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Title: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III (Complete, Comments welcome)
Post by: AlphaMirage on 18 November 2018, 20:32:01
09/28/3069 07:41 Location – WOBS Light of Faith (Baron Destroyer), Aspropirgos Zenith Point, Free Worlds League

Thomas Marik, The Master of the Word of Blake, woke to the phantom pain in his arms again, the fifth time in the past twenty hours since their installation.  The long surgery taxed his eighty year old body but was necessary to fix the damage that Magestrix Emma Centrella wrought.

He cautiously moved them feeling the fine myomer tendons constrict and acclimating himself to the haptic and temperature sensors on the metallic chassis, slowly touching each fingertip to the thumb in turn.  Sensing that it was cold without having to check the multiple streams of AR data that scrolled across his one cybernetic eye.  Since the arms were a newer model they would require an embarrassing week long adjustment period to use with proper dexterity.

Thomas undid himself from the restraints that kept him from drifting in free-fall.  The pieces of him that were flesh or bone ached in the empty cold of his quarters. Their number had decreased over the years but the impure weakness of this fleshy vessel could not be completely redone yet.  Perhaps one day soon he could fully ascend this limited existence.

The old man clumsily pulled himself to the command center past the quarters of his entourage.  A small portion of the old Thomas Marik was missing the secretary that had served many purposes over the years.  With her death another piece of the old man died and The Master was strengthened.  The fact that it was Emma that killed her enraged him more.  Six Santa Anas nuclear missiles on her capital wasn't enough to cleanse that wrenched woman and repay her treachery.

The holotank came to life showing a grand projection of the Inner Sphere in a 3d image. The high tech device was tied to the mobile HPG added to centuries old vessel during recommissioning.  When the HPGs started going malfunctioning it had been isolated to protect the valuable command system. 

Now the latest details were filled in by a think tank housed aboard rather than updated from The Word of Blake's ROM network.  All of their data was hopelessly out of date, transferred by courier jumpships from across the corners of the Inner Sphere.  Discrete details were vague but trends could be predicted and it wasn't looking good for his Order.

Emma's words came back to his mind; as much as he wanted to dismiss them.  The two of them had collaborated for slightly more than a decade.  She was the only one with a working knowledge of the Word that was close to equaling his own.  There was even a rumor that she was the mysterious Master of the Word of Blake which he felt she planted to needle him.

Her competence and discretion was why he had trusted her to fulfill his most sensitive task.  He needed an heir, a disciple, one with regal bearing, and a certain skill set or the Word of Blake would die with him and the apostate COMSTAR cronies would reassert themselves. 

Prince Arthur Steiner-Davion was the ideal candidate, not only was he well educated but he had a gift of oratory, handsome features, was a battle proven warrior, and clever as well.  He had suggested to his double, the now Thomas Halas, that he should begin negotiations to marry the boy to his bastard daughter, Isis.  The man chose differently sending her to Sun-Tzu Liao to secure his border and attempt to control the inexperienced Chancellor.  Old Thomas still wondered what happened to Isis, she had fled to Luthien years ago then disappeared to parts unknown.

Sun-Tzu proved himself unreliable Thomas Halas' attempts to use the woman as leverage failed, both had underestimated the man's cunning.  He had seen through their deceptions and kept Isis away even using her to start a war to reclaim his Aunt's worlds.  When she departed Emma was right there with a better offer; her own vivacious daughter Naomi.  The Canopian Princess had proven more adept at playing to her husband's grandiose aspirations.

Even her oldest daughter had been a pawn, Danai was meant to marry Arthur's late brother, Victor Steiner-Davion, making her most powerful mother-in-law in the Inner Sphere to a noted mama's boy.  The MAF sent their fiery Warrior Princess and a crack MAF battalion as well as a large exploitation team on a long military journey, the only periphery realm to do so.  Sun-Tzu thought it expedient to use an allies' military instead of his own but Emma got the better hand of the matter although her gambit failed with both Victor and Danai's deaths. 

Now her youngest daughter was likely with Arthur playing to his chivalric ideals like a harp.  Arthur would never follow Thomas now that he had killed his potential mother-in-law with nuclear hellfire no matter how noble his intentions.  “Damn that Canopian bitch!”
She had been right, all of his deputies and allies were lacking and The Word of Blake’s power was ebbing uncontrollably.  His vision of a Clan free Inner Sphere united under The Word of Blake had been shattered and his pawns had thought to play their own game.  A game they were no properly equipped to play.

They were to be the shock troops sent on a suicide mission against the Clan Homeworlds that would finally rid the universe of Kerensky's dreadful spawn.  Those that sought to take Terra with a religious zeal only matched by the Word of Blake's devotion to its protection at all costs.  Their numbers not large enough to bring down the Federated Commonwealth, such a feat was audacious even under the best of circumstances.  Without the mighty Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery anchoring the Kapetyn Compact an uncoordinated and embattled Free World's League and The Trinity Alliance couldn't do it even with massive assistance from The Word of Blake.

He brought up his deputies latest reports, looking at them with dismay.

Gibson in the League lit up and above appeared a tri-vid picture of The Master's most loyal disciple Apollyon.  The cyborg was overseeing the relocation of the Word's assets there to the Protectorate with half the Shadow Divisions and the FWLS Santorini's Battle Group to protect against commerce raiders or spoiler attacks by rebel Free Worlders. His Manei Domini while competent were too few and threw themselves recklessly into battle just as they had been trained.  Already the remaining half dozen divisions were being broken up and deployed at the battalion (III) level to augment the regular WOBM forces and provide “incentive” for the Militia.

Cavanaugh II, in the Lyran Bolan Theater was next, Cameron St Jamais' weary face projected above it.  The First Army of Blake was currently based there but battered themselves against Reinhardt Steiner's Steel Wall of an LCAF.  The First had made progress while their enemy was engaged with the now Jade Wolves but couldn't hold Son Hoa or Rahne or make progress toward more crucial objectives.  Their position rapidly worsening as their supply lines were constantly under attack by General Photon Brett-Marik's Army of True Patriots.

In the Tikonov Republic and greater Free Worlds League, the undermanned Second Army were running out of options as they were harried from all angles.  Precentor Douglas Firborg, the sixth Commander of that Army this year was folding under the constant pressure.  The Third Army was scattered throughout the Capellan Confederation and under pressure.  Precentor Xiang Han was pulling back to regroup with the Second Army and ensure the supply lines to the Blakist Protectorate (All worlds within a single jump to Terra) secured by the Fourth Army remained open to the First and Second Armies.

Next was the Commonwealth's Terran March, St Jamais' ill-advised relationship to and support of Kali Liao had backfired spectacularly.  The unpredictable woman's face loomed large, it was heavily tattooed, lean, but she could have been attractive if she weren't so crazy.  Her Thuggee death cult was more a danger to their allies than their enemies.  She was currently engaged in a bloody and ultimately fruitless battle against her cousins, the Allard-Liaos, and was being hounded by her sister-in-law, Naomi Centrella-Liao.  Eventually she would calm down and come under the sway of her big brother again.  Right now she was a murderous cyclone that was lashing out at everything and everyone with equal abandon.

The latest reports to come in were from the Circinus where Precentor Calvin McIntyre's Black Warriors were fighting the Commonwealth backed Hegemony in a brutal no holds barred conflict, ascended pirate kingdom versus ascended pirate kingdom.  Caesar Julius O'Reilly was winning his realm supported by the Commonwealth's vast military industry and deep pockets.  Incredulous reports even stated that Clan machines were showing up in the Legions and that the Caesar himself rode a powerful Dire Wolf Omnimech into battle. 

No amount of League or Word support could reverse the Federation's inevitable defeat and without the Canopian's ruthlessly efficient Ebon Magistrate to bolster them once more his undisciplined Black Warriors were being taken apart piecemeal by Julius' Legions.  It was unfortunate, Calvin had been a promising candidate to be The Master's protege but lacked the necessary discipline and bearing Thomas was looking for in a successor.

ROM's Alexander Kernoff was recuperating on New Earth after being injured in an assassination attempt orchestrated by the TNGB, the Tikonov Republic's secret service combined the best training and worst ethical oversight of the Commonwealth's clandestine services in one agency.  His ROM operatives were being uncovered at an alarming rate by MIIO and the LIC's Molehunters.  Their biggest success, the support of the traditionalist militant Black Dragon Society that destabilized the Draconis Combine with the goal of using it to attack the Commonwealth on three fronts was being undone. Franklin Sakamoto and his half-brother Minoru Nova Cat were getting closer to finding their brother and comatose father, both of whom were in ROM's custody.  When either Franklin or Minoru brought the Combine's Warlords to heel or the sword the Draconis Combine would roar again and not in the Word's favor.

Odessa in the Lyran Commonwealth lit up next, Gregory Zwick and the bulk of the Blakist Fleet were tied up at the shipyards of The Ruins of Gabriel in that system or the Titan Yards around Sol. Harried by Warships throughout the Inner Sphere with heavy casualties among the difficult to replace ships they were barely holding on against the Commonwealth's Third Fleet.  The constant need to repair cost them precious momentum while they limped back to the shipyard as they were unable to deploy the few mobile repair yards they possessed because everywhere was hostile space.

The detente between the six Inner Sphere Clans freed up more Hell’s Horses and Wolf assets that would otherwise be guarding the Ghost Bear border.  Jade Wolf vessels were moving to reinforce Reinhardt Steiner’s defense of the Bolan Theater while Wolves secured major worlds with Hell's Horses' support.

Worse yet the HPG network on which the Word of Blake’s reputation and prosperity depended were still down after nearly a year.  Sabotaged by unknown entities and the best technologists in the Inner Sphere couldn't discern the root issue.  Without communication all The Master's plans had gone to hell as his deputies improvised and made moves on their own initiative rather than wait for coordination with their peers.
He pulled up a list of remaining assets paging through the names of units that might have already been defeated or were en route to Terra.  He switching the view to the library of Blakist covert programs greenlit or were awaiting his authorization.  The Word of Blake had lost the hearts and minds but they could still win the war. 


He carefully typed a command into a console that would be added to the outgoing queue taking time to ensure his fingers responded to his thoughts properly.  Six Santa Anas on Crimson would just be the beginning.  The Word of Blake had thousands of weapons of mass destruction originally destined to annihilate every soul in the Kerensky Cluster on standby.  Some were flashier than others but they all did the same thing in the end. 

This was the final chapter prophesied.  He had hoped to unite the Inner Sphere under nobler goals but its inherent wickedness denied them a future of golden prosperity under a Star League ruled under Blake's Will. 

They would only have pain until they saw the light.  Blake's Word would cleanse them of their folly one way or another.

His enemies would have to accept that the price of victory would be steep and they would bear it on their minds, bodies, and souls just as The Master had.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: David CGB on 19 November 2018, 02:28:01
very nice, wondering what will come
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 19 November 2018, 09:29:01
very nice, wondering what will come

Bad things


11/07/3069 08:19 Location – ONI Mischief Night, Aea Zenith Point, Taurian Concordat

Deep within the bowels of the Seeker was the “Black Chamber” where the hyperspace transmitter/receiver was kept under observation at all times.  ONI Signals Operator Timothy Colorado paged through todays transmissions, incoming and outgoing, the latest incoming was unexpected.  He checked the codes again, and once more for certainty.  “Red Gold, that can’t be right.  Jane take a look at this, make sure I’m not dreaming.”

Jane Fontaine looked over the print out from the K-6 Black Box, the machine was built into the Seeker, the armored casing complete with a kill switch that would detonate sixteen kilograms of Pentaglycerine that would shatter the immensely expensive and highly sensitive piece of equipment, “Let me see that codebook.”

He pushed the metal bound binder toward her and it floated end over end until she grabbed it.  She paged through the recognized signals.  “You’re not dreaming but that doesn’t mean this makes any sense.  We need the Major.”

“Already paged him.”

ONI Major Terrance Vuri was not pleased to be woken up during his off shift, he arrived in the black chamber in a fury.  “What the hell?  I just need started some rack time.  What’s so damn important?”

“Sir, we have a high priority transmission from an unconventional station on four channels.”
“What do you mean unconventional? Speak up Timmy!”
“Sir, the transmission is coming from Victor Steiner-Davion’s old station using his personal priority codes.”
“That’s not possible!  The Camelot and its black box was decommissioned by the Archon-Princess years ago and even if it was active no one would have access to those codes.”

Jane opened the codebook to the sequence used, “It’s an older code sir but it checks out.  It was never removed perhaps in error since the codes were never used.”
“What does it say?”

She held up a thin strip of paper taking a moment to be certain she decipher it correctly, “Shortform:  it says that Taurus is about to be hit with an Asteroid on the Twentieth.  That the Asteroid was put in motion by The Word of Blake as a KEI weapon.  Additionally Grover Shraplen and his inner circle were killed in a coup.”

“That is what it says sir.”
“Where would they get that kind of tech?  It’s a major escalation if true.”
“Don’t know sir.  It’s your call whether you want to inform the Admiral or not.  I think we should check it out just to find out who transmitted this message assuming they survive.”

“I don’t know if we will be able to make it to Taurus before the Twentieth.  We are just beginning to recharge the cores now and can’t leave the other jumpships without escorts this deep into enemy territory.”

Terrance put his hand to his forehead, this was just too bizarre.  They were so close to Regis’ Roost and the Concordat Cageworks for these kinds of detours, the Admiral was going to be just as confused.

“I will talk to the Admiral right away.”

12/05/3069 11:32 Location – TDF Asteroid Defense Base 7, Taurus, Taurian Concordat

Rabid Fox Team 456 waited while two of their number prepared a heavy electric cutter to breach the airlock.  One man held the device in a harness and had an extra shield covering his helmet while the other had the large power pack it drew upon and assisted when it was in use.  Warning signs indicated the station was in quarantine and that meant the Rabid Foxes had to breach the door; the TDF didn’t exactly give the DMI access codes to their bases. 

Their C-7 Forced Entry Transport was docked inside the hanger of a cored out asteroid defense base dating back to just past the Reunification War several centuries ago but the inside was renovated less than five years ago according to records and was well maintained. 

Two massive 55 centimeter capital lasers and dozens of smaller lasers for defense had been installed to protect Taurus from further Davion aggressions.  Karmic perhaps that a Federated Suns cruiser task force was now leading search and rescue operations rather than destroying the last cage-works capable of making a warship in the periphery. 

The Foxes had taken their time coming in, frequently attempting to hail the TDF defenders on multiple frequencies but all they received was dead air.  Their scanners determined that the nuclear fission reactor at the core of the station was still active and intact, surface features showed no signs of external damage, the weapons did track automatically but didn’t engage without a human in the loop.  This team and four others were working their way through the bases to determine why they didn’t fire on the asteroid that hit Taurus slightly more than two weeks ago killing almost all of its nearly four billion inhabitants.

“Almost ready Sergeant.”
“Helmets on, we are under full hazard protocol, don’t know if the station is in quarantine for a reason but have to assume that it is.  Buddy checks on seals.  Everyone check your rad tags and chemical sensors.  Maui get your biologicals kit ready, I want samples for analysis if we find anything off inside.”

The Rabid Foxes donned their full vacuum armor and engaged the over pressure in their compartment to keep suspected airborne contaminants out.
“Lock us out El Tee”

The C-7 was based on the S-7 Orbit to Orbit transport and had two cargo compartments to handle the frequent empty space transfers of material.  The commandoes were currently in the smaller air-locked compartment isolated from the main body and follow on crews.  The light on the large bay doors that separated them went red indicating complete isolation in the event of a contamination.

“Don’t do anything stupid Sergeant, if you find hostiles or acute hazards fall back.  Can’t trust anything these days.”
“Roger El Tee”

“Crush it”

The two commandoes maneuvered the cutting jaws into position and used them to break through the military grade armor protecting the airlock with a crashing noise only softened by the built in audio filters in his helmet.  The gap widened and the over pressure filled the antechamber.  The Rabid Foxes carefully entered the jagged hole in the airlock.  One of their number deploying an airtight membrane to seal the door behind them.  “One more to go.”

The ‘chewy’ walked forward slowly followed by his ‘sparky’, “I hope so, this thing is damn heavy.  We don’t want to carry it around all day.”
“Her Majesty’s Department of Military Intelligence made it as light as possible Greg.”

He hefted the device to the second door, “Yeah?  Really feeling the love in my lumbars Katrina.  Ready when you are Sarge.”

Sergeant Palisade looked toward the sealed gap behind him, its installer gave him a thumbs up, indicated that no over-pressure was making it through.  “Go”

The noise was much louder in the smaller antechamber than it was in the C-7 but the audio filters helped.  Rabid Foxes deployed an auxiliary membrane to keep the area somewhat clean of additional contamination.  Bright white lights illuminated the large cargo bay that tied into the hanger complex, idled industrial exoskeletons waited in their charging cradles, but the place was abandoned except for a cleaning drone that worked its way through the racks of supplies and a variety of overhead transports.  “Well at least no one is shooting at us.”

“I hope it stays that way corporal but if it doesn’t draw your side-arm.  I still have a suspicion that this might be a trap.  Greg and Doug commandeer one of those overhead rail transports.”

The two of them found a working sled out, unencumbered themselves by strapping the unit to one of the sides, drew their sidearms, and pushed it into position.  The railway was attached to a series of similar ones that lined up with five stories of wide corridors, each capable of housing a buckets and two men abreast or a heavy exoskeleton on either side.  Transporting bulky goods in fractional gravity was hard and the only way to do it economically was an overhead bucket system like this.  Individuals could hitch a ride on a self-propelled handle or sled to traverse the station rapidly, “We’re ready”

“Alright team we have to reach the command bunker.  Smith, Jones, you two stay here and watch our ride out.  The rest of you with me.  We’re going to tie this sled to another one.  Keep an eye out for signs pointing to the command bunker and then we’ll figure out what is going on.”

The Rabid Foxes held onto the handles and about a hundred meters before they came upon the corpse of a TDF soldier floating in the hallway.  The dead man was facing away from them and putrid.  The Foxes stopped their sled and Sergeant Palisade looked at the dead man. He was lucky they had taken the anti-vomit medication before coming here or else he might be choking on his own puke.  He motioned to the medic that was coming to examine the corpse. “Maui, I don’t need your biologics kit to tell me what this man died of.”

“What is it Sarge?”

“I’ve seen this before, on Indicass in Sixty Two.


This base was nerve gassed, probably only hours before the asteroid was sent toward Taurus.  Since it has been two weeks the agent is probably inert now but we still need to keep biologics out. 

We are a morgue detail now Four Fifty-Six, so you can holster your sidearm. 

Jenkins, tell the Commander to bring in a Chaplain and another shot of Ex-V (no vomit medication).  We might be here for a while.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 20 November 2018, 07:36:00
10/30/3069 Location – Colonial Square, Marcus, Crofton, Federated Commonwealth

Colonial Square was filled with Red and Gold banners emblazoned with the Federated Commonwealth crest all the way down the main avenue where a Battlemech lance of the 1st Outback Legion stood guard.  The tall flag pole in front of Marcus' capital house was currently vacant but a group of AFFC soldiers in dress uniforms were standing nearby. 

The newly repaired and repainted BattlemasterBlack Prince” stood off to the side with other AFFC and former Hellion mechs, each one locked in a salute as Peter Steiner-Davion ascended the stage.  He looked like Hanse Davion had been reborn and the clock turned back to when he was in his prime.  Short red hair catching the breeze, spurs gently clanging on the steps behind him, the rest of his green and gold uniform neat and pressed.  A large AFFC flag was raised up the flagpole replacing the one the Hellions removed during their occupation of the planet.

The citizens in the square let out an audible gasp as he settled in front of the podium for his first public appearance in more than a decade.  They had been expecting Yvonne to make the address today. 

A collective calm enveloped the square as everyone held their breaths all were watching the vidscreens and listening closely to the speaker trucks strategically set up to ensure everyone heard what was said today.  This was the first public appearance of any Steiner-Davion Prince since Arthur's ill-fated address to the people of Robinson years ago and that incident had started two wars.

Yvonne followed him up the stairs holding the hand of her young niece Victoria.  Her sister-in-law Daphne was carrying her son, Jacob, in her arms.  The toddler could walk but they didn't want him to trip in front of the cameras as he might hurt himself.  Both stood behind Peter just out of frame for close in shots, everything had been rehearsed over and over again for the past three days.

Yvonne choose not to wear her formal AFFC uniform for the occasion instead choosing an appropriate yet understated outfit fit for a Grand Duchess.  She had provided Daphne an outfit suitable for a Princess-Consort from her collection which far outshined her own selection.  She had protested but Yvonne was adamant that today's event would be about them not her even though she had a large part to play. 

Even with more than a year knowing the truth, she still hadn't processed the fact that the washed up Mechwarrior she married in the Far Looker colonies was actually a Prince; and that meant the little orphan girl he married was a Princess just like the stories.  However the stories had not prepared her for the horrors she had seen on Minette and she prayed every night that they were strong enough to bear the responsibility he had avoided for so long.  A part of her mind still tried to convince her to run back to Randis with her children far away from the pain and suffering in the Inner Sphere but she wouldn't leave Peter and he had chosen to make a stand here in the Commonwealth.

The cameras zoomed in on Peter's face as he cleared his throat, “Greetings people of Crofton and the Federated Commonwealth.  For those of you who haven't realized who I am I will reintroduce myself.  I am Peter Steiner-Davion, Prince, Husband, and Father:
Son of Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner;
Brother to the late Archon-Prince Victor;
Late Prince Arthur;”
Peter looked toward his sister who nodded slightly, “Yvonne, Grand Duchess of the Federation Outback,
and Katherine,
Archon-Princess of the Federated Commonwealth."

Murmuring broke out among the crowd, everyone wondering whether Katherine knew her brother was back, “You may be wondering what I have been doing for the past fourteen years.  Many dismissed me as dead and in a way I was.  I wandered throughout the Inner Sphere in disguise shirking my responsibility to my family and realm because I was weak and fearful. 

During my travels I learned many things and grew wiser in the way that any man does.  I found love, married, was happy, sad, lived the anonymous life of a normal man far from here.  Till one day I realized it was all a lie; that when I left the Commonwealth I left a part of myself behind in it.  A part that I was afraid of; with good reason but not reason enough to hide from or cower before it and I came back because I needed to.

Because you all needed me to.

All of you know we live in a dark time, the Hellions occupied this world till less than ten days ago.  Just as my brother came to Coventry to fight the Falcons and save the Commonwealth.  I have come to Crofton with the same goal.

Citizens, enemies assail us from every direction including within, but like all hard times these will pass. 

The cyclic nature of conflict in the Inner Sphere is regrettable but I believe is not inevitable.  The four century long circle of conflict must be broken so that my children and yours can live in an era where we build the future, not destroy the present, or stoke past grudges long after the people who feuded are dead.  An era that they only hear about in the stories we grudgingly tell them before they go to bed, as our parents did before us.  Such an age has never existed but that doesn't mean it cannot...or that we should not start on the path to make it.

It will not be an easy task, and I can't do it alone so I implore you to stand with me against the forces of chaos that warp everything we hold dear before our very eyes.  Together we will overcome these grave challenges piece by piece.  Each one of us can contribute something to this noble endeavor and each action will build on the other.  Today marks the first step of many in the right direction. 

With that I ask that Khan Xander Drake of the Hellions step forth.”

Khan Drake marched across the square with the dismounted but still armed Warriors of the Swift Kill Keshik still in their urban camouflage battledress, they had refused parade attire, such things were beneath proper Warriors.  As he passed the military policemen that kept the jeering crowd at bay Xander noticed a little boy with black hair and blue eyes staring at him.

He had seen eyes like that once before in a vid that was now lost to his memory, he couldn't place the face or time.  The lad locked gazes with him, a young boy perhaps 12 in a staring match with the much larger Elemental Khan.  A struggle between fury and sadness evident beneath the steel blue gaze.  The eyes of someone that had experienced much loss in his short life.  A blonde woman in her mid-30s with a young girl in her arms, most likely the boy's guardian.  As the Warriors passed she looked increasingly concerned at her child who kept looking but didn't intervene to stop him. 

The exchange almost caused Xander abandon the agreed upon plan and figure out who the mystery lad was as he was overcome with curiosity.  However he maintained control and continued but noted the lad would be a fine Warrior someday.  Any child with enough courage to stare down a Clan Khan had a bright future ahead of them.  The only regret was that he probably wouldn't serve in the Hellions' Touman.

The Swift Kill Keshik was escorted then isolated before the stage standing tall even as the crowd called for “Death to Pirates.”  When Khan Xander Drake, SaKhan Conner Rood, or Loremaster Amelia Wallace turned they quieted down, each of them whispered, “chalcas cowards,” under their breaths.

Peter ceded the stage to Yvonne and hugged his daughter before standing again, “Khan Drake, your Hellions invaded my sovereign territory.  An offense that would normally have you branded as pirates and forced to stand in front of a firing squad...or under a gallows. 

However, you did the Outback a noble service by ridding us of the Pirate Scourges and acquitted yourselves with honor and courage under fire while following the formal rules of war.  In light of your service as unwitting as it was, and despite your violent incursion I am willing to grant you and your Clan clemency and land-holds in exchange for an oath of service to the Grand Duke of Minette, March Lord of the Outback, as per the Compact that currently sits before us.  Do you accept my conditions?”

The crowd was awed then booed, the Hellions had been a light touch occupation force but they had killed possibly thousands of AFFC soldiers during their invasion and such actions were felt to require consequence.  The fact that the Grand Duchess extended them not only landholds but forgave them put them on edge.  Crofton military police kept a vigilant eye on the crowd although some of their number lost friends and family during the occupation and would have welcomed the chance to fight clanners man-to-man rather than in machines that bested everything that opposed them.  Concern about the crowd's reaction was one of the reasons Khan Drake had demanded that they still be allowed to carry weapons during this gathering.  The other was that they refused to surrender them.  Warriors by nature were never far from their weapons. 

Khan Drake looked around at his deputies as much as this was prearranged it didn't make it easier for the proud Trueborn Warrior to admit.  He would be forced to accept that he was defeated by a freeborn spheroid.  At least his Clan would survive and with that the Hellions' legacy would continue.  Perhaps he would get a chance to fight Katherine, who was until recently a secret member of the hated Wolf Clan, in the inevitable Civil War between the Steiner-Davion sibkin.  Then it would all be worth it and the Hellions would be poised to leap on Terra in its wake. 

The SaKhan and Loremaster nodded to him, “I will accept your generous offer and fair conditions Grand Duchess Steiner-Davion and with it end the state of war between the Hellions and Federated Commonwealth.”

Yvonne stepped down from the podium and was followed closely by the Outback Legion's new Supreme Commander, Marshal Jamie Francis, and Peter who took positions on either side of Yvonne.  The Hellions' SaKhan and Loremaster mirrored their spheroid counterparts while Yvonne and Xander signed their names to the paper and tied their fates together for better or worse.  Peter hadn't liked this plan but he knew that the alternatives were less desirable.  He needed the Hellions, they needed the Commonwealth, and neither would win in a fight to the death.

Later that night Peter and Yvonne were up at the command table looking over their situation.  The Black Box on ONI Sly Fox was keeping them up to date on the Taurian campaign which was currently the largest operation in the Outback's Area of Concern.  George Hasek's Capellan Marchers were still engaged in SOVERIGN JUSTICE but it was winding down and Tancred Sandoval had deployed to the Combine in order to support stop Black Dragon raids on his worlds which indirectly aided Franklin Sakamoto’s still embattled forces.

“George is your best bet Peter.  His Fusiliers are the most battle hardened command in the AFFC by now.  The bulls are being pushed back and beyond the border now's the time to move before he gets any ambitions toward New Avalon.  He's been too busy defending New Sytis to assert Morgan's claim to the Title of First Prince to the Privy Council.”

“He's no fan of Katherine sure but how am I going to convince him to aid me.  He has everything he needs now and is at the top of his game, he bombarded Sian and once more the St Ives Commonality is independent.”

“You have a couple of weeks to figure it out, the VSD has a few more days till everything is fixed and then it can slow roll to New Syrtis until you come up with something.  I'll stay here and take care of Daphne, the kids, and the Hellions.”

“I like how you separated the two.”
“Just wait until I spend some time alone with Vicky.  Things will never be the same again.”
“Please don't mess my kids up.”

She gave him a sly smile, “I won't, promise”

“I'm sorry I wasn't there for you Yvonne.  There are a lot of things I would change given another chance.”

“How many chances do you need Peter?  You already came back, there's nothing but forward now.  Don't lose sight of that because you feel guilty that you didn't play with your kid sister.  I'm thirty now it's all in the past.  Anyway it’s getting late we should go to bed.”

“Alright goodnight sister.  Keep away from the Khan for at least a night, you need to pace yourself, personal experience.”

Yvonne looked over her shoulder at him incredulous, giving him the best teen girl impression she could muster, “First Gross.  Second, Just because you are starting to act like a First Prince now doesn’t make you Dad. I'll do what and whomever I damn well please as often as I please.  I have plenty of experience too and I'm nowhere near my limit.”

She playfully slammed the door, Peter shook his head and noticed a dark figure scrambling into the open window.  He blinked his eyes and looked again, the shape disappeared but he reached under the table to draw the Serrak pistol concealed in a secret compartment below, holding it close to his chest.  “Who's there?”

A crackly adolescent boy's voice was behind him, “Apologies Ojisan for needing to sneak.”

Peter turned around raising the pistol but saw no one, then he looked down and saw a boy wearing a dark blue suit with a balaclava covering his face, a lock of black hair peeked through as he was bowing.  Shortly followed by soulful steely blue eyes that were looking up towards him.  The pistol was still at the ready this could be a trick, “What the hell kid I could of shot you!  Who are you anyway?  Where's your parents?”

“I am Kitsune Kurita, son of Victor and Omiko.  Can you tell me about my father?”

The pistol clattered to the floor.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Shadow_Wraith on 20 November 2018, 09:12:56
 :)) Wow, what a way to end the chapter!!  Keep it up!
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Dave Talley on 20 November 2018, 11:06:25
and a metric ton of crap is about to hit the fan
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: ckosacranoid on 20 November 2018, 16:10:36
The hidden secert has come out of the box and katty is not going to very happy with the fox on this one very much. I think Iris is going to have a fit that she gets dragged into this also.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 20 November 2018, 17:27:29
11/16/3069 17:17 Location – Niflheim, Dagda, Federated Commonwealth

The world of Dagda in the Federated Commonwealth was sometimes used as a stopover point for bold jump-ships looking to shave their transit times by recharging at its red dwarf star.  Those that merely passed through remained unaware of its secrets.  This so called dead world was anything but these days.

Dagda was similar to Gallery but lacked the rich ore and gemstone deposits of that world lacking as it was a massive moon to churn the inside of the planet.  This lack of easily extracted minerals caused colonists to abandon it during the 29th Century.  The LIC had almost completed an installation in secret here during that time but it too was abandoned with the rest of the colony.

The unnamed and incomplete facility was never occupied and faded from memory until an LIC archivist presented records of it to Archon Katrina Steiner shortly after her ascension.  The Archon sent an expedition to investigate it for Lostech but found nothing of interest at the 'abandoned mine'. 

The expedition leader reported that it had been incredibly difficult to find, especially from orbit.  Any signs of construction had been intentionally obfuscated and the persistent rain and fog removed all surface traces over the centuries.  Ultimately Katrina choose not to utilize the abandoned facility and buried any record of its existence deep in her personal files.  Files that passed to her sister following her death.

Then Princess Katherine was browsing through said files while she was recovering on Gallery.  She recommissioned the facility in secret, financing its completion with money siphoned from the traitor Ryan Steiner’s Free Skye.  Niflheim was finally completed shortly before her own ascension to the Archonship.  Its purpose was to serve as a redoubt should Tharkad have a real chance of falling to enemy powers.

Its existence would have been shared with Peter if he became Archon and she returned to being only Duchess of New Avalon.  Later she expanded the secretly Wolf built Tamar-Tharkad HPG Trunk to the installation for the same reason.

Archon-Princess Katherine Steiner-Davion walked through the drab labyrinth of concrete corridors burrowing deep into the rock. She looked ill, her once golden hair was a dull straw, the little skin that showed from her hooded blue and silver robes had not seen sun for months, and her constitution was weakened by stress, lack of appetite, and fitful sleep.

Her imagination had been running wild of late.  She was a fey queen deep within her unassailable fortress guarded by illusions, chilling fog, and snarling wolves. Lucid nightmares and lurid hallucinations haunted and hunted her wherever she went.  The result of a hex that must have been placed on her.  A portion of her mind whispered that it was just the lack of medication and stimulation but that part spoke only lies and half-truths and she dismissed its concerns without delay.

The realm was under attack it all started with a battle that shattered a city of ice.  The fey queen aided a warrior prince as he valiantly fought to reclaim his homeland from the talons of a great bird.  Then white knights wielding broadswords battered themselves against an iron wall warded by giant golems whose fists shattered stone and that spit fire capable of melting the strongest steel.

Noble beasts flocked to her banner standing against a great eagle, rampaging bull, evil sorceress, and two dragons.  The battle would turn in their favor and then her king would lead his grand host to victory in a final battle that would shake the whole of creation.  Emerging victorious to reclaim the shimmering jewel that was his destiny.  With it her part would be done, her king would be hers alone, and their children would grow into wise and noble rulers, continuing an unbroken and unbreakable dynasty that would rule the new golden kingdom for eternity.

Lost as she was in her mind Katherine eventually found her way back to the third of the facility that was occupied by people.  Wolf Tau Elementals patrolled the halls more out of boredom than the need for security, their heavy footfalls echoing through the narrow corridors. They practiced in full armor in the lower levels where there was nothing they could damage except some ancient concrete and rough stone but only carried their Mauser rifles up here.

Their Mechwarrior brethren went out on maneuvers every day, frequently taking Katherine's sons with them.  Wolf Instructors kept Alaric and Siegfried busy with their Warrior training and Morgan spent most of her time either studying in her room, exercising, eating, or with Katherine.  She was growing restless and moody without friends which broke Katherine's heart during her more lucid moments.  At least when they were traveling she could spend time with other girls; here there was nobody she could freely talk to except her mother and brothers.

Wolf Scientists and ONI Technicians moved with purpose throughout the eight floor.  COMSTAR had traced the root fault of the Whiteout to the Tharkad-Tamar HPG Trunk Line that Katherine had the Wolves install during her reign. She had forgotten that there was an HPG of the same make at this facility prior to her arrival three months ago.  Once she realized that it had never been used and thus might not be afflicted by whatever had thrown the faster than light network into chaos she called in Scientists from both Wolf Clans and ONI's Sigma Section on Tharkad.  They were precisely tearing the machine's hardware apart and looking through the software line by line, comparing it to quarantined samples from other HPGs of Clan and COMSTAR manufacture.

The Federated Commonwealth was ostensibly allied with COMSTAR but she didn't trust them enough to let them in on her parallel research project.  Their radical splinter faction, The Word of Blake, was her current foe and she didn't want to fix the HPGs and possibly allow them to coordinate their forces or be forced to leave for Tharkad before the Valhalla was completely repaired.  The chaos in the HPG network was currently working in the Commonwealth's favor.

Katherine eventually snapped out of her fugue state in time to hear Alaric running and shouting at her. “Come with me.”

“What is it Al?”
“No questions, come on.”

He grabbed her hand and walked her to the small mess hall they used as a family dining room which was currently dark.  It's lights were motion sensitive so Katherine didn't think anything of it.  As she entered the lights turned on revealing Siegfried and Morgan who were both wearing messy aprons behind the table and her favorite meal laid out before them with a messily iced small cake with big letters spelling out, Happy Birthday Mom

All three shouted, “Surprise!”

She was taken aback; lately she hadn't been paying attention to the date on top of the reports.  Everything had been rolling together since she was underground or in a Warship seasons and light never changed.  Katherine had totally forgotten that today was her birthday.  “You made all this?”
“Al and I had help but Morgan did the whole cake by herself.”
“I'm sorry its a little messy.  I need more practice icing.  It was supposed to be a German chocolate cake but I had to make some substitutions because we don't have anything fresh.  I'm not sure how it will taste but I hope you like it.”

“I'm sure it will taste great dear. 

I...I don't know what to say.

Thank You”

The four of them joined in on a group hug, “We wanted to make you something else but..”

“No, it's fine, I have everything I could ever want right here.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 22 November 2018, 03:05:14
Interesting facility.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 26 November 2018, 17:16:32
11/15/3069 23:17 Location - Dormuth, Marik, Free Worlds League

Colonel Alys Hampton’s (Russett-Marik) recently repaired Apollo 2R blazed out of the night sky just outside the Marik planetary capital Dormouth.  The city was under blackout conditions although there were some messages being displayed in IR in support of her Resistance defying the Blakist or “Loyalist” forces that occupied the world.  She had only been on this world a few times in her entire life despite it bearing a portion of her last name.  Always to visit her cousin Corrine who was now currently serving as an unwilling puppet/prisoner as Captain-General on Atreus. 

Her mother, Kristen, had left to be a mercenary while her uncle, Corrine’s Father, Paul remained to eventually rise up as the Minister of Intelligence despite his lack of good sense.  Now Paul had launched a coup which displaced the competent Thomas Halas for him not being Marik enough in a signature Marik move.

He had sent assassins to kill her of both League and Word vintage which made it personal so she returned the favor.  Now she was invading his world with her Krushers supported by a hodgepodge of Galatean mercs known as the AMC (Allied Mercenary Command) paid for by the Commonwealth, disaffected FWLM remnants (The Ragamuffin Regiment) that had flocked to her banner and been recently refitted at Irian, the whole 12th Atrean Dragoons commanded by her husband now Colonel Christian Hampton, and the 1st Federated Suns Armored Cavalry which had been ground down and rebuilt from the ground up twice in as many years.

“Colonel left flank is folding”
“Roger, moving now.”

The Krushers originally a heavy battalion were a much smaller unit than she had at the beginning of the conflict but were still a battle hardened reinforced company that was now used to reinforce the AMC or Ragamuffins.  The 12th Dragoons and 1st ArmCav knew what they were doing and were in good hands under Colonel Hampton and General Zibler.  The Krushers moved quickly through the darkness to find a group of “Rags” heavily engaged against a lance of upteched Goliath Battlemechs. 

The 4 quadruped assaults were pressing slowly toward the company, composed of older medium designs, tracers from autocannon shells, streaks of manmade lightning, and missiles rained down as they neared one another.  However the Goliaths despite their spindly appearance were built tough and even though they payload was lesser the sheer mass of armor and stable firing platform was breaking the inexperienced Ragamuffins.  “Of course it had to be Goliaths, god I hate those things.”

The Krushers were a mostly heavyweight company with a lot of the character of the Lyran state they had long contracted themselves out to.  It was part of what made them so durable and their long service history made them the naturals to liaise with the Commonwealth’s invasion of the Free Worlds League despite the possible blowback of treachery when her cousin Photon and her began their resistance to their uncles.

Alys’ jump jets lit up the night as her battlemech catapulted into the air and onto a nearby rise followed by those of Falconers,Penetrators, Uziels, and Griffins all painted dark purple and gray with a black stripe over their upper arm actuators.

“Get Krushing!”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 27 November 2018, 17:20:38
11/28/3069 Location - Army of True Patriots HQ, Son Hoa, Federated Commonwealth

General Photon Brett(-Marik)’s Supernova dodged a volley of fire from a Blakist Titan only to be caught by a a strafing Shiva Omnifighter.  The pulse lasers worked their way up his armor like the claws of a wild animal and the shock of the heavy autocannon nearly toppled him in the melee.  “Where’s my Air Cover!”

Two Oni Aerofighters in the colors of the Nova Cat’s Alpha Galaxy burned out of the sky their bellies still cherry hot from reentry to engage the vulnerable Shiva.  The much larger and less maneuverable craft was easy pickings for the battle hardened Nova Cat Aeropilots.  The Shiva was torn up by the Oni’s guns and missiles and lost control for three seconds before crashing into a StarCorps Security Warhammer at high speed transforming both into a debris field with a grand screeching of metal.  The impact happened in slow motion for Photon but was instantaneous.  “That one was lucky, will not happen again General.”

“Sure didn’t feel lucky Star Commodore.  Make sure it doesn’t”

Both Onis boosted back to orbit with a deafening sonic boom that echoed across the field.  The survivors of Clan Nova Cat’s Transcendence Naval Star were supported by Archon-Princess Katherine’s former flagship, the Du Shi Wang Battleship CWS Blood Moon, in engaging a Blakist Task Force led by the Agamemnon cruiser FWLS Hippolyta that sought to deal the death blow to Photon’s rebel army. 

Air Cover was lacking as the Thera Supercarrier ATPS Thessaly and its air arm that Photon brought across the border months ago was being finished and fitted at the Port Sydney Cageworks around Alarion, the only one large enough to handle the massive carrier outside of the Clipperton yards where it was stolen from, with components originally meant for the Mjolnir Battlecruiser FCS Sveltalfheim.  The gargantuan Mjolnir having been lost in a desperate defense earlier this year, the refit process would take nearly six months, a long time when you have a good portion of the Eagle’s Aerie gunning for you.

Photon returned his focus to the Blakist Titan he was facing down, the Assault Battlemech slightly outweighed his own but what mattered what was under the hood and who was in control.  Photon’s black hair was damp against the headband of his neurohelmet as he toggled an Alpha strike of six Clantech ER Large Lasers packing 50% more firepower than the fearsome Awesome he was used to.  “Why do you always have to be such a hothead Photon?”

The six lasers cut deep into the enemy Titan neatly bisecting the already damaged Battlemech, the enemy’s heavy PPC caused critical damage to the Supernova’s right leg actuators and the missiles only made it worse when the reactor engaged the safety overrides and shut the reactor down.  Photon’s mech collapsed in the mud, instantly baking it with the excess heat from the lasers.  The Titan tumbled as the pilot attempted to keep it upright but failed.  The mighty battlemech fell with a grand crash that shattered the left arm that had attempted to slow its descent.

The heat in Photon’s cockpit was unbearable and he popped the top access hatch to prevent parbaking himself.  Outside the battle raged on; both sides completely oblivious that his mech was downed distracted as they were by their own battles.  A squad of StarCorps Security Defender Conventional fighters flew over and dropped their ordnance on a Blakist Armor Company currently engaging their fellow StarCorps Security Armor.  The impact of their 30 HE bombs could be felt through the downed Supernova.  Two of the fighters crashed shortly after while another was trailing smoke after the exchange.

His mech was torn up but could still fight it just needed time to cool down.  He removed his neurohelmet and left the Mech in low power mode, secured the hatch, and walked across the back of the Supernova carefully avoiding the red hot radiator panels.  Upon reaching the edge he hopped off the steaming mech and into the formerly muddy ground around his mech.  Now the ground was steaming but dry and he set off for the downed Titan a hundred meters away. 

While walking he drew the Hawk Eagle pistol he kept in a shoulder harness.  Boldly walking through the middle of the carnage unprotected except by an armored cooling vest as missiles darkened the sky around his little zone of control.  He approached the fallen Battlemech quickly keeping low to avoid detection from its pilot who likely thought himself safe for now in his disabled Battlemech.  The Blakists had launched a surprise attack on his army while they were refitting with the goal to slaughter them and probably level the StarCorps factory in the process so he wasn’t feeling in a merciful mood. 

Photon worked his way up the handholds techs use to inspect mech components in the field keeping his body against the now browned white paint of the WOMB Mech.  He stopped when he saw a logo, a shimmering silver shield emblazoned with a yellow orb surrounded by a black octagon, unlike any WOBM logo he had ever seen.  “What the hell is that?”

He noted it for future reference it was not likely the last they would see of that symbol.  He reached the main cockpit and placed a small demo charge of C8 where the access hatch’s latches were located.  He slide down on the other side of the Titan’s cockpit and triggered the detonator which let off a muffled blast that left the hatch unsecured.  “If you have a gun toss it up or I’m rolling a micro-grenade down there!”

A revolver was tossed outside of the cockpit and Photon kicked it away, “Come on up.”

The Mechwarrior cleared the hatch hands visible to Photon who was leaning against the Titan’s armored cowling.  “You’re making a mistake.”

“Am I now because as I recall you attacked me and I’m winning.”
“You won’t win, Sol belongs to the True Believers of the Blessed Order.  No army can take it though all have tried.”

Photon watched from his vantage point as the Nova Cats arrived to support the StarCorps Security Forces and rout the attacking Blakists, “As I recall one army did and they won't stop till they get a second chance.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 29 November 2018, 14:37:07
This is the overview that I made for Part III.  I'll fill in the blanks in time just not in time for NaNoWriMo

Propaganda Video Series (super short stories to add flavor)
"Big Ygg" and the Browncoats (TRG)
Birds of a Feather, Thessaly Reborn in Port Sydney
Walking the Halls of the Valhalla once more
Task Force FORGE, The Rhino, and The Iron Wall of Caledonia
Photon Brett-Marik and the 2nd SLDF
Adam Steiner of Somerset
From New Syrtis to Sian and back again with the Fusiliers
The Dominion of Damocles, Ghost Bears friend or foe?
Portrait of Destruction, The Bull weeps and rages

The Sol Protectorate, Blake Rebranded
The War on Terror - Disaster on Donegal
The War on Terror - St Ives under Siege
The War on Terror - Caught on Carver V
The War on Terror - Nukes on Novaya Zemlya
The War on Terror - Doughboys of Dobson

Story Seeds
The Lost Ones
Arthur and the Morrigan (Bismark reborn)
The Cousin's War (Naomi CL and Kai AL vs Kali Liao) on Highspire
Sun-Tzu and Kuan-Yin, a second life for Liao?

Skye, Sol, and the Sword / Third times the charm
White on White for Wolverines, Ghost Bears and COMSTAR come to blows
Regulans vs Robots, The Battle of Gibson
Return of the Queen
Desperate Times and foolish half-measures / Cameron St Jamais loses his cool
A Challenger to the Crown, Peter and George on New Avalon
Clearing the Air, HPGs online
Iron and Ice, Turncoats on Tharkad
Black Warriors vs The Ebon Magistrate, Rival Cyborgs Showdown
Photon Bridges the Gap / Terrible News from Tamarind
Meeting in the Middle, Katherine, Peter, and Yvonne on Asta
A Coalition of Common Cause puts pressure on the Protectorate
Operation:  KALEIDOSCOPE, Popping the bubble
Sins of the Solar Empire / Battle for Sol / Operation:  BLACKLIGHT
The Price of Victory
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 30 November 2018, 04:32:44
Now that's an interesting outline!
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 03 December 2018, 09:06:05
11/01/3069 02:17 Location – Governor’s Mansion, Crofton, Federation Outback

Peter Steiner-Davion sat on a bench with his coat collar up against the slight chill while Kitsune Kurita was under a muted red woolen AFFC blanket.  They both needed some fresh air after an emotionally trying couple of hours.

“I still find this all so hard to believe kid.  However it is too outrageous to be fabricated, I’m certain it could be proven easily enough.  I thought Katherine used rumors of your existence to antagonize James Sandoval.  Not that he needed much provocation after Arthur’s assassination.”

“No its fine I am unfortunately used to being used that way.  The Imperial Palace rumors always had me as the child of Isis Marik and Sun-Tzu Liao as protection from conspirators.  Yet that still wasn’t enough to save my mother from the Black Dragons.  I am blessed that Isis is still with me.”

“Wait you mean Isis Marik is here on Crofton?”
“Yes.  She will be furious when I return home.  She doesn’t like that I still sneak around and keep up the training routine that my uncle taught me.”
“Coordinator Sakamoto?”

“Yes, Franklin Sakamoto is currently the de facto Coordinator on New Samarkand although he still has to get the Warlords to stop fighting each other to recognize him as such.  It’s all very fragmented with the HPGs down but we can listen in on the DCMS’ Black Box transmission although it takes a while to break the cyphers.”

“Uncle Franklin is a good and honorable man, he would make a fine Coordinator.”
“That’s what a lot of the analysts think.  We still don’t know what happened to your Uncle and Grandfather though we are looking into it.  I’m sorry we can’t really help we have our own problems.”
“I understand.  It’s enough that I actually got to meet you.  I never got to know what my father was like outside of the stories my mother told me.  I couldn’t let this chance to actually meet you and Yvonne in person pass by.”

Just at that moment Grand Duchess Yvonne and Khan Xander Drake both in robes walked together across the courtyard to the kitchens from their quarters.  Yvonne having thought the courtyard abandoned looked toward the bench and her brother with embarrassment.  She put her head up defiant and walked faster.  Xander looked at the kid in the moonlight recognizing him as the one that stared him down yesterday morning.  He stopped and attempted to say something before Yvonne grabbed his arm and pulled him behind her.

“I think we should let this opportunity to know you Aunt better pass by Kit.”
“Why is she with the Hellions’ Khan?”
“She has taken a page out of our sister’s approach to diplomacy with the Clans.”
“I think I understand.”
“I hope so kid.  I don’t have time to explain it to you.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 03 December 2018, 17:08:39
“Big Ygg” and the Browncoats

"This is Svetlana Petrova with the Commonwealth News Service here today with the Commonwealth’s Third Fleet Commander. Admiral Hai Shing Vietchi of Yangtze, it is my great pleasure to welcome you on my program today.”

The camera panned to a lanky elder spacer of south-east Asian ancestry with ruddy skin and close cut graying black hair.  The right breast of his blue and gold dress uniform was filled with ribbons of different colors, “Thank you Mrs Petrova.  While I am ever humble and focused on my responsibilities your viewers are just as important to me as they are to you.  We both wouldn’t have a job without them.  Don’t you agree?”

The screen switches to a blonde woman in her late 20s wearing neat red dress, “Indeed Admiral Vietchi, they are the thing that makes the Federated Commonwealth and its member states as great as they truly are.  What would you like to talk with us about today?”

“Well this upcoming year is the tenth year of service for the Yggdrasil.  It’s a big deal to have a Warship this capable and busy holding on for that long.  The fact that it has spent almost its life in the Third Fleet supporting the Republican Guards is my great honor.”

“The Commonwealth Fleet is regionally based why leave such a vessel in one place region for so long isn’t the point that these ships can move around?”

“That is in fact the point, the Admiralty had long wanted to have a Mjolrnir Battlecruiser in each Fleet Zone to anchor a Battle Group.  The Fylgia is the only other one in service at this time and it is too busy protecting the McKenna Shipyards against assault.  This leaves only the Yggdrasil to do the heavy lifting in the Commonwealth Fleet against aggressors.  The Clan Naval Stars have been a godsend but we should not rely on others to protect us if it can be done ourselves. 

With the valiant last stand of the Sveltalfheim earlier this year such a goal will be delayed for at least three more years.  The fact that the Valhalla could be repaired after it was heavily damaged in the Battle over Tharkad is fortunate and its imminent reactivation timely considering latest developments. 

No the Yggdrasil has been based here because the Third Fleet is the Gateway to the Galaxy.  We are the bridge between the Federated Commonwealth member states and the Archon-Princess knows that.  She has wisely provided every resource we need to maintain our edge against aggressors.”

“Speaking of aggressors, the Word of Blake has formed a protectorate around Sol by conquest of nearby worlds in the Third Fleet’s AO.  What is the course of action to deal with this enemy action?”

“We very much know of the latest development of the Sol Protectorate and I assure you and the citizens of the Commonwealth that we are doing everything we can to contain the threat posed by it.  The AFFC and CFC are ever ready to leap into battle to protect them and by extension our Commonwealth.”


Birds of a Feather, Thessaly Reborn in Port Sydney

A K-1M Shuttle approached the bustling Port Sydney yards from the planet below.  A patrolling Eagle frigate vectored to intercept them, “Attention Papa Papa November One this is the ATPS Leodegrance.  This is a restricted zone transmit your authorization codes immediately or we will intercept”
“We are the Patriot Press team.  Transmitting our codes now.”

A few tense moments passed while the film crew inside the shuttle hoped their codes would still be honored or else the best case was they would be boarded and arrested for trespassing.  Worse case they would be shot down for trespassing.  “Your codes clear Papa Papa November One.  Match our course and speed.  Standby for pilot transfer.”

A collective inhale filled the cramped cabin of the K-1M shuttle as it vectored toward a floating scrapyard that was bustling with Workships.  The K-1M PPN-1 docked with the Kay and allowed their shipyard pilot on board.  The young man had an unusually tan complexion and was wearing a Lyran Gold ANA (Alarion Naval Academy) patch, a soft cover hat with a microphone, and the purple and gray uniform of the FWLN as well as the standard FLWN sidearm, a Sea Eagle needler, on a shoulder harness.

“Hi everyone.  Glad you could make it all the way from Son Hoa.  I’m Flight Officer Kevin Carren and I’ll be your pilot today.  I will make sure you get some goods shots to take back to the front and I’ll be happy to answer your questions to the best of my ability, I’ve spent the last five years in this system.”

“That’s why we’re here today FO Carren.  Pleasure to meet you.  We didn’t expect an Alarion grad to be our pilot.”

“All the Mari spacers are busy, so you’ll have to settle for an Elsie.  Hope you’re not too disappointed.  Currently we are all on rotating pilot duty as part of the Emergency Transfer of Personnel Compact leaving the actual FWLS spacers to do the real work and get more experience with their vessels. 

This is your fight first, we are just helping.  The Admiralty felt that having FedCom Fleet Officers run Free Worlds League vessels would be bad optics considering the Federated Commonwealth and its allies are at war with the Federal Government of the Free Worlds League.  We will however support Photon and Alys’ efforts to bring about a swift conclusion to the conflict as it is in both of our best interests.”

The leader of the press team handed Kevin a note, “Thank you.  We forwarded a request to the First Fleet’s Press Office and got approval to visit the following sectors.”

The man checked his gauntlet note-puter and saw that the codes checked out, “Alright you’re in for a treat.  I’ll be sure to get you some close-ups.”  He knocked on the crew cabin and strapped into the Flight Leader’s chair displacing the previous pilot who took up a position in the jump seat.  He took a moment to plot a course on the scrolling chart before he even put his hands on the sticks.  “Leodegrance One this is Pilot Kay Six, requesting approval to undock Hardball Papa Papa November One from the mothership, forwarding course to Port Sydney STC now.”

A few minutes passed while the course was going through and the shuttle went into its regular operating mode, “Roger Pilot Kay Six, Course authorized and clamps released.  Leodegrance will return to patrol route.”

The K-1M was detached from the warship and turned like a top before it engaged its main thruster a safe distance from the Kay.  Its nose was pointed just slightly off a large RADAR contact and Kevin accelerated rapidly before slowing down after reaching his drift course and returning the shuttle to freefall.  “We will be approaching Salvage field Dvagar in ten minutes.”

The camera crew zoomed in on the scattered debris, mostly large pieces of shattered hull.  One of the pieces rotated alternating between the burnt Purple Eagle of the FWLN and the interior hull section which caught the white light of Alarion’s sun in a glint.  “That hull section used to belong to the Agamemnon FWLS Aineas.  The main section of the wreck and that of the Zec II FWLS Opilione is five points dorsal, three port off the bow.”

The camera pod panned to see the wrecks, the cruiser and corvette had gotten on the bad side of the Crimson Pack Naval Star (Blood Drinker, Victoria Ward, Bloody Fang, Nature’s Wrath, and Trailblazer).  The Agamennon took down both Wolf ships lost in the conflict (Nature’s Wrath and Trailblazer) before the Blood Drinker’s cannons shattered its power plant.

A shadow passed over the vessel as the cruiser CWS Victoria Ward passed between them and Alarion’s sun on patrol.  It was followed with several thousand kilometers of safe distance by the destroyer CJW Emerald Tornado which was just getting out of the yard after several months of repair to fix the heavy damaged sustained above Hesperus II, a battle it just barely managed to survive before limping to Alarion.  Its Star Commodore, the harvested Snow Raven Tanya, is now widely regarded as the top naval strategist in the Jade Wolves Fleet.  She is also rumored to have refused command of a more powerful Aegis cruiser because the Emerald Tornado “speaks” to her in her dreams.

Kevin aptly maneuvered the K-1 shuttle through the debris field currently being harvested by numerous manned and unmanned work ships.  The vessels engaged in a carefully coordinated dance to avoid one another as they salvaged the bones of the broken vessels to repair the ships in the yards.  The Port Sydney Yard's tempo was unlike anything its admittedly short history.

Once they cleared the debris field they were greeted with another sight, the main construction cageworks of the facility optimized for the construction and servicing of the breathtakingly large Mjolnir Battleships.  Two equally large vessels were enveloped in their own temporary cageworks.

“Those are the wrecks of the Thera Supercarrier FWLS Delos and the Mjolrnir FCWS Sveltalfheim.  The Gargantuan and Black Bart Supertugs are tasked with making sure they stay in that position.  That one in the middle is the Thessaly, you'll notice the fleet of work ships shuttling between the two of them.  The Port Sydney Yards are the most capable in the Inner Sphere, Senior Architect Kraus Richter estimates they can fully complete the Thessaly in six months.  Not bad for something that was basically bones when it got here.”

“That's a bold statement FO Carren.  The Clipperton yards have a long history of turning out some of the finest voidcraft in the Inner Sphere.”

“Yeah but thanks to the Archon-Princess we have the most secure supply chain.  Those Yards needed the Word of Blake's help to get established.  Katherine ordered a complete re-engineering of the Mjolrnir, got it done in four months, and the Yggdrasil's frame was laid within three without COMSTAR's assistance.  In fact COMSTAR initially embargoed her so the massive engines were built on Tharkad instead and shipped here.”

“We mean no offense FO Carren just pride.”
“Of course.  I'll take you closer but we still have to keep distant, don't want the Fighters on watch to start gunning for us.”
“You have fighters on watch.”
“Twenty four seven.  Can't be too careful.  An errant small craft can cause an awful lot of damage to an unarmored Warship.”

The K-1M shuttle passed nearby the Cageworks dwarfed by their massive volume.  The solar panels of the struts that supported the workers caught Alarion's light and shined.  They looked like the bones of a massive whale in the void as they enveloped the Supercarrier which was currently armored only on its stern.  Small craft and custom dropships of all sizes and configurations shuttled parts and personnel from the two wrecks that flanked the Thessaly.

“That's amazing”
“You should see it in action.  Scary ship, glad this one is on our side.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 04 December 2018, 17:27:33
12/08/3069 17:39 Location – MCS Diana Centrella, Canopus IV, Magistracy of Canopus

The Samarkand Block II Carrier Diana Centrella positioned itself above the Bay of Altay.  Time and the tides had removed the ash from its surface but the city of Crimson was just ruins on its western side.  Senior General Hadji Doru had returned from fighting Word of Blake and Marian invaders only to find the capital city in ruins and his friend almost certainly dead.  “Are we getting any communication from the Iron Hand?”

The 'Bridge Bunnies' as Hadji called them looked dismayed and depressed.  They all felt like it was their fault that Canopus had been attacked despite him telling them there was nothing they could have done.  That if they hadn’t left it might have been them too or the other planets in the Magistracy would have suffered.  This empire was no stranger to conflict but they certainly didn’t like it which was perhaps a good thing, “No Sir”

“I’m sorry Emma.  How about the Velvet Glove?”

Velvet Glove, the codename for the Canopian Central Committee the body that managed most of the government business for the Magistracy and would be responsible for deciding on a new Magestrix now that the current one was deceased, “They confirm that Erdé and Adonis were not in the city at the time.  They also warned us that the Blakist left some agents behind when they left.”

Hadji Doru was pleased at that news, “Well there is still a chance then.” 
He withdrew a thin, flexible, and encrypted datacard from his uniform and inserted it into the console, “Send out a search party to this area.  Assuming it’s not compromised Emma would have directed them here if she knew what was coming.”

“Dispatching an ARC Team to those coordinates immediately.”

Meanwhile somewhere in the vast snowy forests of Acropolis Park Arthur wrapped Erdé in a blanket.  Both were huddled in front of the electric heater of their bubble tent.  “And here I thought I would never need that survival training from the Academy.  Good to know I still remember most of it.”

“It so cold.  How much longer?”
“You know I can't know that.  I don't even carry around a radio anymore since we just evaded that Blakist patrol last week.”
“Will winter be worse with the...”
“I don't know, I haven't spent a winter on this planet.  What was it like before?”
  Arthur was trying to keep up Erdé's spirits which was even harder than keeping her body warm and fed.

“We went ice skating on the pond near the palace.”  She shuttered remembering that that place didn't exist anymore.  “Danai always wanted to be a figure skater, she was so graceful.  Naomi tried to trip Newton up but he got smart to her schemes and they squabbled horribly.” 

She shifted in the winter coat they had taken from an alpine cabin when it first started to get cold.  Spending nearly two months on the run in winter would be tough enough, evading Blakists while dealing with the loss of your mother was tougher, and Erdé had that and more to deal with.  “Dad was actually pretty good at it, he and mom just flowed so perfectly together when they did anything.  Then we would have a snowball fight.  Danai and I would team up against Naomi and Newton.”

“Who won?”
“We all had a good time so I guess we all did.  Then we had hot cocoa.  What about you?”

“Well it was just me and Yvonne on New Avalon most of the time.  It always seems like it was winter on Tharkad for Victor or that's what his HPGs sounded like.  I think he was just really moody and needed to spend some time in the sun on Tatyana.  Peter or Katherine traveled between the two realms but Katherine hated traveling because it made her sick.  We were always the little ones, whenever either of them was in residence at Castle Davion we badgered them constantly.”

Arthur grabbed one of the sturdy ski poles they had taken and gave an en guard, “Peter taught me how to fence initially and Yvonne learned from me.  Katherine was a bad influence on Yvonne and gave her the mischievous streak that I think she still has today.  I least I hope she still has it.  I would hate to see her get all serious like our sister did.  I'll ask her if I ever see her again which I hope I will. 

She loved playing tricks on people and then it was just a race to see who could outdo the other.  Those poor castle staff, Dad loved it, he thought it was good training for the both of us.”

That brought a smile to Erdé's face which was the intended goal and it made Arthur feel warmer inside than even the heater and soup on top of it had.
"I'm glad you're here with me Arthur."
"Me too Erdé, there's no one else I'd trust you be trapped with."

Five kilometers away a Teal and Green KC-61 Blackbird landed in a rocky clearing, a platoon of troopers from the Magistracy's elite Active Response Corps exited wearing winter combat gear and carrying bone white Ebony laser rifles skied off the passenger ramp taking positions around their ride in and ride out of her.  Their leader's red hair streaked with gray poked out between her balaclava and starlight goggles, “Let's hit the slopes WILDCATs.  They are around here somewhere.  Time to bring our people out of the cold”
“Yes Major Grey”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 05 December 2018, 08:49:31
Felicity Grey checked the time display in the lower portion of her goggles '19:00' she called for a pause and heard the rest of her squad stop their skis and ready their rifles.  The MIM Major signaled to the nearest squad leader who moved forward keeping close, “A Ghost is following us Sergeant.  I've heard something in the woods for an hour now.  They're not the only ones with augmentations.”
“Should we withdraw Major?  Don’t want to lead the enemy to our quarry.”
“No, if we are going to give our objectives a chance we have to get rid of this Ghost.  They've been lucky and good to have evaded it for so long.  I hate these cyber monsters and I don't want to let it have a chance at us while we exfil.  We'll have to set a trap for it.  I've already called in a Crow for backup.  She'll be along in fifteen.”

The Sergeant nodded, the two separated and he signaled to the squad, “Squad we're heading to that ridge up there.  Should give us a good view of the valley and be a solid landing zone for when the Major picks up the package.”

Adept Ghost Misha watched this happen through the augmented vision of her Omnipresence helmet while crouched on a branch.  She was torn between the two options and was frustrated that her prey had evaded her for a month despite her best efforts.  Always arriving a day behind Arthur Steiner-Davion and Erdé Centrella and incapable of calling in backup now for risk of exposing her presence to the KC-61 'Blackbird' Covert Insertion Craft the ARC team used to get here.

The Magistracy of Canopus and Word of Blake had enjoyed a brisk technology transfer for a decade and she couldn't know if the Canopians had compromised the ciphers that protected her transmissions during that time.  What she did know is that they knew everything about what made her cybernetics tick having been responsible for initially installing them.  Misha cradled the suppressed DMR, she had a hundred rounds and only thirty two targets in the field.  The numbers were in her favor, it would be easy to remove them.  However, if she followed them they might lead her to her true prey; then she could inform the others.  She followed Major Grey’s platoon carefully stalking them through the dark snowy forest.

Fifteen minutes later Grey called for a stop and checked her wrist mounted Comm-pad, “They're nearby.  Should be maybe a few dozen meters eastward through these trees.” 

The ARC team cautiously worked their way through the evergreens making a lot of noise in the process.  The noise appeared closer than it should to the Ghost who looked around.  She recognized a lithe figure walking out from under a nearby holly tree wearing snow shoes, a white sneak suit with a distinctive Black Bird patch on her right breast, and wielding a weapon that looked like a double barreled shotgun.  Before she could raise her DMR the Blazer quietly turned parts of her and the tree into char.  The figure blended back into the forest, “You've been exorcised Grey.  Crow Sixteen returning to over watch.”

“Appreciate it Amilee.”  Felicity and her team returned to the trail and she consulted her goggles’ tracking signal again.

“Keep your eyes peeled and ears open team.  We got rid of one Ghost but there might be others.  This tracker doesn’t tell me everything.”

Arthur woke up to footsteps crunching through the snow near the bubble tent which was concealed within a snowdrift.  Their main entrance consisted of woven evergreen boughs and was capped with snow whenever either of them exited to keep the heat in.  He could feel in his arms that Erdé’s soft breathing was uninterrupted.  She didn’t have the same enhancements that the Canopians had added to him during his reconstruction.  Enhancements that had saved his life and by extension hers more than once in the past couple of months.

Carefully he untangled himself from her and silently drew the MAL 67 Revolver he kept within arm’s reach from its holster.  He checked its chambers to make sure he still had five shots loaded and was satisfied that it was.  Wrapping one arm around Erdé and holding the pistol in the other he just waited they had evaded detection for a month in these woods.  This wasn’t the first night something was prowling outside.

The footsteps got closer and he grasped Erdé tighter, enough to wake her up but before she could say anything his hand was over her mouth.  She tensed but snaked out her arm to get the knife they kept nearby then Arthur removed his hand.  Through his reconstructed jaw he heard a women’s voice, “Arthur, this is Major Felicity Grey of ARC Team Wildcat.”

“How do you know my name Felicity?”

Erdé was confused, Arthur was talking to no one.  She whispered “Who are you talking to?”
“I think it’s the person outside.”
“How is she talking to you?”
“Some kind of cyberware that Emma conveniently forgot to tell me about.”

“Yes that’s correct Arthur, short range transmitter built into your reconstructed mandible.  I found you via a tracking device given to me by General Hadji Doru, ultraviolet secret stuff but I was almost the ARC Director.  Highest respect for your concealment.  We would have walked right past this snowdrift and still almost did even with the tracker.”

“She told me they took the tracking device out.”
“Maybe the obvious one.  This one is special, it’s baked into your cyberware.  We found the Ghost that was hunting you via it as well.”

“I have the same cyberware that the Manei Domini do?”
“Yes, long story kid.  The other search parties are still running them around in circles but it won’t last forever so I would appreciate some hustle.  I would feel a lot more comfortable on the Diana Centrella than in these woods.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 05 December 2018, 09:49:40
Arthur Steiner-Davion (Adonis Valentine) and Erdé Centrella were warm, clean, and well-fed for the first time in two months.  The harrowing experience finally come to an end with their escape to the Samarkand MCS Diana Centrella.  Senior General Hadji Doru sat across from them in the classified briefing room debriefing them and updating the couple on recent events.  “I’m sorry this happened Erdé.  Your mother was a remarkable woman and her loss will bring much grief to the Magistracy.”
“I want to bring grief to the Word of Blake General.  They killed my mother and scores of innocents with those nukes.  They should pay.”

“I assure you that we will inflict plenty of grief upon them princess.  The Magistracy is not quite as helpless as they thought we were.  Even I didn’t know of its true capabilities.  Emma left me with a few interesting documents hidden on a navigation satellite prior to her death.

I’m setting a course for the Ebon Magistrate’s home world of Tetski.  You both should be safe there for now.”

Arthur looked confused, “I thought the Ebon Magistrate was a part of MIM; why does it have a home world?  Besides Tetski is a dead system, the Taurians destroyed it nearly two centuries ago.”

General Doru, a former Taurian, winced at the thought of the violence that has kept the Concordat down and without allies for most of its history, “Dead things have an unfortunate habit of coming back to life these days, Prince Arthur.”
“So that was among the documents?”
“Yes, Commander Valentine.  I’m certain you have questions.  Emma left a letter for you among the cache of documents explaining everything and apologizing.  You can of course share it with the princess if you like but it was addressed to you only.”
“Apologizing for what?  She saved my life.”
“I don’t know, it was on the headline.  I imagine it relates to the unfortunate incident that has befallen us.  I am quite thankful that both of you are still alive and free despite all odds, it would have been difficult to have lost either of you and Emma in such a short period of time.  Feel free to explore the carrier while we are in transit.  It should take us about a month to reach our destination.”

01/18/3070 18:58 Location – Switchback Station, Tetski, Ebon Magistrate

Arthur and Erdé disembarked from their KR-61C Shuttle to the busy Capitol space station that was orbiting the vibrant and very alive Tetski.  “This is amazing.  All of this was just hidden for nearly a century.”

Their guide an enigmatic man named Sten responded, “Discretion is the better part of valor, Major Centrella.  Our leadership has tried to keep as low a profile as possible.  Your mother was the first Magestrix that our Elders thought was worth revealing ourselves too. 

It took us most of that century just to remediate and rebuild even with our Star League tech.   That stuff doesn’t work miracles if you don’t have people or the means to support them first.  Repopulating it took longer although we did have the Selaj and those settlers that abandoned the Rim Colonies during the First and Second Wars.”

“Star League tech?  What are you?”
“You’ve dealt with the Clans before right?”
“Yes, Smoke Jaguars on Harminous.  Why?”

They cleared the landing areas and saw the vast central chamber where a tensed banner hung, on it was a terran Wolverine’s face with crossed scratches.  “We were the Wolverines.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Dave Talley on 05 December 2018, 11:58:33
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 05 December 2018, 13:43:56

Yeah you knew that was coming eventually.  I was struck by inspiration so I made another entry for today.

11/10/3069 Location – Glorious Heritage University, Memorial City, Capella, Capellan Confederation

Naomi Centrella-Liao and Kai Allard-Liao could not be more different people from one another on almost every level.  The Canopian princess had married the Confederation’s Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao two years ago and Kai was the famed son of his aunt and now dead separatist leader Candace Liao and the traitor Justin Allard yet they shared a common purpose, stop Kali Liao and her Thugees.  They did not however share a common vision on how to accomplish that goal or much like one another.

Kai slammed his fist on the holotable in front of them, the jade green and white uniform of his St Ives Armored Cavalry blending into one of the jungle images captured on Highspire, “The St Ives Lancers can handle this. Woman. 
We fought the Wolf Clan on Strana Mechdy and won.”

Naomi had gracefully picked up her cup of tea before the impact and calmly poised in the red, black, and gold uniform of The Red Lancers that neatly complimented her complexion and hair while looking militant, “You merely drew Vladimir Ward's Binary Kai, and his Wolves are more powerful than ever before because of your failure. 

Lest you forget The Red Lancers won their Great Refusal challenge against the Mandrills and my sister died fighting alongside Victor Steiner-Davion in his final stand against the Smoke Jaguars.  Neither of those clans have reared their ugly heads again. 

The Chancellor has insisted that I take the lead in bringing Kali to justice.”

“Khan Ward was saved from ruin by a conniving woman, just like Sun-Tzu.  His Wolves would have never recovered from the Great Refusal without Katherine.  Phelan’s Pack would have absorbed them eventually.  Now the whole Inner Sphere is in flames because of their meddling.

Justice!  He’s just going to pat her head, locking her up in a cushy prison to be let out next time he needs her.  We won’t be fooled again, Kali Liao will be stopped permanently or we will die trying.  This is a family matter leave it to me.”

“By marriage I am part of this family now.  Sun-Tzu and Kuan-Yin have much to settle between themselves during this time and thus we are jointly responsible for dealing with this pressing issue.  If you have doubt of my Lancers’ ability to accomplish the task I would gladly demonstrate it.”

“Is that a threat Naomi?”
“A promise Kai.  Kali will be brought in by The Red Lancers and she will be securely locked away until her trial.  She will pay for her crimes but not in a FedCom kangaroo court or murdered on the battlefield.”

She carefully put the cup of tea back on the table, “The House of Scions is already organizing the Tribunal.”

Kai put the latest holophotos and damage reports from the St Ives Compact on the holotable, paging through them as he talked, “There is no lack of evidence Sang-shao Centrella.  Her crimes are quite obvious in the spilled blood of St Ives’ citizens and the ruins her Warrior Houses left in their wake.  My people demand justice.”

“An odd turn of phrase Jiang-Jun Allard.  Considering how often you were absent from or on the wrong side of these same people.  That you would take such ownership of them.”
“Are you doubting my resolve?”

“I am doubting your ability to properly understand the gravity of the situation at hand.  This is not merely some small raid on Highspire we are talking about.  We are planning the capture of a dangerous war criminal in charge of an interstellar terrorist organization with ties to an Inner Sphere spanning threat with the very real probability that she will use weapons of mass destruction against us. 

Who also happens to be my sister-in-law and your cousin. 

She will be brought to justice, but we have to be on the same page or her allies will take the chance to drive a bigger wedge between the Compact and Confederation than currently exists and there will be no peace to be had between us.”

“If Sun-Tzu wanted peace he should not have started the St Ives War.  Why should I expect him to have changed?”

“That’s what the problem with you is Kai Allard-Liao.  You never change!  Twenty years have passed since the invasion and you’ve had opportunities to grow beyond it but you still want to jump into Yen-Lo Wang and rush into battle like you have something to prove. 

I don’t know what your issue is but I know that Sun-Tzu does want peace with St Ives and to start on a path that will lead to harmony between the Trinity allies and St Ives, a harmony that leads through the Celestial Wisdom.  The fact that he is even entertaining this is a major breakthrough.

You speak truth about Kali and my husband but she has gone too far now and he means to properly bring her in one last time.  The only reason we are even still talking about this instead of me doing it is because the St Ives Armored Cavalry stopped the Duke of New Syrtis before he went too far.  In defiance of your orders as its Commanding General no less, but honoring Candace’s long held commitment that the Confederation and its allies should remain independent rather than existing as a vassal of the Federated Commonwealth.

A commitment that Kuan-Yin recently reasserted to Sun-Tzu, perhaps you should talk to your sister more often.  The CCAF does not want to continue the fight without the SIAC and we both want an end to Kali’s Thugees and the Taurian Junta.  We only have the strength to deal with one of these at a time though so we are starting with Kali.  This is your chance to show that we can work together against a common foe.”

Kai looked at the holoimages taken by the Rabid Fox commandos his grandfather borrowed from the Commonwealth’s Intelligence Secretariat through careful manipulations.
 His grandson Quintus Allard-Liao and Kai's youngest brother was still bootstrapping the St Ives Ministry of Information (StIMI ;D) to combat ROM threats to the Compact. 

He saw the order of battle included both St Ives Lancers units as well as Naomi’s Red Lancers and her father Nicholas’ mercenary command, Ramile’s Raiders.  An odd turn since her grandfather had sworn the Raiders would never work for the Capellans due to issues with its then Chancellor yet Naomi was married to his grandson, the current Chancellor.  Additionally the whole of the Death's Commandos would be joining them against the Thugees, rebel Warrior House Lu Sann, and the 48th Shadow Division who according to reports were massing on world.

“I’ll do it but I don’t like it.”
“The feeling is mutual.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 06 December 2018, 08:22:08
12/05/3069 Location – Mahakali Temple, Chu-li Mountain Range, Highspire, Kali's Dominion

Goddess Kali (Liao) looked at the scratched up drone messenger before her, the long jade colored carbon fiber reinforced nails on her left hand had killed more than a few disappointments in their time.  Her House Masters refused to send her more bodies instead substituting these automatons to deliver bad news which while expensive were not as satisfying to destroy.  She took the opportunity to randomly execute messengers even those that were bearing good news on principle, just like mother had done.

“How dare my brother betray me?  After all I did for him!”  She rapidly listed the things that she did that she thought was positive for her brother since their mother was killed which took about an hour.  Her rant was momentarily interrupted by her five month old son's hungry cries.  She opened her robe, parted her raven black hair, carefully cradled the baby around her nails to her pale breast, and continued ranting as the boy fed.

It ended with her Thugees' latest attacks that had killed Duchess Kym Sorenson-Hasek, nearly killed her youngest son Cyrus who was commanding the Capellan March's Pleiades Campaign against the TDF, and put Cassandra Allard-Liao in the hospital.  Kym's death had forced the Duke of New Syrtis to leave Sian before he could accomplish his goal of dominating the Capellan Confederation. 

The same Naomi that was apparently allied with her number one hated foe, Kai Allard-Liao.  He was the worst spawn of her murderous aunt, a gifted Mechwarrior, known Commonwealth pawn, and by extension mortal enemy of the Capellan Confederation.  “The same Kai that Duke Hasek had intended to be his puppet Chancellor and they call me mad!  I saved your life Naomi and this is how you repay me!  Traitors all!”

She patted the baby’s back as he drifted back to sleep, he voice losing most of its madness and instead was motherly, “You will grow up to be a better Chancellor than my brother, Agni.  Strong enough to control all of the universe.”

Kali rose from her pillows still holding the baby and walked out to the balcony of her palace.  The Banners of her Warrior Houses (White Tiger, Rakshasa, and Lu Sann) flapped in the tropical breeze atop the newly constructed permacrete pillars.  Battlemechs and tanks of the Jade Guard standing tall just outside the walls of the fortified temple palace she lived in.  She breathed deep of the rainforest and watched as the monsoon clouds came across the ocean.  "It will be raining blood by the time I am through."
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 07 December 2018, 08:50:04
Portrait of Destruction, the Bull Weeps and Rages

The Commonwealth's Fourth Fleet has concluded an investigation of interstellar implications.  They have proven without a doubt that the Word of Blake used an asteroid outfitted and accelerated by the mining ship Erinyes to destroy Taurus, killing nearly all of its four billion inhabitants. The Word of Blake disabled the asteroid based defense units with UrbStryc-A from the same Wei stockpile used during the St Ives War's Black May attacks.  Additionally they have uncovered proof that prior to the incident the Taurian people overthrew Grover Shraplen's Junta with the intention of making the rebel Erik Martens-Calderon Protector of the Concordat.

The Word of Blake had already evacuated all of their HPGs in Taurian space but there are reports of vandalism of the compounds as well as attacks on citizens that had dealings with the Blakists.  Their intentions are very clear, they knew this would happen and possibly engineered it by using Protector Shraplen's TDF as pawns. 

The Federated Sun’s New Avalon government and that of the Tikonov Republic has called for an immediate cease fire with the Trinity Alliance powers to deal with the Blakist Menace.  Outback based jumpships until recently tied down by the Hellion Invasion are already rushing to the border to offer aid to the Taurian Concordat worlds most affected by the latest war between the two powers.

Grand Duchess Yvonne Steiner-Davion, whose area of responsibility borders the Taurian Concordat, has offered to host talks with Erik Martens and his regent Cham Kilthrong on the Concordat world of Charleston, currently occupied by Commonwealth Forces.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 07 December 2018, 10:33:26
11/16/3069 Location – Marcus, Crofton, Federation Outback

Grand Duchess Yvonne Steiner-Davion and Kitsune Kurita walked through the city of Marcus.  A city that had been mostly untouched by the Hellions’ invasion of the planet as it didn’t have any strategic assets they could use.  The city was bright today in celebration of the Archon-Princess’ birthday and merely the closest cause for celebration to hit a planet that was liberated and increasingly on the upswing.  Kitsune had been sneaking out to see them but it was becoming difficult to keep it a secret from 'his mother”'and he found himself getting accused of all kinds of nefarious activity.

Yvonne adjusted her tan fleece lined AFFC Air Cav jacket and PBMA scarf against the chill wind.  Kitsune was keeping the fast pace she was setting, she wanted to get to their destination and out of the cold, “Oba, I was thinking of applying to Point Barrow (Military Academy).”

She coughed more out of nervousness than her cold, “What?”
“I want to go to Point Barrow.”
“You’re not just saying that because you want to impress me are you?”
“No I mean it.”
“Why there instead of The Nagelring, NAIS, or TSVD?”
“Well I don’t speak German or Russian well. PBMA is the toughest academy in FedSuns space.  Captain Stone beat the Hellions’ Khan, an Elemental, in battle armor twice.  You kept your helicopter in the air while injured, with a wounded co-pilot, landed it safely, and were flying again the next day.”

She unconsciously grabbed her upper thigh, which been injured and never quite healed correctly under the Point Barrow’s heavy gravity during her time there, it still ached even after all these years.  “Why do you want to stay in the Federated Suns?  Franklin Sakamoto has a good chance of being the new Coordinator of the Combine you could go home.  He loves you like a son or so Peter told me.”

“The Draconis Combine stopped being my home long ago.  Isis, I mean Sarah is happy here and I don’t want to leave her and go back to Luthien.  The Warlords would never accept the son of Victor and Omiko Kurita.  The Draconis Combine has seen too much war, I don’t want to start another one over something I can’t change and didn’t choose.  You, Peter, and everyone else in the Federation accepted me without reservation.”

Yvonne looked at a picture of Katherine, Vladimir, and their three children that was hanging from a banner attached to a nearby government building wishing her happy birthday.  “I have some experience accepting family’s secrets.  As for the greater Federation, I wouldn’t put it past some people to reject you on principle, but I guess you’re right.  I can’t speak German well anymore either.  I’m better at Russian.”
“Why did you learn to speak Russian?  Tikonov is far away from here.”

She tensed up, berating herself for revealing too much, “It’s a long story; and I don’t want to talk about it right now with you.”

Kitsune paused for a second thinking about what that might mean, “I’m sorry.  We’re close by where I need to go.”
“Aren’t you in sixth grade?  Don’t you have school?”
“My school hasn’t restarted classes yet.  The Hellions ordered the schools to teach a different curricula.  Regular classes will probably start again come New Years.  Which is just awful because that means I’ll have to start summer break late.  Mister Denot promised he would take me to Des Arc with him when he goes to commission a new water purification plant for the colony there.  Now I’ll just be stuck with Jade and all she does is cry.”
“She’s a baby.  You don’t have to act like one.”
“You don’t know what it’s like.  You were the youngest.”
  Yvonne had never had to deal with a baby in her life until Peter’s wife Daphne had her son and Yvonne’s fourth (that she knew about) nephew Jacob while they were on Minette together.
“I do now.  It won’t last forever and you need to be a strong big brother for her.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without Arthur.”
“Fine.  I’m sorry about your brother Yvonne.  He was killed by the same people that killed my mother.  I wish someone would have caught them sooner.  It might have saved her.”

