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Author Topic: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III  (Read 26365 times)

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #210 on: 24 August 2019, 17:58:45 »
Quick point, 120C is 20 degrees over the boiling point. Pryde should be dead.

SMc

I looked it up apparently humans can survive dry air at that temperature for a very short period of that as long as sensitive areas are covered..  Firefighters do it all the time you just need to keep core temperature managed.

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #211 on: 28 August 2019, 18:31:15 »
04/17/3071 Location – St Clair (formerly Detroit), North American Federation, Terra

A battered dark green Summoner G sidestepped a kick from a bone white Thug with markings of the 66th Division of the ComGuards.  It's foot smashed through one of the gray industrial buildings of NACDI (North American Central Defense Industries) leaving a pile of rubble in its wake that scattered infantry that were hiding nearby.  The Summoner leaned back and slammed its left fist into the heavier mech's head crumpling its armored cowling before jumping away and incinerating the hapless infantry below them.

Khan Marthe Pryde felt her Summoner smashing pavement with its impact.  This battle was thrilling among the best in which she had participated.  Annoyingly she was out of ammo for her six four pack SRMs and had been cut off by headhunters.  The rest of her Star was downed or en route to the rear for repair and resupply.  “Req Afour Arty omculo stat.”

“Inco.”
  Marthe jumped away from her current location hiding between large buildings.  The COMGUARD headhunters would be here soon and they would be greeted with Arrow Vs.  By luck and experience she was right.  The damaged COMGUARD Thug and Grim Reaper turned the corner and disappeared under the cluster munitions.  When the dust cleared the building was severely damaged and all that remained of the pair of mechs was shattered metal and torn myomer.

“Serves you right.”  A sudden explosion tore into her Battlemech's left leg followed by smaller ones damaging the hip actuator.  Marthe kept the mech standing and saw the offending unit, an unpainted T-20 King Tiger with a smoking gun barrel (LB-10X) and missile rack (MML-5).  The Summoner fired at the offending unit and tore deep into the MBT's armor.  She was hobbled now and her chances of getting out alive were diminishing.

Summoner ECG-508 hobbled out of the alley and Marthe saw that she was surrounded, the headhunters had still pushed her into their trap and she wasn't going to make it out alive.  The Omnimech's arms tracked on one of the tanks that was leveling its gun barrel at the Khan. 

“Pryde's last stand it is then. 

Seyla.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #212 on: 29 August 2019, 17:28:10 »
04/18/3071 Location – Orléans, European Union, Terra

Archon Katherine Steiner watched the sun set over the River Loire from the rooftop garden of the mansion she was using.  A half dozen pleasure craft sailed lazily in the canals but the city was otherwise silent due to the Jaeger Brigade was enforcing a curfew.  She heard a slight knock on the door and turned in her chair to see her young handmaid Taide standing there looking very prim and proper in her blue and white uniform. “Votre mari est arrivé Il vous attend en bas.”

Katherine stood up and walked through the opened door, “Merci”  With that the young woman disappeared down one of the innumerable passageways in this mansion.  She had been here a day but her staff could ably direct her to wherever she needed to go.  Retracing her steps Katherine walked down the grand staircase to see Vladimir Ward sitting in a high backed chair in the lobby.  He was looking quite handsome for a man just off the battlefield.  “Katherine you look lovely.”

She smiled and looked down at her bright blue and more subdued gray dress.  It had been a while since she had been able to wear a dress.  Such a thing had no place on a battlefield or spaceship and she had been on one or the other since New Kyoto more than eight months ago.  A full year on campaign and away from their children seemed so much harder than when they (Katherine, Morgana, Alaric, and Siegfried) were hiding from the Word of Blake on the hidden world of Dagda, now known to the LIC as Archon's Redoubt. 

She still wrote them regularly but her boys were slow to respond as they were busy training to be Warriors on (Kerensky's) Vision.  Their kill credits on Tharkad hadn't been formally counted even with Vlad Ward making a personal challenge to Loremaster of the Clans Daphne Vickers.  Morgana's responses from Donegal diminished over the months which hurt Katherine deeply.

Katherine looked at him, for the first time really thinking about how he was an old man (45) for the Clans.  It had never occurred to her that he was going gray but she saw it now against the blue and gold formal uniform of the Wolf Empire.  The one she  designed with him in mind and carried over to the SLDF's uniforms.  He looked haggard but proud this is what he was born to do.  This campaign was the culmination of what he thought his purpose in life was:  Liberate Terra from the Word of Blake's allies and rebuild the Star League. “You look handsome too husband.  I am glad you could make it even for a little while.”

“A few hours while Rex is put back together.  After that I will catch a shuttle back to Vienna to rejoin the Golden Keshik.”


Katherine's mind was filled with all the wonders she had seen in pictures of Vienna which was so like the Tharkad City of her memory rather than the burned out shell of a once glamorous city it now was.  “We could have met there too.  I have heard it is a beautiful city.”

“It was.  Word and ECA troops still hold parts of it and they are forcing us to cause more collateral than we want.  It would not be safe for the both of us.”

“I can fight.”
“I know Katherine.  I have seen you in action,”
  He kissed her, “but not right now.”

“You know I am going back to be fighting toward Lyons tomorrow.”
“I do.”
  He put his arm out for her, “Let's find dinner dear.  I want to make the most of my very limited R&R time.”
She accepted it and pointed toward where she was certain a dining room was, “As am I.  I know how you feel after a good day in the field and its been almost a week.”

They ate their three course French continental meal hastily speaking with sadness that Jade Falcon Khan Pryde had died, the Clans lost perhaps one of their finest warriors in St Clair.  They were relieved that she had taken half a tank company with her and the Falcons were creeping closer to Devil's Tower and Precentor Martial Koenigs-Cober's base. 

With concern that Ghost Bear Loremaster Noble had been shot down over Australia and what her Galaxy Commanders might do in response.  Dismay that ilKhan West's fate might never be known after his disappearance on Mars, he was certainly dead but had he achieved his last mission or failed no one knew. 

Both were surprised that Grand Duchess Yvonne had convinced the Brotherhood of Randis to come to Terra in support of First Prince Peter Davion's (known to them as Paladin Peter Focht) Mediterranean Campaign.  Even more surprising was that the Brotherhood arrived with the 73rd Cobra Guards of Clan Cloud Cobra aboard the Fredasa corvette BoR Hell Fury.  Vladimir Ward had demanded to know why they were here and not in the homeworlds but had received no response.  They listened only to the former Smoke Jaguar now Randis' Grand Knight Lucas Beckett.

Following dinner they spend some time alone.  Vladimir Ward woke after a brief nap and looked down at the peacefully sleeping face of his wife Katherine in the moonlight.  He dressed in his battle fatigues and kissed her on the cheek before going to the waiting Wolf Patrol car and then to the waiting KR-61 with a group of other Warriors.  He found his aide de camp, Star Colonel DeVega waiting for him there, “How is the liberation of Vienna going Arken?”

“Its ugly Vladimir.  We had to bomb out half the south side of the city.  The Volkswehr is holding firm against our forces along the Danube.”


Vladimir Ward looked toward the East with a predatory smile. “Not for much longer.  We take it at dawn.”

“Aff Khan Ward.  Danube at Dawn.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #213 on: 01 September 2019, 22:11:10 »
04/20/3071 Location – St Peters' Cathedral, Cologne, European Union, Terra

Peter walked through the square looking at grand Gothic cathedral reminded of many others he had seen in Lyran Commonwealth space.  Including the one that once stood in the center of Tharkad City until Shadow Primus Naamah ordered the building razed with the rest of the city.  Her death was still was not confirmed but he secretly hoped she was rotting in hell.  That was the only just punishment for all the terror she had inflicted on his homeland and casualties she had so callously caused.  Even the location of the placid Rhine river was similar to that of the New Danube that bisected the metro areas of Tharkad City and Olympia.

Devlin broke him from his awed silence with a harsh whisper and pointed toward a fireteam of troops walking their way with others waiting behind barricades.  “First Prince.  We have Guard Dogs.”

He looked over to the rest of his bodyguard unit, “Don't make any sudden moves Marines.  These Wolves look touchy.”

Peter looked around the see the blue-green uniforms of 141st Federation Marines and the slate gray and red uniforms of the 34th Wolf Force Protection Cluster.  Both sides were carrying similar weapons and armored for war. The Wolf Infantry came alert as their unit came closer and looked toward their commander.  A man with a very serious air about him let his rifle down allowing the sling to take its weight as he walked toward the Federation Marines.

Peter stepped ahead of his protective detail and toward the Point Commander, “We've been ordered to stop anyone attempting to enter this structure by Star Colonel Fox.  Identify yourselves.”

Peter looked over at Captain Stone, “Colonel Fox?”

The stalwart man shrugged his shoulders, “I don't know sir.  I was told she was here.”

“I am Peter Davion, trothkin to Victor, Katherine, and Yvonne, First Prince of the Federated Suns.  I request that you let me through to speak with Star Colonel Katherine Fox.”


“One moment.”  The Point Commander returned to his platoon and called for a huddle with his squad leaders.  Peter was within earshot of the troops but couldn't understand what they were saying in what he presumed to be Russian or a Clan Pidgin. 

Shortly the Wolves came to an agreement and the Point Commander returned, “Only you trothkin.  No weapons in the structure.  Hand them over to Terry.”

A large man stepped forward and took Peter's sidearm and knife before the Point Commander patted him down for security.  “All clear.”

First Prince (Paladin) Peter (Steiner-)Davion {Focht} checked his green and gold formal AFFS uniform and walked in the shadows the nearly two millennium old bell towers of the Cathedral.  Towers and Cathedral had been carefully maintained by generations of people that hadn't forgotten their shared responsibility to their descendants. 

Such thoughts was hopeful and so was he.  The door opened on oiled hinges and he walked into the main hall filled with its many stained glass windows.  Most of which were “modern” in design dating back four centuries to the Amaris Crisis and Fall of the Star League.  Those were dark times for everyone in the Inner Sphere.  A time of constant war that led only to more Wars, that begat more, until the Wars came full circle back to Terra.   He walked as quietly as he could with his combat boots on the stones of the ancient Cathedral toward a lone figure with a blonde braid wearing a gray jumpsuit near the front pews.

He settled in behind her just enough that he could overhear her praying in French.  Peter closed his eyes to do the same but in Italian working his way through the crude rosary carved by his own hands and carried with him since St Marinus on Zaniah.  When he opened his eyes again he looked over to see a very haggard Katherine sitting next to him in her combat jumpsuit.  Without makeup on he could make out many small scars and signs of age on his sister's face that always seemed to look so youthful. 

He could identify some of the patches by virtue of having the Hellion's Khan as a house guest for months and inter-clan standardization for some markers.  Watch Officer, Loremaster Pin, Two Blood drops from her Trial of Position, and three red stars on the left breast that marked her as a Wolf Star Colonel.  'FOX, Katherine' was stenciled on the right side.  “I didn't know you spoke Italian First Prince.”

