Clanspace has more than a hundred worlds, most have something on or around them and that is not even counting the outliers like Newgrange. There could be dozens of these installations hidden right under our noses and they could be multiplying.”

Two days later deep beneath the oceans on the world of Fasa, Scientist-Controller Calloway was just starting to watch the delayed broadcast of the Great Refusal that had happened ‘yesterday’ (Terran Standard Day was also used on spacecraft and underwater installations) on Strana Mechty. A call came in from the planetary HPG and he tapped the videophone, “Sir, Viken has failed to report in for two days according to Circe Primary.”

“Those savage Apes probably got to him this time. Serves him right, he choose to job for outsiders. Denise tell Primary that he is to ensure that the station is remotely de-orbited and inform him that he is in charge now. Is there any other business?”
“Neg, Sir.”
“Good, I hear this Great Refusal ends quite properly and would not like to be interrupted.”
He queued the video up on his display and poured himself a drink. “Don’t spoil it for me, Denise.”

“Aff, Sir. Enjoy.”
“I shall. Let the End begin.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 19 August 2020, 21:32:22
The Great Refusal
Blood Spirit - Khan Schmitt is killed by the 1st Genyosha
Fire Mandrill – Red Lancers Win | Hell's Horses – Drakon's Win
Ice Hellion/Nova Cat – Khan Asa Taney and both Nova Cat Khans dead, despite that Nova Cat win
Jade Falcon – Falcons Win | Star Adder – Adders Win
Wolves – Wolves draw with the 1st St Ives Lancers

04/23/3060 Location – Perium Swamp, Strana Mechty

Force Commander Karin Orloff stood in the open cockpit enjoying the salt air while looking out with binoculars toward the Star Adder side of the 3 square kilometer Circle of Equals. Seven mechs in dark blue assembled across the way with unusual Elementals being dropped off by an Anhur transport which quickly departed leaving a trail of turboprop exhaust on the water. Beneath her Battlemaster K3 the ground was spongy and wet and the flanks were covered by an estuary and swamp. It was a perfect place to fight the more mobile Clan mechs and she was profoundly proud of her cunning.

Her XO Captain Rolau in the now clan teched out Avatar called in over the radio, “I only recognize a few of those mechs Commander. Maybe they are throwing some new stuff at us to screw the bid up. One of them looks like a big Vulture.”

“I think that's Star Captain Irons. It's that one or the big one with the missiles. Those Elementals are curious. We have no idea of what they are capable of. I suppose that's fair we are throwing some new stuff at them too.”
She dropped down into the cockpit and powered up her machine ensuring the C3 link was established between the Avatars and Catapult. “Careful team, we don't know how these Clanners fight. They could be smarter than the Jaguars we faced so far.”

“Not many could be dumber Force Commander.”
“Ain't that the truth. Guardsmen ready yourselves.”

On the other side Star Captain Seth Irons was well rested in his Sidewinder and armed with the best information on the ground having conducted a recon flight during the night. He opened a radio link to the Hellbringer B and Stormcrow I, “I know the Khan ordered you to come here in case we get into trouble but you are to not engage unless we call for you. Quiaff?”

“Aff Star Captain. We will walk wide around the pond but remain in the Circle,”
The Hellbringer twisted toward the estuary that made up their right flank, “We will honor your bid but defend ourselves if we must.”

On the other side Karin's Battlemaster powered up at the appointed time. She was watching the new Elementals named 'Coronas' in the Batchall board the possibly Adder Mad Cat replacement called a 'Sidewinder.' She hadn't fought many clanners but this was the first time she had seen the Elementals use handholds to board their Omnimechs instead of jumping and grabbing on. “Looks like they don't have jets. Should be a piece of cake to deal with just stay out of range.”

The Apollo walked forward, “It's why we've got these missiles Commander.”

The Adders split into three groups;
a Loki and Ryoken went to the right flank walking slowly around the estuary and treading the Circle of Equals.
One of the Adders the biggest one of them dubbed a 'Blood Asp' strode confidently into the marshland. The assault mech creating a wake when it entered small tidal pools and kept its missile racks clear of debris while its legs were hidden below the brackish brown water. The other one dubbed 'Black Python' jumped into a pool creating a cascading wave as the heavy mech crashed into the water.
In the rear line the Thor, Sidewinder, and Night Gyr jumped into the swamp with their Coronas hanging on by a heavy battle claw.

“Force Commander who are going for? There's three target groups.”
“Split into Lance sized formations. I want C3 in each group to pour the missiles down on them. We are playing to win don't worry about Zell. They probably won't.”
“Aye sir. Moving to engage.”

Captain Rolau's Avatar pushed through the marsh he could see all three adders use their jump jets to bypass the trees. A trick that only the Phoenix Hawk in his lance could match. His machine kept pace with the Orion 'War Drummer.' The War Drummer was a standard 1K active since the late 29th Century only mildly updated with an LBX cannon but piloted by the Baron of Trinidad. Baron Spyros was a decorated War Hero looking for one last bit of excitement before retirement.

A mostly new Hercules was slightly ahead of them the white of its paint taking on a brownish wash as it strode through the calf high water. The Phoenix Hawk was keeping pace with it while searching for the enemy who was no longer jumping over the canopies. They hadn't taken recon assets not expecting their Clan enemy engaging in any subterfuge. “Do you think they mined the swamp Captain?”
“No. I think they are trying to lure us into close range Baron.”
“That doesn't seem like a good plan on their part. Throwing away all the advantages of their long range weapons.”

They continued pushing through the swamp and got into a very densely wooded and deep water glade. The Hercules stepped into it submerged up to its waist in the murky water. It was struck with something from three different locations as the Coronas came out from behind the trees. Fifteen total pulses were fired from their shoulder mounted cannons. Most hit melting away sections of armor and creating steam plumes as the lasers flash boiled the soaked swampland.

The Hercules collapsed into the water under the combined assault that matched an Alpha Strike of the much feared Black Hawk. “Sir, Kontos is down. I'm going to try and take one of these Points out.”

About 200 meters away the Avatar and Orion pushed through the swamp. “No, wait for us. The others are probably nearby.” Captain Rolau and Lord Spyros moved up to aid their comrades and engage the Star Adder Star Captain.
Karin Orloff almost felt wrong going after the Adder Assault and Heavy mechs with her whole heavy lance. The Catapult and Apollo found their firing positions opening their missile bay doors to reveal the majority of the company's long range missiles. Her C3 links weren't strong with Captain Rolau but he was quite capable of fighting on his own she still had the other Avatar that was presently leading the left flank lance toward the other two Adder Mechwarriors.

Once they were in missile range the two fire support units opened fire each was aiming for a different mech. They were surprised to find their Artemis IV guidance package jammed and both mechs had a pair of AMS guns. Their computer guided flechettes ripped apart the very expensive missiles in mid-air as easily as shooting birds out of the sky. The shattered remains landed like so many pebbles on the water.

“They have ECM and AMS. Since when do clanners use their pod tonnage on defense?”
“Maybe its the standard way these Adders operate or Seth Irons knows our preferences and outfitted his mechs with a hard counter.”
Secretly she seethed the C3 network was one of the best counters to clan advantages and as long as they stayed inside its protective bubble her strategy was in jeopardy.

Karin aimed at the Blood Asp and launched a lightning bolt and pair of laser lance toward the assault mech. Her mech warmed and there was faint steam rising from where the water hit the arms. “Fine we will do it the hard way.” The Tempest fired at the Black Python but missed causing the almond shaped Gauss round to embed itself a tree half a kilometer away. Their opponents didn't miss though, 2 heavy pulse lasers melted armor on the tempest while Karin's Battlemaster had a chunk taken out of the right leg by the Blood Asp's Gauss rifle and a smattering of missile impacts that dented the heavy armor.

Captain Rolau came on the radio, “Commander! We need help.” A pair of loud explosions rang out over the swamp causing birds to stir and climb to safety as the Night Gyr double tapped the Avatar with its Devastator XX cannon. The Captain's lance was heavily outgunned in the swamp with heavy lasers and PPCs along with dozens of short range missiles. She could see the damage mount on their battlenet when she took a moment to receive an update from the master computer.

“Samara take Malcolms and help Rolau. Leave Dolens and McCloud.” The Avatar and Wolverine on the left flank cut back and headed toward the swamp leaving behind a Warhammer 7M and Hunchback 4N to check the enemy flankers that stalked the perimeter but had yet to engage in fact they showed no eagerness to engage at all and had managed to keep just out of weapons range as if to goad the Inner Sphere forces from their supporting arms.

“I am not going to let some Clanner show me up.” She fired again and landed solid blows on the Blood Asp that caused it to stagger under the weight of the energy shot into it. The standard plate melted away steam gathered where the plates landed but the assault mech fired back as if nothing was amiss. The second round of missiles was even less successful than the first but were using less expensive ammo. To her surprise the Blood Asp launched a volley of smoke missiles that burst behind the lead mechs insulating the commands and forcing the missile mechs to advance into the water or wait for it to disperse.

The Black Python continued hammering on the lighter Tempest that continued to jump toward the enemy accepting the degraded accuracy of its own weapons to bypass the marshland it was forced to operate within. With the second volley she noticed that it was using its leg mounted heat sinks to pump the marsh water into its cooling system and maintain the energy barrage toward her ally. Her own mech was warming up dramatically with the waste heat from her energy weapons. She would be sweating profusely by now if the DCMS hadn't given her one of their COMSTAR made Mechwarrior combat suits.

Back in the swamp, Captain Rolau waited for the next round to engage the Avatar Bulldog and War Drummer were back to back waiting for the Star Adders to return. Their mechs were seriously damaged, the Phoenix Hawk's reactor was flooded and its Mechwarrior was waiting for rescue. The Hercules was stripped to the bones by constant laser fire and its legs had been flooded out. Its Mechwarrior had chosen to power down and not risk catastrophic damage.

They had given the Adders a good licking though they weren't expecting his clan tech large lasers and that had caused damage to Seth Iron's Sidewinder but not enough to down him for good. War Drummer was hit almost everywhere but nothing critical had been injured yet. A few rounds of LBX10 canister shot had done a number on the Corona suits. They packed immense and surprisingly long range firepower but their armor and mobility were not as good as the normal Toad. There were no casualties but the armor had gone deeper in the woods avoiding the old machine which despite its low tech was piloted by an amazing Mechwarrior.

Samara's Avatar became green on his C3 link along with a Wolverine 6M. “We're almost to your location Captain. Where are the enemy?”
“Unknown, our sensors are being jammed. I think they are playing with us. I'm almost through on most of my torsos and already had to dump a ton of ammo in the swamp.”
“Why are they toying with us?”
“We are new here. They want to see how we react.”
“Either that or they are redeploying the Coronas and moving into a position on the Force Commander.”
“Also probable.”

The other two mechs broke through the trees to link up with their comrades. Star Captain Seth Irons gave the go signal and jumped his mechs from their locations just out of sight. The Coronas released their grip rolling on the soft ground right at the feet of the enemy. Three Clan Mechs engaged the wounded Guards at close range, the Summoners's two heavy lasers ripping through the Wolverine's (which is called a Groundhog to the clans who dare not speak of the not-named) left side cutting it to the bone but the old machine fired back at the damaged Summoner. The old large laser found its mark and damaged the heat sinks built into the heavy laser disabling it.

Seth's Sidewinder unloaded everything at the damaged Avatar sinking two bolts of man-made lighting that crackled at close range followed by two dozen short range missiles. Stubby warheads tore into the Hermes 280XL engine cracking the engine shielding and shutting down the mech. The Night Gyr split its fire using the Autocannon against Mechwarrior Samara's Avatar causing shock waves to thump into the Elementals piloting the Coronas on the ground. A dozen streak missiles found weak spots in the old mech and led to its shutdown due to combat damage, Baron Spyros' swan song would not be a death knell.

The League would not go without dropping a few of their own though, Star Captain Iron's Sidewinder suffered critical engine damage from the Avatars' Streak and Medium Range missiles. One of War Drummer's LBX sub-munitions found the autocannon ammo in the Night Gyr. The Elementals only had seconds to take cover from the uncontrolled explosion that blasted a line of trees 20 meters deep behind the mech. The Summoner and Coronas finished off the Avatar D before refocusing on the center line.

Back in the Center the Blood Asp and Black Python walked over the fallen Tempest the rounded crest on its head just visible over the waterline with the rest being face down in the mud. A Guards' Apollo was slumped over as a smoking ruin having taking a concentrated attack from the Adder machines. Smoke missiles exploded ahead of the Adder's measured advance.

Karin Orloff was in retreat as the mechs pushed her back almost to the start position. The Blood Asp had severely damaged her Battlemaster and continued to move despite taking intense damage. Its pilot alternated between smoke and explosives to foul her shots. A Battlemaster may be a fast assault but in the muck her mobility was compromised. There were only so many places she could reach and he often predicted well preparing his position in advance. The Black Python was damaged but it was scattered missile damage besides the lucky hit on the cockpit cowling. Half her company was down in the woods and while they had taken two with them there were others that were edging closer and forcing the command closer toward the deeper sections of the marsh where they could pin the force down against the agreed upon Circle of Equals with no chance of breaking out.

Four mechs might be able to stand against three but not five Clan mechs. She keyed in a broadcast on the open frequency. “Star Captain Irons, I yield.” The Adder mechs powered down lowering their weapons, “Well fought Force Commander Orloff. There is no honor lost on this field today for your unit or its Warriors. We will begin recovery operations at once.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Kyryst on 19 August 2020, 21:55:51
I like it. Well thought fight on both sides. Using opponents preconceptions against them to lever an advantage, the use of terrain, the overall competing strategies, and the tactics in each fight. The omnimechs on each side will show their value in the speed of repairs, and ability to return to battle. And the precise application of force allowed the saving of much in the aftermath. Bravo.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 19 August 2020, 22:43:45
Nicely written, AlphaMirage.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 22 August 2020, 07:45:12
Thanks Guys. It was a fun combat to write out as well.


The CFMDS Mastodon's engines flared ultraviolet on the far side of Circe IV. Its reinforced nose cone was grappled onto the habitat about ten times as massive and more than forty the volume. Beyond them the blue green ice giant looming large over the Mongoose Naval Cache and its tiny scrappers that thought themselves big.

Star Commander Nina Tanaga was suited up and strapped in along with the crew withstanding 4 gees of thrust and the rapid warming of the spheroid vessel. After a ten minute computer controlled burn the dropship/station construct was drifting towards a decaying orbit. Nose mounted RCS rockets activated creating separation between the two constructs.

Structural members in the station were deformed and shattered after the rough push. Most orbital constructs were amazingly fragile and a 15 kiloton dropship pushing at 4 gees was enough to crush them. They could have reduced the burn rate if they wanted to push it into a better orbit but since it was a one way trip that wasn't a concern.

The nose view-screen still showed nothing but crushed metal. “Kline, Regnar sitrep.”
Regnar had seen this as a useful training exercise for pushing their target warships toward a pirate point that regularly appeared in the orbit of Circe IV. They would be using those old jump drives there to return them to Newgrange for most of the repairs. “Good separation Tanaga. Caretaker Station's orbit is slowly decaying. When you turn, the thrust plume should speed up the process.”
“Aff. Waiting for distance before flipping.”

Slowly the station drifted away to its doom, Nina noticed a broad range flash transmission from the Snow Raven's Circe Orbital Control. A text message appeared on the emergency monitor. Attention! Circe IV Caretaker Station suffered critical reactor breach. All hands lost. Remote de-orbit engaged. Do not approach. Await further instruction.

“Derek are you receiving this?”
“Aff, but I do not understand it.”

Kline joined the channel, “I say we not argue with it. The Scientist's allies must have triggered the de-orbit and might not be able to tell it was us.”

“Particularly since we did it on the dark side. I wonder if they know we took out their comm sats?”

“They thought their message went through. If they look now they will see the station's orbit decaying. Maybe we got lucky.”
“We did say it was going to take a lot of luck for this to happen Joseph thus far its held. Return to the Mastodon and secure yourselves for a turn and burn.”

The small crafted returned and secured themselves to the deck before the Mastodon turned and burned away at 1 gee. Portions of the station broke away as hyper-accelerated hydrogen impacted it at fractions of light speed. Now that normal thrust had returned the crew relaxed and began moving around the vessel conducting their assigned duties for the two hours of normal gravity they would enjoy each 12 hour cycle for the foreseeable future.

In one of the former vehicle bays Claude and Faye stood within a nine meter circle spray painted on the deck. Surrounding them were boxes of supplies strapped down to the deck with webbing. The atmosphere was steamy as both were watched by a few Harvesters enjoying the spectacle of competent Warriors fighting. Their fellow Tanites were brutally suppressed by the Cloud Cobras and allowed no weapons but still had some. They had no formal Warrior training beyond brawling otherwise they would have pushed Faye's unit out sooner. Claude had trained them in basic gun drills since Rhea, the Caretaker station fight was their first real one. They were happy to stay junkers rather than Marines despite bragging rights.

Faye was clad in shorts and bandeau beneath the padded vest that showed midriff but protected ribs while enabling her full range of motion. She was the only one that could take Claude in one on one and their matches improved his sometimes dour mood. Not as much as the shared shower after, but that was just Marines and a bonus for her trouble.

With the padded helmet and vest on she readied a synthetic staff roughly shoulder height in her hands. These or smaller clubs were the preferred weapons of the Clan Patrol caste and fighting with them or using Savate were popular sports for Marines. Claude faced her donning his own helmet but wore no pads over his pale muscled torso. No one had felt sun on skin in months and there was no tanning booth aboard.

She put the staff out, “Es tu pret?”
He matched the measure his longer arms but shorter club gave them equal reach but freed his off hand while she had to use both of hers. Male Elemental versus Female Mechwarrior was almost the worst pairing but they managed to even it up. “Ou, commence.”

Faye opened with a series of rapid thrusts that put him on the backfoot as he tried to enter she withdrew before firing out again. He tried to grab the staff but she entered instead putting it under his arm and throwing him to the side before coming down with a strong vertical strike. He rolled out and the staff rapped off the deck and back into her hands. The second time he caught it flinging her to the side but she completed an aerial cartwheel while hanging onto the staff and upon landing tried a sweep to his legs.

They went back to circling each other at measure, “That was new.”
“I have many tricks.”

Both worked out their strategies Claude tried to close and use his off hand to grapple and weapon to parry as he was unable to close without getting hit in the hands. Faye kept distance using her smaller size, agility, and longer weapon to evade his grasp and strike low while guarding high. The Harvesters watched with keen interest as she used the staff to initiate a clinch and compromised the taller and heavier Elemental's fighting stance by holding his head down with both arms before striking at his body with her knees. “Where'd she learn how to fight like that?”
“Don't tell the others but I heard the Jaguars talking about her being held at a Pillarine Convent in the Occupation Zone for a few years. Sounds like some kind of Cobra Cloister with nothing but women like her inside.”
“We've got to get to this Inner Sphere.”

Their match ended with Claude victorious via a club assisted shoulder lock and tap out by her. She rolled the offended shoulder that was sore now but would be relaxed after a hot shower and tender attentions. “That was new.”
“I learned it from Evan. You are not the only one with tricks Faye.”

They entered the shower bay together, “Scoundrel. You have been holding out on me. Here I thought you were just a brute”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 22 August 2020, 12:19:31
That was interesting! 
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: mikecj on 22 August 2020, 17:44:44
I enjoyed it, thanks!
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 23 August 2020, 21:40:39
03/28/3060 04:15 Jaguar Genetic Repository, Huntress

The Jaguar Genetic Repository was brightly illuminated and surrounded by a high chain link fence topped with razor wire and warded by bollards. Rolling sounds of artillery cascaded through the city as a convoy of six light vehicles rolled on the darkened streets of Lootera the dull white glow of illumination rounds showed passing glimpses of spray painted over Smoke Jaguar markings. As the lead vehicle came within sight a pair of 12th Armored Grenadiers in SLDF OD uniforms and recently bandaged injuries pointed assault rifles at them while a gun truck aimed its heavy machine gun at the arriving convoy.

Seeing the security force the convoy stopped a short distance from the gate and two small women in MMC insignia on their OD fatigues hopped out. They wore helmets and flak vests but carried no weapons. A grenadier approached them with a flashlight and recognized the one with a Commander's gold edged diamond on her helmet, “Commander Dias, why aren't you driving clearly marked trucks. There are Smoke Jaguars ten klicks from here. Can't you hear them?”

“Sorry Sarge, we didn't want to mark them. Command told us some Smoke Jaguar Elementals got into the city. We wanted them to let us by if they weren't looking close enough.”

The Grenadier turned to his companion who lifted the gate and the machine gun returned to its upright position. “I hadn't heard that but we will maintain vigilance. Hurry up we got wounded inside.”

“That's why we are here after all.”
Commander Dias turned to return to the passenger seat of the truck smiling as the six vehicles of her convoy entered the complex. Walking wounded assisted in unloading the supplies carried within while her people went to work treated the soldiers injured in the Jaguar's hyper aggressive counter attack. Cots were set up under tents or inside the repository and sterile operating theaters established in one of the larger rooms.

A small squad of soldiers in SLDF OD fatigues waited on the rooftops nearby watching the convoy enter with keen interest. Their leader lifted their left hand and pointed toward the west. The commandos descended the wall with just their hands though there were lengths of rope over their shoulders. Each carried a silenced pistol and knife as they approached the fence unseen by any of the hastily installed sensors or otherwise occupied (by unloading supplies) walking wounded guards.

They sprinted past cots with sleeping soldiers in them within easy reach of their rifles toward their objective. Once inside they holstered or concealed their weapons each wore the name and particular ID of a soldier taken from the missing list. Their features resembled the likely dead troopers but were otherwise average.

As they walked through the massive structure they kept close watch on the happenings within, most of the capable soldiers were in the field fighting off the Jaguar counter-attack and the wounded were located in the first layer of rooms. Deep within the structure there were only a few things of interest, the main repository itself, Huntress' central datacore, and the rooms where the Scientist prisoners were being held in a secured room.

The repository was already damaged but one of them readied a thermobaric demo charge from her backpack in its center while another was extracting blood samples and placing them in a cryocanister. They moved on to the central datacore where they hacked in and siphoned off petabytes of sensitive data into a portable DNA computer before leaving something extra behind. The operative keyed in a command line and the system began overwriting and erasing portions of itself, she whispered “That Niops tech is working like a charm. Now comes the hard part.”

A pair of blue helmeted COMGUARD troopers stood watch on the Jaguar Scientists captured during the initial attack at the beginning of the month. ROM had gotten many of them to talk and they had some interesting tales but some were proving difficult to break. Three SLDF soldiers came walking toward them, they seemed oddly familiar but neither could place them. “We're here to relieve you.”

One of the troopers checked his watch, “We still have an hour.”
The commando reached down and fired the silenced pistol at arms length from the hip, six rounds later the Comguardsmen were dead. “We could have waited Force Leader. They are on the same side.”
“We both know that's not true Lance Corporal. These guardsmen were the best of worse choices. We have an hour to exfil let's move.”

The Commandos used the dead men's keys to open the padlock holding the thirty prisoners inside what seemed to be a conference room. The Force Leader stepped forward still brandishing his pistol. “You have two choices, come with us or die. Decide quickly.”

An hour later the complex went into lock-down after a large explosion from within the building. Commander Dias' medics were not permitted to leave their assigned rooms while the walking wounded went room by room in search of their missing prisoners and the culprits behind the sabotage that had caused serious damage to the building. Two blue helmets were dead from gunshot wounds from a Nambu pistol only issued to the DCMS. All DCMS personnel on sight had to surrender their pistols and magazines for inspection but none were found to have been fired recently.

When the SLDF finally got around to analyzing the Jaguar datacores they found the complete Census records wiped out no one could be certain how many Jaguars had gone missing during the Annihilation as even the records on Strana Mechty were wiped out and unrecoverable. It is as if they had never existed except for material stored in the Clan's Central Repository that was on a separate system.

A year later on Gambilon a Condor Dropship unloaded their secret cargo of personnel and materiel looted by MIM's covert operations teams in Clanspace. Seven intact protomechs, their pilots, dozens of Scientists and Technicians as well as Elementals, and a variety of weapons that went 'missing' were loaded into a single research facility along with Iron Wombs and most of the Jaguar's digital blood-heritages. They were greeted by a dour woman wearing a lab coat and opal handled laser pistol, “I am Dr Selaj and you all now belong to me. Welcome to the Rim Jaguars. Do enjoy your stay.”

04/28/3060 CFMDS Mastodon, Mongoose Ghost Fleet, Circe IV

The Mastodon's Wardroom was crowded with the officers from each group who were using their two hours of gee time to solidify their next moves in the space that was rapidly becoming their home. Small murals were painted on the wall and tiny nick-knacks had been added since they took control of the ship. MedTechs Sera and Zack joined them from the infirmary which was now overstuffed with recently installed equipment salvaged from the Jaguar habitat. A Type 96 Tug's infirmary was well appointed and over-sized for their current crew so there was space in the morgue for the specimens.

Zack the Chief MedTech (equivalent to a PA, MDs are of the Scientist Caste) switched the camera to POV and looked at the head scientist a pale man with multiple tattoos and a single round to the head that had over-penetrated but still killed him. “We have identified this man as a Jaguar Trueborn of the Furst Bloodhouse based on his DNA. However, with the loss of Huntress and destruction of the Jaguar Census records we cannot positively ID him. What we can tell is that he washed out early from Warrior training.”

Faye addressed the man, “How can you tell?”
“Several reasons, his bone and muscle density were low. Not just because of time in zero gee but because he never underwent strenuous physical training that occurs past Creche. We can also tell this by his clean X-rays and the lack of scarring. I have seen your Warriors' scars plenty to tell that this would be unusual if he had lasted longer.”
“So he was a wimp and retrained as a Scientist?”
“Aff. We might have gotten more data from the Elemental but with the destruction of his body by Joseph's lasers in space that is not possible. These tattoos do not seem to inform me of anything else. I will take pictures in case we find another with similar patters. Perhaps they are affiliation marks.”

Nina took her turn, “Anything from what was left of the Techs.”
“Neg, except that they were freeborn. Again with the destruction of the Census I cannot tell you more.”
She looked over to the Jaguar, “Faye seems like there was rot at the core of your Clan.”
“Aff, unfortunately we might never know the extent and the conspirators have already scattered beyond our grasp.”

Claude spoke to Zack, “What about those Marines?”
“I was just about to get to them Star Commander.”
He panned over to another table where a pale hairless man with long muscular arms and feet complete with extended toes. “These guys are retreads with some very advanced genetic engineering in their DNA. We also analyzed their blood well what was left of it after your people got through with them. They have increased radiation tolerance,” he pointed the camera to get a close look at the unusual limbs, “these physiological adaptations in addition to a modified version of the EPAS1 gene common among Belter and Sherpa populations and several other traits primarily found in Diamond Shark Elementals.”

Claude looked to Nina, “So that confirms our suspicions the Jaguars were not working alone. This is a multi-clan threat now,”
he shook his head, “but no one will believe us.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: georgiaboy on 24 August 2020, 09:09:01
nope, no one will want to believe you cause, their god Nikky, has produced a perfect society. The Military Tech is the Best of the peoples they are in contact with, so no reason to advance further.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 24 August 2020, 19:29:34
05/08/3060 Location – Brim Nadir Point

Congress frigate CSV Snake Leader its Carrier strike dropship and Noruff assault dropship plotted an intercept on the Carrack transport SLS Perilous Vision and Lola III destroyer SLS Faithful of Clan Nova Cat. The two Warships were charging at the Cloud Cobra controlled recharge station with a Star of Nova Cat Merchant Jumpships carrying Civilians. “This is Star Captain Calvin Tamm of the CSV Snake Leader. We issue a Trial of Possession from the forces under protection by the SLS Faithful and bid our attached force of two Binaries of Fighters, the Snake Leader, and Noruff Nome Mercer.”

A Cloud Cobra warship boosted away from the station, its flattened decks heavily laden with Aerospace fighters. “Star Captain Calvin Tamm of CSV Snake Leader this is the Star Commodore Faith Hobbes of the York CCS The Protector. Cease your aggressive interception of our station immediately.

Our Rossei brothers and sisters aboard the SLS Faithful and its jumpships are under the protection of Clan Cloud Cobra and you are in violation of the Grand Council's edict. We will launch all fighters if you continue. Do not test us Viper. Our dedication is harder than your Steel.”