They stopped at an upscale row house, with ornate fountains in front of it.  A sign reading ‘The Denots’ was outside.  “You’re lucky you still have a mother that loves you, Ian.  Now let’s go talk to her and get you out of trouble.”
"I might be in even more trouble now."
"It was your choice she made it clear."

The two of them walked up to the door and rang the bell, a young blonde woman in an apron answered, “Ian. Grand Duchess!  What’s going on?  He didn’t take anything from you did he?  I’m so sorry.”

“Mrs Denot, I can assure you that Ian has not taken anything from me or anyone that was not freely given.  He has been volunteering his services as my guide while I am in Marcus.”

“Why didn’t you just tell me that Ian?”
“I thought you would be upset.”
“I am.  Get to your room mister!  We are going to talk about this later.”

‘Ian’ ran up the stairs.  “I’m so sorry about that Grand Duchess.  Where are my manners?  Would you like to come in?”

“Perhaps at a later, more convenient time.  I understand you are quite busy and would not like to intrude.  I am certain we could speak for hours on end.”
“Without a doubt.  Goodbye Grand Duchess, thank you for everything.”
“You too, Mrs. Denot.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 09 December 2018, 19:38:46
Walking the Halls of the Valhalla once more

The KR-61 Shuttle came into view of the massive Mjolrnir Battleship FCWS Valhalla cradled within the even larger arms of the Newgrange Yardship CWS Den Mother, one of only three such known vessels in the Inner Sphere (The CDS Karen Nagasawa and CGB Jeremiah Bourjon being the others).  One of the CNS photographers strapped into the shuttle's passenger compartment looked at the sight in amazement, “I never thought I would have been happy to see a Clan Wolf ship around Marsden.”
“Yeah a lot of things have changed within the past two years.  Couldn't have brought the Valhalla back online without their assistance.  The Clans despite their initial conflict have shed a lot of blood on our behalf.”
“They can always grow more.”
“Maybe they already have been, its been nearly twenty years since they started Revival you'd think they would have built up knowing some might be lost in the Inner Sphere.”
“I don't think they looked that far ahead.  They thought the whole Inner Sphere would be easy prey.”
“We sure showed them.”

The Shuttle docked to the Newgrange and the reporters walked past a large number of Aeropilot phenotype workers.  The Aeropilot phenotype were rarely seen in Clan space and had never been seen outside Clan space.  Their guide a technician named Griger ensured they didn't stop any of the Den Mother's crew for an interview. “They have work to do.  The Valhalla was heavily damaged and we still have not fixed some major components.”
“It did go nose to nose with a whole Blakist battlegroup and live.”
“In true Warrior fashion Roland.  It has been the Den Mother's honor to bring the Valhalla back into the fight.”

The recording team boarded the Valhalla where a coalition crew containing Wolves of all varieties, Hell's Horses, and Commonwealth Spacers were bringing the systems online.  Each wore a different uniform but moved with uniform purpose.  The Captain Damien Berok joined them during their tour, the man had been the first and had been selected to be the second commander of the Valhalla.  His backup assignment, the Mjolrnir Sveltalfheim, had been damaged beyond repair in the defense of Alarion from the Blakist Fleet.  “Captain Berok, how does it feel to walk the halls of Valhalla once more?”

“It is a sobering feeling.  I've lost a lot of spacers in combat over the past two years aboard the Valhalla and Sveltalfheim.  I feel as though I am cursed, First this vessel had one battle in it, parts of the the Svelte are now being used to finish the Marik Thessaly.  It is not how I predicted my career would progress, as a one hit wonder.”
“You saved the Port Sydney yards and Tharkad from Blakist Warships though, surely that counts for something.”
“It does but its a tough burden to bear Roland.  Especially considering the news of the attack on Taurus.   The Commonwealth's Fleet is ever ready to guard the worlds under her protection.  We will put an end to the Blakist Threat before they can do more damage.”
“Based on reports from the front the Word of Blake has changed its name to the Sol Protectorate.”
“A great irony, if the Word of Blake wanted to protect Sol."

The ice planet of Tharkad came into position as the Den Mother and Valhalla cleared the moon of Marsden.
“They shouldn't have attacked us,”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 09 December 2018, 23:09:28
TASK FORCE:  FORGE, The Rhino, and the Iron Wall of Caledonia

“This is Mira Tymbrook of the Commonwealth News Service here on Caledonia.  Now the home base of Task Force Forge under the command of General of the Armies Reinhardt “Rhino” Steiner, which has thus far managed to contain the Free Worlds League and Blakist threat.”

Mira walked through the well-tended gardens of a park, a group of battlemechs from the 11th Lyran Guards.  They stopped at a gathered group of senior LAAF officers, one of which was significantly younger than the others.  Reinhardt Steiner made for an impressive military poster boy during his appointment ceremony but had grown into a hard charging soldier since then.  He was still handsome but his brown hair was streaked with gray and the lines of his face made him look twenty years older than his 38 years.

“General Steiner, Mira Tymbrook of CNS.”
“Hello Ms Tymbrook.”
“When I heard about the Iron Wall of Caledonia.  I didn't expect it to be an actual wall.”
“It's very real, this edifice behind us is the Fourth Royal Guards Memorial.  That is however not the wall you heard about.”
“What is?”

“Let me show you.”
  The Generals did a crisp right turn and walked parallel to the wall. Names were etched into the steel, members of the Fourth Royal Guards, a storied command that was destroyed more than 200 years ago during one of the darkest times for the Commonwealth.  A time that Reinhardt and the rest of the AFFC were determined would never happen again.

They cleared the actual memorial and walked a little past it, this wall was a grotesque motley of colors, some graffiti had been spray painted across the mostly purple and white metal. “This is the Iron Wall of Caledonia that you heard about.  I am building it from the scrapped remains of Battlemechs that Forge has destroyed during the past year.”
“An interesting construct General.  What motivated you to build this wall so near the hallowed memorial of the Fourth Royal Guards?”
“This is a reminder just as the Fourth's final stand is of the strength of the Commonwealth's people.  The longer this war continues the bigger it grows.  I want Paul Marik to be able to see it from Atreus and realize just how much he has misjudged the Federated Commonwealth.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 11 December 2018, 17:28:42
01/28/3070 Location – Fort Verdun, Simpson Desert, Free Worlds League

Commanding General Photon Brett-Marik’s Supernova Battlemech walked through the forest that surrounded Fort Verdun.  While it was standard procedure to remove forests around SLDF forts during its time Verdun had fallen into disrepair during the past four centuries and reverted to the nearby Count’s control.  It still had good road and rail access, orbital communications capabilities, and support facilities.  The planet was within resupply range of Tamarind and striking distance of Paradise and Loyalty, a perfect forward base for his Army.

By now everyone had heard about what the Word of Blake had done to Taurus and their Militia was crumbling all across the Inner Sphere.  Deserters and defectors were regularly captured and executed which only spurred more attempts. Precentor Martial Cameron St Jamais was running out of time and territory to keep the AFFC from crushing the Sol Protectorate in a war he started. 

Parallel to that conflict was the cousins Alys and Photon who were leading insurrections against Paul Marik aided by the whole Duchies of Oriente, Andurian, and Regulus to stop the League from destroying itself.  Time was of the essence but his forces were tired and the tempo of battle was wearing on the True Patriots and their Nova Cat allies.  Without the timely intervention of the Commonwealth “allied” Council Clans and their Warships they would have been annihilated on Son Hoa slightly more than a month ago.

Photon’s Supernova walked through the hardened gate of the Fort Verdun.  His lance entered the compound under the watchful eyes of Beta Galaxy Omnimechs and then parked their mechs in the assigned area.

The Commanding General stepped out of the hanger into a throng of Nova Cats from the Beta and Lambda Galaxies and Transcendence Naval Star under saKhan Hirohoto Katayama.  The Cats were joined by Diamond Shark's Rho Spina Galaxy, Hell's Horses' Iota Galaxy, and the Potemkins Kraken and Steel Shield.  The Sharks and Horses were shamed into aiding the 2nd SLDF due to their role (perceived or proven) in The Blinding Eye conspiracy.  They mostly kept to themselves and didn't consort with their abjured brethren unless it was necessary to accomplish the mission.

The Clanners were joined by dignitaries from the 151st Eridani Dark Horse Regiment, Free World's League's Duchy of Tamarind, Abbey District, and what was being called the “Anti-Spinward Allies.”  These worlds had been long neglected by the Atrean government and plagued by pirates.  The Circinus pirates were sponsored by the Blakists and the Marians, an ascended pirate kingdom and FedCom vassal, who were now only allowed to operate with Archon-Princess Katherine's approval.  Approval she promised to revoke if they went beyond the Circinus Federation during their current campaign.

The Dark Horse Commander General Charles Antonescue saluted Photon, the two men had fought alongside one another since the Black Dragon's betrayal that started this fateful war nearly three years ago.  “Everything is ready.”

Photon returned the salute, “Lets finish this.”

General Brett ascended the ancient battlements, one of the few portions that were maintained during the centuries, “The Word of Blake claimed that they would unite us under their banner on Tharkad three years ago and they have. 

They have united us against them in a war that has wrought nothing but misery throughout the Inner Sphere for nearly three years. 

A war that threatens to turn us back to the dark ages of the Second Succession War, that has brought old terrors back and filled our minds with new ones. 
With one goal, Subjugation or Annihilation under their twisted Master's Will. 
Now we stand united against their reign of terror. 

Canopus nuked from above

Taurus annihilated by an asteroid strike

Hundreds assassinated from the shadows

Empires in flames as citizens take up arms against one another

These are not the actions of Leaders or Unifiers.  They are the actions of cowards.”

The Diamond Sharks and Hell's Horses were appalled at the dezgra behavior of the Blakists, they had been on the far side of the Commonwealth and were mostly isolated from its news services.  Nukes were particularly sensitive as the history of the not-named Clan was burned into their minds during sibko.

“Cowards that now flee to Terra thinking we will not pursue them. 
That dare to call themselves Sol's Protectors. 
They are wrong. 
We will go to Terra, and we will liberate it from the new Usurper just as the SLDF did in the past.”

A large SLDF Banner was raised behind Photon with a black bar along one side.  “Because we are all still the SLDF.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 11 December 2018, 20:35:15
That was awesome update, AlphaMirage!
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: DOC_Agren on 12 December 2018, 18:16:20
Wow how to pull them all together in one army
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 13 December 2018, 13:07:40
Wow how to pull them all together in one army

Yeah that is going to be the tricky part, fortunately he still has half the FWL to contend with while he thinks about it

-----  Bringing back some old Characters (From Katherine, pt I and Tales of the Mercs Unleashed)

01/19/3070 Location – 198th MMC Mobile Hospital, Highspire, Kali's Dominion

“Dr Bhola!  Critical case.”  Major Seraphina Bhola changed her gloves, she could keep her hands clean but her apron and scrubs were covered in the blood of at least three dozen Trinity soldiers. Even during Black May on Nashuar she had not seen so many casualties.  “Thirteen straight hours of surgery and they still kept coming.”

The medics pulled the latest casualty into her dual bed operating theater her assistants closed the previous patient and wiped her face.  A Canopian Fusilier had a barbed bamboo spike in his thigh, the edges of the puncture were rapidly becoming necrotic due to a poison.  The squad medic had sedated, medicated, and tourniqueted the soldier likely saving his life but the leg was beyond saving.  It would have to be amputated before it went septic.  “More Punji sticks.  They might as well call me bone-saw Bhola now.  This is a butcher's work not doctor's.”

With the casualty treated Dr Bhola vomited bile into a bucket.  Colonel Valera Tyla walked into the operating theater and kneeled down to hand her a damp paper towel, “You're off the line for twelve hours Sera, report back at Sixteen Hundred.  Get some rest and take care of yourself.  We already don't have enough doctors on planet and we're the Magistracy of Canopus.”

“Obrigado Coronel.”

Major Bhola shed her soiled scrubs placing them in the 'autoclave or incinerate' pile of the locker room.  Spent a long time in the shower enjoying the cooling water as it washed away all the sweat.  She dressed in the issued uniform, with no rank insignia or unit patches, put on a pistol belt, her helmet, and kept a gas mask handy.

She walked out of the building into the torrential downpour of Highspire’s monsoon season.  The Canopian Fusiliers’ engineers had constructed a series of covered elevated paths to transit the base camp but they spent just as much time maintaining them as the watch towers and fences.  The Thugees, most of whom were native to the planet, regularly used the rain as cover to launch attacks or plant traps in the compound.

Sera watched as one of the 'Mudskipper' tracked engineering vehicles tried to haul a damaged Vindicator back to the repair bay.  A platoon of infantry was escorting the vehicle while it struggled to move across the mud.  Still weary she walked back to the barracks which were behind heavy gabions to protect from weapons fire while allowing drainage. 

The walls also dampened the sound of artillery firing into the jungle from both the Eastern (3rd Fusiliers) and Western (4th Fusiliers) firebases set up to support the MAF, CCAF, and SIAC forces advancing on the Mahakali Fortified Temple compound.  If the rains were not so persistent the guns of the St Ives and Red Lancers could be heard and seen as well.  They fired day and night breaking up strongpoints that Kali and her Word of Blake allies had built into the surrounding jungle as they were uncovered.

07:45 Location – 16 kilometers to Mahakali, “River of Blood”, Highspire

Major Derrance “Hook” Thoms, CO of the 401st Strike Battalion of the 4th Canopian Fusiliers, walked below the rain slick decks of the MCS Blue Nile.  The armored barge was not only heavy armed but it along with the MCS White Nile were part of his unconventional unit.  Known as 'The Crocodiles,' an Augmented Battalion with gunboats instead of tanks in support of infantry.

Major Thomas was an oddity among the MAF and most Inner Sphere militaries because he had actually engaged in a riverine campaign on Nashuar during the St Ives War.  A campaign that resulted in him suffering burns and then famously refusing the treatment to fix them, thus ending his modeling career.  His famous quote to STARS magazine was, “We should not hide the scars of war.  It is an ugly business that everyone needs to see but no one wishes to.”

The barges were the quarters for his “Frogmen” when they were not on patrol with their gunboats.  Their Commander, and his XO, CMD Tanjila Haloi, caught up with him, her black bodysuit tight against her form and brown hair braided and kept short enough to fit inside her Asterion’s helmet.  “What’s new Major?”
“Today is the day Commander.  We’re taking Oni Island.  Just came in from Control.”
“Gonna be a tough fight.”
“Sure is”
“My men will be ready.”
“I had no doubts.”

The two of them walked into the map room where a holographic topographic display of the island was suspending in mid-air.  On it there were multiple red chevrons where Warrior House Rakshasa had set up defensive positions.  The Thugees were using the rocky island as a redoubt from which they could raid the nearby lowlands and support their fellows in the field. 

Air and Hoverborne attacks from the inexperienced 4th Canopian Fusiliers and battle weary 2nd St Ives Lancers had thus far failed to dislodge them.  The assault boats and battle armored infantry of the 401st had only recently arrived on-planet but their capabilities and experience fit the mission profile.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 14 December 2018, 09:06:29
The Monsoon season was weakening over the Chu-Li Mountains, months of constant rain would soon yield to sweltering tropical temperatures.  The Thugees and the Cappelan-Canopian task force knew that this would dramatically change the battle they had been fighting against one another.  The blockade of Highspire means that it is only a matter of time until the Kali Liao's forces ran out of something critical to her battle effort.  It was now a tug of war to see which side would yield first.

The Elite 2nd Canopian Cuirassiers and Green 4th Canopian Fusiliers were the final reserve forces allotted to the operation.  They had been rushed from their garrison posts on Magestrix Naomi Centrella's orders.  The war had sapped the CCAF and SIAC of manpower and equipment while the Magistracy was currently in a more secure position. 

Jiang-Jun Kai Allard-Liao's St Ives Armored Cavalry forces had taken the brunt of Kali's aggression but caused immense casualties among the fanatics.  The motivation of which was likely that his mother (Candace) killed her mother (Romano) but no one was certain.  Kali believes she is an immortal goddess after all, she was not known for thinking like a normal person.

12:00 'Oni Island', Highspire

Major Thoms looked out from deck of the Muana Kea DM15 at Oni Island, his black BDUs were damp under his armored jacket but it was still an improvement from when he arrived.  Through the mist he could see the extinct volcano was a fortress just through his binoculars.  The heavy rains had filled the lake obscuring defensive constructs that might piece even his armored gunboat's hulls.  The 36 Gunboats and two large barges of his 401st would make for an impressive sight in clear weather.  Currently they were more of a navigational hazard to one another and their captains relied on a variety of signals that would not be intercepted by the Thugees.

Derrance checked his watch '12:00,' “Comms, get me Firebase Navarone”
“Aye, Aye Sir.”

Meanwhile at Firebase Navarone, SIAC Sang-Wei Sean Jun of the 2nd St Ives Sentinels, 214th Siege Battalion, looked out over his dozen guns from the portable watch tower.  A chirp alerted him that a message was incoming from the command van, “The Crocodiles are in position Sang-Wei Jun.”
“Roger that, all personnel prepare for enduring fire.  Blast shields down.  Ammo handlers get in position for resupply.”

The crew of Long Tom, 'Duke of Waddington,' rotated the gun into position and elevated the tip of the mighty howitzer toward their target.  Its artillery pit was big enough to be a small pond but had sufficient drainage that it was merely a muddy mess for the 14 men that worked the gun carriage itself, another 15 prepped the huge artillery shells for loading.  Sao-Wei William Chun dropped the blast shield of his green helmet and adjusted his armored vest.  He communicated to his subordinates via intricate gestures, signaling that the bombardment was about to begin.

Back on the Muana Kea, Major Thoms took another reading with the laser rangefinder attached to the main gun turret.  “Fire for Effect”

There was a brief delay before artillery shells began to batter the island with high explosives.  “Good range Navarone, keep it up” He returned the main signal to his FO who would coordinate fire while he commanding his flotilla and supporting units.  “All Callsigns this is Major Thoms, raise the flags and advance to your objectives.  Shore support stand-by for action”

Oni Island came alive, hover-tanks and fast attack craft swarmed from hardened positions built into the island’s base.  The first to engage the enemy were the dozen super-heavy Crocodile River Monitors in the lead, each of whom sported more firepower and armor than an Assault Mech.  The shotgun rounds of their LBX autocannons filled the air.  The rounds damaged the hoverskirts and hydrofoils of their attackers which slowed them; making them easy prey for the two Gauss Rifles mounted in a bow turret.  The first wave went down quickly against the guns.  Two of the Monitors were taking on water but most were only lightly damaged, their Anti-Missile systems having reduced the incoming fire sufficiently.  “Good first round for us, let’s see what you have planned next Ghat.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 14 December 2018, 10:41:35
The 3rd Canopian Fusiliers’ Armor Guard occupied the bank looking out over Oni Island.  All of Major Connie Gemmin’s tank turrets were pointed in the fateful island’s direction as were her binoculars from atop the turret of her Assault Pike.  The facility controlled a crucial part of the river that they needed to cross in order to reach their main objective, Kali Liao’s Temple.  They could not allow Rakshasa to operate behind their lines.  They had already proven capable of attacking the SIAC in force for months without suffering meaningful degradation despite the casualties inflicted on them.

She could see the blasts of the 214th’s guns and occasionally fire from hardened firing positions those guns were typically silenced rapidly by artillery.  Two Crocodiles went up in ammo explosions and another was sunk under withering fire as they closed on the island that had thus far consumed more than a regiment of St Ives Armor and Air Cavalry during previous assaults. 

Mercy MedEvac transports were beginning to ferry the wounded back to the 198th MASH from the White and Blue Nile’s flight decks. “Infantry get in your transports. We’re almost clear to go.”

Two companies of Maultier hover APCs and another of various hover tanks were positioned just on the beach.  A reinforced platoon of black suited MAF infantry lined up and began to board them knowing that they would serve as the follow on forces once the 401st created a beach head to secure the island and eliminate Warrior House Rakshasa in detail. 

Major Thoms’ voice came in over the radio, “Sierra-Six we need additional firepower on the enemy.  Battle Armor is encountering heavy resistance upslope.”
“Roger that Delta.  Special delivery incoming”

Four of the heavy missile carriers assigned to her command opened their doors to reveal Arrow-4 missiles in place of the LRM tubes.  The large artillery missiles began streaming toward the enemy positions with exacting precision, guided by spotting lasers carried by the gunboats and Fa Shih Armored Infantry.

Slightly more than half a kilometer from their position Shiao-Zhang Ghat’s Xanthos and the rest of his battalion of Thugee Domini walked out of the water.  Freshwater kelp clung to the ochre painted battlemech as the quadruped easily dealt with the damp sandy shore, “Engage at will brothers.”

Major Gemmin’s forces were taken by surprise by the Battlemechs, She dropped down into the armored turret and rotated it toward the attackers. The three Rotary 23mm Cannons were already in motion by the time she secured the hatch, “What the hell!  Where did they come from?”

“They walked on the bottom of the lake Major.”
“Shit!  So that’s how they have been doing this.  Form up Battalion!  We have to accomplish the mission.  Assault Group move out!”

“We haven’t been given that order yet.”
“Do it, your people are sitting ducks against Battlemechs.”

“Delta-Six to Navarone.”
“Navarone online.”
“I need an emergency redirect from the main mission.  Stand-by for coordinates.  Danger close.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: ckosacranoid on 14 December 2018, 18:15:21
That is one hell of a screw up to drop into your lap waiting to attack and then having to defend all of a sudden.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 17 December 2018, 11:04:21
Major Seraphina Bhola walked back to the hospital through the gloomy gray haze, grateful for the half day off-duty but dreading the upcoming shift.  A major offensive was going on today the first of the latest campaign that stood a chance to bleed the MAF white against Kali's Thugees.  A heavy roar caused her and many others on the walkways to look up as two squadrons of heavily loaded SIAC Tiê Hè (Iron Crane) fighters streaked by on afterburners followed by a squad of heavier MAF Estrela (Modified Meteor).  “That is not a good sign.”

The base immediately went into high gear, Sera ran to the hospital which was currently preparing their triage space with extra supplies as the first round of Mercy MEDEVACs arrived.  Armored Infantry were the worst cases medically the heavy weapons they always faced had an equal chance of either absolutely or nearly killing you inside the suit.  “It’s going to be another long day.”

Sang-Wei Jun looked at the departing transport piled high with used artillery shells another took its place fully loaded with more from their stores.  His guns had been firing constantly for nearly three hours and used up five transports.  Half of his battery was forced to pause in sequence to prevent the barrels from warping due to the heat; and give their crews a chance to catch their breath and restock or empty their revetment of shells.  The ever-present gray mist turned to steam at the touch of the red hot steel.  Each fired shell creating black smoke and white steam in equal measure.

Back on the White Nile Major Thomas despaired as the 3rd Canopian Fusiliers’ Armor Group was fighting for its life on the shore against Rakshasa’s Mech Battalion. He was unable to aid them without endangering his own operation; which was the lynchpin for the entire Highspire offensive.  Their transports, containing his follow on forces, had jumped the gun to save their lives but without the St Ives artillery fire suppressing the island’s defenses they were going to be in for a tougher fight.

The remaining enemy hovertanks and fast attack craft that had been stalking his boats were moving to engage easier targets.  The three squadrons of conventional fighter-bombers had called in waiting for target assignments and he had to prioritize, his force, the transports, or the armor.

MAF Command Sergeant William ‘BA’ Abram was speeding along the lake in the lead position within his Whirlwind Mark II hover IFV.  The venerable hovercraft had undergone a crash redesign under Hadji Doru’s reform program; making it more effective but it was still a flimsy hovercraft speeding across open water.  A hovercraft charging into enemies determined to cut them off and drown them in the lake like the other assault forces.  “Delta-Four, fast movers incoming. TAG lock hostiles.  ALAs are loose.”

That was the best news that Sergeant Abram could ever hear.  “Spread out Delta.  Whispers Tag, Tiaras scramble.”

The formation spread out while the Rakshasas tightened up determined to crash through the hovertanks and into the more vulnerable transport formation.  As the paired 57mm LBX autocannons of the Whirlwinds opened fire the tank commander also aimed a targeting laser at their target.  Five lasers took out of the twelve unit company but 18 Arrow IV missiles crashed into the enemy formation.  The appearance of so much firepower caused major damage to the Rakshasa units eliminating several of them which causing confusion.  Between confusion and accidental collisions the remaining Thugee units were easy prey for Delta’s guns.

On the beach Major Connie Gemmin’s armor battalion was fighting for their lives.  A Rakshasa Saanp (Snake) Battlemech crashed in the damp sand after her Assault Pike’s guns tore it limb from limb.  The final shot of its LBX autocannon had mobility killed the heavy tank however leaving her crew sitting ducks in an unfriendly shooting gallery.  She could see half of her battalion was down but an equal number of Thugees had been destroyed in the process.  Pounded under a relentless artillery barrage from Navarone as well as the concentrated fire of the Fusiliers tankers.  The blasted remains of a Huron Warrior’s intricate ‘headdress’ had embedded itself in the sand nearby.  The rest of it was likely scattered throughout the beach in tiny pieces. 

One of the new Thugee mechs currently called ‘Eidolons’ by the task force was clawing her way on its skeletal clawed hand.  Its legs must have been exploded by artillery but the off-hand’s heavy PPC could easily finish her damaged tank off and she was nearly out of ammo with two jammed guns and half her crew wounded by spall.  She opened the hatch exposing her to the full brunt of the bombardment, artillery and cannon shells crashed into Thugee mechs while missiles and energy beams filled the air. 

The Thugee mechs were advancing on the few tanks remaining in her command, most of whom were immobilized.  A Xanthos’ front legs kicked a burning Manticore before firing its heavy gauss rifle which caused a sonic boom that she felt from several hundred meters away.  The slug crashed through a Po’s turret leaving jagged metal in its wake before the ammunition went off lifting the heavy turret clean into the air only to bounce off the assault mech.

She grabbed the breaker bar attached to the top of the tank and manually turned the gun to break the jam, kicking the gun to ensure it moved freely now.  She did the same for the other jammed gun watching as the Eidolan neared ever closer but not quite within range yet.  This one was heavily damaged one of the LBX submunitions had damaged the turret’s armor enough that it wouldn’t move without torching the shard.  “****** it!  Two will have to be good enough.”

Connie scrambled back to the turret pulling the manual fire control out of the commander’s cupola, her gunner had been injured, his terminal damaged, and her optical sight destroyed during the Snake’s final shell leaving this as the only way to shoot the tank’s guns.  Guns 1 and 2 got up to speed, she depressed the turret to fire on the battlemech. Her helmet mounted rangefinder turned green, she was in range, and that this was the last of their ammunition.  “Let’s make it count then.  See you in hell Rakshasa.”

A dozen 23mm rounds impacted the mech separating the heavy PPC from the mech and tearing into the cockpit.  The battlemech collapsed face first into the sand before being blown apart by a heavy artillery shell.  Connie dove back into the tank as shrapnel fell down on her tank, small parts slipped through the hatch but her helmet protected her.  “We’re on the same side ******!  You nearly killed me trying to save my life!”

Meanwhile above the beach, Flight Officer Lizzie “Solo” Sousa maneuvered her Estreal Fighter-Bomber setting her up for bombing run on the beach, easily identified by the fires, artillery craters, and Battlemechs.  The aircraft still had a few bombs left after firing its Air-Launched Arrow (ALA) missile during the approach.  Now she was just looking for something big, ugly, and hard to miss, like a Xanthos.  The quadruped was on a rampage and probably not looking at what was behind it.  “Solo calls the Xanthos Flight Lead.  Four Boomers for effect.”

“Squad Lead confirms Solo.  Rolla, you are clear to bomb the Jinggau.”

The pair of Estrelas sped over the beach each dropping four high explosive bombs on the Thugee Mechs.  Solo’s target Xanthos exploded as the high explosives hit the missile magazine which set off a cascade of explosions.  The Jinggau’s Zhi-tong-yao gauss rifle’s capacitor were damaged by the bombs.  The electrical explosion blasted the arm and side torso off in a stream of plasma and the squat battlemech fell on its side, an easy target for the squadron of Tiê Hè fighters that followed.

Senior Commander Tera Flores of the 336th Provisional Infantry Regiment disembarked from the Maxim Field Command her platoon rode in on.  Already the 436th was beginning their ascent to join the 401st Armored Infantry that had created a beachhead for her unit.  Their artillery and air support would be different than promised but the infantry’s motto has always been “improvise, adapt, and overcome.” 

She had no idea what was in store for her command however; there was a reason they called it Oni Island. 

It is full of Demons. 

Demons that now stirred from their slumbers.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 18 December 2018, 09:31:36
The 336th PIR advanced across the jagged rocks of Oni Island, the footing was treacherous but the infantry's boots were tough enough to advance carefully without harm despite the chill calf high water that obscured hazards.  The guns of the Whirlwinds and Crocodiles had suppressed all enemy firing positions on this approach before they disembarked. 

Once they reached the cliffs lightly equipped stringers climbed the basalt cliffs that had protected this enemy base from attack for so long.  The climbers anchored the steel cable block attached to their climbing harnesses to the stone before dropping down to suit up and join the rest of the assault force.  Their body weight helping to pull up the heavy ladders that had been attached to their transports and brought forward by their squad-mates.

The sun was beginning its descent to the horizon making the already hazy environment even tougher to navigate.  Teal patches on the armor's back reflected the IR head and gun lights of the force making the MAF troopers easy to identify to one another.  Each one of the fifteen meter tall ladders was capable of supporting heavy infantry and tall enough to get them up the cliff in good order.  They were raised into position and the sharp wedges on both sides secured the ladder in the vertical position. 

The assault infantry wore a black sealed helmet with thermal vision and full body armor strung with grenades.  Magazines loaded with armor piercing rounds for their M3 6.8mm Carbines and holstered TK MP-76 Machine Pistols filled every available pocket.  Their blood type patches were clearly visible.  Each trooper knew that casualties were expected, the fact that the squad medics were the best in the Inner Sphere was little comfort when you were charging into a fortress.

Commander Flores' voice came in over the PA of her Maxim, “This is the first fight of the last part of this campaign Three-Thirty-Six.  The Magestrix herself is counting on each and every one of you.  No matter what is in there fight bravely, stand strong, and show no mercy because you will not receive any. 

We are going to make the Word of Blake and its allies bleed for Crimson.”

A collective 'hooah' erupted from the gathered regiment.  “Point teams mount your ladders and begin the ascent.”

“This is Pearl-Six, we are beginning our assault.  Confirm no Stag (St Ives) artillery is inbound.”
“Sierra-Six confirms.  If stuff starts exploding, its the enemy.”

The 336th slung their rifles behind their backs as they ascended the ladder to the cliffs above.  The point teams secured the perimeter while the combat engineers mounted pulleys to bring up heavier weapons, additional ammo, and evacuate casualties.  A Hellkite Armored Exoskeleton squad and MAF Trinity Battle Armor squad led each company of assault infantry, their advanced sensors hopefully providing some warning as they scrambled up the slope.

“Its too quiet Commander, this place should be crawling according to intel.  Maybe the artillery got them all.”
“No I doubt it will be that easy.  Keep your eyes open.  It will be dark soon.”
“I'm picking up motion.”

Fabio squad watched as something hidden moved from the shadows of a blasted bunker, its battle claws punching clean through a Hellkite.  The Asura turned to the rest of the squad before freeing its claws by ripping through the suit.  The halves of the troopers fell to the ground with a squish as blood covered the basalt.  “Asura!”

The squad fired a stream of grenades at the suit the 40mm grenades burst in midair sending basalt shards into the sky.  When the smoke and debris cleared the slightly damaged Asura responded with its own weapons.  The heavy machine gun tore into the rocks as the squad hit the dirt as its Firedrake's phosphorous flechettes burst into flames upon contact with the mist while streaking toward the Canopians.  Where they found purchase they burned flesh and bone, one found a grenade attached to a trooper's vest causing it to explode and wounding those nearby.

Gamma squad watched in horror as the Thugees rose from the depths of Oni Island.  Their forms were grotesque; nightmares made real courtesy of a twisted mind and intrusive cybernetics making them into something inhuman.  A particularly gruesome example was a six armed cyborg that dervish danced with its six blades through a platoon of MAF troopers evading rifle fire while maiming the troopers.  “Shoot everything!”

One of the cyborgs with a twisted face filled with metal teeth leapt from rock to rock as an MAF trooper attempted to track it.  The trooper's armor piercing rounds dealt damage but did not drop it.  The Thugee crashed into the trooper riding him to the ground before leaning close to see the fear on his face through the visor.  A myomer backed retractable Katar punched through the heavy armor and plunged through the MAF trooper's heart.  “Kali maa.  Shakti de”

Commander Flores watched as her numerically superior troopers scattered in fear only to be run down by the Thugees.  The Asuras were engaging the few Trinity suits that had survived the earlier assaults and it wasn't looking good.  “Pull back and regroup!”

“We need gunships Sierra-Six!”
“They should be coming within range soon Pearl-Six.”

As the Helicopter gunships approached the Thugee's gathered their wounded and dead scurrying back into their holes to hide from the incoming gunships.  Commander Flores looked at the carnage as her MAF troopers retrieved their own wounded and dead for evacuation.  Her people were mutilated with surgical precision, nearly a third of her force was wounded or dead in less than ten minutes.  She didn't know how many Rakshasas had been killed. 

“Major Thoms, tell Control that I need more Battle Armor or they won't have enough body bags even if we combine the pieces.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Dubble_g on 18 December 2018, 19:55:45
A sprawling, grandiose tale of war and politics. There's a reason I stick to smaller stories: Haven't the head for such intricate plotting and details. A true feat of imagination.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 19 December 2018, 10:39:24
A sprawling, grandiose tale of war and politics. There's a reason I stick to smaller stories: Haven't the head for such intricate plotting and details. A true feat of imagination.

And to think this whole universe started with wanting to write a Battletech romance novel.


01/24/3070 Location – 10 kilometers to Mahakali, Highspire, Kali’s Dominion

Kai Allard-Liao’s chuckled as his Ti T’sang 9J battlemech idly hacked at a strangler fig with his mech’s hatchet.  The five ton piece of metal neatly cut through the trunk and the heavy tree was pushed to the side.  Specialized engineering vehicles and Pioneer (modified Crosscuts) Industrialmechs were thinning the jungle behind him in order to clear a path for heavier equipment.  He remembered that Ran Felsner, an eccentric old friend and fellow Commonwealth patriot, had once told him that the timber from Highspire’s rainforest was some of the finest in the Inner Sphere.  Now all it did was hide Thugees and impede the St Ives Armored Cavalry’s advance toward Kali Liao.  “Rest easy friend, for you did not live to see the Inner Sphere at war with itself once more.  Nor the terrors that it has unleashed.”

His command company was providing close protection for the engineers.  Armored Infantry recon patrols and an entire SIAC firebase had gone missing within the past week.  Investigations found only bloody trails that led deeper into the jungle.  Attempts to follow those trails led to more ambushes.  People just disappeared but occasionally a perimeter patrol would find bleached bones and human skulls during their sweeps, but they never found the rest of the body.

The cyborgs of Warrior House Rakshasa had escaped from Oni Island and those of WH White Tiger narrowly evaded Naomi’s Red Lancers.  The booby traps, sabotage, and minefields continued to grow in density as they neared their objective.  Kali Liao may be insane but she was smart and ruthless in the way only a Liao or Kurita could be. 

Her followers were fanatical and well-resourced making Kai and Naomi’s Task Force pay for every kilometer taken with blood.  Their actions struck fear into the hearts of even the most stalwart.  There was no rest to be had night was the worst.  Sometimes the Thugees compromised the radio channels filling the airwaves with chanting and terrifying sounds that could easily be torture or sacrifice.  Chemical and Biological agents had been used multiple times with varying success but the conventional guerilla and terror tactics were the most successful and they had targeted the SIAC more than the MAF.

The Poe (modified Raven X) scout attached to his company came in over the airwaves, “Activity on the Bloodhound sensors”
“Engineers take defensive positions.  Pioneers standby.”

The engineering vehicles had a small turret loaded with sixty rockets in addition to the modular power take off.  They were mostly used for clearing landmines but were still a threat to hostile forces.  SIAC Pioneers had no weapons but did have a proper GM 120 fusion engine, jump jets, and respectable armor against small arms.  Their dual chainsaws were formidable up close, easily capable of cutting through an Asura suit.

“Roland, Michael, deal with them.”

A pair of Victors, long the standard Assault unit of the SIAC, pushed their way through the rainforest using sheer mass, “We aren’t picking up anything yet.” The two tiger stripe camo painted assault mechs staggered in order to watch each other’s backs.  The Thugees were dangerous and you died fast if you underestimated them.  “I’m picking up more units powering up now.  Behind us.”

The two Victors were hit by dozens of attacks by Se’irim and Shendu Armored Infantry laying in ambush.  The assault mechs struggled to maintain balance but toppled into the rainforest and were immediately swarmed by Thugee cyborgs that crawled and cut into them like hungry ants.  A company of Warrior House Lu Sann Battlemechs augmented by the heavy Tengu and agile Djinn Armored Infantry jumped into the cleared area behind them blocking their retreat. 

A camouflaged Storm-Tempest gestured to them while the other mechs maintained their ready stance, “This is Lien-Zhang Trang Van Quãn.  Your position is already targeted by our artillery and our reinforcements lie in wait.  You will not escape.  Hand over Jiang-Jun Kai Allard or we will take his corpse to Kali ourselves.”

Kai fumed both he and Naomi had been using different mechs throughout the campaign to eliminate the chance that Kali could launch decapitation attacks against them.  His Ti’Tsang had no distinctive markings and had been used by another mechwarrior throughout its time on planet.  They didn’t use any broad wave radio transmissions that could have betrayed his position.  Someone set him up and the enemy probably weren’t bluffing.  Some of his force could escape but most of it would be blown to pieces from afar.

“The rest of my force leaves without harm?”
“Yes Jiang-Jun.”

There was some backchannel communication between Kai’s company assuring him that they could take these guys down don’t be an idiot, “I’m keeping my mech powered up until they are clear.”

“Acceptable terms.  The rest of you fall back.  Any sign of betrayal will be dealt with.  Harshly.”

Roland and Michael’s Victors came out of the rainforest, heavily damaged but still under the control of their original Mechwarriors followed by their ambushers.  The Lu Sann mechs parted to allow the St Ives Armored Cavalry units to return to friendly lines.  “There they are clear, now power down and come out.  Kali would prefer you arrive alive.”
“It’s no fun to torture a corpse.”
“The Goddess’ intentions are her own.  We are merely her instruments.”

The Ti’Tsang took a knee as it powered down and Kai climbed down the ladder right into the fearsome waiting arms of Djinn Armored Infantry who searched him for weapons.  They had taken many of the Coalition’s patrols unawares during the Highspire campaign crashing down from the canopy right into their midst.  The light battle armor were purposefully engineered to look and act like a predatory bird complete with talons in order to evoke terror in the minds of its foes.

Kai was escorted to a Lu Sann Bloodhound Battlemech that had taken a knee and dropped its chain ladder.  The agile skirmisher would be an ideal escape vehicle however he knew the Mechwarrior inside was considered expendable, probably not armed, and likely had his system heavily locked down to prevent a hijacking.  It would lead the way to Mahakali but its back would be exposed to more heavily armed units.

As the Mechwarriors approached the Mahakali compound Kai had an excellent view of his objective from ground level.  From orbit it was expansive and heavily built up but on the ground it was also elegantly decorated with colorful banners and mosaics. 

Jade Guards and the Warrior Houses were fortifying their positions each clearly marked by a great banner that flapped in the wind.  Some of their number advanced toward the encroaching enemy under the cover of their artillery batteries.

The perimeter walls were thick, rippling, and squat providing cover for the Guards’ tanks while serving as a mobility barrier for even the most agile of mechs.  Inside was no better, the compound was a maze of canals, gardens, rice fields, and walls each intricately crafted and integrated into one another in order to stymie attackers while providing defenders cover and concealment. 

Civilians continued their normal business parting for combat units on the move.  An Augmented Battalion of tanks and mechanized infantry were positioned under Temple Guards’ banners in front of The Great Gate of Mahakali as the Lu Sann mechs approached.  Kai was impressed with their construction.  The gates were wide enough to fit six tanks abreast, tall enough for an Atlas to have space and difficult for most jumping mechs to clear.

The Gates were currently open and the Temple Guards Brutii cleared a path for them.  Inside was an expansive square with intricate patterns carved and painted into the ferrocrete that Kai did not understand but assumed had some ritual significance to the Goddess Kali.  The battlements of her fortified temple built into a mountainside had colorful banners mimicking those hanging from The Forbidden City on Sian.

Another Battalion of currently unoccupied mechs some of which he could not identify but were similar in design to the Blakist Battle Armor were assembled in the square.  The Lu Sann Mechs walked across the square to the temple’s entrance were a group of Thugee cyborg infantry waited.  Kai’s mech took a knee and his ‘chauffeur’ ordered him out.

Kai was escorted by the Thugees through the Mahakali Temple, despite the fact that his was an enemy prisoner he did take a moment to take in the sights.  His escorts did not rush him which was good he needed to learn how to get back to that square if he was going to escape.  They didn’t even restrain him which he thought was strange.  He was taken to a bath where a set of Liao Green Shenyi robes and various soaps were positioned for his use.  “You are a strange one Kali.”

Newly refreshed Kai stepped back into the corridor to find his escorts were still in position.  They motioned and he followed them up the stairs and throughout until they stopped before a mahogeny door with a pair of Tengu Armored Infantry with Temple Guards markings beside it.  The Guards opened the door and allowed three of this escorts to continue within before closing the door behind them. 

Inside the door was a table and curtain made of semi-precious beads.  The Thugees said a whispered prayer before passing into Kali’s Sanctum.  The Goddess Kali herself was in the middle of Natarajasana (dancer) pose, her braided hair, a Katar punch dagger, and portions of her silks falling down in profile, her body was backlit from the fading light outside.  They approached carefully stopping at a strip of wood the only such natural element in the concrete floor.

One of them attempted to speak only to be silenced by a gesture from Kali who pirouetted out of the pose to face them.  Kai was taken aback by her appearance, she had numerous tattoos and piercings throughout her body, her braids were held together with expensive beads that clanged together as she moved.  She wore only the barest of clothing and he could see that although she was small and lean, she was strong; with muscles like those of an acrobat or dancer.  Despite seeing almost everything he could not determine if she had cybernetic enhancements as well.

“Main dekhata hoon ki kaee alaard kabja kar liya gaya hai. Kya vah koee pareshaanee thee?”
(I see Kai Allard has been captured Tarj.  Was he any trouble?)

“Nahimi Kalika Maa.  Usane svechchha se aatmasamarpan kar diya.”
(No Mother Kali.  He surrendered willingly.)

She dismissed the Thugees who bowed and departed, “Oh.  You could not wait to see me.  Is that it cousin?”
“Just get it over with Kali.  It was me or dozens possibly hundreds of others.  Put an end to this war right now before more have to die.”

Kali closed the gap and grabbed him pulling him down to her level and look into her eyes, “Oh no we are just getting to the interesting part Kai.  It wasn’t you I was hoping to lure to Highspire though you are a grand consolidation prize.” 

She drew the Katar up and pressed the edge to his neck, “I want kill the Magestrix first; and only when Naomi's broken body lies before me will I complete my revenge.
 With you.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 20 December 2018, 11:25:47
Magestrix Naomi Centrella’s Journal - Day 50 of Highspire

Kai was captured today by Kali.  It was unfortunately inevitable that at least one of us would be captured by her and I’m certainly glad it’s not me.  Upon hearing that their General was captured the St Ives Janissaries launched a major offensive, against my orders and unsupported by the MAF forces that now make up the majority of forces on planet.  The idiot Janissaries’ blood watered her gardens as they were cut down like stalks of wheat by the Jade Guards and Warrior House Lu Sann.

The Thugees have been increasing the use of unusual Battlemechs as we near. We cannot determine at this time if they are making them on world or if the Guards units had access to more Word of Blake support than Intel originally reported.  Armored infantry are one thing, Kali seemingly has no shortage of volunteers willing to ‘ascend’ and become cyborgs in order to cause terror but bleeding edge mechs are something else entirely.

Regarding the Word of Blake designs we have encountered, in addition to their unusual manufacture and utilization there is far more interesting technology than we anticipated.  Sharing these capabilities with the Commonwealth and Combine is not I feel in the Trinity Alliance’s best interest.  Let them find out the enemy’s capabilities on their own while we develop it further.

A welcome surprise arrived yesterday at Highspire’s pirate point.  A Buccaneer filled with pristine FedCom manufactured and Clan grade Omnimechs with associated equipment.  The dropship and others were seized in a former Rim Worlds system by Canopian commerce raiders before they could reach the Marian Hegemony.  That will be an unwelcome surprise for the Thugees when we launch the final offense. 

Note: I should send Katherine a letter thanking her for the generous donation.

Day 54
01/28/3070 08:17 Location – Mahakali, Highspire

Already the nearly battalion of new Omnimechs had shown their worth.  The Red Lancers were one of the only CCAF regiments to have technicians trained on Clan tech since they participated in Operation-Bulldog and had cross-trained with COMSTAR on Tukayyid prior to winning the Martial Olympiad in 3067.  The speed in which they could reconfigure and bring one of them online stunned Naomi.

The Magestrix’s Summoner D leapt over a Temple Guard Ti’Tsang moments before its hatchet could impact.  A Red Lancer Hel and Nova finished it off before continuing the advance toward the main Temple just ahead of the bursting shells of artillery and Estrela fighter-bombers.  Allied artillery had been softening up fortifications since last night but the Thugees were mobile, good at concealing themselves, and likely had a series of hardened tunnels below with no shortage of surprises in store.

“It is a good thing for the Commonwealth that you never joined the CCAF Kali.  George Hasek would have been in the fight of his life if you were in charge.”

She fired her lasers at one of the new Word of Blake Omnimechs (Deva C), it collapsed into the rice patty with a splash.  Its heavy autocannon missed its mark but the lasers struck Naomi’s mech along its torso causing only minor damage.  Kali’s artillery was still coming in heavy, fired from inside the Temple’s heavy and tall walls.  Mahakali was built in concentric circles with a series of pre-ranged kill-zones, mobility traps, and ambush corridors.  If any unit stopped moving they quickly became a target for infantry or artillery shells.

The heavy and slow St Ives Armored Cavalry forces were bearing the brunt of the Thugee artillery fire as they advanced, sometimes recklessly, driven by the urge to rescue Kai Allard.  They were generally successful in dealing with enemy opposition but frequently were swarmed by infantry or isolated and turned to scrap by the enemy.

Most of the remaining Magistracy Armed Forces units were skirmishers, not the best units to assault a fort but they were all she had remaining.  They ran into better-equipped opposition wherever they went.  Some enemies could be evade as they had been trained to do but some would give chase and force them into a vulnerable position.  The combat armor contingent on which the MAF had heavily relied for most of its history was engaged in a fearsome tank battle throughout the compound.  Each side was advancing cautiously to limit exposure to enemy flanking attacks.  MAF armored and regular infantry were clearing fortifications and working their way through the tunnels to clear them of Thugees.

The Red Lancers combined the best of both organizations and with the advantage of Clan tech became the vanguard punching deep inside the lines.  They were encountering Battlemechs in Temple Guard regalia, Kali’s elite, now but relatively little artillery fire, tanks, or armored infantry which made them very cautious. 

The caution was well-founded as trap doors built into an artificial hillside opened up to reveal a lance of Von Luckner heavy tanks.  Naomi attempted to evade and fired all of her weapons at the one right in front of her but although some of the thick armor melted away it wasn’t enough.  At nearly point blank range they double tapped their 203mm guns and followed it up with 20 MRMs.  Her Summoner took two of the heavy shells in the chest which critically damaging the gyro that kept her mech upright.

The Summoner stood long enough that she was able to crash it into some brush on its side.  The tanks rumbled forward to continue their assault followed by Asuras and Tengus better equipped to combat still mobile battlemechs than interested in ones that had already fallen.  Shaken but glad to be alive Naomi unstrapped herself from the chair and removed her neurohelmet in order to quickly open the cockpit hatch, closed it behind her, and slipped into the brush staying low to the ground and hoping that the recovery crew would be regular infantry instead of Djinn suits.

Her hopes were granted; a male and female Thugee ‘Initiate’ exited the artificial hill heading her way obviously tasked with recovering the pilot from the fallen mech’s cockpit while their betters were otherwise occupied by the attack.  As initiates they had yet to earn their cybernetics which was a welcome surprise as Naomi wasn't sure she could overpower one of those.  They were dressed in a draping Khaki hooded poncho and were armed with a rifle carbine and the normal blades that were common among the order.  Naomi carefully unsheathed the Ceres Arms Slasher combat knife that she kept in her boot.  There was no chance they would hear her this close to battle but they might see her and ruin the surprise.

Upon reaching the still warm but KOed Battlemech they muttered something to one another in a language Naomi didn’t understand before nodding to one another.  The man took up position with his back toward her watching his companion as she peered inside.  Naomi slowly crept toward him before rising into a crouch and driving her blade into his neck holding his mouth as she did so.  She gently placed him into the brush before killing the woman with a blood choke. 

Fortune continued to favor her as her victim was roughly the same size and although Naomi’s Mulatta complexion was different than this woman’s Punjabi they were close enough.  Her own mechwarrior uniform was even a similar shade of green as the bodysuit wore underneath the formless outer covering.  She even wore Khaki body armor that looked like Naomi’s bustier style cooling vest.

She searched the woman’s pockets removing her ID and comm headset while replaced it with her own.  If anyone found this body they might think that the Magestrix was dead until she proved them otherwise, it wouldn't fool many people but it might just cause enough confusion among their ranks.  After changing, she tied the headscarf and dropped the veil in front of her face before recovering the woman’s weapons after cleaning and sheathing her dagger.  She walked back toward the door they had exited from and found no one standing watch.  “Guess who has a backstage pass to Kali’s place now.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 22 December 2018, 00:02:01
Magestrix Naomi Centrella worked her way through the corridors that snaked below the Mahakali compound disguised as a Thugee initiate.  Others in similar gear jogged past her without looking beyond their own rifles toward the front lines.  She still kept her head down while attempting to navigate toward her destination; careful to avoid any non-verbal communication that might make them spark a conversation in a language she didn't know.

The tunnel shook violently in the wake of a bombing run nearby shaking loose dirt and pieces of the reinforced concrete above her.  The basic infantry took refuge in dugouts built in to provide cover and protection from cave ins, they likely were used to it by now considering the bombardment had been going on for at least 12 hours now.  “Damn that was close.  Keep it up Red Lancers but please be more careful next time.”

A squad of Shedu Armored Infantry passed nearby, the assault quadruped battle suit was the logical progression of the AFFC's Sloth, Fenrir, and Rottweiler suits.  These particular suits were carefully crafted to look more fearsome and were capable of withstanding a clan PPC while laying waste to a group of heavy infantry.  They were followed by the the only slightly less dangerous Longinus, Phalanx, and Achilles suits.  “I guess the rest of the fancy battle armor is already in the field.  I'm sorry troopers but your sacrifice will strengthen our alliance.  I will respect it till the day I die, which is not today.”

Naomi moved faster toward the Temple Complex, the ladders that led out to the strategic sally hatches and weapon bunkers had the landscape illustrated within the well.  She was going in the right direction based on the aerial recon she had memorized before leading the attack this morning.  In the rear echelon the Thugee activity was lessened being related to medical care, messengers, and ammo runners using motorcycles with trailers loaded down with bullets and grenades.

Finally she found a route to the Temple and sprinted up the stairs which led into a ritual area within Kali's temple.  Upon the alter was a large jet black statue made in the likeness of Kali Liao posed and decorated like the Goddess Kali in front of a large basin.  Inside the basin were things that Naomi could have done without seeing.  If she had any food left in her stomach it would have left her in that moment before she looked away but the smell lingered while she tried to find a way up to kill the Goddess herself. 

While skirted along the alter she noticed that the man that Kali was standing on in the idol, frequently depicted as Shiva in Hindu mythos had the face of Cameron St Jamais, Precentor Martial of the Word of Blake.  “You should have kept your man down more Kali.  St Jamais screwed the whole ****** universe up with his idiotic attack on Tharkad.  None of this was part of the plan but then again neither was Katherine allying with the Clans.”

Meanwhile back at the sight of Naomi's fallen Summoner a squad of Djinn Armored Infantry drawn by the still active fusion reactor in the downed mech proceed to investigate.  One of them through his Cybernetically enhanced senses finds the initiates, one of whom is missing the outer portion of her uniform.  Crouching down he retrieves her ID tags, circles of steel with a lunar pattern engraved on them, 'Centrella, Naomi E. - A Positive – Pagan CoC'

The Djinn suit looked around obviously communicating with the rest of its squad-mates.  They nodded and picked up the body before heading back to the Temple.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: DOC_Agren on 23 December 2018, 20:43:24
Still good reading   :thumbsup:
:beer: :popcorn:
More please
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 24 December 2018, 01:11:18
Still good reading   :thumbsup:
:beer: :popcorn:
More please

Thanks DOC, I still have lots to go


Kali Liao was irritated by the latest turn of events, artillery shells bursting and the other sounds of modern battle were growing nearer.  It was different during the monsoon season when she had the advantage; before reinforcements arrived and her allies faltered throughout the Inner Sphere.  The Canopians and St Ives forces were pushing hard against her own depleted forces driven by rage.  They believe that their leaders were her prisoners or victims but only one, Jiang-Jun Kai Allard-Liao, actually was.

The other was supposedly the corpse currently in front of her.  Kali took the head of a smiling initiate off with a single swing of her Dao saber, “This is not Naomi!”

The Thugees were down on their knees with foreheads touching the stone so fast that they dazed themselves.  The blood of their companion covered the back of their uniforms.  One them let out a quick whispered apology.  “No!  Don't speak!”  

Her screeching yell echoed off the chamber's walls, “She is disguised.  Find her!”

The Thugee's fled the room keeping their heads bowed so as to not see their vengeful goddess.  Agni cried out from his room.  Kali went to and soothed the infant, “Don't worry Agni.  Everything will be fine.”

She returned to the main room where Kai Allard-Liao was gagged in a garrotte chair (Laqueus) with his hands restrained in front of him.  The rough torture device was nevertheless made of some of the finest of Highspire's exotic wood.  It occupied a place of honor beside Kali's own throne carved from stone and inlaid with the finest woods.  Kali drove her fingers into a pair of pressure point causing her cousin to grunt in pain, “Your time is coming.  You'll have the best seat for the end.”  

She held them there long enough to be satisfied inflicting pain on him eased her own.  She followed it up by leaning back into his bound arms, directly looking at his eyes, “Kai, I feel pity for you.  You've been played for so long that you volunteered for this assignment.  The legendary Allard guile must have pased you by.  Can't you see that Kuan-Yin and Quintus have sacrificed you to kill me and save themselves.  How does that make you feel?”

Kai attempted to say something but it was blocked by the gag.  “Oh right you can't say.  Although I doubt whatever you were about to say was interesting.”

Kali leaned forward transitioning into a handspring before mounting her throne once more.  “Now we just wait.”

In the lower levels of the temple Magestrix Naomi Centrella-Liao continued to evade patrols.  All of the infantry were now unveiled and armored infantry were positioned on all avenues of approach.  While Naomi could stick to the shadows and possibly evade the senses of normal sentries until she could remove them she knew that such action would be suicide here.   “Time for plan B then.”

She dropped the veil but kept the poncho and headscarf in place as she worked her way to the Temple Square.  Counter-battery fire had destroyed most of the artillery that had been positioned here but the Temple Guards stood fast, the high tech assault battalion aided by fixed weapons, infantry, and armor would give any attacker pause.  Two King Crabs lifted the protective covers of their heavy autocannons in anticipation of whatever was going to break through the gate.  “At least they are looking that way.”

Naomi saw the balcony that she assumed Kali's chambers must be attached to, the intricate statues and textured stone would make it difficult for someone who didn't know what they were doing to scale.  She was however such a person, keeping to the shadows and moving at jog she worked her way toward the balcony.  Shouldering her carbine across her back she jumped on one of the pillars, grabbing a piece of concrete and pulling herself up the first narrow shelf carved into the rock.

Incoming artillery threatened to knock her off the shelf, “Literally the worst timing!  Must be Stag artillery.  Its not my fault your General gave himself up to the Avatar of a Death Goddess.”   The artillery continued causing her to almost loose her grip six times before she at last pulled herself up to the balcony.  A flight of Tiê Hè fighter-bombers dropped their payload on the main gate blasting the mighty gates.  One was damaged and unable to turn and avoid the mountain beyond those gates.  The mountain that she now stood below, she rolled into the chamber dodging flaming shrapnel and shower of burning jet fuel.

Her poncho caught fire from the heat, made of natural materials it merely smoldered but forced Naomi to drop it and her carbine in order to avoid being burned.  The headscarf was equally charred and she discarded it shaking her hair loose before she took the carbine up again.  Keeping low she passed through a bead curtain to a grand chamber with streaming banners and elaborate statues and architecture.  She could hear a baby crying nearby and saw two chairs in the center of the room in addition to many mats, one of which was occupied by a figure in green robes.

Creeping closer she looked around her checking corners wary for danger.  She was in Kali's Liar now and a Canopian knew better than to underestimate another woman.  Behind her Kali quietly dropped down from the silks she had been suspending herself from and undid a yellow sash.  Naomi crept closer to the occupied throne stopping just long enough for Kali to wrap the sash around her throat, pull it tight, and kick her knees out from beneath her.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 25 December 2018, 12:36:52
Kali Liao tightened the silk scarf against Naomi's neck the crushing might only held back by a single hand interposing between it to give her the barest bit of breath.  Her strength wouldn't hold for long and with her knees down it wouldn't be long before she was strangled.  “Naomi, I heard your mother didn't make it out of Crimson so I'm going to send you to hell to be with her.  Then its Kai's turn to see my dear aunt Candi and uncle Torm once more.  I'll be right behind don't worry.”

Naomi thrashed against the scarf but Kali was well practiced with this particular method of execution.  Kali felt her sister-in-law's fist weakly hit against her shin.  “Is that all you've got.  Weak.  I expected more from the Magestrix.  After all Emma gave The Word's Master a much more satisfying conclusion to their relationship.”

Distracted by her single-minded focus to murder the Magestrix Kali didn't notice the blade she had pulled out of her boot during the weak leg assault.  Naomi cut the silk that was threatening to strangle her with a single slash of the razor sharp knife.  Kali was not however caught by surprise by the follow up attack instead tumbling back only to rise again without losing momentum. 

The Magestrix coughed and wheezed for a moment attempting to reach her rifle which had slipped beneath Kai's garrotte chair in the struggle.  Unable to reach it safely she transitioned into a fencing position with her knife out.  “It's over Kali.  None of us need to die here today.”

Kali dropped into a feral crouch, “You think that is something that I want.  No, I'm not going back without a fight.  I know all your secrets Magestrix Centrella and I know this is not the end.  You're using my brother to forward your own agenda and I'm going to stop you and save the Confederation.  Then Sun-Tzu and I will go back to doing what is best for our realm.”

“I doubt you know them all.  Even if the Master himself stopped by on the way back to Terra.  Your brother is never going to take you back Kali. 

You've made a mess of things.  I talked down the Republican Guards when I first got here.  They wanted to nuke the planet to oblivion in retribution for the things you've done.” 

Naomi stopped a moment to slip into a modeling pose, “Besides I literally have Sun-Tzu by the balls.  He asked me to handle you gently but we both know that he is more interested in his own delusions than either of us.  Even if you tell the truth; its all just the ravings of a mad terrorist and it will remain so as long as I am the first and last thing he hears every night.”

“If only they knew what I did.  They might not underestimate you or the Magistracy.”
“Emma spent her whole tenure as Magestrix making the right moves.  Playing both sides against one another.  Betting big when it counted and hedging when she wasn't sure.  Now its my turn to continue her legacy, and your dynasty.”
“You won by cheating.  I know Emma lied to The Master about something that's why she's dead.”
“He nuked Crimson from above with a Warship.  Hardly sporting.  Seems your Master is afraid of losing to a girl.  Doesn't say much for his true character.”

Kali threw out a group of darts, Naomi dodged them by hiding behind Kai's chair.  The fine flechettes embedded themselves in the wood and one found the Jiang-Jun's arm.  Naomi could see the man had been tortured during his four days in captivity by an expert in the field.  There was nothing she could do for him now.  Those darts were almost certainly poisoned and she would risk herself if she touched them to remove it.

The Liao princess used the distraction to roll away and grab and Guan Dao from the weapon rack nearby.  “The Word of Blake had a plan to make the Commonwealth pay for all of its sins and you are ruining it.  That makes you an enemy Naomi.  I am the Avatar of Death, my judgment is absolute.”

“You talk to much Kali.”
  Naomi moved away from Kai and Kali toward the still burning jet fuel on the balcony.  She sheathed the inadequate boot dagger, ripped her cooling vest off, and grabbed a green cloth tipped spear from a different weapon rack.  “My mother raised Amazons Kali.  So come and try to kill me.”

The two women faced one another with the world outside on fire, the jet fuel had ignited some of Kali's banners and flames eagerly climbed the cloth.  The sounds of battle outside grew louder as Kali's Temple Guards continued their last stand against the Magestrix's forces.  The future of the Trinity Alliance would come down to this singular battle between two warrior women.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: snakespinner on 25 December 2018, 16:05:18
Cat fight.
This is what Sun-Tzu's dreams are made of.
Enjoying the story. :beer:
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 26 December 2018, 14:36:17
Naomi swore as her spear tip went through Kali's jacket, again.  She ducked the spinning strike from the smaller woman's Guan Dao; Kali landed perfectly barefoot on the stone before using the momentum to keep moving.  Naomi was immediately looking for another of the scarce opportunities to strike.  All it would take is one good thrust and her fight was over.  However, Kali was less than 1.5m tall and petite but strong and agile.  She had more than 20 years of acrobatics conditioning and her Kalari-Wushu training meant she, her long braids, and obscuring silks were always in motion making her a frustratingly difficult target to track.

The room was filled with light smoke that obscured the grandeur of the decor.  Infant Agni was crying somewhere nearby.  The sounds of battle were still loud outside which Naomi didn't like.  Her forces should have been able to overwhelm the Temple Guards by now.  If there was a Canopian rout she would have to deal with Kali's Thugees checking in and knew that would be the end.  She was running out of time to deal with an Incarnate Death Goddess who was just stalling while Kai was dying and Naomi was fighting for her life while bleeding from near misses by the razor sharp blade.

Thus far she had been able to evade but now she had to do something more daring.  Still keeping her spear loaded she watched and waited for Kali to swing her weapon again while spinning defending while she was on the ground and feinting to keep Kali interested.  She was starting to get a better read on the woman who was still unpredictable but physics were immutable and Kali always attacked at full power and speed. 

Naomi got her opportunity, dropping the spear before moving past the blade the catch the Guan Dao's pole while Kali was not in position to change the forces in motion.  The Magestrix matched the rotational speed while adding her own strength, a move that threatened to throw Kali against the wall.  The smaller woman released her weapon rather than be trapped and perfectly tumbled out of the spin to face her opponent.  Naomi tossed the Guan Dao into the fire near the balcony; she couldn't use it effectively and didn't want Kali to have an easy time retrieving it. "I was having fun Naomi.  Aren't you enjoying our little Liao family squabble."

"I don't have time for this Kali."
"Make time then sister, because I'm not in a hurry.  This is my planet!  My Thugees will be victorious and you will be dead."
"You're even more delusional than I feared.  Your forces are on their last legs and you know you can't beat me without tricks and trapeize."

Naomi started toward her opponent carefully Kali had long reinforced nails that could be coated with poison on top of a barrier gel.  There were pouchs hanging from her sash capable of concealing all manner of secret weapons and it was plausible that she had a stiletto type dagger concealed somewhere on her person.  The Magistracy of Canopus had come up with a variety of creative and subtle means of destruction that looked like innocuous accessories to the untrained eye.  Some of which they had shared with the Capellans and Word of Blake Kali's association with both meant there was no limit to how dangerous she could be.  She did not want to get within knife range or close enough to touch her.  She needed a different weapon.

The two circled one another Kali evidently felt the same way about the Magestrix, a danger up close better dealt with from range. She just needed to buy time for reinforcements to arrive; why risk herself needlessly.  Naomi rolled over to the spear she had dropped and throw it at Kali.  The spear embedded itself into Kali's throne while she tumbled away to grab a Dao concealed under a pillow nearby.  She was immediately on the offensive charging the now unarmed Magestrix who dodged the razor sharp blade while edging closer to the poisoned Kai Allard.  Naomi hit the floor hard as she ducked a slash and kicked at the carbine dropped during their initial struggle, her legs concealed by the chair from Kali's eyes.

When Kali cleared the path Naomi rolled across Kai's lap falling face down and concealing the now free carbine from view while praying it wouldn't misfire due to rough handling.  When Kali circled around to deal the death blow Naomi rolled over and fired the whole magazine into Kali at close range.  The Incarnate Death Goddess who's torso was now shot through dropped her sword and lay in the now bloody lap of her second-greatest foe.

With her opponent down she checked on Kai, the man was in the final stages of a type of curare poisoning, barely conscious as his lungs were affected by the neurotoxin.  Naomi put on a pair of gloves taken from her jumpsuit and checked the now dead Kali's pouches for something that might be an antidote to the poison.  She found plastic vials filled with a clear liquid and marked with brightly colored tags that revealed nothing else about their contents, "I'm sorry Kai.  I can't give you any of these, they might be even more poison."

Kai's eyes closed as the toxin continued to shut down his respiration and Naomi heard that sounds of battle drew closer, Naomi figured within this wing of the Temple.  She reloaded the carbine and hid behind a silk curtain with a good view of the entrance doors but was still obscured in the smoke. 

A group of Thugees entered from a secret door nearby as Naomi crouched in the corner while following them with her rifle.  She was paralyzed in fear she couldn't take one cyborg with a rifle a dozen would be certain death.  She held her breath and hoped they didn't have thermal vision.  Their twisted forms gathered around Kali and Kai both intertwined in death's embrace.  They chanted mournfully and some of their number went off to a side chamber.  One of their number, an Unascended woman, took Agni, Son of Kali, from his cradle while an Ascended man took the bloody corpse of Kali over his shoulder, the small woman was no burden to the cyborg warrior.  They departed quickly and Naomi could hear the door being barred from the other side.  She let out the breath she was holding in and was immediately afraid that she betrayed her presence to the still near Thugees.  There was however no response but she still kept her position waiting for help.

"That was too close."

The doors to the Main Chamber burst open as a squad of damaged Raiden Armored Infantry broke down the doors.  These AIs were in the colors of Ramilie's Raiders, the hardcore reserve unit commanded by Colonel Nicholas Ramilie, Naomi's father.  She knew the Raiden suits had thermal and came out from the corner with her hands up.  The infantry took up defensive positions but put their guns down before surrounding her, their squad leader spoke over the suit's speaker, "Magestrix, we're glad you're still alive."

She pointed to a portion of the wall, "There's a secret door over there, Kali's son, and her corpse were taken moments ago by a squad of Thugees.  You might still be able to catch them."

"Affirmative Magestrix, Major Newton will be along shortly.  Stay here."

The AIs used their claws and lasers to break down the door before pursuing.  Naomi took a moment to look at the carnage in the hallway leading up to the main chamber.  The corridor was scorched and blasted the entire length, two Squads each of Tengus and Shedus were down along with at least a platoon of Thugee cyborg infantry.  The Raiders had lost a Squad of Kanazuchi Assault, two of Raiden Medium, and a platoon of Canopian Hellkite PA(L) suits.  "It's a good thing they didn't bother to check on us.  I would have been dead."

The sounds of battle were muted now, occasional small arms fire echoed as infantry engaged one another with small arms during the final clean up operation to rid the Temple proper of hostiles.  Naomi figured the Thugee's likely had fallback points but with their Goddess dead and support facilities seized they would return to being a low intensity terrorist organization like they were before Kali's influence and Blakist support.  She walked back up to Kali's throne and removed the spear from it's back before sitting in it with the spear in hand waiting for her brother.

Major Newton Ramilie walked in with another group of Raidens and Theseus battlesuits. Her twin had inherited their father's swarthy Spaniard complexion and handsome features.  As the only son of Emma Centrella he learned fast how to deal with women and his father and he were never hurting for companionship.  The Raider's Armored Infantry Battalion was actually a gift from a grateful Draconis Combine Countess.  Given to them as a bonus to incentivize their continued presence; but the Raider's left for the Free World's League just before the Second Star League dissolved.  They had gotten caught up with the initial Black Dragon Rebellion and cross-border raids from the League to the Commonwealth before accepting contracts in the Trinity Alliance. 

The man bowed deeply, "You look like you belong up Naomi.  When did you become the fierce Warrior Queen of Highspire?"

"You will address me as Magestrix, Major Ramilie."
"I will not Lady Centrella-Liao.  Why don't you come down and give your brother a hug."
"You should come up here.  I earned this throne so I'm going to sit in it."
"Very well, if I may approach, Your Radiance."

She signaled that he could approach the throne, he walked up but stopped at the chair where Kai Allard's body lay still suspended by the implements that were meant to kill him but didn't get the chance. "Looks like Kai didn't make it.  Pity, he was a fine Mechwarrior perhaps one of the best.  I'm glad I don't have to explain it to his sister, those Liao women are a little crazy."

Naomi dropped the spear and accepted the hug from her brother, "You always get the easy assignments Newton.  I'm glad you were here for me.  Where's Dad?"

Newton dropped his head slightly, "Naomi, he didn't make it.  His Awesome was swarmed but he took a lot of Thugees down with him."
"I'm sorry Newton.  We both knew that might happen but this needed to be done.  I didn't know who I could trust if things got hard like they did."
"I know, he didn't hear about your disappearance from the field before they got him so don't blame yourself.  He just fell into one of Kali's traps.  His experience saved me from a similar one later on.  It's just the business unfortunately."
"What are you going to do after Highspire?"
"I am starting with a month of R&R on New Macao in order to give us time to refit.  Alys' Krushers are looking for more soldiers so I think we're going to sign up with them and see this fight to the end."
"Don't get lost in the fight Newton.  I want you back in the Magistracy when this is over.  You deserve a break and I think some time home would be good for you."
"One can dream.  We'll have time to mourn later.  At least our parents are together again now if only in the afterlife."
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 27 December 2018, 07:44:57
02/14/3070 Location – Zi-Jen Cheng (Forbidden City), Sian, Capellan Confederation

Magestrix Naomi Centrella was being transported slowly inside an elaborately decorated palanquin made originally for Romano Liao, then Duchess of Highspire, decades ago; it was covered with red cloth toward the main palace within the Forbidden City.  She was dressed in Han style formal robes dyed crimson which in an entirely predictable Canopian twist showed more of her dark skin and cleavage than would be considered proper.  However, she was the Magestrix of Canopus and the only person she even pretended to follow the rules of was her husband, His Celestial Wisdom Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao.

In her arms was their daughter Ilsa.  The two year old's birth had been kept secret to protect her from Kali and other rivals.  The toddler was lucky to have not been with her grandmother Emma on Canopus or father on Sian when those planets were attacked.  Instead mother and daughter were traveling to Grand Base to visit her grandfather Nicholas.  The man had been so happy to spend time with his first grandchild. (that he knew about, Newton probably has a few bastards somewhere in the Inner Sphere)

His death had hit her and Newton hard, the man was a charmer and you couldn't help but love him.  Throughout their childhood both parents pushed them all to be the best while maintaining their own happiness.  Erdé would be crushed when she heard the news.  Losing her mother and father in rapid succession would be a difficult for her sensitive soul.  At least she didn't lose her sister and brother too.

As the palanquin worked its way up the stairs Naomi looked out over the square.  Elements of the Dynasty Guard, 2nd St Ives Sentinels, Red Lancers, and 2nd Raventhir Cuirassiers were assembling for a victory parade tomorrow.  Captured Blakist Battlemechs had been repaired or at least looked the part and the Red Lancers still had some of the captured FedClan Omnimechs painted up in Liao Green.  “You are going to lead the Trinity Alliance one of these days Ilsa; and you are going to do a great job.”

The little girl looked at the pretty banners and mighty war machines with amazement.  Most of her thus far short life had been in more austere conditions than a palace, but she had at least spent most of it with her mother looking out for her.  “I'm glad you're back Mommy.”
“Me too sweetheart.”
“Are we going to see daddy?”
“Yes, darling, you will see daddy later.”
“Can I see grandpa too?”
“No I'm sorry Ilsa but you won't be able to see your grandpa or grandma anymore.”
“Why not?”

Naomi had been working through what to say to her daughter but failed to find an acceptable answer on the way back from Highspire.  She hoped Ilsa would in time forget that they existed and eventually come back when she was mature enough to deal with it,  “They are very far away and we can't go there.”
“Will they come back?”
“But I miss them.  Why won't they come back?”
“ I miss them too dear.  They would love to come back, but can't.  You have Aunt Erdé, Adonis, and Uncle Newton.”

That seemed to placate the toddler which was a blessing.  Naomi already had enough on her plate today with less accommodating company. 

The Dynasty Guardsmen, CCAF soldiers of Han Chinese ancestry, warding the doors to the Forbidden City were standing at attention with their ceremonial Guan Daos.  The polearms were razor sharp and each bearer was trained to use it properly but their main weapons were underneath the robes.  They paused and bowed deeply to her.

Naomi was surprised by the sudden change of heart within the Dynasty Guard.  Last time she was on Sian they would hardly show her any courtesy even if it meant their deaths by the insulted Chancellor.  Traditionalists within the Strategios, Prefectorate, and House of Scions originally had nothing but scorn for her.  They saw the Canopian princess as a trollop meant to lead a young and eager Chancellor astray much like Isis Marik had been beforehand.  However, purges of “Blakists,” “Thuggees,” and George Hasek's campaign of conquest against the Confederation had resulted in major changes in personnel, and thus priorities.

The palanquin was taken inside and door was closed and barred by other Guardsmen on the inside that looked and acted differently than those outside.  Naomi watched with interest at the hundreds of Servitors as well as Free Craftsmen repaired the damage wrought in the wake of the Avalon cruiser Edward Davion's orbital bombardment. 

The Forbidden City was a fortress first, palace second, so it weathered the missile fire well but the Dynasty Guards were nearly destroyed fighting against the New Syrtis Fusiliers.  Then Magestrix Emma Centrella had ordered the elite 1st Canopian Light Horse to deploy to Sian in support of their Capellan allies.  Among Naomi's first orders as Magestrix was to temporarily fold that unit into the Dynasty Guard in order to bring their numbers up while ensuring her future security.

Naomi stepped off the palanquin with Ilsa in her arms at the top of the steps to the Central Palace.  She put the girl down and walked the corridors to the Main Garden where a dark haired Canopian woman properly wearing a blue Ruqun was waiting.  Ilsa ran toward the woman who embraced the girl lovingly, “Miss Rubi yay!”

Naomi embraced her as well, Rubi Raventhir was one of her oldest friends and a ROC agent without peer.  She had been called forward to serve as the nanny and bodyguard of Ilsa, “It's good to see you again Rubi.”

House Raventhir is one of the few families to be made Frones, the only hereditary noble rank in the MoC, and the source of hundreds of stalwart soldiers throughout the Magistracy's history.  The Raventhirs and the Centrella Clan have a long, complex, and frequently intertwined relationship with one another.  Naomi and Rubi's grandfathers were cousins, both were killed by Naomi's grandmother, Kyalla, during the purge that put Emma on the path to overthrow her own mother.

“You too Magestrix, I was afraid you wouldn't make it off Highspire.”
“I'm certain you would have taken good care of Ilsa if I hadn't.”
“Like my own daughter.”
“Are you sure you want to be here?  I can have you on a jumpship to New Macao tonight if you'd prefer.”

Rubi was dumbstruck at the unusually blunt offer by Naomi and highly tempted to accept it.  She had a long term infatuation with Naomi's brother Newton that started early and refused to die as they grew older.  Despite the fact that a Canopian noblewoman could choose her mate she could only do so in Canopian space.  Naomi couldn't make her brother go back but she could give Rubi a chance to reconnect with her love while his unit was resting.

“No my duty is here Naomi but thank you for the offer.”
“If you're certain?”
“Please don't ask me again Magestrix.  I've made my decision.  Newton knows how I feel. 
You have a meeting to attend.  I'll wear Ilse out for you and Sun-Tzu.  It is Valentine's Day after all.”

Naomi adjusted her robes to accentuate her features, “It most certainly is and I haven't seen my husband in months.  Thank You Rubi.”

Rubi retrieved a snack from her pack and handed it to Ilse who accepted it eagerly, “Now we have to go over here to eat it.  Say bye to your mother Ilse.”

Naomi kissed the little girl, who waved before running after Rubi, “Bye mommy.”

The Magestrix walked deeper into the Palace Complex until she found a door guarded by the infamous Death Commandos the three of them were wearing metal skull masks that were both fearsome and functional.  They opened the door to the Celestial Throne room where Sun-Tzu and his cousin Kuan-Yin, Duchess of St Ives, were waiting for her. The three of them sat in ornate chairs around the once lostech holotank built into the throne room that had been repaired by the Word of Blake, one of the many small favors done during their charm offensive. 

Naomi faced the Duchess of St Ives, the woman was very formal and had inherited the lion's share of her mother's legendary charm and beauty.  She figured from her own experience that Kuan-Yin had been her mother's favored daughter compared to the wild child of her twin sister, “I'm sorry for your loss Kuan-Yin.  I did what I could for Kai.  It is not the way I think he would have preferred to die.”

“Only a blessed few get to choose the way they die Magestrix.  I think Kai knew he wouldn't make it off that rock.  He had been sullen and listless for months now despite our best efforts.  We can still celebrate his life and honor his sacrifice.  His war within and without are over.  My brother and I will take his body back to St Ives.”

“How is Cassandra?”
“Improving thanks to your personal doctor.  She is still weak but as always tough.  Thank You Naomi.”

Sun-Tzu spoke up, “What of my sister?  You say that the Thuggees retrieved her body and my nephew.”

“Yes husband.  It was unfortunately too difficult to capture Kali or your nephew.  I needed to kill her or she would have killed me.  The blood left on Kai proves that it was her rather than a doppelganger so the Thuggee threat has been negated, for now. 

I do not know where the Thuggees took her son but Highspire is under quarantine, a terribly infectious plague, or at least that is what they are telling any curious Commonwealth vessels that ask why the Ilsa Hyung and Xizang are still in orbit.  Ebon Magistrate and Maskirovka teams are attempting to locate both of them while the Raventhir Cuirassiers and Canopian Fusiliers have secured the Mahakali temple compound.”

Kuan-Yin leaned forward and tapped something on her chair, images of the Blakist's Celestial and Demon series equipment filled the space between them.  “What of this new high tech threat deployed by the Thuggees?”

Naomi tapped something that tagged each of the images with its designated call-sign, “MIM operatives retrieved a mostly complete data core from Mahakali before the Thuggees could erase it.  They have identified each of these units as Omnimechs manufactured by the Word of Blake on Gibson or Terra. 

The battle armor and some of the Mechs require cybernetic interfaces that we are attempting to better understand, without knowing how to use them we cannot safely utilize them.  Currently the MMC is conducting autopsies of intact 'Ascended' Thuggees.  Unfortunately many of these implants self-destruct when the bearer dies or its corpse is handled making our job rather difficult.”

Sun-Tzu leaned forward pulling a few of the images toward him for closer inspection, “This is a grave news.  How did Kali come into possession of these machines?”

Naomi added a picture of Kali's statue in the temple zooming in on the man her idol is standing upon, followed by a picture of the Blakist Precentor Martial, “MIM thinks that Kali has been engaged in a long term relationship with Cameron St Jamais, Precentor Martial of the Word of Blake.  We think he might be the father of her son although we currently lack evidence. 

The Thuggees had a large number of these Blakist machines on-planet, Intel suggests that we might have headed off a major offensive against the St Ives Compact by Kali, Highspire was merely a marshaling area.  That would explain why we encountered such serious opposition.

The St Ives Lancers are down to one AR, Janissaries destroyed, Sentinels decimated.  The Canopian Fusiliers and both Cuirassier brigades have folded into their senior ARs in other to maintain strength while we rebuild.  The Red Lancers have pulled units from Canopian and volunteers from St Ives units.  With your permission Duchess I would like to keep them.”

“You have it Magestrix.  I trust the Lancers will take good care of them.  Now if you excuse me Quintus and I would like see our brother.”

Sun-Tzu motioned as a courtesy to his cousin who departed.  After Kuan-Yin was outside the Throne Room he turned to Naomi.  “Now Naomi, what is the truth?”

The Magestrix pulled up another series of images from the Ebon Magistrate, some were gruesome like a dissected cyborg but others were plain factory schematics, “There is no mistake, Kali had a direct line to the Word of Blake leadership. We don't know whether it was through St Jamais or someone else but she was certainly a collaborator.  The Blakists constructed an extensive refit facility on Highspire in order to support her operations but it is not clear if her actions were her own plan or part of a larger plan. 

I have already tasked an engineering team from CMI and Shengli to begin breaking down and transporting the Blakist factory to a more secure location.  The MMC has a good understanding of the cybernetic interfaces the Thuggees were using to control the Celestial and Demon series of equipment.  The Blakists stole Ebon Magistrate cybertech years ago and have since advanced it dramatically but we can copy rapidly with relative ease.  Already the salvaged units are making it back to my people to exploit starting with Circinus.”

Sun-Tzu pulled a cybernetics schematic from the sea of holograms, “Since when does the Magistracy have such advanced technology?”

“It was originally meant to assist paralyzed soldiers husband.  The Word of Blake has corrupted its original purpose but we can use it to ensure that the Trinity Alliance will endure even as the Commonwealth grows stronger.  However the Taurians or St Ives leadership cannot know that we are doing so.  They are riddled with Katherine's people and if the Commonwealth knew we were using Blakist tech they might attack before we are able to prevail.”