“I didn't know you had a Bloodname Star Colonel.”

“The most exclusive one in all the Wolf Clan besides Jennifer Winston.  Why are you here?”
“For you obviously.  I wanted to tell you that I forgive you.”


Katherine was shocked, “For what?”
“Everything you had to do when I left.  Everything you felt you needed to do to protect our family.  Whatever you feel guilty about.  I hold none of it against you. 

I am here to help you and hopefully we can heal together.  You don't look well and the future is to important for the past to stand in the way.  We both want our children to be in better place then the one we found ourselves in.”

“My children hate me.  I've been a terrible mother.  They deserve better.”

“Maybe but I doubt that they would agree.  When this is all over you can go back to them with Vlad or bring them to Terra. 

I'm sorry you had to hide them and your husband away for so long must have been torture for you.  I wouldn't have made it this far without Daphne and Victoria.”

“What's changed since Asta Peter?”

“Besides everything.  The whole of the Inner Sphere is waiting with baited breath to see what happens here on Terra.  We are making history.  Let's make the smart choice this time.  We can't atone for the Sins of the Star League in the past but we can make a better one. 

Maybe the whole thing is a fool's errand and we can just live in peace with one another.  The only unknown remains on Sian and he has his own problems to attend too.  Corrine and Franklin have vouched their support for a new Order.  You don't want more Wars Katherine. 

Despite all your exploits in the Wolf Clan you are not a Warrior at least not with a sword but you have immense courage, a quick mind, and a caring heart even if you hide well in public I see it.”


She kept her stony face, he could see her mind working but not to what end.  “I visited the monument to the original Katherine Steiner on Fletcher.  The one you donated money to maintain even when it was under Sun-Tzu's dominion.”

With that her expression broke as if he dropped a dire secret on her this time around, “Did you now?”

“Yes. I saw the signature of Katherine Steiner.  I know you copied it down to the final swirl.”

“I spent the whole transit from New Avalon to Tharkad trying to master each curve.  Of course I couldn't do it while in Tesseraburg, secret identity and all.”

“That Katherine is still in there sister.  I want that for both of us.”

“You never knew her.”
“True but you never really knew me prior to coming back from the dead.  I was an awful person, I'm surprised Victor didn't send me to the other side of the Commonwealth.  He threatened it of course but he wanted to best for me despite all the troubles I caused him.  I'm ever grateful to him for that and it took me a long time to find myself on the Rim.”


At the mention of her brother Katherine teared up.  He mind forgot for a moment that she was on Terra rather than on Tharkad in a similar building.  “Can you tell me about him Peter?  I never really knew our brother, any of them really.  Its something I feel very guilty about.”

Peter embraced her and she broke down in his arms as he gently patted her back.  “Me too sister.  I'm sorry.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #214 on: 12 September 2019, 21:42:10 »
05/03/3071 Location – COMSTAR SSRD, Queen Maud Mountains, Antarctica

Shadow Primus Naamah walked swiftly through the large dimly lit corridors of her final redoubt.  Her once beautiful face had a long jagged scar across it now courtesy of a run in with the Former ilKhan Santin West before his untimely end at the hands of a squad of Zombies after he depleted most of his ammo fighting against The Blood’s mutant infantry.

A squad of Tau Wraiths stopped near her with their Mauser laser rifles at the ready.  The visors of their recon helmet were down disguising their mutilated features.  Their white cloaks flowed around them as they paused. “The Ghost Bears are coming Primus.  Thirty minutes.”

“No doubt come to get revenge since for the assassination of Khan Kabrinsky in Lagos.  We both have no home to return to.  The once mighty Clan Ghost Bear dies here with them.”

“Affirmative Primus.”
The Tau's quietly jogged away to their sally ports. 

Alarms blared and the corridors became a frenzy as the remaining Shadow Troops went to their battle stations.  Overhead Ghost Bear Avar and Turk Omnifighters loaded down with bombs raced toward the station and were met with return fire from the few operational Castle Brian's Anti-Aerospace Bunkers. 

The Castle Brian's Sub-capital cannons firing up and bombs falling down created a low rumble through the reinforced concrete floor that could be felt throughout the compound.  Naamah ran toward the main mech bay.  A sterile white space dimly lit from above by flickering lights filled with scavenged machines from Mars and ancient machines retired from active service.  The space was thick with mechwarriors and techs making last minute repairs with maintenance robots and armorers unloading ammunition trucks. 

The paired Rotary cannons of a Hammerhands 6E came to life spinning so loud that it overcame the din as the machine walked out the door to join other heavy weight units.  Naamah dodged the masses of humans, cyborgs, and drones to find her own machine, a Black Hawk KU, that had moved from yesterday's position.

The light gray vehicle crouched on its digitigrade legs bringing the cockpit down very close to the floor.  A pair of white clad techs operating an industrial exoskeleton and the ammunition feed were just closing the door.  They signaled the all clear to the incoming mech-warrior who climbed up the mobile staircase leading to the cockpit.

The Primus closed the canopy and didn't wait for the staircase to be removed before putting on her gear while the machine's thermonuclear core came to full power.  It was bone chillingly cold outside but she was carrying a sextet of clan heavy lasers and quintet of jump jets.  The unit's on-board computer came online with the familiar voice of her 'deceased' AI companion Erebus.  Its voice was comforting to hear even if this construct was a pale shadow of the lost original merely reduced to an improved combat computer and ECM wizard.

As the armored canopy closed she hardly noticed as the AR visor of helmet replaced her outside view.  She maneuvered through the narrow corridors intermittently lit with dim or flickering lights.  The 54th Shadow Division came online and were ready to fight in record time due to the number of omnimechs in its roster.  The mismatched omnipods were hastily assembled but functional, the Clans had pushed past Terra's SDS system faster than anticipated.  Mars was supposed to be a killing field but even the Blakist's ROM had not expected such a heavy assault by the Clans. 

She waited in Hanger Bay 1A before one of the gargantuan doors large enough to allow a Triumph drop-ship to pass into the facility.  The Condor within had brought a large portion of the surviving Shadow Troopers here to draw on the last ditch supplies buried below this desolate land.

The door opened and the hanger temperature dropped to -50*C within minutes from its more habitable 5*C.  Erebus spoke right to her mind, “Ghost Bears are approaching from the West.  Two Galaxies, Rho and Delta.  Advance strike units are already engaged.”  Naamah was pleased to hear those names; based on their intelligence those Galaxies were the last of the Ghost Bear Touman which had been shattered on the Moon. 

Her Black Hawk KU ran out of the tunnel and through another open door to see the bomb craters on the runway and shattered remains of a Turk Omnifighter that managed to crash land.  Naamah lifted her foot and crushed the cockpit the cold metal shattered under the heavy mech's mass.  The pilot was probably already dead due to exposure but it made her feel good crush something underfoot.

The 54th Shadow Division charged out and took up their defensive positions in the treacherous Queen Maud mountains.  The wind howled around them across the dry valleys, Naamah looked through the IR scope but wind blown snow from the interior interfered.  She switched to the Castle Brian's sensor feed and maneuvered with her Demi-Company to perch atop a steep defile. 

Below her a Binary of Ghost Bear mechs worked their way through the restrictive terrain they were led by a fearsome Kodiak.  The powerful assault mech was a favored target for Blakist and Black Dragon artillery.  According to reports there were fewer than a dozen in existence and no more were going to made after Alshain was destroyed by asteroid impact less than two months ago.  “Niko and I call the Kodiak.  You get the others.”

Niko's Pariah, a variant of the Stormcrow, flew into the sky on jets of super-heated air intricately maneuvering his mech in close proximity to Naamah's Black Hawk within the narrow defile.  The dark canyon lit up as two dozen missiles were fired out from the Pariah before it even recovered from the landing on the rocks.  All of them landed true their high explosive warheads blasted armor of the assault mech.  Naamah's lasers slagged one of the clawed arms the myomer bundles below smoking even in the freezing temperature.  The machine crashed to the ground barely catching itself on its remaining arm before attempting to rise from its knees and enact its vengeance on the Blakists.

Naamah's Black Hawk took a Gauss slug from an unknown enemy Mech (Minsk), its missiles corkscrewed toward her machine and the paired AMS systems came to life launching flechettes at incredible speeds to intercept the deadly projectiles.  Niko's Pariah folded in slow motion illuminated in a bright flash before crashing lifelessly to the ground after taking a Gauss slug to the cockpit from an enemy Grizzly killing the Clan Scientist turned mech-warrior.  “That's not a good start.”

The Kodiak pushed itself up and ran to her Black Hawk, the lighter machine jumped away to cover as her squad-mates continued to rain down fire on the bears.  A pair of Ursus mechs attempted to crest the ridge gingerly working their way up the rocks while their electronics attempting to scramble their C3I computers. 

Naamah ordered Erebus to tune her ECM to counter their attempts keeping the VI computer busy while she concentrated on an Arcas.  The mech was a peer competitor but she was the superior pilot and the confined terrain worked to her advantage.  She fired her lasers at the enemy mech dealing damage equal to the dreaded Warhawk in a smaller, smarter, and more mobile platform at least up close. 

Her enemy exploded as swarms of missiles, artificial lighting, and white hot plasma from a Seraph Comminus burned into the rear of the mech piggybacking off Erebus' targeting data.  The heavy machine sustained heavy fire from an unknown enemy but shrugged it off. 

The canyon was filled with a cacaphony of supersonic cracks, missile warheads, and crashing metal.  Despite the night it was bright with white and green illumination flares fired from the Castle Brian and Bears as well as the fiery light of cannons and missiles.  The rocky ground littered with debris from the assault.

Galaxy Commander Michael Hawkins fired his Warhawk paired lasers at a hostile Wolverine 7D spitting at the word.  The medium mech crashed to the ground in mid stride and was eliminated after high explosive missiles blew up its cannon's ammo. 

“Stravag monsters.”

He scanned the battlefield using his EI implant to see past the glare of the illumination flares.  The area was swarming with the enemy and artillery fire from the Castle Brian forced the Ghost Bears to break into Star sized formations.  Half of his own assault Trinary was down, crippled by mines and tandem charged missiles before being overwhelmed by enemy strike tanks and Battlemechs.  His Warhawk stepped through the burning wreck of a Harasser.  His comm line turned yellow, an alert coming in over the local battlenet primarily sustained by freeborn piloted Hades Mechs.  “This is three hundred Bravo.  We need heavy support at Grid 11.”

“Aff.  Star Comm Silva.  GCT en route.”
“Proceed with caution...”
The comm line went dead before the message concluded.

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #215 on: 17 September 2019, 16:30:28 »
The GCT walked forward under heavy fire from hostile weapons bunkers.  Most had been seriously damaged by the remnants of the Valkyrie Aerospace cluster but were still hard targets capable of holding up a Trinary of assault mechs.  A Star of Xerxes fighters flew past over their shoulder dipping low and rapid firing their heavy autocannons.  They pitched up taking hits from ground based flak guns but the Bear fighters maintained control and boosted out of range and back to the atmosphere.

