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Author Topic: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)  (Read 2532 times)


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The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« on: 04 August 2020, 14:06:55 »
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?”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #1 on: 06 August 2020, 13:43:26 »
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. A pair of Incubus mechs were 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.”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #2 on: 07 August 2020, 06:56:40 »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #3 on: 08 August 2020, 01:49:53 »
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.”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #4 on: 09 August 2020, 00:04:43 »
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”
« Last Edit: 09 August 2020, 08:58:14 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #5 on: 13 August 2020, 14:07:58 »
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.”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #6 on: 13 August 2020, 17:52:31 »
Okay, what the ****** was that killing off defeated foes?!  :o


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #7 on: 14 August 2020, 10:42:16 »
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.

Brother Jim

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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #8 on: 14 August 2020, 13:58:32 »
Tagged !!   :thumbsup:


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #9 on: 14 August 2020, 18:21:39 »
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 (


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #10 on: 15 August 2020, 09:23:53 »
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.”
« Last Edit: 17 August 2020, 19:48:24 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #11 on: 15 August 2020, 11:59:38 »
Super tag
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #12 on: 16 August 2020, 00:50:07 »
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.”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #13 on: 16 August 2020, 02:08:37 »
Wow. Nice fight scenes. So, we are seeing the Society revealed early, huh. Can't wait to see what happens next.


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #14 on: 16 August 2020, 08:12:56 »
Oh. The society? Well that's a interesting twist. I forgot about those guys.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #15 on: 16 August 2020, 20:32:45 »
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.
« Last Edit: 16 August 2020, 21:43:26 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #16 on: 17 August 2020, 08:07:51 »
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.”
« Last Edit: 17 August 2020, 19:47:34 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #17 on: 19 August 2020, 22:32:22 »
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 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.”
« Last Edit: 20 August 2020, 06:16:17 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #18 on: 19 August 2020, 22:55:51 »
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.


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #19 on: 19 August 2020, 23:43:45 »
Nicely written, AlphaMirage.
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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #20 on: 22 August 2020, 08:45:12 »
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”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #21 on: 22 August 2020, 13:19:31 »
That was interesting! 
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #22 on: 22 August 2020, 18:44:44 »
I enjoyed it, thanks!
There are no fish in my pond.
"First, one brief announcement. I just want to mention, for those who have asked, that absolutely nothing what so ever happened today in sector 83x9x12. I repeat, nothing happened. Please remain calm." Susan Ivanova
"Solve a man's problems with violence, help him for a day. Teach a man to solve his problems with violence, help him for a lifetime." - Belkar Bitterleaf
Romo Lampkin could have gotten Stefan Amaris off with a warning.


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #23 on: 23 August 2020, 22:40:39 »
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.”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #24 on: 24 August 2020, 10:09:01 »
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.
"Constructive critism is never a bad comment"

"By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher."
- Socrates


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #25 on: 24 August 2020, 20:29:34 »
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.


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #26 on: 26 August 2020, 23:19:03 »
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?”


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #27 on: 02 September 2020, 14:05:08 »
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.”
« Last Edit: 02 September 2020, 23:06:39 by AlphaMirage »


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #28 on: 02 September 2020, 22:27:29 »
Interesting weaving of the story!  Thank you, still trucking with this fan story!
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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #29 on: 04 September 2020, 01:20:51 »
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”
« Last Edit: 06 September 2020, 14:49:37 by AlphaMirage »


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #32 on: 15 September 2020, 16:23:01 »
This such a good story, thanks keeping going with it AlphaMirage!
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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #33 on: 16 September 2020, 19:01:38 »
Magnus walked forward from the throng of his now adopted brother Elementals toward Katar. She did the same and their Star Colonels made space for them to size each other up and the other Falcons set about preparing the Circle of Equals for their Trial. She looked around seventeen to his fifteen full of lean muscle and Falcon pride. He would ultimately grow beyond her but for now she was a close to even match and it was evident that Star Colonel Zymot had a sharp eye for fair competition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rematch some other time Magnus.”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #36 on: 18 September 2020, 22:10:07 »
Wow, this is intense!
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We do our part for them as well.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mary you are an insightful thinker but terrible drinker.

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

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

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


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.”


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

By way, happy 25th chapter!  :D
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #41 on: 02 October 2020, 18:36:05 »
10/12/3060 Location – FCV Manai, Grand Archipelago, Fortuna

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You want Erika to steal something for you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it you are trying to steal?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do it!”

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

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

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

He paused a moment, “Aff.”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is the Waldemar?”

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Re: The Other War (Katherine-verse AU War of Reaving)
« Reply #46 on: 20 October 2020, 20:59:18 »
So...Hansa been sponsoring the Bandit Caste and Society?
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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