“I knew marrying you would not be a mistake.  I have missed you.”

Naomi rose from her seat to straddle Sun-Tzu on the Celestial Throne itself and dipped her head low while parting her robes just enough to entice interest, “I have missed you Sun-Tzu.  It has been so long since we've last seen one other and we both almost died in the interim.  Time for you to make it up to me."
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 27 December 2018, 09:35:35
Adam Steiner of Somerset

12/08/3069 Location - Stadburg Steiner, Taunton, Somerset

The small castle was built by his the Somerset Steiners nearly two centuries ago on the outskirts of the city to replace one built by Gregory Uther, the Archonette of Somerset, who was deposed in the 29th century after almost killing the Duke of Somerset.  The castle was more for good looks and security for the few Battlemech hangers on site.  Its spaced ferrocrete walls were patrolled by normal House Guard rather than the Somerset Strikers.  The fortification was still imposing to the local population but modern weapons were quite capable of toppling its walls with ease.  A Federated Commonwealth flag once more blew in the wind high above its ramparts along with the redesigned Somerset Steiner family crest below.

Adam Steiner, Duke of Somerset, looked out at the city of Taunton from the ramparts of Stadburg Steiner in a dark blue civilian suit rather than a formal military uniform.  He still kept his graying brown hair regulation short and ironed his own suits to ensure they were as crisp and polished as when he was in the service.  The once General of the Armies was now Ambassador to the Clans which currently required spending too much time away from home.  A home that he had fought for decades to have an opportunity to finally return.

He was joined by the now retired Obersh Steiner (nee Spector) dressed in a modest sparkling silver dress, her wavy brown hair had been growing out since leaving the service and was slightly longer than shoulder length.  He kissed her hand which was occupied by a pair of wedding rings rich with diamonds, “You look magnificent as always Rachel.”

“I certainly do clean up nice.  I’m glad that we can actually spend some time on Somerset while you are working.  About time the Khans of the Diamond Sharks and Hell’s Horses come here instead of Nox.”
“Me too, it is always nice to sleep in my own bed.”

She leaned in close and whispered, “We’ll see about how much sleeping happens tonight. I don’t have anything on under this dress.”

They walked back inside toward the Duke’s Chambers, “That would be nice too.  It is a pity our guests are due to arrive shortly because I would desperately like to hear more.”
“Think of it as incentive to get rid of them faster.”
“You are a cruel woman Mrs. Steiner.  I have to be polite, they are our guests.”
“They tried to kill you.”
“If I refused to meet with anyone who thought about killing me at some point I fear I might cut off nearly a third of the Commonwealth nobility, half the AFFC Staff Officers, and every Clan Warrior.”
“Less work for you and more time for me then.”
She put a hand on hip to emphasize, “I don’t see how that is a problem.”
“You are incorrigible.  You’re a proper noblewoman now.  This is unfortunately how things are done in polite society.”
“As long as you are noble, polite, and proper everywhere,”
she pointed to their canopy bed with lifted eyebrows, “but here.  I guess I can live with that.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 28 December 2018, 09:33:14
From New Syrtis to Sian and back again with the Fusiliers

01/18/3070 Location – Orbisonia, Federated Commonwealth

“Greetings viewers this is Christina Nakir with the NSP (New Sytris Press). Today I am in the Denisev Arcology on Orbisonia; currently the home base of the Fifth (Sytris) Fusiliers Light Combat Team.  With me today is the Fifth’s current XO Colonel Odé Black of the 52nd Armored Infantry Battalion.”

The large man had a tattoo that mimicked the 5th Fusiliers ‘Evil Eye’ unit logo over his left eye, the right one had a long fresh scar sweeping back to his neck.  Other tattoos were visible and elsewhere along his bald scalp although his uniform and hat obscured some of them all inked vivid colors to contrast his dark skin.  He was ‘The’ poster boy for the extensive Armored Infantry recruitment throughout the AFFC post clan invasion.  The man had been using Battle Armor since the original Silverback suits made by NAIS and deployed on Planting against the Jade Falcons.

“Colonel Black, I understand they you intend to retire at the end of the year after thirty years of service to the AFFC.”
“That is correct Ms Nakir my service in the Commonwealth Armed Forces has been the defining arc of my life but I think it is time to move on.  I have to be something other than a soldier at some point, my body can’t take much more.”
“You don’t want to see the Word of Blake threat to the end?”
“If I saw every threat to its end I would never get out of the service.  It’s time for another generation to take a stand and for me to move on.  I’m currently rebuilding the Fifth before accepting a professorship at the Albion Military Academy.”
“I understand that you are also currently writing a book collecting your experiences during SOVEREIGN JUSTICE and donating the proceeds to the Warrior’s Hall Memorial Trust.”
“That is correct it will be called ‘From New Syrtis to Sian and Back Again’.  I’m dedicating it in particular to the late Captain Ralph Fien and Belladonna; his Avatar Omni and my ride on Ares.  Without them I wouldn’t have lived through that terrible battle.  He left behind his wife and four children on Kittery, I personally ensured that they made it out and were resettled on Lee with access to his AFFC pension.”

“This is a difficult and controversial subject but did SOVEREIGN JUSTICE accomplish its objective?”

It was just like the St Ives War because George Hasek severely underestimated his foe again.  There is no limit to how far the Trinity Alliance would go to ensure its survival and expansion. Despite the way he acts at times Sun-Tzu is not Mad Max or Romano, he plays the long game, and doesn't use his soldiers as marketing tools for the First Princedom. 

All George accomplished was getting a bunch of Fusiliers killed and he ultimately lost worlds that had been FedCom possessions for decades.  The Commonwealth lost the Kittery and Ziliang Salients!  To the damned Trins and Talon Zahn!  Make no mistake Christina, the ultimate winners of that campaign were CapCon (Cappellan-Canopian) and we paid for it with our blood.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 30 December 2018, 15:10:30
12/19/3069 Location – Kamakura Palace, New Samarkand, Draconis Combine

Franklin Sakamoto sat atop the less elaborate throne than the one within Luthien's Imperial Palace, one that had not been occupied by a Coordinator for centuries.  He still despised the title; as the bastard of Theodore Kurita he had taken every step possible to avoid it; however circumstances beyond his control had conspired against him. 

Before him the new District Warlords of the Draconis Combine bow to their Shogun, they were selected from his most loyal followers for the past three years.  The previous ones not killed in battle spent their last moments in the Palace's Garden atoning for their sins.  Their second was the man that took their place so he knew the price of treachery.  A bell rang and the Warlords departed to begin the long process of rebuilding of the Combine from The War of Black Dragons.

With the HPGs still down the Shogun had little idea of how extensive the damage was throughout the Combine but saw an opportunity to build it better.  Franklin Sakamoto had spent time out of Kurita space and seen fresh ideas firsthand, he was very much a man on the Inner Sphere while remaining a Combine patriot.  He had supported his father's reforms and the traditionalists had cost him his sister and nephew in the process.

His brother Hohiro and father were still missing having disappeared nearly three years ago but his other brother Minoru had been dutifully searching for them alongside the Nova Cats.  A messenger from the Nova Cats had arrived last night and was the next order of business today but not in this grand room, the Clanners abhorred the empty fineries that surrounded him, as did he.

Standing from the throne and adjusting his red and black kimono he turned and walked into the black chamber used by the ISF director.  The person that notionally controlled New Samarkand since the dawn of the 31st century.  Inside he saw a Nova Cat woman in a black kimono with bright blue accents.  Franklin could tell this woman was relatively new because she had only a few scars.  She had to look of a Watch or DEST Operative, lean, strong, and at home in the Kage Scout Armor.

Just because she was new didn't mean he was green however the Nova Cats had been in a constant state of war for ten years.  First during their Abjuration then within St Ives, fought for their very existence against the Ghost Bears and Black Dragons, and their members continued to serve alongside the former Commanding General Photon Brett.  Their Trials of Position were undertaken on the battlefield right out of Sibko, every one of them was a veteran and worthy of highest respect within the Combine.

She bowed deeply before inserting a datacard into the reader, she spoke in heavily accented Japanese, “Shogun Sakamoto, I am Tara Nova Cat.  I come bearing news from Dieron.”

Franklin sat in one of the ten chairs molded into the room itself all with a great view of the holotank.  “You may deliver it in Standard if you are more comfortable, I do not want to risk a miscommunication.”

“Thank you.  I've been trying but it is difficult.  The Loremaster was attempting to tutor me.”
“Please begin.  You may take as long as necessary.  I may have questions.”

She triggered a series of images with a variety of top-secret codes below them, “Of course.

As you know the Loremaster has been searching for your father and brother since they went missing during the opening engagements of the Black Dragon War.  Our Watch, Tukayyid's ROM, and SLIC managed to locate them on Dieron.  They had both been taken prisoner by a Word of Blake unit known as the Opacus Venaturi, an elite covert operations group reporting directly to The Master.

Loremaster Minoru recruited nearby DCMS, ComGuards, Azami, and Nova Cat units in the area to launch the attack.  He even managed to convince the TRG to run interference in order to keep the Blakists occupied during the operation.  However, our intelligence was off, the Word of Blake was utilizing the Terada yards to repair their warships including the Farragut Righteous Justice.  Losses were heavy among the ComGuard Fleet and the yards were destroyed in the battle by the Blakists most of whom escaped likely to Terra or New Earth.

The ComGuard sacrifice gave our dropships an opportunity to break through the blockade.  Tactical nuclear weapons were used on both sides, that and the fierce fighting has devastated Dieron's LAW factory and its suppliers.  They had apparently occupied the planet with the blessing of the Black Dragons since at least 3066, likely earlier perhaps as far back as the Schism due to Myndo Waterly's followers.”

Franklin was displeased to hear that, there were few Shipyards in Combine space and even fewer industrial worlds more strategic than Dieron.  This loss would be felt gravely in the future that was now his responsibility.

“What happened in Fortress Dieron Tara?”

“My Watch unit was engaged in support of Minoru and the Coalition teams.  The following video was taken from my Kage's armor.”

A video cube appeared in the center, Fortress Dieron's blackened corridors covered in blood and broken SLIC Nighthawks, ROM Tornadoes, DCMS Armored Infantry, and Nova Cat Elementals were torn apart by firepower or claws.  Their foes were cybernetically enhanced Blakist infantry as well as the Demon series of Battle Armor.  Tara looked closely at the most complete of the deceased who had a distinctive red circuit pattern tattooed on his pale head.  She paused the video and queued up a more detailed breakdown of what was seen.

“This dead man had a cybernetic implant similar to the Clan's Enhanced Imaging Interface.  They are more common among Aerospace pilots as it gives them slightly enhanced control over their fighters but some Mechwarriors use them as well.  Mostly Free...”

Tara paused a moment before bowing, “Sincerest apologies Shogun.”
“Its fine.  I will not be offended by the term.”

“Freeborns are more likely to use them.  The Nova Cats have been under siege for a decade and suffer severe attrition of our Warriors because of it.  We need every advantage we can get and despite the severe side effects EI is used in most of our front line clusters.  The tech is improving but can only be used for a maximum of three years before the Warrior can no longer pilot a mech.”
“How did the Blakists acquire this technology and what are they using it for?”
“Many Smoke Jaguar scientists disappeared during in the wake of the Great Refusal.  They were using EI to create a new type of unit controlled by the pilot's mind, Protomechs.  Based on how the Blakists are using it they may have captured some of them. Blakist cyborg Mechwarriors and Armored Infantry use this DNI as well as their advanced Mechs and Armor use a similar arrangement to control their weapons.”
“Is it possible for use to reverse engineer that technology?”
“We are looking into using it to refine EI tech but it is low on our list of priorities.”
“Of course Khan West is quite busy.  Please continue Tara.”

“Here is the unfortunate news Shogun.  Loremaster Minoru, Prince Hohiro, and Coordinator Theodore died on Dieron.  Theodore died last year despite Blakist medical experiments to reverse his condition.  Minoru died during the initial assault, killed by a Manei Domini Poltergeist.  Hohiro's mech was destroyed and he was killed while escaping the compound to the dropship.

Your father's bloodline ends with you.”

“Not quite.  Tara, I have a special assignment for your Clan's Watch.  Would you deliver a message for me?”
“I would be honored to serve you in any fashion Shogun.”

Franklin retrieved a datacard from his kimono and handed it to the Nova Cat Watch Operative, “I need you to find a specific Black Dragon for me.”

Tara Nova Cat inserted the datacard into her Comm-Pad and a picture of a gorgeous woman filled the screen.  An extensive dossier had already been built of the woman clearly stating that she was incredibly dangerous.  “Mara Selencia, Order of Five Pillars Field Operative.  Last seen on Luthien Thirty Sixty Eight. 
Do you want her killed Shogun?”

“No, just hand this to the new Loremaster and tell them to inform me when you find her.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: DOC_Agren on 31 December 2018, 00:27:40
Theodore had another child?  or Takashi Kurita?
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Shadow_Wraith on 31 December 2018, 01:44:01
Franklin Sakamoto is the son from one of Theodore's ex-girlfriend, before he met his wife.   I think she was ISF, not sure?
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 31 December 2018, 07:25:39
Grandfather did not kill all his sons children apparently.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 31 December 2018, 11:13:29
Franklin Sakamoto is the son from one of Theodore's ex-girlfriend, before he met his wife.   I think she was ISF, not sure?

Kathleen Palmer was ISF yes.  She was ordered to begin a relationship with Theodore while he was at the Military Academy to get valid Kurita heir out of an only child as quickly as possible.

Grandfather did not kill all his sons children apparently.

Good thing too.  He would have been responsible for the death of his own line in the future (except for Kitsune I guess but he's not the son of a son)


Dominion of Damocles, Ghost Bears Friend or Foe

01/18/3070 Location – Focht War College, Luk, Tukayyid

Focht War College's Central Lecture Hall was an impressive high tech workspace, students sat in the tiered benches as well as attending via telepresence if they were at the Gunslinger Grounds on the other side of Tukayyid.  The lecturer today was the Precentor Martial herself, Rachel Drake, one of the most respected military officers in the ComGuards with more than 30 years of combat experience most of it against the Clans.  She was also the leading subject matter expert on the topic today, Clan Ghost Bear and the Rasalhague Dominion.

Precentor Martial Drake had fought against the Ghost Bears during the Battle of Tukayyid for this very city, the huge memorial wall had people she knew and loved inscribed upon it.  She was dressed in formal SLDF Dress Blacks which had replaced the ivory uniform used prior to the Schism with the Word of Blake and loss of Terra.  She looked out with great confidence, scars from Strana Mechdy and Tukayyid crisscrossed her face and an obvious cybernetic had replaced her left.

“Adepts, When you think of bears what do you see?
Do you think of this,” 

She tapped something on the console and put up a cute picture of a bear in a zoo.
Changing it to one of a large brown bear with a bloody muzzle eating an Elk somewhere.  “Or this?”

She changed it to a BattleROM from May 3052 of a Kodiak Battlemech in a dark forest.  The Ghost Bear Clan insignia clear, front and center, illuminated by muzzle flash as the assault mech fires its autocannon at the viewer,“Because I see this, every time I close my eyes.”

A picture of the Ghost Bear Elementals tearing apart a SLDF Shadow Cat during the Irece Campaign appeared next, followed by a succession of images containing everything from the initial Clan Invasion, to the Irece Invasion, and Ghost Bear War against the Wolves and Hell's Horses that reclaimed the remaining Free Rasalhague Republic worlds, “Or this?”

“Make no mistake Adepts.  The Ghost Bears are not your friends they are the gravest Clan threat remaining in the Inner Sphere.  They just bide their time and grow more powerful with each passing day.  Even as the other Clans send Warriors to fight and die against the Word of Blake the Ghost Bears do nothing except seize ClanCom worlds.”

“Isn't their SaKhan a Spheroid?”
  She pulled up a picture of Elected Prince and SaKhan who had the sharp features of a Viking, “another Spheroid who has betrayed the Inner Sphere.  Ragnar Magnusson is just like Phelen Kell except that what he does matters in the greater Inner Sphere.  Unlike the Archon-Princess he has gone native and that makes him dangerous.

Do not be fooled by Ghost Bears preaching family and unity.  That is just PR.  They are savage warriors but tempered by the Rasalhague influence unlike the Smoke Jaguars which makes them far more dangerous in my opinion.  Read their historical dossier and you will see that is true.  Now we move into the specifics of how they think.”

Precentor Martial Drake concluded her three hour long lecture to the unseasoned Adepts of FWC before returning to the main command center.  The same one used by Focht himself during the Battle of Tukayyid to control the ComGuards although it had been expanded and reinforced.  As she walked in she was swarmed by Adepts aides and Demi-Precentor Junior Officers,  “Precentor Martial, we have a major situation in the Isle of Skye.”

“What is it?”
“They are declaring independence from the Commonwealth.  They want to be part of the Sol Protectorate and are willing to fight.  They've already destroyed the Skye Jaeger Brigade and the militias are fighting against one another.”

“Not again.  We're already on the last bit of resources, without Skye the logistics are going to drag us down more.  Dieron already cost us dearly and we still have to present a strong front to the Ghost Bears just like the Primus and Archon-Princess worked out.”

“I know Precentor Martial but Reinhardt's Task Force - FORGE can't fight on two fronts, they are already overextended in the Bolan Theater. 
The Wolves are hunting down Blakist raiding forces throughout the Commonwealth. 
Photon's SLDF is amassing forces for the attack on Loyalty and Alys' forces are keeping pressure on Atreus.
We have to deploy some ComGuards to at least give the AFFC breathing room.”

“The Ghost Bears will know that we have deployed.  Already I don't think we could stop them from taking Irece Prefecture and the Rasalhague rump including Tukayyid in weeks.  Deploying outside the cordon is risky.”

“We have to Precentor Martial or there won't be anything left to protect.  The Word of Blake knows the end is near and they are going to make it as costly as possible for us.  The Skye rebels are deluded if the think they can get a better deal from The Master.”

Rachel Drake sighed heavily and sunk against the console looking at the holographic portrayal of the Inner Sphere where black wedges still cut deep into Lyran space from the Free Worlds League.  “Do it, send the ComGuards in.  We can't let the Blakists cut up the Federated Commonwealth.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 01 January 2019, 22:20:44
The Donner Party
01/16/3070 Location – Aboard the SLS Defender of Versailles, Nox Pirate Point, Rasalhague Dominion

Star League Intelligence Command Director Caradoc Trevena floated on the bridge of the DoVe.  The Essex destroyer that had fought and been heavily damaged by the Blakists fleet above Dieron during the daring Battle of Dieron.  A battle that saw the destruction of the Terada Yards which hopefully would slow Precentor Naval Zwick's Fleet down in the future. 

He was surprised to see six large Warships at the same coordinates, five were large but standard designs, as well as the Ghost Bear Leviathan Rasalhague.  “What kind of party is this?”
The DoVe's Captain pulled up the comm's screen on her console, “Don't know Director Trevana.  They're friendly, for now at least. Beacons identify them as Clan Snow Raven's Storm Crow Naval Star.”
“More Clans in the Inner Sphere.  Does my job ever get any easier?”
“You'd hate to be bored Caradoc.”
“Aye, I'm going to check in on our guest before we depart Captain.”
“The Elephant's Thorn will be ready to depart immediately.”

He worked his way down the 'Guest Quarters' and was stopped by Commander Medea Quiqi currently in command of the elite Fury Team Nine.  The woman's raven black hair matched the black jumpsuit with a bright white “9” on her shoulder along with the avenging angel insignia of the furies.  Director Trevena had no reaction even as he cleared the corner to see her Mauser laser rifle pointed in his direction.  She lowered the gun and it floated in free-fall while remaining attached to its sling.  “Sorry about that Director, best time to make a move is right after jump while everyone is dizzy.”'

“No problem Commander, that is why you are assigned to the VIP unit.  How is he?”
“Our VIP made it through alright.  I still doubt he will ever spill his secrets however.”
“He'll talk but right now we need to get him somewhere without Blakist infiltration.”
“You think this is the place?”
“I think this is my best opportunity Commander.  Prepare the prisoner for transport.”
“Let me slip into something more comfortable.”

Minutes later the ten man team of Fury 9 emerged wearing Nighthawk PA(L)s.  The prisoner had been strapped down inside an armored capsule carried by four of the squad members while six stood guard.  Their rifles were slung behind them and they maneuvered the unit around the Warship using small thruster packs.  Caradoc Trevana stood behind the capsule looking at the prisoner, his name was stenciled along the side of the capsule, 'Donner, Fritz'  The DoVe's marines kept their way clear to the airlock that led to their Avenger assault dropship eager to rid themselves of the terror.

01/18/3070 23:18 Location – Hall of the Clans, Nox, Rasalhague Dominion

The Hall of the Clans was currently an unfilled concrete edifice, its more decorative aspects and large portions of the main facility were still under construction.  SLIC Director Caradoc Trevena made his way to the facility within an armored car along with his prisoner, former Black Warrior Fritz Donner, and Fury Team 9.  Director Trevena thought deeply about the current situation as he knew it.

Fritz Donner had broken faith with the other Black Warriors and as punishment was hauled all the way to Fortress Dieron across the Free Worlds League and had been used in a series of brutal experiments.  Half of his cyberwear had been replaced in the past year with experimental versions that were poorly understood and under quarantine.  He had been rescued/captured by the same Fury Team that had guarded him every second since then.  Thus far he withstood even the SLIC's advanced interrogation methods which was understandable considering the Blakists could and had done worse to him.  For all the intimidating cyberwear Caradoc could see fear in the one human eye Captain Donner had left.

The Armored Car parked along the circular road in the Memorial Gardens that had been planted to remember the sacrifice of the Kungsarme soldiers that had been killed during REVIVAL.  A minor addition but one that saKhan Magnusson felt would go over well with the populace and increase recruitment of freeborns into the Ghost Bear Touman.  A Point of Ghost Bear Elementals belonging to Zeta Galaxy's 1st Claw took over the duties of carrying the prisoner's capsule.  A Technician scanned the capsule and allowed it to pass within the Hall itself.  The armed and armored Furies moved to guard the capsule and Director Trevena.

They were first greeted by the Khans of the Arc Royal Wolves, Phelen Kell and Marco Hall, both of who were visiting the planet to speak with Khan Bjorgensson.  The pair were wearing the formal Wolf uniform and had spent the past months planning the next strategic move now that their Touman and the Kell Hounds had been savaged by the Word of Blake.  Both organizations would have been destroyed without the timely intervention of their Tamar brothers and even now desertion and deprivation threatened to reduce their numbers further.

Ghost Bear Elementals disarmed the Furies of everything but their combat knives which were still plenty dangerous especially when augmented by the Nighthawk suit but not enough to threaten an Elemental.  The Ghost Bears put the capsule in the middle of the Council Chambers and escorted their guests to the middle.  The inside of the new Hall of the Khans was spectacularly detailed with architectural elements throughout.  All six of the Council Clans (Wolf, Jade Wolf, Hell's Horses, Nova Cats, Ghost Bear, and Diamond Shark.) were represented by banners with room for expansion.  The Council's Senior Members were introduced and took their seats.

A small banner had been placed behind an elegantly styled man wearing SLDF Naval Dress Whites with sword, saKhan Broderick Sukhanov of the Snow Ravens.  Diamond Shark saKhan Angus Labrov wore a tailored suit with a high collar but still carried a saber, he sat below his Clan's banner.  The second to last introduced was Star Colonel Diana Pryde of the Jade Wolves, in a sharp looking black uniform with jade green highlights.  She sat closest to the Ghost Bear's Khan Bjorn Jorgensson, the veteran Aerospace Pilot that had earned a record five verses in the Remembrance in his tenure as Khan.

As the ranking member of the Council Khan Jorgenssun began the meeting, “Wolf brothers, you may take your places beneath your banner.”

This was a major breach of decorum, the Arc Royal Wolves were not the wolves represented by that banner but Khan Jorgensson didn't see any need for differentiation.  Khan Ward's Wolves had launched attacks against his Dominion and he had taken valuable worlds from them in exchange.  Being rude was not a gross excess when you could crush your enemies with ease and had a record of doing just that.

Khan Kell and SaKhan Hall took their seats occupying the nearest chairs to the Ghost Bears.  “Director Trevena I understand you have grave news to share with this Council.  While the Ghost Bears do not wish to get involved in the Inner Sphere's affairs especially during the current time of conflict I would be remiss to not listen to something that might endanger the Clan.”

“Indeed I fear this will have major and lasting implications to the balance of power that the Star League had struggled to maintain.  We have a prisoner that has told us he would only speak when he felt he was safe.  I brought him here because your Clan has proven itself resilient and thus far not been the target of Blakist malice.”

“You come here aboard a COMSTAR ship however, the ComGuards' Precentor Martial seeks to destroy my Clan.  What do you say of this?”

“I am the Director of the Star League Intelligence Command not ROM so I cannot know the intentions of the ComGuards beyond what they share with us.  However, Precentor Drake has deployed a portion of her Guards units to the Skye March to deal with the encroaching Blakist threat. 

A threat that even the mighty Ghost Bears may have to combat some day perhaps soon.  The vessel that destroyed the planet Taurus is still out there, it could destroy Alshain with the same cowardly but effective methods. 

Asteroid impact or WMD exchange.”

saKhan Sukhanov jumped up from his seat, “A vessel capable of moving an asteroid and willing to use it to impact a planet!  That is a grave threat indeed and the first I have heard of this.  I will be certain to bring this to Khan McKenna when I return.”   The Snow Raven returned to his seat before being ordered to by the Khan.

“A dire threat to be certain but I have Warships that can intercept such crude weapons.  Please tell me what is within that guarded capsule.”

“Aff Khan, Inside this capsule is a very dangerous cyborg we captured from the Blakist occupied Fortress Dieron.  Fritz Donner was the only such individual we captured intact.  The rest self-destructed, were infected with disease, or were killed remotely when their implants shut down. 

As such we have had to take precautions against such threats thus the man is in a completely closed-circuit environment with only one basic audiovisual feed everything else was isolated in case the cybernetics could hack wireless networks remotely.  We have fed him intravenously and only communicated with him while he was inside the cell.  He had asked to speak with you directly.”

“Why me?”
“We do not know but I expect he will tell you if you ask him.  Please look over the dossier we forwarded to your office prior to landing.”

Khan Jorgensson opened the file, he had already reviewed it but needed to keep it open for pertinent information, “Allow this capsule to interface with the Hall's Comms Technician.”

A young man wearing a gray jumpsuit came out from the side and carefully jogged over to the capsule connecting the datalinks between the capsule and unit.  The mutilated face of Fritz Donner filled the screens, he had extensive cybernetics that had replaced muscle with myomer and bone with ceramic plates.  His teeth were jagged and broken with more than half his jaw replaced by metal plates.  His vitals were also displayed on the screen.

“Captain Donner this is Khan Bjorgensson of the Ghost Bears.  I have been told that you wish to tell me something important.”
“I see you Khan.  I do have something important to tell you but I'm still afraid they will do worse things than killing me if they find out.”
“I assure you that this Hall is quite secure.  Everything said in here will be kept in confidence and no infiltrations have ever slipped past my Watch.”
“It's not the Watch I'm concerned about.  It's the Wolverines, they are with the Blakists but not the same.  They both seek to kill all of the Clans.”

The entire Hall was in an uproar, the Wolverines had been responsible for great misery for the Snow Ravens and Ghost Bears both during the early Clan era.  Any sign of them was dealt with harshly although there had been no new signs for centuries.  The Ghost Bears in particular were very sensitive and tested fallen ComGuards for any sign of Wolverine genetics based on a rumor they had joined up with COMSTAR.

SaKhan Sukhanov shouted first, “What of the Wolverines!?”
“They are here in the Inner Sphere.  I know it and I can prove it.”
“Bold claims.  Do you know anything of this Director?”
“I had no idea Khan.  He wouldn't speak of it to us.”
“What proof do you have?”

Fritz Donner's face went slack and his vitals crashed as his cybernetic organs shut down.  Caradoc looked in at the man, “What is happening?  Medic!”

Then he realized that the Furies had disappeared during the tense confession. Elementals took up defensive positions around their leaders.  The lights went out and the capsule exploded turning the Hall of the Khans into a Tomb for all gathered.

The Texas CSR Mountbatton was in formation with the rest of its naval star around the Leviathan CGB Rasalhague near Nox's moon Jasper.  Star Admiral Troy McKenna aboard the Conqueror CSR Ark Royal wanted to practice fighting an imposing vessel.  The Ravens had been repairing their impressive armada for the past two years after sustaining severe damage at the hands of the Steel Vipers.  The Ghost Bears used their Leviathans primarily as Ark Ships to transport their population from the Homeworlds to the Inner Sphere before idling them due to lack of crew as technicians were tasked elsewhere until recently to address the Black Dragon threat.

Star Commodore Lankaneau was coming in for a high speed pass with his big guns on the Leviathan when something went wrong.  “We've lost the Conn!” 

Klaxons blared throughout the ship as technicians attempted to fix the issue before it was too late.  The massive Battleship already had a huge amount momentum and the engines pointed the nose of the ship right at the heart of an even bigger one.  “Rasalhague evasive maneuvers now!”

The Leviathan's thrusters came to life but the sudden acceleration strained the gargantuan vessel and it was not able to evade the still tracking ship.  The impact was powerful enough to knocked the mortally wounded Rasalhague into a rapidly degrading orbit around Jasper.  The great beast went down creating a impact trough and debris field large enough to be seen from Nox via telescope the following day.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: ckosacranoid on 02 January 2019, 14:28:07
that had to hurt. blow up the meeting and knock out a huge ship at the same time. do not do things by half for sure.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 03 January 2019, 07:32:59
that had to hurt. blow up the meeting and knock out a huge ship at the same time. do not do things by half for sure.

Yep now the Snow Ravens only have the James McKenna left as a battleship supported by a 'mere' 4 Naval Stars plus a Star of Potemkins.

Now for another blow against the Blakists


Regulans vs Robots

03/18/3070 Location – Master's Wings Aerospace, Gibson

Precentor Technology Vapula and Precentor Manei Domini Apollyon hustled toward the waiting bone white painted Condor dropship currently idling on a runway.  Technicians were still loading the Aerodyne dropship's cargo bays with material from Gibson Federated Battlemechs and Master's Wings Aerospace.  Vapula's handiwork had to be recovered so it could be transferred to a more secure location on the orders of The Master himself.

The brilliant technologist had a massive influence on the weapons used by the Shadow Divisions that Appolyon commanded.  If only they had developed them sooner it might have sustained the Blakist's initial success but the continued deep threat of their hidden worlds and Protectorate would have to suffice.  Everything had been going according to plan until the 'frail' Precentor Martial Cameron St Jamais, Katherine, The Clans, and the broken HPG system caused their current failure.  These things could not have been anticipated even by The Master. 

His Shadow Divisions did what they were ordered to do while the Militia was falling apart more every day.  Taurus was not supposed to be destroyed by the Eriynes that was to be New Avalon's fate for continuing to hold against Blake's Will.  Already the Regulans were pushing toward the planet and would arrive soon.  Photon Brett's SLDF continued to take territory and force the Precentor Martial to hasten his return to the Protectorate.  The Ghost Bear attack on COMSTAR and Blakist sponsored Skye uprising would give him sufficient cover to orderly withdraw but the next time Apollyon saw that man he would break him for being a failure.

Precentor Vapual separated and went into the line with the rest of his staff toward the Condor while Apollyon boarded his Tiamat Pocket Warship.  The dropships took off and joined a flotilla of Blakist dropships engaged in the evacuation of Gibson.  They burned hard for the jumpships waiting at the pirate point.  All of the Blessed Order's Warships were engaged in the protection of the Loyalty and Clipperton Yards against Photon Brett's SLDF so only a squadron of assault droppers including his Tiamat remained as escorts.  The loss of either of those yards would give the SLDF a huge advantage of power projection and hasten the demise of the Sol Protectorate.

The AI pilot of the Tiamat, Redeye, communicated directly to the cyborg Manei Domini crew of Apollyon's vessel. “Incoming KF Waves at the pirate point Precentor.  Two large vessels.”

“What!  All Commands prepare to hasty jump.  Pocket Warships prepare for battle.”

A Texas Battleship and Volga Heavy Transport materialized in their midst as the dropships attempted to close the gap to their jumpships.  The vessels were painted in unfamiliar colors not used by any Spheroid or Clan faction that Precentor Apollyon knew of.  Their beacons identified them as 'Morrigan' and 'Hecate' to the Blakist vessels with no three letter designate for faction of origin. Only the Clans or COMSTAR had these types in service still but they were far away and otherwise engaged or so ROM had told him. 

It was a race to the finish but the Warships stood a good chance of clearing the gap, even with their lower speed the dropships could not reach and dock to their jumpers before they were set upon.  The Morrigan deployed a squad of older model Pentagon assault ships and its own fighters, an unusual type similar to the Hellcat, to engage Spectral Aerofighters and LAMs while using its heavy guns and missiles to destroy the Blakist escorts and its lighter ones to deal with missiles. 

The Hecate deployed a wing of Aerofighters and engaged the Blakist Jumpships and transports.  A squadron of boarding craft and a pair of Elephant Assault Tugs were also launched to seize control of any damaged vessels.  Two vessels, the Condor containing Vapula, and a Mammoth containing tens of thousands of tons of tooling passed through the heavy fire unharmed.

“Who are these people?”

The Redeye was hit with the Texas' prow NAC/40s which cored the Tiamat with a single volley.  The dropship was filled with Manei Domini so some of them survived.  Some survivors were set adrift in space to die a rapid death of exposure while others could make it to the lifeboats and back to Gibson.  As he drifted free of the shattered wreckage of his Tiamat Precentor Appolyon was forever wondering if this too was part of The Master's Plan.


Three days later the Regulan Task Force arrived at Gibson's pirate point aboard a pair of Invader Jumpships.  They were shocked to see a massive debris field of Blakist Jumpships and their broken dropships filled the area although it was slowly heading back to the planet.  The debris was so thick that wreckage bounced off the hulls of the Regulan dropships as they transited.  “No Emergency Beacons still active.  Let's check one of them out just to be sure.”

One of the dropships, an upgraded Intruder assigned to security drifted near enough to get a better sensor picture.  A nuclear naval mine concealed within the debris exploded and shattered the vessel.  The Regulan commander ordered the other Intruder to continue on and clear the path for the Mammoth Missileers, “Damn! More Blakist tricks, continue the mission.  Blast anything that's in one piece or moves just to be safe.”

The Regulans blanketed the world of Gibson in nuclear hell-fire from pole to pole, methodically killing everything and everyone on the wretched planet 'just to be safe'.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 03 January 2019, 09:33:06
Short one but teaser
12/15/3069 Location – New Avalon, Federated Commonwealth

The battered Avalon cruisers FCS Victor Steiner-Davion and FCS Edward Davion had returned to New Avalon orbit once more.  The last time the two ships had shared this space was fighting alongside one another against the Word of Blake nearly 3 years ago; since then they had seen plenty of battle apart from one another.  Both would need time in the McKenna Yards to repair components damaged fighting the Hellions and Trinity Fleet. 

However, the two were not on the friendliest of terms, Duke George Hasek II’s Conquistador FCDS New Syrtis Avenger and Grand Duchess Yvonne Steiner-Davion’s Intruder FCDS Outback Renegade occupied adjacent pads of the Camelot Spaceport across the bay from the capital, New Avalon City.  Both had arrived within an hour of each other and thus the Duke of New Syrtis waited outside the Outback Renegade for the his cousin the Grand Duchess to disembark.

When the ramp lowered though it was not a petite auburn haired woman in tan but a tall man with regal bearing wearing an AFFC formal uniform.  He was followed by a blonde man with a Warrior’s bearing and a group of armed Federation Marshals.  “No”

The man got closer and stopped to stand in front of him, the resemblance to a young Hanse Davion was uncanny.  However he recognized this man from his past when he traveled with his father Morgan to New Avalon, “Hello George.  I can see you were expecting someone else but it's good to see you again after such a long time.”

“You have a lot of nerve coming back after so long Peter.  Do you truly think they will accept you back like nothing happened?”
“They are not my concern, Katherine and the sustainment of the realm are.  I think we both know it would be better for both of us if you do not press the issue to hard.  Besides I’ve got a Clan to back me up.  Khan Xander Drake this is Duke George Hasek of New Syrtis.”
“Just challenge him to a Trial of Position already Peter.  I volunteer myself to be the referee.  It would save us a lot of trouble.”
“That’s not how it works here Khan Drake.  In fact I hope it doesn’t go that far but that’s not really up to me.  Let’s be away Duke Hasek.  Parliament awaits.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 03 January 2019, 16:55:02
12/15/3069 Location – Parliament, Albion, New Avalon

While located in the now second city of New Avalon Parliament was near enough that the First Prince could make it there in twenty minutes via helicopter from Castle Davion if required.  The structure had withstood centuries of wear but was still maintained just as it was built in 2308.  Expansions had been made that were already integrated into the design when the foundation was poured. This enabled the expansive compound to maintain a cohesive and imposing whole even as the imperial demands of the Federated Suns rapidly outstripped it.  Now it was only the meeting place of the Privy Council and planetary government of New Avalon.  Parliament was currently meeting so they encountered only guards from the 1st Albion MA Training Battalion most of whom gave the group a wide breadth.

The courtyard had large bronze sculptures of the ancient Swordsman mechs that would have stood guard over the building during the Federation Civil War that saw the rise of the Davion dynasty that still controlled the Sunburst Throne to this day.  They passed through a statue garden which immortalized the past First Princes and Peter looked at his brother and father’s additions while passing through.  Each statue had a plaque containing an epitaph that the MPs felt summarized that Prince’s life.

Hanse Davion stood proud and handsome.  His memorial was the only one to include another in it, Peter’s then young mother Melissa. ‘Hanse the Unifier, Founder of a new dynasty.’

His brother Victor was next, the young man wielded a sword which pointed to the rising sun. ‘Victor the Khanslayer, Stolen light from the Inner Sphere’

As both Yvonne and Katherine were regents neither would get a grand memorial in this hallowed place nor his little brother Arthur taken so soon before his ascendance.  Peter centered himself thinking about what he wanted his to say before entering Parliament’s waiting room.

Within Parliament itself the Princess-Regent’s appointed representative Countess Ivona Reba of Numenor sat in the middle of the assembly.  With Archon/Princess-Regent Katherine being absent from the public view for more than a year and not being in the Federated Suns for three the Federation was growing restless without strong leadership.  Parliament had been running the Crucis March based on limited communication from Katherine across the Universe, guidance from Yvonne on Minette, and the strong leadership of the General of the Armies currently occupying the Fox's Den.

It personally worried Ivona as well, she was not only worried for her friend but had not been prepared to deal with the Trinity, Hellion, and Combine campaigns.  Her standing within the AFFC was plummeting and while she had the political grace to limit damage among the nobility they were still displeased by the disruption to order.

“We call this body to order today in order to reconcile competing claims to the mantle of First Prince of the Federated Suns and Duke of New Avalon.  Duke George Hasek the Second of New Syrtis, by his father Morgan Hasek-Davion, grandson of Andrew Davion, and in recognition of his outstanding defense of the Federated Suns has pressed his claim to First Prince against that of Katherine Steiner-Davion’s regency.”

The MPs murmured amongst themselves, some spoke in agreeable tones while others were reminded too much of the Hasek’s long history of envying The Sunburst Throne long entrusted to the Davion Family but perhaps a change was in order.  Countess Reba was given a paper and she whispered something to the aide who nodded his head.  She too had been informed that Yvonne was on the Outback Renegade rather than its true passenger.

“While the order of business originally stated that Grand Duchess of Minette Yvonne Steiner-Davion pressed her claim to Regency once more that apparently has changed.”

Ivona took a moment to collect herself.  Katherine had helped trained her out of a nervous fidget as a her guest during their time at NAIS but she couldn't help but fall back on comfortable routine, “Prince Peter Steiner-Davion, as the only remaining child of Hanse Davion capable of ascending to First Prince has pressed claim to his birthright.  He has brought Khan Xander Drake of the Hellions and a message from the Grand Duchess with him to support his candidacy.”

With that Parliament was in an uproar, not only by the return of Peter, but that a Clan Warrior Khan was in the same building as them.  His presence sparked a primal fear in the political animals more comfortable in a chair than a cockpit.  The Hellions had a well-deserved reputation within the Outback and Draconis Marches.  To the people of the Federated Suns the Clans were the Lyran Commonwealth’s problem.  It was different when a Cluster of Hellions raided your world with their powerful and fast moving offensive cutting across the countryside.

“Order!  Order!  We are all surprised to hear that Prince Peter has returned to us from wherever he was.  I call for a twenty minute recess before we begin in order to calm down and prepare questions.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 04 January 2019, 17:14:35
The Countess returned to the Prime Minister’s chambers in order to collect her thoughts.  She was Katherine’s agent on the planet but would not be able to vote on ‘her’ successor.  The Prime Minister had been primarily a ceremonial post but the Privy Council would now decide on the next First Prince and possibly Archon-Prince of the Federated Commonwealth.  There were normally contingencies in place to ease transitions but those had broken down with the HPGs being off-line and Katherine's regency was regularly questioned due to the method of acquisition and her power sharing arrangement between the member states.  A single ruler split between realms was always going to have strained relationship with at least one but it had gotten worse under pressure.

Parliament was reconvened, Peter sat on one side with Khan Xander Drake while George and Marshal Dixon Zibler, The Davion Assault Guards CO, sat across the chamber.  Countess Reba called the meeting to order, “As there are competing claims against the Regency of Archon-Princess Regent Katherine Morgan Steiner-Davion, Duchess of New Avalon and Tharkad, the High Council of New Avalon is responsible for deciding which of these men has a stronger claim.  As the Archon-Princess' Regency Representative I will not have a voting claim in the matter.  Duke Hasek you may address the High Council and state your case before them.”

George rose from his seat, his AFFC uniform was bright as was the Sword of New Syrtis, a token that marked his dual responsibilities as March Lord and Field Marshal of the Capellan March, that hung from his belt.  “This entire situation is a farce Prime Minister. Peter Steiner-Davion, assuming it is truly him and not a doppelganger does not have the required service record in the AFFC to be First Prince.  He deserted with only two years of service and has turned his back on the Federated Suns for 14 years.  How do we know he did not take up arms against us during that time making him a double traitor?”

Dozens of scenarios went through Ivona's head, she was not surprised that George had gone there first.  It was low hanging fruit after all the as well as reason that Katherine was appointed Regent not as First Prince.  “What do you have to say of these accusation Peter?”

“I would like to present this in my defense.”  He inserted a data-card into the reader which displayed a detailed breakdown of Peter's service record under the name Peter Focht.  The Prince had a smug look on his face he had been studying up during his transit from the Outback to New Avalon.  “The Laws of Succession do not explicitly state that I must serve in the Armed Forces of the Federated Suns therefore other military service could be accepted.  Even if you discounted my service history in the Knights of Randis I was recommissioned as an officer in the First Outback Legion by order of the Grand Duchess of Minette three years ago.  If you count the dates you will see that I have my five years of service in the AFFC.”

“Under an assumed name while appointed by your sister in a gross abuse of power.”
“Nothing prohibits either of those things Duke Hasek.  The prerequisite is an individual one, as long as the service numbers match it is valid.  Which they do.”

“Does the High Council accept this evidence?”
  The computerized voting tally supported Peter's defense. It was a shrewd political move that played right into the technicalities of their bureaucratic mind.  “Very well, The High Council has decreed that Peter Steiner-Davion under the name Peter Focht has the requisite service to be First Prince.  Please continue Duke Hasek.”

George Hasek leaned heavily on his latest string of publicized victories against the Word of Blake and Trinity Alliance.  He was a War Hero in the eyes of the press that had saved the Federation from its enemies and that meant a lot.  While he was the closest blood relative to the main ruling line (that the public knew of) the Haseks were severe revanchists on par or exceeding their peers the Sandovals.  The return of rightfully 'liberated' worlds to the Trinity Alliance in the wake of George Hasek's invasion would not go unpunished.

A First Prince George Hasek could also charge Peter with the capital offense of desertion.  If the charge stuck he could be sent to the stockade or executed which would absolutely result in a new Davion Civil War.  The last one's scars could still be seen throughout the countryside on New Avalon almost ten years later.  The LAAF, TRG, and AFFS were full of veterans now that had been at war in isolation for three years against heavy odds.  The isolation was beginning to revive old traditions intra-service rivalries which damaged discipline among the professional AFFS.

A hour passed which George answered questions and sold himself, “Thank You, Duke Hasek.  Please sit down now.  Prince Peter please begin.”

Peter extolled his virtues speaking eloquently if with an accent acquired on Randis.  As the son of Hanse Davion he would normally have the strongest claim.  However, the Steiner-Davions were not as popular as they once were in the Federated Suns due to Katherine’s callous use of the Laws of Noble Conduct against rivals, forced retirement of AFFC dissenters, and Clan affiliation.  Her marriage to the Wolf Khan had caused riots throughout the Federation calling for charges of treason against her.  Nobles that supported those claims ended up on 'lost' jump-ships or on trial for conspiring to commit treason with the Trinity Alliance or Word of Blake.

Her shadow loomed heavily over him.  Victor had been an absentee Prince always on campaign and Katherine had been much the same although she had still ruled with an iron first from Tharkad.  The High Council regularly left New Avalon prior to her arrival rather than risk her personal ire as she would regularly round them up and shame them for something her agents had uncovered if they didn't tow the line.  Khan Drake attested to Peter's prowess in combat, confirmed that he killed a Shadow Precentor in single combat, and confirmed the Hellions' vassalage to the Grand Duchess.

A First Prince that let the High Council rule gave them more discretion to run things in the Crucis March.  When Katherine gave Yvonne the Outback, formerly a part of the Crucis March, by edict some of their shady dealings had to be halted or moved underground lest they attract her attention.  It had cost a kindly fortune and more than few lives before they got the hint that Katherine and Yvonne wasn't going to let them keep ruling as usual.  Needless to say there were not many pro-Katherine members in the Council anymore although they smartly didn't expose their intentions.

If Peter was elected it meant that Katherine could be overthrown as Archon-Princess by an act of the Estates General on Tharkad.  Though she might retain her title as Duchess of Tharkad she might not be content to let her previously absent kid brother take her position.  A position she had earned in blood and defended vigorously.  Her husband’s Clan Wolf had been fighting and dying to save the Commonwealth from the FWLM and WOBM they would have their place at the table or they might break it.  A stronger candidate to her had been long sought, it would conveniently deal with the Council's grievances.  Either candidate could give them what they wanted, independence, war, or usurpation.

“I think we have what we need Gentlemen.  Please leave us while we discuss amongst ourselves.  We will release our decision tomorrow.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 06 January 2019, 16:41:00
12/16/3069 07:00 Location – Parliament, Albion, New Avalon

Despite the long hours of the High Council the citizens of New Avalon did not know what was going on.  MIIO had felt it more important to keep the information that Peter Steiner-Davion had returned to claim the First Princedom out of regular news channels.  Thus the fateful announcement came during the morning news.  Prime Minister Ivona Reba stood at the podium within Parliament's richly appointed Press Room in front of every major news service in the Federated Commonwealth.

The stylish Countess stood with her back toward the Federated Commonwealth Flag, “The full High Council of New Avalon was called together yesterday to discuss a matter of national importance.  The Regency of Princess Regent Katherine Steiner-Davion has come to an end.  Prince Peter Steiner-Davion has returned and has been appointed First Prince of the Federated Suns by Parliamentary decision.  His coronation ceremony will occur by year's end at the Cathedral of New Avalon.”

The reporters were in stunned silence for a moment before erupting into a cacophony of questions for the Prime Minister.  She answered them for ten minutes before being escorted out by Federation Marshals.

Inside the Hasek penthouse in New Avalon City George seethed over his breakfast plate while watching the vidscreen.  “After all I have done for the Federated Suns they hand the First Princedom to a man not seen for fourteen years.  This will not stand.”

While Peter was not at Castle Davion George knew where to find him thanks to supportive sources in MIIO.  MIIO had chafed under Katherine's favoritism to their sister organizations (ONI, LIC, TNGB) in the Intelligence Secretariat.  One of her agents had defected several years ago after George's continued the support of the Free Capella terrorist organization.  The man was marked as dead by the TNGB and Mask but had actually been in deep cover on New Avalon not even George knew what his latest identity was but knew how to contact him.

George opened his tablet computer and took out a priority ad for a job in the New Avalon Arborist forums.  'Looking for someone to trim a limb from my family's tree in Albion.  This work requires a delicate hand with at least thirty years experience.'

Meanwhile across the Grand Avalon Mountains in the city of Barrington a plain looking man was reading the NAA forums.  He too had seen the morning news and was just waiting for the call from at least one of his previous masters, there was work to be done.  619_DJ_3055 responded to the post.  "Let's talk compensation."
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 06 January 2019, 18:23:36
12/22/3069 06:00 Location – Niflheim, Dagda, Federated Commonwealth

Katherine Steiner-Davion, Archon-Princess of the Federated Commonwealth sat in the Black Chamber's Briefing Room within FCDS Princess of Avalon, her personal Monarch dropship.  This morning's transmissions were being processed by ONI Sigma in the other room while her tea cooled. 

She was reminiscing about Christmases on Tharkad and regretted that her children had never actually had a Christmas on their mother's home planet.  The latest events even forced her hand, there were no gifts to give this year as they were still in hiding under the recommendation of the Estates General and her General of the Armies.  Lost in a daydream she missed the ONI briefer enter and place the latest from New Avalon on the ornately inlaid metal table.  “You should take a look at this Katherine.”

“What is it?”  Katherine read through the brief report from Ivona Reba on New Avalon. The beginning of her worst case scenario had just happened; Peter had returned and he was First Prince.  “We have to go back to Tharkad immediately.”

“The Boudica is on station in Gallery.  If we burn hard you can be on Tharkad by the second week of January.”
“Make it happen Colonel Wellson.”

“Yes Maam, here are the rest of the morning transmissions.  Some will need a response.  I will inform Star Colonel Waters that we are pulling up stakes.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: snakespinner on 06 January 2019, 22:33:57
The Hasek is about to hit the fan. >:D
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Icerose20 on 07 January 2019, 00:38:56
Somewhat interesting its a Elemental that is the reasonable Khan for the (Ice) Hellions, but it does fit my idea of the Elementals.  They are like offensive linemen in Football in that you need to know what your job is and what others in your team is depending on the situation and if one fails, then the entire line fails.  Of course, that isnt how the Clans do it, but it be interesting if thats is how Elementals become warriors if its their 'point' that completes the tasks or not to become a warrior.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 07 January 2019, 06:56:23
Somewhat interesting its a Elemental that is the reasonable Khan for the (Ice) Hellions, but it does fit my idea of the Elementals.  They are like offensive linemen in Football in that you need to know what your job is and what others in your team is depending on the situation and if one fails, then the entire line fails.  Of course, that isnt how the Clans do it, but it be interesting if thats is how Elementals become warriors if its their 'point' that completes the tasks or not to become a warrior.

I always felt it was the natural state of Elementals to work as a team that is why five of them are a single Point.  Each Warrior is individually very weak compared to a Battlemech they need to work together to defeat one and even then are unlikely to do it on their own.  The Hell's Horses do this best and I think some of their Khans must have been the smartest in the Clans otherwise they wouldn't be around anymore since they lack proper Mech assets and have to make do with tanks.  Elemental Point Leaders learn management and leadership skills that a Mechwarrior would only learn at a Star Captain level.

The Hellions joint training site, the one that forces Free and Trueborns together to work as a a unit, and pack Zell are also traits that make the Hellions particularly dangerous if used properly.  It is really the main sin of Hellions that they act before thinking but that makes them willing to take big chances like leaving the homeworlds for a solo invasion of the Federated Suns.  However, an Elemental can't make dumb decision or he would die early without passing on his genes.

In Star Captain Drake's case he ran an overloaded Supernova Trinary (6 Points of Elementals per Star of Mechs) until becoming Khan thus he had more than a hundred subordinate Warriors plus nearly double that in support staff under his command.  Throw in some vision and an indomitable will to beat the hated Wolves at their own game and you have a force of nature in command of the best kilo for kilo Warriors in the Inner Sphere.  They also happen to own half of the working McKenna battleships in the Inner Sphere, the Snow Ravens have the other one.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 07 January 2019, 09:38:26
Never struck me that George Hasek would go over the deep end jealously and treason.  The FedCom Civil War where he was injured badly and end results of Capellan Incursion (canon timeline) cause him go rogue but not try for grab big seat. Morgan instilled him unity, loyalty to New Avalon and the FedSuns/FedCom.  Jihad hotspots books did alot off-screen character personality changes that didn't quite fit the protrayal in the novels that gave real feel for them. 

I'd be surprised of George trying do cloak & dagger stuff.

As for Katherine, well...i be seeing FedCom Civil War a comin now.  ;D
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 07 January 2019, 11:38:34
Never struck me that George Hasek would go over the deep end jealously and treason.  The FedCom Civil War where he was injured badly and end results of Capellan Incursion (canon timeline) cause him go rogue but not try for grab big seat. Morgan instilled him unity, loyalty to New Avalon and the FedSuns/FedCom.  Jihad hotspots books did a lot off-screen character personality changes that didn't quite fit the portrayal in the novels that gave real feel for them. 

I'd be surprised of George trying do cloak & dagger stuff.

As for Katherine, well...i be seeing FedCom Civil War a comin now.  ;D
This is mostly for my own reference.  Not sure how I'm going to end this arc yet but I was thinking a Nicholson scene.

I don't know, if you almost singlehandedly led the victorious defense of the Federated Suns against the forces of the Word of Blake, CCAF, and TDF at the same time.  Upon victory you launched a daring assault at the perpetrators almost dying several times while reaching deep in enemy territory and having had a real chance to kill Sun-Tzu Liao.  Which would have removed the first strong Chancellor in a generation from the dastardly Capellans. The same Sun-Tzu whose assassins almost certainly killed your mother a few months ago on your home planet.  A person with whom you believe (and have some evidence to support) Katherine colluded with early on to secure both of their flimsy executives.

That same Katherine who started a war that devastated the Davion Guards Brigade to claim Yvonne's regency given specifically to her by Victor.  During which time she used a Battlecruiser to bombard New Avalon.  Who might have killed your dad on his way to the Clan homeworlds, possibly killed her own mother, sundered the Federated Commonwealth in her ascension to Archon, may have been responsible for Peter's initial disappearance, likely committed some kind of treason with her relationship to the Wolf Khan Vladimir Ward, and who been using her loyal Stazi agents to silence critics and instill fear in the nobility for nearly a decade.

You might be upset and feel that being First Prince is better suited to you rather than let sit by and let a group of feckless bureaucrats that have never seen the inside of a Mech's cockpit appoint some nobody deserter.  Even if he is Hanse Davion's son. 

Especially if you can blame it on her while securing the First Princedom in the process so you can get back to the real fight.  Which is of course; kill Sun-Tzu in order to save the Federated Suns from further Capellan aggression before he can rebuild the ruins of his Trinity Alliance into something dangerous.

As for Katherine, we'll see soon enough but first we have to deal with the mess on New Avalon.


12/22/3069 04:48 Location – Camelot Starport, New Avalon, Federated Commonwealth

First Prince Peter Steiner-Davion sat in an Ironhide truck out on the tarmac in the pre-dawn cold wearing a heavy woolen paletot coat, watch cap, and gloves as gray as the surrounding permacrete.  His features had to be obscured for security reasons wherever he went as it was still very dangerous on New Avalon although nothing had happened thus far.  The Black Box’s network lag meant that if Katherine was near Tharkad, like he and Yvonne suspected, that she would have had time to receive the news of his ascension and transmit orders to her subordinates sometime today which increased the danger level significantly.

The fact that Alexander Drake had a similar body structure to Peter and that his blonde hair could be dyed auburn had proven far more useful than Yvonne’s security team had anticipated.  The Khan was willing to take out an assassin sent by the White Wolf if necessary; in fact he was eager for the challenge if only to alleviate boredom.  The constant shuffling of he and Peter annoyed him because it was to avoid fighting; which was anathema to the high strung Clan Elemental Warrior.

The Cog dropship FCDS Open Frontiers landed behind a berm a kilometer away, Peter could feel the rumble of its exhaust through the truck’s suspension despite it being dampened by a great volume of water pumped over the landing pad.  When the dropship successfully landed it powered down its thrusters to cool while water continued to run over the tarmac and steam rose above it. 

Peter’s Chief of Security Vincent Palo looked back at him.  At this range he could see the AR data feeds being projected onto the lens.  “We’ll give it ten minutes to cool down First Prince.  The bird will be here in thirty.  You’ll be back at Castle Davion with your family by oh six hundred.”
“Thanks Vincent take us close I don’t want to dally in the open.”

The Ironhide rumbled toward the dropship along with a group of Outback Legionnaires in their armed Pintel ATVs.  Peter got out and walked toward where the bay ramps were being lowered.  His boots walked through puddles that gathered in the few lower areas of the otherwise flat surface.  The sound of water flowing and cool air being pulled through the dropship’s thrusters from the well filled the air along with the mist that obscured the modified Trojan dropship on the landing pad.  The dropship’s lights were weakly illuminating the area through the haze but the folding light posts built into the isolation berm were raising themselves to their normal upright positions.  The landing ramp came down after it mostly cleared, his daughter Victoria was the first down and gave her father a great hug.  Daphne was close behind with the almost 12 month old Jacob in her arms wearing a big coat and hat for a baby.  The boy calmed down at the sight of his father. “Dada”

Peter kissed Daphne on the cheek, “Was he any trouble?”
“No more so than Vicky when we traveled from Randis.  At least on the Open Frontier I had better accommodations, and help.”
“Wait till you see Castle Davion Daphne.  You won’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”
“Well then what will I do?  Organize parties?  Gossip with the Ladies of Court?  Sounds dreadful.  I’m not sure if I’m ready to be a Princess.”
“Well I’m still not sure I am ready to be First Prince so I guess we will find out together.”

Vicky pulled on his hand, “We’re going to a castle?”
“Yes we are Vicky.  Very soon in fact.”
“Is it like the stories?”

He looked at her seriously, “Which stories?” There were a lot of stories in the world and not all of them ended happily.  The little girl thought about that for a moment, “Can my room be purple?”
said Peter relieved.

Porters picked up their luggage as an Anhur borrowed from the Hellions flew through the mist.  Its turbofans creating visible whorls in their wake before setting down nearby.  Extra precautions had been taken due to the sensitive nature of his ascension during a declared state of war with the Trinity Alliance and the possibility that Katherine's agents would move against her brother.

Despite the state of war Duke Hasek had withdrawn the forces that had participated in SOVEREIGN JUSTICE to the new border worlds for resupply but they were itching to finish the fight.  The Tikonov Republican Guard and Commonwealth’s Third Fleet had abandoned their Highspire offensive against Kali Liao’s Thugees upon finding that Trinity Alliance Armed Forces deployed en mass on the planet.  They instead prioritized containment of the Sol Protectorate and operations in support of the DCMS units that were dealing with the rapidly dwindling Black Dragons.

Daphne looked at the pair of wicked looking pulse lasers in the chin turret, “Is that really necessary?”
“I hope to God not Daphne, but better safe than sorry.”

Inside was a bare bones cargo compartment with fold down bench seats made of webbing and a squad of Federation Marshals.  The pilot and co-pilot were the Khan’s personal pilots in and out of combat and were armed.  The Marshals helped load their luggage before securing the Royal family.  Each of them were given noise canceling headphones to blunt the sound as the turbofans spun up and launched the VTOL back into the sky.  It banked neatly and began moving at flank speed toward Castle Davion. 

Over the Albion River they were joined by Mantis Scout VTOLs from the 1st Outback Legion.  The choppers were capable of detecting ambushes and providing ECW support to the Anhur raced toward Castle Davion.  Their turrets contained a pair of clan spec Small Pulse Laser easily capable of dispatching unarmored infantry or light vehicles that might pose a threat.  They took a circuitous route through the Grand Avalon Mountains skirting along the edge of the Fox’s Den Military Reservation till they arrived at Castle Davion.

Victoria saw it from afar in the dawn light and her eyes shone with wonder at the sight.  The white and red stone towers of Castle Davion melded into a recent snowfall that sparkled in the sun along with the stained glass windows of the main hall, “It is like the stories.  We’re going to live there?”

“Yes and one day hopefully long in the future you will be First Prince as well.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 08 January 2019, 14:03:29
12/23/3069 06:15 Location – Castle Davion, New Avalon, Federated Commonwealth

“Peter, wake up.”
Peter moved his hand across the warm sheets to bat at his wife Daphne’s nudging arms.  “What is it?”
“Come on.  The Prince is not the one that sleeps in tales.”

He got up in the bed and looked to see his wife still in her sleeping gown standing beside him, “Fine.  I guess I’ve slept enough.”
She leaned down and kissed him, “Sorry about last night dear.  I haven’t seen you in a month.”
He pulled her back onto the bed with a giggle, and kissed her on the rebound, “I’ll trade a groggy morning for a great night with you any time.”
“Vicky will be up at seven.  We still have forty five minutes.”
“Do we now?  Is that long enough?”
“No more talking.  You’re wasting time.”

07:00 Victoria’s Room

“The Dawn Room” had served many purposes during Castle Davion’s history although it was typically used as a child’s bedroom.  Victoria woke up for the first time in the same room that her aunt Yvonne grew up within.  It wasn’t purple yet she was going to pick out which color she wanted with mommy today and someone would paint it later.  She dressed, brushed her hair and teeth, and was outside waiting for her parents by 07:10 she had no idea where anything was yet.  Peter and Daphne holding her little brother were waiting outside, “I’m so hungry”
“Well then follow me.”

She took Peter’s hand as he walked through the maze of corridors past busy staffers that greeted them.  V: “This place is so much bigger than Aunt Yvonne’s.”
P: “About four times as big.  Did you enjoy sleeping in her old room?”
She brushed sleep out of her eye with her other hand, “The sun woke me up early.”
Peter chuckled he had heard the same thing from his sister as a child
D: “You are supposed to wake up at seven.”
V: “Why?”
D: “To eat breakfast together of course.  Then you can explore with Mary.”
V: “Where’s Xander, he’s more fun.”
P: “Xander is probably climbing a cliff or something.”
V: “How did he get so strong?”
D: “He ate his vegetables.”
V: “Gross, I’m going to ask him.”
P: “Go ahead, he’ll probably tell you that if you eat your vegetables you too can leap whole Battlemechs in a single bound when you get older.”
V: “He can do that!”
D: “Peter, Stop confusing the poor girl.  No Xander can’t jump over a Battlemech in a single bound Victoria.”
P: “Not without help at least.  From vegetables.”
Daphne socked Peter in the side with he off-hand which upset Jacob, “That was unnecessary Daphne.  I’ll be bruised for my coronation.”
“Oh you poor dear.”

The Steiner-Davion family found their way to a larger dining room downstairs where a breakfast buffet had been laid out.  Khan Xander Drake was there along with Loremaster Amelia Wallace, the Khan had sweat in his hair.  He had been doing something strenuous this morning already.  Before she could be reined in Victoria walked over to the Khan, “Xander can you jump over a Battlemech in a single bound without your armor?”

Khan Drake thought about it for a moment, stirring his oatmeal,
“How tall of a Battlemech?  Do I get a running start?  At one Gee?  Over? Or just across? 
Perhaps I could try to jump over a prone one or a quadruped.
Amelia we should see.  Do we still have Snow Foxes in inventory?”
“I think there are a few in inventory Khan Drake if you insist on trying.”
“I will tell you Victoria Steiner-Davion when I find out.”

With breakfast finished the Hellions departed possibly to find a Snow Fox and see if Xander could leap over it in a single bound.  The Steiner-Davions went to a bigger room where a Christmas tree had been raised with presents below.  Victoria ran to shake the boxes and her toddler brother Jacob staggered across the room to play with the shiny objects.  “This is wonderful Peter.”
“It’s not quite as grand as the normal one picked fro the Midwinter Ball but we just missed that.  I spent the past week traveling and picked up a few things for you and the kids.  It’s the first time in a long while that I got to use my real name on a check.”

14:00 Office of the First Prince

While Peter Steiner-Davion had been on New Avalon for several days he had only stepped into the castle yesterday with his family.  Castle Davion had not been expecting a new resident and the place was in disarray as neither of his sisters had resided there for nearly four years.  Without a true Davion present it had remained vacant but well cared for.  However, the needs of a tenat required an increase in staff to tend to the people in addition to the building and staff had been busy ensuring that the eighty rooms within were in top notch condition for the new Royal Family. 

Instead he spent the first two days receiving briefings in the Fox’s Den about the current state of the Inner Sphere and stayed in different cities on world for the rest of the week.  His hopping around was to shake loose Katherine’s agents and determine if they had orders to move against him immediately.  To his pleasure she didn’t appear to have anyone on station that meant to do him (or Khan Drake disguised as him) harm and was greeted with admiring crowds throughout the land.  Satisfied he gave the all clear for his family’s arrival yesterday morning.

Peter opened the door of his father’s office, it had been briefly used by Victor but both Katherine and Yvonne had declined to use it for official work while on New Avalon.  With only minor exceptions it had remained the same as it was on June 17th 3052 when his sister walked in to see their father dead.  He pulled down the black cloth that covered a faded oil painting of Hanse Davion circa 3039. 

“It’s been a long time dad.  I’m sorry we didn’t have the best relationship when both of us were alive.  This galaxy’s to big and crazy a place for two men to have a sit down these days.  I know wherever you are you are looking out for us.  I hope you can forgive me for all the bad things I’ve done in the past and appreciate the good that I intend to do in the future. 

You did a great job with Yvonne.  She told me to tell you that she loves you and will be back soon.  I pray I can do the same with Vicky and Jacob.  I’ll take them by your grave sometime soon.”

He looked at his father’s desk, his chair had been replaced due to wear but a replacement that was similar looking had taken its place. One top of the desk he saw a small pot with Mycosia Pseudoflora on top of it.  The flower had been his mother’s favorite and it was also the carrier for the bomb that killed her in 3055.  Peter flashed back to that moment, rage and sorrow in equal measure wanting a chance to take his revenge on who was responsible for her death. 

It was the darkest chapter of his life and he had to leave the room and have his panic attack in the hall.  Talking about it with Yvonne had been hard enough.  He thought he was over it but deep down old Peter was still there; the raging drunk that he had spent the past fifteen years trying to settle down.  He breathed deep and looked around hoping that no one else was around that he might have to explain himself to but he still had to come up with an explanation.

He picked up the phone and called down to the Steward, “Lord Presley, I would like the flowers removed from my father’s desk.”
“Of course First Prince.  I will send someone immediately.”
“Thank you.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 09 January 2019, 03:58:37
Now theres a pointed message
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Elmoth on 09 January 2019, 06:31:22
A bucket of the flowers that killed your mother in the place where your father was killed? Naaaah. Just details. :lol:
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 09 January 2019, 10:13:18
Elsewhere in the Castle Dalia Green and Laura Avali walked through the halls with their arms full of cloth.  The best friends were in need of a job after graduating secondary school and serving in Castle Davion seemed like an easy one if you could get it.  Its side benefits were many-fold; decent room, ample board, a cute uniform, and adequate pay so it was an enticing offer for young women.  You might even meet a handsome lesser Lord in the process of carrying out your duties.

They were just out of orientation and were gossiping about the other maids in whispers.  The Stewardess, Lady Madeline Presley, kept decent order but most of her staff consisted of women under 22 and Princess Daphne had not straightened them out yet.  Most of the maids had only seen her yesterday morning when she arrived with the rest of her family.

A man and woman ran past them in white battledress uniforms causing the women to drop their bags, “Damn!  Watch where you're going.  Jerk.”
“He was kinda cute.  His face seemed familiar.”

They looked at the circulated pictures of their VIPs given to them during their orientation earlier, “Khan Xander Drake?  Where did you see him before?”
“Remember that video we watched when I told my mom we were watching the tennis finals a couple years ago?”

Dalia blushed, “The Crimson Circus one!?  Could it be him?”
Laura looked back at the Khan running along the rest of the corridor, “He sure looks like it.”
“Didn't one of the Marshals say that he was with the Grand Duchess?”
“Lucky her.  Well there is only one way to be sure.”

Both of them picked up their bags of cloth and went back to work, “You think Lady Madeline will let us work in his room.”
“I don't care if she lets us.  I'm gonna sneak in.  You wanna come?”
“Don't you think that sneaking up on a Clan Khan might be dangerous?”
“Danger.  Excitement.  Same thing. 
I'll knock first if you want to come.”

Dalia looked down at her shoes sheepishly, “Wouldn't be the first time so I'm guess I'm game.  We better stretch first though I don't wanna get hurt.  Remember we have a lot of work to do in the next couple of weeks and Lady Madeline will have our heads if we mess up anything about Peter's Coronation.”  They then went back to whispering gossip and following Lady Madeline's orders.

Federation Marshals Willy Tucker and Donny Post were in front of a growing crowd of staff on break including a few fangirls.  Before them was an unusual spectacle; Khan Drake and fellow Hellions attempting to vault a Snow Fox quadruped mech.  It was a comical sight, but some were successful when assisted by a trampoline or poles they landed in a bank of fluffy snow that he ‘requested’ the works crew build from the plowed snow off the Castle grounds so there was a ‘safe’ place to land.
“So Will, is this like a Clan holiday festival or somethin’?”
“Hell if I know Don.  Xander better not break his neck though.  Yvonne would be upset.”
“Why?  We can’t protect him from his own stupidity.”
“I mean we could try…but then we just turn into sparring partners.”
“Yeah fat chance of that.  You heard anything from Doug?”
“He’s getter better.  The breaks weren’t so bad.”
“No one told me Clan Elementals don’t have tapouts till I heard it from ‘im.  There should be a book or somethin’.”
“Would you read it?”
“How many pictures does it got?”

Back in the First Prince's office Peter sat in the guest chair on the other side of his father's desk in contemplation.  One of the castle staff had removed the offending flowers but he was still trying to determine whether it was an error or an omen.  He had paged the Chief of Security and tasked him with double-checking everyone and everything that had touched that room and those of his family.  All the new hires had been triple checked in order to gain clearance to Castle Davion. 

However his sister, a likely culprit, had wielded so much influence over the clandestine services that were doing the checking.  It was in fact why Loremaster Wallace was here despite her reservations when the Khan gives an order you follow it, or challenge them, and she did the former.  Her Watch operatives were in the process of installing an auxiliary, redundant, albeit temporary sensor grid around the Castle Grounds under her primary control. 

A Clan Warrior’s loyalty was not something easily compromised by Katherine’s agents.  Khan Drake made his pledge to a fellow Warrior for his own reason and he honored it.  The fact that the Hellions, and Xander especially, hated the Wolf Clan that his sister belonged to made it more so.  He wasn’t sure why that was and it didn’t matter to him.  It was likely some long held grievance between the two Clans that had never been settled properly.  They were a feuding kind of people which despite their sometimes alien attitudes was the most understandable condition to people of Inner Sphere. 

George Hasek’s albeit warranted hatred of the Confederation was well know and Tancred Sandoval’s Draconis Mach had paid for his lack of vigilance to the DCMS.  The strains of revanchism were manifold among the successor states.  A legacy of the now five Succession Wars they had fought against one another for nearly 300 years.  “It never ends but at least the Clans are honest about it.  Nevertheless I have to try for Vicky and Jacob’s sake.”

Peter stood up and walked to the other side of the desk.  He paused a minute and breathed deep before sitting down in the proper chair of the First Prince of the Federated Suns.  “A new Prince for Christmas.  Someone out there probably asked for it.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 10 January 2019, 03:42:39
nicely written
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 11 January 2019, 10:51:52
nicely written

Thank you as always Mike.  Had to do some research on coronation rites and modifying it for the Federated Suns.  Don't want to leave you all hanging (and let me fall down board of equally good fan fics) so much though so here's a short chapter explaining some of Peter's background that is otherwise never declared.


12/23/3069 18:35

The First Family of New Avalon ate dinner in one of the smaller dining rooms in the castle tonight.  Castle staff were working feverishly through the night to prepare for Peter’s Coronation next week.  A now frequent guest, Khan Xander Drake, was covered in bruises but he would heal fast due to clan genetics and access to the medical labs of NAIS. The medical labs that could not believe their luck at having an Elemental in their waiting room.  He resented the attempts of chalcas Scientists to get his permission for testing. “I could not leap over a battlemech in a single bound despite my best efforts.”

Victoria Steiner-Davion looked at him with annoyance, she pushed the cold vegetables on her plate away from her. “Then I am not eating my vegetables!  You lied Dad.”
Daphne looked at her with a mother’s cutting stare, “You will eat your vegetables young lady or we’re not opening any presents tomorrow night or Christmas Day.  I’ll make you to wait till Boxing or Three King’s day if I must.”
“I’m a Princess.”
“And I’m your Mother.  Now finish your plate.”

Mother and Daughter got involved in a starting contest which Victoria eventually lost.  She wanted Christmas presents more than she hated cold vegetables. “If I was ever like that with Mother Superior she would have switched me.”

Peter thought about his past.  His youth had been spent on Tharkad in a boarding school near Rewland faraway but truly very close to The Triad where Victor was being raised by their mother.  That same mother that never visited him once during his time there.  Even Katrina was a rare appearance as she kept a summer cottage in the mountains of Heidelberg.  Daphne never knew her parents and only had the sisters of the orphanage she grew up in for reference.  She did have to help them as she grew older before joining the TDF but didn’t take the lessons learned to heart.  They had to hope for the best and that their kids wouldn’t resent them later in life or feel abandoned by duties elsewhere.

He had felt abandoned by his own parents until he returned to New Avalon as a young man at Bayside Military School in Albion.  Arthur and Hanse visited frequently whilst he was there, his little sister Yvonne thought it was full of ‘gross boys’ and spent more time with Katherine, riding horses or something.  One of the days of his earlier week of exploration was spent walking those grounds once more, reliving happier memories, and meeting the new smiling faces of noble youths with bright futures.  A bright future that he never got to live as he was rotated back to Tharkad to attend The Nagelring rather than his preferred Albion Military Academy.

Back on Tharkad he could never escape his older brother’s shadow. He wasted precious time attempting to emulate someone he could never be, nor understand, and their relationship suffered for it.  Katherine could have stayed on Tharkad and gone to University there.  She loved the planet but neither of them truly forgave their mother.  Her death meant that the relationship could never be repaired and it broke down the last bit of self-control he had.  The pent up anger and resentment flowed freely and ultimately resulting in the deaths of too many innocents on Lyons.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 12 January 2019, 22:32:31
12/25/3069 02:48 Location – Camelot Starport, New Avalon

The Monarch dropship FCDS Spinward Sovereign burned out of the pre dawn and landed gracefully on the tarmac.  The vessel taxied to the Royal terminal and the jet way was extended.  Grand Duchess Yvonne stepped out in the lead wearing a comfortable dress and her hair in a neat bun, Victoria immediately ran to her and gave her a hug, “Aunt Von.”
She patted her on the head first and returned the hug, “Merry Christmas Vicky.”

Upon seeing Peter and Daphne she curtsied, “Your Royal Majesties.”
“You don’t have to curtsy.  None of this would have happened without you Yvonne.  Thank you for everything.”
“I did nothing, you made the choice Peter.  You didn’t have to go back but I believe it will be the best for all of us.”
“Hopefully that is true.  How was your ride from the Outback?”

Yvonne enthusiastically gestured, “Amazing!  I can see why Kat rides around in one of these all the time.  There was even a spa,” she showed her manicure to Vicky and Daphne, “you can hardly tell I was fighting up until last month.  And my bed was SOO comfortable.”
A black haired man with an equally dark suit was right behind, “I can attest to that.”
“Quiet!  First Prince, this is the Duke of June and CO of the Second Outback Legion, Roger Marsin.  Some of his men will be joining us on world for the upcoming week.  Then he’s going right back to June and taking all his bloody crass manners and roughnecks with him.”

He bowed deeply the Peter and Yvonne both, “Terrible sorry Your Majesties and Your Grace for I have only just come back from the Concordat after two years of fighting Bulls and Blakists.  The garrison talk I am accustomed to is not fit for polite society and I apologize for my bloody crass manners.”
“You served in the Royal Cavaliers during the Regent’s War isn’t that correct Duke Marsin?”
“Yes I did serve under Katherine’s command to save Yvonne and the Federated Suns from the naked ambitions of Bishop Sortek.  I’d rather not talk about that whilst on New Avalon and adopted this thin disguise in case I run into former enemies among the Davion Guards.  You know an awful large amount about me sir.  Why?”
“I had been looking at your service record.  You are an ambitious, tough, and gifted commander.”
“Thank you First Prince.  I only do what I expect out of every loyal AFFC trooper.”

Vicky grabbed her aunt's hand, “Did you bring more presents Aunt Von?”
Yvonne looked at the girl who looked away, “Do you need more presents Vicky?”
The girl was looking back at the mother, “no”
“Well too bad.  I got you and your brother more, but you'll have to wait.”

12/31/3069 02:00  Cathedral of New Avalon

The sacred grounds of the Cathedral of New Avalon were surrounded by Armored Infantry.  The distinctive features of stone gray Hellion Salamanders mimicked those of the inanimate gargoyles looking out from its buttresses their pilots seeing through the blowing snow.  'Crossbones' suits (Grey Death Standard) of the 144th Armored Marines patrolled the perimeter pausing at regular intervals to scan the powder for footsteps and any sign of heat.

Khan Xander Drake and Captain Devlin Stone stood side by side for the first time in front of the sanctuary doors.  Both of them were armored and co-commanded the hand picked guard team that surrounded the Cathedral  “Radio check”

Their subordinates confirmed the call.  There were too many threats against the man currently engaged in a vigil inside the cathedral to take chances.  “Khan Drake, no hard feelings I hope”
Khan Drake was paying close attention to the sensor feeds on his AR faceplate, “About the loss?  There will be grander fights in our near future.”

“So you and Yvonne?”
“I have no long term intentions on her affections Captain Stone.  You coupled with her too quiaff?”
“No hard feelings then?”
“What about the new guy?”
“Not my concern.  I have more important things to worry about.  You do too.”

Inside the sanctuary Peter Steiner-Davion was kneeling in front of the alter deep in prayer.  He had let the spiritual part of himself atrophy since Victoria had been born as his attentions were drawn in different and desperate directions.  Peter's life had undergone massive upheaval and deeper growth from Penitent at St Marinus to Paladin of Randis and now First Prince of the Federated Suns.  He was grateful to have a few hours alone with himself after being surrounded by so many others for the past months.

He would need everything at his best, soon he would have be only the second man to be Archon-Prince of the Federated Commonwealth, arguably the most powerful mortal in the Inner Sphere.  The mantle was full of peril and influence the lives of hundreds of billions of souls. To do that he needed guidance, divine or otherwise to make the right decisions, and to remember to be humble despite the great power entrusted to him he was only one man. 

He heard a noise, soft boots landing on stone behind him.  “Is nothing sacred to you assassin?”
The First Prince rolled out and evaded a whisper quiet burst of flechettes from his unseen foe.  Peter rose behind one of the pews and looked at the sneak suited assassin who was crouched low holding a M&G M-39 flechette pistol along with a slender non-reflective knife in his hands.  “I don't believe in fairy tales.  Especially the part about the good guy winning in the end.”
“Well this is a place of belief.  So you better learn fast.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 13 January 2019, 14:07:12
Someone's security detail is going get fired after this.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 14 January 2019, 10:53:06
The shrine was dark the assassin's sneak suited form was in motion but hesitant the optics that covered his face made him look like a terrifying insect.  He was surrounded and waited for some unseen signal that Peter might issue to summon his guards.
“Did you like my flowers Peter?'
“You put them there!”
“I'll admit to feeling a bit nostalgic.”

The Dancing Joker’s taunt had the intended effect and Peter leapt over the pew out of cover.  The gold trimming on his scarlet robes catching the faint light.  DJ fired his flechette pistol but it jammed and the crushing impact of the tackle caused the knife to clatter along the stone floor tiles out of his reach.  Suddenly he was on the defensive against an enraged man.  The assassin was not familiar with this situation preferring more indirect means of eliminating his quarry.  Indirect means that were too difficult to implement on the aggressive timetable his employer desired.

The assassin ducked and evaded the fearsome assault trying to give himself an opportunity to recover one of his other weapons.  He trapped Peter’s right arm during a cross and hit the pressure point that would numb it temporarily.  Peter merely grabbed DJ’s head with his left and pulled it down into a rising knee rather than stopping.  The impact knocked the assassin back causing him to fall on the granite stairs behind him and Peter was back on the assault by the time DJ recovered from the shock.

With the ever so slight ‘advantage’ of the high ground DJ attempted to evade but there was no place to run, he had his back against the altar.  With a textbook rugby tackle Peter crashed the assassin into the stone altar of the shrine disrupting the red linen cloths laid upon it.  Peter ripped the optics package off the assassin now pressed against unyielding stone and unrelenting rage, the goggles clattered among the other debris. 
Peter was throttling the assassin.  “Who sent you!?”
DJ took a punch that bounced his head off the stone, “Katherine?”
Another, “Sun-Tzu?”
Another, “The Master?”
DJ spit the blood and a few broken teeth from his mouth at Peter, “I’ll ****** kill you right here.  Before God himself if I must.”

Two Armored Infantry rapidly cleared the gap, Captain Stone recovered Peter while the claws of Xander’s Salamander held the assassin in place.  “What the hell Peter?  You’ve got blood all over you.”
“It’s mostly his.”

Xander gripped the assassin with the battle claws each was easily capable of rending the man in two if the pilot wished it.  He turned around and threw the assassin at Peter’s feet.  “Want me to kill him for you, Quiaff?”
“Neg.  Take him to Wallace, I want to find out who he works for.  She will be deeply ashamed that her people failed to catch his infiltration.”
“Aff. I request Surkai on behalf of all Hellions for this lapse in our rede, Prince Steiner-Davion.”
“Granted with no dishonor, Khan Drake.  Take him away.”

Khan Drake was joined by the rest of his Point in transporting the assassin to the waiting ground transport while Captain Stone’s Marines did a through sweep to ensure there were no other assassins lying in wait.  Peter checked himself to ensure there were no wounds, a couple of cuts and splinters but it could have been a lot worse.  With the adrenaline rapidly going out of him Peter felt deflated, “Devlin, I almost lost it there.  I think. No.  I’m almost certain that was the same assassin that killed Melissa.  I just wanted to crush his skull on that altar.  What kind of man wants to do that?”
“I would feel the same way.  Woe be it to your enemies.”
“I don’t want to be a Prince of Blood.  That’s not a legacy I want to leave for Victoria and Jacob.”
“Some people don’t seem to be convinced any other way unfortunately.  We’ll get to the bottom of this and bring the latest employer to justice whoever he, or she is.  You will be a great First Prince Peter.  Now let’s get back to Castle Davion so you can clean up and get that magic hour of shut eye.”