Calvin Tamm adjusted course coming within close RADAR contact of the York and its Star of readied fighters. “The Khan will hear of this Commodore.”
“As will ours Captain.”

05/18/3060 Location – Tathis City, Tathis

Seth “Star Killer” Irons walked through the sunken arcology of Tathis City, a city built underground to protect its inhabitants from the bitter cold and gritty snow outside. His new black uniform had three gold bars and red Daggerstar marking him as a Star Adder (Star) Colonel. Diamond Shark Patrol ambled through the walkways looking out at the green space in the city center. Seth stopped for a moment to enjoy a beer watching Shark civilians spend their breaks breathing in warm fresh air rather than refinery soot. “I swore I would never return to this world. Well played Loremaster, a fitting almost poetic punishment. Doomed to be my own tormentor in service of the Clan.”

The alarm on his comm-pad rung and he took one last look at the pleasant surroundings he wasn't likely to see again for a while before picking up his duffel. Within the arcology a series of trams and funiculars transported workers from their residences to the refineries that provided a third of the Diamond Sharks rare earth metals. His Star Adders maintained a smaller one at the Greypeak that provided half of their own supply with the rest coming from the Pentagon Worlds. He caught up with the car and held on to slim moving platform that zoomed through tunnels toward the surface. The formal Adder uniform contrasted with the insulted orange coveralls and helmets of refinery Laborers.

He arrived at Diamond Shark Manufacturing Plant Twelve built underground and taking up a large portion of the Western Section of the Arcology with a group of workers. Two armed Diamond Shark Patrol officers stood at the gate scanning the codices of each worker before allowing them entry. He waited his turn and presented his printed orders, “Wait for your escort Star Colonel. He will take you to the receiving center where you can sign for your Desperado.”

Seth waited and watched the workers enter, MP12 was one of the Diamond Sharks best export factories churning out Desperados (Thug IIC) by the Binary each month. His escort, a Laborer Foreman, arrived to walk him through the factory floor where bare endo steel frames constructed in the space station that orbited Tathis' moon Tael were outfitted by hundreds of workers. “You will be very pleased with our product Star Colonel, yours is the first batch with the new Kingston ERPPCs.”

He looked over the catwalk to see Technicians installing the power supplies and cables to a partially assembled unit already outfitted with its dual Pattern J6cs. “Cloud Cobra scientists score another win for your Snake Alliance. It cost the Sharks a great deal to get those plans but it was worth every bit according to our Techs.”

“Yes, they do fine work. I just got reassigned out of a Sidewinder.”
“A fine machine that your Adders beat us to. Khan Sennet is more interested in selling second line units  while absorbing the Nova Cat holdings than anything new at the moment. I hear she is making contacts among the SLDF now, you know since they are here already. To bad about Victor he seemed like a good Warrior, not smart but good. I even cried a bit during Vlad's eulogy.”

The walk continued a bit longer until they reached the end of the line where a Desperado stood menacingly. Its hunched shoulders and giant hands with the round directing cones of the Kingston PPCs sprouting from the forearms. Four great steel cylinders marked 'Low Temperature Cooling Oil, 100L' were collected in a cart at its feet. “It uses all that coolant.”

“Aff, Star Colonel. Kingstons run hotter than the normal Kinslaughters. You have twenty freezers aboard. Even if you Alpha the cockpit will only heat up a little bit especially on this cold planet. Well I will leave you to the Mech Techs keep it pointed away from us will ya.”

“No guarantees.”
The Foreman whistled as he walked away from the Mechwarrior. Seth was greeted by three Adder Mechtechs and given a brief rundown of the operation of his Battlemech. His new command, The 983rd Adder Sentinels of Omicron Galaxy, were based in the remote and partially abandoned Sibko base where he received his own Mechwarrior training.

This assignment was his exile for the crimes he committed on Sheridan. He had been granted a stay of execution but no more chances for Glory. Khan N'Buta had been impressed enough with his performance at the Great Refusal to assign him a Desperado a second line Battlemech of impressive power but not an Omni of any kind in a formation likely to see battle.

Even as he went through the start-up procedures for the assault mech which stood erect and collected its arms close he knew this would only lead to a long life of future obscurity. He opened the cockpit and yelled down to the Mech Techs, “There is no ammo in the bins!”
“Neg Star Colonel. Do you feel like you need some because none has been assigned?”
“I am only fighting with two thirds of a mech.”
“You will not be doing any fighting for a while Star Colonel. You should get moving,”
the Tech consulted his noteputer which displayed a RADAR weather map of the planet's North-East, “If you leave now you might miss the Black Blizzard coming our way. Storm Season.”
“I know what the date is! Not the first Black Blizzard I had to walk through.”
“Aff Sir, meet you there next week when we do our regular supply run with the dropshuttle. We will bring ammo.”
The Techs saluted and got back to packing up their equipment.

Seth Irons activated the climate controls of his black bodysuit providing heat rather than taking it away. The Arcology gate opened, wild wind blew out gray snow mixed with volcanic pumice and factory soot. The outside temperature dropped to -30*C and the Desperado stepped out into the swirling gray mass leaving great tracks that were blown away as swiftly as they formed to leave no trace behind.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 26 August 2020, 22:19:03
05/03/3060 Mongoose Ghost Fleet, Circe IV

The CFMDS Mastodon and its accompanying shuttles had spent the past week laying out navigational satellites and mapping the debris fields. Circe IV didn't have rings now but it did when the Mongoose Fleet was cached here by the victorious but bloodied Smoke Jaguars. Most of the numerous Aegis cruisers had been taken out by the Jade Falcons to supplement their fleet or by the Jaguars to recover from the massive losses of the climatic naval battle of Circe that dwarfed any since.

It dodged the shattered hull and associated debris field of the CMS Huisman, a Black Lion battlecruiser and former pride of the Shadow Naval Star, now a rotating wreck stripped of anything of value and doomed to ultimately impact its fleet-mate, the CMS Cameron battlecruiser CMS Franklin, presently spinning end on end thousands of kilometers distant. The Mongoose Flagship CMS Quicksilver Mongoose as taken to Strana Mechdy as a trophy. That battleship was in the process of being recommissioned as CWS Blood Moon by Clan Wolf to replace the McKenna CWS Werewolf defected to the Inner Sphere prior to the Refusal War that gutted the toumans of the Wolves and Jade Falcons.

A mighty Monsoon Battleship, the SLS Painkiller, drifted lifelessly at the core of the debris field. That ship was a relic dating back to the Pentagon Civil War and once belonging to the vast Spacer communities that existed in the Circe system before they were eliminated by the Cloud Cobras. It had long been stripped of anything of military value but was the prize promised to the Newts. Both factions were eager to reclaim their heritage and use it like they had the Newgrange (thus 'Newt') SLS Shanghai once it was repaired preferable with some of the weapons that might still be of use.

They approached their target the spinning Essex more than four times larger than their dropship and forty times as heavy. The four massive three gun turrets dominated the profile but not as much as the breach in the hull where its thinly armored ammunition bay had taken a Naval PPC from the Jaguar Flagship CSJ Obsidian shortly before the battleship's grand destruction. Nina Tanaga watched the target with great interest and along with the Newt Derek Regnar was plotting the complex interception course that needed precise timing to catch the spin. “Tincan Three and Five confirm RADAR intercept. We will need a little stability before the Mastodon can safely latch on.”

The T-3 “Tincan” Dropshuttles were a variant of the popular K-1C Spheroid dropshuttle used primarily in orbital construction functioning as a many time smaller Type 96 Tug (15kilotons vs 200 tons). They mounted the largest engines of any small craft but had very little in the way of endurance, an acceptable trade-off for their dependent operation.

Within the T-3's the minimal Newt crews positioned themselves on opposite sides of the ship latching on like lampreys with their 'jaws' clamping down into the neutron battered armor plating and into the superstructure before firing their jets in unison. The momentum imparted took most of the spin out of the former CMS Rondeau and allowed the much larger Elephant to safely latch on and take the rest out. Nina had her eyes glued on the instrument panel, “We have zero relative spin. Good job crew, this was the hard one. Kline you are free to go out and provide an external inspection with the fighter.”

“Aff, Nina. Launching now.”
The two Omnifighters gently drifted out of their bays and verified what the sensors told them. “No sign of habitation despite the spin. All bay doors and escape tubes are open. I can see into the ship. Why are we taking this one again?”

“We are taking it because it has no dropship collars and that made it less valuable to the other Clans. The Vincent Thirty Nine Van Vilet and Lola Three Muraca are here for the same reason. If we can get the Rondeau operational those smaller ships should be easy. The biggest challenge will be the Painkiller.”

Derek looked over the red light of the Flight Deck reflecting off his helmet's visitor, “My people will be more than happy to help there.”

“Right now we need to do an inspection. See what's broken and then I can send for more workers and parts from Newgrange City.”
He un-clipped his belt and pushed out but was stopped by Nina, “Let Claude and his Marines check first. We were getting anomalous readings from within and the ship was spinning rapidly.”

“Probably a rogue meteor, Circe Four attracts them.”
“Let Claude check first.”
“I you insist Star Commander. I will head to the Galley and assemble the techs for a briefing.”
“Thank You Superior.”
The Newt floated away and pulled himself down a ladder well. “You are good to go Claude.”

Claude Goulet, Faye Freelander, and their eight other Marines were suited up and waiting in one of the T-3's evacuated small craft bays. He waved to the camera where the Harvester in charge of the doors watched, “Open it up!”
“Aff, Star Commander.”

The door slid open without a noise. Claude's Marines engaged their CSS's Thruster packs and jumped out into the void toward the ship 'above'. “Nina we are outside.”

“Roger that Claude. Watch out for debris.”
Clan CSS's had improved sensors and Claude could see shards of Ferro-Aluminium in his HUD. The thrusters automatically avoided any large pieces that might penetrate the armor while smaller pieces bounced off. They set down with a thump and attached themselves with a pair of picks tethered to their suit.

“Aff, boots on hull. Activating magnets.” The magnetic boots activated anchoring them to the ship as they stalked toward one of the open small craft bays. Claude waved to Kline's Batus floating several meters away. “Infil team approaching target zone.”

The Marines floated into one of the four open small craft bays. They activated their lights and saw that debris had scoured the inside. Last time this ship was pressurized was 2868 almost two hundred years ago they figured some damage would occur. However, Star League era tech was nigh indestructible and this armor even neutron battered as it was could withstand micro-meteors.

Most of the kit was salvage related with only a pulse laser pistol, picks, and buster for self-defense. Unlike the flimsy interior pressure doors of the Caretaker station the airlocks that led out into the small craft bay were reinforced and required heavier equipment to open.

Claude readied the heavy hydraulic cutter while one of the Mandrills attached the thick power feed to a backpack sized hydrazine fueled Auxiliary Power Unit. He jammed the jaws against the airlock, “breaching now.” Its' jaws cut into the armored doors deforming them enough to spread them with the same tool in reverse and allow entry. The tool and attached power unit required its own turn to pass through the gap. Faye patched the hole with plastic while he set about opening the much lighter interior door. The exertion was immense and he could feel sweat being wicked into his soft-cap under the helmet.

“We are inside.” He signaled something to one of the marines, “Leaving behind a relay now. Signal check.”

Kline's voice came over the radio, “Read you five by five.”

They looked around to see the old SLDF markings in their lights. It was unnerving to see parts of the old ship that were beyond their illumination. Nothing but dark void awaited them in either direction with recessed handholds blocked by broken grates.

“Faye you check aft. We will go bow. I will leave the cutter here but take the APU.”

She gave a thumbs up, “Aff. We have our own. I hope Derek's map is up to date. The one Nina found on Shadow was dated even when before it was written down by the Mongooses.”

“Roger. Mandrills head out.”

The Fire Mandrills cautiously worked their way through the derelict examining every corridor for something or someone that might still be on the ship. Everything had been retired in good order but there were signs of severe damage and sabotage that might have post-dated the Mongoose Absorption. Everything was eerie on the ghost ship particularly in their dim suit lights. While in the lead Evan saw a spacesuit drifting along and shot at it with the pulse laser pistol until the power pack in its grip was spent. Upon further inspection they found it was empty but bore the insignia of a dead clan upon it burned through with one of the laser strikes.

Claude patted the young man on the shoulder, “Just nerves Evan. I would have done the same. Probably got loose from one of the lockers.”

The Marines found their objective, the CIC of the Rondeau, which was sealed off with armored doors slightly ajar. “We can probably force this. Assemble the bar. I want two men on it.”


Three Marines slotted the pieces of a large salvage bar into each other giving them a nearly 2.5 meter long lever and slightly augmented myomer strength of their suits forced the doors open. If the reactor is the heart of the ship and the KF drive its soul then the CIC was the mind. The Athena-2 battle computer within was capable of running the ship with only a skeleton crew of 25 less than a 10% its usual complement. It could also be used to coordinate ground attacks though the Mandrills rarely field forces greater than Trinary strength in Trials as each Kindraa typically only had a short Galaxy of Warriors at their disposal.

The Snow Ravens had since introduced a gen 3 version but the Mandrills had no intention of installing it. Bartering with them for such a powerful piece of technology would reveal that the Mandrills were interested in an Essex without telling the Grand Council. There could be calls for an Absorption if not outright Annihilation of the Mandrills. The Burrock Absorption last year and subsequent Adder and Viper crackdown on Dark Caste had chilled rebellious tendencies for a time.

An unforeseen complication was waiting for them in the CIC however, Claude hovered toward a sphere anchored by heavy cables to the 'top' and 'bottom' of the compartment. There was writing and radioactive warnings on it, 'Type 21 Thermonuclear Vacuum Mine, Serial#JGY-58901.'

He calmly spoke despite feeling sheer terror, “Derek, you wouldn't happen to know any disarm codes for a Mongoose Nuclear Mine?”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 02 September 2020, 13:05:08
Claude anchored himself to the CIC deck plates and detached the basic toolkit attached to the CSS thigh pouch. “Mastodon I am opening a video feed. If this type twenty-one mine is active I need to disarm it.”

Derek Regnar and Nina Tanaga were in a flurry recalling the light T-3 tugs and boarding party. Evan along with the other Mandrill Marines were still in the CIC and refused the recall. As Claude looked around the titanium sphere before him he saw the others waiting. “What are you doing? Leave! That's an order!

This mine might only destroy the ship. The Mastodon could still make it.”

“Claude, You don't know how to disarm a Nuclear Mine.”
“Aff, but I have armed them. Get out!”
The Marines lingered for a moment more before dropping their tools and jetting away on their thrusters. “How's that technical readout coming Derek?”

The Newt's voice came in even despite the potential threat, living in the unforgiving expanse of space gave one a certain elevated sense of true risk. “I found one but it dates back to the Star League. I cannot find any record of Mongoose having nuclear mines in their inventory.”
“Well they are just full of surprises then. There's no external sign that indicates whether it is armed or not. The ones I use have a blinking light. Blinking Red is dead. Steady Green is great.”

He turned off the gauntlet lights instead using the ones on his helmet to inspect the sphere just larger than a medicine ball. “Let's find this access panel.” He found and used the small screwdriver to remove the panel revealing a mess of circuit boards and small wires. “I'm in.”

There should be a panel that looks like this, a picture appeared in the lower right corner of his HUD. “You need to carefully remove it and desolder the wires. That should disengage the trigger sequence.”

“Aff, searching now.”
Claude probed the circuit boards and found the target one gently lifting it and desoldering the wires to disable the centuries old Thermonuclear trigger. He breathed a sigh of relief with the circuit board floating in mid-air. “That wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be Derek.”
“You are lucky, it might be dead. We will secure the device and dispose of it later.”

Claude thought about that, “Can you reprogram the trigger?”
Nina Tanaga's voice came in over the radio, “What do you want? To put it in your room! No way! Let the Newts dispose of it.”
Joseph Kline joined in, “I think we should hear him out Nina. Why do you want a pet nuke Claude?”
“It might be useful later.”
He began cutting the steel cables that suspended the device in the middle of the compartment, “A surprise that no one expects us to possess. Can you recondition the mine Derek?”
“I can't but we can certainly find someone in Newgrange City...Although Security obviously won't let you bring it aboard.

It will have to be done in a station or one of these Warship hulks when we are done. Preferably a disposable one. These devices can be touchy.”

“Mastodon Flight Ops, I request a shuttle to re-position this mine somewhere safer.”
“En route to your nearest airlock Star Commander Goulet.”

A month later Star Commander Claude Goulet was once more wearing his CSS and seated in a S-7C shuttle near the L4 point of Circe IV. The view-screen was dominated by the white egg shaped Behemoth dropship freighter NCS Wusong. A folded jump-capable Cagework (Space Drydock) station the NCS Roland Tusker was being pushed away from the Free Guilds Tramp FGS Croupierre by a trio of T-3 Tugs. Claude looked over to Derek Regnar with surprise.

“Derek, I had expected some support from Newgrange. but you didn't tell me the Wusong was coming. Isn't that one of the core habitat modules of Newgrange City?”

“Aff, Star Commander. The Elders want the Painkiller operational so they sent a large contingent of workers to aid us in getting it jump capable when we are done with the smaller ships. We will honor the initial bargain we made with you. Your ships go first in the Yard. It will take us longer to prepare the Painkiller.”

The S-7C docked in one of the Behemoth's twenty four small craft bays. When the light turned green Superior Derek Regnar and Star Commander Claude Goulet exited into a busy dock surrounded by exoskeleton wearing Laborers and Techs, one of the large versions lifting a two ton cargo container. More were following him into the hull of an S-7C. Most of the small craft in this bay were of that type and Claude could see most were ready to launch. “How many people work here?”

“The Wusong can support sixteen hundred individuals with minimal imports. There are about nineteen on staff now but some will transfer to the Cagework once it is in position under my supervision. Between the Mastodon, Cagework, and Wusong there are about twenty one hundred individuals and forty eight small craft.

By my estimates we can get your three Warships jump capable and heading toward Newgrange by year end. Weapon outfitting, armor repairs, your requested adjustments, and final shakedowns will take most of next year. By the time the Muraca leaves the Painkiller should be ready to fill it.”

Claude and Derek walked through the corridors and found them mostly empty. Despite having a large crew contingent most of the crew were away working. They would return to the normal 12 hour spacer shift once they settled in. The walls were well decorated with murals and other pieces of art that gave it a feel much like any other Clan enclave block housing just one that was capable of surviving in space more with minimal imports.

Derek entered the Bridge of the Wusong and was to Claude's surprise saluted by the shorter black haired female Captain. The two embraced for a moment and said something in Cantonese that Claude couldn't understand despite learning some during his time with the Newts.
“Star Commander this is my cousin Captain Valley Regnar. Captain of the Wusong this year.”

“Just Val please. Pleasure to meet you Star Commander Goulet. We will be seeing a lot of each other for the next several months. Perhaps longer if you come to Newgrange City and oversee the operation. Welcome aboard. Derek will show you to your cabin after the tour.

Now Superior I have to get back to work. Thank you for the initial plans, the Comm's Room is all yours until the Cagework is deployed.”

“Thank you Captain.”

Derek and Claude continued their tour during which time he attempted to memorized the kilometers of corridors that cut throughout the ship. There were massive hydroponic gardens, fish tanks, relatively spacious cabins, well equipped infirmary, large rec area with multiple bays for racquet sports and handball both popular sports with Spacers, a Sauna/Spa/Bathhouse, and a massive galley that smelled of spiced vegetables and pan fried fish.

The two of them sat down to filling meal in a room that could seat four hundred. “This is an impressive ship. The Mastodon was the nicest accommodations I had ever been on.”
“Definitely helps the overcrowding when you are only using half the slots. Filling the rest with stuff salvaged from a Scientist's habitat definitely helped. They were weird but had some nice stuff.

It gets crowded and much louder when everyone is here but at least the air exchanges are top notch. The Elders want you to train our security team while you are here. There should be enough weapons salvaged from the Caretaker station.

The Cloud Cobras have extended Newgrange and the Tanite Worlds a great deal of freedom but with the Burrocks gone and Adders strengthening their hold on the Homeworlds they fear they will make some examples of the Dark Caste.

Newgrange City cannot escape its system but we think the Painkiller and our own forces will be enough to secure it against future aggression. You are building your Clan's future. We Mongooses intend to do the same.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 02 September 2020, 21:27:29
Interesting weaving of the story!  Thank you, still trucking with this fan story!
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 04 September 2020, 00:20:51
07/18/3060 Location – Eden, Pentagon Worlds

Star Colonel Zigfried Ravenwater hung out the side door of his Anhur VTOL as it veered away from the black smoke rising from the former W-5 Factory complex. The Wolf factory had been traded to the Hell's Horses earlier this year as part of the ongoing 'contracting' of the Hell's Horses to the Wolves. It had been led to nothing but trouble since and had only just started producing again after retooling at Wolf expense to make the workhorse Pouncer instead of the scout Phantom; which was phased out by Khan Ward for political reasons.

The Star Colonel slung his Mauser (IIC) over the shoulder where it rested gently on his heavy armor jacket and hopped out before the Anhur touched tarmac. Laborers from the nearby fire service wearing silvered fire-fighting suits followed him and ran towards the flames desperately trying to save as much as they could of the factory. Hell’s Horses Patrolmen in heavy armor with gas masks on stood guard over the helipad or were in the process of clearing the complex of hostiles and inspecting it for sabotage.

Zig ordered the guards to aid the Patrolmen and walked toward the command post where a sleek Ares Light Tank was parked. The vehicle was covered in mud and sticks that blended in perfectly with its forest camouflage. Warriors inside popped the hatches and saluted him before returning to their duties. Within the command post was a young Tank Warrior whose Nova was assigned to this sector’s security but who had been out on patrol when the attack came. “Nova Captain Murphy. This is the third attack this year.”

He turned and looked up at the imposing Elemental before him. “Aff, Sir. We are already searching them out. We got here as soon as we heard the call from the local Patrol. The Dee-Forty Comm-sat was jammed from a ground station so we were not able to respond faster.”

The Nova Captain shifted his SMG to the other shoulder in order to key the remote, “Earlier this morning this facility was attacked by a Star of Hovertanks,” The video screen in the Command Post came on and displayed security footage from one of the damaged turrets that surrounded the complex added after the first attack. Ten fast hovertanks come into view and fired on the security teams using tear gas missiles from a turret mounted launcher and the 5cm laser next to it.

“These tanks are either Harriers from a Brian Cache or new construction based on them. They are fast and powerful with a rear mounted flamer that is responsible for much of the structural damage and the wildfire out front. We can tell that these tanks were armed with the old intermediate weapons developed during the Golden Century based on initial BDA.

The Bandits swept through damaging the heavy weapon turrets and disabling the Patrol’s machine gun emplacements.”
The mysterious OD painted tanks broke off and were followed by smaller hover vehicles that slowed down and opened their roofs to deploy squads of troops equipped with jump capable PALs which proceeded to clear the concrete and earthwork wall surrounding the factory. “and were followed by these six transports which are obviously based on the Maultier.”

Nova Captain Murphy zoomed in on one of the hostile troops taking in the detail of the PAL (Power Armor Light) obviously based on the Nighthawk used by SLDF Special Forces and still in use by some Clan Watch Special Groups principally within the Hell's Horses and Steel Vipers with large infantry forces.

The video then went inside the complex where the PAL troops engaged the Hell's Horse Security Team in close range combat including hand to hand. The lightly equipped Security force was cut down and the gates opened allowing the tanks, transports, and 4 BFFL Heavy Hovertrucks with their attached flatbed sleds access.

Murphy stopped the video again zooming in on one of the PAL troopers with spiderweb styled decoration on their suit along with the glyph for the Bandit group known as The Shamblers. “Same people, better equipment than past attacks. They were using Nine-Sixty Mausers with frag and inferno grenades.”

“We will find them and hunt them down. What did they take this time?”

The video returned with the PAL troops standing upon the flatbed hover sleds now loaded down with equipment. “Eight unarmed Pouncers, crates of Small Arms, Ammo, Power Packs, and Explosives for my unit. There are some missing Laborers and Techs, so they were likely kidnapped if not traitors.”

“Thank You Nova Captain. I will get a Rhino Star and some heavier units assigned to this facility. Clearly fortifications and weapons emplacements are not going to be enough if they keep upping their forces we will have to do the same. I will join you in the field after we are assured the complex is secure.”

“Aff Star Colonel, The Command Post is yours.”
The Nova Captain grabbed his helmet from the table and walked out. Moments later the Ares powered up and sped off in the direction of ‘The Minotaur Shatters’. A vast and tangled marshland created in the wake of a Warship’s (The SLS Minotaur) orbital bombardment during the Pentagon Civil War. Magnus took a moment to rewind the video back towards one of the PAL troopers as they stabbed one of his Patrolmen with the Mauser’s bayonet.

He slammed his fist down denting the desk, “How many times do we have to squash you bugs?”

The Star Colonel called in his cards to get the heavier equipment from the depot at Petrograd Bay. He was currently the highest-ranking Warrior on the planet that was once one of the most productive Pentagon worlds and a major asset to the four Clans that shared it.

That had changed in the past year as the Smoke Jaguar enclaves on world were rapidly seized by the Horses, Wolves, and Falcons with their few Warriors and many Civilians sent toward the Inner Sphere or relocated to the Kerensky Cluster. Whole enclaves became ghost towns overnight as the three Hell’s Horses Potemkin Troop Cruisers started down the Exodus road from Eden with their drop collars and cargo bays fully loaded. The strain of it all in the same year was so significant that it was causing the whole carefully balanced economy of Clanspace to sputter and die out in some parts.

While the Warriors were away the Bandits came out to prey upon and scavenge the bones of the weak. Last year had been rough with the Burrock Absorption but this year was shaping up to be just as active despite the 40th Mechanized and Horse Patrol raiding Dark Caste settlements shutting down illegal mines and blowing up their equipment. More just appeared as if by magic or treachery and they were no closer to finding the smugglers.

Zigfried carried his weapon at the ready as he surveyed the battle damage. Widowmaker styled graffiti had been painted on the walls of the factory complex insulting 'The Pony Boys.' He could still catch a whiff of the CS gas used to disable his soldiers even after hours of exposure to the elements. It would be expensive to equip the whole Patrol force with gas masks but this time it was only an irritant next time it could be something more potent.

He ascended the ramparts of the earthen wall that the Combat Engineers had erected and thought of what it would take to disable another hovertank strike. The factory was built in the middle of a vast open field with a small portion of it paved over with Ferrocrete for dropships to land and takeoff without putting a giant crater in the ground with their thrusters.

Angled steel obstacles might help but now they had battlemechs and it would be difficult to range them with the fixed weapon emplacements already installed. One of the double Flak Fives (LBX5) was completely melted away from laser fire and that was the best weapon to use against a hovertank. It wasn't a popular one with Mechwarriors that always got first pick of equipment and his factory particularly since it had been damaged several times would be low on the list of priorities for Khan Fletcher.

As far as the eye could see the grass was blackened by the ongoing wildfire caused by the hovertanks and he felt a grim sense of emptiness. “Chaos is the currency of ambition. Choose your paths wisely my Khans or we will end broken. Seyla”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 05 September 2020, 20:48:27
07/20/3060 Location – Eden, Pentagon Worlds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That's them. All Points load up.” As he stepped back into the Anhur he disabled the radio and muttered, “I can't believe I have to ask the Falcons for a ride because Bandits stole mine. Star Colonel Zywot will never let me live this down.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 06 September 2020, 20:28:02
Zigfried stepped out onto the granite plateau in the shadow of his spheroid C-1 at the Elizabeth Hazen starport. Before him the Enclave of Rubat stretched out encompassing the entirety of this lush cool valley. The piercing cry of a Jade Falcon on the hunt above a nearby lake echoed off the rocks. A storm was approaching and the wind was already blowing mist in their faces.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both shook hands gripping each other as tight as if they were arm wrestling one another, “Bargained well and done Star Colonel.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 15 September 2020, 15:23:01
This such a good story, thanks keeping going with it AlphaMirage!
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 16 September 2020, 18:01:38
Magnus walked forward from the throng of his now adopted brother Elementals toward Katar. She did the same and their Star Colonels made space for them to size each other up and the other Falcons set about preparing the Circle of Equals for their Trial. She looked around seventeen to his fifteen full of lean muscle and Falcon pride. He would ultimately grow beyond her but for now she was a close to even match and it was evident that Star Colonel Zymot had a sharp eye for fair competition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rematch some other time Magnus.”