Galaxy Commander Hawkins took in the full scope of the environment under the man-made stars.  It was much like his Clan totem's home territory on Strana Mechdy.  Perhaps they could survive on Terra after the Ghost Bears claimed the title of ilClan.  Such thoughts were far off however; he and his sibkin GC Jill Hawkins of Delta Galaxy were the highest ranking officers in the Ghost Bears now.  They still had to eliminate the last of the Shadow Divisions.  That goal was made easier with the last of the Snow Raven's aerospace units flying overhead. 

Another bright explosion blanketed the area with blinding light and the ground was swarming with infantry, armored and otherwise. “Star Commander deal with them.”

“Aff GC.”
  The six Elementals clinging to his Omnimech hopped off as did the remainder of their star-mates beginning to fire their autocannons before they even hit the ground at the Blakist's Light and Armored infantry.  “Command Star move on we are heading toward the LKL of three hundred Bravo.”

The assault lance took parting shots at the infantry but their weapons were the wrong type for personnel.  They were here to kill Celestials and Demons.

“GC Hawkings of Rho ComTri requesting scan of grid eleven.”
A faint breathless voice came in over his commset, “Aff GC.  Four mikes.”

Knowing the Shadow Divisions were likely to use mines and hidden sally ports to defend their final redoubt the Galaxy Commanders ordered four of the second-line Corax omnifighters manned by Outworld's Pilots to carry them.  A pair of those fighters conducted a high speed pass and the GC could see their afterburners as the units stayed low and level to get a good scan before scrambling back into the atmosphere. 

Hawkins could see the grid scan down link to the HUD of his Neurohelmet.  “Wreckage indicates an ambush on three hundred bravo.  No enemy mechs visibly down.  Likely heavy hitters with good pilots.  Rho ComTri eyes on sensors and watch your shots.  Its narrow there we will have to go in double line.  I take point.”

Michael maintained the lead in the loose Delta formation before it became a tight canyon.  The double line units had to stagger as the rocks were too close for the larger mechs.  This was not a good place for his Clan machines and pilots; both excelled in long range solo combat.  The Word forces though were best in short range, broken terrain, and with healthy backup.  This path was however the only one into the complex not guarded by the heavy Castle Brian bunkers that were holding up his sibsister's offensive and dealing major damage to their air cover.

He cleared the narrow pass and walked into a steep valley only to see an Archangel and Seraph Comminus stand up from their hiding places under rubble and unleash a massive barrage of missiles at his Warhawk.  Michael engaged ultra mode on his autocannon and everything at the largest unit blowing its head off and causing serious damage to the unit.  The Celestial Omnimech tumbled to the ground with crash throwing up stone before he landed on the rocks.

The rest of the Star engaged the Blakist force which was joined by a gray Black Hawk KU and Grim Reaper.  The headless Archangel stood up again and took an Executioner down with it.  Both sides tore into one another with every type of weapon imaginable.  The Clan Warriors even used their machines in melee against the heavy force.  The Black Hawk attempted to jump away from the fray but Michael Hawkins made a miracle shot that caused the unit to lose control crashing into one of the many craters created by the bombing campaign earlier in the night.

Michael Hawkin's Warhawk walked toward his fallen opponent.  The machine's center was flayed open like a brutal surgeon cut out its heart, the gyro was smashed and the fusion core venting ammonia coolant. 

He aimed his cannon at the head and pulled the trigger.

click

No ammo.

The Ghost Bear lifted its foot and stomped the target instead 'freeing' the Shadow Primus trapped inside.

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #216 on: 17 September 2019, 21:43:44 »
05/08/3071 Location – Protectorate Proving Grounds, Donegal, Lyran Commonwealth

Ten year old Morgana (la Fox) and eleven other (pre)-teen girls woke up to the morning bugle of revelry.  The Quonset was cramped and without privacy but was still better than the majority of Tharkad refugees still on-planet.  Each of them dressed in gray-blue fatigues with their first names on the left breast, and reflective strips on the sides and back.  They mustered under her command at the door before jogging toward the marshaling square breathing deep of the cool pre-dawn air.  They caught glimpses of the other uniformed trainees in the pools of white light beneath the light posts.

They stopped at the yard with the rest of the Donegal Junior MRTC (Militia Recruitment and Training Command) that she had been part of for almost a year.  A year that had brought great changes, she was no longer the girl she was at the Battle of Tharkad.  Puberty had struck and she had grown into a gangly but well coordinated teen that could actually fit in an XS cooling vest, do a pull up, confidently take command of others, and handle a proper service rifle.

That battle had produced a large number of orphans some of which wanted to fight back and drew down the LCAF's reserve of pilots, veteran and rookie alike, to fight the Word of Blake.  Some of the seriously wounded ended up on Donegal in cold storage to be treated at the military hospital and were returned to service as trainers. 

The Martial College of Donegal no longer used this old remote facility having moved into a newer one closer to the old capital of Marsdenville, at least when they weren't using the Fox LCS Ian McQuiston which had been reconfigured as a training and system defense vessel after being damaged last year.

The assembled trainees looked toward one of the five elevated stages were the company commanders stood by ready to put everyone through morning PT.  Trainees were put through the grueling warm ups and marched on routes of varying length (the older teens got longer routes) before showering eating and going to their classrooms.  Just because they were displaced, volunteered for, and tested into military training didn't mean they could skip out on secondary school.  It was like any other private school except recess involved combative training and a twice weekly trip to the firing range. 

Today was a test day and Morgana was as usual done ahead of time.  One of the older teens ran into the classroom and handed a note to the Hauptmann proctoring the test.  “Morgana, you're dismissed.  Thomas has orders for you.”

She stood up and quietly walked toward the front to look at the note, a summons from the Commandant.  The girl walked across the central square toward “Uptown” where the few Officers, Training Warrants, and trainee cadets resided.  Everyone towered over her but she held her head high, few knew who she was here other than another blonde girl from Tharkad and that is how she preferred it.  She could have gone to (Kerensky's) Vision with her 'brothers' but chose not to, it was more fun this way.

All of the trainers had cybernetic prosthesis of some sort.  The Jihad and Clan Offensive had not been kind of the LCAF but the organization was rapidly honing an edge that long existed but had been allowed to dull for political expediency.

Morgana found the Commandant's office in the maze of the refurbished Headquarters building.  The heavy dark wood door had 'Commandant Isadora Agravaine' in gilded letters.  She knocked and was give the all clear to open the door and walked toward the desk with the dark haired woman in a dark blue formal uniform giving her a salute and standing at parade rest.  “I am glad you could come so quickly Morgana.  My schedule is quite full for the rest of the afternoon”

“I was already done my test.”
“I figured you would be.  You're a very smart girl.  How would you like to be put in the real Mech training program?  No more simulators.”

“I would love that Commandant.”
  She smiled, “I'm a little young for the real thing don't you think?”

Isadora smiled as well knowing her history, “Except now you are actually large enough for us to safely put you in one.  You just need more practice moving and shooting than you got before last time. 

I've assigned you one of the new Mist Lynx mark twos.  You can get sized and setup with your neurohelmet when it arrives on Wednesday.  Your berth number is three four seven.”

“Recon?”

“Would you prefer something different?”

“No Commandant, I am pleased with the assignment.  How will this change my normal routine?”

“You will still live in the barracks and go to school with the others.  Your weekends will instead be spent on the grounds rather than on basic soldiering skills that you have already mastered.  Additionally you will have access to the bay in your free time, I expect you to use it.”

“I will. 
Thank You Commandant. 
Is that all?”

“Aff.  Carry on Cadet.”


Morgana saluted and exited walking past other more senior cadets that were still using simulators while concealing her excitement at being issued her own mech.

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #217 on: 01 October 2019, 17:15:18 »
06/07/3071 Location – Mirny Arcology, Sakha Republic, Russian Far East

Vladimir Ward stood bare chested on a glass covered balcony in the central garden tower fascinated by how green and beautiful everything in this remote Arcology was compared to the Clan Homeworlds.  The Mirny Arcology was over three hundred years old and yet everything was as well-maintained as it was during their time.  Even artificially created nature was superior to what was there, drab buildings and bland formulaic monuments to great Warriors long dead. 

While he was not ashamed of his Clan’s history they had not done anything remarkably close to the glories here in the Inner Sphere.  Soon maybe they would usher in a new golden age of exploration.  Clan Scientists were already capturing as much information from COMSTAR and the Word of the Blake’s archives as they could.  Information thought lost but truly kidnapped and held for ransom as a means to control the leaders of the Inner Sphere to COMSTAR’s end.  The Order was dead now; the Clans controlled the HPGs, the Archives, and they had almost liberated everyone from the Blessed Order and their Word.

While Vlad watched one of the many cable cars glide past him he heard a woman’s voice behind, “Vlad what are you doing up so early?”

“Marveling at how beautiful this place is despite the desolate wilderness outside.”


Katherine closed the door after walking out on the balcony dressed in a lacy white nightgown with her blonde hair still in its nighttime braids. “I am surprised you are up Kat.  I thought you were weary from travel.”

She kissed him, “I have built up my stamina after being together with you the past four months.  It is quite different than before when we just had a few weeks together at the most.  I still do not know if I could keep up our old pace.”

“I am certain we can set some new personal records.  We will have plenty of time together once this war is over.”
  He leaned in and delicately kissed her enough to cause shivers at his touch, “I eagerly anticipate that more than victory on the field.”

“One will have to come before the other unfortunately love.”

“It is only a short matter of time.”


Xander Drake’s authoritative voice broke in over his headset communicator, “Khan Ward, we have a new target but we have to act now or it will be lost.  My Hellions are already in orbit.  Your Wolves are closer to the fight and its going to be a big one.  Downlinking now to your console.”

Both let out a disappointed sigh as their tender moment was interrupted by the grim duties of War.  Vladimir unlocked his console and looked at the Hellions’ surveillance satellite.  A satellite that cut out shortly afterwards but gave a clear video of their zone. 

Vladivostok was swarming with Blakists and they were visibly preparing a gigantic super-submarine the likes of which had never been seen before for departure.  Katherine looked at it with an eye to Strategy, “If that submarine makes it out of Golden Horn Bay we will never find it and secure Terra.  I want in!”

Vladimir grabbed her arms, “Absolutely not Katherine.  Did you see how many soldiers there were?  You are no longer clear to pilot a Battlemech after Cairo.  Six hits and you are medically retired from a neurohelmet.  Your brain cannot take it anymore.

I am not going to let you risk yourself again in a battle zone.  I wish I could say I am sorry but this is for your own good.”


Her eyes were sapphire daggers but Vlad held firm his wife should have never been allowed to pilot a Mech in a combat zone. He had thought deeply about how selfish it was for him to have even made her a Warrior in the first place all those years ago so she could be with him. “How dare you!  You are my husband not my father or brothers.  I will not let you go there without me.”

Vlad shouted toward the door, “Point Leader Eckert come in here please!”

Two officers of the Wolf Patrol entered, one of who had the rank on his cap, “Yes Khan Ward.”