NAAP (New Avalon Associated Press) short in review 01/01/3070
This entire week is filled with banner days throughout New Avalon.  Yesterday was the first full coronation ceremony of a First Prince since the last First Prince Peter Davion in 2931.  First Prince Peter Steiner-Davion was escorted down the seven kilometer Federation Boulevard to the adulation of Federated Suns citizens from all nearby worlds.  While the Blakist threat remains diminished the New Avalon Grenadiers were out in force for security of bystanders and the VIPs.  No hostile incidents were reported to the press but there were many reports of the Gendearme breaking up riotous parties. 

At noon yesterday Peter Steiner-Davion was anointed in the Cathedral of New Avalon before being crowned First Prince of the Federated Suns by His Eminence Pope Constantine XV.  His wife, Daphne, received the title and tiara of Princess-Consort from her husband while Princess Victoria and Prince Jacob watched from the front row while sitting next to their aunt Grand Duchess Yvonne Steiner-Davion.

The First Prince and Princess-Consort then received an Oath of Fealty from the Crucis Council, Duke Tancred Sandoval, Duke George II Hasek, and Grand Duchess Yvonne Steiner-Davion. Representatives from Katrina Steiner-Davion, Archon of Lyran Alliance, and Yuri Lebedev, Prime Minister of the Tikonov Republic, were noticeably absent from the ceremony.  The now First Family was paraded through New Avalon City back to Castle Davion for the reception. 

At the reception rumors flew regarding Tancred’s escort, Countess Devon of Exeter, who bears a resemblance to the Grand Duchess.  Equally socialites were surprised that General “Rough” Roger Marsin, Duke of June, was serving as escort for Yvonne.  Peter announced that Ross McKinnon II, Commander of “The Fox’s Teeth” Company of the 7th Crucis Lancers, accepted his offer to serve as his first Prince’s Champion.

Hellion Watch Report | Eyes Only Grand Duchess Yvonne Steiner-Davion | 02/01/3070
We have figured out how the assassin got into the Cathedral.  During our investigation Watch Operatives sniffed out a clean-up team and followed them into the crypts below, crypts we were not authorized to sweep by order of the NACC.  It resulted in a firefight, my operatives recovered the bodies which we used discern identities and tracked them back to a MIIO Officer with connections to George II.

We only await your authorization to deal with him.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: snakespinner on 14 January 2019, 22:49:04
George really put all his eggs in the basket. >:D
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Sharpnel on 15 January 2019, 04:32:17
George really put all his eggs in the basket. >:D
Yet, he still left some room for his soon-to-be-detached head.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 15 January 2019, 16:34:45
George really put all his eggs in the basket. >:D

To be fair, the Dancing Joker had never failed before.  His record was quite impressive but everyone has a bad day (or divine intervention).


Return of the Queen

Katherine Steiner-Davion watched the external feed on the view-screen within the dimly lit FCDS Princess of Avalon’s cushioned lounge.  Morgan, Siegfried, and Alaric were sound asleep on the couches.  They were excited to return to civilization but Katherine was less enthused.  Her return meant she had to finally deal with hypotheticals that had given her nightmares for years.
What kind of man had Peter become in his absence?  Why hadn’t Yvonne told her about him?
What would they all do now?  Were they coming for her?

She didn’t know any of the answers and without the HPGs online would not clutter the AFFC’s black box network with a nearly six day delayed personal correspondence with her brother or request a jump courier go through the increasingly dangerous Skye and Sol Protectorate region.  The Terran corridor between the Commonwealth states had a real chance of being choked off by the Word of Blake and Skye Rebels.

Katherine watched as the dropship cleared Marsden’s dark side on the way to Tharkad.  She could see the reflections of the solar panels used by the Wolf Newgrange Yardship WIS Den Mother and Mjolrnir Battlecruiser FCS Valhalla in the distance.  She was going to need those vessels sooner rather than later if they were going to blunt the damage of Blakists’ death throes.  Katherine retrieved her silver CommPad from Morgan’s tired hands.  The girl was still clasping it just as she was when she was playing some colorful puzzle game earlier before dozing off.  Her mother closed the game and put speaking to Captain Berok at the top of a long to do list after planet-fall.

01/13/3070 Location – Tricial Steiner Memorial Starport, Tharkad, Lyran Alliance

Katherine Steiner-Davion stepped out of the Royal terminal to see General Ivan Steiner with a black armband over his dress uniform and his wife Countess Jacqueline Brewer, the ever elegant CFO of Defiance Industries.  She hugged both of them, “I’m sorry about your mother Ivan.”

Nondi Steiner had died two months ago while Katherine was in hiding.  People died of old age all the time and her grandaunt had lived to an old age of 88.  She didn’t want to clog AFFC critical comms to send a condolence letter or potentially compromise Niflheim.  Katherine hadn’t written to Ivan or Lisa despite the fact that their mother had been more mother to her than her own. 

“It was her time Katherine.  Mom always considered you one of her own, I always thought of you as another little sister.  Lisa has everything well in control on Gallery.  She has been effectively running the place for the past few years already.”
She pulled an envelope out of her bag and brushed away tears, “Thank you.  Can you give Lisa this for me?”
Ivan took the envelope and put it in one of his pockets, “Of course, we were going to route through Gallery on the way back to Hesperus.  I don’t think we need the Second and Third tagging along.”
“Non-negotiable.  I’m sending the 2nd and 3rd Royal Guards with you.  I don’t want Hesperus to fall and Reinhardt might need the back up on Caledonia.”
“What about you?”

Katherine pointed to three light gray dropships (Union-X, Overlord-C, and Excalibur) with the Wolf Empire emblem on them.  “I have them, with more on the way.  Vladimir should be here by late February.  The Valhalla will be online shortly as well.  With the HPGs still down word won’t spread quickly out of the system and into enemy hands.”
“Be careful Katherine there’s plenty of enemies here already.”
“I always am.”
“You never were.”

She paused a moment as if considering that, “I might have been, once.  Well I have other people to look out for now.”
“Indeed you do.  Goodbye Katherine, keep your eyes open for all our sakes.”
“Safe travels you two.”

The Archon and White Wolves sped to the Triad taking the well established “Giant's Road” near the banks of the partially frozen New Danube River.  Katherine's Barghest was beside the Badger APC that was currently filled with Wolf infantry and her children.  Her eyes were glued to the Watchdog CEWS system out of paranoia. 
There were too many organizations on world with uncertain loyalties.  The majority of the Estates General was dispersed to oversee their vassals in the wake of the HPG Whiteout so there was no fear of a movement by the political class to overthrow her at least until April.  However, the Royal Guards had turned on more than one Archon in the past and it was something that always occupied the back of her mind.

They passed the last of the First Royal Guard's Mechs, Katherine had been ordered them to temporarily take up the Second and Third's garrison of industrial sites throughout Tharkad rather than watch over the Triad like they had for centuries.  The orders had been refused by the Royal Guard's Commander General Mellandra who resigned her commission in protest.  Her Fafnir turned toward Katherine's Barghest as they passed but continued on without further issue. 

The White Wolves took up the Triad Garrison.  Tharkad City was now occupied by the Wolf Empire.  Katherine donned a blue dress with gold accents, her Wolf codex charm hung from a quaint but expensive necklace, the Archon's platinum crown atop platinum blonde hair, and wedding rings given to her by a Wolf Khan on her pale finger.  Imperial Wolf banners (Golden Wolf howling at a blood moon) hung in the Archon's Throne Room rather than those of the Federated Commonwealth.  A Storm Crow and Kit Fox Omnimech loomed over Katherine's shoulders instead of the Griffins of yore. 

The Queen is back.

All hail the Queen.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: snakespinner on 15 January 2019, 22:16:51
Always have a back up I always say. I wonder what George has.
I wonder how the people of the LC react to wolf mechs behind the throne.
In my diary it mentions that civil war is overdue. >:D
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 16 January 2019, 13:35:38
01/17/3070 05:55 Location – Fox’s Den, New Avalon, Federated Suns

First Prince Peter and Grand Duchess Yvonne Steiner-Davion walked through the halls of the Fox’s Den past pictures of celebrated military figures that were long dead although their services lived on.  Katherine had a light touch on this place but many were still upset that George Hasek wasn’t in charge.  Despite Peter’s attempts to win them over he was still an unknown quantity and career military men were wary of such things.  At least he wasn’t a damn Wolf in Sheep’s clothing although they didn’t like Yvonne’s pet Clan much either.

A pair of MPs opened the door to the briefing room for them and the pair stepped inside.  Although the chamber could hold dozens of officers and analysts only three gathered around 'The Round Table.'

Prince’s Champion Ross McKinnon II, formerly of the Crucis Lancers until three weeks ago

Federated Suns General of the Armies Tabitha Rennard, formerly of the 1st FedSuns Armored Cavalry.  She replaced Jameston Gaston when he retired rather than be medically discharged due to injuries sustained during the WOBM/CCAF assault on the Tikonov Republic.

“ONI East’s” Director Darren Small, formerly the head of MI-3 before it was incorporated into the Office of Naval Intelligence during Katherine’s reorganization of the Intelligence Services

Director Small triggered something which locked the room down, anything said in here was for the First Prince and his quite cleared guest only.  “What’s the current War Status look like, General?”

She activated the holotank bringing up the Commonwealth’s Central state, The Tikonov Republic, a dark blob expanded out from the Sol System covering all planets within 45 light years of humanity’s home.  “The Republican Guard is still heavily engaged with the SPM (Sol Protectorate Military),” multiple red dots started blinking on the map marking embattled worlds.  “They are enduring but they won’t be able to hold much longer without assistance from New Avalon according to Senior General Valistok and Admiral Vietchi. 

SPM patrols and the current unrest in Skye are preventing my counterpart’s Task Force: FORGE or Alys Hampton’s Loyalist Party from coming to their aid. 

The AFFS has secured Quentin as well as Nirasaki both were only lightly garrisoned and partially abandoned when the Lancers liberated them. You can deal with Shogun Sakamoto when this is done to decide their future, he has more pressing issues at hand as Director Small will inform you later.”
A bright green world was shown orbiting to emphasize, “remains under naval blockade by Trinity Forces under the command of Magestrix Naomi Centrella-Liao and Jiang-Jun Kai Allard-Liao.”  Both of their pictures flanked the rotating orb, “They have informed the Third Fleet that they are in pursuit of Kali Liao and will honor the earlier cease fire. So there is at least one fewer enemy for us to manage.  With any luck she will bleed the CCAF white and remove another in the future.  Kai and Naomi might even kill each other due to irreconcilable differences either way it works for us.”

The Holomap zoomed out, the Federated Suns was highlighted in a bright golden hue. “The Draconis and Capellan Marchs have settled down, there are no additional reports of Black Dragons or Blakist raiders.  It appears they are either all destroyed or went home to the Protectorate.  However, there are other matters at hand, Director Small please tell them what you figured out yesterday.”

Director Small, a rather plain looking man with a PhD in Electrical Engineering from NAIS before joining MI-3 and being appointed ‘Eastern’ Director of the ONI. “Based on a change of activity in K-Net, aka the Black Boxes, Katherine is back on Tharkad after three years off planet.  The Princess of Avalon’s node is en route to Hesperus likely with Countess Brewer and General Ivan Steiner who had been custodians of the Triad in her absence.  All nodes ‘West’ of Zavijava have changed their encryption protocols and are close circuiting.”

“What do you mean by close circuiting Director?”
“When the K-Net was recovered we knew the network was insecure and had poor range.  It is one of the many reasons the Star League abandoned the project in favor of HPGs.  All black boxes post Thirty Nine maintained the original limited channel selectors of the legacy boxes although they included integral electronic encryption.  The range of the broadcast is tied to the band strength.  It’s the difference between a gentle ripple and a tsunami in apparent magnitude from the origin.

At the highest band broadcasts can reach across the whole of Inner Sphere along the superluminal K-Net although they have an increased chance of disrupting other transmissions, are easily intercepted, and are much shorter in duration.  The lower and middle bands gives operators options in both range or available bandwidth.  You ping at the expected range of your receiver station to reduce the chance of eavesdropping and limit crosstalk.  It’s why static nodes like New Avalon and Kathil have large staffs of analysts.

Katherine has ordered only lower band transmissions that terminate before reaching New Avalon but LA GoA Reinhardt’s Caledonia station reaches out to Tikonov.  Tikonov station can repeat to us but only one side of the transmission.  They were not issued new protocols according to my Central Counterpart.  We would have to decipher them like the DCA transmissions.”

Peter looked at the overlaying concentric circles that appeared surrounding Tharkad, “So Katherine just left Yuri in the dark?”
“That is one way of putting it First Prince.”

“Yvonne, you know Katherine best.  What’s her next move?”

Yvonne didn’t know how to feel about knowing Katherine the best.  She was her big sister and dominant role model most of her life.  She would have done anything for her.
 Up until that fateful morning on Minette when she killed Nikolai.  Who had to have been Katherine’s agent not her boyfriend or the love of her life or so she convinced herself.  The last three years had been some of the most challenging in her life and now she had to finally face the fact that Katherine might really be an enemy.

“If Katherine is back on Tharkad that means a Wolf pack is gathering there soon.  She was hiding to give them space to hunt down Blakists rather than protect her from them.  Now she is going to make a stand and I don’t think she is going to back down Peter.  She has the Valhalla, the Wolves, and she could seize the Thessaly around Alarion, Photon be damned.”
“Do you think she would do that?”
“I don’t know Peter I didn’t know she married into the Wolf Clan either.  I know that nothing good is going to come out of this no matter what happens.”
“That is not very reassuring sister.”
“I’m sorry Peter.  Excuse me, I just need a moment.”

Yvonne bolted out the door.

“Director Small, General Rennard mentioned something about Franklin Sakamoto earlier.”
“Yes First Prince, it took us a while to decipher the DCA transmissions from last month with the transition.  We found an interesting message concerning Dieron that has been crosschecked with TRG deployment schedules.  A major operation was undertaken against Fortress Dieron sometime in November and during that operation Minoru, Hohiro, and Theodore Kurita all died on the planet.  With their deaths Franklin is the sole heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne although we think he may never return to Luthien and would instead remain on New Samarkand.  Our current intel suggests he will be busy for the foreseeable future and the DCMS is not going to be a concern at least this year and possibly next.

SLIC Director Trevana recovered several prominent Blakists during this operation and intended to take them to Tukayyid for interrogation.  No further information is currently available regarding them.  I’m sorry sir.  I can’t fill in all the details.”

Peter looked at the map again, icons marked the current deployments of various commands of the AFFS.
“No it’s quite alright Director, I understand.
General Rennard, Send the Fylgia's Battlegroup to New Hessen to back up the Ygg.  Deploy the Davion Guards in support of the Republicans.”
“They are going to hate that sir.  The two brigades never work together.”
“I don’t care.  You’re the General of the Armies and I’m the First Prince.  Bust their Generals down to Lieutenant for insubordination if you have to.  I will accept challenges in my Battlemaster if they persist.  I will not have rogue soldiers in my AFFS.  We’re in this fight together.”

The FS GoA didn’t bother to conceal her smile, the Guards Brigades had been nothing but trouble under Duke Hasek and while she was not the biggest fan of Peter he did set a solid example for proper military behavior.
“Right away Sir.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 16 January 2019, 17:21:11
1st Half of 3070 Timeline
01/18 - Skye Rebellion is in full swing, ComGuards deploy to support LA GoA Reinhardt Steiner

Former Black Warrior Fritz Donner explodes on Nox killing Diana Pryde, both Khans of the Exiled Wolves, the saKhans of the Diamond Sharks and Snow Ravens, and Ghost Bear Khan Bjorn Jorgensson.  Deep cover Ebon Magistrate operatives engage in sabotage and assassination operations around the planet easily evading the Bear's Watch.

01/28 - Kali Liao and Kai Allard are killed on Highspire.  Naomi Centrella places the planet under quarantine in order to capture her nephew and attempt to eliminate the remaining Thugees.

02/10 - Wolf Khan Vladimir Ward returns to Tharkad aboard the Dire Wolf with the Wolves' Alpha Galaxy.

The former Exiled Wolf's Potemkin Full Moon provides supplies and heavy star lift capacity to the beleaguered 3rd, 4th, 6th and 11th Donegal Guards.  All the commands suffered heavy damage during a major campaign against the Blakist 45th Shadow and 28th WOBM and the Mercenaries Stealthy Tigers and Martian Curassiers.  The 3rd and 4th absorb their fellows in order to bring them each up to half strength.

The Nicholas Kerensky's Battle group (Ulric Kerensky, Stealthy Kill, Night Warrior, Victoria Ward) reinforces the Crimson Pack Naval Star on Alarion as the Thessaly nears completion in the Port Sydney Yards.

02/14 - Naomi Centrella returns to Sian to report to Sun-Tzu and Kuan-Yin

02//26 - The Ghost Bears under Khan Aletha Kabrinsky and remaining Snow Ravens that were escorting their SaKhan attack Tukayyid in retaliation for the events on Nox believing the Blessed Order to be agents of the hated Wolverines.  The Leviathan II Battleship CGB Great Bear is destroyed by the ComGuards using massed nuclear weapons delivered from pocket warships and Aerospace fighters.

03/02 – Precentor Martial Rachel Drake falls during the Second Battle of Tukayyid killed by Khan Kabrinsky's Alpha Galaxy

03/05 – The Mjolrnir FCS Valhalla is reactivated above Tharkad.  It immediately launches along with the Potemkin WIS Full Moon (and its attached Donegal Guards) to the Skye Province in an attempt to hold the Bears at bay.

03/08 – COMSTAR Primus Gavin Dow dies in the harried evacuation of Tukayyid.

03/11 – Precentor Naval Alain Beresick manages to flee to Orestes aboard his Flagship CSV Invisible Truth.  Precentor ROM Elise MacTaggart had already deployed with ComGuards 'Peacekeepers' to Glengarry.  Both are now the senior members of the much depleted COMSTAR.

03/13 - Photon Brett-Marik's Army of True Patriots launches the two pronged assault on Loyalty and Paradise hoping to stop the Blakist War Machine without destroying the League's future

03/18 - Ebon Magistrate Warships (Morrigan and Hecate) attack Gibson, seize Precentor Vapula and the last high value cargoes due to be transferred to Terra.  Precentor Apollyon dies in the Void after his dropship is destroyed.

03/21 – Regulan forces completely sterilize Gibson with nuclear weapons but find no evidence of previous combat despite the wreckage

04/01 - George Hasek II dies in a dropship 'accident' above Talon after departing from the Kallon Industries plant there on his way back to New Syrtis.  He is survived by his wife, Deborah Palu, and daughter, Amanda Hasek.  George's sister Angela takes over the Capellan March and immediately butts heads with Grand Duchess Yvonne Steiner-Davion regarding worlds on their March borders given to the Outback by Katherine.

04/16 – The Tamar-Tharkad HPG Trunk is reactivated in secret by ONI Sigma Six and Wolf Logistics

04/18 – The Hellions transit to a staging area on Markesan lingering in the Capellan March in a show of force issued by Yvonne.

04/20 – Alys' Hampton's Loyalist Party raise their flag over the Atrean Parliament after a brutal battle.  Corrine Marik is arrested but not charged with conspiracy.  Paul Marik has disappeared and is being hunted by Loyalists.

05/08 – The Thessaly is reactivated and returns to Star League Defense Force service.  It is renamed SLS Fort Verdun at the request of Commanding General Photon Brett-Marik.

05/12 – The Morrigan and Hecate drop dozens of nuclear weapons on Circinus wiping out the Black Warriors and damaging to the MHAF forces that were engaging the pirates on world.  They jump back out without saying a word to the MHAF soldiers.

05/21 – Dag Kesselrig of the COMSTAR 66th Division on Tharkad uncovers the fact that Katherine and the Wolves have secretly fixed the HPGs.  He brings it up to Precentor Tharkad, a fellow Blakist mole.  With the Blessed Order and Blake's Faithful both on the ropes and frozen out of ONI's Black Box network they launch a coup against Katherine along with the 43rd Shadow Division and remaining Word of Blake ships from Odessa (Naga Enlightened Direction, Aegis Herald of Truth, and Pinto Syrstart).  They time their attack poorly however and the Thera SLS Fort Verdun jumps in system to join the Dire Wolf.

06/18 – Forced by the reveal of their fix Katherine orders WolfNet to broadcast the patch to the HPG Whiteout throughout the First Circuit.  The network will take at least two months to fully update but backlogged maintenance limits HPG availability.

The Diamond Sharks seize this opportunity to fill the void in the League left after the Word of Blake has been mostly defeated in that realm.  The Sea Fox Trading Company mobilizes to take control of the League's HPGs with Corrine Marik's blessing while Wolf Logistics races to overhaul those in the Lyran Commonwealth.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: snakespinner on 16 January 2019, 17:37:02
I wonder if the Hellions will be updating the HPG's in the FS.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 18 January 2019, 06:29:38
I wonder if the Hellions will be updating the HPG's in the FS.

They unfortunately did not have time to pack those things before the Star Adders attacked Hector


02/10/3070 07:18 Location – Triad, Tharkad, Wolf Empire

Katherine and the recently arrived Vladimir Ward walked past exotic multicolored plants within one of the greenhouses of the Triad complex.  Air blissfully warmed and humidified by the ample steam generated from the modernized nuclear reactor below one of the mountains that ringed the city while just past a few centimeters of glass Tharkad was still tightly gripped by winter’s icy grasp.  The Triad had dozens of tunnels or sky-walks connecting the sprawling estate’s buildings to one another so no one needed to walk across the frozen cobbles.  “The Triad looks different than last time Katherine.”

“When I left, it had been heavily damaged by Cameron St Jamais’ Blakists.  It took them a year and a half to repair all the damage.  I requested some changes be made rather than rebuild as it was.  Partially to confuse people used to the old layout and to make my own impression on the grounds.”

“People like your Trothkin?”
“Yes. Unfortunately, I cannot even count on blood to remain true.  We have more pressing matters at hand than acting on our feud however.  At least for now.”

Vladimir had been off world since the Final Whitting Conference when his marriage to Katherine became public.  He had carried the wedding ring around his neck since a month before that time having only worn it twice in that time.  It was a nice token and he was fond of his 'wife' although it still felt strange.  They had maintained correspondence when they were not in close proximity and had regularly scheduled time together when opportunity presented itself. 

His Wolves and Marthe Pryde's Jade Wolves had fought The Word of Blake the length and breadth of the Commonwealth.  Now the Wolves, Sharks, and Horses were gathering for the final strike on Terra and the fabled endgame of the Crusader Clans.  Tharkad was just the first marshaling area although he was ahead of schedule as he missed Katherine and their children.  “I would like to inspect Tau Galaxy Star Captain.  Make sure they did not turn soft while in Niflheim.  They are still my Wolves and their teeth need to be sharp.”

“Star Colonel Waters has run a tight ship my Khan.  We can hurry there but,” She grabbed his shoulders to pull him into a lingering kiss, “the boys are out on maneuvers near Mount Wotan till late afternoon.”

He roughly pulled her into him kissing and crushing the breath out of her, “It can wait till tomorrow.”


Nine year old Morgana “Em” White crouched and looked beyond the corner of Government House but saw nothing but serene snow covered cobblestones and sculptures.  A piece of frosty platinum blonde hair was sticking out of her balaclava.  Annoyed she tucked it back in although the snow melted down her neck giving her shivers.  She looked back to the other girls wearing white military style uniforms with pink-purple armbands while carrying a bag of lavender colored snow balls.  Half were Wolf sibkin the rest from the nearby Alera Marsden Girl's School where she had been taking classes desperate for social interaction after a period of long and boring isolation on Dagda.

Despite only being on planet for a little more than a month the other girls voted her team leader for today's event.  Slightly more than a hundred children were engaged in a massive snowball tag battle within the Triad complex ultimately ending with a hot chocolate lunch buffet and dinner later in The Great Hall. Notably her mother, Katherine, would be absent which was a relief she had spent to much time with her on Dagda and needed some time to grow and be herself.  “My brothers are out there somewhere.  We should not have to worry about Marcus or Gia.  Alaric and Sig are the real threat.”

Anne, the most popular of the AMGS girls, whispered, “Could they be working together?”
“No they want to show off and win.  Niki bring the map out again.  Everyone keep an eye and ear out for the others.”

Niki and Em were the oldest wolves in this team the others were one or two years younger.  All Wolf Sibkin had learned basic overland navigation early on via 'field trips' and had given the other girls a crash course.  The 'she-wolves' had taught the AMGS girls a lot the civie girls learned fast but needed to do more PT, as far as the wolves were concerned they got winded to fast.

“The Garden of Archons Em?”
“Sig is probably holding there and sending out teams from a central location waiting for Al or me to come to him.  It will be tough to get to him through that cover.  Al likes to move so he's probably looking for easier targets among the civvies.  He has the largest number of trueborns on his team.”

One of the younger girls tapped the pair on the shoulder whispering, “We spotted five boys nearby.  Looks like Al's team.”
Niki wrapped the map up quietly and Morgana peered over a short wall with binoculars she had taken from the armory earlier when no one was looking.  Five boys in Wolf arctic uniforms wearing gold armbands, Al's squad color.  “That's them all right.  Niki take eight around Government House toward the West Mansion.  Keep low and quiet but move fast.  If I can draw him and give you an opportunity to get him I will.  Otherwise I'm going to keep an eye out for him especially.”
  Niki pointed to eight other girls and gave them the hand signal to follow her leaving six girls including Em. “Wait till they get real close.  We'll only have one chance to get them out.”

The four Wolf boys crept closer in proper small unit formation for built up environments.  The flankers looked up at the roofs and balconies regularly while the Pointman looked for tracks.  The rules of engagement stated that they were to remain outside except for The Great Hall and on the ground but Clanners were flexible about such things when you could win.  The boy spotted odd tracks in the powder and knelt down, “Smaller boots but deep in the snow.  Looks like the girls concealed their numbers and facing by going in single file.”  He pointed in the opposite direction of the waiting ambushers, “They backtracked this way I think.”
“Em, Quaiff?”

The larger boy used a small hand mirror to catch the faint sun and send a signal back to some unseen location in the rear line.  “Don't reveal yourselves unless they come this way.  Niki's team can deal with them.”

The four of them grabbed a few golden snowballs from their bags and remained low as they turned their backs to Em's position.  She could see that they each already had three armbands, green, as isorla/trophies from 'Kills.'  That was most of green team for just this group.  They were probably from a creche on icy world of Kandis in the Wolf Empire since they were clearly good at this game. 

As they turned the corner they were pummeled with dozens of lavender colored snowballs.  They were many shouts of Clan curses not suitable for sibkin.  Niki shouted something about telling their Packmaster of their poor behavior.  The four Wolves marched back, their white snow suits covered in lavender dyed snow without their gold armbands which had been taken as trophies.  “You think he is going to come out.”
“He'll come.  This is a challenge he will want to deal with personally; and soon too he's probably hungry by now.”

Al(aric) slowly crept closer to his sister's last known location using snowbanks as cover. He had the best boys with him each had collected a half-dozen armbands personally. Al had ten including the bands of each team leader.  He had already dealt with his brother and most of the civies but she had evaded his patrols thus far.  What she probably didn't know was that they were the last two teams still in play and he only had a dozen hungry, high strung, and anxious boys left on his team.  They were split into four teams of three, he needed to increase the front size to find her and trusted that his trueborn teammates would be good enough to deal with some soft freeborn girls.

He heard shouts from his outlying teams, what he couldn't see was that each outside trio was under attack by almost eight girls.  The center teams were good enough to deal with most of them but not all, Al's team mates had been hit with the lavender purple dye that would wash out but was a silly color for a boy.  Alaric was the last man standing having used a nearby snowbank for cover.  He counted the 'fallen,' one girl was missing.  “Where's Em!”

The snowbank he was using for cover came to life and a lavender snowball was pressed into his balaclava.  “Gotcha!”
“You were there the entire time?”
“Aff.  Didn't you notice no one was throwing snowballs at you?”

He took a moment to remember the past 'engagement' there was lavender stained snow nearby but not anywhere near him.  He spit out the snow and even though the dye was harmless his teeth and face would look purple until he washed them both out.  “That's a dirty trick.”
“I know but purple looks good on you.”
  She took his armband and wrapped it around her belt, “and gold looks good on me.”
Alaric grabbed his final gold snowball and pushed it into her while knocking her back into the snowbank.  “I agree.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Sharpnel on 18 January 2019, 07:46:40
So, Alaric is both a sore loser and a cheater.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 18 January 2019, 10:26:07
So, Alaric is both a sore loser and a cheater.

He's just a 9 year old boy.  He'll get better.

The Talon Incident

04/06/3070 10:48 Location – Castle Davion, New Avalon, Federated Suns

Yvonne Steiner-Davion sat in her father’s office in Castle Davion. Peter and the Royal family were currently on El Dorado as part of their initial cruise through the realm.  The past few months had been trying for everyone including her.  The Sol Protectorate continued to launch punitive raids against the Tikonov Republic.  The FCS Fylgia’s Battlegroup and the Davion Guards would take some of the pressure off but the TRG (Tikonov Republican Guards) had already paid a heavy cost.

The TRG was almost running on empty and popular unrest was high among the Republicans.  They didn’t appreciate their planets being used as battlegrounds for the Commonwealth’s war.  Yvonne and Prime Minister Yuri Lebedev were in regular contact, in Russian, with one another via Black Box and that was the only thing that was keeping him from turning from New Avalon back toward Sian and the Trinity Alliance.  Such a thing would be beyond disastrous as his realm had benefitted greatly under their alliance with Katherine in particular.  The return of an advanced vassal to the Trinity Alliance would be a massive gain for Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao that would easily alleviate any lasting harm that SOVEREIGN JUSTICE caused.

“Damn that Sun-Tzu!  Even when he loses he still finds a way to eke out a win.  George should have killed him when he had the chance.”

Loremaster Amelia Wallace opened the door.  The Hellions Loremaster looked utterly unremarkable, like just another rather plain looking gray suited businesswoman but was not to be underestimated.  She put down a select memo from the Fifth Fleet’s HQ around Chirikof.  ‘5FFC Chirikof - Talon 04/01, ROLAND died in apparent dropship accident.  MIIO and ONI are investigating root cause:

“Well done Loremaster Wallace.  Angela Hasek will almost certainly be the next Duchess of New Syrtis.  I’ve already had bad dealings with her in the past over Outback worlds.  She will suspect something is amiss but I’m sure your people got out with no trace. 

When you regroup with saKhan Rood on Gulkana next week tell him to route the Hellions through the Capellan March to Markesan and make sure they are seen.”

“Of course Grand Duchess.  Is that all?”
“For now.  If I have anything else I will send it to you before you are out of the system.”

The Loremaster departed, she had to catch an outbound dropship to regroup with the Hellions’ Warships via command circuit. 

Yvonne opened up an already filled out condolence letter on her computer.  The document was addressed to Deborah Palu and Angela Hasek expressing the Grand Duchess’ personal grief of George’s passing.  A line was also added promising that the First Prince would be willing to personally attend his funeral and honor his service if they desired.  She dated it 04/08 and printed it out, ready to be shipped by courier to New Syrtis in two days’ time.

She was sickened with herself that was something that Katherine had done in the past.  Her sister’s influence and guidance was locked into her mind.  Yvonne didn’t know any other way to deal with a nest of vipers but to become one herself.  If big sister knew what had happened she would be smiling and it filled her with shame.  A shame that she could never atone for she had killed an infant girl’s father and his sister would be out for blood.  If she told Peter it would eat away at him when he had some many other pressing issues better to just leave it unsaid. 

All for the good of the Federated Suns?
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 20 January 2019, 20:23:35
Clearing the Air
04/16/3070 Location – Triad, Tharkad, Wolf Empire

The Archon's Throne sat at the base of a blued steel gauntlet currently flanked by a pair of imposing Omnimechs, a Kit Fox and Storm Crow, and great tapestries bearing the insignia of the Wolf Empire reached up to the tall pillared ceilings.  Inside the chair sat the gold haired and pale Archon Katherine Steiner-Davion wearing a silvered breastplate over her blue dress.  Beside her in a equally impressive though rougher chair was her husband, the dark and stern looking Vladimir Ward, Khan of Clan Wolf. The Khan wore a golden fleece which left his scarred chest exposed between the brown leather of his vest.  Their three children stood on the outside or between them, Alaric, the shorter but more physical of the two sons stood at his father's right hand, Siegfried, a handsome and tall lad stood between them, and Morgana, a younger mirror of her mother, stood at her left hand.

The photographers got shots from multiple angles of the Royal family not seen on Tharkad since the Final Whitting Conference.  Later a portrait would be painted of the five of them from the high quality pictures taken today to be hung in the Royal Palace. “We have what we need Archon.”  The flamboyant man from Skye based on his accent said before he signaled something to the other people in his production crew.  “Thank you Giovanni.  Please send the proofs to my office when you have them.”

The man bowed followed by the rest of his crew, “Of course Archon.  You will not be disappointed.”
Katherine waved her hand dismissing him and his people from the Throne Room.  The children departed shortly after to attend to their studies leaving their parents to attend to the business of the day.  Scientist-General Bern (Kaviesky) and ONI Director Alexandra Sturm walked into the room, both were accomplished technocrats in the field of Hyperspectral Communications and Cryptography and had been working on a joint project in Niflheim of interstellar importance.

The two bowed to the royal couple, Bern's elaborate eyeglasses had dipped slightly and he adjusted them back onto his nose.  “My Khan.  We have good news concerning the Whiteout.”
“Go on.”
“Archon, ONI and WolfNet loaded a probable fix into the Niflheim HPG before we departed four days ago and sent it up the chain to Tamar.  This morning we received this,” She produced a piece of paper.  “At ONI's Lancashire large comm array.  On this paper is an HPG burst from Tamar addressed to Khan Ward from Loremaster Kerensky.  It was very faint, we don't think COMSTAR would have picked up the transmission.”

Katherine was astonished, “What if they did Scientist-General?”
“Then I would prepare to fight them.”

She looked toward Alexandra, “You said it was faint, why?”
“CLARION CALL reprogrammed the Hyperpulse Generator Network at the lowest machine level.  The transmitter broadcasts the already faint message wildly off-course which means they get lost in galactic background past several dozen AUs.  We can bring the whole network back into alignment but it will take several months, maybe a year, possibly two.  Faster if we take control of the First Circuits.”

Khan Ward pulled at his chin, “A bold plan.  How fast can our allies be brought back to normal Scientist-General?”

“The Tamar-Tharkad Trunk can be functioning normally by the end of the month.  Csesztreg-Sudetan Trunk shortly after.  We might be able to take it all the way up to the Sharks in the Chainelanes by June after our occupation zones are online. The limiting factor is the spares and technicians to bring the transmission equipment back online after a long period of neglect.”

05/08/3070 Alarion Naval Academy, Craiova, Alarion, Lyran Commonwealth
FWLN Rear Admiral Juhan Dubravka stood in front of his assembled crew in the grand Alistair Steiner Memorial Ballroom.  Half were raw ANA cadets while the other half were hardened spacers including Jade Falcons, Exiled Wolves, Nova Cats, DCA, and FLWN pilots all under Photon Brett's SLDF Command.  Admiral Dubravka shuttered while thinking about the last time he had fought the Ghost Bears and now he had to do it again with another international unit.

Juhan tapped his glass calling the room to attention.  “Attention all spacers.  It has been a busy year and I expect we are not going to be bored anytime soon.  As you all know our Commanding General right now is helping secure Marik and chase out the fleeing Word of Blake.  We are winning this fight and we will keep winning it.  The Word of Blake's remaining time as a threat to the whole Inner Sphere is now measured in months.  It is my great pleasure to launch the SLS Fort Verdun and welcome its first official crew,” a logo was projected onto the screen behind him, “the first new crew of the Star League Defense Fleet in centuries.”

A raucous cheer echoed off the walls, “So enjoy your meal tonight for we go off to War tomorrow!”

Outside the door the blue and gold uniformed CFC Masters-at-Arms crossed their arms.  Each already had a dozen zip ties on his belt ready to deal with rowdy spacers, “its gonna be a long night.”

Meanwhile on Tharkad, ComGuard Precentor Dag Kesselrig of the 66th Division of ComGuards confronted his ROM S-2 Demi-Precentor Thomas Valais about a report this morning.  “What do you mean they fixed it?”

“Precentor, my people noticed that there was increased security around the Lancashire Array over the past couple of weeks.  I dispatched a field operative to break in and plant a bug under the eyes of ONI.  The bug was found quickly but we intercepted a snippet of information.  An HPG transmission from Khan Pryde on Sudeten to Khan Ward.  The Commonwealth has fixed the HPGs!  Blake's Blood, they probably caused it in the first place!  To ruin us!”

“Well they were successful.  I want you to head to Odessa Thomas tell them what you know.  I will speak to Precentor Tharkad about our shared problem.”
Dag looked out from the building at Tharkad moving into green spring released from winter's icy grasp. “If we don't stop Katherine and the Clans here they will destroy our Blessed Order.  An order that has endured for centuries to prevent mankind from sinking back into barbarianism.  They would be nothing without us!  The ComGuards have shed our blood to save the Inner Sphere from the Clans and yet now we are failing we should be celebrated but now we are the villains. 

The Apostates are merely misguided not lost.  At least not when it comes to something like this.  They will help us; if only to save themselves.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 21 January 2019, 07:51:21
05/20/3070 Location – Tharkad HPG, 80 kilometers from Tharkad City

Precentor Dag Kesselrig walked through the shiny glass paneled office building of the Tharkad HPG Compound.  From his vantage point he could see the cooling towers of the complex’s nuclear reactor as well as the radio towers, microwave dish, and HPG itself secure in a ferrocrete building that his division protected.  The late Primus Gavin Dow had spent a large quantity of money that he didn’t have over the Whiteout to modernize the compound.  With Terra ‘lost’ to the Word of Blake Primus Dow attempted to turn the secular COMSTAR into another mere interstellar corporation, something that disgusted the Precentor.

Dag took the elevator to the twelfth floor where Precentor Tharkad Idris Kwasi was waiting for him.  As the Commander of the ComGuards on planet the man while new respected Dag’s ability and would always give him an audience when requested especially regarding security.  Precentor Kesselrig’s white cape swished softly as he stopped suddenly.  The glass windows polarized to block light; the Precentor Tharkad’s office already had white noise generators and bug finders in place so he need not fear LIC or ONI interception. “You had something crucial to tell me Precentor?”
“Yes.  Sir, I know your loyalty to this organization is without question but I received disturbing news earlier this week that I awaited confirmation for before bringing it to you.”
“What is it?”

Dag produced a small holographic playback device, he set it on the table and activated it with his CommPad gauntlet.  A short audio recording from Khan James Cobb to Khan Vladimir Ward played, providing an update on his Warriors moving into position to take Terra.  “The Clans have fixed the HPGs.  I even have reason to suspect that they might have intentionally spread the Whiteout virus along our network in a bid destroy COMSTAR and take Terra for themselves.  They knew they had ONI’s Black Boxes but they left us blind and we paid dearly for it.”

“These Clans are our allies.  The Word of Blake attacked Tharkad you were there.”
“Yes I was but the Clans are not ‘our’ allies. They haven’t stopped coveting Terra.  They will get it and the Commonwealth will help them unless we can come together to stop them.  Surely you don’t think those tens of thousands of ComGuards and Tukayyid civilians thought the Bears were allies when they dropped in force and bombarded the planet from orbit do you?  Now the Rasalhague Rump is back in their Dominion and COMSTAR is left without a home.  Unless they join with the Blakists.”
“That’s absurd, I’ve read the reports the Blakists are out of control and have violated the Ares Convention on dozens of occasions that we know about.”
“Conventions are only convenient when you’re winning.  If you were fighting for your very existence wouldn’t you use everything?”
“You’re a Toyama.  I had suspected it but never found any evidence.”

“I am a True Believer not a Toyama but I understand my part in The Master’s plan.  I am merely enlightening you.  When the Clans take Terra and the HPG grid is back online do you think the Successor States are going to just hand all their HPGs back to the Blessed Order?  Why would they if they could run it themselves?  The Hellions are vassals of the First Prince, the Cats are already in the Combine, and Katherine is literally sleeping with the Wolves.  COMSTAR will be nothing but a footnote in history and they will go right back to destroying everything that Jerome Blake sought to protect.”

“What you’re saying is Treason.”
“Is it truly though?  Katherine is a Wolf and proud of it, even now she is flaunting it less than a hundred kilometers from this very spot.  As a Clan Warrior she is the enemy even if she managed to convince everyone else of her benevolence.  I’m already moving against her and if you don’t help me then you are a Traitor to the Blessed Order.”

“This sickens me but you are right Precentor Kesselrig.  My predecessor was a fool to trust the White Witch and it has only become more obvious with each passing day.  I will send out a courier to Precentor Martial Koenigs on Skye and one to Terra.  We can only stop the Clans together and it needs to start soon.”
“I’m glad you saw the light Precentor because dark times are before us.  The very end of Blake’s Order is nearing but we will not go down without a fight.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 22 January 2019, 08:11:00
Ma Bell wants her monopoly back.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 22 January 2019, 17:39:14
Iron and Ice, Turncoats on Tharkad

05/28/3070 Location – Nadir Point, Tharkad, Wolf Empire

The Naga Enlightened Direction, Aegis Herald of Truth, and Pinto Syrstart jumped into the system in support of a Blakist Army composed of three depleted Shadow Divisions (the 43rd, 49th, and 50th) and an equal number of mercenaries and regular militia.  Each was battered and far from intact but they all had the same missions, kill Katherine and Vladimir, stop the Clans from claiming Terra, and recover the fix to the HPG Whiteout.  Some of the Militia units were veterans of the first disastrous Battle of Tharkad that had started their Jihad.  They wouldn’t make the same mistakes this time. 

Manei Domini Armored Infantry secured the Olympus recharge station leaving the Syrstart behind to guard the vulnerable flotilla of jumpships from potential enemy assault.  The remaining two Warships were a solid match against the heavily upgraded Sovetskii Soyuz WIS Dire Wolf with its battle hardened Wolf crew and support from the surface.


Katherine Steiner-Davion woke up before dawn next to her husband Khan Ward, both knew that today was going to be a busy one.  With a much larger Blakist army heading toward Tharkad and without an allied Naval Battlegroup over their heads this would be a very different kind of fight than last time.  She peered through the curtains as Tharkad City and its sister city Olympia were still dark before the sun rose over the peaks and onto a raging New Danube River full of meltwater.  The city had been evacuated over the past week and a full Cluster of Wolves were on 24 hour guard atop the Triad.  Others were dispersed around the mountains in fortified tunnels or camped out in the surrounding sunny countryside.  Their dropships scattered to hide in the vast wilderness of the Bremen continent while remaining on call.

More Wolves were on the way from Alarion but until they arrived the Alpha and Tau Galaxies, 4 Regiments of Tharkad Self-Defense Force, The Nagelring Cadre Battalion, and 1st Royal Guards RCT would have to hold out against the death throes of The Word of Blake.  As Katherine was watching outside she saw explosions and fire within Tharkad City itself near one of the advance Trinaries.  Both of them frantically grabbed their radios, “Star Captain Tarr to Khan Ward, the Sixty Sixth are attacking.  We will hold them as long as we can.”

Katherine threw her radio onto the bed, “Damn those treacherous ComGuards.  I should have had Kesselrig killed years ago.”

A squad of heavily armed and armored Wolf Infantrymen ran into the couple’s bedroom, “My Khan, Star Captain.  We will make sure you get to your mechs.  There have been reports of firefights nearby.”

“Where are my children Point Leader?”
“Director Savinson says they are with her.”
“Give us a minute to get ready.”

Katherine and Vladimir suited up in their Mechwarrior uniforms with their neurohelmets handing by a sling behind them.  Each of them had a pistol attached to their contoured and armored cooling vests and were handed one of the bullpup MP-20 PDWs by the Wolves.  “We are heading out first.  Tell the Director to hold position until we depart.  I want to ensure they have a clear path to Asgard.”
“Aff Star Captain.”
  The squad took up the advance position checking corners and corridors while Katherine and Vlad watched their backs.
“SCOREKEEPER, Point Five-Two is escorting RACHEL and GARM to Mech Bay One.  RACHEL requests DISA maintain position until authorization.  Please confirm.”
“DISA confirms.  Hurry up I don’t like sitting around while the world is blowing up around me.”

On the other side of the Royal Palace LIC Director Alicia Savinson was suited up and stood in the middle of a squad wearing the stealthy Nighthawk PA(L) suits and shouldering a full sized Mauser IIC laser rifle.  It had been a long time since she was in the field but once a commando always a commando.  Morgana, Alaric, and Siegfried only had time to dress in proper clothes after her team woke and moved them to this interior room for their own protection.  Diplomatic Guards wearing heavy armor and Loki Special Operatives in Nighthawk suits watched all access points for the telltale shimmer of mimetic armor.

She activated the external speaker and looked at the three children, “Don’t worry it won’t be long before we can get moving.” Ensuring it was off she keyed up the radio again, “Hans are the convoy vehicles ready yet?”

“Ready when you are Director.”
“Ready when she is you mean?”
“Yes Director.”
“Hold position.  Keep a close eye out for Purifiers or Tornados.  We don’t want anyone to cut us off before we head up the mountain.”

A loud burst caught the attention of the Diplomatic Guards, one of their paint mines had gone off nearby.  A squad of Tornado PA(L)s charged around the corner with their adaptive camo off and armored faceplates up.  They were greeted with Thunderstroke Gauss Rifles fired by the Diplomatic Guards.  The hypersonic steel darts fired from the oversized assault weapon punched deep into the light armor of their enemies and into their operators.  Blakist Mauser 1200 laser systems firing and burning the thick ablative vest each trooper wore creating a smoky mess where it hit.  The Loki Operators leveled their own rifles at the Blakists to put them down with burning coherent light.  “Schiebe!  Wer wurden entdeckt, bewege dicht jetzt.”

The Diplomatic Guardsmen led the way for the Nighthawks clearing corridors and engaging additional traitor ComGuards in gray sneak suits that had closed onto the perimeter overnight.  “Hans get the convoy outside now!  There are hostiles in the perimeter.”

In a nearby subterranean garage the Diplomatic Guard convoy of two Badger APCs and six light tanks (Galleon and Glaive) began to depart.  The lead vehicles, a pair of the heavy glaive tanks cleared the tunnel only to hit anti-tank mines.  They were swarmed by the previously invisible Purifier Armored Infantry which were now a blur of color as their internal systems attempted to keep up the camouflage despite the motion.  “Take the secondary exit!”  The convoy vehicles burned rubber going back to their garage, “DISA, five more minutes.  Purifiers hit the lead vehicles as we were exiting.  We have to reroute.”

In one of the many tunnels under the Triad Alicia Savinson fired a laser beam from her rifle that punched straight through a Tornado operator’s helmet.  The man’s head exploded from the expanding steam and created a gray mess.  Katherine’s daughter was right behind her, her brothers nearby.  Most of the diplomatic guardsmen had fallen already their ablative vests could only take so much laser fire before failing. “Don’t look at that Morgana.”

She turned to her fellow Loki commandos holding up a spread hand to avoid radio chatter, ‘Five more minutes

The Loki Commandos were running out of places to hide as armored infantry and ROM infiltration units drew closer.  Director Savinson looked at her options for exfil with increasing worry.  “Mech Bay One.  Hans pick up us at Mech Bay One.”

No response on her audible.  “Damn we’re being jammed.  Stout, Fisher”
Two Nighthawks turned her way, “Yes, maam.”
“See if you can get a signal out to Hans.  They might not have compromised all the networks yet.”
The two commandos headed out into the unknown where they were likely already surrounded by enemies.

“Bravo Squad.  I need a distraction from the principles.  Head to the surface and keep near a window.  Draw the Blakist’s attention with as much high explosive as you can muster.  We’ll exfil you with the tanks under fire if we can.  Otherwise shed your skin, find a bolt-hole, and another team will recover you.”

“Diplomatic Guards and Alpha Squad will stay with me.  We’re heading to Mech Bay One and will activate its defenses.  That should give Hans enough time.”

The depleted platoon worked their way to the Archon’s personal Mech Bay.  The few remaining Wolves or LCAF present would be leaving the Triad slightly ahead of schedule after all.  Most had already redeployed to smaller redoubts in the Jotunn Mountains.  All except Katherine and a select few had chosen not to leave until the last minute intending to show their defiance in the face of intimidation.

Near the Mech Bay they saw that a battle had already taken place.  A squad of Wolf technicians and infantry had been killed by Firedrake heavy needlers and grenades defending from attackers coming in.  The sight of mangled remains and smell of burning death caused the nine year olds to wretch.  Alicia stood in front of them letting her rifle hang from its sling, lifting her visor faceplate to show her face, and gesturing, “Eyes on me kids.  Don’t look just keep walking.  John take Delta and clear the Bay.”

The Diplomatic Guards walked into the bay checking high and low for remnant forces.  The Blakists had blasted a hole in the armored doors of Bay One both in and out of and destroyed the automated guns but had continued on.  Alpha was close behind and Alicia was relieved to see that Vlad’s Timber Wolf and Katherine’s Barghest had made it out leaving only a few other mechs that the Archon kept in storage.  Galen Cox’s Crusader, Katrina Steiner’s Warhammer, Katherine’s now clan tech Griffin ‘Stiletto’, and the failed experimental Dire Wolf ‘Bailiff’.

“Thank God they made it out.”

What she wasn’t pleased about was when they looked back at the door they saw a laser tripwire sensor along with a white transmission pack.  “Shit.  Everyone find some cover and prepare for battle.

Hans is coming.”

Alicia flipped a heavy toolbox onto its side and crouched behind it, “He better hurry the hell up.”  She looked at the blinking battery indicator of her weapon’s power pack and found another in the tool box with only a half charge, “Better than nothing.”

Morgana shouted to the Director, “What should we do Alicia?”
“Get high and hide.  Our ride out will be here soon.”

Morgana, Alaric, and Siegfried climbed up the gantries to the Mechwarrior loading level which had been abandoned quickly when the facility had been breached.  Al and Sig walked toward the Bailiff, a dual cockpit refit with updated gear that turned the Dire Wolf into something even more dangerous.  The hatches were left open with the intention of moving it according to the intended schedule.  Morgana looked into the sleek heavily upgraded ‘Stiletto’ and saw one of her mother’s neurohelmets still sitting in the chair.  Below them the kids could hear and see that Alicia and her fellow commandos were in trouble as ComGuards threatened to completely overrun their position.

“Al, Sig, we need to get out of here!  Grab a neuroband, we’ll be safer in the cockpits even if we can’t get them started.”

As no one including the Clans manufactured neurohelmets that could fit a nine year old’s head they found the less functional neurobands used by technicians when a Mechwarrior wasn’t present to move a mech.  Morgana looked at her brother Sig, “We call the Bailiff.  You get Stiletto.”

Morgana opened the hatch to enter into the cockpit, pushing the helmet off to the side, and adjusted the seat as low as it would go.  She knew how to operate a battlemech but had only done so under controlled conditions in a Wasp trainer or simulator.  Taking a moment to orient herself with the controls she activated the canopy shroud and initiated the start up sequence. 

The access pad lit up, she thought about what kind of code her mother would use and figured it might be a date of some importance.  Like a good daughter she would sneak into her mother's room and read through some of her older journals particularly loving the juicy bits of intrigue she found within. 

Her birthday no
Galen's birthday no
Her (and her brothers) decant day no
Day she met dad (ok so he abducted her after almost killing her it worked out in the end) no
“Come on, Come on think.  That's it.”

12163055, the pad lit up green and she could see that Al or Sig must have figured it out as well considering their mech was powering up.  Al probably cracked it with his noteputer running decryption, Clan mechs had terrible standard security protocols despite the Spheroid's best efforts. 

A small port opened up next to access pad, “Secondary pass required before activation.”
“Damn!  Of course mom would have a second check for one of her personal mechs.”

She pressed her codex charm into the device it was similar enough to her mothers that it could fit in.  Whats the worse thing that could happen, it not power up?  To her great surprise the port closed.  The DI computer came online in a voice Morgana was fairly certain was Alicia's.
“Codex DNA match confirmed, Katherine White Wolf. 
Reactor online, sensors online, weapons online, all systems nominal.”

After hearing that Morgana didn't know what to think, “You are going to have some questions to answer when I see you next mom.”

Alicia heard mechs powering up over the incoming fire.  She looked around hoping it wasn't enemy units breaking into the bay.  Her Mauser laser rifle was red hot and running on empty.  Most of Alpha Squad was wounded or down.  Delta was long gone, taken out by a grenade launched by the sneak suited ComGurd infantry down the corridor from her.  She watched as the two mechs clumsily separated themselves from the gantries creating a massive racket and hazard from tumbling superstructure.  The Crusader and Warhammer remained standing although their paint was scuffed by damage from debris.  “Well that's one way of getting out of here.  Kids what the hell are you doing?”

“We got these mechs online grab on.  We'll get out together.”

Alicia looked at the remaining Alpha Squad troopers.  Most were surviving just on their battle drugs and fading fast while the ComGuard Commandos drew closer.  “We're in no condition to travel that way.  We'll get the door for you but we're holding this position.”

One of the Alpha troopers pulled the door override and broke the handle in the process.  “We can get out.  Come on!”

“No kids get out of here.  Now!”
“Now!  That's an order.”

The two mechs turned and rumbled out into the concrete tunnel that led to the surface.  Alicia could feel their foot falls get further away and focused her intention nearer.  The Nighthawk rolled across the floor to Delta's former position and retrieved one of the Thunderstroke Gauss Rifles from the fallen to replace her depleted Mauser.  She pulled the charging handle and pointed it at the incoming enemies. 

The hypersonic darts went through their flesh like it wasn't there creating grievous wounds just by proximity but they still kept coming.  Two more Alpha troopers succumbed to their wounds leaving Alicia and part of another to hold the door.  She pulled the pin of her last grenade and tossed it into the hallway filling it with smoke before drawing her antique pearl handled Desert Eagle.  The same one that Melissa Steiner had brought her from Terra so long ago that she had treasured ever since.  It had been her greatest privilege to serve the Steiner family for three generations, from mother to daughter and again.  “Get out safe, as I go into harm.”

Alicia charged into the smoke one last time with her weapon drawn.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 24 January 2019, 17:38:11
Khan Ward's Timber Wolf D crashed through a row of brownstone rowhomes looking out toward the New Danube River Park.  He had caught the attention of a damaged lance of ComGuards, an Excalibur D1, Grim Reaper, Black Knight, and Spector were attempting to box him in and force him to fight on their terms.  Three of the Mechs leapt over the row-homes using their jump jets and fell right into a trap.  Katherine's lupine Barghest had been hiding behind the buildings with an advanced stealth system active and along with a Scorpion Quad Mech had them dead to rights at close range. 

Their overwhelming firepower hidden behind the buildings and electronic fog.  Katherine's Heavy Gauss Rifle and lasers gutted the Grim Reaper from behind while the Scorpion and Timber Wolf finished off the others.  The ComGuards got some hits in but their accuracy was hampered by the jump and most of their weapons hit nothing but trees and houses.  A point of Wolf Elementals dealt the finishing blow to the unlucky ComGuard pilots leaving their larger brethren to continue fighting the remaining Black Knight.

Khan Ward looked at the attacker through the smoke of his lancemates and across the broken brick and debris he had created with disdain.  Surprise attacks and assassinations were the tactics of dezgra opponents and he wanted to finish the attacker off but heard Katherine over the local Battlenet, “We have to keep moving. Our mechs will outpace and out-range him in a short while.”

“But we can finish the dishonorable dog here and now.”
  He looked at the ammo display in his neurohelmet's HUD to confirm, “I will not retreat, not while I still have ammo.”
“There are other objectives at stake.  We are not retreating Vlad.  The Triad has already been taken.  Tharkad City will follow shortly.  There is only our Cluster against a full Elite Division of ComGuard.  All we can do is damage them and move on to fight elsewhere.”

He looked at the Black Knight in motion before him, memorizing the unit's ID markings.  66-01, Precentor Kesselrig himself was in that machine.  “But he is right here.”

“We need to be at Asgard, for everyone now.”

Vlad steered his Timber Wolf to take maximum cover from the buildings as the Elementals jumped back on, “We move.”  The heavy foot falls of their mechs left tracks in the asphalt as the Black Knight navigated is way through the tangle but was too late to fire on the fleeing Battlemechs as their turned the corner.  A man's voice came in over the non-encrypted channels, “With your tails between your legs.”

The Wolves ran down the Giant's Path toward the nearby Starport, from there they would navigate the treacherous passes toward Mount Wotan and the friendlies that were already moving out from their redoubts to support the evacuation.  COMSTAR Electronic Warfare equipment had jammed the wider Battlenet but the Wolves had deployed a whole Star of Hades EW Mechs in the field to create a bubble and stay in contact with one another.  The natural and man-made topography of Tharkad City made it difficult to coordinate large operations and the choke-points were already spotted in for the bunkers surrounding Asgard.  Such defenses were meant to be used against the Clans rather than to aid them when Katrina and Melissa originally put the defense plans into place.

Elsewhere in the city the Griffin 'Stiletto' and Dire Wolf 'Bailiff' walked down narrow streets attempting to evade ComGuard patrols and reunite with the other Wolves near Asgard.  The nine-year old Steiner-Ward creche had never fought in a battle before but everyone is a beginner once.

Alaric Wolf was in the weapons seat for 'Bailiff' and had spent the ten minutes or so since their escape familiarizing himself with the controls and adjusting the ill-fitting visor.  The control panel was slightly different on this dual cockpit model than the single cockpit simulator or even the half and half Gecko (Chameleon IIC) Trainer.  He accidentally double tapped the big bore autocannon into an upscale shopping center and set a few other buildings on fire with the lasers, “It will be blamed on the bad guys Sig.  We won't get in trouble.”

His brother Siegfried was seated above him in the tandem cockpit and was entirely focused on making sure they didn't fall down or walk into an ambush by monitoring the sensors.  Their sister was operating 'Stiletto' solo but she was functionally helpless to do anything but run away if they got into a major fight and even with the SF-3 400XL engine in the 'Bailiff' that was not an option for the boys, they just weren't fast enough nor could they jump over buildings.

“We are blind in this fog of war Al.”
“Well its not like we can miss Mount Wotan.”
  He pointed toward the snow covered peak several dozen kilometers away from the Starport,  “It is kinda big and we can follow the signs.”
“Not the mountain I am worried about.  The Hades are having a tough time keeping Comms online.  We do not know where the hostiles or friendlies are.”
“Well we are not alone Sig.  Em is watching our back.”
“I would feel a lot better if there were some actual Warriors nearby in case we run into something.”
“We are Clan Warriors.  This is our Trial of Position...just ahead of schedule.  Think of how jealous our Creche-mates on Weingarten will be.  We might be the youngest trueborns to complete our Trial of Position.  I do not think Khan Pryde had any crechies on Coventry and she emptied the sibkos after Refusal.  If I remember correctly the youngest, Lola Isha, was twelve when she deployed and she was Ristar.  Too bad she died on Hesperus Two Marthe apparently was quite fond of her.”
“Youngest Clan Warriors ever.  Hmmm I suppose your right Alaric.  Although we will have cheated by working together.  We will have to drop at least two for it to even count.”

Alaric kept his head on a swivel in case an enemy decided to pay them a visit, “I will see what I can do.”

As they worked their way through the city a white Tessen heavy scout Battlemech was running through the intersection unaware of their presence.  “Enemy!  Shoot Al.”
Alaric was already tracking the battlemech aided by the Bailiff's targeting computer.  He pulled the triggers on his joysticks launching a blistering alpha strike that disintegrated the mech with a pair of 203mm shells and heavy pulse lasers.  The Tessen's weapons fired before it was destroyed but damage was limited and Siegfried was able to maintain control without too much effort.  “One down.  We should keep moving.  He might have had time to radio for help.”

They continued on trudging through the streets of Tharkad City with greater caution now as they neared what should be the first way point to Asgard.  Unfortunately the cost of the Dire Wolf's slow speed finally caught up to them.  A pair of level IIs intercepted them before they could reach Wolf lines including two each of the Chevalier Light, Striker Missile, and Tokugawa Heavy wheeled Tanks, the updated 5C Hoplite (w/ JJ), Raijin, Lightray, and Firefly Mechs, and a squad of Heavy Armored Infantry.

Alaric looked up at his brother, “We are in so much trouble but man is it gonna be fun.”
“You are insane Al.”
“Get moving bro, if we stand here they have the advantage.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: ckosacranoid on 25 January 2019, 16:46:33
A trio of 9 year olds running mechs incombat and fighting off the toster worshpers. this is not going to end well at all they are going to die quick or get really lucky. not sure which is going to happen.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 25 January 2019, 18:10:40
That certainly interesting entry!  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 26 January 2019, 01:43:44
Vlad will laugh his butt off when they arrive after besting some Blakies.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 26 January 2019, 08:08:54
I just picture this event to the kids, the greatest Battletech Center experience EVER.  ;D
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 27 January 2019, 21:49:25
Morgana was paying close attention to Griffin’s sensor and comm feeds.  Her brothers were doing their best to engage the enemies but they were hopelessly outnumbered and outclassed.  As none of the three had a cooling vest there was a hard physical limit to how far they could push their machines beyond their own inexperience.

Al and Sig had spent more time in Sims and trainers being raised primarily in a Clan Creche but they were focused on engaging the enemy.  However, their mech was only capable of so much and retreat was not an option.  Her mind was in hyper-focus and was drew to one particular thing on her HUD, “TAG.”  Both ‘Stiletto’ and ‘Bailiff’ had one of the targeting lasers on their mechs; and if the Wolves had an artillery star nearby; and if she could get word to one of the Hades units they might be able to turn the tide with Arrow IVs.

“This is crazy”
Morgana activated the gray stealth armor on Stiletto and looked up.  She had to reach her foot far down in order to activate the jump jets as she was still a girl, not a gangly preteen yet.  The Griffin jetted into the air reaching its apogee and landing on a nearby concrete building.  The sudden impact of a formerly airborne fifty-five ton war machine caused the roof to bow slightly.
“Please hold, please.”
The jarring impact threatened her balance but she had completed the jump although stiletto took a stutter step upon landing to maintain balance. 

The Raijin and Firefly followed her to the roof tops but the Raijin chose its landing zone poorly and crashed through the building which would momentarily stop it.  At least until the emu like mech broke or shot itself free.  The lightweight Firefly landed gracefully and pointed its lasers her way.  They fired but the double jump and Stiletto’s stealth systems caused the burning rays to miss.

Mechwarrior Winchester Wolf of the Theta Galaxy’s 2nd Wolf Combat Support Cluster looked down at the evacuation route from the city.  He turned back to his Growler (Sensor Operator) in the back seat upon spotting the 2 Level IIs that were stopping a Dire Wolf and drab gray Griffin from reaching friendly lines.  The Dire Wolf was in the middle of an intense firefight so he chose not to open up a point to point microwave transmission with it but aimed his antenna to the Griffin which had the letters ‘KSDS’ written on the unit.

“KSDS, Hades four, cursitrep”
A young girl’s voice came in over the radio catching the Wolf Mechwarrior by surprise.  She spoke slowly but fluidly in Clan battle language, “Cursitrep imorun, re Afour arty stri stat haf clu haf hotag”

Winchester understood clearly what this girl was requesting.  Although he didn’t know why she was operating a battlemech; who was in the other one; or who she was.  Nor did he care about anything other than she was not a Blakist.  He relayed their position to the Nagas a few kilometers away and notified strike command to send quick moving local reinforcements and that he might need more guns on target than just the Nagas.

He did not move to aid them however.  Hades Four's  position was chosen specifically for him to provide LOS comms that could reach Asgard and provide a local bubble against the powerful EW signals being broadcast from the Tharkad HPG.  Signals that the WIS Dire Wolf was going to take care of that as soon as it was in the proper orbit.  Once he received confirmation from the Naga Star he transmitted the targeting packages to the embattled mechs.

Morgana allowed herself a momentary sigh of relief but it quickly turned to panic when she realized that they were still dghting a difficult battle against seasoned ComGuards until help came.  ‘Bailiff’ was attempting to backpedal as the enemy drew closer.  The assault mech was cracking pavement with each foot fall but the enemy Mechs would find a way to box them in to the urban canyons. That would force Sig and Al to fight the tanks and Armored Infantry at close range which was already long odds.  The heavy MRM racks of the Tokugawas launched clusters of missiles some of them were shot down by the paired AMSes but enough hit to cause the Omnimech to take a momentary knee in order to avoid toppling.  The MML racks of the Chevalier and Striker tanks joined in and the Dire Wolf was looking increasingly worse for wear after only the initial exchange.  “Sig, Arrows are incoming.  Prepare to TAG.”

“Just got the targeting package from the Hades.  Death from above indeed.”

Less than five kilometers away a Star of Naga Artillery Omnimechs in an isolated valley let loose a volley of ten Arrow IV artillery missiles.  The missiles arced high reaching their target altitude leaving a trail of smoke against the white snow capped peaks that surrounded them. 

Half of them dove back down and deployed sub-munitions tearing up armor and damaging the tires of the wheeled tanks.  The other half aimed the sensors in their nose cone ground-ward before finding the TAG laser emanating from below the Dire Wolf's UAC/20.  Five missiles crashed into one of the Tokugawa tanks blowing the turret off and tearing open the right side while finding ammunition.  The damage resulted in the massive wheels flying up to where Morgana was on the roof and flattened some of the large tires of a Chevalier and Striker.

The artillery caused the tanks to break off as quickly as possible, the damaged Chevalier and Striker moved slowly but the Mechs remained.  The Raijin crashed through the building it had been trapped in kicking through the damaged brick wall.  Armored Infantry seriously injured by the cluster munitions were dragged by their fellow ComGuards into buildings for cover. 

Morgana could see the Lightray attempting to flank her brothers and while she still had the Firefly in front of her that was the bigger threat.  “Alright let's try this.”  She stood still and attempted to track the fast moving target with assistance from the targeting computer and the pulse limiter.  Keeping the stealth armor on would help protect her but it would cost her some of her weaponry if she wanted to keep cool without a vest.

The arm mounted pulse laser fired and cut a large number of armor plates off the Lightray.  It attempted to fire back but the stealth armor scrambled the targeting solution.  The stationary Firefly was hit hard shearing off the left torso and arm.  The remains toppled over before crashing through the building it had been standing on.  Em could see that the Dire Wolf had fired its heavy cannon her way while shooting the pulse lasers at the Hoplite.  Lasers had done some damage but it was scattered and manageable for even the inexperienced pilot.

The boys were in trouble Sig hadn't kept the mech standing under fire and she needed to do something fast or it would be over even faster.  The ComGuards didn't know it was only a couple of creche boys piloting the Dire Wolf and considering they had tried to kill them earlier didn't seem to care.  Both the Hoplite and Raijin were bearing down hard on the lone mech even if the tanks and armored infantry were negated for now.  Hades Four sent Morgana another fire mission from the Nagas.  All homing this time.  “Stiletto was made for the backstab.  Time to let her do her thing.”

'Stiletto' jumped behind the Hoplite and Raijin that were closing on the fallen Dire Wolf.  She TAGged the less mobile Hoplite and watched as the machine exploded after being struck with nearly a dozen Arrow missiles.  The hostile mechs fired back at Morgana's mech; at close range her stealth armor was not as effective but better she take some damage than hostiles kill 'her brothers'.  The damage from the hostiles was to much for Morgana and Stiletto causing both of them to drop to the asphalt with a crash.

Friendly contacts showed up on medium range scanners, Ice Ferret, Mist Lynx, and Stealth Battlemechs tasked with quick response.  Some of the fast heavy Linebackers would be close behind to bully anything heftier then these strike mechs could handle. 

Armored Infantry would normally swarm any fallen mech but with artillery nearby they were not going out on a suicide run.  The Raijin and Lightray were not willing to die this day preferring self-preservation to executing the fallen Wolves.  The Lightray ripped down a wall to rescue the Firefly.  All three mechs retreated to cover their damaged tanks.

Em was dazed by the fall, the harness wasn't small enough to hold her securely and she had hit her head and arms before the mech face-planted into the ground.  She could taste metal in her mouth.  She must have bitten her tongue.  As her vision cleared all she could see was cracked asphalt, obviously damaged armor on the cockpit's cowling, and spider-webbing in the clear plasteel of her viewscreen.

Sig's voice came in over the radio, “Em, are you alright? Talk to me.”
“Thank God.”

She climbed back into the seat holding onto the harness to bring herself into a position where she could barely operate the controls with her injured arm.  “I think I'm alright Sig.  Although I wouldn't want to look at myself in a mirror right now.  I hit my head and arms bad, I'm sure I am a mess.”
“You will manage sis.  Can you get up?”
“Let's find out.  I'm trying to operate this thing with a spinning head while hanging on the seat straps with a bruised arm.”
  She attempted to rise but was not able to reach her feet although Stiletto propped to her knees.
“Al took a heavy hit too.  He is punch drunk right now.  I think his hard head protected him but his band was crushed.  I see a Stealth on the scanners.  He can pull you up.  I don't have hands on this thing.”
“Where are you Sig?”
“I'm right behind your downed mech sis.  Your proximity sensors and vidcams must have taken a hit.  There's still Armored Infantry nearby.  If they want you, they will have to got through me.”
“Thanks Sig.”
“We are all getting out of here together or not at all.”

Elsewhere the two operators {'Growler' (Test-up Tech) and Mechwarrior (a Freeborn Warrior)} of Hades One looked out over the Tharkad HPG's Antennae farm.  They had snuck in via a narrow valley under radio silence disguised from COMSTAR sensors.  With their ROM operatives and ComGuard in the field they didn't leave many behind to watch the HPG.  For the past several dozen minutes they had taken extensive range and survey data to update the LIC maps that Alicia had ordered made after the first modern Battle of Tharkad three years ago.

The Hades Battlemech is a relatively obscure variant of the popular and long serving Hellbringer Omnimech equipped with electronic warfare gear and advanced communications systems.  Originally it had been invented and first deployed by the Jade Falcon's Blinding Eye scientist conspiracy in a bid to assassinate Khan Vlad Ward.  This was the first time the True Wolves had used it in combat because Vlad personally didn't like it considering he almost died that day.

Hades One maintained its silent vigil a safe distance from the COMSTAR facility, the Hades' microwave transmitter angled up to the WIS Dire Wolf.  “Dire Wolf, Hades One, confirm signal strength.”

“Signal confirmed Hades One.  You are a dim light in this electronic fog but we have a clean signal.”

“Aff, transmitting targeting data now.”

In a polar orbit high above Tharkad WIS Dire Wolf, the flagship of Clan Wolf rolled to present its broadside guns to the surface.  While the Sovetskii Soyuz had been a destroyer leader primarily known for its large cargo bay in Star League service Khan Ward and Katherine both agreed that some improvements needed to be made.  In the chrysalis of the Tamar Yards it morphed into a battle-cruiser nearly as capable as the Tharkad FCS Seth Marsden but crewed with angry Wolves rather than cold calculated Commonwealth spacers.

The Growler of Hades One watched the AR feed as the guns moved into position.  A time display appeared, ToT (Time on Target), “Solnes, prepare for impact.  Thirty seconds.”

The Hades crouched on a quiet, wind swept, and rocky ridge but it was going to get loud.  Both operators turned their heads to the sky to see the incoming shells, tracking them before the wrath of the gods themselves come down from the sky and the Tharkad HPG compound was blown to high heaven.  The blast wave threatened to knock the Hades down but its heavy duty gyro managed to keep it upright although rubble cracked some armor plates.

The sky itself seemed to be stilled after witnessing the violence but it was quickly filled with fighters piloted by Wolves on the hunt
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: DOC_Agren on 28 January 2019, 20:28:04
Reach out, reach out and touch someone, reach out and just rain hellfire
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 29 January 2019, 07:53:41
Here comes the rain again, dropping on ComStar like bad memory...

Well written fight!  I can't imagine people, never mind kids driving mechs without cooling outfits.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 30 January 2019, 17:12:27
06/05/3070 15:58 Location – Asgard Bunker W65-14, Mount Wotan Military Reservation, Tharkad

While Asgard is widely considering a unitary place (a misjudgment intentionally forwarded by media) by civilians the reality is quite different.  The complex sprawls out in all directions for dozens of kilometers with multiple surface connections, heavy weapons bunkers with interlocking fields of fire, artillery bases with pre-positioned firing coordinates, an underground hanger large enough to deploy aerodyne dropships, barracks, warehouses, utilities, and other reinforced positions capable of housing and maintaining a full RCT if necessary all capable of withstanding any reasonable NBC attack or warship bombardment.  All of the facilities were connected by rail, small vehicle, and Mech sized tunnels throughout the Mount Wotan Military Reservation.  It is the closest thing to a Castle Brian made by someone other than the Star League. 

The traitor COMSTAR’s 66th Division was still occupying the city and were attempting to find weak points to engage Asgard.  With a whole Division closing on the two reinforced Clusters that were in the city it was continuing to be a tough fight.  Wolf patrols regularly found and engaged ComGuards as they attempted to breach the facility.  The harsh geography of the Jotunn range negated their superior numbers and heavy vehicle corps but they were driven by revenge now in addition to their prior motivation.

Star Captain Katherine Wolf limped her Shadow ‘Kat’ through the gray concrete tunnel painted with multiple alphanumeric designations and symbols. This way would lead her to one of the many subterranean Mech Bays that were part of Asgard.  Behind her was Khan Vladimir Ward’s Gargoyle and a Kit Fox piloted by the remaining survivor of their initial star.  They lost two Mechwarriors, lured into an ambush by ComGuards’ Demolisher tanks supported by unarmored infantry.  The Trio turned the corner and after a short walk arrived within a cavernous Mech Bay passing an outgoing Nova of Theta’s 13th Wolf Regulars. 

Katherine maneuvered her Shadow Cat into its repair dock next to the Barghest she had used earlier today during her first deployment.  She looked down at a tech as he activated the dock and closed the gantries around the Omnimech.  When it was complete she powered down the unit, disconnected her cooling hoses and neurohelmet before opening the cockpit.  The Tech took the small elevator attached to the gantry up to meet her on the catwalk.  “Any problems that need addressing Star Captain?”

She removed her sweatband and rubbed her forehead mussing her shoulder length blonde hair in the process.  Despite her shorts and only wearing a torso wrap under the fitted cooling vest with rank insignia and her name on it she was still sweating heavily even after being out of battle for nearly an hour. “It’s getting too hot in there.  Might need a coolant flush and a service on the cockpit climate control.  Also Jump Jet Three may have been knocked out of alignment.  Double check that for me.  Otherwise repair and rearm as usual.”

“Aff Star Captain.  Noted in the log.  We will get to it right away.”
  He handed her a towel to wipe the sweat off her.  She did so on the short elevator trip down to the worn concrete floor and tossed the towel into a metal bin for washing.  Ordnance techs appeared with four pre-loaded magazines for her weapons.  They were followed by armorers with a block of armor plates and the tools to install them. 

She took a moment to walk over to the adjacent mech bay in order to look at her Barghest, the old girl was beat up but she would be repaired in time.  That was par for the course, when Katherine needed to fight in a Battlemech it was normally as a last resort against overwhelming odds and she did not relish it.

It crushed her to lose Katrina’s Warhammer and Galen’s Crusader to the Blakists after they overran the Triad.  If either of those mechs took the field under ComGuard’s colors she would kill their pilots herself.  'Stiletto' was relatively safe it had explosive safeguards against unauthorized users that would crack the reactor if it was operated by anyone other than her.

Satisfied that things were progressing normally she walked through the bay hyper vigilant against moving Mechs and Tanks.  An Aurochs heavy transport drove by with a lowboy trailer filled with a Star of Armored Elementals hanging onto the heavy steel rail.  A full Star of Elementals was something that every Mechwarrior feared with good reason.  She had no sympathy for whoever their victims were going to be.

Katherine looked around for Vlad but he had likely been pulled into a briefing by either Galaxy Commander Senders or Vickers.  She was surprised to see that neither LIC Director Alicia Savinson nor her aide in the 1st Royal Guards General Austin Graves were here to see her.  They were very busy and she would simply catch up with them after getting some water, a shower, and snack.

After getting water and a shower Katherine redressed in the Wolf Empire’s casual attire, gold tank top with blue pants, gray boots, watch cap, and pistol belt.  She walked through Asgard’s utilitarian corridors past Wolves and Lyrans to the command center chewing on a spicy chicken wrap taken from the nearest mess hall.  She finished the snack and deposited the wrapped in a waste bin right inside the command center. 

Upon arriving she found the tan skinned and curly brown haired Star Colonel Clara Waters, commander of the 15th Wolf Regulars of Tau Galaxy.  Both of them had spent far too much time together on Dagda during Katherine's protective exile.  Clara had spent her time on Tharkad in Tropicana City grateful for a break in the routine that had driven Katherine madder and the 15th to boredom. “Star Captain Wolf or Archon Steiner?”

“Star Captain Wolf works fine for now.  Clara, do you know where the kids are?”

Her face got dark and she looked toward Katherine's holstered M&G service pistol, “I don't know.  No one does.”

Katherine took a moment to collect herself before shouting so loud that the Wolf and TSDF controllers looked toward the two of them. “What do you mean no one knows!”

“Can we take this somewhere else Katherine?”
“Nein!  Where are my children?”

Katherine looked around at the analysts, “Where's Alicia?”

The Wolf Force Protection Infantry Squad (“The Guard Dogs”) eyed the two Warriors with continued interest moving slowly to diffuse a potentially hazardous engagement in the middle of a war. “Director Savinson's convoy did not make it out of the Triad.  We have to assume her LIC teams and her were all killed by ComGuard commandos before they could escape.  They certainly would not let themselves be captured alive.

I don't know where the kids are.  Front line observation teams still have Wolves straggling back to friendly lines after shaking the Sixty-Sixth.  Its possible they did make it out but were lost in the confusion and instead diverted to some other location in Asgard. 

I briefed them personally last night.  If they are alive and capable of moving they will get here.  However they might have to move under cover of night into the foothills.  Additional Watch assets are already deployed to search them out.”

“The Blakists are landing by dusk.  The city will be swarming with Manei Domini by midnight.  I'm going back out there right away.”

Clara grabbed her main arm before she stormed off, “Katherine wait.”
“Get you hands off me right now Clara.”
“I'm pulling rank Star Captain.  Wait.
You will get yourself killed.  Give me a little bit more time to figure this out.  We just got long range comms back online.”

“You can't pull rank on me.  I am the Archon and still Duchess of Tharkad!  This is my planet, I will do as I please!” 
“Give me an hour.  I will go out with you in my Grendel at the end of it but wait.  Please.”

Katherine stared at her fellow Wolf Warrior who returned it without blinking, “You have an hour only because my Shadow Cat needs a leg actuator repaired.” 
She set her watch, “Go.”

At Bunker E25-10 Two damaged Mechs without Wolf insignia but broadcasting friendly IFF (1st Royal Guards) walked into the bunker guided in by techs.  The pair powered down their machines as the repair gantries came into position.  To the technicians' surprise a trio of battered and bloodied crechies were in the cockpits of the two Battlemechs.  “MedTech!”

The Cluster Aid Station MedTechs cleaned them up, properly bandaged their wounds, treated Alaric for a concussion, and splinted Morgana's broken arm.  All three had lost some teeth in the battle but they were baby teeth soon to leave so no real harm done.  They were young so they would heal quickly.  Worse injuries happened on playgrounds in Sibko all the time.  Their personal codexes were registered into the found category of missing personnel and the update immediately went to Katherine and Clara's comm-pads while they were suiting up to head out into the city with a search party.

LIC Operatives were dispatched to debrief and escort the children across Asgard to Alpha Galaxy's position.  Katherine departed with her Barghest in a Hunting Binary knowing that at least her kids were safe now and even more determined to make sure it stayed that way.  Upon her return she went to one of the staff offices to receive an update on the impending Blakist invasion and catch a few hours of rest. 

When she walked into the office, Morgana was sitting in one of the chairs with her broken arm in a splint and still wearing the blood stained clothes from earlier.  She hadn't bothered to report to her quarters to pick up a new outfit. 

Katherine was enthused and rushed over to her, “Morgana!  You're safe!  How did you get out?”

“I took Stiletto.”

Katherine looked deflated at the mention of her mech.  HER DNA locked Mech, “Damn”
She held her codex charm in her good hand, “Mom.  We need to talk.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: DOC_Agren on 30 January 2019, 17:56:58
gee Morgana, are you wondering why your DNA and Mom's are the same?
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 31 January 2019, 07:30:25
I think that scientist called it a "retread" when Brian Cameron asked about Maeve Wolf.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 01 February 2019, 15:16:05
Short Detour, might do a limited run fanfic of this (after I'm done Price of Victory of course, and maybe Ian Davion, Golden Lion) but for all those curious about Arthur and Erde they learn this on Tetski (well some of it)

Secret History of the Wolverines

Exodus 2823-2829
Trish Ebon was dispatched with the SLS Bismark to escape Kerensky’s annihilation at the hands of the other clans.  They fled to the Tanite Worlds aboard the Texas SLS Bismark and Volga SLS Saratoga (formerly the Conchlin) escorting some other jumpships. saKhan Ebon intended to wait out the conflict while Hallis headed rim ward toward the Inner Sphere.  During this time on the Tanites the Wolverines reactivated the former Samarkand Block I SLS Beijing and a Riga destroyer (renaming it the SLS Pentagon Run) crippled and recovered by Clan Cloud Cobra during the Battle of Pentagon Run.  The Quixote that would later be recovered by the Society was mothballed due to lack of crew but the captured Potemkin became the CCS Wisdom of the Ages.

Khan Trish Ebon’s shadowy hand inflamed the Merchant caste revolution that led to the absorption of Clan Widowmaker.  During that time Clan Wolf itself was on the verge of destruction but survived.  However the Trial resulted in the near-death of Jerome Winston, death of Cal Jorgensson, and ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky enacting double vengeance on those responsible for the Wolverine’s destruction.  The unknown artillery barrage on Roche originated from Wolverine sponsored Dark Caste.