The suit visor came down followed by the armored faceplate as she stepped past him joining the other Falcons loading into the transports.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 16 September 2020, 21:10:25
Meanwhile in Yang's Bazaar the Armorworks Merchant Factor Leopold was still on the phone with Star Colonel Ravenwater when the Falcons arrived in a small convoy of five wheeled vehicles, two APCs, two Tankers filled with Ammonia and Hydrazine, and an Ordnance Transport and its trailer loaded down with bombs and missiles. They presented themselves to the Horse Patrol outside and demanded to speak to the Factor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Talons out Filigree.” Three 1 ton molded depleted uranium slug fell free at Mach 10 bracketing the target. Her KKDs smashed into the Glass Spider shattering its right leg and causing it to fall to the rocky ground. The other two caused huge impact craters. Mia nosed up to evade incoming fire and slow down while clearing the flight path for the rest of her Star.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 18 September 2020, 16:51:49
A countdown timer activated itself in the HUD of Magnus' Rhino slowly ticking down from 15:00. As impossible as it seemed he had taken an hour-long nap while the dropship traveled along its parabolic trajectory toward the target area. The world outside his visor was the same as he had left it but the racked Jade Falcon Elemental suits in front of him were coming alive inside their restraints.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Colonel Zigfried Ravenwater came in over the Battlenet. “All missiles on me.” Out of the Trinary only a Star of Elementals had missiles remaining most of them Rhinos and very few reloads at that. The Horse and Falcon Elementals scattered but the missile unit stood firm in the center led by Star Colonel Ravenwater who had mounted the still burning skeleton of a Glass Spider Battlemech. “Prepare yourselves Elementals. Here they come.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 18 September 2020, 21:10:07
Wow, this is intense!
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 19 September 2020, 00:07:23
Cell Colonel Vorgen Wells leapt over the cliffs in his Pouncer not expecting to see the carnage that awaited him. He did not believe the reports as they started filtering in but did when he saw the remains of his infantry battalion staining the gray land with red blood. One hundred Hell's Horses and Jade Falcon Armored Infantry had dropped far faster and in greater force than had been predicted and more were unloading behind him pressing against his rapidly depleting garrison. He had expected the Jade Falcons to fight the Horses after embarrassing them as greatly as he had; not ally and aid them against his forces. Something was missing in his intelligence reports and there was no escaping the inevitable now. All that remained was to take as many of these Warriors down with him as possible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was withdrawn; today was his first major combat and they were back to back grinders with a brief interlude of facing down a fellow Elemental with the success of a mission on his young shoulders. Zigfried walked up to him taking him in and patted him on the shoulder, “You did good work today kid." He raised a glass and his voice. "Tomorrow will be different Warriors," they shouted back in a powerful unified chant that could be heard down the block, "For better or worse. Through Hell and back again.
Hurrah for Zeta.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 21 September 2020, 06:32:40
07/28/3060 Location – CFMDS Mastodon, Circe IV L-4 Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Claude looked over to Faye, “Down for some Search and Destroy Faye?”
The Jaguar looked over the platoon thinking about who she would pick for today's exercise, “Always.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 30 September 2020, 00:46:49
09/01/3060 Aboard the FCV Manai, Grand Archipelago, Fortuna (formerly Fasa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We do our part for them as well.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mary you are an insightful thinker but terrible drinker.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The trams opened up and unloaded groups of people, some families but mostly singles with lowered heads and little more than the clothes on their backs. They were recruited (mostly voluntarily) and shipped across the stars from the Hanseatic League as payment for Society Tech. “We are lucky if we get decent workers out of these wretches.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 30 September 2020, 07:18:15
Oh does the wheels of intrigue turns!  Great chapter, AlphaMirage!

By way, happy 25th chapter!  :D
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 02 October 2020, 17:36:05
10/12/3060 Location – FCV Manai, Grand Archipelago, Fortuna

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You want Erika to steal something for you?”

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

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

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

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

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

“It is three weeks of travel. You are already in Clanspace Mister Anderson and we are going to Ironhold, right in the heart of it.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 03 October 2020, 23:13:38
Ronell was rendered speechless for a moment and took the noteputer from the strange scientist. “Wait...Fortuna is less than one jump from Clanspace?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it you are trying to steal?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He returned her embrace but whispered, “I wish that was true Erika.”
“What part?”
“I wish we really were safe here.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 05 October 2020, 20:23:26
11/18/3060 Location – Pirate Point B55-218-TW (Lan Zhenzhu, “The Blue Pearl”), Cloud Cobra Satrapy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do it!”

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

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

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

He paused a moment, “Aff.”

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

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

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

Claude turned to the helmeted and armed FireNewts, he reattached his helmet and readied his laser rifle. “Move out men! We are going to the range.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 19 October 2020, 12:02:11
04/03/3061 SLS Shanghai, Lan Zhenzhu (Terra RC -122.574, 1768.831, Strana Mechty RC -154.874, 1.022)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is the Waldemar?”

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

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

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

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

After an hour passed the CSOs returned their luggage and Dexter distributed polished metal ration coins and their room keys to the team. A large dusky man wearing a red and black uniform they didn’t recognize floated in waiting patiently but saying nothing. “I have to leave you for a few hours. Feel free to wander about but check your comms regularly. We will meet again soon, until then stay out of trouble.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 19 October 2020, 20:58:50
In one of the SLS Shanghai's three SCIFs (Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility) behind a squad of CSOs and two heavy doors sat Scientist-Controller Dexter Calloway, Chief Administrator Dekou Wong, EcKhan (and Shanghai's Captain) Dax Loew, and Watch Agent Kobi. Dexter's features were harshly lit in the glare of the holo-projector “Dekou you didn't tell me the Mandrills were already here with the warships. This had better not interfere with our jumpship revitalization project.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am open to suggestions. There is nothing we can do to give the Vipers an edge so far away from our influence. It is up to their Warriors, and I wish them good luck. The Prydes need a good plucking.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 20 October 2020, 19:59:18
So...Hansa been sponsoring the Bandit Caste and Society?
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 20 October 2020, 20:12:41
So...Hansa been sponsoring the Bandit Caste and Society?

Mutually beneficial relationship that will be expanded upon in future chapters. The Shanghai and Fortuna Colony are just the best organized Dark Caste in the Homeworlds but there are others, The Order of the Blinding Eye (Etienne Balzac's people) is metastasizing in the Falcons' OZ as we speak but what we know as The Society doesn't exist yet.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 23 October 2020, 22:39:57
SLS Shanghai's corridors were an overcrowded warren of tunnels confusing even if you understood the Cantonese language which Erika and Ronell certainly didn't. Their tablet which was supposed to be translating was stuck in a loop saying “Hello, welcome aboard the SLS Shanghai. Follow all appropriate rules and enjoy your stay” in an accented sing-song voice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He wrapped his arms around her naked body, “How will we learn more unless we investigate?”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 25 October 2020, 20:12:39
Built within one of the Shanghai's six 500 meter diameter GravDecks respecting Feng Shui principles was The Eight Way Temple. Each of its eight approximately 200 meter long arcs was arranged in a way to satisfy the Bagua with elements of wood, metal, earth, air, water, and fire represented in their appropriate positions just like the seal of the ship that housed them and served as the center of the arrangement.

Meandering within the garden ('Zhen') compartment was Dexter Calloway and his team of Fortunate. This unintentionally symbolized a new beginning if you cared for such things; which he didn't even if he had realized it. Instead he just preferred the plants and blue-green(-teal) color palette that reminded him of Fortuna's oceans and his Gardener ship that sailed atop them.

He looked at his watch '09:00', “Where are they?”
A freshly showered Ronell and Erika entered from the adjacent compartment. He stopped and looked at the gathered group and thought about them for a moment. They would not blend as well into the new assignment but it would have to do though. The pair took up positions with the rest of the task force, “Since we are finally here,” he looked at the late arrivals, “I am going to give you our new assignment.”

Confusion arose in several of their faces, “I know you have questions but please wait for me to finish.”
The Rasalgheti did so waiting patiently for him to finish, “Instead of inciting difficulty with Clan Jade Falcon we will be working with the Goliath Scorpions to cause trouble for the Snakes. The Scorpions are tentative allies of both Falcons and Wolves, rivals to the Snakes. They need to make a choice and whatever side they choose will accomplish a similar objective. To that end we will be going to Tokasha, the latest battlefield in our eternal struggle and one of the most industrialized worlds in the Kerensky Cluster. We will leave in two weeks, you can continue to stay on the Shanghai or if you are interested in going to a different station ask me and I will ensure you get a shuttle ticket. Now are there any questions?”

Erika raised her hand, “So you will not need me to steal anything?”
“Not necessarily Erika. Tokasha has a thriving underworld. We will need someone capable of navigating it. I have called in several Burrocks to join our group that are familiar with the names but are known to the Patrol and Dark Caste. As outsiders you can move more readily than they.”

Ronell joined the conversation, “Will we have weapons?”
The Rasalgheti looked around, nodding in agreement. All had some kind of combat experience fighting against the Clans and most had lived in the slums of Solaris which had much in common with Tokasha. They knew what kind of characters they might encounter, people that acted a lot like themselves. Tokasha's wilderness was also filled with with hostile wildlife as the Hell's Horses and Ghost Bears before them felt they were more useful alive to eat Bandits and runaways rather than use Warrior Caste resources to hunt them down. Arming them however would bring greater dangers to himself and his bodyguard Bryce. “Nothing big...” More questions followed and they spent almost an hour in the garden going through the logistics.

Several compartments away eighteen men and women stood atop a circular disk of polished metal wearing gray uniform gis illuminated by a set of suspended spherical lights. Among them were Faye Freelander and Claude Goulet who stood opposite one another with a sheathed Jian in their hand. The Jaguar had recently arrived with other Mandrills(/Jaguars/Burrocks) covertly recruited by Joseph Kline.

“I missed this.”
“You are such a romantic Claude. Almost un-befitting a Clan Warrior.”
“Perhaps I should remain a Bandit then? or become a Wudang Warrior Monk.”
“Would be a great loss for the Fire Mandrills and myself if you did.”
“Strong arguments Faye. Sure you do not feel the same, quiaff?”

Before she could answer the bronze gong along one wall was rung, filling the space with a hollow yet overwhelming sound. Eighteen Wudang and Mandrill Warriors unsheathed their swords and went about the paired exercises. They started slow gradually increasing tempo until they were at full speed using both the sword for cut and thrust and its weighted sheath as an impact weapon and parrying device.

Their dual wielding method made the Wudang Warriors very deadly in a Circle of Equals and was demonstrated in their Aerospace combat tactics with wing-men supporting one another. It was not helpful to an Armored Marine boarding action or defending against it. The Clan was notoriously poor in Elementals reliant on the Burrocks for their close combat and mech support. This deficiency limited their territory in the Homeworlds. Aboard the ship the Newts were worse due to the terms of the Mongoose Exile's adoption into Clan Cloud Cobra.

Once the slow exercise was complete sixteen stood around a pair of Warriors in the center. Claude Goluet, the but elite Mandrill Marine with no fewer than thirty close combat kills in his short career, stood facing Sebastian Francaix, with more than a fifteen kills in a Circle of Equals either up close or in his Scytha. This was the first time Claude was actually fighting a truly experienced Cloud Cobra Warrior. His FireNewts had been 'Uncarved Wood' with no prior experience in combat arts but were willing to go against the Tao of the Clans by seeking power beyond their caste.

However, before him was the Shanghai's Champion that EcKhan Loew asked answer any Clan Warrior's call against the Shanghai. Both men bowed and waited, the gong rung and before it was even settled Sebastian launched forward with a like an uncoiling serpent. Claude dodged kneeling to pick the punch at the elbow and throwing his opponent nearly four meters across the circle.

The Warrior ducked and rolled snapping up on the defensive as the Mandrill launched a series of incredibly fast punches which were parried and countered with equal vigor to the amazement of the onlookers, Several strikes got through the guards of both men with audible impact.

They separated to catch their breath and feel out their foe with their opening moves complete circling one another in a wide stance with ready hands outstretched in the Bagua style. “You have studied our ways Claude. How curious?”

Claude smiled, “Or am I just 'aping' you Sebastian.”
Sebastian attempted a front kick that was stopped by a solid Chasse frontal bas to his lead leg causing him to lose balance and fall backward from the impact. He rolled out before a follow up axe kick came down on this chest. While on the ground he kicked the back of Claude's knee causing him to crumble forward and forcing him to use all his athleticism to avoid the crescent kick that created a palpable breeze in its wake.

Once more the combatants circled one another catching their breath and feeling the cumulative effects of the earlier strikes. Claude was the aggressor this time leading with a long distance kick followed by rapid steps and solid boxing. Sebastian dodged the strikes parrying them just enough to avoid their impact and angling for a grab on his larger opponent's arms.

He got it but it did nothing for him as Claude headbutted him dazing and bloodying the smaller man who was not expecting such a vulgar attack nor the neck throw that had him sitting on the floor with his opponent at his back. With poetic grace Claude set up a cobra clutch securing his opponent's arm and neck before transitioning into a triangle choke which resulted in Sebastian blacking out before Claude released him.

The Cobra came back with a coughing fit resting on the floor for a bit before standing and bowing to his opponent who did the same. “We have much to share with one another. It has been an honor to share this circle with you.”

“No hard feeling Star Commander Francaix. I look forward to our continued partnership.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 31 October 2020, 13:06:25

Somewhere on the fringes of the New Kent System a vast complex orbits an icy dwarf planet known as New Kinnison. Slightly larger than Terra's Pluto its eccentric orbit takes it both too close and far enough away to allow jump proximity points. A shuttle passes by revealing 'Master's Shipyard' printed on a cage larger than the others combined. During the Golden Century the Steel Vipers prized themselves on their isolation rivaling even the Blood Spirits for vitriol when interacting with their fellow Clans. The Vipers suffered for it forfeiting resources, political support, and trade relations to further their true cause and earning many enemies in the process.

What comprises enemies and allies was fleeting however; something disgraced former Khan now Star Colonel Natalie Breen thought about while she floating in microgravity watching the final parts come together. This Shipyard and the Shandrake Massif facility she commissioned when she was Khan would cement the future of her Clan. One she had only dreamed of after being foiled on Tukayyid but one she rededicated herself to under her malleable protege.

Resources were drawn from the Cloud Cobras and Star Adders, the Star Adders for services rendered by Viper Peacekeepers during the Burrock Absorption and the Cobras in return for surrendering claims to Enclaves seized from the hated Snow Ravens that the small clan could not take on their own. Other resources came from occupied spheroid worlds in soon to be former Jade Falcon space. The Vipers demanded high quotas from their spheroid subjects and five Snake Potemkins (CCSs Wisdom of Ages and True Sight, CSA Renown, CSVs Ophidian and Serpentes) harvested everything they could from their enemy before returning it to the Homeworlds.

Despite the Steel Viper's small footprint their colonies provided 60% of the new resources for the Snake Alliance's Merchants allowing unprecedented expansion of all three Clans. Enough that they could challenge the Jade Falcons in the Sphere and hope to prevail. All current reports showed the Steel Vipers expanding in the Occupation Zone.

Marthe Pryde's sudden disappearance from Strana Mechty could not hope to turn the tide as Perigald Zalman raced her to reinforce his own positions. SaKhans Brett Andrews and Samantha Clees skirmished around Tokasha and Barcella but the Falcons had contracted the Hellions to reinforce their positions and launch raids to protect vulnerable enclaves. Lesser clans nipped at the Viper's enclaves as well hoping to take advantage of their invasion. All would fall in time.

Once the Falcons were removed from the Inner Sphere they could finally be crushed in the Homeworlds and the Steel Vipers would move into the Ascendancy of the Snake Alliance. The Star Adders thought themselves so smart and superior but they were reliant on the Steel Viper's military prowess and access to the Inner Sphere. Once the Steel Viper Khan became ilKhan and their enemies were Annihilated the invasion would start again and they would not lose this time or ever again.

A hologram of a grand battleship within the cage appeared next to her console, it dwarfed anything seen in Clanspace by an impressive margin and if the stats were correct could take down a full Binary of Warships on its own. It would need to be; the Jade Falcons, Snow Ravens, and Diamond Sharks still posed an existential threat to the Vipers and their soon to be subjects. “Begin the assembly process. There are to be no problems with this battleship quiaff?”

Large dropships began maneuvering sub-assemblies from smaller cages into the larger one and the CSV Astarte Leviathan Prime Battleship began to take form.

Back on the SLS Shanghai the CFM From the Ashes (formerly SLS Rondeau) slipped its anchors to begin maneuvering around Kuxing with a full crew under the command of Star Captain Nina Tanaga. Star Captain Claude Goulet continued training FireNewt and Mandrill Warriors incorporating Salamander Elemental armor which had been in short supply but was brought along with defectors from the Fire Mandrills. Scientist-Controller Calloway's mission to Tokasha had been scrubbed and his team recalled to Fortuna by month's end. The Kerensky Cluster was to dangerous for a secret mission and it didn't matter anyway their objective was happening. Vipers and Falcons were under constant attack and counter-attack with no side winning conclusive victories but lesser Clans waited with baited breath hoping to profit in the wake of this struggle.

Ronell Anderson and Erika floated along the Shanghai's corridors glad to be returning to their new home. The spacer version of shipboard life smelled and tasted much worse than that of the Fortuna Gardener vessels and there was no grand sunrise or sunset over a warm blue ocean. He had managed to profit from their time aboard finding temporary employment in the Shipyard which had given them a larger quantity of spending money. They had replaced their clothes and electronics with superior versions and purchased a few other items that would be welcome to their friends still on that ocean world.

As they passed by one of the compartments closer to the engineering decks a hand came out from one of the rooms to grab Erika. The small woman was held firm by a large man with a snake tattoo circling his neck, who had hers in a blood choke. Two others translated from the compartment, “We need our quota of Shipyard workers.” One of them handed him a comm-pad, “Sign here and we let her go. Otherwise you have a dead girl and we take you anyway. The Captain can't kill us. We are Steel Viper Warriors. He wouldn't risk it to save you or this little Laborer,” Erika tried to fight the man's stronger grip to no avail, “no matter how squeezable she might be.”

He looked beyond the trio of Snake headhunters finding one of the FireNewts slowly coming down the corridor. The FireNewt tapped one of the Snakes on the shoulder, “Real Warriors declare a Trial. I Refuse it.” Flechettes sprayed out from the Needler pistol ripping into the backs of the two Snakes while Ronell slamming the nearest one's head into the bulkhead shattering it.

Blood floated in crimson spheres around them and onto Erika's face breaking into smaller spheres and leaving a smudge behind. She was white as a ghost and Ronell embraced her choking form while the Newt bagged up the dead Snakes and vacuumed up the blood spheres. “Sorry, for the set up. We thought these snake-heads might try to take you.
If we Shanghai someone its because its better for them. I will toss these into the trash where they belong.”
“What about the Steel Vipers?”
“They will never admit their Warriors were beaten by a Newt. We have never been more capable of protecting ourselves from them. I will have to tell the Captain to be more cautious with our supposed allies however.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 01 November 2020, 11:32:43

SLS Painkiller's arrival into Kuxing's orbit was an occasion for celebration. The massive Warship was escorted by the new trio of Fire Mandrill ones bold in their new livery, fully equipped, upgraded and soon to be returning to the Homeworlds. Star Captain Claude Goulet watched the Monsoon class battleship and its flotilla of tugs from the Trial by Fire's observation deck besides Faye, Joseph, and Nina.

CG: “The Newts are joining the big boy leagues now. I hope they know how dangerous that can be.”
NT: “They know, but being small fry might be even more hazardous. The EcKhan is not wrong, this summer's skirmishes are just the beginning.”
Joseph Kline looked over to Claude the pallid but powerful Elemental, “Are you ready to take down Tomin? You have an army of freeborn and dissatisfied Warriors at your back. Sooner we get this over with the better.”
“Its still not enough. There is one more stop on my path of redemption.”
He looked over to Nina looking superbly proud of being a Fleet Commander, “I need to make a call to our old friend from Hellgate.”
“Would he take it? He is the Khan of the Hellions now.”
“Let us find out.”
Claude opened a comm channel to the Shanghai's HPG station, “This is Star Captain Goulet. I need to send a priority message to Khan Alexander Drake of the Hellions. Try Atreus first then Hector.”

Upon the observation deck of the HS Pack Leader, a York class Light Carrier, Khan Alexander Drake of The Hellions (he had dropped both Clan and Ice from the name) watched the two other destroyers (Impaler and Radiant) and dozens of dropships that comprised his task force from the sensor sphere. This was the largest offensive action since this summer's battles against the Vipers that had gained his touman valuable experience and his Merchants trade goods from the Jade Falcons.

His Clan was not long for the home-worlds so they had to take as much as they could to sustain his invasion of the Inner Sphere. His contract with Marthe Pryde was a short term deal she believed to good to be true, but he had to act now and disguise his long term plan as the stereotypical Hellion headlong rush. Already scouts were securing supply depots but he needed more star-lift capacity and his true objective of the Mandrill's Potemkin Fire-Eater would serve his cause well.

The Atreus system was the latest flashpoint from his small over-leveraged clan, they had earned the ire of Kindraas Faraday-Tanaga and Mick-Kreese. A former Smoke Jaguar Aerospace factory complex on the largest moon (Eagle) of the main planet was fiercely contested.

A flash followed by a chime caught his attention, he picked up the phone and his assistant's voice came over the line. “Personal HPG for you OvKhan, from a Star Captain Claude Goulet, formerly of the Twenty Third Air Assault.”
“That is how he introduced himself.”

Xander knew of a Claude in the 23rd, he was after all one of the most traveled of the Hellion's middle officers prior to being its Khan having spent time among the Goliath Scorpions, Snow Ravens, and Fire Mandrills. He won a Cage's Clasp for his work with the Mandrills which is why he felt confident he could excise a Kindraa and take them with his Hellions to the Inner Sphere. It didn't matter whether it was Mick-Kreese or Faraday-Tanaga both would be useful. His time on Hellgate had been particularly useful as it encouraged his cunning while emphasizing patience and planning unlike the Hellion's training on striking without thinking. If Claude had taken these lessons to heart he could be a valuable ally.
“Play it.”

Claude Goulet's voice rumbled through the handset, he explained his exile from the Fire Mandrills and his personal mission against Kindraa Leader Tomin Mick. The same Tomin Mick commanding the Atreus defense from his destroyer Rancor and who Drake's Marines feared fighting in close combat. Claude the Exile was at the head of a rebel force. All he needed was a target and someone respectable to oversee the Trial and reinstate him in the eyes of the Clan Council. Someone like a Khan.

Khan Drake looked out over the dark expanse, he could wait a little longer. Pin Tomin down and let the Mandrills fight each other, if Claude wins he has a new ally, if he loses he has a weakened enemy. “All Task Force Elements, this is your Khan. I am aborting our fast burn to Atreus, use transfer orbits.”

Aboard the CFM Rancor, Kindraa Leader Tomin Mick digested the latest reports. He lifted one of the small spacer Techs from the pit shearing the safety straps. Tomin was decanted from a mixed Osis-Mick sibko on Shadow making him monstrously large for a Marine even a Mandrill one and giving him the nickname Tomin the Tower. “What do you mean the Hellions have stopped burning towards Atreus? They never go slow!”

The spacer's voice was meek and fearful, Tomin was literally twice as massive as he was. “I don't know sir. It's what the latest reports say?”
“Speak proper even if all you say is nonsense Technician!
” Tomin threw the man across the room, the spacer's agility saved the from a headfirst impact but the landing shook the bulkhead. He looked over the spacers who were cowering in their seats, “Find out what Drake is up to! I will return soon and there had better be some answers!”


'Star Admiral' Nina Tanaga's task force of two destroyers (Essex and Lola III) and a Vincent Mk 42 corvette jumped into the Atreus system and with it came a light cluster of Fire Mandrill and Wudang Cloister Warriors. Waiting for them at the Zenith Point was Khan Drake's own trio of Warships who had lured the Potemkin Fire-Eater, Lola III Rancor, and Vincent Mk 42 Firetender nearby. Khan Xander Drake's pale, scarred yet handsome form appeared on the flight deck's holotank in the bridge. “They are all yours Admiral Tanaga. As agreed we will not intervene.”

Within the CIC Star 'Commodore' Goulet steeled himself for the final confrontation with his tormentor. Tomin Mick's bulk appeared on the holotank in the middle of the CIC, “Unknown vessel, this is Mick-Kreese Kindraa Leader Tomin Mick. I demand you identify yourselves.”

Claude stood before the camera broadcasting it to all nearby ships, “This is Claude Goulet, I issue a Trial of Position for Mick-Kreese Kindraa Leader against Tomin Mick. I bid Star Admiral Nina Tanaga's Warships and my Cluster against him. How will he defend?”

“Defend! You are not a Warrior Claude. You are a deserter, bandit, dark caste. Lower even than the waste Laborers aboard my ship. That you even entertain that we might be equals is laughable. I will not even glorify your Batchall with a counteroffer.”

Claude held the helmet to his Salamander in his hands, “Suit yourself Tomin.” He triggered the PA on his power armor, “I will see you soon.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 06 November 2020, 01:49:09
Aboard the CFM Rancor, Captain Shawn Kreese sat in his own Flight Deck with Tomin Mick standing tall above him. The Elemental was already in his armor awaiting the time that his task force would come within firing range of the rebels, Goulet’s Grenadiers as they had identified themselves. “What is taking so long Captain? Why are we not firing missiles already?”

“The Zenith Point is large sir. Admiral Tanaga’s task force is on the other side of Khan Drake’s. It will take time to get into effective range.”

Tomin’s armored fist crashed onto one of the aging consoles cracking the screen and denting the supporting steel. “She is not an Admiral Captain Kreese. Nina Tanaga and Claude Goulet are Pirates not Warriors. I will have the Clan Council know that Khan Drake was working with them. He lured us into this position knowing they would arrive today. His failure will not go unpunished.”

“The Khan is jamming our communications I cannot get a message to Khan Carrol. We can barely keep a local battlenet operational.”

“Dezgra Pirates all. After dealing with Claude I will deal with him personally. Disable these enemy ships they will be fine isorla.”

“Aye sir.”
Tomin swaggered out of the room his boots clanging on deck plates to join the other Marines strategically placed around the ship.

XO Star Commander Joel Newton waited until Tomin was gone and opened a private comm channel to their headsets, “Did you tell him?”
“Only what we agreed.”
“He has to know.”

Nina Tanaga sat in the middle of the  CFM Trial by Fire’s new Flight Deck filled with three different uniforms. She was the only Mandrill Captain with CFM From the Ashes (formerly the Essex SLS Rondeau) and CFM Ignition Point (formerly the Vincent mk 39 SLS Van Vilet) manned by Newts and Tanites commanded by selected senior dropship Captains whom Loew thought would command the Ghost Fleet when it was brought back from the dead.

She was already thinking of how she had defied logic to become a Warship Captain in the lead of a three-ship naval task force. She was surprised when her musings were interrupted by the pallid face of Shawn Kreese appearing within the sensor sphere.

Nina stared down the comm-tech, “Warn me next time!” The Tanite nodded in apology.

“Captain Tanaga, we know each other so lets move past the pleasantries. Trial of Position, Raven rules. Rancor against Trial by Fire. Tomin and Claude fight it out on the loser's ship.”
“What about the Fire-Eater and its Binary?”
“I have no control over the whole formation, but Captain Xing's crew voted no confidence in Tomin. Any rogues are fair game for your other ships or the Hellions.”

Shawn and her had been in the same sibko, he narrowly defeated her in the simulated Trial of Position on Hellgate dashing her hopes. Instead she was assigned to an Elephant Tug doomed to spend her career as a Warrior with the Mandrills picking the bones of old Warships to repair the chosen few. Now the tables had turned and Shawn still thought he could defeat her.

“Bargained well and done Captain Kreese.”

Nina walked to the front observation screen zooming in on the Rancor. She activated a sub-menu that showed all the ship's weapons and numerous sub-systems. All of which were almost as good as when they came out of the cage around Epsilon Eridani three hundred years ago.