“I am sorry for this Katherine but I have to pull rank here.  Point Leader confine the Star Colonel to her quarters till my return or until she can be released to Major Byrne of the Diplomatic Guard.”

“Yes Sir.”


Katherine seethed, Vlad had never seen her so pissed off and knew it was only the fact that she didn’t want either of them to get hurt that allowed him to hold her now. “You…”

Vlad put his finger over her mouth, “Enjoy the view and keep planning our big day yes.”  He kissed her on the cheek before releasing her.  Katherine watched as the Patrolmen parted to allow Khan Vladimir Ward to exit, “I want you to know that I did this because I love you Kat.  I was sorry every time that I hurt you because of it. 

I will spend all the time I have left in the Inner Sphere making amends when I return, but I must finish what I started all those years ago.  One last battle.  Seyla”

DOC_Agren

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #218 on: 10 October 2019, 17:56:39 »
why do I get the feeling that Vlad won't make it back from this one
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #219 on: 18 October 2019, 22:44:18 »
Battle of Vladivostok

06/08/71 02:00 Local / Vladivostok, Russian Pacific Province

The windows of Aurora Airlines HQ shattered at the force of a SPM Thunderbolt crashing into it before falling on its front.  A squat gray Blood Kite with parts of the kanji 'Okami no Rida' written below the cockpit barely visible against PPC burns stepped forward.  The Kite stood menacing its rear before firing a trio of 5cm lasers.  The protectorate mech melted under the attack and Vladimir Ward finished it off with a stomp to the head.  “Clear”

Two Lobos, a Wolf Hunter, and a Shadow Cat (Katherine's in particular) followed close behind the assault mech.  “That hardened armor may have saved your life Khan.”

“I will have to send my appreciation to Shogun Sakamoto for the gift then.”  More SPM mechs and tanks appeared from around the corner blocking the easier path toward the bay.  “If he ever gets here.  Keep moving Wolves Xander needs our support.”

Across town Xander Drake hung to a building with his night blue Salamander's battle claws looking out over the bay.  Four ships were burning in the harbor, hearing a sonic boom he looked up to see the tattered wings of a Ghost Bear Xerxes.  Well 'fresh' was a bit much considering the heavy AAA damage.  It was a good sign though, meant the Hawkins Twins were nearby.  The Xerxes' guns thundered at an unseen enemy which exploded and belched fire into the sky briefly illuminating it more than just the constant flare rounds fired by the SPM and traces from flak and rockets.

“Plenty of glory to share today Warriors.”  Xander released his hold and using jump jets softly landed on the ground into a circle of fellow Elementals, “Ghost Bears are nearby.  No sign of the Wolves.  Still no contact from Vlad.”

“Maybe they got him.”
“Neg, just jamming.  There are alarm flares over the main city where they landed.  Besides if he died the Dire Wolf would be leveling this city with nukes with us here or not.”


The Elementals nodded in agreement, “Aff.  Aff.”

Xander pointed toward a great metal case in the middle of the circle, “That is the only nuke we need in this town.  Keep moving to Russky Bridge it is the only way the Wyrm is getting out of town and our best chance to get on board.  Try not to use your jump jets until then they might spot the flare.”

Four Elementals grabbed the case with their battle claws keeping their lasers free.  Xander Drake's Salamanders took to the Flanks, Gnomes and Golems up front.  A sneak suited Tau Wraith watched them pass quietly her own sniper rifle would do nothing against battle armor.  She scrambled up a nearby building and tapped into a secure wired data-link, “Precentor, Star of Elementals carrying a case with LoM markings.  Request guidance.”

Precentor (Martial) Gregory Zwick aboard the Wyrm reading the text message from his operative.  “Maintain visual contact but be invisible.  Next report ten mikes.”

His turned around his white and gold uniform catching the dim red light of the submarines CIC, “Helm speed up.  We need to get to deep water asap.”

“Negative Precentor, Reactors are still only operating at sixty percent.  Engineering is working on it.”

“Damn, Clanners forcing me to make choices.  Weps, bring all the guns online.”
“That will slow us down though sir.  The reactors are still not operating at full power.”
“I know.”
  The RADAR screen filled up with contacts from every Clan and Successor State's Expeditionary Force.  “But I want to make sure we don't come to a dead stop before we reach the Abyss.”

Precentor Zwick cued his earpiece to the Command Band, “Ghost Fleet, this is the Precentor Martial,

Fire everything.”
« Last Edit: 06 November 2019, 19:43:21 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #220 on: 23 October 2019, 21:13:15 »
Khan Xander Drake’s Heavy Star (6x6) of Elementals worked their way through darkened wilderness occasionally illuminated by the air campaign overhead and hearing the distant sounds of weapons fire coming from the roads.  A transmission from the Ghost Bears came in over the radio but his Salamander’s signal scrubbers couldn’t clean up the audio.  It was enough to know that some of them likely still lived and continued to provide a distraction in his backfield. 

The Blakist ECM blackout by the “Wyrm” irritated him he wanted to know if the way was clear but couldn’t spare scouts to jump ahead, or jump at all and potentially give away their position.  He focused on the numbers in his HUD, prime among them a mission countdown based on how fast the Wyrm had been moving toward Russkiy Most. 

He didn’t want to beat the machine to it which was frustrating for a Hellion so used to being in a place first but the bridge was too exposed for his Elementals.  If they were early they would likely be destroyed by helicopter gunships or ships.  Too late and the Wyrm might submerge before the Dire Wolf came into firing position and more importantly he (and the Hellions) wouldn’t get the Glory of destroying the last Blakist defensive command on Terra and winning the war. 

With the numbers in mind he returned to hyper-analyzing every darkened alleyway or pool of shadow expecting a Purifier or sneak suited infantry platoon to jump out at him.  The lead Point Commander came in over the short range encrypted band, “Something in the woods.”

“Surround the package and hold your fire.”  Two Points of Elementals coalesced around their package the Elias nuclear mine was sturdy but wouldn’t take much firepower to disable.  The flanking Salamanders held steady as the forward Point of Gnomes checked the woods.  A fusillade of missiles flew out of the woods and into the heavy power armor.  The Elementals immediately went into action shielding the Elias and firing their own missiles and lasers into the forest at the camouflaged foes, “Nephilium!  Open Fire.”

Xander Drake's Point of Salamanders looked at the opponents with a curious glee, “I fought all the way from the Core to here on three dozen worlds and never had a chance to kill a Nephilium before.”  The electric lighters beneath his flamers came alive catching the glazed face plate of his suit in a wicked blue light, “Burn 'em”

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #221 on: 24 October 2019, 23:27:14 »
Vladimir Ward's Blood Kite was dimly illuminated by fires engulfing some of the buildings downtown, fires caused by inferno missiles and incendiary bombs.  His Command Trinary was now a reinforced Star even with the AFFS Gold Team formerly led by his brother-in-law Peter Davion.  The First Prince had been wounded in his father's Battlemaster and now was in the process of being medevaced.  The Nova Cats and Hell's Horses had helped him break through but they were now down to barely functional machines that could only hold back the ragtag reinforcements coming from the North.

“Keep moving Gold we need to make it to Russkiy Most.  Its not that much further.”
Ayes and Affs answered in his comm as the battered Battlemechs continued on in a rare show of Wolf and FedSuns cooperation.  They knew each others playbooks by now and while the AFFS wasn't as fluid with Clan battleslang they were quick to catch meaning.

On the other side of Russkiy Most Xander Drake's Elementals fought hard against the Blakist ambushers.  The Nephilium's mimetic armor struggled to disguise the assault armors appearance against the flames that were hungry for the dry wood and brush of the forest floor.  The last Gnome was consumed in the flames of their plasma rifles and the Elemental's comms were cut leaving his cries of pain as his flesh burned away mercifully away from the rest of Drake's commando star.

The Fire Elementals guarding the Elias Nuclear Mine and Drake's Salamanders were burning white hot from the plasma but their heat resistant armor had thus far held.  Concentrated fire from the Elementals Gauss rifles and lasers punched holes in the heavy suits while the Salamanders danced around them consuming each of the demonic suits with hellfire from their under arm flamethrowers.  Xander didn't know if the Manei Domini could feel their flesh roasting but he hoped they could after what he had seen on the thirty worlds he had fought on to reach this point.

“The time for stealth is done.  Curin, Shou Attach the Elias to Gogan's suit.” The Fire Elementals had discarded their cumbersome missile packs after firing their volley making them more maneuverable in the jump.  Two of Drake's Salamanders walked over to one of the Fire Elementals and using their battle claws attached the heavy mine to the best jumper in the Star.  Gogan discarded his APGR rifle and attached a blackened heavy battle claw salvaged from one of the burned Gnomes to maintain trim.  The trio turned North once more toward their objective whose red tower lights were visible over the trees, “Ready Khan Drake.”

Drake relaxed his eyes to see the timer on his HUD counting down.  This ambush had slowed him down and he was pushing the red-line but that was a regular day for a Hellion.  “Move fast.”

“Hell yeah.”
  Each suit had detached their missiles and without the added burden leapt into the sky reaching apogee with an almost ballerina level of grace for such brutal killing machines.  Short hops in a fiery sky interrupted by periods of perforating or parboiling infantry that thought themselves safe in the woods so far from the main battle line.

Khan Ward fought his Star to the North side of Russkiy Most leaving behind wreckage and piles of bodies from unfortunate soldiers caught between a Wolf and his purpose.  His Blood Kite leaned heavily and was shedding smoke from the missile ammunition detonated by a shell from a Terran Demolisher lying in ambush.  The dark waters of the Eastern Bosporus Strait and the faintly illuminated bridge, still the largest cable stayed bridge on any world, lay beyond their location at the ancient coastal gun battery.  The Blakist's more modern guns had been silenced once more by the Golden Keshik and with it came greater Aerospace and VTOL Gunship support.

The Blood Kite looked to the West and Vlad saw a dark shape moving close to the water illuminated only by the trails of sub-capital missiles being fired from its decks.  Diamond Shark Aerospace fighters dropped their payloads of bombs on it and were greeted by a series of explosions that thumped hard at 1.2 kilometers away.  The fighters were caught in the rear by recessed missile racks and were briefly illuminated in fire before the internal extinguishers activated.  UV beacons flashed on the bridge and Vlad opened a channel to one of them.  “Xander, you made it.”

“Aff, I was not going to let your Dire Wolf take the credit for killing this Wyrm.  The Elias is operating normally we will deploy it and prepare for a water exfi assuming this beast's armor is enough to keep the blast contained.  Otherwise get out of the danger zone ilKhan.”


'ilKhan', Vladimir Ward had thought about it certainly but he had never dreamed of winning over the Hellion's mercurial Khan to his side.  He would be the last Khan if he survived this battle no others had been elected due to the high turnover of Bloodnamed in battle.  Nearly 90% of the Clan forces that came to Terra were casualties of one kind or another, there was chance for them to be one Clan, an IlClan once and for all.