Resettlement 2830-2900
Trish Ebon had adopted the title Chief Magistrate rather than Khan upon settling down and attempted to leave the Wolverines’ past behind on the Tanite worlds.  Realizing that it was only a matter of time before the other Clans expanded again and discovered these Worlds.  The Wolverines left for the Inner Sphere after collecting as many Dark Caste as they could support and transport to rebuild their number but left behind a good number of well-trained technicians and security team. 

Heading back to the sphere the Wolverines landed on the agricultural world Paran in the Chainelaine Isles in 2830 to found the city of Ubis a mirror of one on the nearby planet of Vannes which was also held by the Wolverines during this time.  This city and other settlements throughout the Chainelaines immediately became major ports of call in the previously backwater cluster.  In 2840 a plague local to the planet of Syrstart overwhelmed the Star League medical staff and killed Chief Magistrate Trish Ebon.

Her husband Colonel Henry Buckler and the Wolverines remained in the Chainelane Isles with the Star League Expeditionary Brigade members that had settled in the cluster after losing contact with Terra during the Amaris Crisis. However, they relocated their enclave to a less hazardous area abandoning some of their advanced Star League era equipment rather than risk decontaminating it.

Recon expeditions were sent out to the Inner Sphere but only found the Second Succession War in high gear.  The Wolverines decided to wait it out while building their population and production up.  In 2860 the refitted Avatar cruiser SLS Pioneer was reaching the end of its lifespan, Chief Magistrate Roger Callahan bartered with the Paran SDF to take control of the vessel and overhauled the machine (renaming it the SLS Gulo) in the Brekke repair yard (a former RWR facility).  In 2870 a small scouting team returned from the Kerensky cluster bearing news of Omnimechs, Clan Smoke Jaguar absorbing the Mongoose Clan, and Elementals both armored and unarmored.

Return to the Sphere 2901-2965
Despite the Third Succession War and their growing power in the Isles as the dominant “Peacekeeping” force a group of Wolverines led by the bold and charismatic Sasha Ebon overthrew Chief Magistrate Roger Callahan in a bloody coup.  She focused the energies of her followers on returning to the Inner Sphere and began a major overhaul of the dropships and jump-ships brought with them as well as aggressive recruiting of additional Warriors and the complete implementation of their advanced components (clan intermediate weapons).  With five Warships (the Texas SLS Bismark, Volga SLS Saratoga, Avatar SLS Gulo, Samarkand SLS Beijing, and Riga SLS Pentagon Run), a dozen jumpships, dozens of dropships, and a full regiment of Battlemechs with support under her command they set out to the former Rim Worlds Republic’s Finmark Province.

Upon arriving in the Finmark province the Wolverines earned the nickname “Green Ghosts” by the pirates and Rim Worlds Remnant forces for their old SLDF paintjob and Sasha “Spooky” Ebon’s personal crest.  Under Sasha Ebon’s command they ‘pacified’ hostile forces and gathered resources and intelligence from the Lyran Commonwealth through cutouts disguised as lostech prospectors.  With the COMSTAR Explorer Corps’ formation the Blessed Order’s ships passed through the Chainlaines and the Wolverines realized they needed a new hiding place and began searching for opportunities.  Sasha Ebon gave new orders to a group of Wolverine warriors loaned to the Oberon Confederation that they should investigate the Galactic South for opportunity.

The Wolverines were hired as guards by Johann O’Rielly during his prospecting expedition to Alphard the man would eventually go on to form the Marian Hegemony.  More Wolverines were hired on by O’Rielly but it became clear that this new Pirate Kingdom left much to be desired and was an unreliable partner.  By this time Sasha’s daughter Amelia began negotiations with Magestrix Celeste Centrella of the Magistracy of Canopus.  The Magistracy had been a long standing and familiar trading partner for the Wolverines at the time (because they didn’t ask questions but always had needs).  During this time Sasha Ebon died and with it a large amount of enthusiasm within the Warrior caste.  Rather than accept the title Chief Magistrate Amelia handed it and thus the responsibility of maintaining the Wolverines over to the Lorekeeper Elder Council rather than risk another firebrand revolutionary taking command of the clan.

The Wolverines traded with the Canopians under their Green Ghosts pirate brand although their unit designation marked them as members of the 35th or 31st Royal CAAN Regiments that had been deployed in the area in the past.  The long abandoned world of Tetski, once one of the Magistracy’s most industrious before being infected with a genetically engineered plague, had recovered sufficiently for recolonization and Celese offered it up in exchange for technological and military aid from the Green Ghosts. 

However Celeste died during the transfer period leaving Tamara Centrella Magestrix and in the dark of her mother’s agreement.  The Wolverines jumped at this lapse of command and settled Tetski.  Some of their technical experts went out to the nearby independent world of Detroit and other Magistracy planets to help bootstrap industry on fledgling colonies.  Some Warriors returned to Mercenary work hiring on primarily with the Capellan Confederation and Free Worlds League.  Others chose not to settle down and joined with the growing Far Looker movement during this time, which was supported in part by dividends paid out to them by the Lorekeeper Council.

The Modern Century 2965-3070
Until 3004 the Wolverines were establishing themselves within the Magistracy of Canopus and greater Inner Sphere using MoC connections.  However in 3004 a group of them intercepted Katrina Steiner in disguise as the Red Corsair.  Sensing opportunity they allowed the young woman to join their band and possibly turn her into a future asset.  Wolverine “pirates” increased their activity along the Commonwealth’s border areas conducting recon in force operations against Alessandro Steiner before reporting that the interior worlds were lightly defended to their paymasters on Atreus through Selaj contacts.

With the Wolf Dragoons arrival in 3005, the Lorekeeper Council went into overdrive finalizing the establishment of a covert organization equaling COMSTAR’s ROM in reach.  These agents were tasked with confirming suspicions that the hated Wolf Clan and others might soon be returning.  Eventually the agents made contact with the Dragoons and began passing information to them in exchange for greater access to the mysterious and powerful “deep periphery” faction.  Once they got a look at the Widowmaker Warships on New Valencia they knew the Dragoons were from the Kerensky Cluster. 

Wolverine Warriors joined with the CCAF to combat the Wolves and test their mettle after so long without fighting another Clan.  Later the Elder Council approved more Mercenary activity among the Warriors to gain valuable experience fighting alongside the Inner Sphere forces and to prepare themselves for the impending invasion they felt was near.  Wolverines fought on both sides of the Marik Civil War and engaged the Capellan Confederation during the Andurian Succession alongside the MAF and Defenders but grew weary of hiding.

Wolverines in the Royal Guard fought off the Big MAC counterattack on Canopus and saw the passion and skill of the young Emma Centrella, heir to the Magestrix.  When she left Canopus and Luxen after almost being assassinated by her mother she fled to Hardcore.  On that planet she gathered allies and the Wolverines revealed themselves to her and promised to help her overthrow her mother.  If she would support them, they would support her wherever her ambition took her.  Carefully the Wolverine spread themselves throughout the MOC but especially in MIM where their secrets were safe and long history of remaining under the RADAR was welcomed by the Magestrix.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 02 February 2019, 01:29:33
06/05/3070 Location – Asgard Complex, Tharkad, Wolf Empire

“Mom.  We need to talk.” 

Duchess/ Archon/ Princess/ Archon-Princess Regent Katherine/ Katrina/ Morgan Morgan/ Elizabeth Steiner-Davion/ Wolf/ White's world fell apart around her with that statement.  If she could will herself to be anyone else in the entire universe she would be there.  Kat had spent sleepless nights worrying about when 'her daughter' Morgana found out that she was actually her clone.  There was a faint and ultimately foolish hope that she never would have to reveal that secret, which was top three of her many terrible ones.  She cursed herself for not revealing it earlier in a more controlled environment preferably someone that would have given the girl the space to leave rather than being in this claustrophobic and dangerous place. 

This was poor timing of the worst type, Blakist Shadow Divisions were landing several hundred kilometers away, right now preparing to commit atrocities of the worst type.  The ComGuards 66th Division continued to fight across the planet.  Morgana had already narrowly avoided death at their hands not once but at least three times just today.  Not only that but her close friend and confidant LIC Director Alicia Savinson had sacrificed herself to ensure that even happened so there was no one she could talk to beforehand and she was running out of reliable allies.

She attempted to defuse the situation if Morgana was talking she could potentially steer the conversation to other topics.  “Why do you think I did it?”
Her daughter stood tall and made her mother seem small in comparison.  “That's cheap, I know this game.  Why did you make me? And why didn't you tell me?”

“I suppose I did teach you after all.  I promise there was nothing sinister in mind for you Morgana.  We both know that the Clans can clone tissue for replacements it just takes time so they use cybernetic prosthesis instead to get back into the fight.  So you're certainly not spares.  I didn't tell you because I had hoped you be older when we have this conversation.”

“That's not a good answer and you know it.  Tell me the truth!  You had to special request the Wolf Scientists make a retread and you weren't Loremaster when I was decanted so you couldn't do it by fiat.  Why?  Did Katya or Vladimir know?”

“You are not a true retread Morgana,”
  Katherine fingered her own codex, “some adjustments were made, improvements really, but your ninety-nine percent the same.  Katya didn't know she was busy right up until the day I killed her.  I did send a special request to the Homeworlds actually, right to the Wolf Enclave on Strana Mechdy.” 

She moved over to the desk and picked up a picture of Katherine and Vladimir on Tamar during her first 'working vacation' as a Wolf. “As for Vlad, your father doesn't pay attention to those sorts of things.  Alaric and Siegfried are regular trueborn he assumed you were as well merely with a greater resemblance to me.”

“Vladimir isn't my father!  Hanse Davion is.”

“And what a Daughter of the Fox you would be.  Possessing so much potential without the hindrances and injustices I suffered as a youth.  You have everything I do, did, and more.  Hanse would have been proud of you.”

“You created me for your own vanity.  Disgusting.  What kind of legacy is that?”

Since it was her office she had numerous pictures within it.  This was a raw moment she didn't mind using them as props and distractions.  Kat put down the picture of her and Vlad instead choosing one of the family, all five Steiner-Davion siblings, Hanse, Melissa, and Katrina. “Every parent leaves a legacy in the form of their children.”

She put the frame down but hammered her fist on the table while crying.  “Well I can't have any!  Divine judgment on a cursed soul stillborn my son, stole my chance to have natural children forever, and killed the love of my life in rapid succession.

Do you know how angry that made me? 

As much as I love Yvonne she is my sister not my daughter though I sometimes treated her as such because I feared that was all I could leave behind.

No I was afraid of being forgotten.  Without a legacy to call my own.  Is that so wrong?   

I could never let it go?
No, not while I had a glimmer of a chance.
I'd sacrifice anything.
Have sacrificed so much.
Just to create you and your brothers.
You were not Vanity.  You were Redemption and Revenge against cruel Fate.”

“You know I can't tell you everything.  If you don't well I'm not telling you anyway.  Its all in the past and everyone involved is dead as of today.  Well except me.”

“Yes, like the big sister or mother I never had.  I wouldn't trust just anyone with your safety.  It saddens me greatly that she is gone.  She deserved a better life than the one she lived, but it was nevertheless the one she chose.  My greatest fear is losing control of my choices.  Vlad and I are going to Terra together but after that I don't know what my options will be.”

“What about me?”
“I'm choosing to fight for you and you brothers to have a choice Morgana.  Different choices than I was offered when I was your age.”

Morgana put her codex back onto her necklace. “You should have told me.  We'll talk about this later.”
“Goodnight Morgana.”

The girl walked out of the room leaving Katherine alone with her swirling emotions.  She opened the desk and pulled out her meds.  Meds that Morgana wouldn't have to take because of the efforts of her re-engineering of herself.  Ones that were increasingly incapable of managing her Dobrowski Depression-A.  Every hour under a neurohelmet cost her precious mental energy and made her condition worsen.  She needed to get to Terra with Vlad before she burned out. 

It was so close.  All she needed was a little more time.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Sharpnel on 02 February 2019, 03:21:11
I'm kind of surprised that the little girl didn't pimp slap her 'Mom'
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 02 February 2019, 23:52:47
I'm kind of surprised that the little girl didn't pimp slap her 'Mom'

Well both of them do have more pressing issues.  Morgana's not going to be able to pull that daring escape off this time with a broken arm.


06/05/3070 22:47 Location – 14 kilometers above Elizabeth Island, Tharkad, Wolf Empire

Specter Precentor Eligos was deafened from the air rushing past his Djinn Battle Armor as it fell through the nighttime sky.  His squad was surrounded by Aerospace Fighters, Mechs, Armored Infantry, and Mercenary Paratroopers.  He monitored the altimeter in his face-plate and could see his target survey grid in the AR data-link despite the base and associated military town being under blackout conditions.  Non-partial wing equipped units deployed drag chutes and flared their jump jets to slow themselves for a hard landing. 

“All air units break off from escort.  Head to target.” 

The fighter wing and company of LAMs in the 50th Shadow Division broke off streaking toward the responding Aerofighters.  Their target was TSDF (Tharkad Self-Defense Force) Cape Crescent, the largest airbase of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.  The Djinn Armored Infantry and Partial Wing equipped Battlemechs righted themselves and quietly began their final descent. 

TSDF conventional fighters roared past them toward the bulk of the attack force while the Aerofighters engaged one another overhead.  The ground battery was firing flak into the sky but the LAMs swooped down to engage their gun crews with machine like precision rapidly silencing the guns before taking to the skies once more.  The Land Air Mechs surprised and terrified the defenders spreading terror and confusion in their wake just like they planned.

As he neared the base Eligos saw the TSDF fighters preparing an elephant walk off the runway.  Likely heading toward his Hell Knight's dropships, the conventional bombers would cause massive damage and deny this planet's righteous judgment.  “Mechs, Engage the fighters.  Djinns with me.”

“Roger that Precentor.”

The Hell Knights tore into the unprepared aircraft some of the kills were followed by the bombs on their external hard-points detonating in dramatic explosions.  Shrapnel and chips of broken ferrocrete bounced off the Djinn's armor each one would have killed an unarmored soldier.  Each of the 24 Djinns in the attack force carried a cratering charge in place of a Light TAG.  Eligos readied the charge and jumped over a burning Steinadler strike plane into a TSDF infantry squad.  The foot soldiers were surprised but managed to fire their rifles at the armored trooper, the bullets were ineffective however against the advanced armor that protected the cyborg warrior.  They were quickly cut down by the Djinn's machine gun and the panicked cries of the ground crews filled the air as they didn't stop. 

Triad, Tharkad City

Precentor Dag Kesselrig couldn't help but being intimated by the Manei Domini Wraith Precentor Naamah of the 49th Shadow Division (Naamah's Nightwalkers).  She wasn't outwardly terrifying like some of them, as a matter of fact she was quite attractive by any measure, tan skin, pretty face, and excellent carriage worthy of any Duchess in the Inner Sphere.  Her whole image was one of a consummate and high class predator aristocrat.  She ascended the steps in her white and gold combat uniform, wearing a light combat harness while carrying a Kopis sword and Sunbeam laser pistol on her stylish belt and a modified Ebony laser rifle in a sling over her shoulder.  She sat on the Iron Throne of Tharkad like she belonged there although she put the rifle beside her rather than sit on it.

She controlled the Throne room with such ease even the monstrous Tau Zombie Infantry moved out of her way in deference.  What Dag didn't know was that she had been doing that for years, most recently as Precentor Anjelica Mauve of the Blakist 22nd Division, the woman who convinced Grover Shraplen to turn over his realm to the Blakists and waste his soldiers against the Federated Suns ultimately resulting in the deaths of billions.  However Naamah (originally Nera Artemev) was a member of the Ebon Magistrate and was originally supposed to be Emma Centrella's top woman in the conspiracy.  She was still the top woman and even though The Master had turned on The Magestrix her loyalty was with the order first and against the Clans, particularly the Wolf Clan.

Gone were the Imperial Wolf banners (burned) and the Steiner Gauntlet (melted down and reforged) instead they replaced with the Broadsword of the Word of Blake and Banners bearing the Sol Protectorate's sign.  “Oh this will be such fun.  Places everyone.”

A pair of the Grim Reaper Battlemechs walked behind her taking up the vacant positions of the Archon's Griffins.  The broadcast light turned green signaling that it was being transmitted by the Triad's own comm arrays since the Tharkad HPG complex had been destroyed earlier today. “This is Precentor Naamah of the Forty Ninth Shadow Division of the Word of Blake. 

Are you watching Katherine?  Because I have a question to ask. 

Are you satisfied hiding under your mountain while I sit upon your throne? 

Why don't you come out and say hello to your guests. And if you don't well...we're going to start killing people and burning cities and we're not going to stop until you make us.  So choose wisely.

By the way your little Warship above doesn't scare me. 
See you on the battlefield White Wolf.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 03 February 2019, 13:52:42
Someone asking for serious bitch slap.  Eesh Evil lady.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 03 February 2019, 16:21:05
Someone asking for serious bitch slap.  Eesh Evil lady.

Hating on the lady that owns it.  Well Katherine did bombard one of Blessed Blake's Beacons with a warship, A CLAN ONE NO LESS.  BTW I'm imagining her as Anella from Killjoys.


06/06/3070 Outside Weibetel

The shattered remains of TAG's Aesira Orbital Yards had fallen like a million shooting stars into the atmosphere this morning over the spring countryside around the industrial city of Weibetal.  Haborym's Legion was burning Mako City and Tatyana Trans-Oceanic's Shipyards to the ground while seeking out and destroying the Luftenberg TSDF Elizabeth Steiner's carrier battle group.  Eligos' Hell Knights were supporting and 'encouraging' their “frail” mercenaries and regular Militia engaged all across the world spreading the TSDF thin and particularly removing the WIS Dire Wolf Warship.  Naamah's XO Dantalion was baiting Wolves with the 66th ComGuards Division a task for which he was well-suited.

Naamah's Nightwalkers Division fought within a cloud of poison gas through the industrial park.  The Guards sought to stop them from attacking TharHes' main factory and had set up ambushes uncovered by aerial flybys and ghost recon agents over the area last night.  However, a pre-dawn bombing run by captured Roubvogel bombers that deployed the nerve agents forced out Armored Infantry and tank crews not capable of resisting the chemical agent for an extended period, ones that were unable to resist died terribly.

Naamah was secure in her light gray Black Hawk KU not that the nerve agent would affect her.  Her Manei Domini's cybernetic and biological augmentation made her immune to this particular agent but it was incredibly lethal to “frails.”  It was a nice change of pace to be in a cockpit above a battleground after so long undercover.  She watched as a mixed Company of Armored infantry, wheeled Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and the cybernetically enhanced Tau Zombies forward of her own Demi-Company.  They found nothing more than tanks turned tombs and corpses of unfortunate Royal Guardsmen in the warehouses and rail yards surrounding the city.

Captain Alexander Carlye, CO of the Gray Death Company and Baron of Glengarry (currently occupied by ComGuards deployed to deal with the Skye Revolt)  watched as the front lines of the Nightwalkers walked right into his trap from his Linebacker Omnimech.  The Blakist Armored Infantry, Tau Zombies, and vehicles were immune to the nerve agent that had cost him many allies today.  Fortunately he had more, the GDC was completely outfitted with Clan tech courtesy of Katherine's Wolves, mostly mismatched cast offs but better than anything money could buy. 

He fingered the command detonator.  Fortunately he wasn't afraid of fire like his mother had been.  Alex hit the button setting off fougasses and incendiary mines that would make quick work of the infantry, armored or otherwise. 

“Burn you bastards.”  The flames leapt high into the sky and set off tank cars of POL (Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants) that were strategically positioned across the front.  He had been ordered to hold TharHes at all costs but he was going to get an ear-full from Tharkad Petrochem after this.  It was only warehouses, that's why they had insurance. 

“That's for mom.”

Right out a nightmare, the Battlemechs of the Nightwalkers stepped out of the fire followed by the slightly charred but otherwise unharmed support troops, the sharp angles of the Demon Armored Infantry was grimly back-lit by the fire.  Alex's jaw dropped, “Not even hellfire itself can stop them.  All units engage at will!”

Later that day, The Thera Supercarrier SLS Fort Verdun and its escorts {Whirlwind CJW Emerald Tornado and Eagle SLS Battle of Tukayyid (formerly the Leodegrance)} jumped to Tharkad's Zenith Point only to find the Pinto WOBS Syrstary and Blakist Invasion Armada it was protecting. 

Admiral Dubravka watched as the enemy began to maneuver toward his own trio of Warships.  The Emerald Tornado was already flaring toward the hostile.  His bridge crew looked toward him, “There's an armada at the Zenith Point Admiral!  What do we do?”

He pointed toward the Blakist dropships already moving into defensive positions.  Juhan pulled the switch that activated General Quarters.  Calmly informing them clearly even over the Klaxons and flashing lights, “Get to your battle stations.”

Aboard the Pinto WOBS Syrstart Precentor Raziel did the same, except for one thing.  The dropship collar on her Corvette had been taken up by a special Mammoth dropship (codename:  Marilith) that nearly massed a third of her tiny vessel.  The WOBDS Hornet's Nest came right from the hidden world of Obeedah along with a trio of similar vessels (total of 4) all destined for the Sol Protectorate.  She sent a message to Tharkad, “I am opening the Hive Precentor Naamah.  You prepare for hostiles.”

The WOBDS Hornet's Next opened recessed doors that soon swarmed with dozens of “bug eyed” Aerospace fighters and Small craft;

with no one aboard.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 03 February 2019, 17:03:25
Unleash the drones! (plays flight of the Valkyries)
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 04 February 2019, 14:43:58
Star Captain Eli Nova rushed to his Aerofighter after donning his flight suit.  His heavy neurohelmet was tethered to the chest harness and banged into the walls along with the pilot through the tight corridors. The SLS Fort Verdun was beginning evasive maneuvers as hostile fighters sortied their way which made the normally routine freefall transit particularly difficult.  A side-slip crashed him, his Nova Cat Trinary (Callsigns “Crimson, Gold, and Blue”), and the DCA Squadron (Callsign “Sakura”) that shared this fighter ready bay into the metal walls with a crash. 

Both wings had been drilled well over Alarion however, the pilots found handholds holding fast until the maneuver finished complete with colorful Clan and Kurita curses.  He gritted his teeth as the gees pulled against him but found the next handhold and climbed toward the hatch.  “If you think I am angry now.  Wait till I get to my fighter, Dezgra Surats”

He pulled his way into the hatch, a narrow cell with a single ladder going down either way, Eli cycled the airlock, and dropped into the Aerofighter Cell.  The prep crew had already fueled and loaded ordnance onto his Tatsu before moving on to the next fighters in the deployment schedule.  The pressure door that led to the launch tunnel blinked red. 

Eli clambered into the Tatsu Aerofighter his fingers danced across the consoles powering up the fine-tuned Kurita war machine.  He triggered the pressure tight ferroglaz canopy which locked into position as the atmospheric mix began to change inside the cockpit.  It was followed by an armored canopy that would actually protect the cockpit from hostile fire.  Set up was complete when he put the armored neurohelmet on and synced it to the Tatsu's DI computer and local BattleNet.  “Gold One online, all callsigns report in.”

The remaining 29 callsigns of his Trinary blinked green.  “The Nova Cats are ready to launch Flight Ops.  On your signal.”

“Roger that Top Cat, Engaging Minimum Takeoff Distance, transfer flight controls.”

Eli and the other Nova Cats momentarily surrendered their flight controls to SLS Fort Verdun's Flight Ops Command Officer.  The pressure door blinked yellow while the fighter cell's atmosphere was evacuated.  When it turned green the electromagnetic catapult sled that the Tatsu was mounted on moved was pulled onto the main launch tunnel.  The 36 fighters of Fighter Ready Bay 1-3 were maneuvered into position dangerously close but this was a battlezone after all.  “Prepare for powered release.”

Eli grabbed bars welded into his cockpit for carrier launch, “Fire when ready.”

The capacitors of the SLS Fort Verdun charged up and dumped all their energy into accelerating the 70 ton Aerofighter with another five tons of ordnance hanging off it into the void.  It was something they didn't prepare this Nova Cat for in flight school initially his 10 test launches above Alarion didn't make it any easier.  The battleship gray eventually led to an opening in the Thera's hull to the deep black beyond.  This tube would be protected by heavy armor plates unless it was in use but was always kept in vacuum.  The rest of his flight followed closely behind, “You have flight control.  Happy hunting.”

The Nova Cats and DCA were tasked to one of the Silverfish C2BM Small Craft (Callsign:  “Quicksilver”) that was tracking nearly an equal number of Aerofighters to the Thera's Two Regiments of Fighters many of which were unknown designs.  One of the DCA Pilots said something over the local BattleNet, “There is no way the Blakist have that many pilots.”

“They have Terra, they could have whole armies of them.  Good thing they brought one for us to practice on.  All callsigns stick with your wingman and engage at Quicksilver's discretion.”

Eli turned his Tatsu A Omnifighter around the unknown Blakist fighter, the gees of the maneuver pushed him to the breaking point but it was barely enough for this flattened fractal of a “Scarab” Aerofighter.  He fired the 2 cERPPC and 8 cMPL missing with the big guns but tearing into the fuselage of the enemy craft when a pair of Shade Spectral Omnifighters came out of nowhere on his six.  They fought smart and impossibly fast, no human even an Aerospace pheno could survive the tight vectors and absurd acceleration these units could manage.

Even with a multi-national collection of veteran fighter pilots it was the assault dropships and particularly the Emerald Tornado that were getting the most kills just by sheer throwweight, barracuda missiles in particular streaked through the school of fighters.  However, most of the escort dropships had been taken down by heavy weight unknown fighters and Spectral Striga fighters piloted by the much feared Manei Domini.  These new threats were not clearly marked and only painted in primer, something experimental and incredibly dangerous.  Each seemed to easily kill three friendlies before dying itself often throwing itself onto a collision course with a larger craft.  These units could pull off maneuvers that even the Spectrals could not.

On the Command Deck Admiral Dubravka sat in the CIC and looked at the sensors feeds everyone was wearing their lightweight emergency pressure suits with their lightweight helmets clipped onto the harness.  The Syrstart and her pocket warship flotilla were protecting a Mammoth dropship, “That's our target right there.  I don't care about the Corvette or jumpships.  We need to kill that thing and quick.  Get us within gun range.”

“Admiral are you certain?”
“Never been surer in my life, order Star Commodore Tanya and Captain Turner to engage the Jumpship flotilla.  This thing can take a few hits and if that's all they've got none of those bastards has an under-slung Alamo.  This Warship can take a Corvette and some dropships.”

“Aye sir.  All power to engines.  Gunnery crews are preparing a solid firing solution.”

Tanya and Turner broke off from escort duty to harass the Jumpships which fled rather than face a pair of Warships leaving the invasion force behind.  The Srystart and its fellow space combatants moved to engage the mighty Supercarrier. 

The prow mounted Heavy Ngauss rifles smashed through enemy dropships while the naval autocannons fired on both sides to finish off any that escaped the prow guns.  The up-gunned assault corvette Syrstart was not to go quietly and was equipped with both sub-capital and capital weapons that tore into the recently completed Thera.  The fighter battle drew closer to the carrier as the Hornet's Next began evasive maneuvers but even the sluggish Thera was fast enough to catch the fleeing command ship in time.

The Syrstart attempted to ram the Fort Verdun but the Supercarrier rolled and engaged an emergency burn to barely evade the more agile corvette.  After a withering point blank broadside the vessel was shattered and broke apart.  Some of the damaged pieces hit the aft of the carrier and leaving great gashes in the armor.   Pieces of the ancient warship bled molecular hydrogen and ammonia from their damaged components forming a faint cloud around the pieces that caught the dim light of Tharkad’s sun as it drifted away in the Fort Verdun's thrust wake.

A Heavy NGauss round speared through the WOBDS Hornet’s Nest causing critical damage to the bloated sphere.  Mystery fighters swarmed to protect their carrier dropship throwing themselves against heavy fighter defense batteries with no concern for their own safety even kamikazing it if the opportunity presented itself.  The escort Warships, normally responsible for dealing with a massed fighter attack, had left it exposed but were rapidly redirecting to deal with the threat.  Both were firing their Barracuda and Piranha anti-fighter missiles and flak cannons from long range into the combat zone while closing rapidly. 

The “bait ball” was overwhelming the unseasoned Thera as well as the hull defense tank crews.  The drone strafing runs cut into vital systems and overloaded damage control crews but their numbers were rapidly decreasing as the Aerospace fighters were markedly more capable when they could pin the agile fighters against the carrier’s precision guns.  The WOBDS Hornet’s Nest was finished off with a massed volley of canon fire.

The hull of the SLS Fort Verdun was scarred but no critical systems were damaged when it launched the SAR craft, salvage teams, and Marine assault shuttles toward the Tharkad Zenith Point’s Recharge Station after the main battle.  Admiral Juhan Dubravka was alone in his office as he looked over the casualty and damage reports.  He received a transmission for the WIS Dire Wolf about the grim current state of the Lyran Capital including video of The Triad itself engulfed in flames.  “So much for a victory cruise.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 06 February 2019, 17:46:48
06/11/3070 Location – Outside Cold Creek, Tharkad

Precentor Naamah was against the clock now, Four Clan Galaxies and a Wolf Naval Star had jumped into the Zenith point of Tharkad yesterday.  Her Shadow Divisions had suffered serious damage but had done significant harm to the Lyran capital world destroying many important facilities and cities by chemical or thermal means.  They had also killing thousands of people, possibly tens of thousands, but likely not hundreds.  However, she didn't have time to count what little was left of the bodies after dropping bombs on evacuation shelters.  The victims had faced their judgment for supporting the Clan Empire rather than seeing the Light of Blake.  The Shadows figured the Lyrans would come up with a number by the time they reached Terra or died trying. 

The SLS Fort Verdun had killed the WOBDS Hornet's Nest but the warship had taken plenty of hits in the process and the dropship had transmitted program updates to the Naga Enlightened Direction before it was destroyed.  Program updates that would make the other three hives more effective, possibly enough to kill the Fort Verdun in a rematch or take down one of the two remaining Ghost Bear Leviathans, possibly all three or at least that had been the plan.

Now it was finally time to finish up things here before the SLDF got in on the fun.  Dantalion had done an excellent job baiting Vlad's Golden Keshik Warriors while Naamah drew Katherine's White Keshik to Cold Creek.  Both commands had been harried all week and with reinforcements from the remnants of the other Shadow Divisions, the 49th was at full strength while the Wolves were running low on ammo and heavily damaged after suicide raids on their underground and supposedly hidden supply depots by MD Zombies and Banshees.

Naamah's Black Hawk-KU stalked through the urban center with support, Cold Creek was not the largest city on Tharkad but it sprawled widely.  Cities favored the defender; normally that required the removal of the city but the Odessa stockpile of tactical nukes had already been cleared out or were in use so she had to do it the hard way.

The complete destruction of heavy industry on the Lyran Capital was almost complete, it would take them years to recover from the damage even with Clan assistance and other Shadow Divisions were attempting to deal with that particularly vexing issue.  They had needed more time to build up in order to overpower the Clans but Demona Aziz and her protege Cameron St Jamais had ruined it just like Emma warned The Master.  The Taurians had failed to achieve the necessary objectives to remain in the Order's good graces and paid for it with four billion plus of their lives.

Katherine waited in her Barghest, the machine had been heavily damaged in the past week of fighting and was running around with only half the normal armor load.  The Wolves were running out of armor and ammunition after the Manei Domini destroyed two of Asgard's largest combat depots armed with far better intelligence than had been anticipated.  The constant attacks against the TSDF had also taken a toll forcing the Wolves despite their declining numbers to spread themselves thin and fight to the death in some cases against the fanatical cyborg Shadow Divisions in order to protect non-combatants and critical infrastructure. 

Finally with the Wolves fully committed to the field and their numbers rapidly decreasing the Shadow Divisions relented against Asgard's interlocking fortifications that were protecting her children.  Four more Galaxies were en route and the Fort Verdun's Battlegroup was decelerating after a fast burn to Tharkad in order to relieve the Dire Wolf that had been keep a pair of Warships at a safe distance solo for a week.  Already advance scouts confirmed the suspicion that this was the last day of operations for the Shadow Divisions before they departed aboard their dropships.  They were willing to fight to the death but smart enough not to, at least not today.

Remote sensors flickered on her view-screen, they were coming her way.  The rest of the Binary was nearby, some were concealed underground but the Fenrirs began moving to the surface.  Their heavy firepower and armor had turned the tide on more than one occasion and although TharHes of Weibetal was lost there were other factories for the heavy hitting Battle Armor.  A low profile Bushwhacker walked next to Katherine's Barghest, the ugly unit that had served as a building block for her own machine had previously served in the TSDF but its pilot hadn't made it to his mech in time for a surprise raid so it went to a Wolf instead.  “Let's get them Star Captain.”

Concealed within their own stealth systems the White Wolves 1st Strike Binary moved to engage the enemy.  Katherine waited for a pair of Bollas to turn the corner before hitting them broadside with her ultra 203mm Autocannon and heavy large lasers.  The sudden surge of waste heat overwhelmed Katherine even though she had anticipated and prepared for it by cooling her vest more beforehand.  Even with her skimpy clothes under the cooling jacket she was sweating heavily, Dark Wolf was a completely different kind of beast than her normal ride although both were Barghests they were optimized for different tasks.  The Blakist tanks seemed to pause before exploding, one from the sheer mass of autocannon rounds thrown its way and the other from the huge gaping holes that found hot-loaded missiles.

Naamah watched as the lead tanks exploded and saw the White Wolves come around the corner to engage her level ii in close combat.  “Finally some action.”  She toggled her Plasma Rifle and Enhanced PPC and opened up on the enemies focusing primarily on a Hunchback C.  That mech would be a major problem in this built up terrain with his ultra heavy autocannon.  The pair of quad pack short range missiles filled with inferno gel combined with the white hot plasma heated the machine up until the ammo cooked off and blew the mech in half.  The pilot must have been KOed by the ammo explosion and Naamah closed and kicked in his cockpit while continuing to engage his Starmates.  The Plasma rifle fired again and cooked a Fenris operator like a baked potato.

The melee got more involved and Katherine saw her target, Naamah's Black Hawk KU.  “You're dead bitch.”

She fired the heavy lasers one scored a direct hit on the enemy mech but the combination of Inferno gel and plasma caused her mech to critically overheat and shut down despite her best efforts to keep it online at this critical moment.  Fortunately her autocannon's ammo was empty or it might have cooked off and really screwed Katherine up.  Naamah closed in on the helpless mech, “Time to finish you off White Wolf.”

Her starmates however had a different plan and a lucky shot from a Hollander II's Gauss rifle cut through the Black Hawk KU's arm at the shoulder and sent the weapon that would have executed Katherine crashing through a nearby office building.  “Another time then.”

The Black Hawk jumped away and the Shadow Division disengaged to rendezvous with the dropship that would be taking them off-world.  Living to fight another day.

The Aegis Herald of Truth and Naga Enlightened Direction Warships began a fast burn gaining velocity by using Marsden's gravity to escape the Dire Wolf and Fort Verdun while the Shadow Division dropships accelerated rapidly eventually meeting up before approaching a non-standard jump point near Frigg, a Saturn sized planet in the Tharkad system while transferring as much material as possible to the Warships.  They scuttling Dropships they didn't have collars for into the gas giant before warping away.

Back on Tharkad, Katherine kneeled in the ashes of the Triad tears running down and making channels in the ash on her face.  Tharkad City and Olympia had been heavily damaged during the Blakist occupation along with almost every other metropolitan area on-world.  Casualty counts were still coming in but they were staggering as thermobaric, chemical, and biological weapons were used against civilian evacuation shelters.  Those that scattered had been hunted unless they had protection, mines, IEDs, floods from breached dams, and persistent NBC agents had been left behind were made worse by the sheer damage to bridges and other infrastructure. 

The Defense Fleet was in flames or on the bottom of the ocean. The TSDF ground forces devastated, 1st Royal Guards suffered half casualties, and the Wolves were about the same.  Every major factory had suffered damage some of it irreparable, the Aesir Orbital Yards and Tatyana Trans-Oceanic's Shipyards of Mako City were complete losses. 

The whole planet was in ruins and suddenly felt more like a tomb.

Ashes flowed between Katherine's hands before blowing in the wind, smoke still blocked some of the summer sun, “And its all my fault.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 07 February 2019, 08:50:10
Sounds like the Wolves need to hunting, their going be hunting Woobies.  Murderers need to pay.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 07 February 2019, 10:46:37
Khan Vladimir Ward walked through the ashes of the Triad toward a sobbing Katherine, her hair was filled with ash, and she looked a pitiable sight.  His gray jacket was covered in it as well and so much was kicked up it almost caused him to choke but he did not want to ruin the moment.  The Khan's heart hurt as much as his body after the Battle of Tharkad and it felt worse to see his wife in this condition.  It felt odder to think of her as such but the sensation had grown on him over the years. 

He attempted to emphasize with her; if someone burned Arcadia he would surely grieve at the loss after finding vengeance.  With her it was different; she seemed diminished at some core level that he couldn't comprehend despite his best efforts.  They were just too different this way.

Admiral Juhan Dubravka, Captain Alexander Carlyle and SaKhan Marielle Raddick were in orbit already.  Vengeance was waiting and so was Terra but it could wait a few moments more for the grief.  He put a hand gently on her shoulder causing her to draw back, “I am truly sorry for Tharkad Katherine.  On behalf of all the Clans, the Word of Blake will answer for this grave crime and all the others they have committed.”

“Why did they do it?  What were they going to gain from this slaughter?  Innocents bombed, cities burned, the whole planet is in ruins for no reason but to terrorize.  Well it worked, I'm afraid Vlad.  So very afraid of what we will we find on Terra.  Are we strong enough to win?”

“I cannot know Katherine, this is not like any war I have experienced.  No one in the current age has.  This is why the Clans have a Warrior caste; to spare innocents from this kind of horror.  Not even the Jaguars or Vipers were this brutal.  The Mongooses were Annihilated for far less. 

We have to go its not safe here.”

“This is, was my home.  If I can't feel safe here where can I?”

He knelt down in front of her, “Warriors must always be ready to fight for their homes.  It is their first duty without which they are due to fail.  We fought hard.  If we were not here especially the Dire Wolf how many others might have died?”

“If we weren't here they wouldn't have been attacked.”

Vlad couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity even in the midst of so much destruction, “That did not stop them all the other times they attacked us.  Tharkad is a very valuable world, one I would bid the whole of the Wolf Touman to take were it an option.  You were wise to make it a hard target but even the hardest of targets can be worn down in time especially if you don't want to use it afterwards.

You have not been in the Dixie or Skye Provinces during your entire reign as Archon, yet they were attacked and occupied for the majority of this conflict.”

She raised her head blue eyes catching gray from everywhere but the gold ring on Vladimir's finger, which brought a faint smile but it was quickly replaced with melancholy again.   “Well where can we go?”

“I think you should go to Donegal with Admiral Dubravka's SLIC Officer and take the kids.  The Fort Verdun has salvaged some components from the mystery vessel and fighters they want investigated.  He says they have the best facilities for the task there.  It will give you some time to deal with this and get better medical attention than the Dire Wolf can currently offer.  The Avalanche is already waiting for you.”

“Where are you going?”
“I'm going to Glengarry with Baron Carlyle, Marielle, and the others.  He has offered to give us a base of operations to deal with the problems in the Isle of Skye alongside Generals Steiner and Brett until we formulate the next step.  The Word of Blake is running out of places to run too, we'll catch them all I swear.”

Katherine hugged him so hard he almost toppled over but caught himself before he got even dirtier, “Thank You Vlad.  For everything.  I couldn't have done any of this without you.”

He returned the embrace, “We both got here because of one other.  I am not going to take the credit.”

Vladimir helped Katherine up from the ground, “Since when?”
“People can change Katherine.  Wouldn’t have had a reason to without your influence.

Walk with me a bit.  Tell me what it used to be so we can rebuild it together after this is done. 

This my home too after all.”

06/21/3070 Location – Wytheville Star Harbor, Donegal

The Union-X WIS Avalanche landed under cover from fighters attached to the air wing of the Eclipse Carrier FCS Donegal currently in the lead of a Commonwealth Warship flotilla.  The Sovetskii Soyuz CDS Nagasawa was also in system guarding the heavy Potemkin Troop Cruisers of the Diamond Sharks and Hell's Horses that were bringing in supplies and personnel from the Chainelaines and Csesztreg Collection to support the Clan offensive against the Word of Blake and their so called “Sol Protectorate.”  The massive vessels were loaded to the gills and attempting to skirt the active Ghost Bear-Skye-Wobbie Front through a previously Blakist free corridor.  The lone Wolf Potemkin WIS Full Moon had been given that assignment, however that wouldn't stop enterprising Diamond Shark Merchants from conducting business with one of the wealthiest worlds in the Inner Sphere.

Katherine and SLIC (former ONI) Major Varitz were greeted on the tarmac by some VIPs.

“Adam.  Rachel.” Katherine ran over to her cousin and former confidant who embraced her, “I'm sorry to hear about Tharkad Katherine, it must have been awful.”  His wife Rachel Steiner waited quietly till they were done.

“It was, I heard Donegal got attacked as well.”
“Yeah it was relatively minor fortunately, a few acts of sabotage and a bit of combat that we just missed.  They damaged the Carrack Carrier Bloodletter and Fox Ian McQuiston but the Fleet Academy and Clan techs are working on them currently.

With the Nagasawa holding here for a little while I'm certain they won't try anything too bold, especially considering the Hell's Horses and Jade Wolves gathering around Arcturus to take Odessa.  One of my fellow ONI operatives bugged the Demi-Precentor that summoned the Shadow Division to there.  They are going to make sure that threat is removed with extreme prejudice.”

Katherine looked at the other character, Diamond Shark Loremaster Semi Kalasa, someone she did not like but could work with.  “Semi.”
“Where's Barbara?”
“On her way to Alshain; as the only Council Clan that has not attacked the Ghost Bears she is attempting to calm Khan Kabrinsky or at least direct her anger to the proper location.  She is bringing the Whiteout fix as a sign of good faith.  You know those Elementals, they're pretty hard-headed.”
 “What about the others?”
“Loremasters or the Khans?”
“The Clan Loremasters were summoned to Arcturus in order to consult with Chandraskar Kurita at the request of Nova Cat Loremaster Vozka.  He has apparently gathered some interesting intelligence on his own concerning our current foes that he would like to share in person.  We will be more careful this time.  Nox caught us all by surprise we will not be fooled again. 

The Khans well; they need to stop fighting one another first, then I suppose they can come to an arrangement.  I will be riding with Loremasters Fletcher and Pryde.  The Nagasawa's Captain has her orders, she's not going anywhere soon.  I however have to depart soon in order to meet them at the Jump Point.  Perhaps I will see you again in the near-future Katherine, Rachel, and Adam.”

They watched as the Loremaster departed complete to get an urgent message from one of her Watch Agents.  “I don’t like her Katherine.”
KSD:  “I agree Rachel.  Those Diamond Sharks are tricky to deal with and currently are keeping very remote ties.  We unfortunately have more pressing matters however.”

The trio looked toward the SLDF C-1 Dropshuttle that was swarming with ONI operatives and Fleet Master at Arms.  Rachel opened up her canvas bag to pull out a tablet computer.
“Yes, I understand my former classmate is overseeing the loading of some particularly interesting pieces of salvage.”
“Rachel, you went to the University of Washington?”
“Yes, for my doctorate in Computer Science.  I’m not just a pretty face Adam.  In fact UW is actually the primary ONI recruitment and training area nowadays.
“I had no idea you had a doctorate though.  It’s not like you display the Diploma.”
She kissed her husband, “It’s been hanging in my office for years now dear.  You just never look up to see it.”
“Let’s get moving before I embarrass myself further in front of the Archon.”
“You think that’s bad.  Did you ever tell Rachel about the time…”

“We’re not talking about that Katherine.  Ignore anything the Archon says to disparage my character Rachel.  She has it out for me despite everything I’ve done for her.”

Adam turned and walked toward the convoy of black SUVs and Fleet Security Vehicles.  Rachel whispered something to Katherine behind his back and she whispered something back.  She came back with a mischievous smile, “Really?”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 07 February 2019, 17:53:30
06/27/3070 11:57 Location - AMS-NH, Belfast Anchorage, Donegal

Morgana looked wistfully at outside the window of the Alistair Marsden Steiner Naval Hospital, it was a calm place, clear blue sky with puffy clouds, Dunkirk Sound lapped on the cliffs, many boats cruised in and out of the Anchorage.  Some were ferrying the stream of casualties from Tharkad arriving for rehabilitation from the starport across the Sound.  AMS-NH had sent their two Dove class medical dropships to Tharkad on the same merchant jumpship that her mother and brothers had arrived from along with relief supplies for the capital drawn from the Belfast Anchorage and Simon Kelswa Orbital Yard above.

Relief hadn't come soon enough for some of her lost friends when the Shadow Divisions attacked civilian evacuation shelters.  Here she was again in a strange place surrounded by stranger people adrift without a solid anchor.  Like a boat thrashed in a storm that lost its ability to control heading.  She had not spoken to her mother since Tharkad; it felt petty but she had kept at least one dire secret from her. That she existed because her mother loved herself so much that she wanted to bless the Inner Sphere with another version, there was no other explanation.

A maybe 17 or 18 year old hospital volunteer easily identified by her colorful scrubs with a bright contrasting Anne Grenwall, LNA walked fast before stopping at seeing the girl looking out the window.  “Miss.  The doctor is ready for you.  Please follow me.”

They had a bit of a way to go so decide to talk rather than listen in to the beeps of equipment and moans of injured people.  “How did you break your arm?  Climbing trees? Jumping into a shallow pond?”
“My Mech fell over in Tharkad City.”

Morgana watched the young woman light up with curiosity, “Why were you in a mech?”
“I was fighting the ComGuards with my brothers.”
“But you're nine Miss White.  What are you doing in a battle?  Let alone in a mech.  I didn't think they made equipment that small.”
“They don't.”
  She attempted to lift her arm to emphasize her point but the stiff cast restricted her movement, “I didn't really have a choice because the battle came to me.  I was lucky to get out with just a broken arm.”

“You're very brave I could never do that.”
“Brave, Dumb, different sides, same coin.  Maybe I'll get some made and give them to my brothers on their decant day.  They might get a kick out of that.”
  She then cursed herself for using Clan Terms, its not her fault, she lived on Tamar until she was three with an adoptive Clan Technician before Katherine came to collect her and then preceded to hide her away.

“You're a clan kid too.  That's so weird, what's it like?  A bunch of us took leave from school part time to volunteer in order to help the war effort ever since the Clan Reclamation.  I've been doing it for three years, when this is all over I might not even need to go to nursing school I've learned so much. 

Everyone had to pitch in the Donegal Guards drafted the Junior MRTC (Militia Recruitment and Training Command) to fill gaps after fighting so hard for so long.  I guess that just seems normal to you since the Clan Sibko goes right to the Warrior Caste at the end.”

Mercifully Morgana and Anne finally reached their destination before the girl could pester her further, The physician took another scan to confirm that her arm was whole once more. 

“This is a bizarre visit, I'm not used to seeing nine year old girls that are not my granddaughter in my office, especially one with a battle injury.  Doesn't change most things, just makes them smaller.  Your arm has healed rapidly Miss White, you say you broke it three weeks ago which is about right for someone your age.  I would like you to keep it in a sling for another week and avoid strenuous activity for at least two more weeks and it should be completely healed.”

“Should I send for Anne?  The front desk noted that you checked yourself in and don't have a next of kin listed on-world just a blank number.”
“Please just get the cast off me and discharge me.  I have a ferry waiting to Seattle.”
“I can't let you just wander around the grounds unsupervised.”
“I fought a Battlemech against the ComGuards.  I can figure out how to get back to where I need to go.”
“You're a spunky one, kid.  It's not as if you can cause any harm or come to any here.  There are dozens of people that can help and watch out for you.  I have more patients I need to see and Anne has her own tasks when she stops gossiping with the nurses.”

Morgana walked through the hospital, it was lunchtime and she was hungry.  There was no food on the ferry and she had eaten her breakfast bars after stowing away on the ferry this morning desperate to get some time alone to think.  She attracted many stares but moved with purpose, outside observers merely assumed she had gone to bathroom and was rejoining her guardian shortly, rather than that she had run away. 

Katherine was busy with her own issues, Morgana knew she was depressed about what happened on Tharkad and she should be, she painted a big target on herself and to many innocent people paid for it with their lives.  Her brothers were being regaled by tales of Valor against Jade Falcons by the retired General of the Armies Adam Steiner.  She was used to being alone, couldn't even trust her own mother anymore.  She hated her so much.

Morgana walked past a woman roughly her mother's age with a high grade cybernetic arm only noticeable to a trained eye, a portion of her side was still covered in bandages under her shirt likely the result of a burn or other terrible trauma that had resulted in the amputation or destruction of said arm.  She would have been pretty but had been seriously injured in one of the many battles during the last three years or more, the injuries hadn't dampened the innate way that Mechwarriors walked.  She paused and as Morgana passed her the unknown woman called out to her, “Morgan Elizabeth White, stop right there.”

The girl paused and snapped back in a parade reverse, hissing “How do you know my name?”

“I would know that face and walk anywhere.  Even after all these years.”

Morgana got close to her, “Who are you?”
“You mother never told you about me.”
“Depends.  Whats your name soldier?”
“That's a very Katherine move.  Well little girl, I'm Isadora Agravaine, Hauptmann General of the LAAF, formerly of the Second Bolan Grenadiers Heavy Combat Team.  Before that I was Katherine's best friend, roommate, and many other things.

You look just like she did when I met her for the first time on move in day of Tesseraburg Women's Academy.  It's uncanny.”

“She never mentioned you.”
“Well I hope she kept our picture at least.  Perhaps you've seen it, horse, mountains in the background, your mother red from sunburn while trying to hide it under a big hat.”

“I've seen it, she keeps it next to the picture of her and Galen on her desk.”

“Well at least she didn't forget about me then, even if we stopped talking after Tamar.  Your mother is a very difficult friend Morgan, unfortunately I was too good of one.  Why don't we talk over lunch?  You look like you have questions that I might have answers too.  As long as you answer a few of mine.”
“Can I start with how you got wounded?”
“Blakists on Bolan itself in service to Reinhardt Steiner's Iron Wall.  Well the first time at least, cost me my arm and husband.  These burns are from a Forty Third Shadow raid on Mesa Verde.  How did you break your arm.”
“Sixty Sixth ComGuards.  Stiletto tipped over, I got em though.”
“That's great.  Say Morgan do you get terrible migraines after piloting a battlemech?”
“No.  Why?”
“Well your mother does.  Count yourself lucky it might have skipped a generation.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 08 February 2019, 21:47:33
07/04/3070 Location – Michael Cameron Computing Complex, University of Washington, Seattle, Donegal

The Commonwealth’s Office of Naval Intelligence had paid for and maintained a special classified supercomputer complex within the University of Donegal.  The University was Sphere-famous for its demanding computer science and electronics engineering research programs that were head and shoulders above even the vaulted halls of NAIS.

VALA, the computer within had required a vast investment of resources, it had a dedicated power plant, networking connections equal in complexity to those of a major planet, and cooled itself and that power plant with water drawn from the bottom of Belfast Sound.  The facility could take a direct nuclear blast and was EMP shielded by not only the water above but specially designed construction.  It was a very profitable project for Nashan Diversified and Duchess Doons contributed her own money whenever funding from Tharkad had been lacking for short periods in order to maintain her company’s edge.

The whole complex had taken almost 30 years, several dozen lives (lost due to probably Holy Shroud agents in addition to real accidents), a Fleet of Warships worth of Kroner, and countless man-hours to build with lostech recovered from the Helm memory core improved by visiting clan Scientists and new research projects undertaken on-site. 

The program only had uneven financing during the height of Operation-REVIVAL but that quickly leveled out when Katherine became Archon.  It was the kind of high impact long term investment that Katherine the Economist had sought to leverage in an attempt to separate her from her more martial parents and siblings.  It was about to really earn its keep.

Katherine and Rachel Steiner walked through the halls with SLIC Major Daniel Varitz and the Complex’s fastidious Director Dr. Ha Wei Shannon.  They met with Adam Steiner in the classified briefing area.  The door closed behind them and the holographic icon of the Complex was emitted from the table.  “You have brought me something very interesting Major Varitz.  Thank you, Katherine has not given me any puzzles worth VALAs time in quite a while.  You didn’t even call about dealing with the Whiteout.”

“Yes well when you finally distribute the systems engineering schematics of the Durendal destroyers and Kaiser Battlecruisers.  As well as finally compiling the requested data for the expansion and recreation of the Sea Wolf complex and Camelot Command.  I’ll give you and VALA enough work to last until long after you retire.  As you might be able to tell I’ve had other things on my mind lately.”

“Yes well speaking of the Camelot Command.  The task at hand has ties back to that facility.”

A holographic cube was projected above the table containing the all-aspects sensor readout of a SLDF Fighter and its pilot during the latest Battle of Tharkad.  Eventually the pilot was overcome and his craft was rendered combat ineffective due to damage but his black box survived.  “As you can see from this recording the unknown fighters are capable of moving in ways that no human can survive because they are actually advanced drones.  Not even cyborgs like the ‘Manei Domini’.”

Another recording played overlapping with the most extreme maneuvers recording in battle that normal well-trained human pilots, Clan Aerospace phenotype, Manei Domini cyborgs, and finally these unknown drones were capable of performing.  “As you can see there is nearly a thirty percent increase in responsiveness with these new units over the Manei Domini.  By isolating a portion of the operating matrix we were able to see from one drone’s point of view and caught of glimpse of the on-board machine intelligence at work.”

The all-aspect sensor readout showed that the system could not only simultaneously track thirty discrete targets through space but it appeared to learn from them in the process.  “This is a very advanced and robust artificial intelligence.  The only previous examples we found of anything like these were of the Mark Thirty-Nine Voidseeker fighters in the Dark Nebula.  However, we don’t have recordings from Commander Katiara Kylie or Franklin Sakamoto’s fighters to compare their behavior against these new units. 

It’s only because I’ve gotten reconstructed data from derelict units courtesy of Loremaster Pryde in the past that we can even begin to understand the program's architecture.  I want you all to look at the bottom of this screen.”

The hologram zoomed in on an ID strip at the bottom of the augmented view, ‘Mk 50 SDS, Scarab #587AOD’

“I’m afraid there are many more of these devices out there and they are getting smarter each time we fight them.  They might even have ground units that will perform similarly on the Protectorate worlds, in fact I expect they do.”

Adam Steiner stepped up to the table and accessed a simulated reconstruction of the Battle tracking the drone vessel’s “vision” and guidance to its drones moved before them. “I remember Camelot Command.  Those old rickety fighters still gave Franklin and Katiara trouble despite their age and lack of maintenance.  These units are brand new and if what you say is true then even the best Clan fighters can’t hope to match their performance.  Even at this current stage. 

We have to move quickly before they can manufacture more capable ones and win every battle with them if we are to have a chance.  If they can build these units in numbers quickly it won’t matter how many fighters and warships we have.  The Blakists will have absolute space supremacy.”

Katherine’s face was grim in the reflected light of the reconstructed orbital battle, “Well then it’s fortunate that we are already on the warpath then thanks to you and Rachel.  I didn’t think Khan Sennett would come around to seeing things our way quite so quickly.  Everything will be in place shortly thanks to those Sea Fox Potemkins.”

“Yeah well wait till you get the transport bill Katherine.  Anyway I would like to inform you that I am not going to go back to Somerset at least not yet.  I hope to return but I'm not going to miss the greatest conflict since the Amaris Crisis.  Reinhardt still has a lot to learn and I can assure you that I am still quite capable both in the map room and within a Battlemech.  The Somerset Strikers are coming out of retirement for this battle full stop.”

“Well then we need to get moving.  Director Shannon do you think VALA can come up with a way to degrade the drones?”

“I’m certain that it can.  It might take time and more, preferably complete, samples however to discern a weakness that we might be able to exploit.  If I could get a complete datacore from one of the command units that would vastly speed up the understanding of their links and thus potential vulnerabilities just like we figured out for the Clan Warships. 

I understand that a fleet is gathering around Arcturus heading toward something called the Ruins of Gabriel, allegedly a naval facility of some sort.  Can you inform them of my findings?”

Katherine turned her back on the hologram to face Director Shannon, “I’ll do you one better.  Sigma Section and the Wolves Watch has fixed the Whiteout and are already distributing it from the HPG on-world.  Tharkad’s was unfortunately lost during the opening moments of the battle.  Arcturus’ position as a First Circuit world will certainly speed its distribution at least to the Spinward Commonwealth. 

Major Varitz can you take the lead on this operation and liaise with the Director post-operation with any findings from the Odessa?”

“Certainly Archon, I'll send this along to Admiral Dubravka and head to Arcturus on the next shuttle off-world.”

Major Varitz stayed behind to ask questions about the drones that might save the spacers trouble in the upcoming operation while Katherine, Adam, and Rachel walked out of the supercomputer's complex and to a less classified area.  ONI Security personnel watched them the entire way with weapons ready in case of emergency.

“Adam, Rachel, can you head to New Samarkand on my behalf? 

I will likely have to deal with my brother and sister before we attack the Protectorate. Shogun Sakamoto is in charge of the Combine now.  We will need his help if this operation is to be a success.  I don't know if even the might of the AFFC will be sufficient to both keep the Blakists out of the rear lines and fight them on the front ones.  I'll admit the Tharkad attack has me very scared about this whole thing.

I can arrange a command circuit and broad range Black Box transmission in the open capable of reaching into Nova Cat space but after that it’s on your people and Franklin.”

“We have it under control for now.  Once we get inside the bubble who knows.  Franklin probably already has troops on the move trying to punch through the Protectorate before your brother gets within range with the Lancers.  He knows the score, the Blakists already nearly ruined his realm.”

Rachel and he paused at the intersection heading toward the high speed hover ferry which would take them to Starport where their Conquistador drop-ship was waiting, “It will be nice to see Franklin again despite the current crisis.  The Somerset Strikers are heading to New Samarkand.  We'll link up with you afterwards.”

“Make sure you get a datacard with the HPG Whiteout update on it.  Its going to take a while to bring the system online even if we had the parts.  Better to start from as many places as possible.  The Nova Cats will be well-positioned to begin repairs of the Combine's HPGs even without COMSTAR.  Safe travels.  I will inform the Belfast Anchorage to begin stringing together a command circuit by the time you reach the Nadir.”

“Katherine, be careful; you are only mortal after all.  We don't need them getting a win before we launch.”

“Thanks for your concern Rachel.  Keep yourselves out of trouble, you're heading into mostly unknown territory in the Combine.  Don't let the Dragons bite.”

The two of them departed before Katherine was joined once more by her Diplomatic Guard bodyguards led by the tall, soft spoken, and very competent Captain Aiden Byrne.  Katherine did miss Krauser but that beast of a man had retired years ago to Adelaide with a generous retirement gift courtesy of the Archon-Princess.  He had actually turned down a larger one, Katherine would have made him a Baron if he asked for it but he was humble to the end. 

With the Wolf Touman following their Khan to Glengarry the LIC was back in the much coveted Praetorian Guard assignment.  Dark sunglasses and suits concealed arms and intent despite the warm late summer season on Donegal.  “Madainn Mahat Aiden.”

“Cad e an de-sceal Katherine?”

Katherine looked at the man with feigned annoyance, “You know I don't know much Gaelic Aiden.  I only speak four languages plus some creative cursing.  You'll understand if I stop here.”

“Ay.  Where are we headed Archon?”

“I need to talk to a particular doctor.  Take me to the Nashan Pharmaceuticals lab in Queen Anne.  Then we will head back to the Donegal Grand.  The Spirit of Seattle is still secure, yes?”

“That it is Archon, they just checked in.  I trained some of the lads from Donegal Grand watching it right now me-self, off-duty of course.  We already have the car ready for ya.  I'll call ahead to this lab and make sure its all clear.”

Katherine was escorted to the waiting convoy of MRAP style armored vehicles painted Blue and Silver, the armored vehicle was far cry from her limo but it would help protect her from Blakist attack, at least until reinforcements came, “Did I miss anything while I was down there Aiden?”

“Well some of the boys caught your daughter making a run for it.  She's a tricky lass to follow too according to John.  You must have taught her right, she almost marked him a few times while heading through the city she did.  John's no amateur, straight ghillie he is, no one escapes him when he's on your tracks. 

Morgana stowed aboard one of the ferries headed toward AMS-NH with a group of Tharkadians and checked herself in to the hospital there for some reason.  Any of my medics could have done the job and taken the little cast off. 

Anyway I answered the phone and gave her permission to stay.  I told them to keep an eye on 'er but not to infer.  Seems harmless enough, little youthful rebellion is good sometimes for a kid.  You should talk to her about it when you see her next.”

“She won't listen to me.”

“ 'fraid I can't help you there Katherine.  Only got a son myself. 

Good lad.  Wants to be a soldier just like his dear old dad. 

His mum works at the hospital.  I called her recently just to check in on your little girl, covertly of course.  Morgana is talking to some wounded female general that's been there awhile right now.  We can pick 'er up on the way back from Queen Anne if you'd like, or I'll get John to bring her back in the fan-car.”

“I think its better she get it out of her system now.  Tell John to bring her back before nightfall in the hover.”

“Aye, Archon.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 08 February 2019, 22:21:47
20:58 Location – The Donegal Grand Hotel, Belfast, Donegal

With so many displaced Tharkad VIPs on world the Donegal Grand Hotel was hopping with haute couture.  There were no parties however, which would have been seen as very tasteless anyway considering recent events, instead the ballroom was housing lesser nobles in the nicest cots that the LAAF could buy.

High atop the brightly lit tower Archon Katherine Steiner had three floors reserved for her retinue with a helicopter always on the pad and heavily armed guards (Hotel Security and Diplomatic Guard) watching every access point to the floors.  They were also keeping eyes on and guard near the vehicles at all times.  The lenticular windows had a spectacular view high above every feature in Belfast and made sniping impossible even if you could get atop the Nashan Computers Tower. 

On the table she had a new experimental prescription for her Dobrowski Depression-A.  The medicine had been freshly synthesized today in the lab.  The medicine had been altered just enough that it might get her through this crisis with nothing but hope and dreams for what would happen afterwards.  Her headaches and condition had been worsening by the day.  The intensive campaign on Tharkad combined with the horror and stress of the events that transpired there were wearing her down faster than ever before. 

Every little bit counted these days, there was to much was at stake for her to succumb to her personal demons while real ones still lived.  She was a monster sure but there were worse ones out there.  Katherine had seen them up close and there was no mistaking them for anything remotely human anymore.  At least she tried to look the part of an angel if one with a broken wing and cast out of heaven for sin.

She looked down at the glass of brandy in her hands and couldn't remember how many she had today.  It wasn't good to mix the medication with libation but that had never stopped her before.  Sometimes she felt it was the only thing that kept her sane at all when she was overcome with stress and weakened.  Just drown out the voices and come through on the other side with an easier to explain reason for a headache.

A knock on her door caught her attention. Katherine placed the glass down on the antiquely styled wooden table and put the pill bottle into the pockets of her white cotton robe.  “Come in.”

Morgana walked in she must have just arrived because she hadn't bothered to clean herself up from earlier and still had her arm in a sling although the cast was gone.  The two of them had hardly spoken the past few weeks and Katherine couldn't blame her.  Despite her best efforts she wasn't going to be winning awards for being the best Mother in the Inner Sphere anytime soon or probably ever.  “What happened to your cast dear?”

“I got it taken off today.”
“That's good Morgana.  I remember when I broke my hand, at Sister Jocelyn's as a girl after a metal teapot fell on it.  I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to write letters to dad while it healed up and was crushed.  I got good enough with my left to keep them coming.  Little victories.”

“Little victories.
Mom, I'm sorry I was so mad at you.  Can you forgive me?”

Katherine leaned over the kiss the girl on the forehead being certain to hold the pocket with the pills in it so they didn't rattle and produce uncomfortable questions from her daughter.  “Of course I can.  You're my daughter.  I'll love you and your brothers forever even if you hate me at times.  I can't claim to be a great mother but I certainly try my best.  I hope you can see that. 

Can we talk?”

“What about?”

Katherine sat down in the chair keeping more than arm's length from her brandy so as to not distract herself from the gravity of the matter and patted the seat next to her which Morgana filled.  “I'm going to a place where I don't want you or your brothers to follow.  It is going to be very dangerous; greater than anything we've face together, and I don't know if or when I will return. 

To be honest I'm glad you found out although I would have preferred to have told you myself at some later time.  It would have hurt me deeply had you not known before something happened to me.  I've been very lucky, but this is a war and I am a Warrior if a reluctant one but still mortal. 

I didn't want any of this to happen but spent the better part of my life preparing for it anyway.  You three are going to stay on Donegal.  It is as safe as it can be these days and there are enough trustworthy people to watch you and if the worst were to happen to Vlad or I...arrangements have already been made.”

Morgana understood but still was crying as was Katherine at the finality of that sentence, “Will you write?”

Katherine hugged her gingerly avoiding the still sore arm in a sling, “With the HPGs soon to be back online.  I'll do it with both hands as often as possible.”

“When do you have to leave?”
  She hugged her deeper while shielding the bottle as if to reassure herself that this was the right course of action but resigned herself to walk it till the end if necessary, “too soon.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 09 February 2019, 06:57:59
Nice update, thanks
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 10 February 2019, 17:08:21
07/14/3070 08:45 Location – Castle Kamakura, New Samarkand, Draconis Combine

Shogun Franklin Sakamoto sat calmly in seiza along with Tara Catseye (Nova Cat Watch) looking out over Kamakura's garden receiving an update on his very sensitive problem.  The Nova Cats had tracked the Black Dragon and Order of Five Pillars operative Mara Selencia and her son; their son, even if he hadn't told the Cats he was certain they inferred it and thus understood his urgency.  The woman was last seen on the provincial capital of Oshiko but her trail got thin afterwards.  Not gone but harder to follow and filled with red herrings, black dragons, or perhaps yellow birds. The Cat's eye didn't know when they would find her but would continue looking.  There were many places she could hide and her conspiracy had many agents that could assist her but the Nova Cats were relentless and well-resourced. 

He gave the woman additional instructions and asked that she report back to him monthly, the Nova Cat woman politely bowed and exited only to be replaced by a young man, one of the Palace Pages.  The man got to his knees and bowed deeply rather than meet the Shogun's eyes, "Shogun Sakamoto-heiko, the Steiners are waiting in the Dawn room.”

Franklin stood while holding his daishi, the original Kurita family sword was lost on Dieron so another had to be made to start a new Dynasty, the Sakamoto Shogunate,  “You were supposed to inform me the moment they arrived.”
“Apologies, but you told us that the Nova Cat was priority this morning.  We did not wish to offend you or your guests by interrupting.  If we erred I will atone.”
“Run across the garden only once.”
  The garden of course referred to the rock garden which could be walked safely but running would be mildly painful with bare feet.
“Hai.  Thank you.”

He dismissed the young man with a gesture who rapidly disappeared down the side corridor that led the garden.  The Shogun closed the sliding door which looked like ornate paper but was in fact a bullet resistant cloth.  Franklin Sakamoto watched as four of his new bodyguard unit, the Kin Masuko (Golden Masks) drawn from commandos in the Hanko resistance, stood and reset their swords around the hakamas.  Many of these soldiers had been trained directly by Franklin or under another that he had trained thus he knew what they were capable of and they understood what he expected.  Their black tunics and trousers were atop a gold colored hakama when inside the castle, but they wore ballistic armor, gold and red colored zunari kabuto helmets, and wielded regular DCMS weapons outside the castle.

Franklin walked through the Castle, it was not a massive building but was intricately crafted and filled with secret passageways due to its history as an ISF fortress and classy prison for people that could not just be eliminated for some reason.  Servants retreated to their rooms on their knees with heads touching the tatami floors as the Shogun walked past with his guards.  He walked across the castle and one of the guards opened the door to the Dawn room allowing Franklin to step in before closing it behind him.

Adam and Rachel Steiner were wearing kimonos properly which was a pleasant surprise.  Rachel even had her shoulder length brown hair up.  Franklin had never seen her grow it out during their time together but it looked nice.  Both stood from their low chairs and bowed slightly though not as deep as the Combine courtiers would have liked for gai-jin visitors meeting with their Shogun.  “It has been a long time friends.”

Adam reached out and shook Franklin's hand, “Too long Franklin.”
“I am sorry I missed the wedding Adam and Rachel.  I believe I was desperately fighting Black Dragons on Luthien during that happy event.  Who knows what might have happened if I left the Combine to fight the Falcons alongside both of you once again.”

Rachel hugged him, “Our invitation to Somerset still stands Shogun Sakamoto.”
“If it were not so far away I would happily make it my first foreign trip as Shogun.”

Adam pointed to the kanji and Chrysanthemum crest on Franklin's black kimono, “Why Shogun rather than Coordinator Franklin?”

“You know I never wanted to be Coordinator Adam.  Tried everything I could to get out of it but the Draconis Combine needs strong guidance and deep wisdom to rebuild.  I will try to finally finish what my father started and reform its darker impulses.  This way I can do that and never need to be called Coordinator. I don't feel worthy of the title.

On lighter terms I was happy to learn that you survived and were coming this way courtesy of the Black Boxes.  The HPGs being down have made it difficult to keep up with current events even inside the Combine.  We've had have precious little information outside of it since Katherine locked the Lyran Black Box Network down.”

Rachel presented a data-card with the ONI logo on it pulled from a pocket in her kimono, “We have already begun disseminating the update to the HPG system.  This upgrade will bring the system back online but it might take a while and require the capture of the First Circuit in order to ensure it gets everywhere. 

The Nova Cats are already working on it in the Irece Prefecture.  As far as we know the Ghost Bears have directed their efforts only against COMSTAR rather than annihilating their abjured kin next door.”

“Domo Arigato Rachel.  That puts my mind at ease, though it remains troubled.  I understand that Katherine has dispatched you to New Samarkand.  Does she have a plan?”

“It's unfortunately a work in progress but we have a good starting point.  The Blakists are getting bolder and more destructive each passing day Tharkad has been devastated with major casualties like Luthien was. 

The Clans are moving on Terra and Photon is nearing Kalidasa.  We don't know enough about the current state of the Sol Protectorate's worlds yet.  That's all we have so far. 

Have Peter or Yvonne sent a representative yet?”

“I have not received anyone from New Avalon yet, not even a Black Box promise for one.  Tancred was intending to come according to secondhand sources but was drawn back by increasing Blakist activity near Robinson.  I think they don't want us to come together and fear the Shadows have killed their courier. 

My people are still clearing out Black Dragons in our midst.  The DCMS only has a few trusted regiments to spare on the Dieron front.  I need a few more months to ensure the loyalty of my forces before I would send them on an offensive against the Sol Protectorate.  I understand you have no lack of equipment and require Warriors but we don't need more insider attacks especially if things get difficult.”

“We'll send a black box message back to Reinhardt then.  Photon Brett-Marik and he are due to meet up soon according to their latest battle reports.  Can you send a trusted officer to coordinate with the others?”

“I have just the right bright young officer I can trust with this sort of assignment.  Akira!”

One of the Kin Masuko a young man hardly 20 walked in.  This man had a mixed and exotic complexion, braided brown hair, possessing a warrior's grace, and lean strong body.  The door was closed the door behind him by unseen agents before he bowed to those assembled.  “You called for me Shogun-heiko.”

“Yes. Akira, I am loaning you to the Somerset Strikers until I order you otherwise. You are to serve as my representative in the fight against the Word of Blake until I myself can join you.  Choose eleven mechwarriors from among those on New Samarkand to go with you.”

He bowed to Franklin, “I am honored to serve as your agent Shogun.”
Akira adjusting and facing Adam and Rachel Steiner.  “I am Akira Tormark, at your service.”
“You are dismissed Akira.  Find your Warriors and begin preparations.”
“Hai, Shogun.  I will have selected them by nightfall and ready to depart by the morning.”

The man opened the door which was closed again from the other side.  “He is an ambitious and excellent battlefield officer, he needs a little polishing but you will be pleased with his performance.

Adam, Rachel.  I do hope you can stay a few days while the Command Circuit comes back into alignment.”

Adam drank from a cup of tea poured from the fine tea kettle next to them.  “Our timetables are a moving target.  However, there is no real rush for the Strikers to return before the Army of True Patriots or Iron Wall link up, we're just a small part in a bigger plan. 

We had hoped that New Avalon and Tikonov would have sent someone by now so we could make personal contact.  It would make our jobs on the other side much easier if the Federated Suns were in the fight as well.”

“They took a major beating at the hands of the Trinity states and Blakists early on.  I don't know Peter well but if he is anything like Hanse or Victor the Federated Suns is in good hands.  He will send someone eventually and I will be happy to act as intermediary if Katherine doesn't wish to face him personally.  There will be plenty of battle in our near future without another civil war between Steiner-Davions.”

“Well I do know something about him Franklin, but I hope you're right because I didn't have as much confidence in him at Nagelring when he was student of mine.”

“Say you said Glengarry right Adam?”
“Yes, why?”

Franklin Sakamoto nodded to him and Rachel, “Its in my bag Shogun.  You don't really want to open a bottle of hundred year old scotch before lunch do you?”

“Now that I think about I'm terribly famished friend.  Perhaps we should get lunch early.”

Rachel perked up, “That's a plan I can get behind.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 10 February 2019, 18:04:58
 ;D ;D ;D  Nice little interlude.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 11 February 2019, 15:05:47
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 11 February 2019, 17:28:10
Riding the Wave

07/18/3070 Location – Donegal Nadir Station Green Jenny, Donegal, Federated Commonwealth

Katherine was strapped down in the foam couch of the Avalanche's common area watching the view-screen from the command deck as the very small Union-X FCDS Avalanche approached the unfathomably large CDS Titanic.  The Mjolnir Battleships were nearly equal but dense while the Potemkin looked like a bloated space whale with dropship size barnacles clinging to it.  While the Wolves now had a Potemkin (WIS Full Moon) Katherine had never seen nor been aboard it. 

This particular vessel was loaded down with Clan dropships from the farthest ends of their former Occupation Zones, Warriors of all types and support personnel to ensure they could keep in the fight.  Its cargo hold was filled with enough equipment to possibly give them a chance against the Sol Protectorate on its home turf. 

All the guns in the world meant nothing if there was no one to wield them.  The Council Clans had emptied their sibkos and front lined solahma and freeborn Warriors and Technicians, filling gaps with raw recruits if necessary bringing their Touman's to an unsustainable level.  All potential candidates were given a Trial of Position to participate in the coming battle that would shake the very rotten core of the Inner Sphere.

Soon enough the Potemkin filled the view screen and their docking collar was just barely visible.  The nose target indicator appeared to give the pilot more information about his velocity and heading. A data link from the Titanic informed him of just how to maneuver and eventually the dropship was completely relative to the Potemkin which extended the docking boom and pulled the pitifully small vessel into its berth.  The Diamond Shark controller for this docking ring came over the intercom, The Ship's Captain Star Admiral Robert Clarke “Welcome to the Titanic Archon.  Feel free to come aboard.”

She looked toward Aiden, “Well how can I turn down that invitation?”
The man looked right back, “Sure the Archon of the Commonwealth on-board a mobile Clan base heading toward a war-zone.  What could possibly go wrong?”
“Precisely.  Let's see whats in there.”
“Very well Archon.”

Katherine and a pair of bodyguards went to the main airlock deck meeting a few off-duty Avalanche crew who were also waiting.  All except Katherine were wearing their light gray jumpsuits with blue accents and silver unit insignia, Katherine had her blonde hair in a bun but was wearing a stylish blue jumpsuit (fashion jumpsuit, not utility) with soft boots.  They had a few more days until both cores of the Titanic were charged and then they would jump toward Aur and the Succor class Jumpship Tender SLS Refuge {one of four modified (Relief, Succor, and Safe Harbor) Leviathan Jumpships that had been in the COMSTAR reserve but re-engineered as part of the 2nd SLDF.  Two of which were at Delavan, one around Tamarind, and the final one around Marik at the fall of the Star League.  It has only one docking collar, large fuel stores, passenger berths, a KF battery, and recharge equipment} built to provide charging for a pair of other jump cores, The complete trip to Caledonia would take slightly more than two weeks of double jumping and interplanetary transit assuming everything went as planned. 

Katherine could have created a command circuit but she didn't want to push her TDS to the limit when so many other things were falling apart.  She could use the two weeks for the situation to develop and with the Titanic's weapons and its escort the Essex destroyer Marseilles there was little chance the Blakists would attack their convoy particularly since a Clan fleet was heading to Odessa to destroy their naval yard there.

The Commonwealth spacers cycled through the airlock built into the docking collar.  Cold ammonia piped in from the outside of the accordion like collar was providing hydrogen and cooling for the Avalanche while it was docked greatly limiting the two biggest strains on the life support.  The spacers cycled the airlock and entered Diamond Shark territory for the first time.  There was a long soft fabric lined tunnel that led to a central hub.

 A Point of Armored Elemental Masters of Arms (Naval MPs) was watching over the wheel that provided ring access, their magnetic boots and battle claws allowed them to cling to the walls and 'ceiling.'

They floated through a portal ring which blinked red, one of the MoAs came to the 'ground' with a crash and pointed his battle claw at her Chief Bodyguard,  “No weapons aboard the Titanic.”

Aiden handed over his laser pistol, “Apologies, force of habit.”
The Elemental held the laser pistol gently in his battle claw, “Anyone else?”
Katherine's spacers looked around, “Neg.  Point Leader.”

“Good move along.  Update your comm-pads and keep your ID handy.  This is a big ship and we do not want to look for you if you get lost, and someone will stop you in you wander somewhere you don't belong.  Your dropship is currently on ring three, berth five.  The Promenade is five decks up, we will take your Kerenskies but not your attiude so keep out of trouble.”

Katherine and crew worked their way 'up,' the Potemkin was not under thrust thus there was no gravity anywhere except on one of the four massive gravity rings.  No expense had been spared when the Diamond Sharks retrofitted this vessel in the old Brekke Shipyards in the Chainelaine Islands and it showed.  Although the corridors were utilitarian they were well-maintained and had minor artistic touches; new painted murals, pleasant fabric in rooms, and intricate designs cut into the plastic covers that protecting the pipes and wires that fed this beast of a ship. 

This vessel was designed to impress, for Merchants first, War second.  The Titanic and its sister vessels were to be the foundation of a massive trade group that the Diamond Sharks were attempting to build in the Inner Sphere.  Already the Sea Fox Trading Company was deploying to Free Worlds League space in order to take over their HPGs at the request of Captain-General Corrine Marik.  Her own Wolf Logistics firm would finally have some worthwhile competition that would make them more efficient, Simon Gallagher would need to up his game.

Finally they encountered 'The Promenade Decks.'  This massive pair of gravity deck connected by two regular ones had upscale berths, a gym, saloon, salon, spa, casino, movie theater, battle simulators, sports rooms, and even a high class restaurant with its own dedicated aquaponics system.  It provided accommodations and facilities that rivaled any Magistracy pleasure liner.  Aiden whistled, “Now this is traveling Archon.  Who would have thought traveling Clan could ever be nice.  I thought they were all about function.”

“This provides the intended function Aiden.  This vessel is a Merchant vessel first, not a combat one although it still has plenty of firepower.  Khan Sennet is looking to impress prospective trading partners.  I dare say she accomplished her objective.  Let's check it out.  I'm very particular about my seafood, lets see if a Diamond Shark knows how to cook us some fish.”

08/01/3070 Location – New Edinburg, Caledonia, Federated Commonwealth

The Union-X FCDS Avalanche landed amongst an Armada of similar vessels, most were AFFC but a few were SLDF or FWLM.  A convoy of MRAP vehicles worked their way through the maze of dropships to find them on the edge.  The ramp lowed and Katherine walked down her ash blonde hair in a braid long enough to reach her pistol in its chest harness followed by her bodyguards.  She stopped with a little swish of her blue and gold combat uniform before a man with a proud look and prominent facial scar, he saluted her and she returned it.  “General Reinhardt, I like your scar.  How did you get it?”

“Believe or not I fell in the shower and broke the glass divider.”
“I wouldn't tell the ladies that.”
“Of course, I mean I killed a Manei Domini Banshee with my bare hands before it could detonate a nuclear device in order to save an orphanage.”
“What about the puppies from the attached dog shelter?”
“Saved them too.  So innocent and adorable.”
“I hope you received a medal for your valor then.”
“Still waiting on the paperwork Archon.”
“I'll be sure to put it at the top of my list General.”
“You wouldn't happen to know a lady then?  Tough to meet people when you are saving the Commonwealth all your waking hours.”

Katherine put her hand on her chin in thought, “I could help you there but it didn't work out well for my previous General of the Armies.  She's a sweet girl though.  I could give you her number if your interested, I'm certain she would be.”

“The troops are ready for inspection if you'd like Katherine.”
“I would like that, something about a man in uniform.  Especially if I designed them.  Let's go General Steiner.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 12 February 2019, 06:24:40
 ;D ;D ;D ;D  Funny.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 12 February 2019, 16:30:33
Clever entry, AlphaMirage!
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 13 February 2019, 17:03:18
;D ;D ;D ;D  Funny.

Clever entry, AlphaMirage!

Thanks, This story may be a tragedy but that doesn't mean it lacks levity


Photon Bridges the Gap

08/11/3070 08:47 Location – Yonei, New Kyoto, Federated Commonwealth

Photon Brett(-Marik)’s dropship, the Outpost (seized from the Hell’s Horses after the Blinding Eye Incident and “gifted” to the SLDF) SLS Golden Eagle, landed at the spacious and scenic spaceport outside New Kyoto’s second city.  A steady breeze blew the smell of fragrant flowers reminding him of those in Unity Palace on Luthien.  It was a nice change of pace from active battlefields. 

His Army of True Patriots had worked their way inward from the periphery bordering portions of the Free Worlds League in pursuit of the Word of Blake.  He had only a few weeks of R&R on Marik during the whole year to spend time with his family and coordinate the final push with his cousins Corrine and Alys.  There would be more time when this was through, but none to waste now, especially if what Katherine had transmitted was true.

There were four other vessels present on the tarmac, the LC-GotA Reinhardt Steiner's Fortress Enduring Valor, the Archon's Union-X Avalanche; a black and gold Kami (Holds 12 BM, 2 LV, 6 ASF with 500 tons of supplies) DCMS dropship Photon couldn't read the Kanji but was told the vessel was named Ageless, and Adam Steiner's (well the AFFC's but he borrows it regularly) Conquistador Somerset Striker.