“You didn't even ask about the upgrades. Someone wasn't paying attention in class.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 11 November 2020, 22:25:57
Lola 'IV' CFM Trial by Fire entered the 'Sphere' of Equals opposing the Lola III CFM Rancor. The Mandrill's four warships and Hellions' three maintained station just outside the volume satisfying the batchall.  Opening volleys of White Shark missiles streaked across the gap discarding their first and second stages before the final kinetic warhead would be guided in to impact. Following them were particle beams from the prow turrets of the Trial by Fire and lasers from the Rancor. Both vessels firing their guns in a open pattern toward their opponent to increase the chance of hitting with at least one of their weapons from such a far distance.

Trial by Fire’s prow was raked by lasers, front quarters took hits from the Rancor’s guns. The Rancor took it worse as high speed particles ablated armor at the atomic level. Hargel attempted to seal breechs where the larger number of White Shark missiles smashed through with precision guided kinetic warheads that the Rancor's lasers could not intercept.

Within the CIC Captain Kreese was sweating bullets in his CSS as damage reports came in, “What was that!”

“Damage reports indicate Rand-10 NPPCs, minor penetrative damage to the forward compartments from the missiles. Our sensors indicate our lasers caused only minor damage to the Trial by Fire, looks like the armor was strengthened.”

“Damn her, of course it was. We will have to out-shoot her then.”
His hands moved across the console, “I am laying in a new course we will juke her and wear the crews down. Those cannons might be more powerful but our gunners are more experienced.”

The long-range dual played out in slow motion, for each move Shawn made Nina countered. Realizing he could not win at long range against the heavier guns of the Lola IV. Captain Kreese closed the range bringing about the broadsides whose Luxor Tens and their considerable ammo supply were more capable of making short work of his enemy with a benefit of exposing different armor facings to the threat. Nina matched the facing but her gun bays were strengthened by an Imperator 20 NAC, famously used in large quantities on Aegis cruisers, and the broadside laser turret was replaced by more Rand 10 Naval PPCs. Outgunned and hitting the agreed upon third of his fuselage integrity Shawn Kreese struck his colors, powered down his weapons, and awaited boarding parties presently aboard CFM From the Ashes.

Goulet’s Grenadiers set out on their Scarab gunships escorted by the SLS Shanghai’s Five Star Cluster for the final phase of this trial. One of the Fire Eater’s Carrier dropships launched their fighters toward the formation but it was immediately fired upon by a Cadmus (Achilles C) Assault Dropship from the same group. The ten Jagatais returned to the damaged Carrier in good order and no more reinforcements were forthcoming.

Tomin Mick stormed onto the Flight Deck with what would have been a loud clanking of magnetic boots, nevertheless the crew could feel the vibrations along the grated floor. “Captain why have we stopped firing!”

Captain Kreese turned toward the armored Elemental, “Our portion of this trial is done Kindraa Leader. Captain Tanaga’s destroyer is superior to ours and she has beaten me according to the rules agreed upon in our batchall. Claude is presently en route to face you aboard the Rancor.”

A thundering roar rung out over the comm-net. Tomin faced the XO sitting in the gunnery station with the Chiefs, “Shoot him!”

Joel sat firm even as Tomin towered over him leaned in depolarizing his face-plate to reveal a Glasgow smile, “Neg, Kindraa Leader. I will not violate the terms of this Trial.” The Elemental squeezed the smaller spacer’s shoulder, “You do not set the terms of Trials. I do. Shoot those pirates now!” he applied more pressure cracking some of the pauldron's impact plates, “or I will crush you.”

“Are you afraid Kindraa Leader?”
“Neg! I do not fear some Pirates. You should fear me.”

XO Newton winced slightly from the pain, he was a spacer whose fragile constitutions could not withstand an Elemental's strength even under optimal conditions, “Claude does not; he has raised an army against you. Maybe he will have better luck with fair odds.”

Tomin released the smaller man but hammered his armored claw on the laser mounted on his right arm waldo, “I will break him then I will break you two and find others to take your place.”

Captain Kreese keyed in on the battle-net, “You might have to look harder than you think. Warship crews are a sparse commodity these days.”

The face-plate of Tomin's red enameled armor turned opaque concealing a grim face behind a golden mirror. Two Armored Marines were summoned to the deck. Both giants loomed behind the First Officers ensuring that none of the 'Technical' crew aided the pirates en route via intimidation. Tomin walked out off the flight deck passing another pair of Elementals put in place to 'guard' it.

Within one of the Grenadiers' gunships, Claude flexed the Salamander's claws while the foot 'Talons' were locked onto brackets. These suits had been modified by the Newts for microgravity combat with a modified 'Aether' Elemental maneuver unit. The real power was in the claws which used experimental myomer (obtained by the Hansa, *cough* XTSM) powerful enough to seriously damage armored Marines or breech doors during boarding actions. He was channeling those strange Marines aboard Circe's Caretaker station. Star Commander Brack of the Five Star Cluster came in over the battle-net, “Star Captain, all scopes are clear, Rancor's weapons are still powered down. We have identified several openings if you want to drop onto the hull. Shuttle bay is still closed, locked down from inside.”

“Aye Brack, we planned on Tomin closing the door. Do a pass to ensure no Elementals lie in wait.”

Four Batu interceptors closed scanning the hull with their active probes but found nothing but puncture marks from the White Shark missiles. “Scopes are clear Claude, no welcoming party. Holes look big enough for your suits.”

“Its the easier way in,”
Scarabs matched velocity with the Rancor hovering roughly twenty meters above the damaged fuselage, “Boarding parties standby for grapples.” Four pitons punched just deep enough to anchor the Scarab allowing their two Points of Salamanders to 'climb' down toward the fuselage. Lights flickered to life on the power armor illuminating the velvety blackness of the Zenith Point to reveal a cratered battlefield that had minutes ago seen energies capable of vaporizing his suit. Atreus' sun hovered below them only lighting the ventral portion of the Mandrill Warship, small portions reflected off the Scarabs hovering above and patrolling Omnifighters.

Upon the hull the Salamander's switched to their alternate propulsion mode. The armor was flexible enough to use all four limbs to crawl along the hull like a tick and just as difficult to remove. A Star of 4th Elemental Assault Force Aether suits emerged silently from the dark void inside the Rancor spitting silent death at the Grenadiers from their machine guns.

Grenadier Salamanders jumped or crawled away hiding behind elevated areas of the hull as bullets ricocheted off the hull. They cleverly used their shoulder mounted machine guns' limited turret to fire around or above cover. This was most effective in the crawling mode as the narrow profile, thickly armored helmet, and stable firing position made it more difficult to target and easier to shoot. Not expecting this unorthodox tactic the Aether suits returned to the interior as Omnifighters neared their position. The Five Star Cluster was forbidden from engaging but none wanted to take the chance. A Batu or Turk could easily eliminate a whole Point of Elementals in a single pass.

This played right into the Salamander's strengths and Claude's experimentation. The Grenadiers used their thrusters or claws to enter the hole, leaping from the interior compartment with paired vibroclaws or their foot 'talons' each one capable of disabling the machine gun either by crushing it or pushing it out of the way. Their machine guns fired at contact range ripping through the Elemental's armor in short order typically with a shot right to the visor. Goulet's Grenadiers tore through the enemy Star with these tactics killing a dozen of the Elementals before the wounded were granted hegira.

Tomin Mick watched the final moments of the Star Commander getting a first person view of a Salamander's claws ripping the helmet (and accompanying head) right off. His Marines could hear the reports over the battlenet and looked to him. The Grenadier's had easily overwhelmed a superior sized and Elite rated force with better tactics and equipment.

Claude's voice came over the battlenet having received the codes from one of the Point Commanders, “Tomin, we bested your first force. I do not relish killing my fellow Clansmen but we will not stop until you yield. Give me a direct line to negotiate your surrender without further bloodshed.

You have five minutes or I am coming in and surrender will not be an option.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 15 November 2020, 13:31:16
Within the Rancor, Kindraa Leader Tomin Mick looked at his arm mounted machine gun then toward one of his subordinates, “Give me your claw.” The Elemental paused for a moment, “Aff, disengaging locks.” Tomin disengaged the waldo locks on his own weapon using his left hand claw to take it off, the machine gun floated in micro-gravity before them. With minor assistance from a CSS suited Technician the battle claw was mounted, secured, and operational. Tomin opened a line to Claude via the transmitted codes at the four minute mark.

“Claude, I will not surrender. If you want my position face me alone in a Circle of Equals. I have removed my machine gun, I expect you to do the same.”

Claude was preparing to breach the door when the transmission came in. He motioned to his fellow Elementals who paused to await new instructions. “I will meet you outside in ten minutes.”

Star Captain Goulet motioned to Evan then to his shoulder turret and its machine gun. “Take it off Evan. Tomin has challenged me to hand to hand combat. We will fight on the hull.”
“But sir he is larger and stronger than you.”

“Maybe outside the armor, but we are equal in it.”
He clenched one of the razor sharp steel claws, “Particularly with these upgraded myomers.”

Ten minutes later both combatants stood a dozen meters away surrounded by fellow Warriors. Their suit lights blinked green and red against the velvety black of the void. Tomin's wide and tall stance evoked a primal Silverback. Claude's talons wrapped around a transit bar. They stood atop a blood red hull marred with battle damage and faded by a lack of maintenance.

It began with a thruster enhanced slash toward Claude's head, the more agile Armor and Elemental ducked the attack catching Tomin's thruster pack with a talon enhanced tornado kick causing the pack to vent its fuel rapidly and erratically to spin the Elemental like a top. Tomin activated the emergency release, the thruster flew wildly out of the Circle of Equals until its hydrazine was exhausted. Desperate to arrest his spin he reached out with his dual battle claws which sparked as they ripping into warship plate with all the strength their myomer and operator could muster. Ultimately he was able to slow the spin, get upright, and engage the magnets for stability but was now 'ground bound' and dizzy.

Dazed as he was Tomin was not able to defend himself from Claude's next attack. The Salamander suit latched onto the larger Elemental armor and used its own thruster to break the magnetic boot's hold. Adjusting his attitude and facing Claude pushed off with all the force of his suit sending Tomin into the void while accelerating him back to the Warship. He rotated and landed with all four claws to spread out the impact. Without thrusters Tomin floated out of the 'Sphere' and in the process forfeited the Trial.

Claude opened up a radio link to the Elemental slowly floating away from the Warship. “This is Kindraa Leader Claude Goulet to Star Captain Tomin Mick. Do you require assistance; or would you like to let go of all your responsibilities?”

A long silent pause spread throughout the gathered Warriors, they all knew that a slow agonizing death awaited them if they came loose. There were fighters in the area capable of recovering the stricken Elemental if he asked or were commanded to as the Warrior's code demanded. However, Tomin had fought hard to rise to Kindraa Leader and maintain that position since the Invasion of Huntress. He was the mighty Warrior that the Mandrills aspired to and was clever but had overreached lately to much shame. This humiliation might be just what he needed but it was great one, the next moments would cement his legacy if one still could be salvaged.

He twisted to face the Warriors gathered on the hull, “Kindraa Leader Goulet, I seem to have lost my thruster pack and come loose from the Rancor. Would you send a fighter to recover me?”

“One is en route from the Trial by Fire. Hang on tight Tomin.
You are to report to the med-bay and await further instructions.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 15 November 2020, 17:18:03
Later the corridor just outside the Trial by Fire's starboard shuttle bay was filled with spacers in three different uniforms lined up against the walls. First among them was Nina Tanaga in a tight fitting green-red quipao, a red triangle with three blue dagger stars in the corners represented her rank as Star Admiral, her name was stenciled across the right breast and Trial by Fire in Cantonese script along the right sleeve (Huozai Shenpan), and a jian hang to her left.

The shuttle doors opened and a muscular young man whose pallor was made more evident by his icy blue-white uniform, striking eyes, and short blonde hair stepped forward followed by a group of similar dressed spacers. The lead officer gave a quick salute, “Permission to come aboard Captain Tanaga.”

“Permission granted Khan Drake.”

The Khan stepped forward and embraced her, “It has been a long time Nina. Nice to see someone from the Hellgate Academy once more.”
“The Ravens know how to pick and train them. More Ristars have come out of that academy than any other except perhaps the ones that gave us Marthe Pryde and Vladimir Ward.”

“If it would not be to much trouble I would like a tour of this vessel. Having seen it in action I am envious of its performance. There are three Lolas and an Essex among my Touman, perhaps I can provide business to your architects.”

Superior Regnar and Kindraa Leader Goulet were among the lead group, Drake shook Claude's hand. “This is Superior Derek Regnar of the SLS Shanghai, a Cloud Cobra yard. We owe him a great debt for his services.”

Xander looked toward the Newt Spacer with keen interest, “Indeed, how much did it cost? I have more enclaves under my command than ever before; we Hellions can pay more than some rogue Mandrills.”

The ever diplomatic and mercantile man nodded, “I can have the Roland Tusker, a jump capable shipyard, around Atreus or Hector in a matter of weeks. If you give us access to your Clan's mothballed ships we can perhaps reduce the amount of parts that need to be fabricated. The Trial by Fire and its sisters required longer to bring into operation from mothballs and repair the old damage than upgrade to their present configurations.”

“Make it happen. You have access to the HPG aboard the Pack Leader if you desire.”
“Thank you Khan Drake.”

The four walked past all the spacers standing at parade rest and onto the ship. Once they disappeared the spacers changed from formal inspection uniforms back to their utility jumpsuits to begin damage control. Some were due to be transferred to the Rancor along with Star Captain Mick to enact repairs. Khan Drake and his Engineers asked questions of the Newts and Mandrills which were answered to their satisfaction. Hellion Engineers departed for the Pack Leader with the Superior while Khan Drake remained aboard with the Mandrills but changed out of his formal uniform into the standard duty one.

Faye Freelander found Claude and Xander on the recreation deck preparing to engage in a friendly game of racquetball. She had been aboard the CFM From the Ashesduring the battle. They were embarked on the Essex destroyer with the other Marines who detoured to the Trial by Fire at the request of Khan Drake. She whispered, “Find me before you hit the showers.”

Xander watched as she departed from the chamber, “Very impressive Jaguar you have there.”
The statement was answered with a nod.
“Where did you happen to find her?”

“Tanis strangely enough. Former Jaguar's Sword, her whole command has integrated well.”

“Not that they have much of a choice. Their Clan is dead. I was there on Huntress before the Inner Sphere left. Met a very fascinating spheroid from the Magistracy of Canopus. I will have to visit that place once I take the Hellions to the Inner Sphere. I want your help.”

Claude was silent for a moment as he absorbed that, the Ghost Bears and Nova Cats had done it and Vladimir Ward had made it clear that the Wolves' time in the Homeworlds was limited. The Jade Falcons and Hell's Horses attempted to leverage their IS holdings to homeworld's success with mixed results. No one thought the Hellions, long one of the smallest Clans were capable of such a thing.

He motioned to begin the game, the thrusters were on giving them roughly a half gee of gravity and changing the nature of the ball game. “You want me to come to the Inner Sphere with you?”

“Aff, we can do this together Kindraa Leader. I have already sent scouts to determine a home base and we have access to Nova Cat way stations down the Exodus Road to the Outworlds' Wastes.”
“What about the Great Refusal?”

Drake slammed the ball into the bulkhead, “What of it? It only binds the Clans that wish to be bound. We will be Abjured if we leave and no longer subject to the Grand Council or ilKhan's whims whoever might arise from the Big Three.”

The Grand Council was deadlocked and increasingly divided along the Big Three; The Snake Alliance headed by the Star Adders, the Central Powers (Jade Falcon, Diamond Shark, Snow Ravens) who had no clear Leader, and a growing coalition centered on Clan Coyote.

Ward's Wolves traded Homeworld holdings to long time allies, the Goliath Scorpions, Hell's Horses, and Coyotes strengthening each clan slightly. No clear leader existed so far, the Scorpions and Horses had much to settle between them, and the Coyotes were internally divided but under a strong Khan.

Lesser Clans were left out of the power plays except as potential targets for Absorption. The Hellions and Mandrills had gained territory abandoned by the Ghost Bears and Nova Cats or left in the wake of the Smoke Jaguar's destruction. They were spread thin and this was seemingly allowed. Both Toumans could not hold all that territory but they could grow fat on it for later harvest.

“I hear rumor that your Kindraa might be picked off one by one.”

“I have not heard that rumor. Who says this?”

“Hell's Horses principally but Falcons as well. They need more forces to protect their dual Empires. Neither have made much effort of it yet, apparently some of the Warriors harvested by the Falcons proved 'difficult to integrate' and it has paused further attempts.”

“Many lies have been spread about the Mandrills but that is certainly not one. We are difficult. They must be getting desperate.”

“Or they fear me and my Warships. You have no such cover, or you did not. Perhaps that will change.”

Both Warriors could read the Chatterweb, there was a growing and subtle change among the Clans. The longer they were contact with the Inner Sphere the faster they became more like their enemies. Calls for a new compact in the wake of the Great Refusal were silenced with weapons fire before reaching the negotiating table. The Great Refusal and destruction of Clan Smoke Jaguar by the Inner Sphere had turned everything on its head and the results were still shaking out.

“How could that change?”

“I have captured two Star Adder Warships, the York Star Fire and Carrack Black Adder. They were attacking the Nova Cats around Brim in violation of the Grand Council's order. So the Cage's Pride engaged them taking them as isorla, both are currently orbiting Hector. I need the Fire Eater until we are done the evacuation and they are yours.”

“Asking for a Potemkin in your move to the Inner Sphere strains our friendship Khan Drake. What do you offer in collateral for its safe handling?”

“I figured you would ask so I came prepared.” He activated a handheld 3d projector which showed a sleek ship with large cannons in the prow, “There are two partially constructed Fredasa corvettes still in their cages around Atreus. They were abandoned by the Jaguars so it will take two or three years to finish them unless you bring more Technicians in system but the Faraday-Tanagas sought to take control of them only to be stopped by my Marines.

I am willing to give them to you as a gift. Admiral Tanaga's fleet is already larger than any in the Mandrills. Imagine if it grew. By the time those corvettes are done your Potemkin will no longer be needed.”

The Kindraa Leader stopped before the locker room and looked at the Hellion Khan, he extended his hand, “Bargained well and done. Khan Drake. I will inform Captain Xing of our arrangement and wish you luck.”

“You too Kindraa Leader Goulet,”
He peered over Claude's shoulder to see Faye partially undressed through the cracked door, “Enjoy that shower Marine. You earned it today.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 18 November 2020, 23:12:24
The Coyote Renaissance

11/12/3061 Location – San Mateo, Tamaron, Kerensky Cluster

An amber sun crept over the Apache Mountains illuminating an indigo sky and the Great Basin in which the Coyote's capital of San Mateo sprawled. Rho Galaxy's 530 Warriors and 360 machines stood in neatly ordered lines on the parade grounds of Fort Hollifield. Each blue-gray uniform was immaculate down to the silver piping glowing in the rising sun. The furred capes of the Bloodnamed billowed in the cool breeze their cloth filling the gap between lines.

Their tanks, fighters, and battlemechs were neatly lined up behind the Warriors. They were in pristine shape except for two Conjurers that looked as though they would topple in a stiff breeze. Rex and Rebekah were weary digging deep to stay on their feet. In the past three days they had four hours of sleep and a single cold shower. The 'powdered blues' were fresh from the packaging and felt foreign; for the past nine years they had worn nothing but plain gray fatigues.

Rex neared his sibmate, whispering low enough that their Star Commander a silver-haired man with a large tribal tattoo reaching to his scalp, could not hear from his position up front, “Do you think there will be a buffet afterwards?”
“I smelled the food cooking in the mess but I might have imagined it. Famished, quiaff?”
“Aff, we have only had water and a single ration bar in the past forty eight.”
“I pinched one of those fancy creamers from Pack Leader Cairo's bag on the train.”
“He will not miss it. The surat pinched ten percent of our ration for our 'spiritual training.'”
“Good thing we paid attention in survival training or we might have starved. Of course Cairo might have wanted us to challenge him for our fair allotment but we will never know now.”
“Perhaps. I do not want to forage for my food from a cockpit. Better to leave the wild to the Coyotes.”
“We are Coyotes now trothkin. This world is ours and survival is the only path forward.”

A hush settled on the assembled force as a five vehicle convoy of light blue trucks passed through the gates. As the vehicles passed each line saluted holding this position until Khan Sullivan Koga emerged from her vehicle. The strength of her conviction matched that of her constitution and blue-gray eyes deep wells reflected the spirit of the Coyote that she channeled into her work. All hands stayed in salute until she returned it sharply striking down from the powder blue beret atop her short brown hair.

Galaxy Commander Jaucqie Koga and Star Colonels Timothy McTighe and Stephen Clearwater walked forward to exchange quick words before beginning to walk the orderly columns of the assembled Warriors. Sullivan looking closely at each Star Captain or Commander standing at the fore but even those in the deep ranks of the Solahma infantry of the Reserve Cluster felt her gaze as it passed over them.

As she neared the Mechwarriors got a closer look at the one responsible for arresting their Clan's slow decline. Under her leadership things were improving despite headwinds and bloody at times confrontations among leadership over her reorganization. Theirs was the first class to graduate from a revamped Sibko system that had seen low quality Pack Leaders replaced, new Pouncer Mech trainers, manufactured at the reopened Drennan Industrialplex, replaced ancient machines rebuilt dozens of times over the years, and general facilities improved.

The Khan stopped at their row peering at the damaged battlemechs standing behind them. “Why are these junk heaps on my parade ground Star Commander!”

Rex and Reb did not know their new Commander very well but they could not have predicted how quickly he blanched. Star Colonel McTighe intervened, “These machine belong to the newest Warriors of Clan Coyote OvKhan. I rushed them here you stated that you wanted all Warriors of Rho present for today's inspection. Mechwarriors Rex and Rebekah of the Drum Canyon Training Facility received their triangles less than two hours ago. We did not have time to make them more presentable.”
“I still smell the missile propellant Star Colonel.

You were correct in interpreting my desires. I did mention that I wanted all Warriors here. I see these ones fought hard for their ranks.”
“Among the hardest I have witnessed OvKhan.”
“Good. They would have started about when I ascended quiaff?”
“Aff, Khan Koga..”
“Mechwarriors Rex and Rebekah step forward.”

The sibkin steeled themselves before striding forward to face the Khan. “Why is your rank insignia a triangle Mechwarriors?”

Rebekah answered first, “It is the strongest shape in nature OvKhan and foundation for many more complicated ones. Just as the Coyote Point Commander serves as the basis for the Touman as a whole.”
“You are very wise Rebekah. What do you say Rex?”

Rex followed that lead with some of his own interpretations, “Triangulation allows us to locate our true position in the world and like Rebekah mentioned it serves as a base for greater complexity.”
“An equally elegant interpretation Rex. How would you both like to join me for lunch? I would like to hear of your experiences in my new Sibkos.”

Both looked towards the other, their Khan was asking for their opinion, it had to be a joke. “You want our opinion?”

“If you have one and you should.”
This close they could see the gray hairs and signs of stress that marked the Khan who despite her age of 38 looked nearly as old as Jacquie who was a full sibko generation older, “Obviously it has been a while since I have been in Sibko. During my time as Khan I have changed many things. An honest interpretation from individuals that lived through it would be refreshing.”
“We would be honored Khan Koga.”
“I would like a short demonstration of your abilities beforehand however, Star Colonel McTighe are there any extra mechs in inventory for these Warriors to use?”

The Star Colonel paused, “There are two Rabids but they were to be issued only to Star Commanders pending today's Trial of Possession.”
“Give them to these Warriors. The performance should be close enough to what they are familiar with and wish to see them in action.”

Timothy parsed this, Omnimechs like the new Rabids were a high status commodity in this Touman. The Coyotes had declined from their zenith. While they once boasted many Omnimechs now they were only piloted by skilled or experienced Warriors. A piloting assignment in one could be brokered into political support.

Jacquie Koga was an older Warrior and once this Galaxy turned around she would likely retire. If they survived and stayed then he or Stephen might have a chance to take her place. Earning the support of Star Commanders early one would pay dividends when they became Captains or Colonels. Giving brand new Rabid Omnimechs to pair of super-green Sibkin might prove costly on the back end for all parties involved, but the Khan had spoken.

“I will order the techs to prepare them and your Timber Wolf for exercises.”

Khan Koga temporarily dismissed them and returned to her inspection. She berated an Elemental Star Captain for the sloppy state of his uniform and watched on with amusement as his Binary of Elementals did burpees. The strenuous exercise shredded their uniforms exposing muscles to the cool air.

“I guess we are not getting breakfast then Rex.”
“Seems that way Rebekah. Would it be impolite to shovel all the food in during our lunch with her?”
“She probably wants us to talk to her.”
“What a day.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 21 November 2020, 23:02:46
Rex and Rebekah, newly minted Warriors vigorously ascended the chain ladders of the Rabid Omnimechs still in the gray primer coat from the factory in nearby Dreenan. A hybrid developed at the Richard Tchernovkov Polytechnic less than fifty kilometers away. The design combined the best features of the popular Mad Dog and Storm Crow Omni-mechs. Assembly lines that made either were common in former Smoke Jaguar Enclaves that the Coyote sought to reclaim from their now dead rival.

Rebekah strapping into her cockpit while still wearing the dress uniform the fine cloth swishing as it brushed against the rough texture of the chair. Her neurohelmet had a Sibko Cadet's white triangle, her name, and Warrior ID filling negative space on the blue-gray coating.

She waved to Rex who returned it before they dropped their helmet's display visors and closing the cockpits. Since this was just a training exercise the normal ferroglaz would suffice. They did not lower the armored cowling that protected the fragile Mechwarrior inside from the carnage of 31st century combat. Carnage that according to Sullivan Koga consumed more Clan Warriors by the day.

Khan Koga's Timber Wolf loomed over their smaller machines like a mother protecting her pups. The Trio marched pass fellow Warriors in process of returning their equipment to its proper place before heading toward the morning meal. A short while later they stood at the training course a combination of dry ditches, rocky ridges and windswept gullies populated with targets and used for calibration purposes.

“I want to see your time on this unfamiliar course. Impress me and you can keep the mechs. Rex take the lower route, Rebekah upper.”
“Aff Khan Koga.”

Both Rabids began on her mark leaving behind targets ripped with laser pulses or blasted by the deep magazines of Advanced Technical Missiles. They met the Timber Wolf at the finish line, Sullivan opened her to the warming late morning air but left her visor down, “Thirty seconds from a Trinary record. The state of your Conjurers worried me. Now I see your first kill was hard earned Mechwarriors.

Head back to base. I have my annual re-certification. Never forget that even the Khan has to prove themselves worthy. There is no space in the Coyotes for a (late ilKhan Elias) Critchell.”

Sullivan Koga's Timber Wolf set off across the windswept plains to undergo her Annual Trial of Position, which like many Warriors, was scheduled for their decant day. Warriors who lived a life of Iron from the Womb they were grown in at a Scientist's facility to their honorable end on a battlefield of their choosing. There was nothing in the Homeworlds more precious to a Warrior then proving or as painful as losing that vaulted status that set them apart from the lower castes.

Back at base Rex and Rebekah showered before donning clean fatigues bearing the vantablack and silver triangle of a Coyote Mechwarrior. The vantablack absorbed all light while the silvered edge was mirror polished creating an impressive show under the bright LED lights. Their brand new powder blue formal uniforms were soaked with sweat from this morning's exercises that had severely tested their skills. There was an even harder training course where manually controlled weapons turrets fired back with live ammo that did real damage. They removed the decorations before pitching both into the laundry, somehow the uniforms would find their way back to their lockers.

Rebekah walked about the open barracks. The mass heater in the middle radiating warmth recycled from the co-located services facility. “These are much better than the ones before. Quiaff?”
“Aff, we are full Warriors now Bek. Weary ones.”

Rex checked his watch, “We have 45 minutes till the Khan returns.”

Both Warriors crashed on their cots not even bothering to get under the covers waking 35 minutes later to smooth out wrinkles in their fatigues. They stood out off the Mech Bay watching the second line machines of Rho come and go. Rho Galaxy was the last formation to be subjected to Khan Sullivan's decade long reorganization initiative and had a reputation of being filled with troublemakers and rookies.

There once were 15 Galaxies; each with their own Galaxy Commander plus 2 headed by the Khan and SaKhan. This mighty touman once protected an empire of 20 worlds at its zenith. Over the long decline that started with the Blood Scandal that was a black mark on the Clan's history and whose instigators, Clan Star Adder, were growing in power. 