“Seyla Xander Drake”

“Seyla Vladimir Ward”


On the bridge Xander looked at the Wyrm inching closer to the bridge.  It was a massive thing and had taken several bombing runs but looked relatively intact.  “What if it dives with us still on it my Khan.”

“Well Gogan.  Then the mine will be even more effective but we will certainly die.”

“It has been good fighting besides you Khan Drake.”

“Same for all of you.”
  Drake painted a line with an IR laser rangefinder his jump computer calculating the necessary force to break his suit's falling mass, “X marks the spot.  We might be able to rip that breach.”

“Aff.”


The dark mass of the Wyrm super-submarine inched toward the bridge as the Elementals prepared for one of their tallest unaided jumps.  Each of them was critical on propellant energy it was going to be a hard landing but the suits were designed for that, the soldiers inside of them less so but they had one job.  Win at all costs.

“Jump!”  2 Dozen Elementals lined up on the edge and went over in a leap of faith for their Clan.

The ilClan.

Wrangler

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #222 on: 25 October 2019, 16:21:29 »
This is great. Hope the canon story is just as riveting.
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AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #223 on: 25 October 2019, 20:52:14 »
This is great. Hope the canon story is just as riveting.

I wish.

_________________________

Xander Drake could hear the fierce wind rush past his suit threatening to blow him off course.  The Salamander was an agile piece of kit on the ground or in space but was not meant to fly.  Without a drag chute he had to put his arms out to maintain trim and keep on the target trajectory rather than fall into the icy black waters of the Eastern Bosporus.  Even the movement of his helmet to look at the others might shift his center enough to cause a crash landing. The keel of the Wyrm was a large target but there was a small margin for error.  If his 1000 kilo suit landed wrong even his strong bones would shatter and likely kill him from internal laceration if the sheer blunt force trauma didn't.

The computer engaged the thrusters in the final third of the daring jump, the g force from the sudden deceleration threatened to red him out but Drake focused on his training.  He had jumped out of a shuttle in the stratosphere before this was nothing, of course that particular jump had nearly broken his back but he was still alive.  Xander's knees were bent to take the initial shock he was on target, the impact even slowed jarred him and he rolled forward across the deck plates before standing and using the Salamander's foot claws to maintain control almost reaching the danger zone where the top part of the hull curved toward the water. 

He reacted lighting fast as he saw Gogan about to land wrong, the Fire Elemental suits didn't have the foot claws of the Salamanders and three rolled over the edge plunging into the water to their likely doom.  Two more landed hard and were mobility killed but still capable of firing their APGRs.  Drake power sprinted aided by his jumps jets to reach the stricken Elemental that literally carried their entire mission on his back. 

“Don't you fall Go.”

The Salamander's claws dug deep into the Wyrm's armored hull and the Elementals forearms.  A damaged panel gave way threatening to send both of the Elementals to the abyss.  Drake instinctively dropped to the ground holding onto his fellow soldier with one arm that threatened to be ripped out of its socket.  Gogan engaged his salvaged battle claw to arrest his own tumble once table he sent out a local comm signal strained with pain, “I can't go on Xander.  The impact at least broke my leg.”

Xander released his grasp on the man, he probably tore a rotator cuff even though the suit had taken most of the weight.  He could feel the cold sensation that always told him the drugs were flowing freely and so was his adrenaline, “You were the best jumper in Delta.”

The Elemental waved his battle claw at his companion,“You were just the best.  We wouldn't be on Terra if it were any other Warrior.  Seyla brother.”

Xander stood up and walked toward the fallen Elemental which released his nuclear payload.  The heavy case was for protecting the mine during transit but right now Drake needed something portable.  The metal case opened and revealed a large sphere with two handles capable of fitting into a waiting claws of the Hellion Khan.  “X has the package.  Time to move toward that breach”

The remaining Elementals circled the Khan and walked across the bucking deck of the Wyrm.  Salamander claws dug deep into the hull plates as the water splashed over them.  One of the giant retractable turrets lifted up out of the hull to fire lasers and missiles at incoming Snow Raven fighters.  The fighters heavy lasers left behind charred metal and flash evaporated saltwater in its wake. 

Drake and his Elementals could see the water warm noticeably up as the Wyrm dumped the heat from its massive laser arrays into the ocean via its heat sinks.  The laser remained up tracking the Snow Raven Sabutai Ds firing three missiles missiles at one and the gargantuan 55 centimeter laser beam powerful enough to punch through a dropship, at the other.  If the Elementals didn't have laser buffers built into their visors they would have been blinded and missed the Sabutai's wing cleanly sheared off and the fuselage disintegrating over Novik Bay.  The other deployed chaff and dove hard with afterburners active attempting to break line of sight with the vessel.  One of the missiles was still in hot pursuit of the sleek aerodynamic dagger of an Omnifighter even as it took evasive action. 

“Wow!”

The air around the commandos was warmed by the immense energy released.  If they weren't in heat resistant armor and ankle deep in water they would have been baked alive by the brief surge of heat. Its duties complete the turret returned to its original position with immense force becoming just another bump on the back of the submersible fortress.  Drake and co watched as three large missiles came out of the Prow their fiery orange tails breaking toward the North.  “We need to kill this thing soon.  Move Onyx.”

The Elementals found the breach they were looking for, one of the heavy turrets had been damaged while upright by the last bombing run by the Ghost Bear's Valkyries.  Most of them had been shot down on the run by heavy AAA defenses but their sacrifice could enable his Hellions to get access to the Wyrm.  Xander looked toward the other Star of Salamanders which had been carrying disassembled pieces of breaching gear left over from the Assault of Breaker Bay during the Regent's War, “Get to work.  We don't have much time before it clears the straits.”

Without a word the Elementals assembled the Lockjaw, a super heavy cutting tool capable of chopping through the reinforced bulkheads of a submersible fortress.  One of the units carried the main tool while the rest supported him as he sawed his way through the Wyrm's thick hide cutting away damaged armor and internal structure in a shower of sparks until it was wide enough for an Elemental to slide through.

The Fire Elementals were first in dropping down and sweeping the area for hostiles.  Finding none they signaled the Breach team followed by the Khan's Guard.  The inside of the turret was maze of wires and cooling pipes most of which were damaged to various extent by combat.  One of the Fire Elementals looked behind one of the larger control panels, “No one on damage control.  Curious.”

“Perhaps we forced their hand and made them depart without a full compliment Toka.  Or they have robots.  Yak, find a port for the datacard.”

“Aff Khan Drake.”
  The datacard Xander carried was one of the most sophisticated pieces of intrusion software in the Inner Sphere developed and programmed specifically to break into Blakist systems by the Expert Program VALA on Donegal.  “Found one Xander.”  The Khan gently placed his nuclear mine on the damp deck and handed the card to the fellow Elemental.  VALA's interface was programmed to sync with his suit's on-board computer and a few tense moments later a feminine voice came in over his helmet speakers.  “I only have basic access Xander, this system is quite complex.”

“Can you get me to engineering Vala?”
“I cannot maintain a link for long once I start going active hostile ICE will freeze me out.”


Xander Drake looked around for a frame number and found one, “Then get me a map.”

“Done.  Syncing to all in the local Battlenet.”

“Open the doors in frame 5-5-1.  We just need to get out of this turret.”
  His time on space stations had given him a unique sense of direction and operations for a commando, “Use damage control override protocols.”

Red Lights and Klaxons came alive in the turret but the doors opened. “Hurry before they close them down from the bridge.  We have seven frames till we get near engineering.”  The Elementals metered themselves through the doorway barely large enough for their bulk being built for smaller industrial exoskeletons.  Two Elementals were trapped behind as the door slammed shut and separated them from their fellow soldiers.  The prow tilted forward slightly causing the Fire Elementals to stagger but the Salamander Marines had fought on Aphrodite and locked in their foot claws which crushed the grated floor with bundles of myomer muscles.  A half dozen White and Gold clad Nighthawk suits appeared at the far end of one of the corridors holding a rail with one hand and their Mauser 1200s laser rifles with the other.  “Elementals!”

Drake looked at the sphere in his clawed hands, “So much for not enough hands on board.”  The Salamanders' hands caught on fire and four Fire Elementals leveled their APGRs at the enemy.

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #224 on: 06 November 2019, 21:51:55 »
The Light of Mankind's Nighthawks were shot through with Onyx Star's Tau-II APGRs before they could even damage the force with their heavy laser rifles but at the cost of their last bits of ammunition.  “Weapons dry.”

Xander Drake looked at the nuclear mine in his clawed hands, “We don't need them.  Attach their Mausers to your offset.”  The Elementals cautiously crept forward toward the fallen Blakist commandos taking their guns and with the help of their fellow Elementals synced them up to the open area near their main weapon arm.  Xander looked at one of his fellow Salamanders and handed her the device, a thermonuclear hot potato, “Cora, put this in my missile pack.  Its already synced to VALA.”

The Elemental did as asked ensuring that the nuclear mine was safely stored over his shoulder.  Xander's view switched to the countdown timer, they had less than 10 minutes before the Dire Wolf arrived.  “Hurry, we can make it to engineering before the Dire Wolf comes into range.”

“Aff.”
  Khan Drake was lost in a blur, he could see Onyx diminishing as he advanced toward the engineering bay.  The breach team cut their way through bulkheads while Xander's claws butchered Blakists.  He could feel laser burns and other injuries beginning to rob him of his strength but a cocktail of the Hellion's best battle drugs were being pushed in via micro-injections to make up the difference at the cost of future health.  Xander wasn't concerned about that though if he lived another 10 minutes he would count that as lucky, another half hour would be heaven.

The Elias wouldn't kill something this big though without being placed in a strategic location however so Onyx team pressed on.  Precentor Gregory Zwick watched their progress with concern sending more Light of Mankind commandos and Sol Protectorate Militia were deployed to contain the breach.  He had more pressing concerns however, his attention was glued to the sensor reports that were monitoring the Dire Wolf.   He wasn't sure how well the Wyrm could weather a broadside from that battle-cruiser and he didn't think he could get deep enough to protect it but the Wyrm's missiles were capable of being launched below the surface. 

“I want nukes in all tubes.  SenOps, Get me firing solutions on the Dire Wolf.”  The CIC crew watched him grimly half lit in red light and did as asked praying it would be enough.

Precentor Zwick, a True Believer of the Word of Blake couldn't help but feel disappointment in the universe.  The Clans had surprised them, none of the First Circuit thought they were actually capable of overcoming their differences and acting as one given a challenge large enough.  That was dangerous, they were dangerous, a greater danger than many could not realize yet being caught up in the moment, but the old way was over and a major change was going to take place. 

COMSTAR had been founded to preserve mankind's greatest accomplishments in an Age of War.  Now it was done obsoleted by  Aleksandr Kerensky's Clans.  Kerensky's Exodus had been planned with Blessed Blake to save the Inner Sphere from the combined might of the SLDF that his followers maintained and sharpened to massive effect.  Worlds across the Inner Sphere had been ruined in the past four years of warfare.  The Word of Blake had to deploy their secret weapon programs to compensate for their sheer might.  Secret weapon systems that were not meant to be used against the Inner Sphere but to stop the Clans.  Now that the Word of Blake and COMSTAR were defeated there would be no check to protect the Inner Sphere from Kerensky's accursed spawn.