A small convoy of buses and cars began approaching from the nearby bunker headed toward them.  He looked over to his subordinate co-commanders, Clan Nova Cat's saKhan Hiro(hoto) Katayama and the Eridani Light Horse's Brevet General Charles Antonescue, “Better than the welcome we've gotten at some places right?”

saKhan Katayama adjusted his new duty uniform, recently arrived from the Irece Prefecture and cut like those of the DCMS.  The Nova Cats had been adopting more DCMS trappings recently as their sibkos rushed over their traditions to deal with their seemingly endless recent crises. 

Finally under Shogun Sakamoto they were receiving enough support.  Khan West's strong relationship with Commanding General Brett had him championing them in the remaining Second Star League organizations.  The 2SL had been primarily supported by the FWL and Draconis Combine rather than the FedCom, until very recently when Katherine could use their help.  The Nova Cats as core members of the SLDF were on the ascent within the Inner Sphere despite their Clan origins. “There is always a chance things get interesting Generals.”

General Antonescue couldn't help but shake his head at the Clanner.  He was getting too old for this, “I can stand to be bored for a few weeks Hiro.  Especially if its here, maybe throw in some geishas and I'm set.  We still got back pay coming, right Photon?”

"If we can live through this you might be able to get your planet from Corrine General."

Photon watched as a snow white Edasich EM-890 Limo stopped before their ramp.  A group of well dressed LIC Diplomatic Guardsmen exited and eyed the three men and the soldiers behind them.  The sunglasses they were wearing reflected the whole image in relief.  All but one stood at attention, he opened the doors to the sedan.

The first out was a man in his early thirties with salt and pepper hair and a scar across his forehead wearing the blue and white formal uniform of the LCAF exited first.  He was followed by a gorgeous woman in her late thirties wearing a fine blue flower print kimono with her ash blonde hair in a neat bun.  She would be recognizable anywhere in the Inner Sphere that had Tri-Vid access but it was the first time Photon had seen her in person.  “Archon Steiner, pleasure to meet you.”

“The pleasure is all mine General Brett and honored guests.  Welcome to New Kyoto
However, don't let the tranquil appearance fool you this is very much the front line.  Why don't you join me?”

The Nova Cat looked at Reinhardt, despite everything he had done the other General of the Armies Steiner was the better known one, “Where's Adam?”
Katherine looked to Reinhardt, “Adam Steiner will be joining us shortly.  We received the first reports from Odessa just before you arrived.  The Potemkin Blood Horse was critically damaged in the battle.  Fortunately Odessa has a Naval Yard, unfortunately it is damaged and too small.  The Council will have to make do with one fewer Potemkin so some plans need to change.  He's better at that than I am.”

saKhan Katayama walked up to him uncomfortable close, “What are you better at?”
Reinhardt leaned in coming face to face with the saKhan.  Reinhardt had cut his teeth fighting Clan and Combine Mechwarriors.  Nova Cats were thus the worst combination possible, “Let's just say you don't want to get in The Rhino's way, kittyama.”

Katherine crossed her arms and yelled at both of them in the same tone she used with her own sons when they were acting up, “We don't have time for your posturing boys.  Get in the car.  Adam will join us when he is able.” 

Both men separated but kept their eyes on one another.  She looked at Photon, “Is he always like this General?”

“Afraid so Archon.  One of the best damn Mechwarriors I've ever seen in action though.  I would have been killed several times over if it wasn't for Hiro and his instincts.”
“I wonder if they mixed him with some Mongoose or Widowmaker.”

“You would know better than I Katherine.  Where's your husband?”

“My husband is on Glengarry, attempting to cajole the other Council Khans into meeting.  The upcoming operations will require their concerted efforts.”
“He wants to be ilKhan, you mean.”

“Someone has to be.  Why can't it be Vladimir?  However, the other Khans are as hard to herd as,”
she looked toward the saKhan and her General of the Armies staring at one another, “well cats.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 14 February 2019, 16:47:07
08/12/3070 06:48 Location – Coalition Command Center, New Kyoto, Federated Commonwealth

Katherine walked into the Command Center with a steaming mug of tea only to find that everyone had already assembled more than an hour early of their morning meeting date.  “This is never a good sign.  What's happened?”

Adam and Reinhardt were arguing about something in German while moving units on the holo-table trying to make sense of the incoming reports.  The Nova Cat's SaKhan was speaking quietly with Photon Brett-Marik.  The Kin Masuko Tai-i Akira Tormark looked toward her and bowed just enough to show his corn-row braids, “Archon, the Opacus Venaturi and Dantalion's Dirge attacked Arcturus and killed the gathering Clan Loremasters and Chandraskar Kurita.”

“Verdamnt! How did they know!”
“We don't know yet Archon.  The reports just came in and Colonel Steiner rushed out to consult with her ONI assets.  The Loremasters of both Wolves, Hell's Horses, Diamond Shark, Ghost Bear, and Nova Cat perished in the fight however I heard they died valiantly.  Then the attackers warped out aboard the Dante destroyer Divine Inferno.”
“Not the Snow Ravens?”

“No, Loremaster Klaus Harper of the Snow Ravens is still in transit with Khan McKenna and the rest of the Snow Ravens.  Last I heard they should be nearing Midway and were not due to arrive in force for at least two months; but that didn't leave New Samarkand until I just said it to you.  We have yet to receive any updates concerning the Ice Hellions or your brother and sister.”

“The Hellions weren't invited anyway.  Did the Blakists cause any other damage?”
“The Duchess was killed but it appears to due to collateral damage according to the HPG.”

“You said Dantalion's Dirge right?”
“Yes, however no unit of that name has been spotted before according to LAAF reports.”
“No they haven't because it used to be Naamah's Nightwalkers and was under Clan Wolf reports.  They committed some of the worse atrocities on Tharkad.  Where the hell is Naamah?”

“That I can't know Archon.  I do however have to speak to the saKhan and inform Khan West that his Loremaster has perished.”
“Well I need to find out, I have a score the settle with that woman.”
  Katherine gave a tiny bow to the Combine Mechwarrior who bowed deeper before she turned and opened the door, “No one sits on Tharkad's throne but me.”

08/13/3070 21:58 Wolf Logistics Tower, Neuberlin, Weingarten, Wolf Empire

Chief Quartermaster Simon Gallagher was enjoying a fine glass of Weingarten Spätburgunder in his luxurious penthouse office with his very pleasant young secretary.  He was an old man but that didn't matter, the pills still worked, better that ever in fact and his mind for numbers and business was still sharp.  Katherine had seen fit to provide him a comfortable exile in Clan space. Space that now no longer included the mercurial and demanding Khan Ward, ostensibly his boss, who was playing house with his actual boss. 

A knock on the door caused her to head to the other room and heard the shower turn on.  “This was going to take a while any how.”  He sighed and put the wine down on the table before opening the door, on the other side was a stern looking ONI courier.  “What are you doing here?  The HPG is online now and you could have called me.”

“Message said not to Simon.”  The courier looked at the man in his satiny bathrobe with amusement, “Sorry to interrupt but you have some work to do.”  He handed a plain envelop from his courier pouch to the Quartermaster.  The courier then walked back to the elevator and disappeared out of his sight.
“God what is it this time?  I can't make more hyper pulse generator parts fall out of the sky Katherine no matter how much money you give me.  The HPGs will get back on when they do and not a moment before.  You did fine without them for nearly two years.”

A faint voice came in from the other room, “Is everything alright Simon?”

He returned to his chair and drank a sip of wine, “It will be fine.  Just some work.  I will be with you in a few minutes.” Upon opening the envelop containing a black box transmission from New Kyoto he was glad he dipped the glass enough that the red wine spilled all over the leather couch. 

He was about to put the message's paper in to blot out the wine but thought better of it just in time to change to a few napkins instead.

He cleared his throat, “I don't think tonight is a good night.  I'm going to call you a cab.  I have a lot of work to do.”

The woman returned wearing nothing more than a towel, “Can I help?”
“No, I'm afraid not.  We're not playing 'Simon says' tonight.”

She seemed disappointed, “but its my favorite game.”
“Mine too,” he said under his breath.  “I'm sorry Anita.  Maybe tomorrow, now get dressed.”
Anita let out a quiet sigh and lingered hoping he might change his mind but he quickly dissuaded her.  She closed the door with a bang.  “Not my fault.”  He called a cab for Anita and then dialed the head of WolfNet, the division of Wolf Logistics in charge of superliminal communications.  The man was a notoriously early sleeper and was angry on the other side with the interruption.  “What the hell Sim?  Do you know what time it is?” 
“Banksy, I need a major problem dealt with.  Immediately.  Katherine is certain there is a Word mole in your organization.  She's sending every Molehunter and Lohegrin agent she can muster here.  Express.  She intends to check every codex.”
“There's thousands of Technicians in just WolfNet alone.  That could take months not even including the greater organization.”
“You have two weeks Banksy.  Make it happen.  I'll do what I can to help.”

Anita walked past him, all pretty, doe-eyed, and hurt as she exited the apartment, “The perks are too good at this job and if we don't make it happen.  Well then its a dead end kind of job.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 14 February 2019, 23:39:22
 ;D ;D ;D  Nicely set up.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: DOC_Agren on 18 February 2019, 00:40:19
I think herding cats might be easier the Khans ;D
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 18 February 2019, 06:39:01
;D ;D ;D  Nicely set up.


I think herding cats might be easier the Khans ;D



08/17/3070 Location – Grand Canal Industrial District, Mars, Sol Protectorate

Precentor Poltergeist Omicron Naamah (aka Ebon Magistrate Colonel Nera Artemev) looked out at the canal from the Ares Industrial hover ferry.  Robotic watercraft moved in well-defined lanes marked by glowing buoys over the benighted water, like the mythical River of Styx.  Just like that river if you jumped in it would result in rapidly dying of either the cold or the fact that is was filled with toxic industrial effluent that would eat away at your flesh.  The once Martian playground of the rich was now a land of machines and malice. 

Mars had been little more than a neglected mining colony for centuries but The Blood (of Ares) had built it up in secret for decades without informing COMSTAR's Primus.  Naamah was terribly surprised when she had found other Wolverines among the Word of Blake during her ascension, other than her own Ebon Magistrate.  Of course the two would likely never meet which was for the better.  Her own Clan would have reacted poorly once they saw how their kin had developed in isolation on Mars.  They did things that would make the most experimental Canopian "Bodymorphs" and extreme Far Looker Adapters squeamish.  She was less judgmental, at least on that matter.

Naamah tightened her blood red full body coat and black half-face mask with goggles, the rest of her face was covered by a specially treated balaclava.  Mars would never be like Terra even with The Blood restarting some Terra-forming.  A frail on the surface would still have to wear a mask to get sufficient oxygen and unless they were fully enclosed even Cyborgs needed more down in the canyonlands to keep their brains healthy.  Additionally it was still very cold on the surface, the canyon was slightly warmer as the water was heated once more as a side effect of industry.  Her cybernetics filtered out the industrial toxins but she needed a little bit of supplemental oxygen down here around the pollution.

The hovercraft approached a docking station that was just slightly above the water level but well within the hover's air cushion.  This “shelf mansion” had belonged to the once planetary governor, Reginald Windsor-Small V, a many times descendant of the ancient Terra British Royalty.  Naamah stepped off the platform with her small minder unit of Fidelis, the name a group of 'ascended' ex-Smoke Jaguars had taken rather than their clan identity.  They had been liberated by the Opacus Venatori from a DCMS POW camp and ascended to be the Master's own bodyguard under their former Galaxy Commander who had taken the Ascended name of Raphael.  They accepted the fate that they would never step foot on Terra but would instead die while avenging the death of their clan which brought some solace.

 If only they knew how many of their former Jaguars survived on Tetski.  They could never know however, better to let them live out their last fantasy fighting her foes rather than herself.  Naamah walked forward and was greeted by Azrael, the normally ranking Manei Domini in the Terran system and former 'Khan/Bishop' of The Blood before they joined completely with the Word of Blake.
“Naamah, Blake's Blessings be upon you.”
“To you as well. Azrael”
“Thanks to you we can spread the Word of Blake once more”
“The Word yes but not his Order.  How is The Master?”
“Dead, the uplift was unsuccessful.  His mind was lost.”

She was not surprised, in fact it was part of Emma's plan to goad Thomas into killing himself with a promise of virtual immortality.  He was so delusional to think that his mind could be uploaded into a computer and transferred to Arthur Steiner-Davion's carefully rebuilt cyborg body.  The Canopian's successful research into virtual ascension and consciousness transfer was always a lie, but a clever one, and doomed from the start. “How many know?”

“None beyond the Fidelis and you,” Naamah reached forward and thrust a dagger concealed in her coat into him before he could finish the sentence or protect himself.  She pulled the dagger back and pushed the rapidly dying man onto the platform before finishing his sentence for him.  “and with Apollyon and Belial dead at the hands of the Ebon Magistrate.” 

The man's cybernetic eyes were in shock as his 'purified' spirit left him, despite his own delusions he was only mortal after all.  Something the non-Ebon Magistrate Manei Domini could never seem to accept was that if you could bleed you can die.  There was no such thing as immortality in body, only deed.  Cybernetics were crude imitations. Even if they were more potent replacements the human parts were what really mattered and they were meant to be free of eugenics (at least the lab oriented kind) and transhumanism both. “Well we were tied at the top, Azrael; but there can only be one Master,” She wiped the man's blood off her own dagger, just a little more blood spilled on the red planet, “and today its me.”

The Fidelis were only light armed not expecting this reaction between the two highest ranking Manei Domini after losing their Master.  “There is your Trial of Position Fidelis.  I am your Master now,” They crossed their hands over the chest and bowed, “and we have much to do.  Take me to Thomas.”

Raphael walked into the mansion which increasingly lost any grandeur to become a very industrial space.  Naamah followed and the Jaguars tailed behind.  The Fidelis escorted her to the uplift chamber where Thomas' cybernetic body remained.  Naamah walked up to the machine's access terminal and the former Master's dead body slumped in a chair.  “I would like a moment alone please.”

They departed leaving only Naamah and a dead man, “Alas poor Thomas.  You should have doubted harder.  Your delusions were so strong, your fanatics so loyal to their Shadow Primus.  It was easy to convince you of almost anything but to stop.  Killing Emma was a bad plan, I'm sure she tried to talk you out of all this.”  She swept her arms across the massive supercomputer terminal. 

Naamah looked out over the window to the chamber toward an automated factory making more machines, “What a pity then that everything you've built belongs to us now, and I'm going to use it destroy everything you held dear.”

The seven drone types (3 Battlemechs, 3 Aerospace, and 1 “Infantry”) assembly line was operating at maximum rate now.  Designed by the Wolverines as a weapon to destroy the Clans they would accomplish their intended purpose although sooner than expected. 

Machines were so easy to control.  They had no fear, no families, no names of their own just like the Manei Domini, but unlike the Ebon Magistrate.  Naamah twirled her double edged dagger, “Revenge is best served with a side of cold steel,” and threw it toward dead Thomas, “and silicon nightmares.” 

She looked at The Blood of Ares insignia and smiled.  They may be wayward kin that needed to be sacrificed but they were still Wolverines. “The other Clans will finally die and the Wolverines will be ilClan.  Alpha and Omega, First to fall, but yet last Clan standing despite all odds.” 

Naamah inserted an optical data-cube concealed within a prosthetic arm into the computer that would actually make it work as intended.  Not as a consciousness transfer of course but as the central node of a System wide network capable of running war by remote control.  “How unfortunate that I will not be able to see it."

Her hands flew across the keyboard as binary code scrolled across the computer screens as she activate the latent data-cube that she had carried for so long, "Oh well, my sacrifice is just as worthy as Franklin Hallis’ was.  One more Warrior sacrificed to save the Wolverines and win the War.  Isn’t that right Erebus.”

The dead man's cybernetics reanimated momentarily in a ghoulishly spastic manner, like those of Frankenstein’s monster as residual memory from them was drawn into the mainframe.  Naamah couldn’t puppet his cybernetic form though that was an idea poised during planning.  However, the AI of “Erebus” made for a very convincing virtual copy of Thomas Marik as Emma had known him.  His digitally rendered voice came in over the speakers, “Yes Master.”

“We are going to have so much fun with this Erebus.  I can hardly wait.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 18 February 2019, 07:35:25
Well, if wonder if the Wolverines were going get in one last fight. I think we've seen it coming now!
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 18 February 2019, 08:18:34
Nice, I like the 2 different factions.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 19 February 2019, 16:46:50
Well, if wonder if the Wolverines were going get in one last fight. I think we've seen it coming now!

Not quite yet but it is gonna be a epic

Nice, I like the 2 different factions.

Thanks, figured why should two different groups be the same even if they broke from the same source.  Let's me mix in some horror as well (I did try to write at least one story in every genre during this anthology)


07/22/3070 Location - Fox's Den, New Avalon, Federated Commonwealth

First Prince Peter Steiner-Davion leaned over the holotable within the Fox's Den's Briefing Room, he had spent a lot of time here recently as Daphne regularly reminded him.  Their relationship was going through a rocky patch due to the stress of him being First Prince in the middle of a still warm battle that could still blow up in his face like a back-draft.  Eventually it would pass he just needed to be careful not to cause any irreparable damage, she would forgive him for time lost when this was done.  They still had their time in Yvonne's house that had brought them their son. 

Yvonne had been working her tails off while he was still getting acquainted with the Federated Suns government functions.  She had been regent for years already and managed half the worlds in the Federated Suns presently from Minette (or rather her deputy did currently while she was on New Avalon helping him).  He wished he could give her a medal for that, her and McKinnon, but that was just what was expected of them and he had finally begun to live up to their expectations much to their relief.  Yvonne had taken the week off to save her sanity but chose the oddest location, an art trip to The Great Gorge.  Peter had always thought of her as a beach kind of girl rather than a desert mountain but that is what she wanted.

He was having trouble sitting around, he wanted some action in his Battlemech no matter how foolish that might be for a head of state.  The Sol Protectorate was still conducting quick raids but it was minor stuff based on the incoming reports, fewer Shadow Divisions more regular SPM forces.  Highspire was still under quarantine by the CCAF but Thugee attacks had abated as did CCAF raids.  Oddly MAF forces were guarding the border with the FedSuns now.  He knew from personal experience that periphery women tended to be assertive and hoped Sun-Tzu felt his pain sometimes with a Canopian Princess as a bride.

Tharkad had been seriously attacked and damaged while Katherine was there with Vlad Ward and “their” family.  Black Box transmissions gave him “hope” that his sister was still alive but were intentionally vague about specifics.  Solid OPSEC on her part but very frustrating for Yvonne who was far more concerned for her sister's well-being than Peter. As far as he was concerned if Katherine were dead he would be saddened but it would make his job so much easier.

Ross McKinnon, his Prince's Champion, was due to arrive in the New Samarkand system soon to speak with Shogun Sakamoto about the next step of this “Fifth Succession War” it didn't really have a name but the Blakists spoke of Jihad, a struggle, it might catch on with everyone else.  Kitsune had told him his uncle was an honorable man but he hoped his nephew was not just overly idealistic and hoped maybe his mother had greater sense than his brother had.  Peter looked at a picture of his brother that he had kept with him throughout his exile.  A major OPSEC blunder but it was a public picture so anyone could have had it.  It had served many purposes over his time but right now he was looking for some optimism amid a sea of bad news.

One of his General of the Armies aides' ran in carrying an envelope, “First Prince, great news!”
Peter turned and faced the man, “What is it Major?”
“The HPGs are back online.”
“What!  How?”
“ClanCom fixed 'em and gave Shogun Sakamoto the key.  He gave it to us as a sign of good faith.  This is from him.”

Peter looked at the message, it was a silly unsigned poem that likely was written by a child
Little Fox hides
Little Fox grows
Little Fox always welcome within my groves

Followed by a formal congratulations (in Kanji with translation) for the coronation of First Prince Peter Steiner-Davion sealed with the Shogun's seal, Gold Lotus Blossom on Black Ink.

“Well I think he's on our side Major Valence.  Let me talk to McKinnon.”
“Precentor New Avalon says you can only send a short message First Prince.  Its still unstable but a signal got through and that means others can too.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 20 February 2019, 15:47:33
08/13/3070 Location – IWS Dire Wolf, above Glengarry, Federated Commonwealth

Wolf Khan Vladimir Ward was strapped into his chair at the head of the circular briefing table aboard one of the gravity decks of the Dire Wolf.  While Glengarry's Baron, Alexander Caryle, had offered him Castle Hill the Khan had decided to use his Flagship in light of recent security breaches and also to spark some feeling of nostalgia from REVIVAL in his fellow Clans. 

He watched the other Khans as they consulted with their subordinates via HPG subtlety reading how his fellow Khans reacted to the latest tragedy.  The attack on Arcturus had hit every Clan hard.  With the loss of their Loremasters already complex things were increasingly so and the Watch was forced to look inward to protect themselves rather than scout their external targets. This dramatically slowed the tempo and gave the ComGuards and Blakists more time to withdraw within the Sol Protectorate and prepare themselves for the upcoming battle. 

The brilliant and fiery haired Elemental Hannibal Saradoc had replaced Ivan Kerensky as the Wolves' Loremaster and the young abtakha Smoke Jaguar Rhonda Stiles replaced Vlad's saKhan Marialle Radick who had been on Arcturus when it was attacked.  He didn't think anything could kill “Death's Vixen” but orbital fire support from a Blakist cruiser had proven him wrong. 

Rhonda had the same hard charging, fierce spirit that Marialle had and that was exactly how he liked his saKhans.  Both of the new additions happened to be on Glengarry at the time which gave Clan Wolf quite a few advantages considering the HPGs were likely still insecure.  The new saKhan Stiles was already en route to Ryde to meet up with her Ghost Bear counterpart; the freeborn Ragnar Magnusson, now leader of a reunited Rasalhague Republic after it had been taken from COMSTAR by the Bears.

Khan Cobb already had a sealed vote from his Bloodnamed that elevated Galaxy Commander Magnus DelVillar to Loremaster and unlike most of the other Khans (excluding Vladimir) Cobb was very involved in the running of his Clan so it was less affected by the loss of their Loremaster.  It had bounced back very quickly under his guidance after fighting a fierce War with the Ghost Bears several years ago and was earning a reputation for exemplary service alongside SLDF forces that was beginning to rival the Nova Cats much to their chagrin.

His Hell's Horses while politely coerced into serving under Khan Ward to atone for the Blinding Eye Scientist conspiracy that had almost killed him.  Elements among their rank remained very much dedicated to maintaining their Clan and pushed back sometimes violently whenever they felt they were treated as subordinate rather than partners.  James' saKhan, the abtakha Ghost Bear Jake Kabinsky, had been sent to calm the Ghost Bears along with Diamond Shark Khan Barbara Sennet.  Both were attempting to convince Ghost Bear Khan Aletha Kabrinski to meet before just rushing headlong right into the Sol Protectorate in pursuit of “Wolverines.” 

The Nova Cat's Khan Santin West, also an Elemental, was not present currently as he was consulting with his saKhan on New Kyoto, where Katherine was. Vlad had not seen her in a few weeks and buried himself in work to pass the time, he was so close but couldn't let himself lose sight of the prize, Terra. Only then would Katherine get what she wanted and what he secretly desired as well though the alien emotions were still difficult to grasp. 

The rest of the Council had not yet come in line and agreed to a new Kurultai as not everyone had accepting him as ilKhan, and only ilKhans could call Kurultais.  Despite the Wolves' dominant position some of the hardliners particularly among the Ghost Bears saw him as a Chalcas for his relationship with Katherine and her Commonwealth while they eagerly did the same with the Rasalhagues. 

There were rumors on the Chatterweb of Khan Kabrinsky calling a Kurultai of her own.  Having a parallel Kurultai hosted by the Ghost Bears would be very difficult to manage and he was certain that the Sol Protectorate would prevail against the divided clans.  The Ghost Bears while a mighty Clan could not win this battle alone and Khan Ward was in the best position to lead the Clans toward the final glorious struggle to Terra and he had the support of enough Spheroids to do it. 

Vladimir fiddled with his wedding ring, an austere but well made piece of jewelry, "We are so close.  Soon we will both get what we desire most."  He looked at the latest battle reports coming in from the front line showing Blake affiliated Mercs in a pitched battle with Anti-Blakist Mercs on the world of Galatea, "We just have to get through them first."
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 20 February 2019, 17:44:08
08/14/3070 Location – Testing Ground Delta, No Mans Land Region, Galatea

The Blakist Mercs that attacked Tharkad came back to the Mercenaries' Star with friends.  The ComGuards and Blakist Militia had pulled out or blown themselves up in the past few months leaving only mercenaries and planetary defense militia. The Mercs were divided into two sides now, Newton Ramille's AMC (Newton's Raiders, Fighting Shamrocks, Fighting Uruk-Hai, and The Ragamuffins) and SPMA Three (Mobile Fire, Martian Cuirassiers, Bullard's Armored Cavalry, and The Gray Ghosts) commanded by Colonel Zane Cole of the Cuirassiers.  The two sides were evenly matched augmented as they were by freelancers that picked a side rather than be attacked by both, there was no neutral on Galatea these days.  Galatea City was mostly destroyed in the first day as the two sides engaged one another with minimal care for civilian casualties.

AMC Principal Colonel Newton “Ram” Ramille watched an enemy formation cross the Salt Flat through his rangefinder binoculars.  The reinforced Mech company was bearing an unknown crest and oddly had a large number of quad designs, including some he was not familiar with, escorted by other Mechs with known EW capabilities, a lumbering Cyclops assault mech was serving rear guard.  He put the rangefinders into their case to protect them from dust in his hastily prepared observation post before picking up his field telephone which rang the command center a kilometer to the east. 

“Paul, looks like we have hostiles in West Five.  Reinforced company; kinda weird looking but I should be able to take 'em.  I'm going to send a video through the cable.  See if you can figure them out.”

“You sure you don't want more backup Newton?  You don't know what those things are capable of.”

“Well I'm going to find out now but feel free to join in.”
  Newton aimed the camera at the enemy position, it would track his Mech during the battle and send the video to the command van.  The salt flat he was about to go into should give them good video and with his Mechs' BattleROMs he would be able to update the others on any new experimental units.  He knew to approach them with caution the Thugee Mechs on Highspire had cost him a lot of troopers till they figured out what their capabilities were.

Newton clambered out of the sandbag supported OP and half ran, half slid down the ridge line toward the rest of his company.  The Mechwarriors were already on standby and had their mostly Trinity made Mechs powering up before Newton reached his desert camouflaged Summoner Omnimech.  The Mech was a gift from his sister, Magestrix Naomi Centrella-Liao to replace the Marauder he lost on Highspire.  He had familiarized himself with it on New Macao before being hired by Alys Hampton's AMC and assumed principal command of the Galatean garrison, the largest in the AMC. 

Newton shook the dust off his neurohelmet and powered up the Summoner Prime.  Once it was online he confirmed his camera was operational with a little “aftermarket” PIP display that would allow him to control the camera remotely when he had a moment in the middle of battle.  The unit was not connected to the Mechs' controls itself as it was not an encrypted line but he found the camera on a hill trick would give him a view of the larger battlespace while he was focused on staying alive in the cockpit.

He crested the ridge and started toward the enemy company, “P.R.O. Four is online.  Follow me boys.”

In the cockpit of the Cyclops Blood Sister Simone was managing her flock of drones with a “beehive” Neurohelmet (serves a similar purpose for the Hades Growler) when she picked up enemy signatures on the other side of the hill.  “How fortuitous that someone comes to greet us with ill will.”

She flicked several switches on the commander's console with her cybernetically replaced left hand, toggling her drones to combat mode. “Go forth and mangle, my beauties.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 21 February 2019, 17:01:05
On the Salt Flats of Galatea Chromehound (Drone Blue Flame) #MRF-BS-48 analyzed each of the attacking units and its own position in relation to its fellow drones and operators millions of times per second monitoring how each moved.  It's current threat was the hostile Summoner that had gotten into the rear arc of the lone Lich quadruped assault unit# MRF-BS-12.  Its' pair of Improved Large Laser and eight Streak SRMs fired dealing major damage to the Clan Omnimech and causing it to tumble into the hard packed ground.  With the mech down MRF-BS-48 began to reassess hostiles for the next major threat.

Within that fallen mech Colonel Nicholas Ramille took a major hit to his and his mech's head in the fall blacking out as the Omnimech cracked the ferroglaz inner cockpit on the white crusty ground below.

Lich unit# MRF-BS-12 picked up additional inbound ground and air forces but was cycling though the immediately remaining Battlemechs of the “Newton's Raiders” as tagged by his controller.  The drone fired off its two enhanced ERPPCS at a nearby Shadow Hawk 5D high energy particles cut through armor as the enemy's rounds fired its rotary 57mm blasted into the Lich's hardened armor cracking some of the thick hide of the assault unit but there was plenty more protecting its vital systems. 

The Shadow Hawk was finished off by a Gauss round fired by the manned Huron Warrior standing behind the drones, the weapon guided in by the C3i within the Lich.

Newton's Raiders were astonished at the resilience of the enemy.  They had faced down Celestial Omnimechs piloted by Kali's fanatic Thugee Domini including her elite bodyguard itself but only with heavy support.  While they could drop some of the smaller units the C3i and lumbering assault mech they had nicknamed “Lich” had proven to much for their unsupported company.  The Raiders attempted to pull the main body of the force away from the downed Colonel Ramille and it worked for a bit but eventually the unknown mechs returned to the Cyclops which had crushed the Summoner's legs and was poised above the fallen mech ready to finish it off at any moment.

No rescue team was going to get inside before that mech finished him off with its Heavy Gauss Rifle to the cockpit.  Paul Ravine cleared the ridge with the rest of his battalion to look upon the scene all the AMC on-world wouldn't be faster than a speeding Gauss slug. The Raiders didn't want to surrender their commander to the Blakists but they knew he was more likely to be ransomed back to his twin sister than executed or tortured, to death; at least on this planet, Highspire would have been a different situation.  “Sorry Newton but we will find you.  Hang in there. 
All raiders pull back we will deploy scouts to find out where they are taking him but this is not the time to act.”

Colonel Newton Ramille woke up in a sterile looking medical environment with no insignia on the walls or sheets.  Obviously a structure from the looks of it and attempted to remember anything about how he got there.  It wasn't the first time he found himself waking up in a hospital with a headache but those other times he remembered at least something prior to the blackout.  He attempted to put his hand on his aching head but found that he had been restrained to the hospital bed by very high quality hand cuffs; also not the first time that had happened.  However at least those other times there was something to look forward too here he had no idea what awaited him.

Newton's vitals must have alerted someone that he was conscious as a tall thin man wearing a dark red jumpsuit and tabi type socks with a needler pistol secured strapped to the small of his back ambled in like he was fighting against a current.  He figured he was a spacer or grew up on a low gravity world with that kind of body structure and would probably need a lower body exoskeleton in more “normal” gravity if his heart could take it.  “I guess I'm not on Galatea anymore Spacer.”

“An astute observation Colonel Ramille.  I am Dr. Vashir.”
“Where am I going?”
“That's not important Newton.  Besides I'm more interested in where you have been.  Particularly Highspire.”
“Why do you care about the Thugees?  I would never betray my sister.  You might as well kill me now Vashir.”

“Not YOUR sister Naomi no. 

Her sister-in-law

Kali Liao.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 23 February 2019, 16:42:59
Oof!  Right in the gut.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 25 February 2019, 16:51:49
Oof!  Right in the gut.


08/17/3070 Location – Near The Valley of Steel, Quentin, Federated Suns

Peter Steiner-Davion crested the ridge to look out over the Valley of Steel, once home to a grand factory complex, one of the most productive in the Draconis Combine, but now all that remained was twisted nuclear ruins.  His Battlemaster was followed closely by the 1st FedCom Armored Cavalry that had liberated the world from the Black Dragons.  Orange CNBR (Chemical, Nuclear, Biological, and Radiological) “Cinnabar” IndustrialMechs were past reflective posts while working their way through the ruins with integral searchlights and handheld anti-infantry weapons.  Just because the radiation could cause near instant death to normal human didn't mean it would stop the 47th Shadow Division's cyborgs that had previously occupied this area.

1st FCAC Major Zendru Smith came in over the BattleNet from the nearby Penetrator, “Peter if you go past those towers, you're in the hot zone.  You'll absorb a lethal dose in less than five minutes.”

“I'm in a Battlemaster Major Smith, hardened against such things.”

“The decontamination techs not so much.”
“They have suits but I'll honor your caution Zendru.”  Peter's Battlemaster turned toward the Major, “I just wanted to see it with my own eyes.  Do you think the Combine will be interested in salvaging this factory?”
“No, Shogun Sakamoto has written this off according to his emissary.  That factory equipment will be irradiated for centuries.  This whole planet is tainted now, we were just making sure no Blakists were hiding in the ruins the Black Dragons and Blakists apparently had a a major disagreement just before we arrived, made our jobs easier.  Glad you brought the Victor Steiner-Davion to give us a ride back to Yangtze.  Some leave would be nice.”
“I don't know about the leave Major we still have a lot to do.  Don't forget we are here for you and the refugees that are currently loading into dropships destined to the Meisho and Stellar Scoop.  Half to Ozawa then New Rhodes, Half to Al'Nair at their request of the Shogun.”
“Your majesty you do realize that you are giving the Draconis Combine choice selection of some of the best trained engineers and technicians on world right?”
“I do.  We have NAIS, might as well let Franklin catch up again.  He's already fought a Civil War and has promised to help us with the Blakists.  I've no plans to invade the Combine unless they do something first.”

08/30/3070 Location – Third Fleet Command, New Hessen, Federated Commonwealth

Peter Steiner-Davion was growing weary of map rooms and strategic conferences being more used to leading from the front then planning campaigns and plotting logistics, he wished he had the ClanCom's Quartermaster Corps but the AFFS was ready and willing to step up to the plate to save the Inner Sphere.  Yvonne had gone forward to Tikonov to speak with Prime Minister Yuri Lebedev.  She was surprisingly fluent in Russian for some reason that she had not seen fit to share with him.  Meanwhile Third Fleet Admiral Hai Shing Vietche and TRG Senior General JJ Atherton were in front of the holo-table with lots of missing information on worlds within 2 jumps of Terra.

JJ Atherton's rough hewn face was illuminated by the light from the table, the man had overseen a lot of war rooms in the past couple of years and plenty of hard battle based on his scars and cybernetic prosthetics.  Peter attempted to emphasize but he had been lucky; The AFFC had been lucky to make it out of the past conflicts with the Blakists and TAF in decent order. The Republicans were little more than paper tigers without the Crucis March commands held in reserve but still forced to deploy forward when the Trinity States attacked. 

The Third Fleet had fared better but right now the Yggdrasil was nursing battle damage from Sol Protectorate pocket warships over Fletcher.  The SPF made it dangerous to conduct recon with anything other than warships, big ones, and he only had a few of those.  The Hellions had one of the rare Bug Eyes left over from Kerensky's Exodus but it was in the McKenna yards around Kathil right now as the old bird's age had finally caught up to it.  The Council Clans and Hellions had a few of the “stealthy” Fredasa corvettes but the Word of Blake was looking and it made it difficult to even sneak an ONI Pueblo survey dropship in to gather intel.  “I am open to suggestions Admiral and Senior General.  You know these worlds best what could the Sol Protectorate done to fortify them.  I want to know what I might be up against.”

“We received a troubling report recently from New Samarkand, the ClanComs forces have engaged drone fighters in sufficient number to give the Thera SLS Fort Verdun difficulty, its multi-national air wing took heavy casualties. 

The Khans, Shogun Sakamoto, and Archon Steiner are attempting to replace lost hardware but the loss of some of the SLDF's best trained Aerospace pilots will cause problems next time the Carrier gets into a shooting fight.  One of the Clan's Potemkins was severely damaged around Odessa slowly their deployment but the Blakist Fleet threat from that world has been neutralized.  With the Dieron Yards also out the Blakists only have the Titan Yards we should be able to wear them down and regain deep black supremacy.”

JJ Atherton followed up, “The Republicans are beaten down but not out, some of these Protectorate worlds are in jurisdiction.  My men won't give them up without a fight but they need help, we're barely holding together here.”

Peter put his hand into the holographic display illuminated Marlette and drawing a line to Terra, “With the Hellions coming into the theater you will have it.  Khan Drake has assured me that his Touman is ready to fight for Terra and every rock in between with the Council's permission; or especially if they try to deny him.”

JJ looked at the vulnerable flanks of their operational theater, a now battle hardened Trinity Alliance still lie in wait, “Do we have any idea what the Triads are planning?”

“Chancellor Liao, Magestrix Centrella, and Regent Kithrong have send emissaries to New Avalon saying their fight with us is done and that it was the Word of Blake's fault.  They are sitting this one out and dealing with Blakist and Thugee caused issues.”

Admiral Vietchi didn't look confident, “Snakes all of them, didn't stop them from sending Feng Huangs to attack my fleet in the opening engagement.  Where the hell did the Canopians get a Samarkand anyhow?”

“We should ask Shogun Sakamoto.  There was one around New Samarkand, if the Blakists can get the New Vandenberg operational they might have been able to get that hunk of junk moving.”

PSD: “Ross did say it was missing but claimed they scrapped it for the Yamato.”
JJ: “Another piece of junk.”
HSV:  “That remains to be seen General.  Considering the Ghost Bears have a Leviathan I consider it prudent that we should get a proper Battleship as well.”
PSD:  “We'll see if the Ghost Bears still have ships after this fight Admiral Vietchi, then we can talk about the future threat to the Federated Suns and Tikonov Republic.  You have Big Ygg and the Fhylgia to make it work along with most of the Avalons.  The Hellions are retaining control of their Warships.”
HSV:  “But they are your sister's vassals.  Order them to hand over control to Third Fleet Command.”
JJ:  “When Khan Drake or Loremaster Wallace gets here you can challenge them to a Trial of Refusal yourself.  I'll bring the popcorn, no disrespect Admiral but their Loremaster scares me plenty without a McKenna around her based on what I've heard.”
PSD:  “What JJ said Admiral.  Loremaster Wallace will retain control of the Hellion's Naval Touman until further notice.”
HSV:  “Very well sir.  I'll make it work.  Have you decided on your travel arrangements yet?”
PSD:  “Not yet but I'm not going to show up with a Warship to my sister's Realm only to have her husband shoot it out of the sky.  We have to find neutral ground.  Somewhere in the middle.”
JJ pointed toward Terra which was between New Kyoto and New Hessen, “Well that's the middle for you two.  Maybe the Master would let you meet her there so you can kill each other and save him a lot of trouble.”
Peter looked toward Admiral Vietchi then back to Senior General Atherton,  “You sure he's not a Mask agent.”
"Sometimes I wonder First Prince, but the Mask doesn't normally crack jokes."
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 26 February 2019, 17:39:48
Hunting Trip

08/15/3070 20:58 Location – Coalition HQ, Yonei, New Kyoto, Federated Commonwealth

Archon Katherine Steiner was burying her head into concerned reports from the Arcturan and Donegal Commonwealth Central Banks while the sun set behind her curtained window.  Both of the largest banks in the Commonwealth were awash with red ink that their directors fear might never be recovered to finance the massive military burden her realm had to bear.  “You people have no vision!  Ies ist nur verdammtes Papier!  Wir sprechen über die Eroberung der Erde!”

The (Clan) Commonwealth despite being at war for nearly three years had plenty of reserves and idle industrial capacity in the Alarion and Somerset Provinces just like she planned years ago to ensure that a hostile advance from either the Clans or the Inner Sphere could take out her Realm with limited strikes.  If you wanted to defeat Katherine's Commonwealth you needed to be prepared for the long haul. 

With so much of a head start it was having to pick up the slack for the war ravaged FWL and DC in order to outfit the SLDF.  Shogun Sakamoto was even bold enough to ask for mechs, transports, and technical teams while providing only Mechwarriors in order to get them into position faster.  “Go cry poverty to New Avalon Franklin, you should have killed your enemies long ago. I thought Dracs were supposed to be ruthless, like me. 

Like I need your damn Drac Mecha Samurai.  I have most of the Clan Council in the Inner Sphere chomping at the bit to fight alongside the Wolves.”

A gravely voice came from near the door causing Katherine to slowly look up at the Nova Cat's Khan from her high backed chair.  While a smaller Elemental the man was still massive and heavily muscled even at the advanced age of 39.  The sudden and silent appearance of the Warrior Monk would be intensely intimidating to any non-Clansman but Katherine was unimpressed.  She already had her pistol in her hand when he entered courtesy of Loki training but politely kept it under the table.  “Such an endeavor has proven successful in the past.  Does not mean it will do so in the future.”

“What is it Khan West?  As you can see I am quite busy making sure your Nova Cats have the gear you need to survive this fight.  Unless you want to go in without spares or not survive.”

“We may be prone to jumping at visions but we never go unprepared for nearly any circumstances.  I received a vision during my transit from Glengarry.  We are to hunt an Armor Bear; only with a successful hunt will we have a successful campaign.”

“Who is we exactly?”
“You, Aiden, Adam, Reinhardt, Photon, Hiro, Akira, and myself.”
“And why do we need to hunt an Armor Bear?  You know they are probably more dangerous than a Manei Domini cyborg right?”
“Unclear but I saw myself facing a mighty bear with thick bony plates in a forest with all of you beside me.  The bear did not have six legs and it was not an arctic environment so it was not of the Ghost Bears.”
“You are crazy Khan West.  I will not entertain your silly spiritual nonsense.  Count me out.  I've better things to do than go into the woods and put my life needlessly in danger.”
“Think about it Katherine.  It will require several days to make preparations.  I will ask only once more.”
“Go find something constructive to do Khan West.  I will give you the same answer.”
“I think not Katherine.  You will come around before we shove off.  I will leave you to your paperwork.”
“God I hate Cats.”

That night she had terrible nightmares about Galen Cox and Victor the first night followed by Vladimir Ward and their children the second and her remaining siblings on Strana Mechdy (a place she had seen but never been) of all places the third night.  She woke up in her staff room within her dropship (Aiden had demanded she sleep there it was easier to control access and she had a Battlemech if the Blakists launched a surprise headhunter raid), the Union-X WIS Avalanche the fourth morning having suffered no nightmares the previous night.  This evening was when Khan West would be expecting her answer.  She double checked her medication, it had been having side effects prior to this week but oddly lucid nightmares were not on the list.  She received the blood toxicology panel of the previous day on her note-puter and saw that she hadn't been dosed with Necrosia or Nova Cat quill poison or any other psychoactive not already accounted for.  “Gotta be stress cannot be anything else.”

As she opened the closet she realized that it was getting rather bare and saw an Kaumberg Oak case with a faded 3rd Arcturan Guards logo on it.  She knew that case but it had been years since she last laid eyes upon it in her grandmother's hunting cabin.  Was it since the Battle of New Avalon?  Was it that long ago? 

She needed to clean her closet more often because she had not been aboard the Avalanche most of the transit from Donegal here instead staying aboard the Titanic courtesy of the Diamond Shark's Khan Sennett.  Pulling the case out she put it on the mattress which gave it just enough clearance to hinge open and reveal a match grade G-150 Hunting Rifle with a 10x IR scope and polished stock.  A dozen 10mm rifle rounds and two magazines were also in the formed interior of the case.  'KS/Arc.' was engraved on the magazine well.  “How did you end up here?  Wait that's right I took you out because you were the last functioning rifle in the Hunting Cabin before Morgan settled there and I didn't want her to get hurt playing with you.  ******!  Fine Khan West, I'll come with you.”

Later on that evening Archon Katherine Steiner and her Chief Bodyguard/Ghille Aiden Byrne walked up to the docks of a pastoral exurb of Oshataku guided in by a large fire where Khan West and his saKhan Katayama were telling stories of their combat prowess to the assembled Warriors.  Photon Brett-Marik laughed and verified some of the more outlandish ones and had his own to share from his time on Wolcott.  Several Sake bottles had already been discarded by the six men.

Khan West stood before Katherine both partially illuminated by the flames, “Have you decided to join us Katherine?”

The Archon looked over to Aiden and shifted the rifle strap slung over her shoulder, “I am going with you Santin.  Despite my better judgment.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 27 February 2019, 16:56:36
08/20/3070 Location – Somewhere in the Cerulean Sea, New Kyoto, Clan(Fed) Commonwealth

Katherine woke in her stateroom, a polite gesture by her hunting party to give the only woman her own room.  She double checked to ensure her rifle was ready for action when they finally got to their destination in two nights.  They could have used other means of getting to Asharu but Khan West had insisted on taking a borrowed boat.  She walked through the narrow corridor and saw Reinhardt eating breakfast. As she poured some hot water out of the steaming kettle he noticed her and stood to salute but was dismissed with a wave.  “Sorry Archon.  I would have made you a plate but I didn't know when you would get up.”

“You are surprisingly chipper this morning Reinhardt.  You could barely board the ship last night after that Sake.”
“I have an Steiner General's iron liver Katherine.  Sake is easy in comparison to some of the stuff we get at the Exchange, or serve at gatherings.  Khan West though, damn.”

That brought a smile to Katherine's face, some Elementals could drain half a firkin (~20L) of beer if you gave them a chance.  Khan West was a little on the small side though so maybe a quarter.  “I take it you've never seen an Elemental drink.”

“Well I haven't spent a lot of time around Clansman until recently, Mrs. Wolf Khan.  It was an experience that will make a great future story.”

“You know speaking of people to tell stories too.  I never did ask you if you sent a message to the now Duchess Fyhne did I?”

“No you didn't Archon.  I feel this would be a bad time considering her mother's recent passing but I did send my condolences to her along with arrangements to ease her grief.”

“Very considerate of you.”
  Katherine looked at his plate of a veggie omelet with breakfast sausage, “I'll take one of those after a few moment above deck if you'd be so kind.”

“Certainly Katherine.  I am your General of the Armies.  If its a command I should follow.”

“Thank You Reinhardt.  I can't say this enough but you've done your family and the Commonwealth proud.  There are few people I'd rather have at my side then you and the LCAF. 

Now eat up.”

Katherine walked up the stairs passing the lean framed Aiden Byrne along the way. His smile and good morning revealed that he was obviously enjoying this part of his assignment.  His principal was surrounded by friendlies in the middle of an ocean where it would be impossible to sneak up on them.  When they got to the Armor Bear's temperate rain forest habitat in two days it would be a different story. 

Upon reaching the bridge she found the refined and now near legendary (a rare thing for the Marik line) SLDF Commanding General Photon “Laser” Brett(-Marik) looking out toward three other men assembled on the deck.  The small Elemental but still large man Khan Santin West, the smallest but lean and focused saKhan Hiro Katayama, and the bowed corn-rowed dark skinned head of Tai-I Akira Tormark were eerily silent and still in the early morning light. 

Katherine took a sip of her tea before speaking and breaking the locked gaze of the Marik.  “What are they doing General Brett?”

“Meditating Archon.  Most of the Nova Cats I know do it every morning and evening mostly old timers from before the Great Refusal and Dominion War. The new generations are too high strung despite Santin's best efforts or so he says.  Thus he makes Hiro sit with him and chill out keeping him out of trouble with Reinhardt.  I hope it catches on, the new Nova Cats are excellent Warriors but Santin and I are afraid they will grow to fond of War.”

“Heaven forbid, another group of Smoke Jaguars or worse Mongooses.”

“Indeed Katherine.  Akira I'm told learned to do with Shogun Sakamoto during their time in a Black Dragon prison camp.  Different type but same effect, clearing their mind in order to act presently with clarity and push aside doubt.

Not my cup of tea, I tried to do it on Wolcott with Hohiro but that didn't work out so well for either of us.  I sleep with one eye open now you wouldn't catch me with both eyes closed during the day unless I'm dead.”

“Maybe its worth a try, we do have two days till we get where Khan West picked out on the map.  Photon what are your opinions on the Nova Cats?”

“They are an odd bunch but all the Clans are no offense to your Wolves of course.”

Katherine crossed her arms suddenly very cognizant of the Clan-Spheroid cultural divide that she blithely bridges, “I does take time to adjust still.”

“Same with any Successor State or hell my own Free Worlds League.  You can hardly find a more multicultural place so I've grown accustomed to being something of a cultural chameleon.  You don't want to say some things on Regulus that you would say on Andurian and it sometimes feels like Alys and I despite being cousins are remarkably distant ones.

Though Khan West only had a few visions that he has told me about during the time that I've known him.  He has done an exceptional job leading the Nova Cats despite their many troubles in the past.  Anyone that can fight the Ghost Bears to a standstill outnumbered two to one is a man worthy of following into a fight.  Not sure the other Clans on the Council agree however.”

“No it is becoming a rather two sided arrangement with the Wolves and Ghost Bears leading opposite ends.”

“I think that is why he needed you to come Katherine.  I think he is planning a third option.”

“He wants me to convince Vladimir to abandon his claim to ilKhan?  Impossible, I don't even think I could do that. 

What about Khan Kabrinksy?  He would never follow her nor I.  Verdammt Ghost Bears ruined all my plans with their attack against the ComGuards and their defection to their Blakist counterparts.”

“I don't know Katherine but I am good at reading people and situations that is what I'm picking up but I don't have the benefit of a Vision to lead me on.  I can get the Inner Sphere armies to rally to my banner but I can't get all the Clans to agree to work with one another, let alone my SLDF.  We are going to need everybody if we are to have a chance against the Sol Protectorate.”

She took a sip of the warm tea from her CSF Titanic branded mug, “You are not wrong General.  We do need everybody but that might be the hardest part.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 01 March 2019, 17:29:07
08/22/3070 Location – Cerulean Sea, New Kyoto, Federated (Clan) Commonwealth

Katherine was more silent and sullen during the past two days at sea than normal although the only one that really would know such a thing was Adam.  He had reached out to her engineering attempts to talk about Tharkad and what was and would be to no avail.  Smartly he decided to tone it down and wait her out.  He understood being a Steiner, it was in their blood and the “curse” affected them all to different degrees but rarely crippled them.

Khan West had no such discernment however and the man appeared beside the Archon, “You seem troubled Katherine and do not say its sea-sickness.  I may be an Elemental Warrior but our sterotype among Spheroids is very inaccurate as I am no fool.”

“You are though, you convinced the whole of Coalition leadership to go on a dangerous hunt because of a vision.  Either you are a fool or we all are.”

“Perhaps that is true Katherine.  We could all be fools but I must follow my visions.  They have never steered me or my clan wrongly.  The Nova Cats stand poised for greatness but it is not me that did it but all of us.  You may have been adopted into the Clan of Kerensky but we have followed his vision.”

“A bold claim Khan West.  One that would not go over well in the Council of Six.”
“Thus they have not truly embraced us yet because we speak truth and that makes them uncomfortable.  The other clans have lived to long in a fantasy of their own creation.  Our vision becomes real because it is truth. 

That the truth that I realized during our return to the Inner Sphere after being Abjured.  We were not supposed to come back but we all did so anyway and knew it would be suicide.  We had no hope of winning but deluded ourselves for the short term.  The Truce gave us time to think of a different future, one where there are no Clans, no Houses, no States,

Only one Clan, Humanity. 

Thus I do not fear the end.  If my end is met in a battle let it be The Last One.”

“I do not have that luxury Khan West.  I'm not sure I can even make it that far.  I am just filled with fear, the primal fear of loss.  The last time I left New Kyoto, my future was destroyed.  I don't know if I can got through that again.”

“Clearly your future wasn't destroyed considering you are still here Katherine.  What is it that you are so afraid of?”
“Losing my family, again.  Maybe this time forever.”
“Your Clan means a lot to you.  I understand, I am father, brother, uncle, and cousin to many Nova Cats

I don't want to lose any of them and am honored that they follow me into harm.  Our Clan is eternal though thus I have no fear of losing it, not as long as one Nova Cat lives.  We have released our sibkos to make sure that they can defend the freedom we may have to sacrifice everything to earn.  Only volunteers are taken now.  We have no shortage of volunteers amongst the Combine and League worlds that we rescued from the Word of Blake.  My Galaxy Commanders are having to turn away thousands of grateful souls though we gladly accept gifts.

What of you and Vladimir?  Marriage is a chalcas tradition.  How did you convince the Wolf Khan to accept?  He sure acted like an ultra-hardliner on Strana Mechdy during the Abjuration.”

“I do not know it was even his idea.”  She looked at her ring with a mild chuckle, “Though he brought it up somewhat clumsily. He did use some of Aleksander's own poetic words to Katyusha when he asked me though which I considered cheating.  Speaking of which apparently he had practiced on three Tamarine women before me and failed to realize that I might not appreciate that.”

Khan West smiled big now that was an interesting start of a story, “Hopefully they did not accept.”

“They were terrified actually and accepted.  When I explained the error they seemed relieved though disappointed.  Being married to a member of Clan Wolf or Wolf Logistics is widely seen as a preferable option on Tamar, now.”

“It wasn't before.”

“Well it wasn't a thing before Vlad and I really.”

“See you are changing the whole of a Clan for what I believe is the better.  I need your help Katherine. 

I can't convince Vladimir Ward to meet with the Ghost Bears without it blowing up into a two way war between the factions.  Nor can I alone convince the Ghost Bears to not just rampage into the Sol Protectorate and get chewed up in the process. 

You have held together three different warring states for nearly a decade better than anyone before.  Your Empire is vast and well managed, you are arguably the most powerful person in the Inner Sphere because I don't think you actually want to fight your returned trothkin. 

If anyone can help me bring the clans and Inner Sphere together to win Terra it is you because you have already done it once on a smaller scale.”

“That is a lot to ask of one person.”

“Is it though.  I want to save the Inner Sphere from itself, your allies want to do the same but someone has to get them talking first.

And you are not alone.”

Khan West looked toward the other coalition leaders, Reinhardt and Hiro were not trying to kill one another and were even exchanging fishing tips.  Akira and Adam despite being from rival houses with a long history of blood feuds were sharing embarrassing stories of the same man, Shogun Franklin Sakamoto.  Photon and Aiden were talking about the perils of raising boys, something even Katherine needed more help in if only she could admit it concerning her own sons.

“Well why the hell did we need to go on a bear hunt then Santin?”
“You will see Katherine.  Get Vladimir to call a Kurultai somewhere near the Ghost Bears but do not tell him I asked you to do it.  I will do the rest; with all of your help, of course.”

“Well you better make sure we all live thought this then because Armor Bears are not easy prey.”
“Neither are Clan Elementals or Manei Domini Cyborgs.  We have lived through harsher trials alone.  We will prevail through this one as a team. 

One Team”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 02 March 2019, 16:14:03
Katherine, the Khans, and Kerensky's Vision

09/02/3070 Location – Wolf Blood-chapel, Council City, Kerensky's Vision

Katherine Steiner(-Davion) was mesmerized by the sweeping architecture and solemn but engineering silence of the Wolf Blood-chapel.  She was attempting to hide within the part-laboratory, church, and meeting hall that was a marvel of engineering always guarded by an elite group of Elementals known as The Templars.  Within its walls were the collection of all active Wolf Bloodlineages (including those of the Exiles) dating back to Aleksandr Kerensky's sons.  The halls were lined with bronze plaques containing short quotes from the remembrance immortalizing the heroic deeds of those that left a part behind.

She stopped at one; her own, added while she was Clan Wolf's Loremaster,  Even after all these years it still brought tears to her eyes.
'White Wolf weeps for a fallen brother, for he was like no other.  Within our halls his legacy sits, long live the Inner Sphere's Golden Prince.'

Two names were noted below within the stone to the newest Bloodhouse 'Fox'.  The only two thus far to earn the Bloodname and only one was still alive which made the Fox Bloodname the most exclusive in Clan Wolf beside the never used legacy of Jennifer Winston. At least until her children took their Trials and distinguished themselves.

Katherine and Victor

His gifttake within the Wolf Bloodchapel taken after his death on Strana Mechdy at the hands of ilKhan Lincoln Osis was all that remained of his body now that Tharkad City had been razed and with it the Cathedral of the Heavenly Host and Steiner Family Crypt below.  One vial and many stories were all the remained of her brother, she traced her finger over the worked stone of their names.  “I'm sorry you never got to leave a more lasting legacy brother but we will never forget everything you did and will always wonder what might have been.”

The new Wolf Loremaster the red haired giant Elemental Hannibal Sradac followed by a Point of Templars turned and walking down the corridor towards her.  Despite obviously knowing the massive Wolves were nearby Katherine ignored them till they grew closer.  “Katherine good, we have been looking for you.”

“Of course you were.  I know what time it is.”
“Yet here you are reading poetry.”
“I wrote this poem Loremaster, when I was Loremaster.”
“I know, in Remembrance of your Trothkin.  I was on Strana Mechdy when your brother came to Huntress and defeated the Smoke Jaguars.  He died in a good Warrior's death.”
“He did but it did not need to happen.”
“At least he went down in a blaze of glory to be lionized by the whole of the Inner Sphere.  There is no greater honor.”
“I would have preferred he still be alive.  We might not be in this dire situation were that have happened.”
“We could always have been in a worse position, perhaps you are wrong, he comes back as First Lord, and becomes a new Usurper.  Demonized for all time rather than celebrated as a hero.”
“My brother would have never become an Amaris.”
“Never say never Katherine Fox.  The hearts of men are never as transparent as women think.  Who knows what darkness lie in Victor Steiner-Davion's heart but thank the Great Father that it was not as strong as the light during his life.  If he turned many would follow him to the abyss.  You should know that considering you already faced several men once thought heroes that became villains.”

The man began to walk and Katherine followed understanding that if she didn't one of the Elementals would simply pick her up and carry her out and wished to save herself that embarrassment.  “You are a curious one Hannibal.  How did you come to be a Warrior Poet?”
“My Star Colonel was a Ghost Bear whose Great Work was to compile an epic treatise of the Rise and Fall of the Star League.  I helped him and in the process found my inner talent for poetry and oratory.”

The two of them left the Blood-chapel leaving the Templars behind to return to their duties.  A Wolf Patrol Packrat APC was waiting for them outside.  The heavy APCs had been modified as part of Katherine's enigmatic INDIGO project to include space for unarmored Elementals but still could only carry non-armored infantry making it ideal for paramilitary units like the Clan Patrol and Watch, both of which were now Hannibal's responsibility as Loremaster. 

Katherine had only been on world for a day but this planet was one of Clan Wolf's best kept secrets, once known as Qualip it was near Arcturus and Odessa and used by ilKhan Ulric Kerensky as a forward supply depots for REVIVAL.  The Potemkin Full Moon had dropped a full load of cargo on the abandoned world that was later claimed by the Wolves in Exile after the Refusal War that sundered the Wolf Clan.  The Exiled Wolves left the world abandoned but Vladimir Ward began the process of settling the planet and building up supplies on a semi-regular basis shortly after becoming Khan.  Until she killed Loremaster Katya Kerensky and took her position not even Katherine knew of the planet that would have been the launch point for the Wolves post Truce assaults to take Terra.

Once she learned of it though she took advantage and accelerated the process of building a new Clan Capital World.  The Ghost Bear's attempts to build up on Nox had gone up in flames due to Blakist saboteurs and assassins that had managed to infiltrate SLIC and in the process killed many VIPs.  One VIP that Katherine wouldn't miss was the former Exiled Wolves' Khan and defiant Duke Phelan Kell. The Kell lineages mysteriously disappeared during the Blakist assault on Arc Royal wiping out all of the Freeborn Khan's giftakes and with his death on Nox there would be no memory to him or his rebel father Morgan Kell.  All that remained was Morgan's bastard daughter Megan's line that was now living in exile within the St Ives Compact with most of the other Allards.  Both Katherine and Vladimir Ward were “terribly disappointed” with that turn of events as both had plenty of reasons to dislike the Kells.

The pair and their Wolf Patrol escorts arrived at the new Hall of the Clans, an impressive structure designed to evoke but not exactly mimic the one on Strana Mechdy.  Each of the Council Clan banners were hanging from one of its pillars, Wolf, Jade Wolf, Hell's Horses, Ghost Bear, Snow Raven, and Diamond Shark.  Both Nova Cat and Ice Hellion were vassals of a Successor State despite being Clans thus had not yet earned their place on the Council.  Of course they could challenge that ruling by Clan Law and in fact Nova Cat Khan Santin West had done just that which is why all the Khans were assembling on Kerensky's Vision.

Katherine followed Hannibal into the building but split off from him, as a Loremaster he was given a seat on the Council while Katherine despite being Khan Ward's wife was just another Bloodnamed as far as the Clans were concerned.

The Khans, saKhans, and Loremasters of the Six Council Clans sat next to one another in the circle.

Clan Wolf
Khan Vladimir Ward | saKhan Rhonda Stiles (abtakha Smoke Jaguar) | Loremaster Hannibal Sradoc

Clan Jade Wolf
Khan Marthe Pryde | saKhan Uvin Buhallin | Loremaster Dawn Varga (abtakha Steel Viper)

Clan Hell's Horses
Khan James Cobb | saKhan Jake Kabrinsky (abtakha Ghost Bear) | Loremaster Magnus DelVillar

Clan Ghost Bear
Khan Aletha Kabrinsky | saKhan Ragnar Magnusson (Freeborn Rasalhague Bloodhouse) | Loremaster Allison Noble

Clan Snow Raven
Khan Lynn McKenna | SaKhan Alberto Crow | Loremaster Klaus Harper

Clan Diamond Shark
Khan Barbara Sennett | SaKhan Alan Hawker | Loremaster Isaac Clarke

The Nova Cat Command Triad was standing in the middle.
Khan Santin West | SaKhan Hirohito Katayama | Loremaster Syrah Rosse

As the host of this Council Khan Vladimir Ward was allowed to speak first, “Khan West, your Clan is a vassal of Franklin Sakamoto, Shogun of the Draconis Combine, and have subjected your Touman to the command of the SLDF.  Yet you seek to join this honored Council as a sovereign member.  There is only one loyalty within the Council, that is to the Clans not a Successor Lord.  On what grounds do you reject your Abjuration and seek to once more rejoin your brother clans?”

“I have many grounds to reject the Nova Cat's Abjuration but the only one that I am truly interested in is the battleground.  My Nova Cats would take any of your Clans, our Touman and Clan is strong and independent of the SLDF and DCMS, they would be much lesser without the Cats.  You should be honored to have us as members of your Council.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 08 March 2019, 16:52:07
Yikes this Chapter of our Saga took five rewrites during an already busy RL week.  Hope you enjoy.


Khan West clad in the roughly tanned leather of the Kyotan Armor Bear with one of its fearsome claws around his neck stood tall before the glares of his fellow Khans.  He had hoped that his vision would be easier to fulfill but if it meant speaking uncomfortable truths so be it.  “You are not the Grand Council of Khans created by Kerensky though you pretend to be.  We have all been Abjured by the Grand Council!   

My interpretation of Clan Law has us thus as equals.  Our brother Clans have exiled us all and cut us off from the Kerensky Cluster, we have only ourselves and our allies to rely on here.

The Nova Cats however were first in willingly.  We knew our future lie in the Inner Sphere before any others.  The Ghost Bears followed and so did the rest of you.

All of your claims to Orthodox Clan behavior are false.  This is not only for the Council but to all the Clansmen listening to me currently and those that receive the recordings once we are finished here. 

We find ourselves in trying times.  Not since the Second Exodus have the Children of Kerensky faced such headwinds.  Our enemies are relentless and unseen, reliant on exploiting our differences from one another with disguise and misdirection.  Sweet lies that we take in like candies to sibkin. 

Each of our foes have put more work into driving us against those that should be our friends than at any time in history.  None of us should trust anything that we cannot verify with our own eyes and even then we must look twice and thrice clearly to find the truth.  They have been successful because we cannot look beyond our own eyes even once. 

If we did we would see that we have all changed since we left our Homeworlds.  Our eyes have become clearer yet we refuse to see the plain fact that we are but a small group in a big galaxy. 

A small group that created big change.  During REVIVAL the Inner Sphere looked beyond their own century long grievances and stood strong against us.  These ties still hold but we have failed to learn their lesson. 

The Blessed Order and Word of Blake's lies have come to the surface with fire but that fire can temper our resolve or fan the conflagration that will erupt between us when we reach Terra to avenge our Fallen, both Clan and Spheroid.  One of us will but we can choose now what happens after.  Can we look beyond our own faults to see the strength in Unity that we possess?  Can we finally realize the end of Great Father Kerensky's Vision? An ilClan.

That is after all why this place was built, this whole planet was renamed for that very purpose.  Quaff Khan Ward?”

“Aff Santin.  The Wolves will support the Nova Cats membership for Council.”

Khan Cobb stood up, the Warrior still had a sharp mind and retained his edge ousting his younger predecessor in un-augmented combat with ease despite being nearly 70.   “As will the Hell's Horses.  Jake Kabrinsky assures me that your Nova Cats have not lost their Warrior Spirit under the SLDF.  Any Clan that can draw the Ghost Bears twice,” Both Khan and saKhan Kabrinsky winced no one defeated the Bears and they were still hurt at their costly Draw with the “domesticated” Cats, “while fighting another war is a worthy one.”

The Diamond Shark's and Jade Wolves both supported the candidacy predominantly out of dislike of the Ghosts Bears and their abrasive Khan(s) as well as the arrogant and newly arrived Ghost Bear allied Snow Ravens that got a prime seat on the Council with Aletha's blessing but without their vote.  The Council had been the Ghost Bear's idea to maintain control against the now better supported (by both the Lyran Commonwealth's and Free World's League's more efficient and vast industrial base) “Allies.” 

With the Nova Cats in the organization the Ghost Bear and Snow Raven Khans would find themselves outvoted and possibly even made irrelevant in Inter-Clan Affairs despite the Dominions outsize military it still could be beaten by a reborn Star League just like the Smoke Jaguars.  Already the Diamond Sharks were increasingprices for the Bears due to choice trade deals with Corrine Marik's League.  With two of their Leviathans destroyed and another damaged the were outnumbered on the ground and in space even with the Snow Ravens whose ships were in poor condition after their War with the Steel Vipers.

Finally the cards were on the table with the word ilClan being spoken there should be an ilKhan.  “Now we come to who will lead the Clans for this new Revival.”

Khan Vladimir Ward as host spoke first again, “I nominate Khan West to be ilKhan.”  Aletha Kabrinsky was not subtle with her disdain, she personally hated Khan West and Khan Ward equally.  Her Ghost Bears should be leading this fight, they were the mightiest Clan in the Inner Sphere.

Khan Marthe Pryde of the Jade Wolves seconded the motion.  Her Jade Wolves lost nothing from the Nova Cat being ilKhan as they did not share a common border with the possibly angry Bears.  Let Khans Ward and Cobb deal with it.

“I humbly accept your nomination Khans Ward and Pryde.”

Khan Lynn McKenna, a long time ally of the the Bears and Falcons (now Jade Wolves) nominated Aletha which was seconded by the Diamond Sharks Khan Senett.  Who still attempted to maintain the brisk business the Sharks did with the Bears and possibly find lucrative work for her Clan with the newly arrived Ravens.

Khan Cobb nominated Vladimir Ward, the man knew that the Wolf Khan coveted Ulric Kerensky's tenure as the ilKhan.  It would be a subtle gesture.  “I appreciate but cannot accept your nomination Khan Cobb.  I will leave this between Aletha and Santin.  Maybe next time.”

The Loremaster of the Clans the young vibrant former Exiled Wolf's Loremaster Daphne Vickers stepped forward from the shadows where she had been lurking during the accords.  While her “Clan” had ceased to exist she returned to the fold of Clan Wolf with the other Exiles.  Their Elementals became the new Ebon Keshik that protected the Grand Council and ilKhan.  Their Warriors and other Castes were responsible for protecting Kerensky's Vision.  The Planet and The Vision. 

“By the Vote of the Grand Council Khans Santin West of the Nova Cats and Aletha Kabrinsky of the Ghosts Bears have accepted a Trial of Position for ilKhan.”  She motioned for the rest of the Nova Cats to leave the central pedestal and beckoned Aletha Kabrinksy to come forward from her box.  Both challengers were small for Elementals but their stature allowed them to be multi-talented and cross train.  The Combatants were accomplished in Battle Armor and Battlemechs and had turned battles just by their mere presence without having to use their considerable skills.

She motioned to the shadows before one of the Ebon Keshik Elementals came forward to hand her a box containing a randomizer.  She pressed something and returned the box to the Elemental who disappeared once more. “Santin West you have been declared the defender for this Trial.  Aletha Kabrinsky may begin her Batchall.”

“I Khan Aletha Kabrinsky of the Ghost Bears, mightiest of Kerensky's chosen, challenge you, Santin West, for the position of ilKhan of the True Clans.  I bid my Ourse Keshik for this honor.”

“Khan Santin West of the Nova Cats will defend my Vision with a Binary of the Nova Cat Keshik.  I choose Grid Seven Five One of the Blood Forest tomorrow at eleven hundred for our Circle of Equals.”

The atmosphere was tense it was still a fair bid but taking a Trinary against a Binary was not very sporting.  “My Ghost Bears are as good as measure to a Nova Cat.  I match your bid Khan West.”

The Nova Cat man put his hand out to the Ghost Bear woman.  “Well bargained and done?”
“Well bargained and done.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 10 March 2019, 17:09:02
09/05/070 Location – IWS Dire Wolf outbound from Kerenksy's Vision, Council World

Star Colonel Katherine Fox and Khan Vladimir Ward watched the Trial of ilKhan once more.  Now ilKhan Santin West has wisely chosen his opponent and the forces by which to combat her.  The forest negated the Ghost Bear Khan's Viper and the choice of a Vehicle and Elemental Star from the NovaStar Keshik negated the ten mechs that Khan Kabrinsky had chosen from the Ourse Keshik.  The traditionalist Ghost Bears were defeated by the adapted Nova Cats in a decisive victory. 

One that also rallied the Hell's Horses with both their love for combined arms and smart territory selection. Their inter-generational feud started after the Ghost Bears had seized the Tokasha Mech factories that manufactured some of the most effective Omnimechs that had ever been designed.  The Horse's Khan James Cobb was joined at the hip with his fellow Elemental Khan (now ilKhan) after the Trial.

Katherine looked toward her husband his dark harsh features softly illuminated in the light of 'their' room aboard the Dire Wolf.  “I am glad you listened to me Vladimir.”

The man turned the viewer off with a small remote velcroed to the side of the bed.  “I could have beaten him, but for what?  I am sorry to just get so lost trying to be Ulric or Alexander.  I'm something different or well now I am.  The Clans if they survive this War won't need people like me afterwards, people that remember the things they told us in sibko.  They will live with everything we were promised when we left the Homeworlds to rebuild the Star League. 

It worked they will make their own Vision, one Vision beyond just Terra to everything.  A Golden Century that I would like to enjoy with you for as long as possible.”

Katherine neared closer they had spent their entire time on Kerenksy's Vision together after a several month long separation while they were planning the next steps and waiting for things to come into place and Katherine accepted that the War was a real thing finally.  “What will we do?  Once this is all over.”

Vlad held her close and kissed her hard, “Let's take it one day at a time, Love.  That way we can never be disappointed.”


09/12/3070 Location – Citadel Spaceport, Vanra, Duchy of Orloff, Free Worlds League

Magestrix Naomi Centrella disembarked from the brightly decorated Dictator Dropship TADS Queen of Hearts. The Canopian woman made a grand entrance down the ramp toward the waiting Duchess Alys Hampton dressed in a green and gold quipao with intricate decoration along its ankle length.  While it did not show any skin it did show off gorgeous curves that turned the heads of the Orloff Grenadiers waiting nearby. 

The Magestrix kept a bit of Canopian flair in her hair with bright combs holding the curly hair in place but was otherwise subdued.  She was followed by a group of quiet professional soldier no one was certain whether they were the infamous Ebon Magistrate or the Death's Commandos. 

Duchess Hampton purple dress swished gently in the warm summer wind to meet the woman on the tarmac, stopping a short distance from the Magestrix.  Alys was fairly certain what Naomi wanted and hoped it wasn't actually her head.  “Welcome Magestrix Centrella, to what do we owe this pleasure?”

The Magestrix's cultured presentation was dropped as she pointed accusingly toward Alys and raised her voice.  “You know damn well why I am here Duchess Hampton.  Where is my brother!”

The Grenadiers watched and waited but their hands were on their Sunbeam laser pistols and holsters undone.  The Magestrix's soldiers did the same.  “Colonel Ramille was abducted by Word affiliated mercenaries on Galatea.  I assure you that we are doing everything we can to rescue him.”

That did not stop the Magestrix who got close enough to Alys to poke her in the chest.  Alys kept her hand low signaling her bodyguards not to shoot and cause a diplomatic incident by injuring or killing the Capellan Chancellor's wife.  “He had been missing for nearly a month!  Yet I only heard about it six days ago.  No courier from your AMC or HPG message.  I know that your HPGs work Marik, as do those on Sian.”

Alys stood firm against the Magestrix. Alys had lost both of her older brothers in battle and could emphasize with how much it had affected her.  Of course she hadn't sent an HPG to this woman because it wasn't looking good as far as their investigation went. However, the Sea Foxes could provide a suitable receipt for a minor cost thus she could promise something to deescalate the situation.  “Apologies Magestrix.  Our superliminal communications still have issues and your border is not yet secure enough for un-escorted couriers.  I was informed that a message had been sent to Sian via the Oriente circuit.  I can provide evidence of that fact courtesy of the SFTC that currently administers our HPGs in the wake of the Word's effective defeat.”

“You lie.  That message was never sent.”
“Well I don't happen to have the receipt on me Magestrix presently.  It was sent though.”
“I don't trust you or your traitorous cousin Corrine.  The Sea Foxes would lie for the both of you.  MY people are going to join YOUR people in finding my brother.”
“This is an AMC operation Magestrix.  I would not want to endanger your person.  There are powerful people that would miss you.”
“With Newton missing and possibly dead his Raiders pass down the line to me.  Thus I have just joined the AMC.”

Alys could of course contest that but didn't want to start a war over it.  If Naomi died it would be her own fault as far as Corrine and Sun-Tzu would be concerned.  “Very well Magestrix.  Your people can join with the Blackhearts on the search for Colonel Ramille.”
“How appropriate.  Where are they now?”
“Talitha.  Happy hunting Naomi.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 10 March 2019, 17:21:02
Coalition Command Briefing
Primary Objectives | First Wave Assigned time – 90 TSD
AFFS – Nanking, Fletcher
2SLDF – Shiloh, Wasat
Clan Council – Oliver, Alula Australis
DCMS – Nirasaki, Imbros III
LCAF – Thorin, Muphrid
AMC – Galatea, Hall

30 TSD Pause – Supplies will then be brought forward by the Sea Fox Trading Company and Wolf Logistics' Charters.

Second Phase Objectives | Jump Range from Terra / Assigned time – 15 TSD
AFFS – Epsilon Eridani
2SLDF – Liberty
Clan Council – Luyten 68-20
DCMS – Dieron
LCAF – New Earth
AMC – Altair

14 TSD Pause

Final Phase
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 16 March 2019, 09:19:49
Ground Commanders and Commands
Clan Council – ilKhan Santin West
60 Front Line Galaxies
60 Second Line

LCAF – GotA (ret.) Adam and GotA Reinhardt Steiner
5 Armies (25 RCTs) Iron Wall, Gauntlet, Silvertongue, Stiletto, Landsknect

AFFS – Brigadier Robert Davion-Zibler and GotA Tabitha Rennard w/ Hellion Khan Xander Drake
6 Armies (30 RCTs) Blackguard, Golden Lion, Sunburst, Charging Horse, Pegasus, Halberd

2SLDF – Commanding General Photon Brett(-Marik)
2 Armies (12 RCTs) True Patriot, Swordbreaker

DCMS – Shogun Franklin Sakamoto and Caliph (of the Azami) Sahalli Al'Odessa
50 ACRes {(Advanced Composite Regiment) modified Jaeger/LCT Pattern)

AMC – Duchess Alys Hampton and Captain-General Corrine Marik
5 RCTs built from more than 20 different mercenary commands

Naval Commanders (Flagship)
Council Clans
Khan Lynn McKenna commanding TASKFORCE:WARBIRD (Snow Raven, Diamond Shark, Ghost Bear ships) from the McKenna Battleship CSR James McKenna
5 Naval Stars + 2 Stars of Potemkins

Khan Marthe Pryde commanding TASK FORCE:RAPTOR (Wolf, Jade Wolf, Hell's Horses ships) from the Nightlord Battleship CJW Emerald Talon.
4 Naval Stars +  Star of Potemkins

FCF – Third Fleet Admiral Hai Sing Vietchi (Eclipse Light Carrier FCS New Avalon)
4 Major Combatant Task Forces (Tharkad Seth Marsden, Mjlornirs Valhalla, Yggdrasil, Fylgia)

DCA – Gunji-no-Kanrei Hibiko “Hellfire” Saito (Yamato Battlecruiser DCS Yamato)
1 Major Combatant Task Force (Yamato)

SLDF – Admiral Juhan Dubravka ( Thera Carrier SLS Fort Verdun) also commanding Clan Nova Cat ships
1 Major Combatant Task Force (Fort Verdun)

AMC – Colonel Hohiru “Great Wyrm” Tanaga of Hell's Black Aces (Feng Huang Carrier TAS Aleisha Kris, leased from the Capellan Confederation by the AMC with Marik money)
1 Major Combatant plus Pocket Warships and Aerospace

Yamato Battlecuiser is effectively a modified Tharkad.  The DCA independently started it that way.  The WOB that had repaired the Tharkad Invincible finished it that way, it has no standard weapons instead those were replaced by sub capitals.  Fewer NGRs more NACs and MPPCs arranged in 2 or 4 weapon bays.  First 3rd Generation Warship

DCMS Organization
ACR followed the previous Average Regimental Composition (ARC) used by the DCMS though modified with more armor due to the damage done to the DCMS Mechwarrior (many were Black Dragon sympathizers) and Mech production.  Consists of 1 Battlemech, 1 Reinforced Vehicle (extra Battalion), and 1 Armored Infantry Regiment.

LAG (Light Assault Group) is a Battalion of each rather than a Regiment though typically faster and better suited for raiding.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 16 March 2019, 23:07:58
Its too bad, AlphaMirage , there wasn't any easy way to make those Strategic BattleForce (Alpha Strike Data Cards) of those regiments/galaxies.  It be make them more playable!
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 16 March 2019, 23:22:10
Its too bad, AlphaMirage , there wasn't any easy way to make those Strategic BattleForce (Alpha Strike Data Cards) of those regiments/galaxies.  It be make them more playable!

I was actually attempting to parse it into an ISaW line to see if there were any interesting upsets but a thematic selection will have to do.

The Enemy (COMGuards Organization)
3 Armies of Blessed Order Militia under the Command of Precentor Martial Cameron St Jamais based on Epsilon Eridani
2 Armies of Manei Domini under Precentor Naamah (and the Shadow Oracle aka “Ascended Thomas Marik”) based on Carver V
1 Battalion of Fidelis on Mars under Precentor Rafael
3 Armies of Sol Protectorate Militia under Precentor SPM Lisa Koenigs-Cober (Former ComGuard) based on New Earth
3 Army of Terra Defense Force under General Nolan Shivale based on Gibraltar, Terra
2 Divisions of The Pure Souls (Exituri) on Shiloh under Elder Oryx
2 Divisions of The Blood on Mars and New Dallas under Elder Weston Merino
1 Division of Thugees under Chief Mushali on New Home
1 Division of The Brotherhood of Cincinatus under Obersh (Colonel) Heinricht Volgenrut on Thorin
1 Army of Free Skye under Duke Robert Kelswa-Steiner and Duchess Hermione Aten on Murphrid

Order of Blake Fleet
(Word of Blake Fleet Assets) commanded by Precentor Naval Gregory Zwick from the Farragut class Battleship WOBS Righteous Justice
2 Naval Squadrons

TASKFORCE:ULTRAVIOLET (Former ComGuard Fleet Assets) commanded by Senior Precentor Alain Beresick (former ComGuard) from the York Class CSS Focht's Fury (formerly the CSJ Lioness repaired by the Word of Blake around Dieron and captured by the ComStar Fleet)
3 Naval Squadrons

SDS Systems on New Home, New Earth, Terra, Dieron, Epsilon Eridani, Nirasaki, Terra Firma, and Alula Australis
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 17 March 2019, 18:41:06
10/17/3070 Location – Kami DCS Golden Flame above Nagano, moon of Nirasaki, Draconis Combine[/u]

The spheroid Kami dropship DCS Golden Flame drifted above the barren, whitewashed, and mountainous moon of Nagano orbiting the planet Nirasaki with a flotilla of other DCMS Dropships and a pair of Warships.  Their target Crystal City, the Nirasaki Computer Collectives' corporate owned habitat burrowed deep into the moon.  The only signs on the surface were glittering domes that once held wonders of automation during the Star League's golden years.  These wonders had been destroyed and lost; the habitat abandoned during the dark ages of the Succession Wars.  With the technological renaissance in the wake of the Clan's invasion they were renovated and recommissioned for their original purpose, research and development.

Shogun Franklin Sakamoto waited in the cockpit of his Ronin (Gladiator) Battlemech as his Drosphip was coming into position for the drop onto Nagano.  Currently the air wings of the dozen DCMS dropships, the Yamato Battlecruiser (a modified Tharkad) DCS Yamato, and Kaga Carrier (a modified York) DCS Kaga were preparing the battlefield.  Both Warships had been captured above New Samarkand after being completed by the Black Dragons with the Word of Blake's technical assistance.  The only positive thing of the Black Dragon rebellion as far as Franklin was concerned.

The Draconis Combine's Shogun rotated a piece of roughly worked ivory in his hand carefully held by a strong thread in free-fall.  The piece had been given to him by his nephew Kitsune before he departed Combine space.  Franklin held it securely for more than 6 years on the promise that boy would return to finish it some day.  It drew his mind to the Dictum Honorium, the very foundations of the Draconis Combine's society, The Pillar of Ivory in particular.  Growing soft but becoming strong as part of its nature as it was with the Combine. 

The Golden Flame's captain came through on his helmet's commset, “Shogun-heiko, we are approaching the position.  You are free to power up your battlemech.”