Decline was halted but the Coyotes, like many others, now relied on inferior Battlemechs sourced from the Mercantile/Chalcas Clan Diamond Shark to outfit their eight Galaxies of Warriors. An end result of making reforms to stay competitive and grow but as the Coyote's industrial might recovered and its trade network grew these would be mothballed and replaced with Omnimechs.

Part of the larger reform process was that Khan Koga allowed Warrior cadets to take two Trials of Position just as they did in Hell's Horses and Steel Vipers. The first was to become a Mechwarrior, Elemental, or Aerospace Warrior. Failure was not the end however a second Trial would be executed to join the Watch, Armor, or Infantry branches preserving the Clan's investment in training and its urgent need to rapidly increase force strength.

Khan Koga's Timber Wolf approached from the training field. It's shoulder mounted missile racks were empty and missing portions, one arm hung from a scrap of endo-steel and bundled myomer. A Golden Keshik Gladiator was laid out in pieces on a Tallasi salvage transport. They were followed by a pair of Hellbringers; one limped along like it had pulled a muscle; the other nearly had its center torso ripped out and was surrounded by a heat shimmer due to a reactor breach.

“That Gladiator gave the Khan a good fight.”
“Looks like she mixed it up with both Hellbringers at the same time and still managed to walk away from it.”
“Those are flight six Hellbringer's quiaff?”

Rex focused on the machines remembering their recognition guide, all Sibkin, in fact all Clan children were required to learn silhouettes for Warrior equipment while in creche, “Aff, based on the shape of the armor paneling.”
“The Khan must have run out of ammo and called the Trial rather than waste resources finishing off the Hellbringers.”
“If they were flight fives she certainly would have destroyed both of them.”

“What a mighty Warrior.”
Both Mechwarriors saluted their Khan and she nodded the nose of the Timber Wolf in reply.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Dave Talley on 22 November 2020, 10:19:31
forgot  to tag this earlier, great story
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 22 November 2020, 22:46:11
forgot  to tag this earlier, great story

Thanks Dave, I appreciate all of my readers support.


A long slender slum of drably painted, partially collapsed structure made of scrap passed by as a jeep drove on filthy dirt roads toward Richard Tchernokov Polytechnic. The jeep looked like it was pulled from a scrapyard and it was. In this present condition it could not even maintain highway speeds and had to go across surface streets. Its passengers Rex and Rebekah (Rho) worked on it during their sparse spare time even though they could have ordered a Tech to do it because in their Sibko they were taught that 'Waste was Treason.' They were to extend everything, their rations, their gear, themselves, always reaching to be better to build themselves up just as Clan Coyote had clawed itself back.

Rebekah leaned back crossing her arms over the denim jacket of her casual outfit scanning the pitiful under-caste that clustered around the San Mateo Starport and Fort Hollifield. This area known as 'Starcity' to the locals was a squatter community built in the shadow of the new highway. It was not officially recognized or surveyed and its residents lived in a state of self-imposed misery.

Bright thruster plumes at night and proximity to the noise resulted in Technicians installing new windows so the Warriors could rest. This was not always the case but in recent years Clans were consolidating their holdings much to the appreciation of the Merchants. Unproductive or highly contested ones were closed down, their castemen reassigned, and machinery moved to superior locations where they could be easily defended.

This resulted in major disruption but it was a necessary sacrifice to maintain the strength of the Clan. The Inner Sphere's assault on Huntress that precisely obliterated its Warrior monuments and all of Clan Smoke Jaguar while bringing new freedoms to the castemen of Lootera now under the protection of the Eridani Light Horse. Conditions that were enviable anywhere else in the Cluster and a point of friction that could start a great conflagration. This foreign occupation shook the Great Council while serving as an affront to the Way of Kerensky of which Coyote was a rightful inheritor now that the Wolves fled to the Inner Sphere.

While a factor it was not as great as the influence that Khan Koga and her leadership now wielded over the Homeworld based Hell's Horses and growing Goliath Scorpions. The nine Potemkins shared between those three Clans crossed the Exodus Road massing out with resources fueling a boom in trade and industrial productivity. Trade that was managed by increasing dropship traffic to the Coyote capital. The noise of their landing was omnipresent even dampened by buildings and distance.

The pair passed a group of Horse Laborers drinking from a bar consisting of a plastic table and glass bottles. As they neared the corner a Horse Patrol van made the turn onto the street with its red and blues lit up. Brawny Elementals decked out in impact armor and helmets hung onto the side with heavy staves mounted on brackets nearby and sidearms on thigh rigs. The Laborers saw it and tried to run but not fast. By the time Rex completed the left hand turn a dozen Laborers were roughly thrown into the back. A Patrolman smashed the roadside bar with a heavy staff and called that a warning.

“Those Patrolmen were not messing around. Thirty seconds for a dozen collars with five Elementals.”
“I am guessing its not their first offense. This city is riven with vermin. They must be frequently reminded of their place.”

Rebekah patted the Gauss SMG concealed in her lap, “So they must. We really should get a tech to look at that engine Rex. This thing looks as bad as it performs.”
“I think we can do it ourselves Bek. The Techs have more important tasks to attend to than this vehicle.”

Finally they navigated the un-mapped community and its dirt roads without further incident. They drove across a broken steppe toward the glittering glass buildings of the Polytechnic and destination for their hard earned day of liberty. The new Warriors had spent most of their lives in Sibko under constant watch by their Pack Leader. Now that they had earned their place they could enjoy the privileges of that rank.

The Horse Patrol Van caught up with them throwing up a cloud of dust in its wake. The Patrolmen hanging off the side made crude gestures toward the blonde seventeen year old (Rebekah) perhaps mistaking her in normal clothes for Rex's date rather than a fellow Warrior who happened to be driving a beat up and unmatched jeep. She answered with a display of her SMG that was met with mixed results before the driver passed them heading along the same route.

“What were those Elementals doing?”
“Just friendly communication between Warriors trothkin. Nothing to worry about.”
“If you say so. We can source some parts from the Polytechnic while enjoying our day off.”

“I cannot wait to walk about this place. We have spent the past week in orientation covering the same topics we learned in Sibko.”
She mounted the SMG in a bracket built into the front seat, “My mech is still missing pieces.”
“Yours was in worse shape than mine. Maybe you should talk to techs rather than the Star Commander.

Just because we have only been Warriors for a week doesn't mean that the others were. Training needs to be reinforced. At least we sounded like the smartest ones in the class.”

The Jeep pulled into a recently built parking garage on the expanding campus of the Richard Tchernovkov Polytechnic Academy. A banner hung across the top stating this building was commissioned by Tanya DeLaurel, the present Hell's Horses' SaKhan. They concealed sidearms under their jackets shouldering small backpacks to blend into the civilians and began walking toward their first destination.

Richard Tchernovkov Polytechnic Academy was the engine that drove the Coyote's growth during the Golden Century. Scientists trained here were behind the first Omnimech, the Lupus, and a number of technological advances. Now Khan Koga invited Scientists from the Hell's Horses and Goliath Scorpions to lecture and work with the elite researchers within. It was once more the Coyote's growth engine even if it had to be through 'lesser' Clans.

The Warrior trothkin found their first destination in this dizzlingly busy place. They passed stone statues of great Warriors and Scientists with names spoken of in the Remembrance. A full sized Lupus cast in bronze stood over the West Campus Quad. A savory smell of sauce drew them toward 'Western Charcut' which they heard about from other Rho Warriors. Tallasi ribs from here were used as rewards for good performance on-base. They had tasted it along with many other local eateries when they eat lunch with the Khan a week ago. Its operator proudly displayed the Khan's crest on the window.

The word was clearly out though and the Warriors lined up to be served enjoying pictures hung from the walls. Bek looked at one studying its geology, “Drum Canyon, quiaff”
“Aff, never thought I would miss it. Can never forget it especially since we climbed it a dozen times.”
“San Mateo has many cliffs. We should get climbing gear next liberty day.”

One of the undercaste, an elderly Merchant and possibly former Warrior overheard them, “You say you are Warriors from Drum Canyon? Prove it.”

Rex reached for the small of his back while Rebekah and the others watched. All expected a confrontation before Rex produced a large golden coin with the Golden Keshik emblem and Drum Canyon Sibko crest stamped on it. “These Warriors are the ones that impressed the Khan enough that she shared a meal with them on their first day. Your meal is on me.

Fellows! We should part! Let these Warriors go about their important business.”

The others parted allowing them to skip the line and begin eating far faster than otherwise, a large bottle of beer appeared on the table shortly afterwards and disappeared just as quickly. Rebekah leaned in, “Where did you get that Challenge Coin?”

“I asked the Khan for one,
” he lifted another from his jacket pocket and put it in front of her, “she gave me two. This one is yours.”

Rebekah looked at the coin still in its poly-carbonate case, a small note was enclosed. She opened it reading a woman's fine, clear, and strong handwriting, 'Thirty seconds, I expect more from nine years of training. Beat it in less than nine months. Learn, Adapt, Overcome, SK'

She was stricken to tears. A Clan Warrior rarely even saw their Khan except perhaps on ceremonial gatherings like Founding Day before they either died or aged out. Fewer still had a personal note written by their own hand. “I do not know what to say Rex. Thank you.”
“Do not thank me yet. The Khan has high expectations for us and she should.

We are the future.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 23 November 2020, 00:31:20
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.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 23 November 2020, 21:58:46
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.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 24 November 2020, 20:13:18
Has the Feral Class Battlecruiser been posted yet?  The story evolving in interesting ways!
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 25 November 2020, 01:27:15
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.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 26 November 2020, 01:37:56
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.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 02 December 2020, 20:55:32
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.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 03 December 2020, 19:27:35
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.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 08 December 2020, 23:45:33
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."
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 09 December 2020, 07:39:54
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.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 09 December 2020, 20:34:38
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.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 18 December 2020, 00:38:38
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.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 18 December 2020, 09:30:35
This is ever the mysterious mystery action pack who done it.   Question, Where Rebeka?  Is this eden?
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 20 December 2020, 00:49:07
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.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 21 December 2020, 10:44:13

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.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 23 December 2020, 12:32:19

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.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 23 December 2020, 21:07:16
Epic story your telling.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 24 December 2020, 17:47:43

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”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 25 December 2020, 00:41:13

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?”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 25 December 2020, 11:02:28
Are we back in time? This confusing.  Isn't this 3061 or 2?
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 27 December 2020, 23:55:50
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 threw 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?”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 29 December 2020, 22:19:47
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 we 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.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 30 December 2020, 08:56:20

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.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 03 January 2021, 01:37:52
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.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 03 January 2021, 18:40:15
Interesting where this is going.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 04 January 2021, 23:32:56
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.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 05 January 2021, 07:37:42
Tough loss. Hopefully she will get a second chance at a blood name.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 11 January 2021, 23:53:50
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.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 14 January 2021, 14:54:54
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.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 16 January 2021, 10:27:58
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.

Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 16 January 2021, 16:36:03
Looking good. 

This gone such different direction. I thought this was going be more a war epic, not cloak dagger.  ;D
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: cklammer on 18 January 2021, 14:07:00
Each update surprises me and I am waiting how everything will come together - eventually I hope  :)

Until then these are several solid tales rolled in one ...  8)
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 18 January 2021, 14:17:43
Rebecca story of her going into the Watch has been little hard for me to follow. It's confusing what she actually doing.  Now she in her caught state. I've no clue what her mission is other than looking for bandits and something more she hadn't touched on.

Iron's story is fairly straightforward and it been gone when you revisit that one.

The third story most interest to me since i'm space ops fan.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 18 January 2021, 17:31:00
Rebecca story of her going into the Watch has been little hard for me to follow. It's confusing what she actually doing.  Now she in her caught state. I've no clue what her mission is other than looking for bandits and something more she hadn't touched on.

Iron's story is fairly straightforward and it been gone when you revisit that one.

The third story most interest to me since i'm space ops fan.

I thought I kind of layered that mystery in a bit more but it will be revealed very shortly. Colonel Irons and Kindraa Leader Goulet will start coming back in soon enough.


The light in the hallway turned off leaving her in the all encompassing darkness only obtained underground. Rebekah was no stranger to the sensation, desert caverns were her home for the first half of her time in Sibko but at least there she could walk out and look at the stars. The warming sensation of the floor was welcome but she would have preferred to keep her clothes on and options open. Now she was trapped one day into her mission by potentially hostile locals. “So stupid!”

She was angry at herself for not taking into account her clothes and mannerisms. Everything she knew of the Vaga was from a Scorpion Sage she had met aboard CGS Andromeda which now headed down the Exodus Road with a large detachment of Seekers. Their Corps was growing at an astounding rate among the Goliath Scorpions as the Clan expanded its holdings. Khan Suvorov was trading one of the maintenance and manpower intensive Potemkins to the Wolves for four smaller Molyina transports to support the growing Chi Galaxy while encouraging trade or conquest down the Exodus Road.

Seekers never tried to blend in, they were distinct, had broader cultural training, more firepower, and the backing of their Clan. None of those had were an option for her, Coyote Watch had improved its training but she had received none, and suspected that it would not have covered such a subtle cue. Officially dead of suicide on Kirin she had been smuggled down to Babylon with limited resources and no top cover despite acting as an agent of her Galaxy Commander in order to prove some of Cara's leaked data that might lead to the background of Jeremi and his prototype battlemech not even known to the Khan. “Of course, I should have done more prep for this mission; was just so eager to get it over with and back to Leo.”

Rebekah felt around the room and found a straw stuffed mattress with no pillow, a toilet, and built in sink. She had not spent any time in a brig but heard that was about what one could expect. Unfortunately she did not know what to expect from her 'hosts.' Locals referred to the Sheikh in frightful awe. With nothing to do she simply drifted off in the bed, hoping for decent rest before a likely unpleasant day tomorrow.

Rest was long in coming, straw poked her in uncomfortable places, and the bunker was crushingly silent except her rustling and a faint hum of air vents. There was something of an over pressure which made sense for a military bunker to keep dust and gases out. The subtle light creeping in from the hallway woke her and she readied to pounce against anyone trying to enter. It was a long shot that she could escape mostly naked and in unfamiliar terrain but she had to try. If she could last long enough to send a distress message rescue might come before she was dead.

A faint shadow was cast over the light, she heard the keypad buzz, and door unlock. The steel door opened and she leapt onto the woman standing outside. Caught off guard the woman dropped the bundle of clothes and wrestled with her prisoner on the concrete floor. Rebekah got into a top mount looking down to see a young woman roughly her own age but with an exotic face framed by long wavy brown hair unlike other Vaga. “Who are you?”

The woman calm despite being in such an unusual position. Her voice was musical with a distinctive accent, “I am known as Chan.”

She leaned in on Chan, “I will not be a caged Coyote. Where are the others?”
“My sister-wives, our husband, or his guards?”
“There's no one else down here except us.”
“I don't believe you. There has to be a guard somewhere. This is a jail and you are one of the Sheikh's wives.”
“Who is quite capable of taking care of an unarmed mostly naked woman if necessary. Sharazad sent me down here to deliver clothes and ensure you are bathed before lunch.”
“The First Wife. Am I to be a slave like you.”

Chan looked her over which felt terribly invasive, “He probably won't fancy you. You're too light skinned for his taste. I merely do what she requests, asking why is beyond my station.”
“What do the First Wife and your husband request of you?”
“Caring and teaching their younger children or entertainment. I was a Kisaeng on Itabaiana before Colonel Rosse claimed possession of me. Amun killed him two years ago and now I serve him.”

This woman was frustratingly patient and confident. Rebekah thought deeper on it, why wouldn't she be? This was a bad idea from the start. “In what way do you serve Amun, this Sheikh of Sumral?”
“I learned many arts from the Draconis Combine and he enjoys all of them. I have not shared his bed outside of our first night if that is what you are asking. He prefers Masika and until recently Amin.”
She leaned forward to take up some of the gap between them, “Often at the same time.”
“Did that anger you?”

The woman once more relaxed back to the ground, “I had my fill under Leon. Now are we going to have a problem or will you follow me?”

Rebekah dismounted and accepted the white robes. This was not what she had expected after yesterday afternoon's treatment. She had wanted to present her case not bring harm to the settlement so perhaps a night off and the cooler head of this Sharazad would give her the opportunity. Chan led the way and like her was barefoot and dressed in a simple robe. The bunker was kept at a comfortable temperature and mostly vacant, she could see crates and barrels of various sizes stocked up in machine spaces and relatively simple cots were stockpiled atop one another. Steel doors barred entrances to arsenals and critical junctions, the bunker was as much prison as fortification.
“Why is it so vacant?”

“If you had an option to live under the sun or beneath the earth which would you choose? Babylon may not be a very hospitable host, but I would rather live under a sky than rock like so many of your other towns. Sharazad claims this place was built by one of her great ancestors, to resist your people, and it continues to serve in this role.”

“My people?”
“Yes, The Clans of Kerensky. Many Babylonians were butchered during KLONDIKE and throughout your brief history. The Combine has only engaged in such barbarism once and we paid a dear price for it.

Now Clanborn members of the Sheikh's war-band are feared, Smoke Jaguars with the strength of two men and ferocity of a dozen. Nova Cat sharpshooters that can see in the dark and bring death from unseen places. I hear many stories from hostages taken and personal experience at the hands of one.”
“Yet you stay loyal and serve.”

“Badlands bandits are hardly more honorable. I would sooner throw myself off a cliff than fall into their hands. These Warriors accept surrender, take bondsmen for security only, commit no atrocities, or threaten civilians under their protection, lest they face a lash or be cast from cliffs and fed to the crows. The Sheikh's methods may be cruel but necessary in the face of such savage opposition.”

Chan led her up closer to the palace level, decorations and staff began to appear, bowing slightly to the woman while ignoring her companion. “This is where most of the palace staff lives and works.”

A large steel door painted with a stylized picture of women bathing with inscriptions in gilded script below. Once opened a brief fog filled their immediate area, Chan bade her in and closed the door behind. Within was a richly decorated bathhouse with a large pool surrounded by colorful mosaic tiles and accessories cast in precious metals decorated with gemstones. “Everything you require is within.”
“Are you going to remain here?”
“Aff, I cannot leave my guest unattended. It would a grave rudeness.”
“And security breach.”
“You have nowhere to go but the Shaykah's chambers. On your feet or in chains, your choice.”

Rebekah removed the robe and disappeared under the water while Chan sat seiza style on a small handwoven rug. The desert clothes that Rebekah wore yesterday were in one of the wall insets next to the bath, looking faded, washed, and aged, “Who messed with my clothes?”
“I did, they stand out too much but are of good construction. A little artificial wear for comfort and a proper washing to remove excess dye was all that was required.”
“They look nice.”

The young woman nodded, “Thank you”

Rebekah and Chan woman entered into the Shaykah's dining chamber, refreshed, dressed, and with hair and makeup done properly. What she could see of the woman herself was striking gorgeous, she was dressed and veiled in black to mourn her sister, as were Zahra, Masika, and four children. All except Rebekah, and Chan who wore white, as was custom where she originated. The Matriarch bade her to sit and she did so alongside a young boy that looked at her curiously before saying something in a language she did not understand. They shared a filling meal although rather awkwardly as the others talked around her in that same language. At its conclusion the children and other wives disappeared and Rebekah sat face to face across a tea kettle with the Shaykah herself.

The woman removed her veil poured a cup of tea for both of them, presented the maps, and leaned forward her eyes intense. “You have ten minutes to tell me why I should not execute you as a spy." She tipped a gilded hourglass, "Starting now.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 19 January 2021, 14:13:52
Rebekah had been rehearsing this moment in her mind all morning, was it morning, it didn't matter, but it all disappeared as the situation suddenly changed. She pulled the maps forward but her gauntlet commpad was still within arms reach of the other woman, “Let me see my CommPad.”
“And let you delete or upload the data to some other location. I think not.”
“You are a frustrating woman.”
“Times wasting Rebekah.”
“Fine, I will do it from memory. I am not here to spy on your people Sharazad.”
“Then why do you have maps of an area near my husband's present operating zone?”
“I didn't even know that Sumral had been abandoned by the Hellions. I just knew it was a nomad way station. How could I know where the Sheikh was?”

Shara sipped her tea and watched the sands fall, “Information does not need to be complete to be worthwhile.”

“Precisely! I was given a secret roster of a base located in this area. A Scientist Black Site where the population never ages, dies, or grows. Looking into it last year almost got me killed, twice. Once on Ur and another in Versailles. As far as Clan Coyote is concerned I died on Kirin of a drug overdose following my Grand Melee last month.”

She put her finger on a basalt ridge, “I need to infiltrate this base and investigate it in order for SaKhan Clearwater to act on it.”

Once more she spread her hands on the map, stopping on the labyrinthine basalt canyons that were between Sumral and the location, “I need to contact the Vaga so they could guide me across the Black River. I can survive in the Tamaron desert but I don't know this planet as well. If no one is willing to take me across I will learn how to do it myself.”

The sands fell as the woman paused in contemplation, "Why are you so determined to do this mission solo young lady?”

“Because I lost a friend to it...I've had much time alone to think about it...and since someone tried to kill me I think I'm onto something and I want to save my Clan.”

Sharazard's sand clock emptied and she let it stay there for a while judging her prisoner on the far side of the table. “You've convinced me, congratulations on saving yourself from the garrote. I am afraid I cannot personally help you with this task but when the Sheikh returns next week you can appeal to him."
She pushed the CommPad back across the richly lacquered table, “Until then I am certain a caravan would be willing to let you accompany them. A warning, the Black River is a treacherous and constantly changing place with nothing to offer those that venture through it be very careful if you go there.

Chan will see you out and return your possessions. Do try to be more subtle next time, Zahra and Masika still don't trust you.”

She was bidden farewell and exited right into Chan who stood there with her rucksack, knife, and medicine satchel. Reequipped she walked out into the shaded of the noon sun and returned to her jeep. Three days later she was driving over the whipping black sands and ruthless sun of the Valence desert with a Kaskan rifle slung over her back, looking through goggles at a herd of Tallasi gathered around a soda oasis with one of the Vaga groups.


Within the city of Versailles Coyote Kin Keeper Shawn Rosanske accessed his secret terminal. The terminal was linked directly to the Valence Shell facility in the middle of the harsh unforgiving wastes of the Basalt Ocean. A windswept and utterly desolate facility once a strongholds of a long erased Pentagon Power before being transformed after the Blood Scandal almost a hundred years ago. His many times predecessor was worried that the Reavings would cripple the Coyotes forever and he was mostly correct. They lost their empire to other powers and fell from the height of their power which at one time equaled the Wolves, Jade Falcons, and Ghost Bears.

They had instituted a fallback lab to experiment with biological weapons and genetic engineering trusting the remote and harsh location to insulate them from any uncontrolled release. The badlands themselves provided plenty of isolated Bandit populations on which to experiment. Much had been learned and when he took over in 3050 after being cast down as part of Khan Sullivan Koga's reorganization he had found alternate uses and allies among those disaffected from her actions.

Enhanced Imaging was still a relatively new technology to the Clans only being rolled out less than 30 years ago shortly after he took his first Trial of Position. The Smoke Jaguars and Ice Hellions were the largest users per capita as both Toumans had high turnover already so the negative long term effects were mitigated.

Jade Falcons however had a number of them these lasted longer typically and through back channels the Scientists including their own Scientist-General Etienne who had escaped to an unknown location just as the All Clan Watch closed on him. When the Smoke Jaguars launched their protomech program they were building on these notes and found the Aerospace phenotype resisted degradation longer due to a number of synergistic factors.

Shawn didn't know how widespread the Scientists experiments were yet he allowed them to continue. The Clan's collective failure at the Great Refusal had shaken his own confidence in their Warriors. As a Scientist he was willing to green light experiments to improve their individual proficiency. Star Captain Jeremi Kufahl's performance during the Grand Melee had proven their latest experiments were successful. He had taken down a whole Binary by himself and was little worse for wear because of it according to the after action reports.

Within his mailbox he saw that Scientist-General Richarda had identified another three dozen civilian candidates through genetic screening that had similar genes from among the Steel Vipers or Kindraa Beyl-Grant. Covert capture teams were already slowly moving to their quarry, “Authorize.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 19 January 2021, 23:37:09
Gathering the Troops


The black and blue coated CSR Ark Royal gracefully orbited the J-class Gas Giant Shadow I. Its largest moon Shadow Ia served as the Fire Mandrill's capital just as it had done for the Mongoose's before them. Snow Raven Loremaster Klaus Harper, a large Marine, stood heads taller than his ship's crew in an equally proud uniform of black and blue. He folded his hands standing on the observation deck as his guests arrived and were shown to their quarters.

CSR Ark Royal's Star had recently returned from their maiden voyage down the Exodus Road. Khan Lynn McKenna had ordered him to open up diplomatic channels to periphery states in order to diversify Clan holdings. Chief priority was to find new markets for goods coming from the Dominion to repay the Raven's past assistance rather than carry them all the way back up the Exodus Road or transfer them to the Shark's growing Chainelane colonies. The Homeworlds were limited by peer competition, population, distance, and their own hostile worlds.

They had settled on a Coreward excursion over the Draconis Combine to the Outworlds Alliance terrifying their AMC with his Clan's presence. To their credit the fighter pilots offered a challenge and were victorious and had received a Titan dropship. He regretted that he failed to issue a “Take me to your leader,” challenge but President Mitchell Avellar had practically handed over the keys of a dozen worlds after he offered the barest minimum authorized. He could still see the relief on the man's face after he made it clear that the Ravens were not interested in conquest. Some of his people remained behind conducting clandestine assessments on the Quatre Belle Yards and Alliance proper.

His subordinate's HPGs enumerated the desperate state of Alliance's citizens. Dominion goods transported by Raven Merchants aboard the Bonaventure and the presence of the factory ship Venture Star were already making a measurable difference in their quality of life. Of course, for now House Avellar was allowed to take credit for this windfall and save its desperate position. It would be much harder for Mitchell to break their unofficial pact and explain failure if his people knew the cost.

Blood Spirit ilChis Jas Keller and Bri McFadden appeared in the observation deck behind him. Both were smaller than the Loremaster although Bri as an Aerofighter was more so than Jas. Each of them wore the formal Blood Spirit uniform of a bright red bodysuit with black accents. Bri the senior of the two Clan intermediates spoke, “It is my pleasure to inform you that Khan Boques is aboard.”

For such a giant among his phenotype his voice was calm and scholarly, “Good, I see that he brought the Carmine Justice with him.” An Aegis coated in black and red floated several thousand kilometers distant, hardly visible against Shadow's bloody atmosphere.

Jas, the Mechwarrior attached to Khan Sainze of the Mandrills, “He does not trust the Mandrills.”

“Perhaps a wise decision on his part, but one that we will have to soften. There is much for both of your Clans to disagree on but I think there is a chance now in this uncertain times. You have common enemies and the potential benefits outweigh known costs.”

He lifted a noteputer which in his giant hands was no larger than even a common commpad, “What are the status of the Kindraa Leaders.”

“Many were already nearby, only Goulet and Faraday were beyond two jumps on Atreus.”

Klaus opened up the Raven Watch files on the two Leaders which had thrown the careful balance of Clan Fire Mandrill into disarray with their recent gains. “No doubt continuing the stir up trouble. Kindraa Leader Goulet and his lieutenants have won many Trials of Grievance and Possession for his recent gains.”

ilChi Keller whose staff were serving as impartial liaisons for the fragmented and territorial Mandrill Watch nodded, “They seem to have worked out a deal with the Hellions for warships and Enclaves.”

“Of which I am quite aware and even pleased. Xander, Claude, and Nina were trained by the best Clan Snow Raven could offer to our fellow Clans above Hellgate. Their success continues to validate our methods, just as the Newgrange Fara Church does the Spirits.”


Kindraa Leaders Claude Goulet and Marc Faraday sat across from one another with their staff. Marc was a mostly unknown quantity to Claude and he looked at Faye warily. She noticed it too, the Jaguar was not shy about her identity in fact she reveled in the reputation of her once proud now fallen Clan. She unzipped her jumpsuit even so slightly. “See something you like Marc.”

“How can you share a shuttle with this Jaguar Claude? You know what her Clan is capable of.”

Atreus, home of the Faraday-Tanaga's was before their de facto Annihilation fiercely contested with the Jaguars. So much so that the Kindraa's proficiency was in defensive battles and they had gained a bit of a reputation as wimps better known for their Scientists than Warriors.