“Where had things gone wrong?” 

Xander Drake's Salamander suit was heavily damaged and only a pair of Salamanders had completed the gauntlet with him.  The three remaining suits bore laser burns, plates shattered by grenades and mini-rockets, and holes punched into the frame by Thunderstroke II Gauss Rifles.  Small divets from slug throwers and particularly tenacious flechettes had caused cosmetic damage but nothing particularly intense. 

A red alert blinked in his HUD.  The Salamander's power cell was nearly drained and so was his usually elevated adrenaline and high from the battle drugs.  His body was beginning to rebel against his mind, the pain was so intense but he was so close to his objective.  The bulkhead to engineering was just ahead of him next to a torn up auto turret.  Onyx's breaching equipment had long been destroyed, all they had left was their claws and myomer enhanced muscles. “One more door.  Six hands.  Ten seconds.”

The remaining Elementals, Cora Falcon and Yak Nova, stood at the ready.  He gave the signal and they moved in a tightly coordinated method that they had just invented based on Patrol breaching methods.  The effort strained their muscles but allowed Xander to get through the door.  Cora's suit shut down after that and Yak was busy holding back another squad of Blakists dressed in jumpsuits and armed with feeble but still dangerous weapons hoping to stop what was about to come.  Yak Nova Cat charged them with his claws out hoping his power cell lasted long enough to complete the mission.

Xander Drake felt a strong tremor in the submarine and wondered what that might be.  The Dire Wolf was almost in range but he thought he would know if the Wyrm was being hit with that Warship's broadside, he had seen the video from Tharkad and Arcturus.  The engineering bay was a massive maze filled with all manner of arcane technologies that were beyond his understanding.  He did know the little package over his shoulder would blast the whole construct to oblivion if he put it in the right place however.  Finally his suit ran out of power and he executed a field evacuation.  Now all he had was his jumpsuit, an auto injector from the suit's medpack, engineer's datadeck, commando knife, and a baby nuke swaddled in an armored tube.

“VALA, I'm going to put you in the system.  See what you can scrape off and send it to Headquarters.  This is a limited time opportunity so move fast and break things.”  Xander used the deck to jack into the computer and allow the expert system to get to work.  He wasn't sure it would be able to transmit out but had to take the chance.  Drake knew this place was likely a treasure trove of information that would allow the Inner Sphere to clean up any remnant forces.  The Clans had sacrificed much to save the Inner Sphere he wanted to make sure they won resoundingly.

“Aff Khan Drake.  What are you going to do?”

Xander could feel the injuries he had sustained during this long campaign, particularly on Aphrodite where he had almost died multiple times.  He stabbed the auto-injector into his neck grimacing from the prick.  He needed its effect now and couldn't wait for it from the usual point.  Instantly his pain dissipated, vision sharpened, and time seemed to slow down around him.  The formulation dated back to the oldest Hellion Scientific records, it was good and his clan had almost been annihilated due to it but times had changed. 

He breathed deep adjusting his mind to the new sensations,  “Give you time.  When I fall blow this place to pieces.”

“Seyla Alexander Drake.  Give them Hell.”


Drake could hear hatches open and the sounds of boots on the grated floor through his enhanced senses.  He moved like a blur faster than he had ever moved before and turned the corner to see the Blakists seeming to move incredibly slow.  They wore armor everywhere but their neck and no sooner than he thought it his knife was already across their necks.  Their crimson blood spewed out covering him but he was already in motion again.  He cut the slings of their sub-machine guns and held one in both hands before dropping to the ground.  The shells flew out in 'Bullet-time,' he finally remembered something about how it was described by the Scientists when they told him of potential side effects. 

Xander fired both guns at a squad coming around the corner behind their advance pair.  The Blakists feel by the ranks perforated by bullets. More footsteps as well as the click of his guns going dry.  Drake rushed and pulled another gun from the fallen troopers, he saw the next group coming towards him with weapons raised.  He threw a knife with one fluid motion at the guy in the center and shouldered the already barking weapon.  Bright flashes threw hot lead in his direction, he could see the trace of the bullet in real time and felt like he could dodge bullets even though he knew he couldn't.

Then he saw an even brighter flash, followed by nothing.
« Last Edit: 06 November 2019, 21:59:44 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #225 on: 07 November 2019, 19:37:47 »
Khan Vlad Ward watched as a dozen missiles burst from below the Eastern Bosphorous Strait, their exhaust plumes shockingly bright on the darkened water.  He looked up following their lazy arc only to see a tiny circle that marked the Dire Wolf vectoring in a lower orbit.  The Warship was trapped in the gravity well and damaged already from the battles the preceded the ground assault.  His worst fears were realized when bright flashes occurred and the circle broke.  A pair of Peacemaker nuclear warheads had trashed the Dire Wolf killing its main drive and trapping it in a rapidly decaying orbit.  Major alerts swamped the regional battle-net as the Dire Wolf's crew made it to the lifeboats and hopefully land rather than the frigid waters of the Arctic Ocean.

Vladimir Ward came on the radio, “All Coalition units in the area.  The incoming lifeboats are priority objectives.  Disengage and begin SAR operations.  We won't leave our people out in the cold or to any Blakist opportunists.”  He looked out toward the Eastern Bosphorous wondering what happened to Xander Drake's task force.  With the Wyrm underwater they wouldn't be able to use aerospace fighters or the incoming hovercraft to eliminate that threat.  It was all over now

A massive explosion rocked the city of Vladivostok, Vladimir's Blood Kite was knocked down and a huge wave crashed into his position pushing the assault mech into a large building with immense force.  The impact jarred him and the water flooded his reactor shutting down the unit.  If it weren't for the hardened armor the head would have been breached and the cockpit flooded killing the Khan in a very unceremonious way.  Khan Ward was seeing stars, “Status report Gold.”

Only one voice came over the radio and it was filled with static, “What the hell was that Khan Ward?”
“It was Drake.  He must have delivered the mine as planned.  He knew it was probably a one way trip.”


Vladimir Ward cycled his external cameras, all of them were dark which either meant he was under water, rubble, or they were just dead.  He opened the armored visor that protected the actual ferroglaz cockpit window which moved sluggishly.  The small visor was still dark so he activated the exterior lights off the backup battery and immediately flashed back to Wotan 14 years ago.  “Stuck in the rubble of another building.  At least I don't have a broken arm this time.”

At dawn, four hours later, Vladimir Ward was flying back to the starport after having been rescued by a Snow Raven R-Team from the rubble.  He looked out the window of the DCMS Peacekeeper VTOL to witness the damage to Vladivostok's Pacific Waterfront and Russkiy Most Bridge first hand.  The city was wounded but the cancer at its heart had been cut out by the Coalition.  The other surviving member of Gold Team, AFFS Lieutenant Karen Yarn gestured at him to open his helmet's feed, “Half the Dire Wolf's crew was lost Khan Ward.  More lost to Blakists then weather unfortunately.  The region will take a while to be completely secure.”

“If it can be.  Terra may never be finally liberated the way it and we are.  COMSTAR and the Word of Blake have had too much time in minds of these people.  We came to liberate them but it will take longer to free their minds and ours.”

“I don't know if I understand Khan Ward.”

“Now that the main threat has been neutralized we will have time to figure it out because I’m not sure I understand either. 

Both of our peoples are going to have to work together to clean up this mess.  Vladivostok is just the start. 

I might even make it my home.”
  He thought deeply about it although the words were utterly mindlessly to alleviate the boredom he was feeling now that the war was over. “Vladimir Ward in Vladivostok.  It just fits and it’s a pretty enough city I'm sure Katherine would love it.”

Both looked out their windows at the small fires that were still belching smoke into the blue sky. They could see the trucks and Mechs of Salvage and Security teams canvassing the area looking for Blakists or their equipment to pick up for analysis.  Holdouts still hung on requiring helicopter gunships or Battlemechs to respond in support of the ground teams. A natural gas tank exploded far off their starboard side throwing a fireball high in the air.  “Nothing like a war to start an urban renewal project.  Were you looking for real estate while we were fighting?”

Vlad laughed at the suggestion, “Bad neighbors.  Besides I might have had to destroy it if loyalist forces decided to make it a stronghold.  So I didn't want to get to attached.”

“You are a curious clanner.”
  The VTOL was slowing down and angling up as they arrived at the Peschanyy Star port across Golden Horn Bay.  Three dropships including the Overlord-C Lair were ready to fire off into space once more as soon as their passengers were aboard. 

The Snow Raven and Diamond Shark ships had forced out the original task force's dropships from the city's primary spaceport built on reclaimed land to the north.  Peschanyy was receiving passengers and small equipment across the bay carried on hovercraft or VTOLs in small lots while larger transfers were occurring under the direction of the Diamond Sharks.  The whole thing was quite orderly to the trained eye but it baffled Vladimir who despite years of actual campaigning had only a rudimentary grasp on the logistics needed to run an empire.  All of that was in the mind of his wife Katherine who would be quite upset with him by the time he returned to Mirny for leaving her overnight.  It would pass moments later when they realized they never needed to separate again and that he had done much to ensure this happened. 

Not as much as Xander Drake perhaps but Vladimir was going to write his epitaph in the Great Rememberance which would surely grow by a hundred pages after the past four years of courageous sacrifice demonstrated at all levels.  Courage that had been untapped until the clans were catalyzed by a greater threat and inspired by a noble purpose, ilKhan Santin West, Alexander Drake, Marthe Pryde, Lynn McKenna, Michael and Jill Hawkins, Olvin Rippon, all of these names would live on forever in their epic history. 

REVIVAL was everywhere, the Clans may have been depleted in number but ranks of freeborn had already been requesting to be adopted into the clans that had saved their worlds from ruin at the hands of the Word of Blake and their allies.  He already had written down some ideas of the verse during his time stuck in the rubble consulting a few of the poetry collections that Katherine had given him early on in their relationship.

They were heroes, the liberators of Terra, Unifiers of the Clans and Inner Sphere, and most importantly together forever now and soon they would have a grand party to make it official, a victory party and a wedding.  Vladimir had spent so much time thinking about this moment breathing deep of Primorsky Krai's salty air and felt the cool breeze coming off the Pacific all the way from the Arctic Circle.  “At last.  I can get used to this.  It just feels right.”

The Lair had completed boarding their compliment of passengers it was going to be cramped but they were just a few hours from Mirny via suborbital hop.  Routine procedure, (il)Khan Ward found his way to the cramped personal quarters and strapped himself in for liftoff. 

The Lair took to the sky burning white plasma trailing from its thrusters.  Then an explosion in the port side tank caused the spheroid dropship to lose control and go into a lethal spin.  It crashed sixteen kilometers to the north crashing next to the placid Ambra river, rolling across it which shredded the dropship, and finally set the freshly planted farm fields ablaze.