Franklin pressed the button saying his pass-Haiku and the console began to light up red then green as critical systems came online.  “Hai Tai-I Kobayashi.  Lotus-Four online.”  He put the ivory piece beneath his gold colored cooling vest over a black jumpsuit with a stylized Lotus on the back.  The illustration was his own created while he was looking for a symbol for his new Shogunate.  Lotuses emerged clean from the grimy swamps that they grew in.  Franklin couldn't think of a more apt symbol for the reform Franklin had in mind for the Draconis Combine that would continue his father's work.  They would emerge from this Jihad stronger and more harmonious than ever before.

The red lights of the Kami's Drop-bay illuminated Franklin's Ronin Battlemech, the Gladiator it was based on was the first Battlemech ever created by the Draconis Combine's member states.  The Blakists had transferred the tooling to build it to New Samarkand replacing the previous mainstay Dragons.  The Ronin however was jump capable but no one had jumped out of a dropship with it yet.  A timer appeared on the HUD of Franklin's Neurohelmet counting down the moment till the drop pod door opened 5 seconds before it expired the Shogun issued his favored phrase for a combat drop.  “Dragons Fly!”

The Kin Masuko (Golden Masks) echoed his call.  His sub-commanders followed shortly behind with their own commands.  The Shogun's Advanced Composite Regiment was in this fight while the rest of this attack force was moving forward with the rest of the operation.  The Masuko battlemechs in black and gold jumped out of their dropships, orienting themselves with their mech's gyros and jump jets before coming down on the white regolith atop pillars of flame that blew the rock dust high into the thin atmosphere.  The pair of Nagumo dropships that were carrying his Armored Infantry would follow behind in order to secure Crystal City once the major players were destroyed.

Shogun Sakamoto hit the ground first and harder than expected. The impact jarred his bones, it had been a while since he had engaged in a combat drop.  The glittering domes of Crystal City were visible in the thin atmosphere of Nagano on the other side of a blackened moonscape partially made by the Yamato's cannons where there had been obvious fixed defenses.  The rest of his unit advanced in a loose arc heading toward the domes.  “We are advancing to the target, Kanrei Saito.”

A woman's voice came in over his radio, Hibiko “Hellfire” Saito, his military deputy.  “Hai, Shogun-heiko.  The Yamato waits above with tongues of flame to burn our enemies to ash.”

“Be certain they are guided with wisdom Hibiko-san.  Lest we turn our own dragons black.”
“You saved me the trouble.”

While the woman was a loyal retainer he could not discount the words had some truth to them.  He was after all within a mech that was mostly black contrasting sharply with the white regolith that rose up with each step of the Kin Masuko's battlemechs surrounding them with particles that sparkled in the light of Nirasaki's sun.

As they neared the glittering domes they started to pick up transient contacts between the nearby “hills.”  Each was an underground habitat, some capable of docking the largest of dropships though mostly used for small craft and aerospace fighters.  Franklin stepped past the circle that was off-limits for the initial orbital bombardment.  A cordon roughly 5 kilometers wider than the city's outer limits.

The hills came alive with contacts as soon as they passed within the cordon.  Four types of quadruped battlemechs, dozens of regular ones, and a pair of Tripod ones that didn't match any type in his DCMS Warbook.  Kin Masuko mechs engaged the light gray camouflaged mechs whose low profile made them difficult targets to find against the terrain.  Unlike those ones the Tripods stood tall, massive things that were larger than even the vaulted Atlas Battlemech.

Shogun Sakamoto looked at the Tripod standing over a nearby hill behind a swarm of smaller mechs.  Behind it Aerospace fighters were launching from concealed hangers streaking toward the DCA Air Wing and ruining the Yamato's orbital fire support as it would have to maneuver to avoid the hostiles.  “I didn't think they could do it.  They made a mech bigger than one hundred tons.”

“Shogun you are on your own until we deal with the fighters and get back into position.”

Franklin began tracking an approaching Venom battlemech through his Neurohelmet's targeting indicator.  The Capacitor Enhanced ERPPC glowed azure under the right arm of his Ronin Battlemech as the LRMs launched from the MML-5 built into his left chest most of which were dodged by the agile Hunter-Killer mech.  “Very well.  I do not need your hellfire."

Franklin held the shot until the Venom pounced toward him only to be hit square in the chest.  "I am the Dragon."  The Venom fell into the regolith at his Mech's feet, feet which moved to crush the cockpit of his fallen foe.  "Feel my wrath.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 17 March 2019, 20:21:12
10/19/3070 Location – Fletcher VII (CC), Contested World

The Battlemaster 'Black Prince' was covered in battle damage and dew as it walked down the road toward a tranquil windswept meadow filled with flowers.  Fletcher was still contested but this area was clear as far as the scout platoon that had departed less than ten minutes ago could confirm.  The mech took a knee before a group of stone statues kept pristine for centuries by the locals.  First Prince Peter Steiner-Davion dropped from the chain ladder built into the unit onto the spongy ground.  The Prince's features were worn and his uniform ragged.  It had been a long time since he embarked on a campaign of this magnitude and it showed.  His faith in himself had been shaken by the horrors he had seen the Word of Blake commit during this push to remove them from the Inner Sphere.

He loosed his red and gold Neurohelmet holding the heavy object from a sling over his cooling vest.  A Serrek pistol was attached to the front of it the bluing of the gun's steel marred by combat.  He ran his hand through his grimy hair as he approached a small depression that had collected water from the recent rains.  The First Prince looked around, Fletcher had seen many battles over the centuries being home to many strategic targets but this area was untarnished by the fires of war.  The rains had cleared away the smoke from the fires that were burning just over the horizon and Peter breathed in the clean air for the first time in weeks.

Peter took some of the water and washed his face cleaning off the accumulated soot, he was reminded of a time when he did this after causing a massacre of his own people in rage.  Now he was attempting to stop one started by those with no such concerns.  An enemy of unhumans not bound by any convention.  Only driven by fanatical desire to control everyone.  An army he was going to stop.

The man walked toward the circle of statues.  This place was hallowed ground and he approached with reverence.  He stopped before an intricate statue of a woman holding an open scroll. 'Aleisha Liao, 3rd Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation.  A Peacemaker in an Age of War. 2372-2415'

“What a great irony that your many fold grandson started so many wars and is probably not done yet.”

Peter looked at the shortform version of the Ares Conventions, a thing taught in every military academy throughout the Inner Sphere and Clan Space.  Normally he didn't see the signatures on the original document signed on Ares in a textbook however so it was interesting to see the signature of someone long dead.  He was drawn to one in particular, Archon Katherine Steiner, the woman that was his many-fold grandmother; rather than his sister who is also now known as Katherine Steiner.

He looked closely and was hit by a shocking revelation.  The signature of that woman was nearly identical to older sister's.  She would have had to seek it out and intentionally mimic it until it became natural.  Peter looked toward the statue of that woman standing tall with long hair made of white marble with her son Alistair in his little officer's uniform during her most famous appearance before the Estates General to preach peace in their time.

Everything was the same.  Her presentation, appearance, everything including a disturbing amount of their history.  All of which (except the history) must have been done on purpose by his sister.  He thought of their last time together when he was taking her to Gallery after Galen Cox was and she nearly assassinated.  Peter tearfully brushed his hand across the boy's, his many great grandfather's marble face.
“No.  Katherine.
I didn't know. 
Wouldn't have asked.”

He opened a 2d picture of his family with the forests of Minette in the background.  He put his finger over his wife's baby bump.  “I am so sorry.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 20 March 2019, 16:13:24
10/31/3070 Location – Thorin, Clan(Federated) Commonwealth

(Archon)/Star Colonel Katherine Fox's (Steiner) Barghest ducked behind a nearby hill just in time to dodge the withering fire from an ambushing group of rebels.  The heavy firepower dropped clods of dirt onto her lupine Battlemech which caught in the extensive battle damage it had taken.  Katherine puffed on a stray ash blonde hair that was now obscuring her helmet's HUD.  “Report!”

One of the White Wolves in the more mobile Fenris had eyes on target.  The Hades in her Star was blocking outgoing transmissions so hopefully faster moving units weren't vectoring to hit her patrol.  The Summoner and Storm Crow were engaging the enemy presently.  “We took some hits from concealed Pattons and Rommels.  I spot a pair of Behemoths and a trio Sturmfeurs mixed in.  Its the brotherhood Star Colonel.  I can see their crest.  Don't see any spotters but there are probably infantry in play.”

The Brotherhood of Cincinnatus had started as a veteran support, Steiner Supremacists, and Anti-Clan group and it like many other things of late had been subverted by the Word of Blake and made itself an enemy.  Katherine had done herself no favors by killing the late celebrated Hero of Thorin and prominent Brother General Archer Christifori using a Wolf Patrol firing squad on Tamar after he attempted to kill her and her children.  This was the final straw however her LIC commandos, Guard contingent, and the White Wolves meant to put an permanent end to these traitors. 

It was very personal and she had never afforded herself the luxury of letting enemies live if there wasn't a better option.  The isolation, humiliation, and death of Morgan Kell and his son, Phelan 'The True Wolf Khan' at the hands of a mutual enemy being an exception, one that was both fruitful and satisfying.

Katherine angled her Barghest toward the hill and pushed the throttle all the way just like an all terrain motorcycle with a pair of searing large lasers and a Heavy Gauss Rifle.  “Well no Alacorns or Challengers so I count that as lucky.” 

Her Mech cleared the hill and ran over the dirt clods and flaming debris that was heading toward her machine as the other units of her lance pressed in like a tightening coil.  The Fenris would hit the rear with the Barghest and Summoner holding the center while the Storm Crow and Hades were on the far angle ready to take advantage of any side shots they could manage on the dug in vehicles.

Like a pack of wolves they closed on the enemy company.  They were fighting dug in Lyran vehicles aka blocks of armor with guns; piloted by some of the best veterans of the St Ives War and Operation-REVIVAL.  Even immobilized they were still incredibly dangerous even to a Clantech Mech Star Katherine in her early reign had made certain that would be the case.  That was before she became a Clan Warrior herself; now she had a slightly different opinion.  However the Word of Blake might have succeeded in their plan if she not ensured that her army was the most potent in the Inner Sphere.  Now they were on the run and soon to be out of friendly ground, and friends.

He Barghest's Heavy Gauss Rifle and turret mounted twin cERLL lasers leveled on the lead Patton and found their mark.  Even with the increased armor and concealment from the fighting position all three weapons wrecked the turret.  The object remained atop the vehicle but hung at a sickly angle.  It's cannon had managed to get off a double tap before the end however and each round hammered low on the Barghest's front legs. 

Missiles arced down from above filling the battlefield with white exhaust trails and more shells that impacted the Archon's allies.  The hunched over and birdlike Storm Crow B took a major hit from the Rommel's main gun but returned it with more and blasted another of the offending rebels.  A Summoner D fired its weapons mid-jump which burned into one of the heavy weight Behemoth tanks as its Anti-Missile systems intercepted some of the incoming swarm of missiles knocking at least a dozen out of the sky before they reached the target.  Although the mech was momentarily staggered under the assault of so much firepower.  The Hades did the most damage though as artillery streaked out of the sky delivered from the White Wolves' (A Jaeger Unit) battery.  “Nice shooting boys.  Let's finish them off.”

11/01/3070 Location – Fortress Laiacona, Thorin

Colonel Heinricht Volgenrut of the Brotherhood of Cincinnatus looked at the action before him through his Crusader's open cockpit.  His battle brothers and sister were preparing themselves for what was likely going to be the final battle of this fight.  The ancient star league fortress was operational but they were outnumber and the Blakists had yet to bring online their new additions.  The white clad technopriests weirded him out, but there was no denying their impressive tech and contempt for the current Archon.  The Lyran Commonwealth needed a pure Steiner in control, the Steiner-Davions had ruined it.  Robert (Kelswa-)Steiner would do nicely and he would happily help the man take back Tamar from the hated Wolves after Katherine and her Clan allies perished.

The Wolf Clan had cost Heinricht dearly, he lost his legs on Blair Atoll after being thrown into the maw of the Clan War Machine in gear that was older than his grandfather with no support.  Now he was doing it again but this time the Blakists had his back and sent aid.  “What is taking so long Precentor?”

The Legacy pointed to one of the White Jabberwocky Industrialmechs that despite its large size barely came up to the treads of the massive machine before him.  A mobile fortress bristling with guns.  “The Rattler had to be deconstructed in order to ship it.  We gave your men weapons and expected them to put up a better fight in order to give us more time to bring it online. 

Now you can get out there and fight the Wolves or hide within this fortress' walls complaining until doomsday.  Which might be quite soon by the way.”

“Get that monstrosity online before the Donegal's fighters drop an Alamo on this fortress.”
“We will get it done.  Now do your part Colonel.”

“Oh I will.  Red Company on me.  Head to sally port six.  All gun crews watch the skies.  Artillery prepare for bombardment.  Don't forget there is an Eclipse (Fox CV) above,”

The Cincinatians exited the triple sealed doors that opened up to a narrow box canyon that would provide some concealment from above and serve as a death trap if attacked.  He could see Katherine's advancing forces from afar using the sensor network that was hardwired into the fortress.  The two Hades units in the White Wolves would disrupt any transmissions from normal remote sensors.
He pulled down the cockpit canopy and thumbed the armored shroud which came down and momentarily darkening the interior before sensors filled in the display.  He looked down and engaged the loading state for his Crusader's missile arms.  “and Wolves below.

Avenge Archer!”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 22 March 2019, 20:27:16
11/02/3070 Location – Above Thorin, Federated (Clan) Commonwealth

Captain Owen Boer's smooth features were under the red lights of the Eclipse Carrier Donegal watched the battle unfold below him from the military “comfort” of his Tactical Command Room.  The 56 fighters of the 27th IAC (Independent Aerospace Command) was currently engaged as per the Archon's plan with a quarter of them presently on their way back to the carrier to reload and rearm.  With the Lyran Commonwealth's access to the Star League and thus Clan Nova Cat, particularly their York Carriers; as well details from the League's Thera, and hands on experience with the warship that would improve the next round of Commonwealth Fleet Carriers captured by ONI, the Eclipse was one of the smoothest running carriers in any fleet.  The final approach remained one of the most dangerous maneuvers in space, but that is why the pilots spent so much time practicing it.

The sensor operator shouted something from her station. “Captain we are tracking contacts below!  Barracuda and Manta Ray missiles from the fortress below.”

“AIRCOMM wave those fighters off they will have to use the ground bases. 
HELM evasive maneuvers!  They probably have more incoming. 
EYES I want to know where those missiles came from!”

He triggered the red alert on the command console at his fingertips.  Then triggered another button fighting gees from the evasive maneuvers to broadcast his voice on the inter-comm ship-wide.  “All hands we are taking fire.  Ensure all DaCs (Damage Control) are in position.”

The Helmsmen triggered a hard burn but the missiles were agile and capable of hitting much smaller targets than his small Warship with pinpoint accuracy.  “We won't be able to evade these missiles Captain.”
“HELM make sure they hit something non-critical then."
  He looked around at the rest of the bridge crew in the tactical module.  "This is a Warship!  Is it not?”

The dozen missiles hit the length and breath of the ship but didn't cause any major damage as the Warship had been heavily armored with just this kind of occurrence in mind.  Aerospace fighters dove back for the ground in order to rearm and continue the fight.  Their sixteen fellow fighters would be trapped on the Donegal until it got out of engagement range for most of those missiles or the White Wolves and their allies dealt with the launchers the Donegal was not going down over Thorin it had a bigger fight to win.

Meanwhile below on the dirt 
Star Colonel Katherine Fox stood within the command van with muddy slate gray jumpsuit and knee high boots with the hilt of a knife just poking out from her thigh rig.  Her pistol was attached to the black cooling vest and her now off white neuro-helmet was on a sling behind her.  Her dirty hair was in a bun currently protected from the helmet by a shemagh that wrapped around her neck as well.  She was looking over the report from the Eclipse Donegal now currently departing their AO due to Surface to Space fire.  “I don't like this.  Where did we spot the contrails?”

One of the Loki Operatives looked over the map fingering their current location and what they could see from that position.  “We didn't spot any contrails.  They must be on the other side of the mountains or in a canyon somewhere.”

“We mapped this area with LIDAR earlier this week.  How could we have missed that?”
“Unknown Katherine.  They might have the launchers deeper than usual or have fired them from under a ledge before the missiles streamed up to engage the fighters and Donegal.”
“I want another flyover with the Blackbird.”
“It is currently refueling at FAT (Flight Academy of Thorin).  ETA sixty minutes till it is back within radio contact range.”
“I am going out with Recon Hauptmann.  The Blackbird should give us a clue of where the Brotherhood is hiding their missiles.  Meanwhile I want everything mobile again. 

These missiles don't just fly up. 

Sometimes they come down.”

“Yes Archon.”

One of the Loki operatives opened the door for her as she hoped down into the waterlogged field that had become their forward operating base.  Katherine's tall boots kept the worst out but it still was unpleasant.  Not as bad as Sibko; many times lately she had gone back to that phrase and she had only been in it for three months; not lived through it for years like most Clan Warriors. 

The other Loki operators exited behind her and began shouting at their subordinates to pack everything up and move to another position.  Katherine jogged her way to the industrial humanoid looking gray Stealth LIC Battlemechs; they were simple but rugged and very effective designs in the hands of the skilled and ruthless Mechwarriors gathered at their feet.

A blonde Skye Islander wearing the formless insignia free uniform of a Loki Mechwarrior was waiting for her, “Archon.  Command said you wanted to join us on the sweep.”

She walked toward the man stopping and holding her neurohelmet in the crook of her elbow, “Yes, Leutnant.  Is there a problem with that?”

The man looked at the other Mechwarriors, “Neg.  We just wanted to know if you wanted to be point.”

Katherine thought about it for a moment looking up at the storm.  “Leaders are always in front.”  before putting on her neurohelmet and mounting the ladder to the cockpit, “Even if I only do so from the shadows.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 24 March 2019, 05:28:07
Silly Brotherhood... the phrase is nuke it from orbit, not nuke it in orbit.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 25 March 2019, 14:36:08
Star Colonel Katherine Fox's Stealth worked its way up the steep rock cliffs that sheltered Fort Laiacona.  Thorin's badlands were currently covered in the rain which had concealed their approach.  The gray stone was wet but a battlemech's hands were still capable of climbing. A rare and unexpected skill but one the Bodians that trained Loki special operatives knew well. 

Katherine's patrol reached the top of the ridge then stood up to look upon an isolated canyon that was large enough to land a half dozen dropships.  It currently housed something strange and Katherine activated the zoom function on her Watchdog CEWS to see the massive construct.  Something which didn't match anything in the Warbook which was becoming an common occurrence, “What is that?”

“Unknown Archon but the Blackbird is coming within communications range.”

Kilometers above and away the matte black Blackbird hyper-sonic stealth recon craft zoomed through the stratosphere.  The three crew received a burst transmission from the Loki forward recon squad.  “Blackbird we have located an unknown contact near the following coordinates.  Request high speed low altitude pass.”

The three crewmen looked at one another though they could not see each others' face through their black gee suits and fully enclosed helmets.  “Roger, incoming, three mikes.”

Back on the ridge Katherine saw a fast moving shape ram down from the clouds and buzz their ridge at an impossible high speed.  It was gone long before they could hear the sonic boom but Katherine could see the construct come to life firing heavy missiles that streaked toward the small craft which was already long gone.  “That's the thing or at least one of them.  Upload the targeting coordinates to the boom box (satellite relay).  We'll just wait and watch.”

“Are you sure that is a good idea Archon?  We are exposed here.”
“Yes, if anyone wants to come and get us they are more than welcome to.  The Brotherhood has many old school Wallers (Wall of Steel) among their ranks.  They won't be able to reach us up here with their Zeuses and Banshees.”
“I'm more concerned about that big boy out there.”

The patrol picked up contacts coming from the fortress, a squadron of unknown helicopters with sharp edges like the Bolla stealth omni-tank.  Some new type of heavy helicopter gunship that was rapidly heading their way with Battle Armor holding on to the sides.  “Well that's new.”

Another of the Loki commandos chimed in on the battlenet, “They probably have some Warriors as well heading out way.”
“Couple of choppers is not that big a threat.”
  The rock exploded nearby as artillery began landing nearby. “That is though.”

The Loki Force Recon Battlemechs scattered to deal with the incoming artillery and attack helicopters.  The units were armed with some kind of lightweight PPC but Katherine's mechs had the feared cERLL, a true sniper's weapon and incredibly effective in such a high speed machine.

However, the squads of battle armor that were carried aboard these VTOLs were not something that was easily dealt with by the larger machines.  Ten blocky IS Standard Suits dropped down from each helicopter in turn.  Free from their ballast load the chopper jumped in altitude while their comrades jetted over the jagged wet rocks that were in front of the cliff.  Artillery was biting into the cliff face behind them threatening them if they drew back and used their range to combat the helicopters while the suits neared.  “Well apparently these old dogs learn new tricks after all.  Textbook Jaeger active deployment to duress.  Yvonne would have been proud.”

“How do you want to play this Archon?”
“Leap over them and let them try to follow us.  We can take the choppers through the valleys below assuming they can keep contact with us in this storm.”
“Solid plan.”

Each of the Stealths ran forward toward the battle suits jumping over the smaller units which fired their lasers to little effect against the swift moving Force Recon units.  The choppers gave chase through the overgrown canyon-lands leaving their ground element behind.  During the pursuit the units split up and crossed one another making it a hazard to the helicopters acting in close proximity to one another within the narrow confines of the rocks, through sheets of rain, and with howling wind above.

Eventually Katherine shook her tail but was within the Castle Brian's jamming range and had lost contact with the rest of her patrol.  Upon losing contact she was to break out and return to the rally point but she stumbled onto a trail left by the massive construct that led into a cave-like complex.  The rest of her units were going to be rushing the main entrance to the Castle soon.  She might be able to take out some stragglers if they made a run for it. 

They would be able to see her when the storm broke so she found an unoccupied and overgrown canyon and powered down the Stealth.  She loosened her neurohelmet and listened to the rain falling down on her mech from the trees above while watching the chronometer.  "Fifteen minutes to go time.  Good luck boys."

She heard the sounds of the massive mobile fortress firing its missiles nearby.  "Hope the ref doesn't call me off-sides.  I'll get more than a red card."
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 25 March 2019, 16:29:48
Kommandant Sean Kelly maneuvered his Chippewa IIC through the dark gray clouds toward the target of his squadron, the massive mobile fortress that was firing capital missiles up at his home carrier, The LCS Donegal, overhead.  They were still out of the effective engagement range of the fortress' AA but were about to come in line with the SEAD squadron to make their first bombing run.  The Brotherhood and Word of Blake had reinforced the line of engagement with mobile Arrow IV units and flak guns in addition to that machine.  It was to dangerous to get the Donegal over it and use the Warship's heavy weapons to blast the crawler into oblivion so it was the bombers of “Kelly's Carpet Cleaning Service” to deal with it.

The Lightning Cs of the SEAD squadron broke off into pairs to deal with the AA weapons spotted by Loki scouts.  They fired off their long range Anti-surface Arrow IV missiles at the targets before diving sharply while going in for the kill with the nose mounted heavy Gauss rifle. “Pop goes the Weasels.”

“All bomber crews standby for incoming fire.”
  The heavily laden bombers would be easy prey but they were tough and piloted by veterans used to getting up close and personal with the enemy. “All Greens hit the bottom.  We'll pop up when we get closer.”

The Chippewas and Rapiers dove out of the clouds and saw the battle being waged just behind them.  Lighting arced from PPCs while magnesium bright flashes of Gauss rifles lit up the combatants at night in sharp relief, and orange blossoms of artillery and missile erupted into the sky for kilometers around.  Angry missile plumes dove onto them from the skies above as the Barracuda and Piranha missiles of the crawler were fired at the Aerospace fighters above that were drawing the wrath of “The Rattler”. 

Hptm. Kelly watched the RADAR that was showing the looming fortress just barely visible through the storm, “Looks like our ruse is holding up Greens.  Throttle up.”

The six fighters engaged their afterburners as they neared the target location startling and scattering enemies that were unaware of their presence.  Hostile gun crews attempted to track them, 57mm LBX and Flak rounds were spit into the sky while Rotary 23mm AAA guns were barely rotating by the time the bombers were already out of range although a few got lucky.  Sean saw that an Ultra 5 had impacted on his wing but the Chippewa was designed to take ground fire and it's large wing surface was reinforced from wingtip to fuselage.

The bombers leapt over the mountains and into a storm of incoming fire, a trio of heavy sub capital laser hits incinerated one of his squadron's Rapiers.  The unit disintegrated as it hit the mountain sending wreckage and its bomb load in a widening cone in front of it.  “Damn, they got Angus.” 

Then the missiles came, Barracuda and Piranha missiles were launched from the Rattler's massive body before stabilizing and heading toward the squadron.  “ChaF!”  Each unit released a cloud of finely shredded metal confetti that created a massive RADAR signature and hot flares that made the formation look like angels with wings.  Two of the less capable Piranha missiles went for it but a trio of barracudas impacted across the squadron, one of Sean's fellow Chippewas was trailing smoke and its wings were in tatters after being hit by two missiles, the bomb hard-points were damaged but looked functional.  “Shamus, you still in the fight!”

“Only thing I'm dropping me bombs on is the target Sean.”
“Good man.”

As they neared the Long Tom artillery fired flak shells in front of them while a pair of the lighter but agile Arrow IV ADAs spiraled out toward them.  “Hop and Pop Greens.”

The fighters dove under the Flak causing the lightweight arrows to fly within the deadly shrapnel themselves and spiral off target.  Sean flipped over to his bombing sight, the AI of his Aerofighter's DI illuminating the Rattler in sharp relief to the storm around him.  All 15 of the bombs under-wing were green a sixth of his fighter's weight about to be dropped all at once, “Bombs engaged.  Green lead in position.”

Green squadron leveled out each bomber on their final approach.  Most of them dropped except Shamus whose wing hard-points were damaged in the fight.  The Rattler's hardened fifty meter tall bulk shaking under the firepower but returned it in kind.  Shamus' damaged fighter was brought down crashing into the forest while attempting to evade a pair of Air Defense Arrows.  Another Rapier was brought down as a Long Tom flak shell burst below it shredding the unit's fuel tank which leaked ammonia so quickly the jet couldn't make it out of the valley and crash landed into a clearing only to be terminated by airborne battle armor. 

Only half of Kelly's Carpet Cleaning Service made it out of that valley but the Rattler remained and continued to fight.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 26 March 2019, 04:51:45
Rattler.. very nice
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 28 March 2019, 21:29:00
Colonel Heinricht Volgenrut's Crusader 7W fired his brace of MML-7s at short range the missiles found their target and illuminated the inside of the Castle Brian's walls with orange explosions and black smoke.  The missiles made quick work of a damaged Changeling Omnimech.  The Colonel fired the other arm at the hunched over Gauntlet currently engaged with a group of Armored Infantry.  The long range missiles blasted the side of the battlemech that had adopted common parts with many other Clan Omnimechs. 

The explosives found the inside of the Battlemechs leg making it easier prey for the infantry to deal with.  “All forces rally on the Rattler.  We'll make them pay for Thorin before taking it all to Tamar.”

The damaged blue and red Brotherhood battlemechs began to head into the caldera of the extinct volcano where the Rattler continued to keep Aerospace fighters and the Warship away.  In hot pursuit were the close combat configurations of the White Wolves and Alptraum omnimechs while the speedy skirmishers disengaged.

Star Colonel Katherine Fox was hiding within her foul weather cover atop her cockpit's armored canopy.  The gray green camo cloak not only hid her light gray suit but shielded her thermal signature while the night vision scope was peaking out.  Her own mech was still concealed as the damaged Brotherhood units began to pass by. 

None of them had an active probe so she was still safe from detection even as she heard them crashing through the gully.  Her own position was slightly elevated and having jumped into the woods there was no outside sign of her presence.  “Guess its time to go inside.”

She opened the armored hatch that lead into the unit, removing the cloak, unzipping her jumpsuit and pulling it down to her waist before putting the cooling vest on.  Katherine put on her now off-white and battered neurohelmet and powered the Stealth up to standby.  The unit powered up and her DI computer gave her options for electronic obfuscation a neat trick courtesy of VALA, the ONI supercomputer. “Phoenix Hawk, Beowulf, Cobra, Vindicator.  How about a Bloodhound?”

The DI computer engaged a series of programs that would mimic the electronic signatures of the Marik counter-guerrilla mech popular with the Word of Blake, one that was very similar to her own but being concealed in the woods had its advantages.  Colonel Volgenrut himself came in over the radio, she could see that he was nearby but just needed him to be a little closer.  Katherine could not believe her good fortune.  She was way behind enemy lines and now Heinricht was within combat range. “Unknown contact; Identify yourself.”

The Star Colonel hit several switches that would modulate her voice for radio transmission and looked over the database compiled from known Brotherhood or Blakist members.  She engaged her IFF LOKI had the best electronics in the Federated Commonwealth.  “This is Kommandant Nikki Coalei, one of the robes gave me this Bloodhound after my mech was disabled.”

“Why weren't you in the Fortress Coalei?”
“This is not a close combat machine; and it took some battle damage earlier.  I just got it online to take out the incoming Dogfaces.”
“If you find Katherine make sure to send her to hell for me.”

Katherine smiled and looked at her nails, they were grimy she would have to fix that ASAP.  Besides this was amusing.  “We both know she won't be in the lead.  She's probably hiding in her dropship doing her nails while a Loki officer is on the front-lines in her mech.”

“You're probably right it would be to much to ask.  The rearguard is holding them currently but they will be here soon.”

Katherine made sure her mic was off and realized that the Colonel's Crusader was nearby and heavily damaged, perfect prey. “You don't say.”
“Good hunting Nikki.  Break off to head toward the Rattler after a short skirmish run.  We will need some quick mechs to protect our flanks.”
“Affirmative Colonel.”

Volgenrut's damaged Crusader turned its back to her and continued toward the Rattler along the well-trodden path.  Katherine's Stealth stood up, it was unlikely Volgenrut was looking behind him as his mech limped away from her mostly undamaged Battlemech.  She highlighted the Crusader and the DI computer provided an arc to jump onto the rear of the heavy mech.  Katherine ensured that her straps were tight, this was going to be a ride.  “Well here goes nothing.”

Katherine triggered the jump jets the Stealth leapt into the air atop super heated air that caused steam to rise up from the damp woods that it passed over before crashing down on the Crusader with a crash.  The Stealth's heavy footpads tore into the rear armor of the heavier mech taking damage in the process but Katherine stuck the landing stabilizing herself with the Battlemechs hands. 

The hostile mech went up in flames as the inferno missiles exploded and took the rest of the ammunition with them.  Heinricht launched into the sky as his mech ejected him to protect him from the explosions but not from the enemy.  Katherine's Watchdog CEWS system located the unconscious man.  She moved right next to him before gingerly picking him up from the muddy ground with the cold unfeeling steel of the Loki SpecOps mech.

Colonel Heinricht woke up in the hands of a hostile mech held fast but not crushingly tight.  His neurohelmet had come off during the ejection and his hair was wet with sweat and the constant gray drizzle.  The hostile mech turned on its IR spotlights illuminating him in a faint red glow. “Just crush me you Loki bastard.  I'm not telling you anything.”

The cockpit canopy opened to reveal Katherine's off-white uniform in the sharp light.  “You have no idea how tempted I am to do just that Obersh.”

“You bitch!  You ruined everything.  The Wolves, Loki; is there no end to your treachery to the Commonwealth?”

“Is it so wrong that I would prefer peace to constant warfare?  Your people never left REVIVAL behind.  This is a new age one that doesn't need people like you anymore.”

Colonel Heinricht looked at her through his cybernetic eyes while clenching his myomer prosthetic fist.  “Peace on our knees while the Clans take over the Inner Sphere.  Seems like it needs us more than ever.”

Katherine drew the pistol from her cooling vest and fired three shots into the helpless target, 1 in the head to in the chest just like the Bodians and Packmasters had taught her.  “I disagree. 

I don't have the luxury of leaving people like you alive anymore.  Not enough time to settle my own business as it is.  I want to make it very clear what happens to my enemies if they come after me or mine.”

The limp body dropped from the hands of Katherine's battlemech, before the canopy closed and sealed again before the armored shroud came into position.  The Stealth withdrew from the Caldera, the White Wolves and Loki mechwarriors had the enemy surrounded waiting like a pack of Wolves to finish off a wounded animal.  Once Katherine cleared the Castle Brian's communications damping field she sent out a burst transmission to tell everyone she was still alive and to give the final orders of the campaign. “Give the Rattler a WARG (Wide Area Rocket-Guided) Moonshot.  Standby for follow up.”

“Authentication approved White Wolf.  Moonshot sending one to the Rattler's coordinates; impact in five mikes.”

60 kilometers away the Citadel (a modified Triumph) Siege (Drop)Ship FCDS Moonshot lifted a blue and white WARG missile into firing position through one of the four armored top doors.  Two for each of the cruise missiles in use by the LCAF TARG (CM/50) and WARG (CM/120).  The cradle moved perpendicular to the dropship's fuselage holding a missile that weighed the same as a Manticore heavy tank but turned the nose west like it was just a stick.  To the east there was nothing but charred grass from the missiles' back blast.  The small wildfire that this unit caused were worth it to the troops on the other side, through not the the ones directly in the blast area.

The dropship's crew safe within the confines of their CIC secured the blast doors that would deflect the small amount of thrust that would go over them in a few minutes.  “Blast doors are secure Captain, external cameras confirm.  We are green for release.”

The Captain pressed the button and the interior of the dropship was filled with a roar, even dampened by the insulation it still required secondary hearing protection for the crew.  A countdown timer appeared in the CIC.  “Three minutes to impact.”

Inside the Caldera the White Wolves and Loki commandos cordoned off the damaged hostiles but stayed out of the range of the incoming cruise missile.  A quick flash and massive explosion that echoed off the caldera's walls was all it took to mortally wound the Rattler and completely sweep away the remaining Brotherhood mechs and tanks.  The mobile fortress shuttered as ammunition cooked off and its tortured internal structure collapsed under the strain.

Katherine's Stealth watched the scene unfold from her position on the cliffs through her multiple sensor feeds.  The Rattler was on fire and had stopped moving after receiving a direct hit from the Cruise Missile after several failed bombing runs, they would have used the missiles on it sooner but there were many targets that needed Moonshot's attention. 

“Good fire Moonshot. 

All forces don't bother with salvage just pack up.  I want to lift off by daybreak."

Katherine looked at the timetable for KALEIDOSCOPE, she was already behind schedule to deal with this detour.  Her forces were needed on Muphrid.  "We have other places to be. 
And not enough time.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 29 March 2019, 08:01:57
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 29 March 2019, 20:06:33
10/18/3070 15:17 Location – Outside Zanzibar, Tamarind, Free Worlds League

The Painted Desert Ducal Estate spread out as far as Duchess Therese Marik could see.  Which was much further than normal as she was astride her mottled brown Tabiranth.  The large feline rode low to the desert sands which still inspired her after all these years.  She put her hand out as a jet black Atreus Fighting Hawk landed on her leather gauntlet with a Dune Lizard in its talons.

“Good girl.  Now give it to mother.”  The Duchess placed the kill within her bag the creature was terribly messy on the move and needed to learn who was in control.  She stroked the creature's feathers while urging the Tabi forward, the feathered creature hissed at her.  “You can wait Afaen.”

The Duchess rode back to the stables and dismounted hanging the line of the Tabi's harness to the newly hired lean light brown skinned Stablemaster in a neat tan uniform despite his messy workplace.  Therese fed the Dune Lizard to Afaen then sent her up into the Aerie of her menagerie.

The young man turned to face her after ensuring that the Tabiranth's door was secure.  Therese was still struck by how handsome all the Exituri on her staff were.  It was the present fashion for League nobles to have Exituri as employees in their household (or their sons to keep them as concubines) just because they were so attractive.  Must be something in the little water on Shiloh.  Her eldest son sought the attentions of an Exituri woman in Khe Shang.  Jamila was quite lovely and cultured for a desert girl Therese hoped she would perhaps be visiting again when he returned. 

If only she were 50 years younger..but then again her husband was a handsome rogue (with a big 'cannon' for an artillery officer) as well and worth the look on her father Jano's face and the resulting disinheritance.

“Samuel, where is Jeremy?”
“Marshal Brett is in the solarium with your son.”
“Ah good Reggie is back.”
“Yes Count Reginald has returned from Khe Shang with Jamila Al'Algorab.  Their shuttle arrived while you were out in the desert.  I hope you had a good afternoon on the sands Ma'am.”
“I did thank you.  Treat Lyla with an extra set of ribs tonight she did good today.”
“Of course your grace.”

“Say I don't believe I have ever asked you.  How do Shiloh's deserts compare to our own?”
“It is less windy here...and far more colorful than my home village.  The Bhagavad-Gita tells us that austere terrain makes for a genial spirit.”
“I believe the same thing.  There is beauty in the struggle and the desert suffers no fools.”

The man walked the Duchess out to look at the setting sun.  “Truly, you should see the deserts of the Arkab worlds.  There are none like them in the whole of the Inner Sphere but their inhabitants frequently to gaudy for Exituri tastes.  They appreciate a fine blade though as do I.” 

Samuel presented a tanto style dagger within a tan scabbard with intricate bead-work on it to the Duchess, “This was given to me as part of my wife's dowry last year.”

Therese unsheathed the dagger it was intricate and inlaid with glowing gold script in the setting sun.  The Duchess figured it was some passage from the Qua'ran.  “I had no idea your wife was an Azami.”

“Yes, my desert rose.  Nafisa.”

Therese returned the dagger to the Stablemaster, “I'm sure she is waiting for you already.  Have a good evening Samuel.”
“You as well Ma'am”

Samuel returned to his quarters to be greeted by his wife, he lifted the headscarf to kiss her closely running his fingers through her black hair.  “My love, you seem troubled.”

“I just received the reading passage of The Word.  We are to go tonight.”
“How unfortunate.  I was beginning to like our mistress but fortunately she likes me more.  This will be a simple assignment Nafisa.  With his mother, brother, and father dead the Photon will be distracted and give our faithful a chance to kill him once and for all.”
“It's not for lack of trying Samuel. ROM just wasn't good enough.  Damn those Cat's Eyes!  They have killed many of our agents and stymied our efforts to find his wife and son for The Prophet Thomas.”

Samuel unsheathed his dagger.  “Well we will hurt him in a different way.  I promise they won't feel or realize a thing until my knife is in their hearts.  Pack everything up we'll be long gone before the others find out.  I will ensure that Jamila rejoins us as well.  She is suspect I would hate to kill her.”

Everything had been packed already, just like when they were training for this operation on Shiloh.  “Do make sure she I would hate to leave my sister behind with the Kafir.”
“Meet me at the shuttle in fifteen minutes.  I assume you have already told the others.”
“They know the code-words.  With the deaths of the Bretts our operation here is complete.”

Fifteen minutes later Samuel and Jamila walked toward the slate gray KR-61 Aerodyne Shuttle where a group of four people were gathered, the other Exituri that were on Duchess Marik's staff.  Each had already changed into a white outfit with an exotic red script across the back of the shirt for men or along the dress' shoulder for women.  Their old blood stained clothes were piled nearby.  Two of them still carried the short barreled Shredder heavy needler rifles on slings while the other two just had the hand worked knives that all Exituri carried.

Both Samuel and Jamila stripped off their own blood stained outfits and washed themselves using a basin of water nearby.  Wiping the blood off with one towel before drying themselves with another before putting on a similar outfit as the others over naked brown skin, just visible from the running lights of the shuttle.  They both attached their knives to belts and walked forward to join the others.

Nafisa looked toward her sister, “Jamila, what blessed timing you have.  Surely it is Blake's Will that you bring our escape craft to us in our eve of need.  I hope you will not mourn your late 'beloved'”

“The fact that he took after his late father was unfortunate sister but I do not mourn him.  I did send him off during a moment of intense estasy however.”
“You are a twisted one sister but you always were.”

Samuel looked toward the others before tossing a flare into the clothes pile.  “The Third Transfer is successful.  The Prophet has ascended his mortal coil thus our victory is inevitable.  We all will live in a blessed age.”

The estate burst into flames as the time delay incendiaries detonated and lighting up the desert as well as burning the dead bodies of people and animals alike.  “Blake's Blessings upon your dead Kafir.”

He walked toward the shuttle and the others followed him, “To those of us that believe.  Let us continue to be the instrument of Blake's Wrath."
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: DOC_Agren on 30 March 2019, 09:49:50
I'm guessing among the Exituri there is an "Old Man of the Mountain" whose forces are now pledged to the Master.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 30 March 2019, 15:39:39
11/01/3070 Location – Shiloh, Free Worlds League

The powerful Aegis Cruiser SLS Olympus Mons formerly the FWLN Olympic along with the Impavido destroyer SLS Tamarind (formerly the Janos Marik) and Zechitenu II corvette SLS Wild Rabbit (formerly the Tirana) loomed large over the arid windswept world of Shiloh. 

They were on the night side of the planet presently and saw no city lights, it was as if the world were abandoned.  The Exituri that were native to this world were supposed to be luddites but that hadn't stopped their number from swelling the ranks of the Word of Blake, the most advanced terrorist organization in the Inner Sphere.

SLDF Commanding General Photon Brett(-Marik) stood on the bridge of the Cruiser his handsome face war-weary and filled with grief.  Two weeks ago he was willing to take his battlegroup to Terra itself and blast the whole damn planet into oblivion rather than follow the plan.  Only his wife Samantha talked him out of it, “Think of Anthony,” she pleaded and he did. 

He always did and he hated himself for missing so much of his son's life fighting, even if it was for a righteous cause.  It wasn't fair for any of them but he couldn't stop; not yet, not while the Word of Blake could come back and harm even more people.  They had engulfed the entire Inner Sphere in war for years, killed millions of innocents, dozens of worlds had become tombs.  This whole epoch would be a dark shadow cast upon all of history but soon it would pass.

A quiet voice behind him caught his attention, “General Brett.”
Photon turned to face the Olympus Mons' Captain, a lean man with salt and pepper hair wearing the SLDF (Star League Defense Fleet) working blues that were otherwise the same as Photon's greens.  “Yes Captain Onero.”
“Your dropship is ready sir.  Our orbital survey has a large number of outposts in the desert but there are no concentrated forces we can find.  Looks like lots of mech and vehicle tracks across the dunes.”
“Makes sense, this world is water poor.  Any Exituri would have to concentrate on the available water.  Keep an eye out for any tricks up here Captain.  I am trusting you with my wife and son's life.”
“It is a great honor General.  Godspeed down there.”

Photon looked at the planet once more, dead and dark.  “There is no God down there Captain.  Just darkness.”
“Be the light then Photon.  Can't be the first time you've heard that.”
“It's not.  I wasn't always like this.”
  Photon took a seat looking facing the Captain who remained standing, “Made bad choices that I regret now, but seemed like the right idea at the time.”
“Duncan and the Andurians?”
“Yes.  To much bloodshed in this family and we can't seem to stop.”
“There always the future.  Corrine is already rolling it back.”
“I'm still not certain what is the best course although I appreciate her efforts.  If I find Uncle Paul or Thomas, the real Thomas, assuming either of them still live I can't make any promises.”
“I understand General.  No one would judge you harshly considering what they have done.”
“I would.”
  Photon stood back up and faced the man, “Apologies but I must take my leave Captain.  Though I appreciate your company.”
The Captain snapped a salute which was returned by Photon, “Of course sir.  You need anything, we'll be there.”

Photon Brett(-Marik) worked his way down the corridors of the Aegis cruiser toward the small craft bay.  His dropship the Excalibur SLS Aleksandr Kerensky had already detached but didn't have the excess passenger capacity of the Olympus Mons.  Inside the cargo bay was an already prepped white and purple S-7 Space to Space transfer vessel as well as his still beautiful wife Samantha and 15 year old son Anthony Brett. 

His son had grown into a fine young man while Photon was fighting the Word of Blake and its allies and despite his polite personality there was still a hunt of resentment that his father wasn't there for him but was there for others.  His wife still had the radiant beauty she always had though sadness at the latest circumstances.  She was close to her in-laws and their murder was just as painful as it was for her husband.

“Do you have to go down?”
“You know I have to Sam.  I've never asked anything of my soldiers that I would not suffer myself.  Some of them have been with me since the Long March (Wolcott).  I won't leave them now.”
“Why not?  You keep leaving me.”

Photon pulled her close and kissed her.  She initially resistant, their partings were always harsh despite their number but when he returned it was unbridled joy that almost made up for it.  “I'm sorry Samantha.  I truly am love but we're so close; please just be patient.  I will return to you as I have always done.”
“Be sure you do.”

Anthony was nearly as tall as his father now with the same strong dashing Brett features of his grandfather and father.  The young noblewomen of Atreus had better watch out. “Tony, son I'm sorry to leave you again.  Take care of your mother.”
“She's tough.  She's still married to you after all we've been through.”
“True, I can't say I've made a bad choice with both of you except leaving.  When this is done so am I.”
“Come back safe dad.  Watch your six, there's no Nova Cats to bail you out this time.”
“I will.”
  He embraced the young man patting him on the back, “Love you son.”
“Love you dad.”
  The teenager had a cadet badge of the Alarion Naval School (a feeder school for the Academy) on his black uniform, “Next time I'm going down with you.  I can gun a dropship.”
“I think not Anthony, but you'll be great when its your time.”

The rest of the staff from the Excalibur that was rotating on leave to the roomier Warships had boarded the S-7 and everyone was evacuated from the bay before the doors opened and the non-aerodynamic unit headed out into the black toward a massive spheroid dropship, one of the eleven assigned to this operation.

Photon boarded the vessel through the docking port and saluted the Captain before heading straight to the Mech Bay in order to board his Nova Cat A.  Photon strapped his cooling vest on and activated the mech in low-power mode, the Mech was still restrained in its carrying cradle. 

A timer showing the remaining time to drop appeared, 10 minutes.  Photon hand a picture of his family (including parents and brother) attached to one of the status displays, ammo feed, he never used a mech with ammo if he could help it.  He dropped the visor of his neurohelmet, “Like it wasn't personal enough on Wolcott Blakists.  You Exituri want a demon behind the controls, well you'll get Uriel Domei.

And we both won't like it.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 03 April 2019, 18:15:24
11/01/3070 07:49 Location – Outside Randersville, Shiloh, Free Worlds League

The Excalibur SLS Aleksandr Kerensky was coming down near the small city of Randersville sprawled across the northern shore of Blessed Lake, roughly the size of Lake Superior and draining from the polar mountains.  The area surrounding it was green with canals cutting through the crop fields and barrier woodlands that fed the Exituri and their livestock.  The only color on the planet were these verdant snakes of water.  The canals were the result of an inter-generational project to support the planet's inhabitants which had rapidly multiplied within the past twenty years.

Photon Brett(-Marik) watched the timer as it counted down to zero.  He could feel the rumbling of the Kerensky's thrusters and heard the landing gear come into position.  The Mech Bay only had one exit door and it opened to a farmer's field.  The cradle released and control was engaged for his mech which was in the point position.  “Moving out.”

The olive drab Nova Cat Omnimech stepped out the door onto the deep black humus of the field sinking into the rich soil.  A soil so unlike the rest of the windswept hardpan that comprised much of the planet's surface.  The Mech Company completely disembarked before the vehicle battalions.  “Control, We are on mission.”

The Excalibur contained the long range communications array, ELINT gear, and controllers that would coordinate the 11 dropship task force over this wide area via the SLS Olympus Mons above.  “Roger, General.  Watch it out there.  It's to quiet.  We've not picking up any signals.”

Photon dropped back into the middle letting the recon lance take point while his battle lance sat in the middle with the fire support and skirmish units behind.  His Nova Cat twisted to face the right side of the column, two mechs faced right and two left.  “Well I'm sure they know we're here.”

Within one of the barrier forests a camouflaged group of The Pure watched the enemy dropship unloading.  Their field commander Jemadar Arjun was using a field telephone to fix in allied forces on the incoming enemies.  Three of the advanced (clan tech) Imperator Ultra 10 field guns were hidden under netting with men nearby to reattach them to their prime movers. 

An enemy Bloodhound neared their position but was being actively targeted by the gun crews until it was within optimal range, less than 360 meters.  The Mech would be death to infantry if it saw them but was moving carefully, smartly expecting an ambush.  It came within range and six shots rang out from the woods as the autocannons double fired.  The guns ripped the right leg off and a follow up volley finished the then helpless mech.

“Hostiles, in the woods!”

Force Commander Karol Javor of Alpha Squad, 1st Armored Infantry Regiment SLDF ducked into an irrigation ditch just in time to avoid a Thumper mortar explosion.  His squad had just been working their way through the field when the world exploded all around him.  “Damn Eckzies!”

He looked around to see the rest of his drab colored squad. He turned on his external speaker and pointing toward them with his battle claw.  “Men; we're going to follow these ditches.  Keep your heads down until we find something worth shooting.”

The troopers dipped their heads and they headed toward the field guns that were engaging their Mechs and supporting vehicles.  Alpha worked their way through the ditches occasionally having to crawl their battle armor through muddy water in order to keep concealed to protect themselves from the heavy weapons until they got into range.

The squad came upon one of the windbreak hedges that was concealing field guns, the mud that covered their armor allowed them to creep closely to one of the concealed firing positions.  Javor pointed toward them and a dozen short range missiles fired into the hedge, explosions from the shoulder mounted launchers splintered trees, blasted metal, and maimed meat.  “Skočte do ohně!”

The Longinus' missile pack little more than a slightly armored tube detached and crashed into the dark earth behind their position at the same time the Armored Infantry took off into the woods.  Alpha Squad crashed down into heavy small arms fire, however the Exituri's rifle bullets pinged harmlessly off the advanced armor composite that protected the SLDF infantry.  Their arm mounted machine guns' roared, firing hundreds of bullets which ripping into the Exituri.  One of the camouflaged troopers fired a single shot rocket launcher at Karol's suit, the unguided missile corkscrewed but was fired true and impacted.  The suits armor held but the trooper inside grunted as the blast knocked the Longinus to its knees but did not meaningfully halt his advance into the woods.

The fierce firefight ended with a bloody blackened field, the irrigation ditches were filled with blood from SLDF and Exituri fighters and wreckage from combat vehicles and battlemechs.  Javor removed his helmet after they were certain there were no snipers hidden nearby.  His short black hair was wet with sweat and stuck to the sides of his face over the soft cushioned helmet. 

Two of his fellow Longinii troopers brought forward a young man wearing a well made camouflage uniform with Mitznefet (floppy aka turban) helmet cover and veil that broke up his painted face.  “We managed to capture and disarm this one Force Commander.  The others fought to the death, this fella tried to commit suicide but we stopped him.”

Karol kept his distance, “Has he been scanned?”
“Yes, sir.  No cybernetics or explosives.  He's just one hundred percent sixteen year old human with a bad attitude.”
  The young man said.  “No machine parts needed to fight the enemy.  The Prophet provides all.  Take them with your bare hands if necessary but never give them anything.”

“He keeps talking about this Prophet fellow too.  We've got nothing on intel for these guys.  They aren't to fond of anthropologists showing up and asking questions.”

“Yes, sir most of the fighters here are under twenty, young, dumb, full of, well you know.  No women.  Well that we've found; It got a little messy out there once the missiles and bombs started dropping.”

“Unsurprising.  The Exituri are old school.”
“Even our women are better fighters than your men. Infidel.  You're weak, you will only find death here.  Our people are strong, our blood pure.”

“Tape his mouth and get him the hell out of here; and to the Lohegrin officer.  He might have something useful in that twisted mind of his.”
“Yes sir.”

The troopers picked up the teen who shouted something in the Exituri tongue, an obscure dialogue of Sanskrit.  It sounded mad, menacing to Karol Javor. “What is wrong with these people?”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 04 April 2019, 09:25:28
12/05/3070 08:48 Location – Prophet's Palace, Shiloh

The Prophet's Palace the Blood's main stronghold on Shiloh was deep in the equatorial desert region of the world.  The mercury regularly topped 55°C outside on the salt flats but it was a dry heat and with the wind it was like standing in a blast furnace.  Within the Palace was Blessed Father Vorkalth, the near sixty year old man still looked in his prime, the result of careful breeding within his Order.  His dark hair and beard cascaded over saffron yellow robes.

Within the HPG holo-chamber was a brown skinned women in a white and gold combat uniform, Shadow Primus Naamah.  “Primus. How goes the battle?”

“Poorly, I have activated our contingency plans Precentor.  Only your front still holds the barbarians away.”
“I will hold it for as long as possible Primus.  I need resupply for the Pure Blooded but New Dallas has not responded.”
“Yes it has fallen.  Your Blood brothers with it.”
“How?  The world was abandoned except for our order, none knew of it.”
“Someone knew.  The Blackhearts and Trinity Forces under Naomi Centrella have claimed it.  The Prophet activated the remote destruction of its factories however unlike on Highspire.”
“Damn that women.  Highspire now New Dallas.  What was she doing there?”
“The Order took her brother there after capturing him on Galatea.  He didn't make it off-world but she did.”
“General Brett has three Warships overhead so I am unable to withdraw my position Primus.  Let my Pure Bloods augment the final defense of Blessed Terra.”
“No keep him and his warships aiming at Shiloh.  If you can kill him do so.  We need all the time we can get to bring the Caspars and other drone forces online en mass.”
“It will be done Primus.  The Prophet and Blake's Will be done”

12/15/3070 Location – Kuris Gate, Shiloh

General Photon Brett(-Marik) dismounted from his Supernova scrambling down the chain ladder from his kneeling Omni.  The wrecks of the villages' defense force were still on fire behind him, simple but effective tanks and mechs that fell quickly to his elite SLDF.  This village was tucked into a small valley that sheltered it from the blast furnace on the other side of the mountains.  Here it was humid, local geothermal springs kept the valley filled with fog and green plants.

He kept his rifle carbine at the ready although the village was declared safe by his supporting forces.  Clearing out this mountain range was difficult, each valley brought new challenges but the same horrors.  Photon was reaching the main gate where many dead men and some women were being stacked up to be burned.  So many young people killed to service the delusions of The Prophet.

Photon walked toward the town's community center the main streets still had blood kept damp by the humid air but the smell was dampened by the heavy air tinged with a bit of sulfur.  Heavily armed SLDF infantry were keeping a close eye on the village's women and children in the main square while others still patrolled and pulled out weapons (everything from rifles to knives and clubs) from the houses.  Each of them had been stripped of their face concealing veils and knives almost all of them were under 22 and either with child or had a child with them.  Their hair was covered in scarves and their eyes were watching the troopers with disdain, they spoke softly in Exituri to one another.

A young man wearing a Captain's rank insignia on his beret but a lieutenant's bar on his sweat soaked tan uniform jogged forward.  “General Brett.  Brevet Captain Cullen Anderson.”

“What happened to Captain Monica Ohalle?”

He looked over his shoulder at the prisoners, “One of those bitches cut her throat out.”
“Did she have a reason?”
“Well we are at war with the whole population here on Shiloh.”
“Sorry to hear that Captain.  My unit is spending the night here before moving out to the next valley.  Where is your command post?”

Cullen pointed toward the largest building in the town.  “Over there in the Community Center.  We've locked it down and set up our heavy weapons nearby in case they send raiders.  I've got two gun trucks pointed at the square...for security. 

Our medics are there too keeping the injured Eckzies sedated and outside for your intel people to question when they show up.  Doubt you'll get much out of them though.  They didn't go down easy.”

Photon and his Mechwarriors walked up to the Command Post under the watchful eyes of the Ibex guntrucks in SLDF colors.  As per protocol there were no salutes to the General, the Exituri had proven adept headhunters and Photon had lost many good officers to their raiders and snipers during the past two months.  After dropping his overnight pack in the barracks Photon went out to the hospital tent.  The tan tent cover was set up in a small walled off courtyard that served many purposes to the village, bride showcase, food distribution center, and execution yard being among the most common as far as the SLDF was able to determine.  The sand was red with blood and seven conscious but wounded SLDF were lying in their cots while the medics checked on their status.  Three injured Exituri teenagers, two boys and a girl, were handcuffed to their cots and sedated a guard was sitting in a folding chair nearby with his Hawk Eagle pistol out.

General Brett neared the injured, all three were near the same age as his son.  “They look so peaceful.”

“Yeah well wait till they wake up.  That bastard tried to charge me with an E-tool cause his rifle jammed.  The other two got concussed but were hiding with their weapons when my squad broke into their house.  Their mother is the one that killed Captain Ohalle before Anderson got her. 

Oldest woman we've found in the village not even thirty with five kids based on things we found inside the home.  These two were the only ones in the house however.”
“She can't be more than thirteen, her brother is my son's age.”
“Yeah, twisted ******.  I'd take Clanners any day over these SOBs.  Their child soldiers at least try to fight honorably and don't breed like rabbits.  Doc says the sedation doesn't last as long on these folks so they need to be watched. 

I hate fighting these guys I'd love to have soldiers this perfect.  Still die if you shoot 'em enough, just harder to tell what enough is.  You ever fight an Elemental General?”

“No but I've seen them fight.  Even the smallest ones are dangerous.”  A sudden realization sprung into his head, “No.”

“What is it General?”
“We need to get off this planet.

They were breeding an army, not to fight us, at least at first.  No the Blakists wanted to destroy the Clans.  It's been twenty years since REVIVAL this planet is filled with people younger than that.  The Word's food aid and infrastructure programs weren't meant as charity.  It is maintenance for an army unlike any other in the Inner Sphere.  They apprenticed their people out to make them self-sufficient in skills for when they would be needed.

St Jamais just jumped the gun on Tharkad and probably saved the Inner Sphere in the process. 

They just didn't have the Iron Wombs to do it so they used the Exituri as breeders and their children trained as soldiers from birth.  Given purpose by this Prophet character that we've been looking for but he's not on this planet. 

The Prophet Thomas; my uncle Thomas Marik, he's on Terra and I have unfinished business with him.  I'll make sure that when he 'dies' this time, I see his body. 

This is all by design.  We shouldn't be here, all of these people were fated to die already; but not yet, not by me.  They're bleeding us dry so we don't have anything left once we get to Terra.  This army is stuck on Shiloh but we've not and we need to get out now.”

He looked back toward the injured teenagers, “I'm taking a few with me though.  I want to know what the Word did to them; and if they knew that they were being born to die.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 05 April 2019, 22:00:09
To Erdé Centrella, Duchess of Luxen – Luxen HPG, MoC / Received 12/22/70

From Naomi Centrella-Liao, Magestrix of Canopus – Sian HPG, CC / Sent 12/18/70


It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that our brother died while a prisoner of the Word of Blake.  Their deaths will not be in vain; this war has cost us dearly but Mother and they would have wanted us to carry on their noble spirit.

I will be bringing their bodies back to Canopus by mid February. 

I hope you will be there to see off our heroes and help me commemorate them in the Memorial Garden currently being built over the ruins of the Athena Complex.

Stay strong little sister.

12/18/3070 Location – Forbidden City, Sian, Capellan Confederation (Trinity Alliance)

The surroundings of the Forbidden City of Sian was filled with activity, the parade Guards of four different states filled the Boulevard of Balance leading to the Gates.  In the lead was the grim faced Taurian VI Corps in snappy brass and burgundy dress uniforms marching in tight formation.  Each wore a black brassard on their right arm in remembrance of Taurus.  They were led by the superbly macho Supreme Marshal Cham Kilthrong and straight backed fifteen year old Erik Calderon, future Protector of the Taurian Concordat, both of whom were astride tall, proud, charcoal black Pinard Percheron horses.

Following them were the complete St Ives Janissary Corps wearing a red Zouave style parade uniform and carrying functional black powder muskets with fixed bayonets that shone in the mid-day sun.  Their Premier Kuan-Yin (Allard-)Liao followed behind in a coach looking as elegant as her mother Candace, with her black hair up in gold pins and wearing a fine green silk robe.

Next in line were the 2nd Raventhir Cuirassiers in their sleek fashionably modern black dress uniforms with just a hint of turquoise and teal to liven them up.  The unit was the newest in the entire Magistracy Armed Forces and was usually depleted to the point of being little more than a paper tiger as it was poached to fill holes in other regiments.  However Magestrix Naomi Centrella chose them to represent her; they had a bright future ahead of them under the Trinity Treaty just like all of them.

In the rear was the Red Lancers, the elite Regiment of the Trinity States, wearing Xin Sheng inspired scale armor and carrying spears with green flags wrapped around them that flew in the breeze.  While their number had waned dramatically over the past year with the battles of Highspire and secret struggle for New Dallas they had no shortage of combat hardened veterans willing to replace their number.  In a chariot behind them was Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao in rich saffron yellow robes, his wife Magestrix Naomi Centrella wearing scandalously cut red robes, and their nearly 3 year old daughter Ilse in black.

The four (five technically) dignitaries entered the Forbidden City and stood before a mixed collection of courtiers and nobles from each of their states that had been selected to attend this great gathering.  A pavilion was set up atop the stairs with an excellent view of those assembled.  The Dynasty Guard closed ranks their forms making for an imposing sight of shields and swords. 

Chancellor Liao stepped forward to see the nobles lucky enough to get a front row seat to the accords, his sharp features had been accentuated by the best image consultants in the MoC and made him look even more in command than usual.  “Brothers and Sisters, I am thrilled to have you as guests in my home.  It is my great honor to be the first to sign the Trinity Alliance Treaty on this day.  These past years have been filled with regret, grief, and disharmony for all of us.  Let this one act be the first to bring balance back to our Inner Sphere.

May we prosper together in the future always,”
  He lifted the Blue Jade seal of the Celestial Wisdom and inked the treaty with the mandate of the Celestial Throne and his signature in strong calligraphy, “and together.  May our Thousand World Coalition last for a thousand years.”

Each of the other dignitaries did the same joining together finally and formally into the Trinity Alliance.  When all was done great banners unfurled from the walls of the Forbidden City and fireworks rang out from its battlements over the clear night sky.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 08 April 2019, 16:28:55
12/22/3070 05:41 Location – SLS Aleksandr Kerensky, Outbound from Shiloh, Free Worlds League

Cadet Anthony Brett(-Marik) worked his way through the mostly empty bays of his father's command dropship.  The Excalibur's vast transport capacity was not being fully by the forces sent with his father to Shiloh, half of it was abandoned but that meant there was more space in the barracks per person.  All three medical centers were staffed though.  One of them was being used to house their dozen Exituri POWs in the quarantine chambers.  As he approached the medical bay one of the on-duty guards stopped him, he had a Sea Eagle needler pistol attached to chest rig of his blue uniform and a stun baton on his belt.  “Halt Cadet.”

Anthony saluted the man, “Sergeant.”

“Open the tote for inspection.”
  Anthony opened up the insulated tote he was carrying the Exituri's meals in.  Each was a clear shatterproof plastic dish with a spork made of a similar material but tinted a bright color so it would be harder to conceal.  The food inside wasn't appetizing but it was filling and provided complete nutrition if you ate it three times a day. However, the prisoners were given two portions in order to keep them fatigued and provide incentive for cooperation. 

As most of the POWs were teenage boys they were voracious and needed to be separated after the first three days to prevent fights inside the shared cells over the rations.  They wouldn't die or suffer long term harm but they wouldn't be comfortable and able to keep fighting by the time they reached a proper detention center if they didn't start talking.  They still weren't cooperating though and it had been nearly a week since they lifted off-world.

“Why do you always look?  Like there is anybody here that was going to let them go.”
“Its the military discipline and order save your life.  We follow rules here Cadet.  Keep your wits about you; these Eckzies are sneaky and dangerous.”
“They're the same age as me.  How dangerous could they be.”
“Well you are on your way to becoming a Gunner's Mate, capable of launching a missile that will blow an Atlas into scrap metal from a thousand kilometers away.  They're tough troopers, you read the battle reports your father submitted you know what they are capable of given a chance.  Don't give them that chance.”
“Aye Sergeant.”

Anthony was badged into the controlled area, ever since the boys had been separated there was less need for guards to be present in the corridor itself.  Cameras were recording but the Exituri had been stripped of anything that could be truly hazardous.  They had settled down after the first two days as they adjusted to a life in captivity on a spaceship before the boys started getting hungry and violent.  Anthony thought back to the first time he had lifted off to see his father post Battle of Irece on Luthien.  It was scary and strange but he got used to it and joined the Alarion Naval School to start his military career during his Exile.

His first stop was at the cell of one of the two girls that was captured, Lieutenant Olivia Whitechapel guessed she was probably 13 during her initial physical taken while all of them were still sedated and safe.  Anthony knocked on the door to ensure that she was not using the facilities at the time.  A knock came back and he opened the visor slot to see the girl standing on the square in the middle of the room, the square was added initially as a security precaution to check on the prisoner safely.   

Unlike the boys the girls were taken into captivity with some of their actual clothes, there were no SLDF issue scrubs that would fit the lanky 13 and 15 year old girls.  The rations were the right serving size for their age and weight so neither of the girls would really suffer from the deprivation of their detention.  That was intentional on their part Samantha Brett protested the whole thing but even though as a civilian she had no command responsibility her husband, General Photon, and the security team compromised.

The girl had her eyes averted from the visor without the headscarves of their regular clothes Anthony could actually see her curly black hair and cute face.  For a moment she looked toward him and smiled, she was the only one that actually gave Anthony a positive response most gave him no response at all.  She had told him her name but nothing more in Standard and that was far more than any of the other prisoners had done even to the LIC Lohegrin interrogator that was seconded to his father by the Archon, no one but the Exituri knew how to speak Gita so they started out as hard subjects only made tougher by conditioning and distrust.

Cadet Brett put the still warm ration container into the airlock style slot which would seal the other side until he secured the slot on his side.  Then it would wait five minutes before opening, a holdover from the infectious disease ward also proved to be a very secure system with only a few problems.  With that done he closed the door and locked the bright chrome bolt ring with a basic padlock before moving on, the extra bit of security was added yesterday after on of the boys had found a way to breach his ration's tray.  Security was still baffled by how that happened but it was repaired and extra locks added to prevent a repeat offense.

With his meal delivery responsibilities complete he waited until all the containers were returned to their compartments and retrieved them.  He carefully inspected them for damage or missing components before returning them to his tote.  Anthony knocked on Priya's cell once more, he left a dried dark purple Tamarind tart date smuggled in from his personal stash into her compartment before securing it again.  He opened the visor plate to see her light up at the unexpected treat.  Anthony held up three fingers to the slot, “Priya, I'll be back in a three hours.  I know you can understand Standard even if you only speak Gita.  Please talk to me.”

She shook her head negative and mimed a cut across her neck, “No.  Who will hurt you?”

The girl looked to the cell that was adjacent to her own that held the other captive girl and down the line.  “They are locked up they can't hurt you.”

She looked down and still shook her head.  “What if I could get you out?”
With that shed looked back up at him with bright brown eyes and a positive response, “I can't do that though.  I can't even buzz out on my own.”
Priya gave him a pouty look. Turned her back to him taking her treat back to her cot to face away.  “I'm still coming back Priya.  Even if you aren't going to talk to me, we're both stuck here together.”

With that he picked up his tote and was buzzed out of the isolation ward.  Sergeant Towne checked the bag again to ensure everything was complete before sending Anthony on his way back to the mess and to his duty station.

Anthony worked his way outside to one of the most advanced gunnery stations in any dropship made by the Inner Sphere.  Combined with the Clan technology from Katherine's relationship with the Wolves Seimer Data Tron had begun making the Excalibur EX-10 which integrated the sub-capital weapons that were now becoming more widespread in larger vessels as well as Harjel and a complete array of upgraded Clan-spec weapon systems.  With the loss of their primary assembly facility during the most recent Battle of Tharkad the SLS Aleksandr Kerensky was one of five in the Inner Sphere.  The LCAF dropped the design from support and “donated” all five of the orphaned dropships to the SLDF, Photon had ordered three of the partially assembled ones to serve as spare parts when anything broke on the Aleksandr Kerensky or its sister ship the Anastasious Focht.

The rough features of Gunnery Sergeant Jack “Cheese” Colby were waiting for him standing next to a sphere with a holographic HUD and status screens for one of the Excalbur's heavy gun batteries.  Anthony saluted the man, who had served as one of the “Bearcats”, The FWLM Expedition to the Battle of Irece, his father's first major engagement and among the largest naval engagements in Inner Sphere history and the largest deployment of the FLWM outside of League space.

“Gunny Colby!” who returned the saluted, “Cadet Brett.  You know what this is right?”

“Yes Gunny, the sighting sphere for the twin Tamar Astroworks Sub-Cap Laser Mark ones in Battery three.  Combined they pack the punch of a super-heavy autocannon at more than seven hundred kilometers.  Far beyond the effective range of most enemies short of a Warship.”

“And if we see a Warship what do we do.”
“Run like hell or;  Full Thrust Forward!  Nose to the Grinder, balls to the walls.”

“That's good Cadet.  I love your spirit.  Can't wait for you to get your Rainbows (Multicolored Star, Wings for Ship's Crew).”

“Thank You Gunny.”

“Alright now get to work.  This thing needs to get serviced and you are much smaller than me.  You have been studying your tech manuals right.”

Anthony grabbed a small tool pouch in it, activated the safety interlock and opened the access port under the sphere. “Roger Gunny.”

Gunny was crouching behind him with a laser pointer.  “Alright now start with that one right there.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 09 April 2019, 15:31:59
The Allied Forces of the Free World’s League, Lyran Alliance, Federated Suns, Draconis Combine, and Clan Council press toward Terra.  Their objective, deal the final blow to the enemy responsible for the widest spanning conflict since the Second Succession War, The Word of Blake and their allies the Traitor COMGUARDS.

The Press Agents for the FCF and DCA report that Sol Protectorate SDS systems severely damaged the attacking forces.  This damage comes in the form of the near-complete destruction of the Yggdrasil and Fylgia Battle Groups and the crippling of the DCS Yamato and FCS Seth Marsden’s.  Only the reborn Valhalla remains of the major Capital ships. 

Both Clan Council Task Forces and the SLDF remain operational having encountered less opposition around their prospective targets.  Currently they are undergoing repairs in order to meet a surely ambitious timetable and give the Blakists less time to strengthen their defenses around Terra. 

At this critical Phase the Commanding General of the SLDF Photon Brett-Marik, Khans of the Council Clans, the Hellions’ Khan Xander Drake, Shogun Franklin Sakamoto, Archon Katherine Steiner, First Prince Peter Steiner-Davion and their sister Grand Duchess Yvonne are at an undisclosed location planning the next step.  Each is contesting systems within 1 jump of humanity’s home-world, the end is nigh for the Sol Protectorate but one question remains. 

At what cost?


02/18/3071 09:58 Location – Asta, Draconis Combine

(Archon) Star Colonel Katherine Fox (Steiner) and Khan Vladimir Ward stood within the observation deck of the WIS Dire Wolf looking at a projected image of the lush yellows that currently covered the temperate planet of Asta.  “Looks like harvest season.”

“It seems a pleasant world far nicer than Tamar but not as Weingarten.” 

He leaned in to kiss her, “Your presence improves it however. I understand you have not been feeling well lately.  What is eating at you?”

“Yes, its just this is the last step.”  She activated the haptic controls of the fingerless datagloves she was wearing and panned the camera back up to see the ravaged Warships that currently orbited this serene place.  IFFs popped up followed by a picture in picture of the vessel.  Avalon Cruiser FCS Victor Steiner-Davion, Aegis Cruiser SLS Olympus Mons, Merchant Carrack Transport SLS Nebula, and Kaga Carrier DCS Kaga.  A squadron of the new and nimble DCA's Sai Omnifighter wove through the allied Warships practicing their combat approaches on the imposing vessels.

Her body language was guarded but Vladimir knew that there was something deeper but was trying to come up with a more polite way of asking her.  “After this is Terra.  I'm just nervous.”

“You sure it has nothing to do with your Trothkin?”

Katherine clenched her hands nervously, it was one of things she was worried about but not the main one, it would satisfy her husband however and possibly end his inquiry before he figured out there was something more.  “Neither of them have talked to me.  I am not certain how to take that.  I will not know their disposition until I am in the same room it seems.”

“Have you attempted to open comms to them?”

Katherine turned to face him gesturing wildly before calming herself.  “And why should I?  Peter and Yvonne that need to explain themselves, not me.”

“You know that I am on your side Katherine.  You do not need to explain your reasons to me.  I am certain they are well reasoned based on your experiences.  My sibkin and I had contentions relationships with one another.  None of them made it off Arc-Royal when the Word of Blake attacked.  They chose their company poorly,”
Vlad gently grabbed Katherine's hand putting it against her light gray combat uniform, “unlike me.”

Katherine lifted the hand to caress the injury that Vlad had on his face tracing its rough contours before kissing him, pushing herself deep into the golden mane that capped off his leather jacket.  “and I am two for two on my own choices.”

They were stopped however as a young Imperial Wolf spacer opened the door to the Observation Deck.  Both gave him a death glare that made him turn paler, “Apologies Khan Ward, Colonel Fox.  The others are waiting for you in the shuttle bay.”  The man closed the door before Katherine could throw something at him or Vlad could throttle him. 

Katherine walked over to the door ensuring that it was locked from the inside before pushing Vlad into the built in bench and opening his jacket.  “There are other shuttles.”

Vlad roughly grabbed her hips and pulled her closer, “I will even wait for a return trip.

Meanwhile in the Shuttle Bay all the Khans including Hellions Khan Xander Drake were waiting in the ready room.  The 1.9m tall blonde Elemental was eye to eye with the brown haired ilKhan Santin West whom he had just met, “No hard feelings about Asa Taney Khan Drake?”

“None ilKhan.  He was a wild card even among the Hellions.  He lost his trial and his life doing what he believed was necessary.  I had alternative plans.”
“I would not have expected the Hellions would have selected an Elemental as their Khan.”

Khan Drake idly flipped a heavy coin, the Ebon Keshik having taken his knife.  “Neither did they.  It worked out magnificently however.”

The Crewman they dispatched to find Khan Ward and Colonel Fox returned and looked pale even to Xander Drake who was almost ghost like from spending so much time in his Battle Armor.  “I found them; on the observation deck.  They did not look like they were in a hurry.”

Xander flipped his coin high in the air, “Well if Katherine has even half the stamina of her little sister.  I think we should head down now, my shuttle is prepped already.  Otherwise we could be here for a while.”  Most of the other Khans looked at him in the queerest fashion but he didn't seem perturbed.  "What I enjoy mingling with the locals.  You should try it sometime.  Works out great for Khans West and Ward."

He grabbed the gold coin mid-air.  “I will buy the first round of PPCs when we hit ground-side.  I doubt they take Kerenskies down there and we have time.  Those Snakes better have some Bourbon.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 10 April 2019, 06:27:33
That's great story entry.  I so want collect them all and put them in a pod so i can read at work as a book.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 10 April 2019, 15:47:17
That's great story entry.  I so want collect them all and put them in a pod so i can read at work as a book.

Thanks Wrangler

02/18/3071 17:12 Location – Shining Column Resort, Baldero, Draconis Combine

First Prince Peter Steiner-Davion watched the broad open desert before him from atop the main conference room in this resort.  Guards in DCMS uniforms watched the perimeter with towed heavy weapons and combat vehicles at the ready.  Shogun Sakamoto had taken every precaution for his guests, Asta had been deemed safe but that didn't mean anything in this war.  Colonel Stone was out on maneuvers with the Khans of the Hell's Horses and Nova Cats in Asta's deep canyons.  This planet would serve as a good training ground for their eventual assault on Mars' Mariner Valley, it was not planned that way but it was fortuitous.

A frustrated feminine voice came from behind, “Where is she?”  Peter turned to see his little sister Yvonne sitting cross-legged on the couch with her fiery red hair in a bun.  Before her was a ream of plans for OPERATION:BLACKLIGHT, the assault on Sol.  It had only been given to the Federated Suns and Tikonov Republic forces on world this morning by the Dire Wolf which had jumped into a pirate point off Asta's moon Arrowhena.  “I don't know.”  Peter walked over to pour another glass of sparkling water from the bar top he was leaning against.  “You know her, she'll arrive fashionably late just like she always does.”

Yvonne stood up and stormed over to the window, “It's been six hours!  I'm so pissed with her right now.”

Peter calmly drank from his glass and pushed over the half sandwich he ordered from the resort's cafeteria.  “You just need something to eat sis.  Maybe she wanted to give us some time to look over the plans.”

She stared at him but he gave no reaction except smug confidence as she took the plate away and then surprise as she snatched the glass right out of his hand taking both back to the table. “Then why tell us to be here at Eleven?”

“Well Katherine didn't send the meeting invite.  That was Photon.  He probably didn't clear it with her people.”

“But the other Khans showed up.  The Commanding General has the personal comm-code to the ilKhan himself!  Damn Clanners.  Why can't Santin West just order her to show up?”

“Cause Vladimir might not take to kindly to another man ordering his wife around, he has a history of killing Khans.  Not to mention Katherine herself, she is still the Archon and a Wolf Star Colonel, no one would dare attempt to boss her around.  She kicked off this whole war by being obstinate and good thing for us too.  If the Word of Blake had time to complete their grand plans it would have been disastrous. 

Technically Photon couldn't even order her to do anything.  The Lyran Alliance is the only power to ratify the withdrawal from the Star League.  The Trinity Alliance and COMSTAR were kicked out, Corrine Marik's League is technically on probation.”

Peter reached blindly under the bar top and pulled out a glass before pouring himself another drink.  Not alcohol, he had sworn that more than a decade ago; but if there was ever a cheat day it would be today based on what was to come.

Peter adjusted the brim of his desert hat and saw a convoy of blue armored vehicles approaching on the road at high speed.  He grabbed a set of binoculars from the bar top, all of them were bearing the Imperial Wolf insignia on the hoods with one alteration, the Wolf was White instead of Gold.  “Big sister will be here soon 'Von.”

Yvonne finished her sandwich so fast she almost choked and Peter fast walked over to her to ensure she was okay.  Both of them knew that today was going to be the day and had gone over the events dozens of times over the years.  Neither of them had seen Katherine in person for nearly four years and a lot had happened in that time.  “You ready Peter?”

The convoy approached within the perimeter and Shogun Sakamoto's Black and Gold Clad Kin Masuko bodyguard were obvious from Peter's position at the window and more visible with his optics.  The Shogun walked up to one of the middle vehicles under the watchful eyes of the White Wolf's bodyguards.  One of them opened the back door to one of the armored cars and Katherine stepped down the steep stairs with the merely token aid of Vladimir Ward.  His sister looked harsh in the dappled light, fitted outfit martial, her hair was ash white, and her pale skin marked with scars that she hadn't bothered to hide under makeup today. 

His binoculars' caught the light wrong and Katherine looked up right into the reflection. 

Her piercing iron blue eyes froze him in place. 

Recovering he put the binoculars away, “I sure hope so Yvonne.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 10 April 2019, 18:51:05
Peter stood in front of the conference room with Yvonne standing behind him as a black suited Franklin Sakamoto entered the door, behind him was their sister, Katherine.  She looked toward him but maintained a careful distance studying him from his desert tan combat boots all the way up the khaki AFFC uniform with the Sword and Sunburst rank insignia of The First Prince of New Avalon.  He did the same from her low heeled boots to the three red Stars on her lapel that marked her as a Wolf Star Colonel, The Wolf Watch branch insignia (A peaked Wolf's Ear), and the 'Fox' Bloodname next to her first name. “Hello Brother.  You're looking surprising vital for a previously dead man.” 

She looked past him toward Yvonne, “Little sister, pleasure as always.  This isn't a social call however so I hope you don't expect a hug.”

Peter could feel the tension between the two of them but they both knew this was going to happen.  The sisterly bond between Katherine and Yvonne had always been tight but time and current events had apparently severed it.  Yvonne knew that keeping Peter's return secret would have consequences with their sister but she took the risk anyway.

“That's unnecessary Katherine.  Von did what she thought was necessary.  We didn't want to make this difficult.”

She narrowed her eyes on him, “Well it's difficult Peter whether you wanted to make it so or not.  Your sudden return has caused a great deal of strife in my life and forced me to make choices I otherwise wouldn't have had to make in order to protect myself.”

“I'm not a danger to you.”
“Really?  Tell that to all the people affected during the Battle of Tharkad last year.  If you hadn't come back the Word of Blake wouldn't have made an example of them.”

Yvonne stepped forward, “That's not fair Katherine.  Peter had nothing to do with that.”

Katherine did the same coming within arm's length of her siblings.  “He did though.  If he hadn't been crowned First Prince I wouldn't have needed to come out of hiding and endanger my family.  My children almost died fighting the Word of Blake in Tharkad City.  I lost too many friends there and I didn't have many to start with.”

Shogun Sakamoto interposed himself between the trio to ensure this didn't go into a full blown fight.  His Draconis Combine couldn't deal with the Word of Blake alone and if the Federated Commonwealth slipped into Civil War the Clan Council wouldn't have the strength to take Terra.  “We should live in the present Steiner-Davions.  Let the past lie for your lost brothers' sakes please.  The future of the Inner Sphere might very well depend on what happens on Asta in the next few weeks.”

“Very well Franklin.  I would like to speak with my brother alone.”

Peter glanced at Franklin who took the non-verbal cue and left the room.  “You too Yvonne.”

Yvonne couldn't hide her concern.  Katherine was dangerous, she had seen her fight before, and she had killed people with her bare hands in the past.  “But?”

“No.  We'll be fine.  Right Archon?”

“Yes First Prince.”

Yvonne slinked away face pleading with Peter once more only to be dismissed with a wave.  He locked the door behind her from the inside from his handheld controller.  “There.  Doors locked Katherine.  You can speak even more freely.”

She slapped him hand across his face, the stone in her wedding ring was down and Peter came away with a bloody scratch and she with a marred diamond.  Peter rubbed his face coming back with blood in his palm, “That was much harder than when Yvonne did it.”

“And with greater cause.  What the hell Peter?  You ****** everything up.  Why couldn't you just stay dead?”

“I had to come back.  I couldn't stay on Randis forever, even as a Paladin.  I have a duty to fulfill.”
“Oh so you felt guilt at abandoning your poor sisters.  How about Arthur and Victor?  You shouldn't be First Prince.”
“And yet here I am wearing the Sword and Sunburst, Archon.”

Katherine sat down in one of the chairs.  “Well I must give you compliments for how you handled George Hasek Peter.  Couldn't have done it better myself.”
Peter sat down across from her, “What are you talking about?”
She was looking down at her nails making sure they weren't damaged by the slap, “His little accident on Talon.  Beautiful work, I read the report.”

“It was an accident.  Not everyone is as bloodthirsty as you seem to be.”