The Kindraa Leader looked over to Faye, “We have shared more than a shuttle since we first met. I find her a very capable commander of Warriors and reliable ally.”

Nina Tanaga looked over at the pair with barely contained amusement, she had returned to her native Kindraa after the Trial of Position and oversaw training for Ignition Point's new crew and the Rancor's upgrades, “She is also very clean.”

“Only when I have to be.”
She put a comb through her short tight braids, “Claude I am afraid I will have to wash my hair again tonight.”
“Aboard a Raven ship during a 'Gathering of the Troops' you are insatiable.”
“You did have me wandering about all by myself for the past few months. This girl has needs.”

Tomin Mick watched this twisted charade proceed and eyed Marc, as a Mick-Osis the Jaguar insult had been meant for him as well. Adjacent to his sizable volume were three Aerospace pheno techs, normal sized people would have been pushed into the bulkheads. His rumbling voice filled the compartment, “What is this 'Gathering of the Troops' anyhow?”

Claude looked over to the Elemental, “I am not entirely certain Tomin. The appearance of the Carmine Justice makes me think it is some kind of conference brokered by the ilChis and Loremaster Harper. Every Kindraa Leader was expected to attend and,” he pointed toward the Techs, “Angel, Pren, and Karo needed to be transferred to Lum anyway if we are to get those Fredasas online in a timely manner.”

“A meeting of the Kindraa Leaders and Blood Spirit Khan aboard a Conqueror super-carrier over our Capital. Seems risky.”

“Afraid you cannot take down a Raven Marine Tomin. They are probably no bigger than I am.”

The massive Elemental crossed his arms whose biceps were almost as wide as the Tech's waist, “You did defeat me.”

Claude reclined back into the seat thinking of the big Elemental drifting off to the black. He sharply gestured forward to the large dark skinned man with his built but relatively puny dusky arm, “On a technicality.”

Marc looked over the group most of whom knew each other better than he knew his Star Colonels, “I still think this is a trap. The risk is great with so many leaders in one place. Excellent opportunity to decapitate at least two Clans and take out a powerful Warship in one fell swoop.”

No one was certain which two Clans or Warship he was referring to, even Marc. Nina seemed less concerned although she was never confident unless she was in command of a spaceship, “And invite orbital bombardment of New Kent. I doubt it. The risk may be great but the reward might be as well.

They could be offering us a contract. The Steel Vipers have been pushing them hard lately to make up for shortfalls after the Jade Falcons kicked them out of the Inner Sphere. We have some of the best Warriors left unengaged in the conflicts simmering across the home-worlds.

We just need weapons to send the Vipers back to New Kent in disgrace once more and the Ravens have those Ghost Bear factories.”

Their shuttle pilots chimed in on the INTERCOM, “Ten minutes to docking. Prepare for decel.”

The CT-46 Shuttle was already thrusters back matching velocity with the Conqueror that dwarfed it like a great space whale. Tanaga pilots matched heading with the RCS thrusters to line up their bay. Wide capture booms extended from dorsal and ventral surfaces as the shuttle while the same mass was not as precise with its attitude thrusters or instruments as a proper fighter.

A bay door opened and the booms caught braking wires which carefully cushioned the shuttle with only a small jerk to those aboard. It was guided into position by mechanical arms that pinched the wings dropping them slowly onto extended landing gear. The bay door closed and pressure was restored before the pilots released the airlock controls. “Feel free to move about the cabin.”

Claude and the others stepped off the shuttle and attached themselves to the deck with magnetic boots. After entering the unloading area they were greeted by Loremaster Klaus Harper, the elder Elemental looked Tomin right in the eyes. Tomin leaned down and whispered to Claude, “He is not very tiny.”

The Loremaster stood in front of ilChi Jas Keller and a group of Raven Marines in PA(L) suits their reflective black visors, white bodies, and electric blue Mausers gave them an alien mystique, “Welcome to the Ark Royal Mandrills. I have high hopes for this gathering. If you would please follow me we can begin.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 21 January 2021, 19:16:47
Claude Goulet and company walked through the vast mostly empty corridors of the Ark Royal. Everything was very clean and white with diffuse lighting and no shadows giving it a flat blank appearance, like a canvas awaiting an artist's brush. Very different than the lived-in industrial look he was accustomed to. As an Elemental Marine he expected to live upon a spacecraft, but the utter whiteness was almost maddening. Klaus and Tomin had plenty of room to maneuver in the high rounded ceilings which they certainly appreciated.

This vessel however reminded him more of the Circe Caretaker station and the Jaguars' laboratories within it than a functional habitat with nearly five hundred crew and guests aboard. There were no decorations or technicians moving about, as if the ship were abandoned. A small robot flew pass the group into an opening in the wall.

“Where are the crew?”
“Thanks to the latest in automation we have reduced crew to a minimum. There are enough to run the ship and launch sorties if necessary.”

They walked away from the core to one of the large grav decks and found Ravens translating through the hallways. “We are almost there.” The six of them boarded a transfer car walking out into a buzzing tube filled with Mandrills wearing their blades and colors watching each other and the Blood Spirits, while Snow Raven Marines watched everyone else.

Klaus left the new Mandrills with their own kind and walked up to a small platform, behind which a large screen came to life with an animated version of the Snow Raven emblem. His voice boomed over the assembled Warriors, he stood on a platform flanked by the ilChis. “It is my great pleasure to host this Gathering of the Troops.  I am pleased that so many of you accepted our invitation. Khan Lynn McKenna has empowered me to act as moderator for this event and we Snow Ravens are happy to assist your Clans in whatever capacity you may require. IlChis Keller and McFadden have done a great deal of work over the past three years behind the scenes. It is our hope that you leave this Gathering in better shape that you entered, with more allies and no new enemies.

We will begin work tomorrow. Until then please enjoy our hospitality.”

The Raven Loremaster departed and the ilChi’s began circulating through the crowd facilitating conversation with the rival Kindraa while Snow Raven techs or their machines served dinner. Khan Troy Boques, a relatively young and lively Spirit approached his peer and friendly rival Khan Garett Sainze asking him about his latest battles against the Steel Vipers on Marshall. Garett opened up after a half dozen vodkas speaking of battles that would likely not be backed up by the ROMs to equally drunken sycophants.

Claude and the others found their own niches to fit into Nina was extolling her Lola IV’s performance and crazy adventure to fellow Warship commanders. Faye found other Jaguars who had found a home among the Kindraa after their Clan’s defeat. Tomin wrestled an equally powerful Spirit Elemental under the vigilant eyes of Snow Raven Marines and to the cheers of gamblers taking odds on the victor.

Joseph Kline found the Marine watching the Jaguars compare blades, of which every Mandrill had at least one, “Been a while Joe.”
“It has Claude, I see you are spending most of your time on Atreus.”
“What can I say sometimes it’s nice to look at the same planet for a while.”

Kline pointed his drink at the Ravens that had begun arriving for the pre-party. “They know about the Hellions.”

The rest of the bottle emptied in Claude’s hands, “Are they going to do anything about it?”
“No, they are doing it themselves. I think near the same place hence why they know.”

Both of them returned to the buffet for another round, “Hardly surprising.”
“Are you sure you do not want to follow Xander, down the Exodus Road?”
“I have doubts of course. The Inner Sphere has opportunity, and Khan Drake is a trustworthy ally. Like I said before though there are benefits to working in a familiar environment.”

Joseph picked over the food which was far nicer than the normal grub (which was sometimes actual grubs) served on Shadow, “You could find another one.”

“Someone has to stay behind. Our ancestors clawed their way across the stars to bring us here. I do not want to abandon their efforts however I fell they might have been in vain.”

“It is unfortunate they failed. A big war is coming. You are smart, you have to see it too.”
“I have done everything I can to be prepared. We are Warriors, it is in our blood. I will fight for the Clan and our way against all comers if necessary.”

“The Grand Council is falling apart, and sides are being drawn. There is only so much we could take before something broke.”

Claude looked over the Mandrills which had suffered most at their own hands, “Things broke a long time ago. I do not believe it is yet beyond saving.”

“I find your idealism refreshing.”
He looked at a dark-haired woman walking about, Kline Kindraa was the smallest, so it had made many friends among the other Kindraa and Clans to survive serving as a diplomatic branch between rivals while not being big enough to threaten larger groups.

“Samantha says similarly. I am not so sure; Strads (Star Adder) have been putting a lot of pressure on anyone opposing them since the Vipers were ejected from the Falcon OZ and cut off their stream of raw materials. We resist of course, it is our nature, but our Spirit allies have been savaged and their Enclaves and ability to absorb loss are limited.”

“N’Buta talks big but moves slow, the old man has been in charge long enough that he thinks he deserves to control the Homeworlds, just like Martindale. We can seize the initiative and make them reconsider this present course of eating away at smaller clans; particularly if Nina is right and the Ravens wish to help.”
“The Ravens are here to help themselves buy time for their own retreat.”

“The two are not mutually exclusive. They are guarding many Enclaves with fewer available ships and have already contracted the Goliath Scorpions on Circe. I expect they will help the other Kindraa do what I have already started within my own.

If what you say is true, then they have little need for new Enclaves and will downsize just as the Wolves have been doing over time. The Fire Mandrills could become the next Hell’s Horses, there are far worse things to be.”
“That would make the Blood Spirits the new Coyotes then?”

Both of them watched Khan Boques and Sainze laugh it up with one another and their companions. “Depends on which path they choose?”
“Coyotes or the Spirits?”

The following six days were eventful but business-like affairs although there was much arguing and some minor violence. As expected, the Snow Ravens offered Enclaves on Bearclaw and Arcadia piecemeal. Within the Clan Kindraa Leaders competed internally in unaugmented challenges for the privilege of defending that territory and an increasing share of its production over five years. Troy Boques inked a deal that would see the Snow Ravens repair the Newgrange CBS Fara Church given to them by the Coyotes and transfer the former CSV Pride of New Kent, a Carrack that had been disabled during a raid on Lum to the Spirits along with skilled technicians to train its crew on the simple transport. The Mandrills would benefit from the yard-ship as well which would provide a less expensive alternative to the Lum Yards for their vessels. The CFM Reaver would be upgraded to a Block II, while this was occurring the Ravens leased them the equivalent CSR White Cloud giving them half the crew slots and principal (but not total) command of the vessel.

Additionally, the Spirits would be granted the Arcadian Enclave with assurances of protection from naval attack by the Circe Battle Star. Putting such a powerful rival right next to the heart of the Steel Viper and Star Adder’s pentagon war machine would be immensely damaging and reduce the Snake Alliance’s Kerensky Cluster force density opening up new opportunities.

An unexpected side effect of the Trials was the voluntary Absorption of Kindraa into four Super-Kindraa that would enhance the others ability and further reduce inefficiencies. Lacking a viable partner, the Faraday-Tanagas were granted the ability to harvest Jaguar Abtakha from other Kindraa adding another three Clusters (Swords, Heart, and Claws) keeping the power balance roughly even between the four Super-Kindraa and satisfying its new leader Enzo Karavaeva, an older Jaguar Abtakha taken in the mid-3050s.

Mick-Kreese-Kline | Sainze-Matilla-Carrol | Payne-Beyl-Grant | Faraday-Tanaga + Jaguars

Clan Blood Spirit and Fire Mandrill brokered a compact that outlined shared resources both human and material between the two Clans and the Mandrill Kindraa eliminating wasteful redundancies. Joint research and development agreements were drawn up between all three Clans. Merchant trade was formalized as the Diamond Sharks continued to suffer slowdowns while increasing fees. Free Guilds could pick up the slack but did not run routes to either Clan’s Enclaves due to low volume and threat of Cloud Cobra intercepts. Snow Raven Merchant craft would transport the initial shipments tapering off as the links matured (and they moved on to the Outworlds).

Loremaster Klaus Harper watched the delegates depart his ship for their own upon the Observation Deck. Plans had been drawn up for a massive surprise campaign to announce the arrival of the Blood-Fire Compact onto the scene. “Run little Mandrills and burn yourselves up for the Ravens. If you succeed, spectacular, if not, well then there is less of a Grand Council to worry about on our way out.”

A chime triggered on the phone, “How is the Exodus Road treating you Lynn” He paused for a moment listening to the live HPG from hundreds of light years distant, “Yes, everything is going to plan OvKhan. Sending it to you now.”

Enzo’s Jaguars would reclaim their legacies from the Eridani Light Horse on Huntress
SMC will kick the Vipers off Marshall
PBG will raid the Falcons on Gatekeeper
MKK spearheads an assault on Foster against the Hell’s Horses.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 22 January 2021, 19:07:04
Diary of a Gunslinger

April 3063
Lootera in 3063 was a wild place, strangely more peaceful than my native FedSuns what with the Regent’s War going on at the same time. Less strenuous than the Ghost Bear-Nova Cat War too; those purps scored a big win and loads of patriotic #@*%& with that one. This was still pre-Katherine Steiner-Davion…Fox whatever she calls herself now, invading New Avalon and blowing up a town with her big ass warship. I won’t defend what Bishop Sortek did, he was in the wrong but not everyone thought it at the time. I’m just saying 3063 was a hell of a year.

Anyway, back to Lootera, the 2SLDF has occupied the main continent ever since the Great Refusal. The First Prince’s death was hard on all of us but good for recruitment into the SLDF, fancy uniform, tour the stars, merc level pay without having to fix your own mech, it was a nice deal. Well Huntress was a different animal see some of us wanted to take the fight up there and maybe had a bit of a death wish. Lots of BIRD DOG vets signed up, upset that they missed out on a battle for the history books. Man were they in for a surprise let me tell you, between the Sundering and Jihad, it’ll take a whole #@&*!? golden century to put the whole universe back together.

So, any way some of us wanted vengeance and a brand-new Clan mech right from the factory in our name to take home after our two years were up. All you needed to do was have a solid service record, sign on the dotted line, ship off the Tukayyid for the Gunslinger course, complete it, and you would head on up the Exodus Road aboard one of the Blessed Order’s jumpships. The whole process took about two years + three more but the pay, the pay was really nice, bonuses for beating Clanners at their own game, and tax free. Like in 3070 I brought a thousand-acres and three thousand head in cash good.

I had just dropped into Lootera’s Green Zone and signed for my Cauldron-Born two weeks before Valentines. They had dozens of those squat gunboats roll off the line every year from the smokies factories.

My techs were former Jaguars it was a good gig for them, most of Lootera had fallen apart without the Warrior Caste. Drugs, gambling, alcohol, hookers, whatever you wanted was available if you looked a little.

Constables spent more time dealing with vice than the insurrection and that insurrection burned hot every once in a while. It was on a lull when I started ‘cause the Eridani had just busted a few wanna be Warlords in the jungle, blew up some ammo dumps and made a big show of force. They kept talking about this lost Khan, but we never found him, I think he was just a ghost story, or a man on a radio.

Nothing ever dies as long as at least someone remembers and they Clans were so brainwashed that they wanted a return to the bad old days. I have served on more than a few Combine and Confederation worlds, but this was way worse than even Sunny’s best propaganda, it’s a Cult. These Lost Causers were numerous and with the census lost anyone could come in and claim the Jaguar’s mantle.

I faced down a Mob of Mandrills led by some old Jaguar Ristar in a Loki. He blabbered on about his deeds. Fought in the REVIVAL trials, knew the original ilKhan that Miraborg spaced, etc… He wanted the old legacies so he could rebuild the Clan. So, I called him out, my unit was the first FedSuns one to reinforce the Clan Front during the War. Held firm against everything the Wolves and Jade Falcons threw at us and we won the most important thing, time, which was wasting when we could be wasting each other.

He took the bait, I knew he would, standard protocol from Gunslinger plus the Cats gave you some inside info on their mindset, and this guy was old school and angry. I think it was the mech, but I suppose it could have been me too, we had a nice chat going on, well I was chatting he was yelling something in that horrid pidgin they call language.

Courtesy of my new targeting computer I found all the normal weak spots and filled them with ordnance. Unfortunately, the new Lokis in Clanspace had 25% more armor shockingly this did actually throw me for a loop. We had some choice words for that mech in the AFFC during REVIVAL. The loss of firepower didn’t really matter to this guy he was precise with those lasers despite his apparent rage. For the first time in a while I was genuinely impressed. I won in the end though, popped a slug right through the reactor core.

He ejected running up to my mech with a piece of angle iron pulled from the ruin trying to smash it. My lancemates looked over to me and I dropped a tear gas SRM right next to my foot and the Jaguar to his credit resisted it long enough for some of the others to recover him. The techs had to wash my foot off before it got in the mech bay, but they were still getting teary over it for a week.

That’s just the life of a Gunslinger though everyone wants to put hands on iron in your presence.

I got used to it, served my time, and got out before the real *!^# hit the fan in Clanspace. Just in time for the Jihad. What a life.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 22 January 2021, 21:39:51
Its time in the old Cat scratch fever town of Lootera tonight.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 10 February 2021, 06:53:31
Aftermath and a New Age

Proceedings of the Grand Council of Clans 06/04/3063

Holoimages of city in ruins surrounded by raging wildfires and matchstick trees still aflame appeared before those assembled within the Hall of Khans. Another collection of images marked as from CGB Ursa Major showed a pair of Thera battlegroups and swarms of Free Worlds League fighters proudly flying the eagle and 2SLDF insignia engaging the Valkyrie Cluster. Following that was a BattleROM image of a heavily damaged OD 2SLDF Anvil with 'UV IV' and stars on its shoulders painted in purple while hip firing an omni-pod loaded with missiles mid-jump.

Loremaster of the Clans Kael Pershaw stood before the lights his grotesque form partially shadowed from his dais. “This is the latest feeds from my All Clan Watch. Over the past few months Archon-Princess Regent Katherine Steiner-Davion has deployed the Mjolnir battle-cruiser Yggdrasil against her own people and reunited the Federated Commonwealth through a cleverly executed campaign.”

The cyborg looked toward the holobust of Khan Bjorn Jorgensson, “And Commanding General Photon Brett-Marik's intervention under the 2SLDF stalled the Ghost Bear assault against the Abjured.”

“We could have used more forces, but the point was made. Clan Ghost Bear will suffer no future attacks from the Draconis Combine or its vassals.”

Steel Viper Khan Perigald Zalman leaned forward, “You say this to assuage yourself of this failure. I have seen the casualty count and after-action report. Your Expeditionary Force was almost wiped out by these Spheroids and now the Second Star League has one of these Thera Battle Groups forward deployed to Wolcott within striking distance of your Dominion.

Thus, it seems they were not cowed Bjorn. This victory will beget another, just like Tukayyid.”

A few moments passed while the HPGs transmitted the message a thousand light years to and back from the Inner Sphere. Since the Ghost Bear's relocation most of the Invader Clans and Diamond Sharks Leadership had been split between two Spheres. Vladimir Ward and Marthe Pryde now spent almost all their time aboard their Clan's Flagship with many others always in transit.

Wolf SaKhan Marialle Raddick stepped forward, “You talk big Perigald, but your Clan cannot back it up. Your Warriors barely fight off Mandrills within two jumps of your own capital and have been shown on multiple occasions to be lacking in everything but fury. If Colonel Irons did not intervene with his 'freeborn' Star Adder reinforcements Marshall would have been lost.

Sit back and let the big boys and girls talk about these issues.”

“Your Wolves have no place here any longer Marialle. Go run off to the Inner Sphere with your tail between your legs. We will stay and fight for our Great Father’s legacy.”

“Not yet. I enjoy the show.” She looked toward Coyote Khan Sullivan Koga, Goliath Scorpion Khan Ariel Suvorov, and Hell's Horse's SaKhan Tanya DeLaurel. “and friendly company.”

Khan Lynn McKenna stepped forward, “We still have space dominance. These Spheroid dabblers are little threat to Clan crews.”

Viper SaKhan Andrews played a news clip from the Archon-Princess' post Regent War news conference. Platinum blonde Katherine Steiner-Davion looked oddly martial in a FedCom combat uniform on Galax. “Today I announce my One Hundred Ships by Thirty-One Hundred Initiative giving our Fleet unparalleled ability to withstand attack; and strike back at any foe foreign or domestic. This will ensure the Federated Commonwealth maintains its place at top of the pack among the Successor States in all ways.”

“Not for much longer old crow, but of course you know that since this clip was obtained by the Viper Watch from the Ravens themselves. When were you going to inform the rest of the Council?”

“Never or maybe we leaked it to your man before spacing him so you could. A lot of things can happen in thirty-seven years little snake. The Spheroids are only just relearning the art of Warship construction of which we are maestros. I expect this Princess will fall short of her ambitions as her ancestors have.”

Cassius N'Buta joined the conversation, the patrician looked around him at the faces of the Clan Leadership. “My Fellow Khans, I think we should treat these revelations as a major emergency and call to action.

It is only a matter of time before the Second Star League has the gall to put more than the token garrison on Huntress and Strana Mechty they have now. Their Gunslingers and the Eridani Light Horse are an annoyance but have proven informative of our enemy’s capabilities. We have already begun to adjust Kappa Galaxy’s tactics.

I introduce a motion to appoint an ilKhan to oversee the reactivation of our mothballed Warships to combat this potential threat. Particularly the Circe Ghost Fleet which has gone unclaimed in the aftermath of the Great Refusal.

Our all vessels will need to be made ready for combat. I may not be here when it does, but it would be foolish to leave my successor shorthanded and in a such a vulnerable position.”

Goliath Scorpion Khan Ariel Suvorov seconded the motion just before the Cloud Cobra's Din Steiner. Sullivan and Tanya nominated Ariel while Perigald and Din nominated Cassius. The vote is dead even for ilKhan.

All eyes were on Loremaster of the Clans Kael Pershaw who had the power to issue a tie breaker. “I will not choose our future when it is so deadlocked. Without consensus we are doomed to continue this failed path.”

The fiery Steel Viper Loremaster Arthur Stoklas, “You coward! This is your sacred duty as caretaker of this Covenant. Where is your normal controlling attitude?”

“You wish to take my place Arthur?”
“I would.”
“Then I will second the motion and call for a vote.”

Jade Falcon Khan Marthe Pryde cast the deciding vote returning Kael to the post of Falcon Loremaster that had been kept in holding by his apprentice. The mellowed and mature Star Colonel Natalie Breen, former Steel Viper Khan and Zalman's adviser, is appointed Loremaster to fill the now vacant slot of the Triad.

Arthur Stoklas now on the LoC's dais claimed the Circe Ghost Fleet for the Clans as whole to be dispersed in a series of trials to be scheduled shortly. A survey was to be conducted to access their viability overseen by a group of Technicians. The motion was met with mild acceptance as the Khans digested recent events and begun formulating plans.


Tusker Station floated around the Lagrange point near Circe IV docked nose to nose with an Elephant tug. The Painkiller repairs required difficult to fabricate components and had fallen behind in the timetable while the EcKhan was seeking fortune with the Hellions and Mandrills. Once more Newts were pulling spares from dead ships around the empty planet for their own use. Derek Regnar once more conned the station although it was much diminished from the heights. “Captain we have confirmed the Grand Council has laid claim to the Ghost Fleet and are due to send a survey team.”

He looked over the latest survey of vessels and their condition, “We should remind them that this is called the ghost fleet and such things are prone to disappearing.”
“Would the EcKhan approve of that? We are talking the destruction of dozens of warships and more jump vessels.”
“You would rather our enemies once more come into possession of our ancestor’s legacy? I think not though it pains me to give the order.”
“I understand sir. Please allow me to give the order to scuttle the vessels rather than let them fall into the enemy's hands.”
“Permission granted. I will inform the EcKhan during our next transmission.”


Loremaster of the Clans Arthur Stoklas sat at his desk within the former Widowmaker’s Wing of the Hall of Khans. His face was red and livid as the reports downlinked and displayed that the Circe Ghost Fleet had been destroyed or were trapped in decaying orbits soon to fall into Circe IV. “Sabotage!”

He sent a personal report to Nathalie Breen asking her to activate the Pit Vipers of Shandrake Massif, microgravity commandoes trained and equipped to deal with Warships and terrorize rogue colonies. “It is time we bring the black back into the fold.”

A holoimage of the Astarte Super-battleship appeared above the desk, “By whatever means necessary.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 10 February 2021, 08:57:10
The Astarte ?  Is that Leviathan Prime??  :drool:
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 22 February 2021, 16:48:22
The Astarte ?  Is that Leviathan Prime??  :drool:

It is. Note to my fans I am going to post a portion of the storyline. Not all of it yet, just as summary while I figure out how and get more time to write the longform story out.