In Mirny, the Patrol officers assigned to detain Katherine Fox stiffened after hearing something on their radio.  Katherine had already been concerned with her brother suffering serious injuries overnight as well as her husband being trapped under rubble in enemy territory for most of the morning. When Vlad was brought up with only basic injuries she was relieved to have a short conversation with him via the long range but that was an hour ago.  The past hour had worn down any sense of patience she had with this endeavor or her husband. Vlad was supposed to call her when he was inbound. 

She finally noticed the change in the guard's character and immediately pushed forward pinning one of them against the habitat's wall with amazing strength.  The sudden violence surprised the other one and he hesitated unsure of what to do, “What is it!  Is it Peter!  Vladimir!  Answer me!”

Major Aiden Byrne, her Spheroid bodyguard commander, rushed into the room and Katherine crumbled.  The older man knelt down and attempted with all his might to console her but knew that only time could do such a thing.  “I'm sorry Katherine.  There was an accident.  Vlad is gone.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #226 on: 09 November 2019, 10:23:44 »
06/10/71 Location – Paris, European Union

Peter (Steiner)-Davion looked out of his room in the Hospital St Louis listening to the monitors beep steadily.  He could have gone to the AFFS hospital ship in orbit in fact had gone there initially after receiving his injuries in Vladivostok but asked to be transferred groundside. 

He had traveled all the way to Sol and spent to much time on a dropship for a dozen lifetimes ,the First Prince could get a room with a view instead.  If he was going to spend time anywhere it might as well be on Terra.  Scores of good soldiers had fought hard to secure it and still did to a lesser extent. 

Wolf Patrolmen and AFFS Military Police were still actively in the process of rounding up Blakists and their supporters but things were quieting down.  The latest news played in French, “Alexander Kernoff, former Precentor ROM of the Word of Blake was killed this morning in Istanbul during a daring raid.  We are told there will be more raids in the near future.” 

“Bon débarras-toi bâtard”
Peter relaxed slightly, with Precentor Kernoff dead the threat from ROM would be greatly reduced.

“With his death the full Ruling Conclave of the Word of Blake pre-BLACKLIGHT has been eliminated.  The Justice Tribunal is disappointed in the news as Precentor Kernoff was facing charges for multiple crimes against humanity.  They will begin hearing cases early next month against others.”

Peter switched off the television and went back to his view of the Eiffel Tower to the west and the sounds of animals outside.  No traffic buzzed outside, the whole hospital block had been cordoned off by the AFFS Military Police to protect the patients most of whom were AFFS soldiers injured during the European campaign.

The door opened and one of the MPs walked in, “First Prince, you have a visitor.”  Followed closely behind not even bothering with the MP that could 'maybe' stop her.  The officer looked at the blonde woman dressed in a fashionable black jumpsuit with concern, “and here she is.”

“Its alright Sergeant.  Leave us and ensure we are not disturbed.”


He bowed, “As you wish First Prince,” and walked out closing the the door behind him while giving Archon Katherine Steiner a quick “sorry for your loss”.  She sat down on the chair next to her brother's bed looking over his injuries; major burns to his right arm, moderate lacerations, a concussion, and a smattering of other minor injuries acquired on his world spanning campaign against the Word of Blake.

“I'm sorry about Vladimir Katherine.  He was a good man.  Probably saved my life.”
“You didn't send a note.”
“I knew you would get around to seeing me.  A note didn't seem like it would be enough.”


Katherine looked around at all the leads attached to her patched up brother, “I really wish I could give you a hug Peter.  I don't know what to do now.  The only plan I had went up in flames in that field.”

“Did your people kill Kernoff?”
“Yes, I didn't want to give him time to think about the severity of what he had done.”
“It would have been maybe better to interrogate him, put him on trial, and then execute him. 

The Word of Blake is responsible for so much death and pain.  I'm afraid of what they might have planned but not had a chance to execute.  There are too many unknowns.  I don't want Victoria to have to deal with it when I am gone.  Speaking of which did you receive anything from your own children regarding Vlad.”

“Sieg and Alaric grew up in the Clans, it was strange for them to have a 'father' that was still alive, death is just their nature.  Morgana and I aren't talking right now.”

“I'm sorry to hear that.  She will come around Katherine.  You just have to give them time.”
“I hope you're right Peter.  It has been a difficult couple of years for us.  I tried but its hard, I'll have more time after today.”
“What do you mean?”
“I'm resigning Peter.  I've declared solely for Clan Wolf.”


Peter was taken by surprise and it showed, “What does that mean?  How does that change things?”
“Well I am now just another of the Bloodnamed instead of the Archon.  I have decided to help the Clans rebuild themselves.  They sacrificed so much on our behalf to save us from the Word of Blake but that doesn't mean they should disappear into the greater Inner Sphere culture.  Its too dangerous for all involved.”

“I'll miss you.”

She smiled at that genuine show of affection, “I'll only be on Vision Peter, its not like I am going back to the home worlds.  We can still talk via HPG. 

Speaking of HPGs and the homeworlds.  Communication was lost during the Whiteout so we don't know what has been going on there the past three years. 

The Diamond Sharks are sending a small recon expedition back next month.  The Clans of the Coalition are probably not welcome there.  Especially now that we have reclaimed Terra but the Diamond Sharks are the least likely to be shot at.”

“When do you leave?”
“After we of the Clans figure out what we will leave as.”
“That might take a while.”

“Maybe.  You should get back to your loving wife though,”
tears began to form as she stood up, “she is lucky to still have her husband.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #227 on: 11 November 2019, 19:42:44 »
Readers there will be a short time jump before some finishing shorts

Katherine Fox's story is over for now.  She will return in my next fanfic - Foxchase, a New Golden Century story along with The Council of Six Clans and starring Morgana, Agent of the Inquisition

Casablanca Convention (New Vision for the Clans)
The much depleted Hell's Horses and Ghost Bears combine to be reborn into Clan Stone Lion. So named after the apex predator on Tokasha, a world that once divided them in the past would now serve to unify them in the future.  They settle on the world of Black Earth to be their primary Enclave.

The Cloud Cobras Quarani cloister joins with the Nova Cats after their EcKhan Majdi Kaanan had a prophetic vision about unifying their peoples.  They offer to “adopt” take the troublesome Exituri into their population believing that they can show them the 'right' way.  The new clan is to be called The Spirit Cat's Collective.

The Jade Falcons impressed with the Hellions' combat prowess absorb them.  Their SaKhan Conner Rood maintains his position while the Jade Falcon's saKhan Uvin Buhallin is elevated to ovKhan.  They immediately set to work making new sibkos on Sudeten and the Dark Nebula.

Members of the Smoke Jaguars led by Khan Ashley Canto are expedited to Terra by the Trinity Alliance States from their new home-world Tarot, formerly Tarol IV, in Magistracy of Canopus.  They press a hard claim to the proceedings despite not participating in the liberation of Terra directly and demand a seat at the table.

The Wolf Empire is the first Clan to lead the 5 person council (excluding the Spirit Cats) being in the best shape after the end of the Liberation of Terra and accelerate work on Vision, the new Seat of Power for the Council and Clan Wolf.

The Sea Foxes settle on the world of Far Reach in the Chaineland Isles as their primary enclaves but maintain and operate all the Clan's Potemkins, the Stone Lions and Jade Falcons receive abundant compensation for their property.

Council of Six
Clan Wolf (Wolf/Widowmaker)
Clan Jade Falcon (Jade Falcon/Hellion)
Clan Stone Lion (Hell's Horse/Ghost Bear)
Clan Smoke Jaguar (Smoke Jaguar/Mongoose)
Clan Sea Fox (Diamond Shark/Snow Raven)
Spirit Cat's Collective (Nova Cats/Cloud Cobras)
« Last Edit: 11 November 2019, 23:26:11 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #228 on: 13 November 2019, 10:27:34 »
Mara and Franklin

3073 - A little boy (5 yo) skips rocks across the pond watching their ripples and villagers walking across the bridge into his little village of Sapphire Springs.  Rainbow Koi hovered just below the surface their brilliant colors visible in the clear water.  Sometimes they would attempt to catch the rocks like they were the water bugs that flitted between the reeds.  Three travelers caught the little boy's attention.  They moved like the Daimyo's soldiers but were not dressed in any uniform however they were clearly armed.  They might be bandits. 

He ran across the yard to the small teahouse where his mother was tidying up. The sleeves of her kimono bound behind her with a ribbon and a little sweat on her brow, “Mother, three armed people entered the village, they weren't wearing uniforms.”

She looked up at her tosan's sword mounted atop a short ornate table in a red lacquered koshirae.  He had seen her practice with it and she was good as far as he could tell. “Did they seem like they were in a hurry?”

“No they just walked across the bridge into the village.”

“They might be pilgrims to the springs Shou.  You shouldn't be so concerned.  You had me worried there for a moment.  Why don't you go and see if they need a place to stay?”

“But what if they are bad people?”
“And what if they are nothing more than some weary travelers?”
  She walked over to him and leaned down to hug him, “We could always use the money.  I will take out some more food and tea for them just in case.” 

She adjusted his Yukata which advertised her teahouse on the back so that the merchants knew who to send the bill to when he gathered things in the market.  Before sending him out she gave him a kiss, “And if they are bad people.  I will deal with them; so have no fear.”

Shogun Sakamoto Franklin looked around the quaint village of Sapphire Springs.  A place so rural that both women and men felt free to take off their shirts when working in the fields during the warm season and people walked around with basic weapons to fight off bandits.  His companions, the blonde Tara Nova and black Akira Tormark, were hand selected for the delicate business that brought him to Iijima and had readily proven themselves against a group of highwaymen that chose the wrong targets. 

Of course all of them were traveling under an alias.  Their target was a dangerous Black Dragon fugitive that had evaded pursuit for nearly six years and Franklin wasn't sure how she would react to being found out.  Even though this place was remote they couldn't risk the chance that someone she had recruited in the main starport would send a rider out to give here warning.  They had to travel on foot for a week to reach it without drawing suspicion. 

The springs and Shinto shrine out here were mild planetary tourist attractions.  Franklin and team went to the Shrine to pay their respects.  They decided to wait for the springs as that would require another half day of walking and while all of them were in great shape he was still 64.  Years of battle had drained his body of its once plentiful energy and the process of rebuilding the Draconis Combine after the Black Dragon War had done the rest.  He had refused a 'rejuvenation' treatment by the Spirit Cats as he did not want to owe the Collective more than he already did.  They were different now that they had merged with the Cloud Cobras and Exituri, more driven than ever before. Particularly now that they operated all the HPGs in Combine space and had a massive interest in LAW.

The party was sitting down in the village square watching the merchants depart to their houses when a small boy came up to them and bowed.  A little girl came around shortly afterward looking mildly irritated but lingered around the sides.  “Ojisan, you look tired.”  He looked over at the little girl who was maybe slightly older than him, “I am Shou and my mother runs the best Chashitsu in this village.  If you are interested we have space for you and your companions.”

Franklin waited for a long few moments emboldening the little girl that was likely from a competing establishment eager for business.  He studied the boy who was not sure how to react before looking at his companions standing behind him who nodded their heads.  “Then it’s settled, we accept your hospitality Shou-kun.  Please give me a moment to stretch.  These old legs aren't quite as limber as they once were.”

Franklin stood up and stretched, he then beckoned the little girl over and gave her three silver Mon coins for her trouble.  It was equivalent to a night's rest at a nice inn for the party.  Shou was bewildered, no one just gave money out for services that were not rendered around here, but waited patiently until they were ready to follow him, “Were you are Warrior Ojisan?”

His Kimono was heavily worn as were the others as part of their disguise, the weapons were all quite functional on the other hand, “I still wear my swords so I must still be one yes?”

“Apologies, most elder Warriors that visit this village have long since hung up their swords or passed them on to their children.”

“I have no children unfortunately so they remain with me.  My travels took me many places in my time and I never settled with a wife to have a family.  My brothers and sister are dead.  All that remains are my trusted companions and a lifetime of accumulated difficulty.”


Shou walked slowly eager to continue their conversation, “At least you have your friends.  My mother and I have only each other.”

“Do you need more?”
“I would have liked to know my father.”


Franklin put his hand on the boy's shoulder, “I didn't get to know mine until I was already a man.  What happened to him?”

“My mother told me he died on Luthein during the Black Dragon uprising.”
“I was there.  It was a difficult time for all.
Many good Warriors died needlessly but valiantly. 
I'm certain your father met a glorious end for the side of righteousness.”

“That is what I hope as well.  It would a terrible thing to die a coward's death better to meet your fate with your sword in hand, even if it must be pointed toward you.”


They finally were within sight of the Chashitsu and attached Minshuku both of which were rustic but ornate and perfectly ordered, “Your mother teaches you interesting things Shou-kun.”  A mature looking black haired woman wearing a jade green kimono waited for them just inside the garden.  Franklin's party entered behind the energetic young boy and they bowed slightly to the proprietress.  “Thank you for inviting us to you home Okaasan.  I am Hatamoto Ryo, this is Clair and Bruce.”

The elegant proprietress waited more than proper to return the greeting which made Franklin anxious, however she bowed and introduced herself as Nakamura Aiko.  “Greetings Ryo, Clair, and Bruce, thank you for accepting my hospitality.  Shou will guide you to the room for tonight and I will find you in the garden.”

Franklin’s party were guided through the small house which was richly decorated with fine items, among them; intricate scrimshaw, elegant lacquered trucks, watercolor block prints, and magnificently painted noren screen walls.  “Shou, where did your mother get these things?”

“I don’t know, they have always been here as far as I can remember.”
“She has good taste.”

Shou finally showed them the guest room and all three placed their bags in the appropriate corner, ‘Clair’ and ‘Bruce’ leaned their weapons against the wall but kept their swords.  “Thank You, Ryo-San.  She always receives compliments particularly on her tea ceremony.  Twice she declined a proposal from a visiting Daimyo.”

“Bold for a widow.  How do they take the rejection?”
“Poorly. Last time he left he required very forceful persuasion.  My mother has a strong spirit and is tough and fearless.”
Tara smiled while Akira and Franklin couldn’t help but shake their heads.  That behavior sure sounded right for Mara Selencia.  He was still not certain she wasn’t going to be around every corner with her wakizashi aimed for his throat.  If she was, at least he had seen their son with his own eyes and he seemed a normal child not a raging Black Dragon fanatic bent on reclaiming his father’s throne as feared.  Franklin looked over to his companions, “Why don’t you meet us in the garden.”  Both bowed slightly and departed leaving just Franklin and Shou.

“Do you have a shrine for your dead father?”
“Of course but it is in our private room.”
“I would like to see it.”
“Why Ojisan?  It is bare, surely you don’t want to delay your meal by a needless detour.”
“I’m am interested in all areas of this wondrous place.  I would like to see how you and your mother live compared to my home.”


Shou was confused by this stranger’s odd behavior and almost thought of calling out to his mother presently working in the kitchen adjacent to their private room but thought better of it.  Ryo must have lots of money and some amount of respectability to have two fearsome yojimbo so it could not hurt. “If you insist.”

The boy quietly opened the screen to their private room, it was a plain space with a small shrine topped with small bottles of some clear liquid as offerings to the memorialized in the eastern wall. A short table with carving tools and bone or ivory specimens carefully organized by some arcane system.  The smell of the kitchen wafted in through the north door, fresh fish and vegetables properly spiced.  “Your mother did the carvings?”

“Yes, it is one of things she does when business is slow.  She is well known on Iijima for her skill.”  Franklin smiled, “I know.  It is one of the reasons I sought her out.  I wish to commission a piece for her.”

“She does not normally take on clients Ojisan.  You may have to offer her a great deal of incentive.”


He eyed the small child in an odd way, “I shall.  Let us get back.”

Dinner was served and they spent much of the night with a bottle of shoju before waking up and heading to the hot springs.  Ryo paid for three more nights even though they would be staying at the Ryokan up at the mountain springs, which were widely believed to have curative properties, for one of them.  He requested that Aiko perform the tea ceremony as his companions had never been guests at one though they had witnessed it on multiple occasions.  The woman was honored and promised that the tea house would be prepared for their arrival.

Mara retired to her quarters after she and Shou finished cleaning up.  The boy was listening to her guest’s stories in rapt attention as he usually did.  Her “dead husband’s” shrine doors were ajar, she had ensured it was closed earlier, she walked over to it and saw an ivory pendant within with close writing on it.  “Mara, both you and the boy come quietly or I will take him by force. You wanted to be the mother of a Coordinator so I give you that opportunity despite our troubles.  FS.”
« Last Edit: 14 November 2019, 20:47:55 by AlphaMirage »

Wrangler

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #229 on: 13 November 2019, 10:55:53 »
Woah, interesting entry!

I wouldn't expected people living exactly like they were in ancient Japan.  Interesting.

Sounds like Frankin maybe getting a son, one way or another.  Hopefully Mara will be go along.
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AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #230 on: 19 November 2019, 23:55:53 »
Woah, interesting entry!

I wouldn't expected people living exactly like they were in ancient Japan.  Interesting.

Sounds like Frankin maybe getting a son, one way or another.  Hopefully Mara will be go along.

Thanks Wrangler, I feel like that is a failure of imagination in Sci-Fi settings that somehow everything has to be clean and fancy looking.  People have been content in little sustainable villages for most of human history why should the future be different?

Anyway another quick story

Summer 3075

knock, knock

A little girl dressed in a pretty yellow dress answered the door to see a red haired woman in a tan uniform standing in the door who was mildly surprised to see her.  “Hello Maam, I'm Jade.”

The woman knelt down to look the adorable girl in the eye, “Hi Jade; my name is Yvonne.  Can you get your mother for me?”

Jade nodded her head and dashed off into the Denot residence, “Mom!  A Yvonne is here for you.”

A woman with a messy blonde bun and clay covered apron come around the corner.  Yvonne looked around and realized that there were some pottery objects that were new from her last time here six years ago.  She slowly walked closer a bit surprised by her guest, “Hello Sarah.  Been a long time.  Sorry I didn't call ahead.  Had to sneak away and wasn't sure I would be able to get away from it.”

“Your Grace.  If I had known I would have been a tad tidier.”
“Its fine Mrs Denot.  I have time and would like to chat.”


She motioned for the Grand Duchess to enter, “Well of course, come right in.”

Yvonne walked past photos of the Denots which included Isis Marik living as Sarah and Ian, aka her nephew Kitsune Kurita who had become a star rugby player; at least for this quiet corner of the Outback.  Yvonne was seated in their carefully decorated kitchen and Sarah headed back into her shop to finish up.  Jade walked by and looked at Yvonne as she sneaked a plastic container of cut fruit out of the refrigerator.  Yvonne smiled and the girl hustled out clambering up stairs to her room just avoiding her mother returning from the shop.

Sarah opened the fridge and shook her head realizing what was missing before pulling out a pitcher of lemonade and serving two glasses. “Yvonne, where's the Colonel?”

“Devlin is still at the StarCorps Stadium for today's Outback Marshal's recruitment drive.  I managed to sneak away from them to see you.  They will find me eventually but I thought I would take you up on your invitation.”

“The Grand Duchess of Minette should not be sneaking away from her responsibilities, however boring they might be.”
“That's rich coming from you Isis.”
“I ran from nothing, I was cast out by Sun-Tzu Liao invited to stay on Luthien with Omiko Kurita who made me swear to watch over her son with her dying breath before the late Coordinator Theodore sent me away with the present Coordinator.”

“The Shogun is one of the things I would like to discuss especially with his recent revelation of Shinjiro and Ichika.”

“Well that happened after me.  What's your other business?”


Yvonne produced a large envelope from her bag, “This is for Ian if he wants it.”  Sarah lifted it carefully and realized it was sealed with the Davion family seal on the reverse. 

“What you have in your hands is a written recommendation from the Grand Duchess and her Consort, Colonel Devlin Stone, to Point Barrow Military Academy. 

He doesn't need our help of course.  He's already met all the prerequisites, star athlete, brilliant mind, exceptional moral character, etcetera.  More than a little of it is due to his parents, all four of them.  All of whom were exceptional in their own ways. 

Thank you Isis Marik, Peter and I can never repay you for keeping our Victor's legacy alive; at least in a little way.”


Two hours later Ian Denot returned from practice to find his mother and another woman in the kitchen, “Your Grace.  To what do we owe this pleasure?”

Yvonne looked over the young man now nearly 18, he was lean and tough with alert blue eyes and tousled black hair and wearing a Marcus Marauder's rugby shirt.  “Hello Ian.  I brought you something and wanted to give it to you personally so I'm glad you're here.”

She handed him the envelope, “You don't have to take this if you don't want to Ian. You can be whatever you want to be but last time we met you wanted this.  So while you could get in on your own merits and using Mr Denot's connections I wanted to do something for you.”

Ian accepted the envelope and opened it breaking the seal.  Yvonne had a signet on hand anyway not that it mattered a verigraphed copy would be forwarded if he accepted it anyhow if he accepted. “A recommendation to Point Barrow?”

She nodded.

“There's only one problem.”


Both Sarah and Yvonne looked at him quizzically. Especially Yvonne how had gone over that letter a dozen times there were no mistakes.  “What!  Where?”

“The name line here says Ian Denot. 

I am Kitsune.”

mikecj

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #231 on: 20 November 2019, 00:55:54 »
 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
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Wrangler

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #232 on: 20 November 2019, 10:06:47 »
Interesting.  Setting up for the next chapters to things to come!

Also, i suspect Jade is not Victor's child,but someone is.  :D
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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #233 on: 09 December 2019, 14:41:15 »
Interesting.  Setting up for the next chapters to things to come!

Also, i suspect Jade is not Victor's child,but someone is.  :D

You are correct Wrangler.  Jade is just Isis Marik's daughter with her normal husband.  I will get back to Kitsune as part of my Foxchase story group