Timeline of the Other War
3058 – Battle of Coventry and founding of the Second Star League
3059 – Fire Mandrill Ristar Star Commanders Claude Goulet, Nina Tanaga, and Joseph Kline form a friendship while undergoing naval exercises above Hellgate with the Snow Ravens. The ambitious trio form a plan based on a data cache recently found on Shadow.
Operations-BULLDOG, SERPENT, and BIRDDOG launch and hammer the Smoke Jaguar Occupation Zones pushing the overextended and off-balance Jaguars out of the Inner Sphere
3060 – February – Battle of Huntress Begins. 30 March it ends. April 23rd The Great Refusal, Victor Steiner-Davion kills Lincoln Osis but dies in the process. He is memorialized on Strana Mechdy as a proud Warrior
   Clan Nova Cat Abjured, Smoke Jaguar Annihilated, Ghost Bears announce move to their OZ
   Alexander Drake becomes Khan of the Ice Hellions and changes their name to (just) Hellions
   The Hellions launch attacks on the large Smoke Jaguar holdings of Huntress and Londerholm.
   Fire Mandrill Kindraa attack holdings from all three Clans in question (Ghost Bear, Smoke Jaguar, and Nova Cat) coming into conflict with the Star Adders and Steel Vipers doing the same
Rogue elements of Fire Mandrill Kindraa Mick-Kreese, Kline, and Faraday-Tanaga salvage 3 former Mongoose Warships from Circe.
   The Hellions salvage 2 Star Adder Warships damaged during the Nova Cat Withdrawal
   Magistracy of Canopus forces depart with their captured techs and equipment toward their home on the other side of the Galaxy.
   The Yggdrasil launches from its berth around Alarion, the battlecruiser dwarfs almost all Warships
3061 – Raina Montrose lands on Wynn's Roost in advance of the Hellion expedition and takes bondsmen back along the Exodus Road to provide intel for Khan Drake's ambitious plan to secretly move his clan into the Inner Sphere. He begins leveraging personal connections
   Second Whitting Conference, Theodore Kurita becomes First Lord, Victor Steiner-Davion is laid to rest
   Morgana Fox and her brothers Alaric and Siegfried Ward are decanted on Tranquil
   Steel Vipers launch a bold attack on the Jade Falcon's Occupation Zone.
   Clan Nova Cat completes their move to the Irece Prefecture with assistance from the Diamond Sharks who take this opportunity to sell the DCMS on their non-Clan Tech battlemechs
   Clan Steel Viper completes the Masters’ Shipyard around New Kent in preparation for a large naval buildup to counter the Snow Ravens and Jade Falcons.
   Clan Goliath Scorpion contests Diamond Shark enclaves traded by the Snow Ravens.
   Clan Jade Falcon brings in the Hellions to contest Hell's Horses and Steel Viper attacks on their enclaves. The Hellions trade space for time as they prepare to leave Clanspace with a new infusion of Jade Falcon resources.
   The rogue Fire Mandrills assist the Newts and Tanite worlds as bargained. Their three new Warships undergo their shakedown and provide training opportunities for the Newts who begin the massive multi-year project to make the Painkiller a formidable battleship once more
   Final showdown between Claude Goulet and Tomin Mick's forces occur aboard the damaged Lola III Rancor. The Trial is overseen by Hellion Khan Xander Drake, ally to Star Captain Goulet who becomes Mick-Kreese Kindraa Leader.
3062 – The Mandrills assist the Hellions in their evacuation plans gaining choice Enclaves and excess materiel. Kindraa Leader Goulet’s influence grows more pronounced sparking envy among rivals.
   The Newgrange CDS Sea Fox is critically damaged above Strato Domingo by the Liberator CCS Spirit in the Sky during a Trial of Possession for the Carrack factory ship CDS Star Swimmer against the CDS Bloodlust, the Aegis cruiser assigned as their escort. Clan Coyote’s dezgra behavior during the Trial results in a trade embargo against them. At a crucial moment in Khan Koga’s reorganization her Merchant caste is thrown into disarray and the Warrior caste is tasked with Trialing the Snakes to maintain momentum and rob it of their rivals. 
The Diamond Sharks are in the process of moving to the Chainelaines and use this latest act of aggression and the pressure from the Star Adders to mothball production. They intend to move their factory ships out of Trialing range of the homeworld clans and into the relative safety of the Chainelaine Isles. The Sea Fox is left for the Ravens to repair and offered to the Blood Spirits through a backroom deal brokered by the Ravens in exchange for Ghost Bear’s assistance in rehabbing the old RWR shipyard around Syrstart. The Bears welcome a neutral harbor nearby as the Sphere becomes more crowded with rival Clans.
   Clan Steel Viper continue their campaign against the Snow Ravens and their Jade Falcon allies. The Ravens invite Blood Spirits and some Mandrill Kindraa to protect their enclaves offering them very good terms. Initially suspicious of their intentions but eager to match the growing power of Kindraa Mick-Kreese other Kindraa sign up without hesitation. Strain begins to show among the Mandrills however as they are not used to covering so much territory with so few troops. The Jade Falcons hold firm, Khan Marthe Pryde cannot be weak in the Homeworlds if she is to maintain her dream of a two Sphere Empire opening a new Contract on the Star Adders with the Hellions.
   Ghost Bear launches retaliatory strikes on the Irece Prefecture against the Nova Cats after Alshain is attacked by the DCMS with a Warship in support. The conflict ends after almost eight weeks in early 3063 with high casualties
   Arthur Steiner-Davion is “murdered” on Robinson
3063 – Regent’s War, Katherine Steiner-Davion becomes Archon-Princess of a strengthening FEDCOM
   Shocked by the Inner Sphere's use of Warships in late 3062 against the Ghost Bear capital of Alshain, and early 3063 with Katherine's bombardment of New Avalon by the Yggdrasil and the deployment of 2 Thera Battle Groups against the Ghost Bears that fought them to standstill during the Nova Cat-Ghost Bear War. The Homeworlds go into an elevated sense of caution as the Inner Sphere continues to make rapid and threatening advances. Calls to bring mothballed Warships back and empty the rest of the Brian Caches ring out throughout the Homeworlds. The Circe Naval Cache becomes hotly contested preventing the Newts from reclaiming the remaining vessels. Ultimately, they choose to deorbit the ships rather than let the Clans reactivate them.
   The Jade Falcons, Snow Ravens, and Diamond Sharks continue moving to the Inner Sphere.
   Clan Cloud Cobra trials for two mothballed Corone destroyers and the assistance of the Snow Ravens in their reactivation.
   Clan Goliath Scorpion begin the process of reactivating four Molynia assault transports mothballed around Tranquil with the blessing of Khan Vladimir Ward who exchanges them, workers, technological aid, for the Potemkin Prometheus. The transports are to be reconditioned at the expanding Kirin Cageworks while Prometheus serves as a Exodus Road transport to be repaired on Tamar after the Blood Moon and Dire Wolf
   Snubbed at a Great Council meeting the Steel Vipers increase attacks on every Clan winning them no allies.
   The Shandrake Massif Facility, home of the Steel Viper Watch, activates the first of its Pit Viper covert teams. These soldiers are specially trained to fight in space, destroy warships, and sent out to root out 'Tainted' Orbital communities and preferably bring them back as isorla for the Master's Shipyard. These Spacers flee to Newgrange City or join with other clans expanding their naval forces.
   Steel Viper Loremaster Arthur Stoklas succeeds Kael Pershaw as Loremaster of the Clans. This motion is opposed by the Viper's enemies but sustained through the surprise vote of the Falcons and Ravens. Both Clans already have plans to leave and expect the home-worlds to erupt into open war. He is replaced by Natalie Breen, former Khan and close adviser to Perigard Zalman.
   Clan Star Adder carves out an enclave on York to provide live fire training for their touman. Their touman sharpens up facing down the elite Blood Spirit Warriors.
   The Bandit known as “The Jaguar” begins his reign of terror starting with Vinton where he eliminates a Binary of Diamond Shark Warriors executing nine of the ten pilots with his sidearm.
   Loremaster Klaus Harper calls for a 'Gathering of the Troops' to invite the Blood Spirits and Fire Mandrills to come to something akin to an alliance.
3064 – Khan Drake departs from Hector heading toward the Outworlds Wastes unaware that the Snow Ravens had already sent out diplomatic envoys to the Outworlds Alliance years ago and begun revitalizing its Quatre Belle Yards. They redirect resources from the Ghost Bear Dominion towards the Alliance.
Clan Jade Falcon attempts to invade the Arc Royal Defense Cordon controlled by the hated Mercenaries the Kell Hounds and the Exiled Wolves. They do serious damage to the area but are repulsed by their combined efforts.
The Third Whitting Conference adds COMSTAR, the Word of Blake, and Taurian Concordat to the Star League.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 12 March 2021, 20:39:51
Blood Price
07/28/3063 Location – Black River Canyonlands, Valence, Babylon
Hakin Al’Sumral leapt out of the small boat drifting in the shadowed river between towering cliffs of basalt. “We’re coming.” Shouted one of the two younger brothers he had taken along for this risky venture. They too jumped out to help him drag the composite craft onto the black sand that squished under their feet in the faint light of their electric lantern. The sun-beaten boat was hauled up to a safe point and stakes were set to hold it there should one of the constant windstorms above find its way down once more. “I didn’t think we were going to make it after that last narrows.”

One of them set up their electric stove and started warming water in a finely crafted copper kettle. “Our ancestors sailed across the stars using great sails. Before them we have Sinbad and his kin, adventurers that crossed great oceans filled with danger in search of riches. I have found them here in the place no one has searched before.”

Hakin walked over to a nearby rock marked with petroglyphs, gently digging with a small shovel to reveal a clouded glass jar. Safely under his arm he brought it back to the others pouring the hot water into small cups filled with leaves. The air around them was filled with the aroma of chai spices and each sat on small stools for the first cup. “What is it?”

“Just a small portion of my riches.”
It sparkled as he held it up to the light, “This is gold dust I sifted from the river we just sailed upon.”

His brothers stared at it with amazement, “All of that is gold! You could be richer than Jabir and Abdul combined!”

“I could yes. If I told them how much I had found when I returned after months out here. I’m not going to, and you must swear not to either. Our older brothers are arrogant and vain men if they thought we,‘lessers,’ could be richer than either could ever imagine it would be bad for us.

I only brought what was needed to pay them back and buy better supplies for my next trip out here with you. We could buy our way out of the desert if we wanted and head to Port Logan as rich men or join another tribe and have our pick of wives.”
“Isn’t this stretch of river dangerous though? I hear of monsters in the darkness.”
“I fear being dead and poor more than I fear this river or any monsters that might lie on it.”

Rebekah stood at the prow of the sturdy metal boat looking at the dark river beyond, her rifle slung behind her, “When I heard about a Black River. I did not expect it to actually be one Ajmal. Initially I thought it a poetic expression for an old lava flow.”

The tribesmen manning the wheel laughed, “We Vaga are certainly a people of poetry. This river is sacred to my people. We have lived beside it for centuries using it to escape your ancestors.

Our first years we lived in caves and ate what remained of our harvest but afterwards we ventured back and became your ‘Bandits.’ The canyons keep the wind and sun off the water preserving it and the rocks seep water replenishing it before it reaches Sumral.”

A pillar of stone jutted just above the water line and Rebekah called it out, Ajmal steering expertly away from the hazard. “Too many of your kind have no understanding of the worlds they deign to rule. Indeed, I am not alone in my fear that when and if you return, they might actually learn the true value of these places.”
“I swore to keep your people’s secrets and I will. It is the fear that some already know that bothers me.”
“You speak of the Plaguemakers?”
“Maybe, that is what I want to know. This river seems the only way I can get close without being spotted. I have no place associated with this group. If they have a name, they do not want it known.”

“Names are powerful things, many of our stories and prayers speak of their power. If they lack one that is even more potent. A formless object can morph into any form it desires.”

“I have glimpsed its form several times, but it is like this river in a way. The surface changes form as it moves along its course. However, the real danger lies beneath.”

“An odd expression from an exiled Clan Warrior.”

Rebekah looked at her codex bracelet, unused for months after her ‘death’ except as a turquoise ornament. “Perhaps I have been spending to much time with Amun. He is either sun-touched or a sage and it changes by the moon.”

“Our Sheikh has his positive and negative qualities, but we have never been more prosperous or protected as we are under his rule. Maybe he will even unite our tribes and create a lasting peace.”
“There is an ancient saying about creating peace in a desert. Amun’s ways are our ways, not yours. I don’t think the Clans can live with peace, but I pray we can learn it. The more I learn of the Succession Wars in the Inner Sphere the more I am sickened by it.”

“You have been spending to much time with the Nova Cats.”

The small boat continued upstream with Rebekah watching for hazards while the others piloted the craft through treacherous rapids and narrow canyons. Rebekah thought of her adopted clan as much as her birth one.

Nova Cat exiles had welcomed her with open arms. Initially she thought of them ‘traitors’ but the more time she spent among them the more she doubted herself. She had spent many weeks out in the desert with them learning and sharing what she had learned on Tamaron. Sumral now felt like ‘home’, something she had never had.

On purpose she now realized. Before then places were ‘assignments’ and ‘bases’ without any emotion attached just duty and all that seemed empty now. A formless ‘Cause’ had motivated her then. Something about reclaiming the lost Coyote empire. It had dissipated on Niles while she was living in the wilderness and reading through the comm-pad Cara entrusted to her.

She had never known of a Coyote Empire, not even her Packmasters had lived in that time. They had seen the monuments and heard the histories, but it lacked reality. Everything that she had been taught was as likely to be fantasy as history. However, what she learned was that within the Clans there was a problem and she might be able to do something about it.

As the day grew long and the shadows darker as a thick fog settled over them. “All stop. Store the sails and drop the anchor. We will have to wait till this fog clears to make it to The Weeping Wall.” Everyone set to their work; sails were folded, the mast was winched down to prevent a rogue wind from catching and dashing them onto the rocks, he pointed to Rebekah who was holding the sounding plummet. “Give me a sounding.”

She dropped the plummet down into the shadowed depths and felt the weight reach the bottom before hauling it back up to drop it onto the bench. The can was filled with black sand flecked with tiny dust that sparkled under the light. “There's gold in this river?”

“Why do you think we fight so much over it? Or where our jewelry and wealth comes from?”
The Vaga showed their slender bracelets with thin rings hanging from them or their small earrings. She put her hand to her hair as she became acutely aware of the trinkets braided in her own blonde hair, gifts from the Sheikh and her friends. “The Weeping Wall and its shrine is our unofficial stopping point and neutral ground. Jamal drop the anchor, fifteen meters of chain.”

“Aye, sir” The swarthy former Smoke Jaguar lifted the heavy iron fluke from its mount before dropping over the edge with a splash. That splash's sound echoed slightly off the narrow canyon walls muted by the mist. Chain let out by another mate on the capstan slacked and had to be pushed over the side. “We must have found a shelf sir. Only eight went over.”

“This river's bottom is as treacherous as its top.”
He looked up toward unseen stars lost in the fog as the dark basalt loomed over them. “Set the watch. Four hours. Keep eyes on the FLIR.”

Night passed but the fog remained, Rebekah peered through her new laser rifle's IR scope. The grainy black and white image was dark with cold stone and water around her. She noticed a contrasting image on the water, “Boat! Starboard off the bow.”

Vaga tribesmen, already light sleepers, were on the deck with their Kaskan rifles in moments the primitively crafted but ornate rifles steadied on the mounts. The anchor was pulled up by Jamal and grapnels already on the gunwales were readied as the craft neared them. Two were thrown over hooking the smaller boat, dragging it closer until the sun-touched vessel tapped the tire bumpers. Rebekah and the others more trained for close combat drew their knives and leapt over to board and inspect the other ship.

She took the lower deck trusting that if there were enemies they would hesitate to shoot a woman and if not, she had contoured armor while they didn't. The door was ajar and bore an unusual sign on it painted in orange. Quietly she went below-decks in a crouch and entered the room, inside were two hammocks and a small thin mattress. All were filled and she crept closer to see three men veiled with black cloth. After checking elsewhere to detect concealed traps or other devices she came back to them.

Everyone else had already secured the boat, finding no damage or supplies, they shouted down to her. “Anything down there Beca!”

Using a nearby metal rod she lifted the veil and saw the mutilated face of a young man. Unable to control herself she vomited on the floor. Ajmal came down with the noise and she held her hand out to him in a 'keep away' motion. “We will take care of them. You get some air.” He helped her up and gave her a gentle push back up the stairs to the others.

Once above she sat on the railing and wiped her face with a handkerchief. The three bodies were hauled up and placed on the deck. “I think I know one of these men. He was a friend of my son's, always had higher aspirations than his family could sustain.”

“How would you know?”
“Little things. A scar, way of folding clothes, small sign of sentimental value overlooked by his killer. The glyph was a warning in our rock language. A warning to beware of monsters.”

She looked toward the North-West where he objective was, “I'm sorry for your people's loss Aj. Now I have an even better understanding of what kinds of monsters are ahead than I did before.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 12 March 2021, 22:52:27
Level detail to this story shows how much is missing from the actual War of Reaving.  Find writing, AlphaMirage!
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 16 March 2021, 12:42:20
Rebekah watched as the Vaga said prayers over the dead under the stars. The men gently placed them in the river, bodies hitting with a muted splash before sinking rapidly as the stone weights did their work. Ajmal came back aboard as a gentle wind blew bobbing their boat slightly as she pressed into her jacket. “There is new reason to fear going beyond the weeping wall. People disappear all the time up there. I have never seen enemy attacks so vicious though, even Burrock slavers were not so sadistic.”

“Apparently our enemy is more relentless and terrible then I thought. All the more reason they need to be exposed and destroyed.”

The following day the Black river was filled with the remnants of Foehn winds superheated by friction from falling down Valence’s Great Plateau to the East, where features ranged from merely large to mind-blowing. Even hundreds of kilometers away the hurricane force winds swept up the tiniest of sand grains wearing even the mightiest of the gray-green basalt pillars over time. Beyond them even weak breezes turned more powerful as they rushed through narrow fissures creating dangerous and unpredictable conditions below.

These two forces created wonderful karst features like those found in Terra’s Zhangjiajie over time. Seasonally the winds shifted as the ridge heated up creating a monsoon that changed the flow, instead of dropping hot air it pulls cold air from the jet stream West to East. This constant pull of hot and cold had shaped Valence’s rugged topography for eons and had made its way into the Vaga(bond) mythos with its emphasis on circles in behavior, dance, and adornment as well as their traditional cave dwellings resembling Yaodongs.

The badlands above were heavily eroded with no soil and only the most primitive of life clinging to the canyon edges and within cracks. Lichens and algae absorbed light from Tigris (Babylon’s sun) above but provided little nourishment to the water below. Further downstream where conditions were less harsh and open scrubby plants and grasses grew forming a chaparral that fed the Vaga’s flocks and other life who in turn were eaten by Goliath Scorpions and Coyotes. This far upstream the Black River was cold and devoid of anything but microbial life slowly breaking down the stone for nourishment.

Down in the canyons things were cooler and more stable meteorologically and biologically but geologically everything was falling to pieces. Freeze-thaw cycles and erosive winds made rockfalls common. More than once they came upon a narrow passage made unnavigable by a fallen boulder just barely visible in shadow beneath the water’s surface. Sometimes whole cliff walls fell in, and others were braced with metal brackets to stabilize them. Jagged stones to the side and below the calm cool waters were always waiting to piece their hull and drown them in darkness.

They stopped for lunch, dropping anchor,  “I just had to choose to infiltrate this way.”
“It is a good plan Beka. No one would suspect an amphibious infiltration force ascending the cliffs.”

She could only look in dismay as a large boulder had wedged itself above them some time in the recent past. “With good reason. These canyons are wind tunnels of doom filled with deceptive shadows hiding keel-breaking stones, narrow passages requiring poles to traverse, always under threat from falling rocks, and icy water forming treacherous rapids and whirlpools. It is amazing your ancestors ever made it this far.”

The man smiled and took another sip of tea admiring the fine veins of rock in the boulder poised to crush them should gravity give it the opportunity. Without further pause they set off once more, gradually closing along the serpentine paths navigating fast flowing water and other hazards with apparent calm. “The human spirit is a curious one. Many were lost attempting to go up this river but enough made it through that we can continue their work. I feel it is like your Clans a constantly unfinished work, we may never know how far these passages go or what might be hidden within. For all we know there is some alien civilization that lived here once and was lost to time.”

“Or some mummified remains of the first complete with a new strain of Babylon Plague dormant just looking for a new host.”
“We leave the dead in peace should we find them in the desert. Many perished in the first years of colonization and during KLONDIKE. Desiccating winds and little microbial activity preserve them until they disappear, their bones scattered like the stones above.”

The air around them grew cool and humid, gray-green canyon walls shimmered with water. Around her the Vaga paused said a prayer and placed their hands on the stone. “This is the Weeping Wall Rebekah.”

Rebekah looked at the sight in astonishment, the wall itself was wet each tear like drop slid down to join the others in the river below. She too put her hand on it and felt it cold, “A water seep, there’s a massive aquifer beneath us.”

“We are actually within an underground lake here in this canyon, however due to the stone’s permeability only some of it can leak out at a time. This wall is the largest of many we have found so far but there are many more upstream. Each one contributes a small volume, but they are numerous and with them the Black River is sustained.

To us it represents the many tears shed since the Exodus during wars. So, we always stop here to pay our respects in the hope that one day it is dry, and no more tears are shed in grief.”

She looked up at the wall and its constant flow, every second more fell. Few knew that the Vaga were a people sustained by symbolic grief. Overcome with emotion she too felt a tear form in her own eyes remembering those that she had lost. The droplet trailed down her fingertips and joined the others. Ajmal watched her for a moment before giving the order to continue on to the shrine and beyond to their target.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 01 April 2021, 08:10:26
Rebekah arrived at the Shrine she had heard so much about but had never seen despite traveling up the river several times during her scouting missions. Its entrance was sheltered in a narrow ravine with a ramshackle metal walkway bolted into the rock around it. Ajmal and crew secured their ship carefully facing the vessel outward in a space that seemed far too small to be safe for the aluminum hull. “We have to transfer the vessels to the other side of the shrine; our boat cannot navigate further upriver. It is both too wide and its draft to deep.”

She shouldered her pack and some of the excess equipment they would need for the mission. The Elemental porters easily carried the smaller metal boats overhead, careful to avoid banging them on the narrow ravine. Each of the raiding craft could comfortably fit four people and carried a complement of telescoping poles and oars with a small layer of Hargel sandwiched between the double hull. Small electric outboard motors would be used in deeper channels, but the Black River’s headwaters were typically shallow, narrow, and importantly completely shadowed. Their presence would not be easily detected from the overhead surveillance drones that Rebekah knew would be watching the perimeter of the Valence Shell facility.

The Shrine itself was cool and dry with colorful ‘primitive’ mosaics on the rock walls depicting scenes from KLONDIKE. Sumral Cartas had fought valiantly against the proto-Clans from their fortified towns before being conquered. Many however escaped up the Black River hiding among its caverns before returning to live in the badlands. Their children eventually constructed this shrine in their place of sanctuary as a memorial to all those lost to the Clans.

When she entered a large cathedral style cavern she stopped and was awestruck. The vaulted chamber was filled with ornate carvings represented Clan Totem Animals. She knew some Dark Caste had a peculiar worship practice to placate angry ‘sky gods’ (Battlemechs in dropships) that occasionally came and destroyed their settlements with offerings. Clan Burrock had been the lead perpetrator and beneficiary of this suspicion, using these outcasts as slaves and coming back regularly to loot them of valuables. Ten of their Warrior Bloodhouses had been Annihilated by the Star Adders following a Tribunal post-Absorption. Their members given the choice of suicide for Surkai or Reaving by firing squad, no leniency was offered even for those unaware of this Dezgra behavior.

Objects hung from tiny posts upon the totems, she got closer and in the filtered light from above it became obvious what they were, Warrior codices, some of which were very old. Most belonged to Goliath Scorpions and Cloud Cobras, the two most common Clans on Valence. A fair number of newer ones belonged to Smoke Jaguar or Ghost Bear which was not surprising considering she had been traveling with four of their former Elementals. Interspersed were many others all the way back to the Widowmakers, Mongoose, and Not Named. How they arrived in this location was unknown as none of those Clans had a presence on Babylon during their relatively short existence.

Rebekah stopped and looked over to Ajmal as he oversaw the line of porters, “Why are all these Codices here?”

The Vaga leader looked over, “They were not taken like one would take scalps of defeated enemies if that is what you fear. All were surrendered by Warriors that joined us. More victims of the uncaring wasteland that their Clans felt were not worth looking for.

Symbolic death, leaving your old life behind to live a different way.”

She looked at her own codex, the intricately crafted object contained her entire tragically short life story and she could not imagine giving it up. To Clan Coyotes she was already dead so Ajmal’s statement seemed to confirm Leo’s that death was the only way to escape her caste with any freedom.

That was not her intention when setting out and thus her nature continued to rebel against it. She still was risking her ‘unlife’ to save her fellow Clans people from a similar fate to those Burrocks that had paid the ultimate price for their leader’s choices. If what Cara’s comm-pad revealed was true it would fall on their heads like a guillotine at the worst time.

After transferring everything to the other docks they walked around the remainder of the Shrine complex. The Vaga tribespeople used it as a storehouse and shelter in the event of emergency and waystation for the less navigable headwaters canyons. Everything was kept in good repair, but it was much like the undercity of Sumra. An all-around standard SLDF layout for a defensible subterranean bunker adapted to local tastes.

They stopped and ate from their carried rations in the mess hall enjoying access to superior water, warm and cold, for tea and food preparation. Since it was already late, they stayed overnight, filling the night with music and poetry alongside visiting ascetics. Her guide stated that these shamans acted as vessels for lost spirits (‘Jinn’) that supposedly wandered the wastelands above. It was thus a great honor to be in their presence, yet it left her baffled as she still didn’t have a firm grasp of the Vaga’s complex mythos, an odd combination of at least four divergent faiths adapted to a hostile alien world.

In the morning she was well-rested her mattress was the same type used in the Nova Cat house she was a guest in, and very comfortable compared to her ship’s berth. It would be their last comfortable sleep for the next three days and a filling breakfast of fresh bread and vegetables was ready for them upon waking prepared by the other visitors. Before departing to paddle upriver they received a blessing of spicy incense, fragrant water, and an elaborate dance from the shamans grateful for the few items gifted to them by her party. As the canyons closed eclipsing the sun, rocks of varying size fell around them, whitecaps grew on the water, and the winds howled above she was glad for any help regardless of origin, because her world suddenly felt very small and dangerous.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 14 April 2021, 19:15:30
Ten sneak-suited figures kept to the rocks surrounding the large tunnel cut in the windward face of the black rock protected by a coarse circle of wire fencing. Above them Babylon’s mighty sun Tigris fueled blazing hot winds that fell at great speed from Valence’s equatorial rift. Volcanic tuff and pebbles loosened by freeze-thaw were propelled at nearly a hundred kilometers per hour posing serious hazards to unarmored wanderers. The figures kept low beneath the larger boulders shielding themselves from the onslaught until reaching the shallow tunnel. Their further progress was hindered by a set of armored louvers that had locked into position to protect the interior from the windstorm outside.

Now within the relative safety of this shallow and claustrophobic tunnel the group depolarized their faceplates and looked around. The group’s armor had taken a pounding from the windblown debris and more gravel followed them. Their hollow impacts echoing within the ferrocrete tube.

Rebekah pushed against the slats which were solidly closed even to Jamal’s strength. “Well it was this or trying to hide from aerial recon drones.”

“I think you made the right choice.”
Ajmal signaled to the abtakha Nova Cat and Smoke Jaguar Techs of the Aerospace phenotype that looked small even compared to Rebekah. Both set about finding some access port they could plug into in order to open the slats and allow their entry. Meanwhile the others checked their gear unrolling the heavy clothes it was packed in during their transit from the black river to their objective to protect it from sand and weather. All except Jamal whose sword he proudly said, “Never jams or gets sand in it.”

Each tech had their Descartes IIC PEC (Portable Engineering Computer) up and started working through various subsystems with assistance from its expert systems which also powered the omnimech’s advanced DI computer, “Rebekah, come over here.”

She did and looked over the underground base’s diagrams displayed on the screen. Each turn which matched those from her secret sources and were overlaid with technical markings. “Well that is either a positive or a negative Parido. Can you get the louvers open?”

The slight Smoke Jaguar’s computer went through several display tabs, “We can, but it would attract attention from the control room. Downlink from MetWatch says the storm will last another hour. Once night falls and the winds shift at least some of them should open normally to restore ventilation.”

“This tunnel connects to the old sector, quiaff?”

“With the louvers closed the fans further in would be off, quiaff?”

“Would it be easier to pause the fans or open the louvers?”

Both tapped on their PECs, “There is a maintenance access tunnel next to the fan assembly that we should be able to open. It is very narrow likely designed for Aero pheno Techs and unlikely to allow passage for an Elemental like Jamal or even the Vaga. We and you should be able to fit.”

The other seven volunteers looked at the trio with mild concern behind their faceplates, “The three of us are not going into unknown territory without some kind of backup.”

Jean Nova tapped furiously on his PEC plugging in extended modules to simulate a system response, “We might be able to spoof a MetWatch warning that will get the system to close the louvers and stop the fan but it will have to be done from an electronics closet so I can access the appropriate systems.”

Parido Smoke looked over the simulation from his companion, “It has a high chance of success Commander. Once the warning elapses they will be none the wiser.”

“Then its greenlit. See what you can find out about what kind of security is inside while we wait.”

“Those systems are on a separate circuit, but we will try,”
He looked over to Jean and closed the channel to Rebekah while they went over a plan.

She returned to the group who were furiously scrubbing fine windblown grit out of their Kaskans. All except Jamal who had apparently taken this time to fall asleep with his sword in the crook of his immense arm likely with a smile on his face. Her own coyote brown Mark 39’s filters were clogged with silt despite her best efforts to seal the bag. She removed and replaced them with fresh ones still sealed in their aluminum pouch. A thorough check of its integral power cell verified it was operational and at full power.

As if on a schedule some of the louvers opened and they encountered a secondary fence. Some time with bolt cutters left them enough space to squeeze through. Jamal pushed forward after removing most of his equipment in order to fit through the mesh. “How many of these fences are there Commander?”

“That should be the last of them, the compound didn’t want any creepy crawlies to get inside.”

“Some of them are good eating.”

Parido snickered over the comm-channel, “Remember that whole pot of prawns you ate in Port Logan that one Remembrance Day?”

“How could I forget?”
“Well you did drink a two-liter bottle of whisky by yourself.”
“It was weak sauce unless you’re an Aero.”
“It was over forty percent!”
“Hardly felt over thirty.”
“That’s not how the video remembers it.”

The party continued onward till they reached the low powered set of fans, the sharp metal blades sliced through the air pulling it firmly inside the large underground habitat. As they were all wearing their helmets the breeze was felt only through the motion of the sneak suit. A maintenance hatch was sunk into the ground nearby as illustrated on the plans. Perido and Jean carefully looked over it, “Its rigged with an alarm but we can re-route it.”

Rebekah felt uneasy going into the base with only techs for backup and knowing some of the experiments they were conducting, “Do it.”

Both techs set to work carefully unpacking a probe capable of reaching into the delicate fiber optic datalink. With some careful technical skill the alarm cable was disrupted, and a laser cutter sliced through enough of the grate to allow the smaller Clanners to enter. Rebekah hopped down into a crouch and checked for signs of activity on the floor. “Very dusty, no footprints or signs of crawl. Probably be a long time before they realize we broke in.”

“That’s what you were hoping for quiaff?”
“Aff. Jean, Perido hop down. Everyone else wait for those fans to stop moving. We will open a door from inside.”
She cradled her rifle within its bag in her arms and strapped her pack behind her in order to drag it through the passage. Fine particulate jostled free from the floor and stayed in suspension far longer than expected as she army crawled through them. “Keep your helmets on. You don’t want to breath in this dust.”

A skeletal looking Cyclops drone patrolled the quiet benighted corridors of the Valence Shell facility’s old sector. Its treads kicked up dust which had been gathered over the past decade, ever since a reactor containment breach required the area be abandoned. Its monocular thermal vision picked up no heat signatures as it continued on with its rounds.

Rebekah and the Techs watched the drone depart, “Sentry drones?”

“Might be the only one on patrol and it looked unarmed. There are probably others recharging elsewhere. Which way to the electronics cabinet?”

Perido knife handed to the their right and stopped before a plain looking door with an alphanumeric code painted on it. The Tech removed her PEC and hacked the door open just in time to enter before the drone completed another circuit. Although unseen by them it paused at the door registering a slight thermal anomaly on the floor but no structural issues with the door which was at the proper slightly elevated temperature. The anomaly was tagged for further investigation.

Inside the cramped electronics closet racks of computer equipment beeped and illuminated in sequence like a great Christmas tree, something no one had seen in person within Clanspace for centuries. The silvered thermal sneak suits absorbed the ambient heat causing their users to begin sweating more vigorously than before. “I hope you can work fast Jean.”

The Nova Cat was already plugged into a server rack running diagnostics on the system to determine how far they could reach from here. “I can get into some lower level systems from here and can take over the three drones if we want but it would be obvious something is going on if anyone was looking.

In the meantime I can spoof the ventilation and let everyone else in and probably open the door. There’s a hard block into the main cluster and the door to get into it is not on this system.”

“Can you give me details on their patrol paths?”

She tapped away on the PEC, “Looks like they are limited to the hallways. Any room interior should be safe. This whole sector seems to be abandoned, no lights are active, no heat, limited water chiefly to cool something very hot and more than enough power to recharge the drones.”

“An old reactor?”
“No, seems consistent with a large fuel cell generator in the low megawatts range. Probably not old though.”
“Some kind of standby power?”
“My guess is actually a remnant of an older co-gen plant tied into the base’s fission reactor. Many of these room names had some kind of industrial purpose.”

“Why leave it on then if this area is abandoned?”
“Maybe they need the extra power for something.”

“Get me tracking on the drones and piggy-back off their sensors. Don’t change any motor or control processes. I am going to let everyone else in.”

Fifteen minutes later the team was reassembled within the remains of an old electronics semiworks plant. Old machines and tools lie abandoned casting geometric shadows in the lights of their sneak suit harnesses. The techs sat next to one another near the center of the group; a holographic schematic appeared above their PECs. “We have to find an alternate way to get in. There is an airlock type door between here and the main compound that is isolated from this network.”

Jamal hefted the heavy sword to his large shoulders, “How sturdy is it?”

Rebekah motioned for him to put the sword down, “You could probably force it, but the alarms would sound, and we’d be screwed.”

Ajmal rose from his seated position, “How bout we draw someone through? One of ours can then take their place or a tech could try and access the door while they are away.”

“It would be risky. Portal doors are always remotely monitored.”

“It is evening, and you cats might be able to spoof it. How many techs would they potentially have on staff Commander?”

She shrugged, “Unknown, as far as the roster notes there are only one hundred fifty staff. Mostly Scientists and their associated support teams.”

The Vaga Chief pointed toward an emergency shower, “I say we wash off the grit from outside to restore our stealth and then disable one of the drone’s tracks. You can take away its eyes for a moment quiaff?”

“Aff. unless someone is in control the camera only scans a fairly narrow cone mainly for pathfinding. We can ensure it is looking elsewhere.”

“Good, Beka. Can you disable this robot’s treads with your laser?”

In her head Rebekah was overjoyed, ‘Finally I get a chance to use it for real.’
“I can.”

“I say we try that and see what happens.”

Within Valence Shell’s robotic monitoring room a blinking light and mild alarm woke up Technician E Valo who in turn roused his companion who had been up to that moment snoozing in their chairs while tell-tales and other lights flickered indicating the basic status of the facility’s support robots. Since it was primarily a bio and chemical warfare lab run by Scientists most operations were conducted by robotics to save on decontamination. The spots that weren’t were not the support crew’s concern.

“Conners it’s one of the drones from downstairs again.”

The drone’s feed came up on the screen, Tech R Conners aimed the camera down and saw that its tread had fallen off the road wheels. “Not again. I swear each time we fix these things they fall apart faster. Didn’t this one get a new track two weeks ago.”

“Maybe it didn’t get tensioned enough.”
“I’ll take it up with depot crew in the morning.”
The two techs squared off to one another in their chairs, “Rock, paper, scissors to suit up.”

RPS had only just been reintroduced by the Hellions (as Blitz with different names for the shapes) who had claimed it as their own before the 2SLDF Garrison on Huntress corrected them. Valo lost so Valo had to put on the silvered environmental protection suit with Conner’s help and take the twenty-minute ride down to Old Sector in order to service the wayward drone and he couldn’t to activate its replacement and transport it to the depot.

Conners saw his partner on the CCTV as he keyed into the comm-line. “Just leave it on manual. I won’t be long.”

“Roger that. I’m heading off to lunch so see you in fifteen.”
“Copy. Don’t touch mine Conners or there will be lashing.”

“Like I’m afraid of HR. Besides ever since you went flexitarian the quality of your stolen meals has diminished. You look good in the suit though.”

“You wish you looked as good, in and out of it.”

The airlock cycled, “Heading in now.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 22 April 2021, 18:56:46
To Coyote Kin Keeper Shawn Rosanske
From Valence Shell Facility Director

Operation: OVERSEER Test Results – Cohort 17 / August 3063
Aerospace hybrid phenotypes acquired over the past year show a higher success rate with the new surgical iEI implantation than any previous sample population. Genetic screening of new candidates becomes more refined with each cohort although the sample sizes are still too small for our needs.

Psychological indoctrination however continues to be a challenge even with improved pharmacological means of control. Subjects continue to require restraints during benchmarking and vigilant observation due to high self-inflicted casualties among the population.

Younger subjects raised in the new Coyote Sibkos (Ferals), Bandits, or within the Spacer Guilds seem particularly resistant to breaking yet have a higher success rate with EI approaching 40% with our breakout success being Jeremi Kufahl. Older subjects or those of other Clans are more easily conditioned yet suffer a much higher failure rate in implantation regularly exceeding 80%. The precise cause of this is under investigation as your predecessors notes were incomplete.

Security Report
Intruders were detected and apprehended on August 12th including a Feral Coyote Trueborn of the Kerensky-Kufahl line and number of Vaga Bandits. She is already marked dead but her codex, while short, shows promise so we will use her in the next cohort to test our latest conditioning regime.

Disturbingly she had in her possession a datacard with sensitive data regarding our operations on it, source unknown. There is a mole in our organization. I advise you to take this security breach seriously; as you know we are already on the edge with leadership and this could be the first round of attempts made by Clearwater and Koga against our bloc.

Active Measures
Due to the latest security breach we have deployed additional teams to terrorize the Vaga populations so they will back off and keep their distance from our facility while revising security protocols. Advise we execute STING and remove the Sheikh before he can unite the desert Dark Caste under his banner and receive more substantial support from his underworld allies, allies that might have provided the data carried by our intruders.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: cklammer on 23 April 2021, 00:12:24
Very clever: "Oh we have stay under the radar but with the security breach we go about making a ruckus!"

Rebekah is the stick that beats the bushes ...
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 23 April 2021, 06:10:25
Didn't know she was a Kersensky.  Interesting they refer to her a Ferral. 
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 23 April 2021, 13:38:16
Rebekah is the stick that beats the bushes ...

Well if you grew up in the desert and that's what you needed to do to get food you would too

Didn't know she was a Kerensky.  Interesting they refer to her a Feral. 

Yeah she is one of the results of that annual Dana Kufahl - Andery Kerensky Sibko the Coyotes decant to celebrate their founder. Part of the reason she tested out so early.

The Feral mention I will expound upon IC but basically it comes down to imagine regular Sibko training being USMC Boot Camp where every week is Hell Week. Sullivan Koga saw this was not getting the results she wanted and went retro instead of high tech much to the Scientist's chagrin, as evidenced by how they view these new Warriors.

Seeing that Highland and Desert Tribes regularly produced some of Terra's fiercest Warriors she emulated their formation on Tamaron, which is filled with harsh deserts and frigid highlands. So instead of the Crechies and Sibkin growing up on a nice orderly military base they live in and upon a chaotic and unpredictable nature reserve and have to survive Tamaron more than their Packmasters, who are mostly there for safety and training. Higher tech systems are added as you go along and prove yourself worthy of them so you don't get a gun until  you can use a bow, etc... It builds a more cohesive Tribal identity rather than the forced 'patriotism' and brutal 'everyone for themselves' mentality imbued in regular Clan Sibko training while accomplishing the same goal of making tough Warriors that will 'doggedly' fight tooth and nail for their packmates.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 26 April 2021, 10:52:52
08/19/3063 Location – 47 km West of Port Logan, Wadi Tsagaan(baatar)

Tarin Al’Hajid stood watch over the herd of Tallasi his family had been hired to tend. They quietly grazed on the new green growth fed by the powerful Shoshi’i Monsoon rains still sweeping over parts of Eastern Valence. The deluge had flooded the Wadi until it was almost neck deep in places and a half full Ur reflected in the still waters of the pool. Their owner was a wealthy Merchant from Port Logan they had met during the First Rain Festival last month. He seemed nice enough paying the family fairly and helping his father with his leg injury using some of the Clan medicine that had saved him from the Goliath Scorpion venom.

He skipped rocks across the pond and wondered what became of the friendly lady that had given him the antivenom which he was told was very expensive. She must have been very rich to offer him such a gift that he could never repay. On a few occasions he had seen her walking around with the Shiekh’s wives with more jewelry then when she arrived.

“Maybe she was a princess and married the Sheikh. I hope he treats her as well as dad treats mom.”

The Tallasi started getting antsy and making their warning grunts, bulls stomped and made a ruckus toward the disturbance speeding across the water. From his perch he could not make out shapes. However, the terrifying whistling sound coming from that direction that echoed off canyon walls he knew. “Shayatin!”

Whistle in hand he ran toward the small tent hamlet that had grown up between the six families working their herds near Wadi Tsagaan. Others positioned elsewhere raced back as the once quiet area was filled with piercing whistles and the shouts of men and older boys marshalling themselves to arms. As they neared Tarin saw the demon's eyes lit up with a fire that chilled his blood. Their chariots moved impossibly fast across the flat, waterlogged wadi on chariots creating great V-shaped forms of mist behind them that reached into the sky.

Kaskans boomed over the canyon their rifle reports momentarily overwhelming the roaring chariots and shouts filling the night with orange. The craft zig zagged to avoid the semi-auto weapons before returning fire with thunder of their own. Canisters filled with fire and steel landed amongst the tents currently being evacuated, bright flashes of white propelled metal darts into flesh striking down defenders not swift enough to gain good cover.

Without pause the faceless but red eyed demons rode around the tents. Black metal chariots momentarily lit up by the growing flames sped forward, the ill wind behind them fanning the flames to greater heights. Rather than stop and continue engaging some demons rushed forward grabbing women and older girls caught in the open into the vehicles right off their feet. These sped back across the wadi toward a lumbering barge seemingly suspended in air painted in grotesque runes that glowed under moonlight. Others zoomed back gliding along the sand like a falcon on the hunt, another round of fire and thunder rung out and the Kaskans quieted after the Shayatin sped back across the wadi causing a stampede of Tallasi away from the terrifyingly noisy creatures.

Tarin finally made it back to the camp with the others who formed a bucket brigade to save their tents from the hellfire inferno threatening to take even more from them. Babylon’s fearsome winds picked up as the Shayatin departed.

“There was nothing we could do but collect your herds, bury our father, and count the missing including our mother.”

Jenna said all this through tearful eyes as she and Tarin looked up at Senior Merchant Hav'an who looked toward his other guest. A man, looking slightly older than the Merchant, with a metal hand that seemed to fascinate the other teenage boy that cross-legged next to him. Havan gave them both a hug, “I am sorry you had to live through that child. I will do what I can to help you.”  He sent them away with his son to join the others gathering in the courtyard.

Now alone with the older Warrior who looked slightly out of place in the house of a Merchant he stood and stepped onto the balcony looking over the courtyard filled with sad eyed nomads and up to the waning moon. “Can you help these people Colonel Irons?”

The square-jawed Colonel joined him on the walk his Camlaan Arsenal garrison cover blowing in the wind. “Not alone. I would need a larger and better equipped unit. Light mechanized hover infantry with a Buffalo mothership and more modern weapons,” the Warrior looked over to a tripod stack of the locally made Kaskan rifles, “then these Dark Caste. They wouldn’t stand a chance; it will be more slaughter.”

“You looked into the eyes of those children and heard their pain Colonel. You can’t dismiss them as mere Dark Caste unworthy of a Warrior’s attention except at the barrel of a gun. They have done nothing to deserve their status but be born in the wrong circumstance. Something you are intimately familiar with, quiaff?”

Colonel Seth Irons did know, he had lost his unit command due to the political machinations of the Star Adder’s Galaxy Commanders on trumped up charges. For a supposedly open-minded Clan they had long resented his existence let along his competence at turning Freeborns into worthy Warriors because he knew the struggles and could connect with them.

Each Trial victory his Freeborns earned over their vatborn counterparts threatened their supposed supremacy and ‘perfection.’ He was effectively pushed out of the Clan to the only open-minded Clan that would listen to what he was saying, Clan Diamond Shark, which despite their contributions to the Clan Warrior Eugenics program was more interested in results and had a sudden need for reliable and competent Freeborn Warriors to garrison the Chainelaine Colonies.

“I cannot do it alone nor can I use the Arsenal cadets. It will take too long to mount a counter-attack without more proper Warriors.”

A Broadsword burned out of the nighttime sky toward Port Logan’s rough sandy airstrip with 23rd Air Assault Cluster markings. Slowly cutting through the Shoshi’i straits Magnus Ghost and his fireteam waited to complete the five-hour ferry trip to Port Logan from Camlaan. Their Rhino suits waited in the cargo bay under guard.

Just in case they were needed.
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 30 April 2021, 08:55:20
08/21/3063 Port Logan, Babylon

Magnus Ghost pulled his Bearcat U/MV (Utility/Mobility Vehicle) out of the ferry under the careful watch of the ship’s loadmaster and his own Point of surly, hungry, and sleep deprived former Ghost Bear Elementals. Port Logan and its ragtag sprawl of buildings spread out along the beach before them. Smells of stale saltwater and fish both rotten and fresh wafted over them as fishermen drifted in under dawning Tigris.

The transport ferry from Camlaan to Port Logan was filled with a variety of the Diamond Shark’s industrial caste and their equipment. Their Clan was reducing their footprint in the Kerensky Cluster as they moved more operations down the Exodus Road toward the boundless markets of the Inner Sphere. That didn’t stop entrepreneurial Merchants from staking claims to the wastelands of the windswept continent of Valence in search of minerals after the Hellion’s withdrawal. It's wastelands had been a no man’s land more useful as a Trial arena or testing range than for any other purpose but had great promise of mineral wealth.

Under the careful guidance of his Point the overloaded Bearcat cleared the transport deck and carefully set out on the ferrocrete causeway. Elementals walking beside to ensure the overloaded vehicle did not stray off the pavement. A Bearcat was one of the few vehicles in service roomy enough to allow large Elementals like Magnus and his Ghost Bears to operate with ease.

Bearcats were used as the Clan’s standard off-road transport, a design based on J-27 Ordnance Transports with a rated capacity of 5 tons that had served in support of their mission since the Exodus. Their service in the Touman was to transport ammo and armor or service Elemental suits in the field but could be fitted with a variety of accessories for any utility use.

With five heavyweight Rhino suits attached to the transport frame however the suspension squealed as the Bearcat accelerated sluggishly holding back the faster trucks of the Diamond Sharks. The hybrid engine spewed exhaust from the stack on the passenger side providing essential power to the generator. Three of his Point jumped into the bed as they cleared the causeway. Their eyes were no longer needed to help navigate the narrow span. An extra half ton of mass felt evident as Magnus pressed the accelerator harder to maintain a reasonable speed. Although rated for 5 tons it was now carrying almost 10 between extra gear and the sheer mass of muscle.

Beach sand spewed out behind them as they tried to stay up on the shifting sands. A Broadsword loomed over the surrounding buildings on the rough airstrip. A slight rap on the ballistic fabric covering drew his attention, “Can you go any faster Point Leader? I could run faster than this.”

“Nothing is stopping you Strav. You jumped in.”

A hearty laugh from the back momentarily overcame the engine noise. “I would get sand in my boot Mag.”

“Like that would change whether you complained or not.”

Within ten minutes the Bearcat joined a GPV in Black and Green (23rd Air Assault colors), and a half dozen blue Mastiff trucks used by the Diamond Shark’s City Patrol officers. Magnus was surprised to see so much activity in such an otherwise sleepy and desolate town. “Busy day at the Patrol office.”

He pointed to two of his Point. “Stay and guard the Bearcat,” then the others, “Find some grub.”

Inside the Patrol Office Kindraa Leader Claude Goulet looked into recent missing person’s files. A concerning number of Cloud Cobra Techs had gone missing from their workcamps here on Valence. Meanwhile Beyl-Grant sibkin and Newt affiliated spacers were taken from isolated facilities throughout the Homeworlds. Their disappearances only recently being discovered as resupply ships found the habitats abandoned or destroyed. Clan Steel Viper had promised reprisals after the Ghost Fleet above Circe IV was destroyed embarrassing Arthur Stoklas, Loremaster of the Clans, and former Steel Viper.

The Beyl-Grants, rivals to the Mick-Kreese, were eying his Kindraa as the responsible party and had made their displeasure known in Trials that wasted time and energy better spent on their shared enemies, presently Steel Viper. At the same time he owed the Shanghai’s EcKhan Dax Loew many favors for the Newt’s assistance and this was but one off his ledger.

As propriety demanded he checked in with the overworked Patrol Commander, registered his presence as 'on official duty,' and verified that the Sumral area had been transferred to his Mandrills following Claude’s Trial of Possession, a tense series of racquetball games where he bid more time on the Fire Eater, against Xander aboard the CH Pack Leader.

With a crash of the doors on the wall a large Elemental entered the precinct, boldly ambling toward the Patrol Commander checking in just as he had done. He wore the colors of Clan Ghost Bear despite being a Hell’s Horseman. An odd Clan to be on Babylon but the Horses were rapidly expanding due to their alliance with Wolf and Coyote on either side of the Exodus Road which was upsetting many former major powers like the Diamond Sharks.

After conferring with the Patrol Commander the Elemental walked over to Claude who warily eyed him. The rumbling bass of the Elemental rolled over the Marine. “I am Point Leader Magnus Ghost of Clan Hell’s Horses. The wastelands of Valence now belong to Fire Mandrill Mick-Kreese-Kline. We seek passage to Sumral, supplies, and travel beyond in search of answers. Arm Wrestle?”

“Kindraa Leader Claude Goulet of Fire Mandrill Mick-Kreese-Kline. Define we.”
“My Point of Rhinos and our transport.”

Although Claude was also an Elemental his Marine bloodline was much smaller than the 2.3m and 165Kg of a Ghost Bear. Arm wrestling was thus not a viable trial even for such a small challenge, but he had an idea. “Whiskey?”

Magnus looked at him curiously, “Trial or Trade?”
Claude stood up, his head coming to the larger Elemental’s chin, “Either. Loser pays.”
The Ghost Bear extended his hand, “Trial. To the ground. This afternoon, tell us where to be.”
“Bargained well and done.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: Wrangler on 30 April 2021, 18:28:29
Sorry dumb, what world is this happening?
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 30 April 2021, 20:10:54
Still Babylon
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 07 May 2021, 10:26:57
08/21/3063 ‘The Oasis’

Colonel Seth Irons sat on cushions circling short tables beneath the awning of this watering hole as the sun set over the mountains of Valence. Although it had a long poetic name in the local tongue the simply building was simply known as ‘The Oasis’ to the Diamond Sharks and few Cloud Cobra not of the Quarani sect on Babylon. Khaki Patrol uniforms and the Artisan crafted clothing of the few Senior Merchants capable of footing the bill thus surrounded them blending into the sand beyond and masses of Vaga agitating for revenge and resources in town.

Opposite him and quite taller was an Elemental dressed in the white robes of a Cloud Cobra ascetic and a trio of his proteges from Camlaan Arsenal ‘on maneuvers’ each partially obscured due to the dim lighting of lanterns hung from the supports above. “Bowie, I think these Shayatin are of the same group that attacked your Point on Dagda. Same MO; High-speed abductions with high-tech equipment. Smash and Grab against lightly defended targets for maximum terror.”

The Elemental looked at him drinking from a great mug of spiced chai, “So you want me to convince the brothers to help you? Do what exactly?”

“You experienced what they do up close. Aren’t you angry about it? That they would do it again?”

A mild grimace came across the shadowed countenance of the larger man, but it was lost on the freeborns. “I have many things to be angry about but the perpetrators on Dagda were punished. We have no contact with these Vaga Dark Caste or most of the outside world as busy as we are with our own affairs. I only came because you asked me; and the journey was short.”

Seth’s iron fist hit the table, most of the cadets expected it and saved their ceramic wine cups from certain spills that would be tough to remove from the uniform. “What is the point of practicing martial skills in the monastery if you don’t use them outside it! There is an enemy out there.”

He pointed to the South. “And a Bandit King willing to fight them while Clan Warriors do nothing. I am going to Sumral with the Vaga to put down these Shayatin before we Warriors lose any more respect in the Pentagon Worlds.

If we are so unwilling to fight for the lower castes, then they will do it themselves and we lose everything. It will be the Pentagon Civil War all over again.

If you won’t do it for me then help your brother Burrocks redeem themselves in the eyes of the lower castes. Sheridan did not hesitate to throw the responsible parties under the bearcat. Khan N’Buta was quick to distance the Adders after the Absorption so surely that must be worth something to them.”

“I will ask but can make no promises. We had to accept the Cobra’s offer of sanctuary or face Reavings, despite our innocence.”

“You did nothing wrong, and we both paid for it.”

Bowie finished his tea and stood bending awkwardly to clear the pavilion’s fabric cover. A heavily tanned man with close cropped black hair, a heavy build, and red/green Fire Mandrill uniform entered the pavilion tent followed by a blonde Viking with tattoos on his bare chest, pale from to much time in a suit, marking him as Ghost Bear as if one could not discern by his sheer size. They were in turn followed by a total of eight other Elementals which caused many of the Merchant guests to depart their tables paying their servers on the way out. Servers who in turn watched the Elementals take up a larger circle with great trepidation.

“Maybe you should have another mug of tea.”

Seth’s eyes searched the Patrol officers present who all warily looked at one another not expecting two Points of Elementals, particularly fierce rivals like the Hell’s Horses’ Ghost Bear Abtakha and Fire Mandrills just as they were relaxing after a long day of stopping fights between Vaga. “I think you can handle it.”

“Two bottles of your strongest stuff and four cups!”
Shouted the Fire Mandrill, now clearly identified as a Marine due to his Air Assault patch. Bowie returned to his seat edging away slightly to give Seth and himself a clear view on the proceedings, “On the other hand, another mug sounds very appealing.”

Magnus Ghost sat opposite Claude Goulet, their massive arms took up the majority of the table space and at each hand sat a ceramic cup. Two of their fellow Elementals handled jugs of some kind of distilled cactus spirit on the side refilling each cup as it returned to the table. A quick test with a spark lighter showed it to be of sufficiently high proof. “Certain you do not wish a handicap as cutdown Kindraa Leader?”

The smaller Marine’s smile seemed mildly threatening, “Aff, I offer you the same.”

“As you wish. I have been drinking this stuff since before you were even a sibbie. You are hardly out of it now little bear.”

“Let us begin then.”

Claude and Magnus each took a shot of the harsh herbal tasting spirit, then another, alternating hands while their comrades refilled the cups in a test of coordination as much as constitution. Magnus slowed taking longer and longer to find the proper cup while occasionally spilling it over himself penalized him on the count. Overcome with intoxication he collapsed on his side with a thunderous sound despite some of it being broken by the cushions laid atop hardpan. A sound that filled the room with dread.

His youthful exuberance unable to match the experience of the older Marine who nevertheless quickly followed him after failing to high five his fellow Mandrills. A triumphant cry rung out from the Mandrills who took the opportunity to empty the remaining spirits from the jugs while the Ghost Bears sulked at having to pay for their own drinks and that of the victors. After they had their fill the Elementals each grabbed a limb of their fallen comrade and gingerly exited the pavilion to the relief of the Diamond Shark Patrol and Oasis' staff.

Seth finished his own cup of wine which had grown warm while he watched the drunken Elementals exit with concern. The servers barely managed to secure the supporting rods of the tent after one of the Mandrills bumped it. Staff immediately began cleaning the mess left in their wake. “What a disappointment. Here I thought the Ghost Bears were made of tougher stuff.”
Title: Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 13 June 2021, 21:46:34
08/22/3063 En route to Sumral, Babylon

Seth Irons' poncho billowed as the train ran south to Sumral with Tigris rising over the bay. Despite the very apparent threat Vaga felt more comfortable among their own than under Clan control in Port Logan. Thousands of them occupied poorly ventilated but covered box cars sitting on crates of supplies, another regular shipment to the desert outpost. Not part of the regular shipment was a Star of Fire Mandrill Huntsmen and Salamanders, a Point of Rhino and Sylph Battle Armors, some industrial trucks, ancient cannons, and heavy weapons.

He was more comfortable outside equipped as he was with a broad hat, shemagh, and goggles that kept out sun and sand. A Kaskan rifle leaned against his shoulder as he sat under haphazardly rigged camouflage netting flapping in the wind. Other Clan Warriors felt the same, particularly the Elementals who towered over the refugees and drew either awe or fear from the Vaga depending on their previous experience.

Colonel Irons took particular interest in Claude Goulet who blended in as he had donned native garb. Additionally he spoke enough of the language to be in constant communication with the refugee's elders and chiefs. His Elementals distributed food and water as well as breaking up street fights started between rival clans. Point Leader Ghost kept to himself, apparently nursing a hangover, and wary of the Dark Caste. Brother Opriq did the same but Seth could hear him conversing with others from his Monastic Order on the other side of the flatbed he was sitting upon.

They set out on time first passing the large microwave receiver arrays just outside Port Logan that helped power its limited industry, and by extension the electric train for at least part of its trek south. The city, while large for Valence, was too small for municipal nuclear reactor and there were proliferation risks among a restive population. His Diamond Shark Patrol cadets, officially on a 'wilderness survival trek,' were freeborn Babylonians harboring Vaga sympathies with more vigor than vigilance or victuals.

Tarin and Jenna settled next to him setting up a tea service in the middle of the Diamond Sharks. A basket was laid out for everyone filled with fruit, nuts, still warm brazier grilled pita bread, and a bowl of hummus.

“We brought you breakfast.”
“You didn't have to do that.”

The kids had only eaten a few decent meals in the past week and regularly had to skip them when out on the range. “You're doing something we can't. We wanted to thank you somehow.”

“I greatly appreciate it. Lunch is on me however.”

He slid POGS into their leather haversacks while everyone was eating with the Cadets being particularly slow-eaters forcing the starved yet generous kids to pick up the slack.

They looked at him. “Why don't you want to sit inside the box car?”

“Too hot. Besides I have never seen this place.”

The hills revealed colored bands of mineral impurities as the sun rose higher. “Its very pretty.”

His mind went back to the poorly lit mushroom town on Tathis where everything was gray and lifeless. “My last assignment was not nearly as interesting. I needed a battlemech to stand on its surface and even then it was as hostile as any Shayatin.”

Jenna finished chewing a piece of bread. “Its a long trip to Sumral. Can you tell us some stories?”

Seth crossed the empty rifle on his lap. “Well I will have to think of some. I've been at this long enough.

How bout we start with the Great Refusal?”

A cadet chimed in after throwing a date pit onto the passing ground. “You sure you want to start with the top Colonel?”

“Well if I don't they might fall asleep and miss it. That would be a tragedy.

Particularly since that earned a humble freeborn like me a spot in the Star Adder Remembrance as much as the vat-born dislike it.””

“Well it all started with a woman.”

A different cadet interrupted. “All the best stories do.”
“You wait your turn to tell stories Cadet.

So back to the story.”