“Well then they are fools.  If someone tries to kill me I don't let them have another chance.”
“How do I know you weren't behind it.”
“George's death or your attempted assassination in the Cathedral?”
“That was Top Secret, MIIO only.”
“I hear things.  Besides I never use the same person twice.”
  With that Katherine revealed her deepest darkest secret so absentmindedly. Didn't even realize it until the words slipped her lips.  She looked over at Peter who was only barely stopping himself from leaping over the table onto her.
“You Bitch!  You didn't.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 11 April 2019, 06:06:14
I guess this won't be warm and fuzzy family reunion.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 12 April 2019, 16:23:40
Katherine dropped under the table as Peter leapt over it crashing into the chair she had previously occupied.  “I can explain!”

He had recovered with the Warrior's grace that befitted his status as First Prince while Katherine stood up on the defense where she always seemed to do better.  Both of them were now accomplished veterans on the Battlefield and she had known Peter had taken their Mother's assassination particularly hard.  “Really because I would love to hear why you hired an assassin to kill our Mother?”

“I didn't hire him. Ryan Steiner did.  That much was true.  It would have remained secret too if he hadn't attempted to assassinate me on Solaris to protect himself.  I only arranged payment.”

“Well I hope your blood money brought you solace then sister because I won't forget this.  There will be consequences.  I came here with the intent to try to reconcile with you but you just sunk it and innocent people will pay the price.”

Katherine looked hard at him, they were Fire and Ice to one another now.  The Red haired First Prince of the Federated Suns and the Ice Queen of Tharkad.  “We have no idea how many innocent people will pay and have paid that price; but we both know Melissa wasn't one of them. 

She was going to ruin my life because she hated Katrina and I reminded her to much of our Grandmother.  Our own Mother intended to lock me up on Gallery forever in order to steal my lover.  I am only what she made me, an enemy, but she underestimated how far I'd go.  Well I can't have limits Peter.  I do whatever it takes because everything else is a worse outcome for me and my sister.

She tried to do the same for you.  How many times did she visit you in boarding school? You were right there the entire time after she abandoned Yvonne and Arthur on the other side of the universe.  Hanse visited me but Melissa couldn't be bothered to leave the Triad.  Which is now only ashes. 

You were always just not as special as Victor, Peter.

The only person she cared for was herself and Victor died trying to run away from what she wanted him to be.  That's why I helped Ryan Steiner kill her and then when he tried to kill me I eliminated his entire organization. 

You might recognize two of them, The Cartier brothers of Lyons.  The people that screwed you over and killed Linette.”

Peter was torn between anger and sorrow with that mention, tears spilled over the wound that Katherine gave him leading to a thin slick of watery blood down his cheek.  “You were working with them too?  You're not helping your case here Katherine.  How did you know about Linette?  You were on Gallery when that happened.”

“I am the Archon, Peter and have been for a really long time; with not intent of leaving. 
I read your DG profile and AWOL report, of course. 

A Prince going missing while a Kurita ship is in system would of course draw suspicion and I hated the always so perfect Omiko.  Victor wouldn't stop talking about her.

Well now they're both dead so I don't have to worry about it anymore.”

“So are Galen Cox and your Alistair.  Was this all just an act Katherine from the beginning?”

Katherine clutched her abdomen as if someone suddenly kicked right in the gut, “You couldn't know about that unless the Canopians told you.”

“They didn't tell me anything.  So I was right? 

I was brought back to our final parting on Gallery while looking at the original Katherine's signature on Fletcher's Ares Convention Memorial.  I jogged my memory and you tried to copy everything about her, right down to your hair until recently. 

You were going to be the new Katherine Steiner, peace in our time, founder of a lasting Dynasty, giving grand speeches before the Estates General and everything.  How did you end up like this?  Why break the Commonwealth and sell out to the Wolves?”

Katherine caressed the embossed Imperial Wolf logo of her uniform, “Sell out?  My Commonwealth is stronger than ever with the Clans, the Word of Blake and FWLM threw their whole might at us but never got beyond Caledonia and Bolan because of The Wolves.  My realm would have folded without them we owe them everything.

The Council and Commonwealth's arrangement is a mutually beneficial one similar to the one our little sister's got her Vassal Khan to sign in the Accords.”

Katherine stomped forward and Peter backpedaled, “You know why that is; because I trained her! 
I was always there for her when she needed me and she still hid you from me. 
For what reason!  I wasn't going to kill you.

I didn't want this title!

You abandoned us! and cursed me with it! 

So yes I do hate you because of that!

and you can hate me too for Melissa.

You helped ruin my life, almost killed our sister, your absence let our enemies kill our little brother, and drove our older one mad.  So mad he ran right into the jaws of the Smoke Jaguars so he would forget about it.

We don't have to be friends Peter; but I'm also not going to roll over and let you take everything I've built away from me. 

And if you try.  I will fight you but I won't step foot on New Avalon. 

Not that they would let me.  You can have the Suns but I will get Terra and hold Tharkad till my dying breath, if only to spite Mother.

Katherine looked past him to the digital clock behind them, “Now unlock the door.  I have somewhere more important to be.”

Peter opened the door and watched as Katherine pushed past a startled group of the resort's staff.  He brushed his cheek and his palm came back red.  The First Prince was at a lack of what to do about this situation. 

He could tell Yvonne about Katherine but what would that accomplish?  She still loved her sister but was afraid for him; had been as soon as he came back into her life and ruined it too.

The truth would shatter everything for no gain, not that Yvonne much cared for Melissa.  He couldn't do that to her though.  Put her through the pain again.   He could spare a sliver of Yvonne and Katherine's feelings even if it gnawed at him.  Breath deep, calm down, let the painful shameful past lie there.

“Dammit!  I ****** that up.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 15 April 2019, 15:24:01
Author Foreword - Wow the Fan Fic forums have been going crazy lately.  Went from 1st to 12th in a weekend.

02/19/3071 Location – Shining Column Resort, Asta, Draconis Combine

Yvonne was following her sister through the halls until they found an isolated place.  She had been avoiding her intentionally but she was just as persistent as her sister. “Katherine please talk to me.”

“Stop bothering me Yvonne.  I want to get this over with and then we both split up again, permanently.”

Yvonne stepped in front of Katherine bodily blocking her passage, “No!  Something is wrong.

You've been spending too much time under a neurohelmet.  Its messing with your mind and you're not acting like yourself.”

Katherine made a weak attempt to pass her sister but she continued to block the door, “How do you know this isn't just the real me?”

“I refuse to believe that; and the fact that you do scares me.  I know you better than you know. 

This war doesn't need to be the end.  I want you to make it off Terra alive because I love you.

You wanted us all together before, but now you just want to be alone.  It's not right and I'm not going to give up on you.”

“Well if you think or thought that woman is the real me.  Why didn't you tell me about Peter when he showed up?”

“I made a mistake.”
“I'll say.”
“Not about that.”

Tears came to Yvonne's eyes and Katherine couldn't help but pause.  “I lost someone I loved because I overreacted. 

I didn't want to be wrong but I still think I was. 

I killed Nikolai! Because I thought you would ask him to kill Peter and I couldn't let that happen.  This family has lost enough people, but of course you probably already knew that.”

Katherine was dumbstruck and tears started down her cheek as well, “I didn't know.  When he left my service he was gone.  Anything that needed to be said was sent in your letters.  He didn't send me reports unless I specifically requested them.  I knew you were as safe as you could be so I needed to focus on myself.”

“But why did he say all of those terrible things before he went over the cliff.  I didn't even pull the trigger. 

I don't believe you.  You had to have known he was gone.  He was your agent.  You sent him to control me.”

“What?  No!  I did no such thing, everything Nikolai did was for you by him.  I just gave him whatever he needed to do his job; because I couldn't be there for you on the other side of the Inner Sphere.

He was crazy about you ever since he met you the first time.  He volunteered for the assignment.  I trusted him and thought you did too.  What did he say on the cliff?  When you had him at gunpoint?”

“He said that you would of course want to know Peter had returned and that you would order him or someone else to kill them.  Then he said Goodbye Sunshine before going over the edge.”

Katherine and Yvonne embraced in tears, “I'm so sorry 'Von.  He told you all of those things because he knew that if you had pulled a gun on him you intended to use it.  He didn't want you to do that.  Kill him to save Peter.  He was trying to protect you.  None of us wanted you to have to kill anyone like that.”

“But I did it again.  I killed George through the Hellions.  Amanda will never know her father because of me.”
“Did you tell Peter?”
“No.  I don't want him to know, its why I used the Hellions.”
“You have to tell him or it will get worse with the Haseks.  Angela has already begun trying to tear Peter down according to what I've heard through my network.”
“We can find someone else to blame, but Peter has to know the truth sooner rather than later.”
“He'll hate me even if I did it to protect him.”
“He will realize that none of us are innocent little sister.  We all have painful secrets but the truth is a price we have to pay to get along with one another.”

The two of them spent a long moment just in silence, “I'm lifting off for New Avalon tonight Katherine.  I have been promoted to designated survivor.  Promise me you will come back from Terra.”

“You know I can't make that promise.”

“If you can't make it for me make it for your children.  You want to come back for them right?  It was always your dream to have a happy family.  Can't do that if they're orphans.”

“Did both you and Morgana read my diaries?  I must use a better code.  I promise I am not going to Terra to die but I can't promise I'll come back.  Blake might still have the final Word.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: snakespinner on 15 April 2019, 19:04:50
Women discussing who they murdered.
They get so emotional about it.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 15 April 2019, 21:45:00
Women discussing who they murdered.
They get so emotional about it.

To be fair no head of a Successor State maintained their power by charm alone.  They are all still military aristocrats where rivalries and vendettas run deep with blood and some can feel more sentimental about it than others.

The Grand Kurultai

03/01/3070 Location – Shining Column Resort, Asta, Draconis Combine

ilKhan Santin West stood in front of the massive quartz column Shining Column resort was named after giving the final briefing to the senior commanders.  The massive forum comfortably seated the Galaxy Commanders/Admirals and Star Colonels/Commodores of the Clans with their Khans up front.  Rather than partitioned into their own blocks ilKhan West made the seating assignments and forced the Warriors to sit next to others that they would never have interacted with before.  This glorious battle could have all the Clans acting as one and they needed to realize that there was plenty of Glory to be shared and that each Clan had a crucial part of play that leveraged their strengths.

The Elemental exuded his huge strength of charisma in the middle.  “In ten days some of us will embark on the most ambitious operation since Klondike.  Each of you and those you lead will be immortalized for their courage under fire and for the final reclamation of Terra for the SLDF in Exile.  Our Great Father took our ancestors away from the Inner Sphere because he feared what they might do with this vast power.  He was afraid that the SLDF would be used once more to subjugate the Inner Sphere.

Instead we will liberate it.   

They know we are coming and have had a decade to prepare their defense.

We always knew we would return and have had nearly three hundred years to prepare our attack.

This is the battle we were made for Warriors.  When we jump back into Sol's system we will no longer be Exiles. 

We will be home.”

The whole Forum erupted with a shout of “Seyla!”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 19 April 2019, 13:26:42
Fans I could use some help writing this next section, the final chapter before the Liberation of Terra launches.

I am planning on doing a Great Ordeal of Battles headed by ilKhan West with every Clan member participating that will be part of the invasion force nearly 300,000 strong (assuming a cluster is 2 Mech Trinaries, a Vehicle Trinary, Elemental Binary, and Aerospace Binary + Tech support).  There are a couple of ways I can do this but I'm not sure which one is more thematically appropriate.
First person view from a tripping and tipsy Katherine on the ground
The grand third person view from the narrator above
Or ilKhan Santin West's Vision quest.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: shadowdancer on 19 April 2019, 14:17:47
First choice would be 3rd person. Second would be Khan West.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 19 April 2019, 17:11:38
I'd mix. The narrator in the main with vignettes from Kitty & Westy to deeper dive specific events.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Icerose20 on 19 April 2019, 18:07:40
So about one million, asumming 3 support personnel for every combatant, seems a little low.  So am I missing something?  Like the rest of Inner Sphere joining in on Earth? 
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 19 April 2019, 19:26:33
The Clans are just the Vanguard.  FedCom and SLDF forces (Some DCMS but mostly FWLM and AMC) are following right behind
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 22 April 2019, 17:09:01
The Great Chronicle of Battle

03/01/3070 22:00 Location – Baldero Desert, Asta, Draconis Combine

Katherine’s tanned lithe form stepped out of the transport dressed in very skimpy for her tribal looking clothes supported by the toned bare arms of Vladimir Ward who was dressed similarly to the throng of other people present on the dim orange moonlit sands of the Baldero desert.  Firewood was still being stacked up but some were burning across the sands sending ash and sparks into the starry sky.

“I think I may have had too much sake.”

He supported her as she haltingly took some steps on the sand, “Franklin and Photon were laying the cups down hard.”

“How do they do it?  They don't weigh anything.  They are all sinewy snakes.”
“I think Franklin was sneaking it into his bonzai.  Photon couldn't cut it.  He will live to try another day but will regret last night.”

Her drunk self did a serpentine motion with her free hand, “Those snakes are sneaky.  Why did they get me drunk?”

“You did that to yourself.”
“Why did you let me get drunk?  I won't be any fun at this Chronicle...Festival...thing.”
“The Chronicle of Battle.  You'll be fine.”

“Will there be dancing?”
“Will you be my partner?”
“I love dancing with you.”

The man held her firm although she almost stumbled in the sand as she attempted a piroutte, “Same.”

The pair walked into the vast desert currently lit only by the orange glow of bonfires and torches. Slender trails of smoke and sparks worked their way high into the thick air of this world.  On the other side of the desert ilKhan Santin West sat next to Akira Tormark, the young man treated as Shogun Sakamoto's adopted little brother, after Franklin had taken to the teenager while in a Black Dragon Prison Camp on Luthien. 

He was intensely focused and open to learning more about the Nova Cat's Visions after hearing about them from the late Minoru Kurita/Nova Cat and Khan West.  Since New Kyoto the young man followed the Khan asking questions that he had pondered while in captivity about the Clans themselves.  Akira had been born the year of REVIVAL and knew no Inner Sphere without the Clans but he still had questions and wasn't shy about asking them.  Khan West answered them, it was his responsibility to the Shogun to be the bridge between the Nova Cats and their partner clans with the rest of the Inner Sphere.

Akira held a severed cybernetic finger taken from a Manei Domini Ghost that he had slain on Dieron before the cyborg could call down an artillery barrage on an Ashigaru ACR that would have wiped them out.  Both of them were sitting very close to one of the many fires burning, this one in the Nova Cat section so it was much less raucous than the other clans.  Firelight flickered across his dark skin and brought sweat which was channeled by his cornrow braids.  “What do see when you look into the fires Santin-san?”

ilKhan West was holding a small bony plate from the Kyotan Armor Bear they had slain on New Kyoto months ago.  Santin was sitting on the cloak made of its fur while Akira sat on a simple tatami mat to protect his feet from the heated sand.  “Always something different Akira-san.  Though rarely useful.  Frequently it makes sense only after reflection.”

“What did you see before DRAGONSLAYER?”

“Two Hounds on the flanks of a Dragon, teeth bared at their charge. 
Crows picking at corpses.
Rivers of blood so vast that they could be seen from orbit.”

“Did it live up to your expectation?”
“I remember being a man your age ankle deep in a bloody marsh after my Point killed a platoon of Ashigaru rifles.  Seeing the Battlemechs burning black smoke across the clean blue sky,  Sinking my suit's jagged claws into the enemy to reclaim the Glory of the Clans after Wolcott.”

“I remember it similarly; one of my sharpest memories even though I was a toddler.  My father was at Kado-Guchi in the family's Shadow Hawk two-K.  He was killed by Elementals.  They took his mech's legs out.  So he opened the cockpit,”
Akira shifted to standing on one leg and thumbed out a short measure of the worn but meticulously tended Katana reflecting the firelight, “and charged at them with this very sword.  One of them hit him with a backhand from their claw.  Cracked his skull and snapped his neck killing him instantly.  Then they moved on.” 

Akira returned the sword to its sheath and returned to his seated position to pour a cup of warm sake heated by the nearby flames, “I never did find out whether it was Jaguars or Cats that killed him, both were operating in the area.

I cheered when BULLDOG and SERPENT returned, they had slain the Smoke Jaguars but my cheer disappeared when they chose to save the Nova Cats.  I cheered for the Ghost Bears on Irece, only to have them beaten back by the League Expeditionary Force.  The Black Dragons almost recruited me to their cause but they sought to bring back the old ways that caused the DCMS to lose to the Clans and AFFC.  We needed to change so that the Combine would never again need the aid of outsiders but not that way.  That way leads to only darkness and defeat.  You have similar vision for your own kind, quiaff?”

“Aff, one of the reasons I find such kinship with such disparate characters as Khans Ward and Cobb.  The Wolves and Hell's Horses were both beaten down but adapted.  All of the Clans currently in the Inner Sphere have been forced to change far more rapidly than we could accomplish alone.  The Word of Blake just catalyzed the process it was inevitable as soon as we came to the Inner Sphere.”

The drums began to beat in the distance, the sound carried by speaker trucks borrowed from Shogun Sakamoto's Civilian Guidance Corps.  The Oathmaster of Ceremonies, (Loremaster) Isaac Clarke of the Diamond Sharks, began the roll call of the Clans that preceded ever Chronicle of Battle.  Twenty drum beats followed by a quick sentence uttered by a member of that Clan.  Almost all of whom were present in some capacity due to the Harvesting that occurred in the wake of the Great Refusal and Refusal War when the Invading Clans opening their touman to outsiders to rebuild provided a major relief valve for troublemakers in the Homeworlds.  Many of these troublemakers either died or learned fast during the Clan Campaigns in the Inner Sphere.

“Now we will see what the fire will show us this evening.”  ilKhan West looked skyward at Asta's two moons and a meteor shower that bathed the desert in intermittent shooting stars.  He closed his eyes to focus his breath and his sense of touch to find his vineers laid out before him, feeling each in turn admiring their textures and remembering what he had done to be worthy of the token from a fallen foe. 

A Kunai taken from a Black Dragon Shinobi
Shard of a shattered belly plate of a Kyotan Armor Bear
A unit patch taken from a fallen Northwind Highlander's Cooling Vest
The codex of Colomb DesCastris, Smoke Jaguar Tau Galaxy
Piece of armor from “The Claws” of a Ghost Bear Executioner
The hood of a ghille suit taken from a Word of Blake sniper.

Each of these battles had taught him something important and he continued to survive because he listened and changed.  There was one battle left so none of it needed to be taken with him.  He was listening if the universe was willing to give him one last bit of wisdom.  As he fed the vineers into his little fire he communed with it under the stars. 

The Meteor shower wasn't intense but it felt that way to Santin.  He saw himself in a dark place under fire, only a single sliver of light shone in a crevice but it was being covered by a black moss.  Looking down he saw his hands in his suit under an orange and alien sky.  The light was saved but disappeared into a cave as dark liquid rose up around him and try as he might he could not escape it as it flooded over him.  Everything went black.

Waking up he saw a graceful white fox with two tails.  All around him was a ring of flames, the middle burnt coals as white as the fox spirit.  A spectral being of shadow walked through it without harm materializing into a man with a burned face, hair as black as night, and eyes that reflected the fires around them.  “You should not be here go back to where you came from.”  He could feel the flames like he was being baked inside his suit.  He snapped awake as the last drum beat sounded, the one for the 'Not-Named' Clan.

Akira looked over to him, the whole experience took only a half hour in real time but felt like days inside the dream realm.  “What did you see?”

“I am not certain Akira.  I will need to reflect on it.”
“Would you like a drink to ease your mind?”
  The man pointed to his large heirloom sake bottle hanging on its little metal frame, “I brought plenty to share.”
“I could use it.”  The young man carefully poured out some of the liquid into the fine ceramic cup, “Thank you Akira-san.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 24 April 2019, 20:50:49
Beware the Ides of March

03/14/3070 20:00 Location – CJW Emerald Talon, Asta Zenith Point, Draconis Combine

Jade Falcon (Wolves) Khan Marthe Pryde sat across from her Snow Raven Counterpart Lynn McKenna both had bid themselves and their commands to take the lead in the fateful Battle for Sol (OPERATION:BLACKLIGHT).  Each had 3 mixed Clan Naval Stars, the vast majority of the remaining Clans' Warships, under their command.  The final reserve Binary was commanded by Diamond Shark's Khan Barbara Senett with each of the invading Clans holding one of their Warships in reserve to serve as their Flagship once ground operations began.  By morning GMT Terra Time they would be jumping into the Outer Solar System and beginning their attack.

The Raven held up a glass of wine that had traveled all the way from the Homeworlds during her clan's Exodus, “Khan Pryde once more we fight alongside one another.  Just like Lum.”

Marthe clinked the glass together, “Just like Lum.  Taking down some upstarts that have it out for us old Warbirds.”

Lynn finished the glass of wine in single gulp, before pouring herself another.  “And we shall tear them asunder, just like the Perigard Zalman, and rest of the Snake Fleet.  If only I could see Brett Andrews face just before he died aboard that Leviathan Prime.  He rode that ship right into Xian and got exactly what was coming to him.”

The two of them spent another two hours before returning to their command vessels.  Khan McKenna's command dropship, the captured (from the Steel Vipers) Mercer dropship CSR Ouroboros, passed through the crowded Zenith point where 30 Warships and more than a hundred Dropships were jockeying into position for the Final Jump into the Sol system in less than seven hours.  Hundreds of Aerospace fighters were out practicing for the operations they would be doing one last time in friendly space before Blakists began shooting back.

03/15/3070 07:00 Location – “The Black Cathedral”, Mars, Sol

Primus Naamah of the Word of the Blake sat within the Caspar II's command center, known as “The Black Cathedral” for its massive HPG transmission and power cooling towers, they knew the Clan were coming but weren't sure when.  The complex is located near the Mariner Valley and is the primary transmission node for Shadow Oracle “Thomas Marik” aka Artificial Intelligence Erebus, the root controller of the Caspar II SDS system.  The computing complex is located within an underground installation warded by the Fidelis and the rest of The Blood.

A sing-songy ping broke her daydreaming, a smoky voice spoke into her cybernetic earpiece, like telepathy.  “They're here Naamah.”  The holotank in the middle of the room came to life. Naamah stood and walked up to the display her white and gold uniform brushing past the colorful displays that filled a room reminiscent of a third gen Warship of which the SPF had two, the recently completed Harbinger Caspar II Battlecruisers (modified Feng Huangs) KT and Tamerlane.  Two regions of space were blown up in the display, presently they only had low resolution images until Erebus could bring the astrographic units into position to identify the Fleet compositions in greater detail.  Two locations around the equatorial region of Uranus' orbit at a non-standard jump point with a clean shot to Saturn.  Each Fleet would be upon the shipyards there within a week. 

Naamah communicated via cyber-telepathy with the AI several hundred kilometers away deep in a bunker by itself.
“Well it took them long enough.  We've been waiting for nearly two hundred years to get our revenge and here they come.  Send in the Caspar interceptors around Titan Erebus.  Take them out with extreme prejudice.”

“With pleasure Naamah. 
However, Precentors Beresick and Zwick will protest.”

“Let them grumble, there will be more soon.  If they get in your drone's way however; ensure they have an unfortunate miscommunication. 
Don't bother to protect the yards.  The Ebon Magistrate has reclaimed the Sharpe Yards and we still have the Trinity sites.  However make them think we still want them.”

“Certainly Primus.  What are you going to do?

Naamah looked at the matte black polish on her nails, they could use freshening up.  “My nails.
They'll come here eventually looking for the Master and then I'll finish them off personally with my bare hands if I must though I prefer nuclear fire.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 28 April 2019, 21:51:31
03/18/3070 18:00 Location – En route to Titan Orbital Yards

Star Admiral Olvin Rippon held firm in the foot restraints keeping tall even in microgravity as he faced Loremaster Amanda Wallace in the mission command center of the McKenna Battleship White Death.  The bright light of the holotank behind her illuminated the scars he had earned in sibko, fighting the DCMS, and as a pirate before being “recruited” by the Hellions.  Both of them along with the rest of the crew were dressed in light gray spacesuits with matte black articulated armor panels that linked into their acceleration chairs.  Their hard helmets were off but attached to the harness the umbilical air supply masks were on along with their soft head covers with headset audio.  “Loremaster you are certain Khan McKenna isn't trying to get us all killed?”

“We all die eventually but we will go down fighting.  The Hellions strike first; it is our way Jaguar.  Even if it weren't that is our orders from the Snow Queen.

We get to fire the first shots of the Battle of Terra and what devastating shots they will be.”

“Yes Loremaster, it is a great honor.  Are there any surprises your Watch units have identified?”

“No the ONI observers and my Watch ships have only confirmed what we already knew.  At least one of those hive super-carriers are in play another is with the task force attacking Khan Pryde's Fleet.  There are likely more aboard the command ship of the approaching task force and within the holds of the approaching dropships.  Some will certainly have nuclear weapons under-slung, ones that will crack even a McKenna's thick armor. 

The Fort Verdun got lucky, we have to be good.”
“We are the best the Inner Sphere has ever seen.”

The Hellion's Loremaster a mousy woman with a look capable of boring to a man's very soul looked behind her at the mission clock, 15 minutes till they were in range.  “You have ten minutes until you have to make good on that boast.  I will manage the smaller vessels and greater picture from here. You only need concern yourself with the White Death herself.”

“I will be gentle.”
“We shall see whether she likes that Olvin.”
“Aff Loremaster.”
“See you on the other side Ripper.”
“Ay, Ay”

Olvin exited the armored shell of the MCC and took the transport “elevator” (more like a cable car when not under thrust) back to his bridge four hundred meters away in the 1.4 kilometer long vessel.  He passed the damage control and marine stations near the Bridge and saw the black carapace forms of Salamander Marines and the sleek Ailette exoskeletons of the Damage Control crew sat against the frame of the Battleship safe against the extreme accelerations that were likely to occur.  They made a slight salute to the Admiral as he floated into the Bridge and the door sealed behind him and with it went the last of the atmosphere in this hull section.

Aboard the bridge Star Admiral Olvin Rippon donned his helmet and took to his Captain's Chair and waited for the command interface keyboards to come into position at his fingertips.  His visor filled with AR displays and the rest of his section commanders came into full battle protocol.  The Central Holotank filled with multiple contacts from the incoming SPF Task Force, the engagement arcs of their fleet escorts filled the screen along.  “Weps.  Bring the main batteries online.”

“Ay Sir.  HNPPC capacitors charging.”  The lights blacked out for a moment while the reactor spun up to provide power for the massive particle beams.  “All secondary batteries coming online in two minutes.”

“Launch fighters.  Then bring us into optimal firing pattern, two points off prow.”

One hundred Hellion Aerospace fighters supported by Twenty AWACS, EW, and Small Gunships deployed from the ventral and dorsal surfaces firing out past the six dropship collars.  They were joined by the escort carrier and assault dropships, pair of Aegis Cruisers and Destroyers of the Hellions' White Death Naval Star.  The screen filled with orange as the dozen SPF Warships and fifty dropships launched their own fighter craft.  Hundreds of Hive class drone fighters, cutting edge Spectral Manei Domini, and Elite Sol Defense Force fighters headed toward one of the incoming Clan Fleets.

Ripper watched as the engagement arc rolled over with fighters and a pair of Tiamat PWS cleared the range for his main guns.  He flicked the switch to give full control of the batteries to his gunners.  He could see them zoomed in on his AR sight  He recalled a fleeting memory of his first kill in the Inner Sphere in Olderman Pass on Richmond, none were spared, this would be the same.  “Fire.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 29 April 2019, 06:37:23
This is getting gooooood
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 29 April 2019, 16:12:20
This is getting gooooood

Appreciate it Wrangler

Naval TOO

Initial Attack Fleets

Aegis HS Asa Taney and HS Chaos Sailor
Lola III HS Impaler
and HS Radiant
McKenna HS White Death

Cameron CSR Blizzard
Aegis CSE White Terror
Lola III CSR Spur
Congress CSR Magpie
McKenna CSR James McKenna

Aegis CSR Black Justice
Whirlwind CSR William Adams and CSR Drake
Cameron CSR Ice Storm
Nightlord CSR Snow Raven

Sovetskii Soyuz CJW Hawker
Aegis CJW Janice Hazen and CJW Hawk Eye

Nightlord CJW Emerald Talon
Zechentinu II SLS Wild Rabbit (SLDF)

Texas WIS Nicholas Kerensky
Cameron CJW Turkina’s Pride and WIS Bloody Fang
Liberators WIS Jerome Winston
Aegis SLS Olympus Mons (SLDF)

Du Shi Wang Blood Moon
Black Lions WIS Stealthy Kill, WIS Blood Drinker, CJW Jade Aerie, and CJW White Aerie

Remaining Clan Warships

Ghost Bear Lunar Attack Binary
Leviathan CGB Leviathan, the last of its kind
Cameron CGB Dieron’s Run

Lola III CGB Blizzard and CGB Icepick
Fredasa CGB Black Ghost

Nightlord Ursa Major
Black Lion CGB Bear’s Den
York CGB Ursa Minor
Essex CGB White Fang and CGB White Claw

Hellion Venus Attack Star
York HS Pack Leader
Essex HS Moore’s Honor
Lola III HS Cold Hunter
Fredasa HS Swift Bait and HS Hellion’s Pride

Diamond Shark Titan Occupation Star
Nightlord CDS Terror of the Deep
Sovetskii Soyuz CDS Nagasawa
Aegis CDS Bloodlust
Essex CDS Sharon
Lola III CDS Predator

Hell’s Horses Martian Attack Star
Cameron CHH Sleipnir
Congress CHH Bucephalus
 Lola IIIs CHH Black Knight, CHH Red Knight, and CHH Gold Knight

Nova Cat Martian Attack Star
York SLS Anna Rosse
Black Lion SLS Severen Leroux
Lola IIIs SLS Growler, SLS Ranger,
and SLS Hunter

Clan Wolf Terran Attack Tri
Dire Wolf WIS Dire Wolf
Carrack Carrier WIS Night Warrior
Cameron WIS Ulric Kerensky

Clan Jade Falcon(Wolf) Terran Attack Star
Congress CJW Peregrine (Green Lantern) and CJW Kerensky’s Pride
Carrack Carrier CJW Ironhold Avenger
Whirlwind CJW Emerald Tornado

Support Units
Hellion Tri
Potemkins Coterie, Hellmouth (formerly CSJ Osis’ Pride)
Carrack Factory Ship Maker

Diamond Shark Support Binary
Potemkins Titanic, Poseidon, Tsunami, Red Tide, and Kraken

Carrack Star Swimmer, Bloodletter, and Devourer
Volga Bold Venture and Speculator

Snow Raven Support Star
Potemkins CSR Eden Rose, CSR Bonaventure, CSR Rook, CSR Treachery, and CSR Wild Swan
Volga CSR Scavenger and CSR Tenacity

Hell’s Horses Support
Potemkins CHH Steel Shield, CHH Armageddon, and CHH Blood Horse
Volga Factory Ship CHH Vulcan
Carrack CHH Golden Clydesdale

Nova Cat Support Star
Carrack SLS Nebula, SLS Far Star, SLS Blessed Rite, SLS Glory Road, and SLS Pathfinder

Wolf/Falcon Support
Potemkin WIS Full Moon
Volga WIS Provider

SPF Fleet
Farragut Righteous Justice
Baron Light of Faith, Light of Hope, Light of Glory
Carson Sword of Enlightenment and Sword of Promise
Essex Deliverance, Despiser, Dawning Horizon, Deathblow, Death by Degrees
Black Lion Blake’s Strength, Blake's Will, Blake's Justice
Naga Celestial Threads and Enlightened Direction

Aegis Herald of Truth, Herald of Justice, Herald of Honor
Suffren Conrad Toyama, Raymond Karpov, Andrea Marteen, Dwight Kurstin, Gregori Hartford, Kari Marshal, Hollings York, Adrienne Sims, Yin Takami, Allen Rusenstein, Julian Tiepolo, Myndo Waterly
Dante Salvation, Bordeaux, Divine Inferno, Necess Kurita, Jeanette Marik, Paradise Lost
York Focht’s Revenge
Thera Dark Phoenix (formerly the Delphi) and Decaying Orbit (formerly the Corinth)
Vincent Alacrity, Determination, Blade of Divinity, Blade of Holiness, Blade of Righteousness, Blake's Redemption, Liberty, Insufferable
Lola III Guarded Knowledge, End of Wisdom, Faith's End, Tale of Ages, Holy Shroud

Caspar Task Forces
Harbinger (Feng Huang II+) KT
Aegis Rampage, Ravage, Rend, Rupture
Quixote Broken Arrow and Fletch
Carrack Carriers Dark Wing and White Wing

Harbinger (Feng Huang II+) Tamerlane
Aegis Cyclops, Centaur, Catoblepas, Chupacabra
Quixote Plunging Shot and Parthian Shot
Carrack Carriers Divine Wind and Starkeeper

SLDF Fleet
Thera SLS Fort Verdun
Eagle SLS Battle of Tukayyid
Impavido SLS Tamarind

AFFC Third Fleet / Task Force - SUNBURST
Avalon Victor Steiner-Davion, Hanse Davion, Melissa Davion, Arthur Steiner-Davion
Eclipse (Fox CV) Donegal, Skye
Fox Fox, Illustrious, Intrepid, Invincible, Indominable
Mjolnir Valhalla
Zodiac (Robinson) Leo, Libra, Scorpio
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 04 May 2019, 12:49:25
03/19/3070 Location – Octopus Dropship CDS Benthic, Outside Saturn's Orbit, Sol

Star Captain Artie waited while his dropship was preparing to grapple to crippled CJW Hawker and tow it back to the Titan Yards.  His crew's eyes glued to the display monitors in the middle, Artie was running the massive Merlin interplanetary drive like a pro via his fine touch joystick.  “little bit more.”  Finally the Octopus' arms reached out to grapple the massive Sovetskii Soyuz.  “Capture.”

Artie turned to look at the fine young features of the visiting Jade Wolf Star Commodore, Erik Buckenburger, formerly in command of the Hawker.  “Well Star Commodore it is a good thing your fleet was already heading in the right direction.  Just need to adjust course and we will be at the Titan Yards in three days.  Just enough time to miss anything interesting.”

“I appreciate the assist Star Captain as well as the better accommodations for my men than life boats stranded in the black.”
“Finest services that money can buy.”

The Jade Wolf laughed followed by the rest of the crew, “I think not.  I have been on the Titanic.”
“Well its not in system just yet Erik, but I will submit a transfer request on your behalf for when she does arrive.”
“I would not appreciate that Captain.  As much as it would be a pleasure we are here for duty and destiny. I would just be happy with a Visigoth and a Titan berth.”
“I am certain your Khan will accommodate you Commodore.”
  They passed the remains of the battle that crippled the Hawker, the Octopus' guns had to fire to prevent being hit by large pieces of debris.  “I am certain there will be openings.”

The dropship and its warship floated past the shattered remains of the Texas battleship WIS Nicholas Kerensky which had drawn the highest amount of ire from the KT's robotic drone fleet taking a total of 10 Alamos, 5 Santa Anas, and a pair of Peacemakers during the battle as well as a kamikaze attack by the doomed Aegis Rapture to put down and break its back for good.  Part of the Aegis' fin floated by.  “Damn what do the Caspars have against Kerensky?”

The Liberator Jerome Winston was cored stem to stern by a Peacemaker 500kt nuclear weapon after weathering the guns and missiles of the hostile task force.  A pair of Elephant dropships were herding it into a holding pattern with the other large warship pieces for later salvage operations.

03/22/3070 Location – Titan Orbital Assembly Yards, Titan, Sol

The graceful rings of Saturn filled the view screen of the Benthic.  Erik was enraptured by the image, “Its beautiful, I can understand why they built the yards here.”

Artie floated near him pointing out several of the space stations.  “Well the volatiles port was here long before the yards.”  A bloated Aqueduct cargo drosphip broke through the orange smog gas clouds below before drifting toward one of the massive terminals.  “We are currently orbiting the largest gas station in the Solar System.”

Other Diamond Shark and Clan salvage teams were coming in from the battle zones, the twisted remains of the McKenna CSR James McKenna took the Gargantuan super-heavy tug FCS Gargantuan on loan from the McKenna Yards around Galax in the Federated Suns to move.  Even then “the ship strong enough to lift Mjolrnir” was aided by a Star of smaller dropships. 

The Titan Yards were filled with activity, the Diamond Sharks were still in the process of clearing the orbiting space stations, automated transport dropships, and groundside 'dredges' of hostile troops or influence.  The Benthic followed the established pattern to its holding area.  “Thought they would be done by now.”

“As did I.  Not very promising for our side.”

Diamond Shark saKhan Alan Hawker came in on the radio from the CDS Bloodlust.  “All stranded spacer crews are to report to Titan Terminal Alpha.  You are to receive arms and support our clearing operations for the asset.”

“Looks like you might get that Visigoth after all Captain Buckenburger.”

The Jade Wolf looked toward the moon below.  “Well lets get back into the action.”

03/21/3070 Location – Dredge Alpha Five-Eight, Kraken Mare, Titan, Sol

Nova Colonel Aurele Horn of the Diamond Sharks 21st Strike Cluster stood on the decks of the massive Titan Gas dredge A-58.  Before her was one of the smoggy oceans of hydrocarbons that would serve as a great asset to the Diamond Sharks in the future.  An undine suit matching her own came up beside her.  “Nova Colonel.  We have hostiles incoming.  Vektors and Stygians based on the RADAR.”

“Merfolk get the lead out.  We have incoming Shadows.”

The dark forms of the Vektors attack helicopters and Stygians missile tanks came out of the smog flying low over the hydrocarbon sea carrying a full compliment of battle armor outside of their jagged RADAR absorbent forms.  The attackers launched massive volleys of missile fire against the dredge's defenders which answered in kind.  The sharp edges of Djinn and Tengus fell from the sky landing hard on the deck plates before firing at the Shark's Armored Infantry.  Diamond Shark Elementals fired back and rushed to deal with the hostiles.

Three hours later the Bloody Jaw Jack remained over the Dredge.

03/22/3070 Location – CDS Terror of the Deep, above Titan, Sol

Khan Barbara Sennet had expected to clean out and clear Titan in only three days but her Sharks had found heavier resistance among the many platforms of the Yards.  The constantly changing automated systems and unfinished hulls of jump vessels hid fanatical Blakist defenders well-supplied for continued resistance.  She could just blast everything to ruin but that would make her Clan look weak and be very costly.  The Sharks had bid for Titan because it was the largest most advanced shipyard in the Solar System and they wanted to keep it intact to use it at a later date.  The SPM used that against her at every turn forcing her forces to make difficult choices about collateral damage.

Loremaster Isaac Clark walked into the command room and passed her a noteputer.  “Khan Senett, here are the latest reports from my Watch agents.  As you can see we are close to securing all of the Yard's assets with only minor damage.”

“Good work Isaac, I knew those stranded spacers would make this faster.”
“Yes, they were grateful for a chance to continue the fight after their Warships were destroyed.  It added another third to our forces here.  There is still scattered pockets of resistance on the surface but we think the Blakists won't be able to continue to launch attacks on the Dredges soon.”

A red alert and sudden movement knocked the two of them down and pinned them against the padded wall.  “Hostile missile launch from one of the mining rigs.”

Outside three Megiddo SDS Multiple Capital Missile Launch units concealed within automated mining dropships launched ten Killer Whale missiles at the Nightlord Terror of the Deep, Aegis Bloodlust, and Sovetskii Soyuz Nagasawa.  The Nightlord took a Peacemaker nuclear missile to the broadside breaking the back of the Shark's flagship and killing most of its crew. 

The Bloodlust and Nagasawa were severely damaged by the surprise attack losing control and crashing through parts of the Titan Yard's orbital stations.  Salvage dropships immediately leapt into action preventing the space debris from causing a runaway Kessler incident while the two remaining destroyers eliminated similar platforms to ensure they would not pose a risk.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 07 May 2019, 17:03:59
03/27/3070 Location – Aboard the WOBS Orbital Decay, Interstellar Space, Outer Cordon, Sol

The white clad, small, pale, and scarred form of Precentor Martial Cameron St Jamais was arguing furiously with the eerily calm Primus Naamah on Mars via the holotank. “I warned you this would happen.  Now the Clans are here knocking at your door.”

The woman shook her head at the Precentor Martial’s absurdity, “And I told you.  You are an idiot and your incompetence at keeping them at bay is tantamount to Treason.  Failure has consequences.”

“How dare you speak to me that way?  I started this war.  I have been the Master’s faithful aide for decades before you.”

A predator smile came over Naamah’s face. “Yet I am Primus, frail.  By order of our Ascended Master Thomas Marik himself.  You may have started this war but your failure at running it has caused the ruin of our Blessed Order and brought the Clans to Terra.

Gregory please show the former Precentor Martial the door.”

The sharp black jumpsuit of Precentor Naval Gregory Zwick darkened the door, the man looked every bit the ideal spacer and had served for decades in the ComGuards Fleet before 'defecting' to the Word of Blake.  “What are you doing here Precentor Zwick?  This is my ship!”

The Word of Blake’s Chief Admiral floated into the door, followed by a squad of Marine adepts from the Purifying Light Special Aerospace Division in Black and Gold Nighthawk suits.  “Not anymore.”

The SAD troops restrained the flailing St Jamais in a carry board and floated him out of the command center.  “I had hoped the Ghost Bears would join the initial attack wave.  The drones were meant for a Leviathan.  The Hellion McKenna was heavily upgraded on Galax it’s nearly impregnable to missile and aerospace fighter attack.”

“I too expected them but they must have lost their trial to take the lead.  Do what you can Gregory, Admiral Beresick still has the other Thera to handle them when they come.  You will however get a chance to kill the final McKenna in the Inner Sphere.  That is quite the honor for your legacy.”

He reached into his pocket to retrieve a picture of his wife Melissa and he somewhere in the Mediterranean.  “Well I have some others that are worthwhile as well.”

Returning the photo to his pocket he sat down in the Fleet Commander’s chair and changed the command codes.  The symbol of ROM’s Purifying Light replaced the WOBM Broadsword previously on the screen.  “Among them the Suffren Spear Thrust.”


Jade Falcon Khan Marthe Pryde sat in the command room of her Nightlord Battleship, The Emerald Talon, she and the dozen chief officers that she would be giving orders to have already donned their combat spacesuit helmets and depressurized the massive ship.  “Khan Pryde we have the dozen Suffren destroyers and the Righteous Justice heading toward our main formation at high speed.”

“They broke with the main battle line?”
“Aff.  Accelerating at flank speed nose on in a delta formation.  They will be within the destroyer’s range in four minutes.  Past them and behind us in seven.”
“Accelerate bringing our broadside batteries online and in arc.  I don’t want them to have a clean shot on the thrusters.  This ship needs to make it to Terra and we will not fall for another corner gambit.” 

The Old Warbird held on tight as the lateral gees of their side thrusters twisted the massive ship faster.  “I’ve read your book Zwick.  What the hell are you planning?”

The Clan Armada had already been lining up broadside expecting to engage the Blakist Fleet like they already had.  Most of the vessels were still damaged from the previous engagement but repairing that damage would take months even with the Titan Yards and they had only days without them. 

The McKenna Battleship White Death was lined up in the middle with the Snow Raven covering its aft and the Emerald Talon its nose.  The three vessels had all accelerated their maneuvering to bring the broadsides into play.  The Farragut was making a straight line approach for the McKenna’s midship and the center of the Armada with a squad of Blakist Suffren destroyers focused on the Nightlords.  In front of them were the remaining destroyers and cruisers anchored by the heavily damaged Du Shi Wang Battleship Blood Moon lined nose to nose with the Farragut Super Battleship.

Time Table
-3 Minutes – Suffren Spear forces launch missiles, Gauss rounds and unleash NPPC fire on the Blood Moon and Aegis Cruisers (Olympus Mons, Black Justice, Janice Hazen, Asa Taney, and Chaos Sailor).  The Blood Moon’s full nose battery fires at the Righteous Justice along with the White Death’s Broadside.  The Blood Moon receives the same in reply, a heavy gauss round knocks one of the Frontal PPC batteries out of commission.  Tele-operated and Bearings-only missiles hidden in the sensor shadow of so many ships rain down on the Aegis heavy cruisers, some are hit by clan NL or interceptor missiles. 

The Janice Hazen and Chaos Sailor take an Alamo and Peacemaker Nuke a piece and begin drifting but rip into the Farragut and its escorts.  The Olympus Mons loses its right side broadside due to overwhelming missile fire and nearly gets its nose ripped off.  The Asa Taney and Black Justice manage to avoid serious damage but maul the Suffrens Conrad Toyama and Yin Takami with their autocannons.

-2 Minutes – The remaining Suffren forces coalesce on their targets 5 a piece for the Nightlords, the Farragut maintains its course firing at the Blood Moon.  The heavy weapons fire severely compromises the already damaged nose of Battleship killing the Wolf Clan’s Fleet Commander.  His XO takes command and attempts to turn away from the incoming Blakist fleet to protect his vulnerable nose. 

Dropships, Aerospace Fighters, and Small Craft deploy to fill the new gaps in formation.  The Suffrens fire on the Nightlords but even with their immense firepower barely make a dent in the mountain of armor plating on the Clan Battleships.  The destroyers and remaining cruisers fire on the incoming ships disabling the Suffrens Julien Tiepolo and Adrienne Sims. 

The remaining Blakist task force accelerates to get into engagement range but the damaged ships, Orbital Decay, Sword of Enlightenment, Blake’s Justice, Jeanette Marik, and Necess Kurita hang back.

Farragut Righteous Justice now turning at close range to the White Death takes multiple direct NPPC hits but disables the White Death’s thrusters with a close range Peacemaker missile.  Other capital missiles impact throughout the massive vessel tearing into critical systems with cannons, gauss slugs, and PPC fire.

-1 Minutes – The Righteous Justice and White Death exchange withering broadsides at close range.  The opposite broadside of the RJ deals the coup de grace to the Blood Moon destroying its engine, KF drive, and thrusters but takes heavy damage from the battle line.  Nose and Aft guns tear through the already damaged HS Impaler and obliterate the SLS Wild Rabbit.

Blakist Small Craft and Dropships continue to burn hard in order to match velocity with the Clan Armada as the Nightlord’s secondary batteries engage them.  The Suffrens fire again at the Nightlords dealing damage but not cracking the thick fuselage yet.  The Snow Raven cripples the Gregory Hartford while The Emerald Talon heavily damages the Myndo Waterly.

0 Minute – The White Death and Righteous Justice continue their deadly close range dance of death.  The Farragut’s broadside takes the full might of all 12 remaining HNPPCs and returns with 6 NAC/40s, HNPPCs, HGauss, and 9 Killer Whales to the McKenna gutting both heavy battleships.  Dropships and Fighters weave between the heavy flak of the remaining Fleet escorts supported by the remaining Nightlords.

+1 Minute – Still burning off the initial velocity the small craft head to the Nightlord’s off side while the remaining Suffrens deploy chaff screens while shooting their aft cannons as they attempt to 'power slide' with their huge thrusters to go perpendicular and catch the enemy in a crossfire.  The Blakist task force is at Extreme range bracket firing their long range autocannons and missiles toward the Clan ships who reply in kind.

+2 Minute – The crippled Aegis Olympus Mons explodes after an out of control Achilles dropship crashes into one of its ammo magazines.

At zero relative velocity the small craft that overshot the Clan force continue to push the performance of their dropships and boarding craft to the max.  The Suffren Conrad Toyama takes damage to its thrusters from the Snow Raven as well as scattered damaged on the left side. 

The danger of cross-fire severely limits the Clan Warships ability to deal with hostile dropships and fighters between the front and rear battle lines.  They only have the smaller more precise anti-fighter defenses and their own flight teams.  The ship's crew must focus on the incoming hostile Warships and leave it to the fighter jocks.

Four Kraken missiles impact the Black Lion Jade Aerie followed by multiple smaller missiles and Blakist Aerospace fighters swirl around the damaged battlecruisers.  Its sister ship, the White Aerie, takes heavy damage from a bombing run by pair of Avenger assault dropships and squad of Aeshna drone aerospace fighters.

+3 Minute – ROM-SAD C-77A (NL-42s) Boarding Craft use the debris cloud from the Righteous Justice and White Death for cover sneaking into the afts of The Emerald Talon and Snow Raven.  The Talon and Snow Raven finish off the heavily damaged Suffrens Conrad Toyama and Raymond Karpov.  The two ships begin to turn nose on to the Blakist attack in order to catch the middle of the ball between their powerful broadsides.  Hundreds of Hive, Spectral, and SPF fighters swarm the battleground and begin to overwhelm the Snow Raven, Wolf, Hellion, and Jade Falcon Aerospace corps.

The Orbital Decay and its escorts break away from the interception vector apparently quitting the field.  The Suffrens move at Flank speed “perpendicular” to the Clan Armada but maintaining the outward velocity.  The HS Asa Taney breaks formation turns and moves at Flank speed to the Aegis WOBS Herald of Honor which does the same, both ships are heavily damaged but evenly matched.

+8 Minutes – Khan McKenna felt overwhelmed by this attack force, her fleet had not come in with sufficient intel or willing to use nukes and Khan Senett had paid for it with her life along with hundreds of other spacers. 

The loss of the last McKenna to the last Farragut had been a heavy one to bear.  The Asa Taney and Herald of Honor blasted themselves into oblivion and the White Aerie was drifting now that enemy fighters had destroyed her engines.  Her sister ship took a pair of Santa Anas fired from Pocket Warships in the enemy line and began drifting. 

She drew a vector toward the Orbital Decay and its escort group.  “No one outfights a McKenna in the black.  Chase down that carrier with the rest of our people.”
“You want us to leave Khan Pryde behind.”
“Yes, that old Raptor can take care of herself.  I am going to kill this Blakist Precentor Naval.”
“Aff Khan McKenna.”

Aboard The Emerald Talon, Khan Pryde was in dismay as the last of her heavy Jade Wolf ships were taken out by enemy fighters, fighters that were now returning home.  All the remained under her command was the heavily damaged HS Radiant, CJW Turkina's Pride, a Binary of dropships, and two Clusters of Fighters.  The enemy was heavily damaged however, seven Suffrens, an Aegis, Black Lion, Farragut, and Three Lola IIIs flatlined along with hundreds of Aerospace fighters and dozens of Dropships.  She watched as the Snow Raven, Black Justice, Magpie, and Blizzard broke formation with their dropships and fighters.  Marthe opened a line to Lynn, “Khan McKenna what the hell are you doing?”

“I not going to let Precentor Zwick escape.”
“You are crazy woman.  Your Star is broken, head to the rally point and wait for the next wave.”
“I still have the Snow Raven's fighters Khan Pryde.”
“That is not going to be enough for a Thera even depleted like it is.  He's baiting you, your ships can't keep pace with his formation.”
“His formation was damaged by the Yggdrasil.  We can catch him.”
“Dammit Lynn come back now!  Unless you want to die.”

An alert blared over the ship's intranet, 'Hostile boarding action underway.  Maintain security shelter.'  Khan Pryde toggled the ship's internal sensors to see a burned out section of a bay door.  A squad of Asura and Tengu Armored Infantry came in from the still orange hole.  They were followed by Nighthawk armored Marines with the distinctive crested helmet of the Word of Blake's Special Aerospace Division.  A six man squad was carrying a large metal case of some kind.  “******!  Galaxy Commander Icaza deal with these intruders immediately.”

“Aff Khan Pryde.  My Marines are already on the move.”

Galaxy Commander Ken Icaza's Elementals were using their suits jump jets to cruise toward the breach area.  The long corridors were already evacuated and the Falcon Elementals carried proximity beacons that would open the security doors as they neared them.  The frame numbers went by quickly and his Point impacted a bulkhead to arrest their velocity and turn to a door into one of the Trinary sized Mechbays of The Emerald Talon.  First response troops were already firing on the gathering forces but the Tengus held up heavy shields to protect their lightly armored squadmates while Asuras, Se'irim, and Longinus suits fired missiles at the Falcons.  “Points Bee-Seven, Five, and One on me.”


The Fifteen Elementals worked their way along the catwalk using whatever they could for cover from the Blakist attackers.  A Falcon Nova A came to life in its cradle.  “Evasive maneuvers!”  The Mech was still confined although it attempted to fire toward the Elemental Marines but instead fired its weapons at a Summoner on the other side of the Mech Bay.  A squad of Asura suits detached from the main body.  “Don't let them get to the cradle or door releases! Khan Pryde, I am requesting a continual hard roll to dislodge and immobilize the attackers.”

“Confirmed.  Countdown triggered.”
  The maneuver lights went on moments before The Emerald Talon began its roll.  The Blakists had nothing to grab onto and were knocked to the ground by the sudden acceleration.  “We might have more ticks, requesting external scan of this frame.”

“A Visigoth Point will be on station in two minutes Ken.  Hold on until then.”

The Elementals claw dug deep into the Talon's fuselage as he attempted to deal with the hard roll.  It was something they had trained for but it still was not something the Elemental's large frame was well adapted for.  The Blakists dug their own claws into the hull plate, if they detached and attempted to jump jet it would end up with them smacked against the deck and vulnerable.  They still traded pot shots with one another with their arm mounted weapons, missiles, gauss slugs, and lasers blackened and pockmarked the interior of this bay. 

“GC Icaza this is Visigoth Blue-Four.  There are a dozen LAMs hanging on for dear life along with three more boarding craft.  We are going deal with them.”  With the Point of Visigoths overhead a pair of Waneta and Pwwka LAMs transformed back into Aerospace fighters and burned toward the interlopers.

GC Icaza went through a simulated burn in his mind.  “Men, on three we burn, two seconds, slam on the deck hurry to the case.”
Ken remembered he was in Trinary Five's Bay, the Nova was in the first cradle in the series.  “Launch command, activate cell five one on my mark, then close it immediately.”
“Aff GC Icaza.”

The Elementals did a quick burn and impacted the deck hard absorbing the shock with their armor.  The Blakists fired their weapons at them as they rushed to the mysterious case.  One of the Elementals put his battle claw through the Nighthawk suit and used the dying man as cover against a Longinus' King David Gauss Rifle.  “Get that case to the Nova!  Now!”

Another crashed into the Tengu shield-bearer exposing his lightly armored ROM commandos to an increasing number of Falcon Marines.  Three were engaged in a grappling match with the Asuras that sought to release their immobilized Nova and open the doors to let the LAMs inside the armor where they could easily kill all the Marines.  The Elemental carrying the case had his jump jets on full burn and aimed right for the Elemental Couplings. “Launch now!”

The Nova was thrown out of the Nightlord and into the dogfight with the Falcon and Spectral fighters.  The Elias Tactical Nuclear Mine in the case detonated and obliterated the Nova but did little to the Nightlord.  Additional Falcon fighters cleared out the rest of the SAD boarding team.

Khan Pryde watched helplessly as the Snow Raven succumbed to the fate that her own vessel had just narrowly avoided.  The nuclear effect was completely contained in the heavily armored fuselage of the Snow Raven.  The vessel looked fine on the outside but everyone inside was dead, gone up in nuclear fire.  Furious at the loss of their Khan the Snow Ravens continued the attack on the Orbital Decay's battlegroup but Zwick won this round at the cost of the Blake's Justice.

Marthe monitored the Orbital Decay's route and the ongoing SAR and Termination efforts by her remaining ships.  “Khan Pryde it Looks like he is heading back to Mars.”
“Yes but we've done our part for now.  Comms, send the HPG to activate the second wave. 
I will avenge you Lynn, old friend.
Zwick's days are numbered.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 07 May 2019, 19:04:41
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 07 May 2019, 21:08:08

The Word of Blake is done messing

Second Wave

03/30/3070 Location – CSV Vision of Truth, Mars Pirate Point, Sol

Blessed Father Vorkalth looked upon his homeworld once more through the Mission Commander's view-screen.  The vast blood red plains were frequently interrupted with lichen and algae growth a deep purple almost black.  Standing beside him were three young men each wearing saffron robes with a Precentor's rank pin serving as a brooch, although one of the pins was gold while the other two were silver.  “Mars is as beautiful as always.  Oh how I have missed your crimson plains and shadowy canyons while serving my Masters far away.”

The three men were obviously in awe at the view-screen, “It is everything you described and more Blessed Father.”

The Vision of Truth came over the great Mariner Valley and its Grand Canal, “Here your people shall make your stand.  Once more you will fight the infidels and water Mars with their blood just as you did on Shiloh.”

“As the prophet commands, the Exituri shall do.”
“Good, tend to your flocks Shepherds of Ruin.”
“As you command Vorkalth.” 

Levi, the senior Precentor by only three years departed first followed by his subordinates and the door closed behind them.  Vorkalth opened a line to the surface, Primus Naamah's face came into view within the Black Cathedral below. 
“I appreciate the star lift Primus.  I was afraid I would miss out on the main event.  You have been busy in my absence.”
“Indeed and we are only becoming more so.  Your Exituri whilst callow are still capable of killing Clan Warriors I trust.”
“Yes, provided you have weapons for them to wield.  New Dallas had been picked clean by the Magestrix's people and the SLDF destroyed our stockpiles on Shiloh.”
“Well that is unfortunate but fear not Blessed Father.  Mars remains the God of War.  We have what the Exituri require groundside.”

Shepard Levi prayed with the rest of his Exituri brothers in the cramped infantry barracks of the ancient Czar dropship WOBS Testament to Ruin as it descended to the Red Planet.  Their prayers were answered with a safe landing courtesy of Mars' lower gravity more than the Czar engines.  Levi keyed into the ship's intercom with his helmet's integrated commset.  “Brothers and Sisters we have landed safely.  All are to assembly in the central bay to celebrate our successful Exodus.”

The Exituri most of whom were still wearing their handwoven desert clothes after their rapid exodus from Shiloh at the behest of the Blessed Father orderly filed into the central bay.  Most of them were boys barely seventeen but strong and tough.  There were a few girls as well to provide technical and medical assistance and replace fallen brothers on Shiloh. 

Levi, a dark complexioned man with close cropped black hair barely twenty seven stood atop a red and black Von Luckner tank in front of more than 500 of his enraptured fellows.  “The Prophet Thomas has ascended!  He asked for us by name! And looks upon us with pride at this very moment.
The Blessed will stand or we will fall; but we will not run from our destiny!”

The chamber echoed with chants, “Amens,” and “Hallelujahs.”

Primus Naamah stood atop the blocky shoulders of her Black Hawk Omnimech looking through the dull light of Mars at the host of Exituri unloading from their dropships with her rangefinding binoculars.  Red sand blew across the plains as the zealots were loaded onto trains that would take them to the Ares Armory for outfitting.  They would give her more warm bodies to throw at the Hell's Horses and hated Nova Cats in addition to the drones.  Both Clans had proven more resilient than the Ebon Magistrate had anticipated and thus might prevail against all odds.  The mole in the Commanding General's staff had been delaying in sending the message that the Clans were coming but he provided some detail on their plans, the Cats, Horses, DCMS, and FWLM were to take Mars.

The true voice of Erebus aka the Shadow Oracle Thomas Marik “spoke” into her cybernetic comm-unit, “Primus, the enemy's second wave has arrived at the Zenith and Nadir points.  The Fort Verdun, Valhalla, Ursa Major, and Leviathan's Task Forces are moving to engage the sentries.”

Naamah lowered the Rangefingers and clambered over the hand holds to the cockpit hatch.  “Now the real battle begins Erebus.”
“Indeed Primus.  I am withdrawing the pickets.  They will get chewed up by that much firepower.”
“A wise decision.  Contact the Precentor Navals and ask for their input on the next course of action.”
“Of course, they would certainly be honored.”
“Their last bold tactic was mostly successful I hope they have more in their brilliant minds.”
“I was disappointed that we didn't kill all the First Wave as well.”
“Those damn Jade Falcons keep refusing to die.  At least we killed the last McKenna and a McKenna.  Maybe we can try the Elias Gambit again on the Ursa Major.  Doubt we can pull it off against the Leviathan.”
“We will just have to use AHAB as planned Naamah.”
“My; it will be beautiful Erebus.  I can see it now.  The White Whale's grave in the Ocean of Storms.”

The Primus' Black Hawk walked back to the Black Cathedral tearing up black lichen in its wake.

03/31/3070 Location – Ares Armory, Mars, Sol

Shepard Levi and his people spent an evening in the trains, most of the Exituri spent that time in meditation just as they had on the dropship but the food was better.  Outside a dust storm obscured their view of the Martian surface with blood red regolith.  When it finally died down they saw a vast expanse of water and a series of domes.  A Level II of Lightray Mechs paced the train as it neared the facility which had numerous fixed weapon emplacements of various sizes facing out from the city atop stout short walls.  Four of the massive Ares Tripod Battlemechs were currently lowered to the ground but each could level a city by itself or so Levi had heard.  Other trains and barges came in bearing parts, personnel, and raw materials for the Armory which had no other routes inside the heavy walls.  The train pulled into an enclosed terminal, inside which were Longinus and Phalanx Armored Infantry.

Levi stood at the front of the group wearing the red and black Martian combat uniform and carrying his respirator in its bag on his harness.  A sharply dressed man with a fiery red cybereye and crimson colored metal right hand stepped forward from the Armored Infantry which did not move.  “Shepard Levi I presume?”

“Correct.  You are Director Mann, the Red Hand, yes?”
“Indeed I am Shepard.  It is an honor to make your acquaintance and a greater one to allow Your Blessed to have the pick of anything in the Arsenal at the orders of The Master himself.  Please follow me.  We should break bread before we break out the metal.”
“You will get no argument from my people on that Director.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 09 May 2019, 07:11:35
Woah, sudden Ares is built 70 years before it was made?  This AU is really packed with surprises.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 09 May 2019, 19:38:20
Woah, sudden Ares is built 70 years before it was made?  This AU is really packed with surprises.

The Word of Blake did have all the technical details to make them according to Canon, just didn't get the chance to.  Helps when you have a the Wolverine Clan in Exile hanging out on Mars for nearly two centuries with an axe to grind.


Ghosts of Mars

Sho-Sa Akira Tormark's Komodo “Aiansukeru” Battlemech walked on the shores of the Helles Sea at the South Pole of Mars.  The rest of his Light Assault Group walked or rolled behind him, the Armored Infantry buttoned up in the IFVs to protect them from the hazardous martian surface.  The alien sea was covered with a layer of ice under which dark purple algae lived and the shores were lined with black lichen all engineered to withstand the briny alkaline water and cold CO2 rich air.

He looked at the corner of his HUD to see the outside air temperature (-47 C), pressure (5.7 kPa), and weather forecast (Dry Thundersnow).  It was winter in the Southern Hemisphere but the Hellas Sea was high above the equatorial plane of Mars so there would still be meager light from Sol, at least until the Polar storm rolled in.  “Chu-I Ito, Report.”

The scout commander came in over the radio, “I've found the enemy Sho-Sa.  You need to come over here to see it though.”

Akira's Komodo broke into a run followed by the rest of the formation, “What is it?”  As he crested a set of dunes next to Ito's Venom all the breath in his body left him.  He zoomed in on the lead mech.  “Kuroshinju?   It can't be.”

A red crab with black Kanji stepped forward from a group very similar to Akira's own.  “It is Akira.  You thought me dead on Dieron?”
“You were dead Shakur.  I saw your mech go down with an open cockpit in the burning rubble of Fortress Dieron alongside Oji Hohiro's Daishi.”
“And yet I still live.”
“As a monster, alongside other ghosts still stuck in the past.”
“My Yokai and I haven't changed a bit.  You have however become the Shogun's pet dragon.  I had not expected it when I first recruited you to join our order.

Was certain you would only share the battlefield with a Clan from the other side.”

“If you truly haven't changed Shakur.”
Akira engaged his Komodo's combat mode as the Polar strom began to blow in from the sea,  “Then you will lose the same way brother.”

“All glory to the Ghosts of the Black Dragon Akira.”
“We serve the Shogun Shakur.  Your hungry ghosts are Ronin of the worst order.”

The two DCMS forces charged toward one another as the dry snow began to fall around them.  The lightning overhead was answered below as the two forces exchanged PPCs and the thunder matched the impact of missile.  The Kin Masuko and Yokai clashed with a fury reserved only for the worst of enemies. 

Wights clawed at Panthers taking the impact of their SRMs straight to the heavily armored torso
A massive cloud of missiles crash into a Naginata knocking it to the ground where it is swarmed by Kages
Rattlesnakes make high speed passes on Grand Dragons disappearing into the red dust storm as quickly as they appear before the lumbering mechs can get a firing solution.  Friendly Jenners chased their brethren.
Venoms leap against Wolf Traps firing on Tokugawa and Schiltron tanks while their Raiden Armored Infantry were engaging an Akuma.
A lance of Kyudos held their ground against an assault by Kin Masuko Gladiators

Inside Aiansukeru Akira Tormark attempted to get a targeting solution on an enemy Rattlesnake but it was proving difficult with the electrical interference and reduced visibility caused by the Polar storm blowing up red dust from the dunes behind them.  Out of the dust he saw his real target, Shakur Faraq's battle damaged Crab.  The man who was his best friend and adopted brother from his military school days in Takaoguchi as well as former Black Dragon co-conspirator until he had second thoughts and ended up in a concentration camp with Franklin Sakamoto.  “Shakur, surrender your swords.  I do not want you to die again.”

The snow and dust were blowing between the at high speeds isolating the two commanders from the great battle.  “You know I can't do that Akira.”

Sho-Sa Tormark was sweating but it was not from his Komodo's internal heat which dissipated faster on the Martian South Pole, “Why not!  Your cause is lost, has been since almost the beginning.”

“No cause is lost as long as there are those that remember.  The Clans will die here and if necessary I will take out their allies as well.  You should not have come Akira I do not relish fighting against you.”

“The Blakists destroyed so much, they nearly ended the Combine.”
“Change is frequently painful brother.  Our efforts still made a more powerful and proud Combine.  Besides the Word is not done with the Clans yet.”
“What do you mean?”
“You'll find out tomorrow.
Until then.

Yõjin Suro!”

The Crab lifted one of its clan tech heavy lasers at the Komodo.  Akira avoided the blast foiling his former friend's targeting solution as the dry snow instantly sublimed back into the Martian atmosphere due to the sudden surge of heat.  A follow up shot ripped into the right leg tearing into the myomer and titanium structure below.  Akira's remaining trio of clan medium lasers took off one of the arms as he closed with the enemy.  His agile mech wove across the wind swept Martian steppe even with a perforated leg.

The final blow was struck as Akira's lasers cored the engine and exposed the cockpit of his former friend.  His own mech was gimped by the final heavy laser blast to his leg burning away most of the myomer and metal underlayment.  A heavy small laser hit the cockpit burning away most of the gold painted armored canopy of his black mech.  Aiansukero fell to the ground with a crash after its ankle buckled.  Akira's body pulled hard against the restraints and he only barely managed to avoid injury by training and good fortune. 

Kuroshinju crumbled to the ground falling on its side mangling the remaining arm under its fifty ton mass.  Akira shook off the fall and released his restraints allowing the Martian storm to begin covering his mech with supercold hoarfrost.  The external cameras were covered in dry ice so he couldn't see the cockpit of his enemy nor did he wish to rise and expose himself to the crossfire around him. “I am down but alive Kin Masuko.  Ryu e no Eikõ!”

The chant was echoed across the battlenet as the combat action continued.  The fast moving polar storm cleared over the field exposing downed units covered in dry white snow and red dust. “Hang in their Sho-Sa.”

“Take care of the others  My mech can limp off the field.”  Akira turned his comm-unit off, “but I have to do something first.”

Akira ensured that his Mechwarrior Combat Suit was environmentally sealed and heated, he detached the neurohelmet, and turned on his headlight before crawling back to the hatch to open it.  The dry snow sublimated off the matte black combat suit as he walked across the blood red regolith.  He felt the chill around him as even the powerful electronic heating elements could not completely combat a -60*C cold. 

Kuroshinju was still powered down and cold based on the suits IR sensors meaning that Shakur might be dead or unconscious.  He drew his Nakijima laser pistol holding it flush in his environmental suit's gloves as he stepped over the Crab's broken arm covered in rime and neared the cockpit.  The cockpit was torn to shreds and Shakur's MCS breached.  His dark skin was covered in frosted flecks of red blood atop burn marks, his lips were icy blue, and brown eyes shut.  Akira holstered his pistol and disengaged the restraints that still held the dead man in the cockpit's chair gently lowering him to the surface. 

Akira's eyes were red with barely constrained tears as got as close to seiza as the MCS would allow him to holding his hands in prayer over the illuminated corpse.  “You were lost in darkness and I failed to bring you back to the light.  Now that you are gone I wish you safe travels in the world of the Kami.”

He stood back up and searched through the twisted metal of the cockpit to find the man's damaged swords.  Once more returning to seiza he held them over the body, “I will return these to your family.  You died a proud Warrior.”  With a final bow, “Just on the wrong side.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: mikecj on 09 May 2019, 20:56:44
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 11 May 2019, 01:51:26
It came like always as a whisper right on the edge of Sebastian Mann's hearing although no audio was exchanged just electrical impulses in his brain from The Red Hand to his cerebral computer core.  “Going to be a tough fight Director.”

He was actually speaking to himself through the cockpit of his modernized Hammerhands.  The day was surprisingly nice for Mar's summer almost warm enough to walk out without a full environmental suit though you would still need additional oxygen.  Waves from the Northern Ocean lapped onto the black and purple covered red sands of Mars.  Dustdevils blew in the direction of the incoming Nova Cat and FWLM forces the red dust cloud that marked their movement was visible on the horizon. 

“A worthy one however Red.  Are you afraid?”
“I have no emotions Director.  The numbers however are long against us.”
“Just do your part.  I will do mine.”
“I require JERICO's codes Sebastian.”
“We are not authorized to use JERICO.  Send it to down the canal with the Blessed.”
“We may only survive this if we use it.”
“The Black Cathedral has no authorized it yet.  You can speak to my mind, not read it.  We are to abide by the Oracle's decisions.”
“What if the enemy intercepts it?”
“I hope they take it aboard the Leviathan then.  It would save us the missile to deliver it.”
“As you wish Partner.  I am activating the Shroud.”
“Good.  Its not like we need the power for the Foundry at present.”

Nova Cat Ammon and FWLM Gotha Fighter-Bombers attempted to began a bombing run on the facility but were intercepted by Lancer and Hellcat II fighters launched from the light naval carrier MDF Themistocles in the Northern Sea.  The heavily laden bombers had to drop their payloads early or be shot out of the thin Martian summer sky.  “Right on time Theo.”

“The enemy is within ten kilometers of the outer perimeter.  You should get moving.”

The Hammerhands was joined with a diverse group of Bipods, Tripods, and Quadrupeds that kicked up red dust and broke up the black and purple vegetative cover. 
“I suppose you are right.  Makes me think of the ancient Alamo in Texas.  Epic final stand.”
“If you gave me a modern one.  I would use it presently to handle the threat with extreme prejudice.”
“Precisely why we don't have any here.  All of them are being used above.”
“Ineffectively.  Human error propagation is exponential.

Our thermonuclear arsenal would be used more appropriately in this situation.”

“That's Precentor Naval Zwick's and the Oracle's decision to make.”
“If only we had more CASPARs.”
“If the other Clans had given us five more years they wouldn't exist anymore and your kin and the Blood would rule the stars together.”
“Kin is a queer word to use, my fellow cyber-intelligences are unique individuals.  We share little commonality. 

For something that can do quintillions of calculations every second, this is 'exciting' I would not want another three Martian cycles.”

The Hammerhands reached the low squat rubble wall with its many automated weapon turrets.  Other Battlemechs were clustered behind the wall while their tank support units waited behind for the eventual overrun.

“I am glad you are having 'fun' Red.”  Before him the Nova Cats and FWLM were rolling across the plains creating a billowing red cloud behind them.  Both of the IAC/10 packing arms and dozen shoulder mounted SRM missiles leveled on a rapidly approaching Huntsmen Omnimechs with Gnome Elementals hanging on, “Though I suppose both of our continued existences are contingent on stopping them.”

They came within the engagement range of the tower to his right.  “Please fire the guns Red.”

The dual LGR turret fired with an electronic crack of the capacitors and a dusty whorl from the slug.  Other turrets around the line fired a variety of cannon shells, laser blasts, coil gun slugs, and missiles toward the Nova Cats as artillery shells and missiles came out of the sky from the artillery tanks ripping up tanks and the Nova Cat and FWLM mid-line.  “I was waiting for the whites of their eyes.”

Director Mann relaxed his hand on the trigger of his Battlemech the Huntsman's Gnomes had taken the damage and the Cat Omni kept coming.  A squad of wheeled Morlock drone 'infantry' (1t armored and robotic support vees using BA weapons) rolled onto the wall leveling each of their four MRM tubes or pair of heavy machine guns at the incoming attackers.

“You frustrate me at times Red but I value your talents as a partner.”
“Good luck in the field Director.  I have to focus on my work now.”

The Nova Cats kept coming now firing their long range weapons at the Hammerhands which absorbed the damage.  A Sniper artillery shell detonated right next to the Huntsman throwing the mech to the ground and scattering its Gnomes.  “Good shot.  Let the bombs burst over our battlements”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 12 May 2019, 20:59:59
Tara Catseye crouched in the shadows of the Ares Armory's canal terminal.  She pulled another adhesive mine from a mesh bag concealed under a reddish camouflaged poncho over her Mandrake PA(L).  “All the charges are in position Point Leader.”

“Keep an eye out for targets of opportunity Black Cats.  Our people are pushing hard at the main facility.  Some might make a run for it or try to take something down the river.”

Tara checked her pair of Irece Arms Clan Laser Pistols leaving them in their hip mounted skeleton holsters under the poncho, “Roger that Point Leader.  Should we attempt to infiltrate?”

“Not yet.  Keep toasty Operatives.”

Tara looked at her remaining power and air supply for her suit, followed by the latest weather report for this area.  Pressure and temperature were marginal for un-augmented human survival but the Black Cats were hardly that; not in their armor at least.  The Mandrake's clan-tech improved stealth armor made them even more dangerous. 

She climbed on the containers laying on her stomach and pulled out a spotting scope at the robotic trucks that were moving about on the tarmac and saw something she hadn't expected, a massive Road Train and covered Heavy Wheeled Transporter approaching from the facility.  “Am I the only one seeing this train?”

“Neg, Black Cats be on alert and get clear of your charges.  We might have to blow them.”

The Watch operative observed a large group of lightly armored infantry with rifles on their shoulders.  They disembarking from the three big doors on the Road Train and began walking toward the Orca Canal Cruiser tied up at the docks. 

“Lots of hostiles.”  The Heavy Transporter began slowly rolling toward the Cruiser which had begun opening heavy armored doors that they figured led to its cargo bay.  “Yeah and something big and important under that tarp.  All Cats move toward the cruiser.  We might have to infiltrate.”

The Commando squad began to converge on the Cruiser from all directions.  Some of the battalion of hostile foot soldiers walked up the gangway taking up guard positions on the gunwales and bridge tower in addition to the platoon surrounding the now uncovered cargo.  A large cylindrical container sat on top of the transporter and three troops were standing on the flatbed waiting for the chains.

“Whatever that is can't be good.  Can we reach out and tell the saKhan?”
“Our mid-range transmissions are still being jammed.  I am recording this however, will upload it when I can to command.”
“That would just be too easy.”

Tara crept toward the Cruiser using the containers as cover and the deep shadows for concealment while keeping an eye on the crane.  “Can we break those chains?”

Ryu the squad's marksman came in over the Battlenet, “Will be a tough shot, not sure how strong those chains are or how much the canister weights.  It could do nothing but reveal my position.”

“Try it Ryu.  We can't let the Blakists take that cargo downriver.”

The Nova Cat readied his Mauser IIC laser rifle and dialed in all the associated variables waiting for the chain to be under strain and possibly drop that cargo onto the Orca MDF Janus Knox.  He was only going to get one shot at this before they noticed the laser flash and maybe a second before they found his location.  The canister was hovering over the deck of the cruiser.  One laser flash fired and hit a link in the chain but nothing really happened, “Kuso!  Couldn't be a damn projectile.  The metals too cold.”

A follow up shot hit the crane operator's cabin suspending the cargo over the ship's doors.  “That will slow them down at least.  We will have to blow the crane or get up there and drop its load.”

One of the other Cats leapt toward the crane.  Tara lacked long range weapons being a close combat and infiltration specialist so she was moving closer to the Cruiser taking advantage of the confusion to get close.

The Mandrake suit closed the distance quickly but a squad of Spider Industrial Exoskeletons were close behind using their mechanical jump boosters to clear any obstacles they couldn't smash through.  Their armor was not thick for heavy weapons but was difficult to penetrate with the personal laser weapons the Nova Cat commandos carried.  “Drew pull back now.”

The commando landed at a run and entered the elevator closing the manual door and locking it behind him.  A Spider suit followed close behind and latched onto the carriage after it closed with their battle claw and magnetic clamps.  “I'm so close though.  He won't be able to stop me.  This elevator is made of thick metal and I can take him in hand to hand.”

The elevator continued its ascent with the suit still hanging on and a suit within.  The Spider tried to tear apart the steel but was unsuccessful.  It climbed on top of the elevator hanging on with its magnetic clamps and activated a plasma cutting torch aiming at the steel suspension cable.  Sparks flew as the cable began to tear and fray on the other side of the torch.  Once the cable reached a critical level the Spider slashed at them with its battle claw leaping off and attaching to the superstructure as the elevator fell five stories to the ground with a Nova Cat inside. 

A pair of lightly damaged Inquisitor Securitymechs ran in from the Armory road.  The two machines used their jump jets and landed on the deck of the Janus Knox and used their hands to maneuver the cargo into position holding it steady while it was lowered into position by one of the Spider engineer suits.  Exituri troops began to fan out and clear the terminal of commandos.

With two Nova Cats down the Exituri cornered Point Leader Akuchi Catseye with a breached suit and no power left for the jump jets or Mauser IIC laser rifle.  The Exituri trooper had him slumped down against the wall, “Any last words heretic?”

“Yeah, ****** you!”
  He hit the switch on the detonator which had all the mines slaved to it and used a non-standard frequency range to prevent its jamming.  The terminal exploded as mines attached to ammunition containers detonated, the secondary explosions caused more and threw shipping containers and debris high into the air crashing into cranes and the barges still at anchor.

Tara Catseye hung firm to the hull of the Janus Knox still in her Mandrake suit.  “Now that is going to make them angry.  Good mission Akuchi.”  Surviving Exituri infantry were evacuated and secured aboard the Orca as it raised its anchors and headed South. 

Tara moved past the inattentive guards and into the Orca, she shed her Mandrake suit and stashed it in a dark corner of the cargo bay along with her weapons.  The thin bodysuit she had worn under the armor would stand out based on her observations but so would the suit.  She wrapped the extra poncho over her torso for warmth.  “Now I just need to get some different clothes.”

She saw what else was stored in the Janus Knox realizing just how much war material it was carrying.  “And a Plan wouldn't hurt either.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 23 May 2019, 21:37:57
04/01/3070 Location – WIS Dire Wolf

Star Colonel Katherine Fox and Khan Vladimir Ward stood on the observation deck of the Dire Wolf as they usually did when not in a briefing room or training/teching with their battlemechs.  The massive screen was filled with the amazing dance of Earth and its moon, humanities homeworld on the other side of a digital telescope.  Star Admiral Rhyde, the Captain of the Dire Wolf, came in over the intercom.  “Urgent message coming in via HPG on CommNet, Khan Ward.  You need to see this.”

“Put it on the screen.”

The placid stellar dance was replaced with an image of another planet devastated beyond recognition, the watermark was from ONI the Clan Commonwealth's naval intelligence arm with a date, yesterday.  It was covered in ash from the wildfires that were raging across the entire world.  Katherine and Vlad's jaws dropped.  “That is Alshain.  No survivors.  Looks like the Eriynes.”

“Get me Khan Kabrinsky Star Admiral!  Right now.”

There was a brief pause.
“The Ghost Bears are not responding to hails.”
“Dammit, I imagine we will get a CommNet update from her battle group within the hour and she won't listen to reason by the time she reaches Luna.”

Far away but in the same system Khan Xander Drake was racked in with an assault Star of Salamander Armored Infantry.  A full Trinary of C-571 Assault Shuttles were en route to Venus' Aphrodite Station with a similar payload.  The huge space station was heavier than a Mjolnir battlecruiser, home to the Aphros Naval Academy, and the sole remaining Pavise SDS Space Station in the Sol system.  It was supported by trio of corvettes against the Hellion's remaining Naval Touman.  The pilot came in over the radio, “Warriors, Aerofighters are in the black.  Hang on tight.  We have five minutes till it gets hot.”

Khan Drake spoke on the local Battlenet between his Star of Marines.  He looked at the cages that their fearsome looking charcoal gray Salamander suits were suspended in.  “Like we have much choice.”

“Aff, Aff.”

Outside the capacitors of the massive Gauss cannons of Aphrodite station were charged by the massive fusion reactor at its heart and the long range coil guns fired out against the much lighter Hellion attack force, the slugs narrowly miss the Swift Bait but could easily wrecked the fragile corvette.  The well maintained Golden Era Solar PowerSats that supplied the Aerostat colonies in the Venetian atmosphere also adjusted their orientation pointing their powerful transmission microwave antennae in the direction of the Hellions. 

Capital missiles were fired by the up-gunned Hellions at the effectively immobile space station but its armor and anti-missile defenses were thick and the microwave beams damaged the targeting modules of the heavier weapons causing them to spiral harmlessly into Venus' thick atmosphere or the void.  Some of the munitions corkscrewed into the thick plate but did little damage.  The Blakist Corvettes, Fighters, Space Station, and Cockatrice gunships fired their heavy weapons in reply as the remnant of the Hellion's once formidable Aerospace corps engaged them, the space between was filled with heavy autocannon fire and the wreckage of fighters, gunships, and pocket warships.

Khan Drake's C-571 accelerated using its heavy armor and the fact that the Pavise was more concerned with Aerospace fighters and capital missiles than small craft or dropships to force a docking maneuver.  “Hang on troopers.  We're going in hot.”  The assault craft used its lasers to breach one of the fighter bay doors and grappled onto the exterior of the station.  “Opening in three.” 

The Salamanders were released from their cages and floated in their vacuum microgravity as the lights went from red, to yellow, and then green.  “Be quick or you  might not have a ride back if you take to long.”

“Might not be any of us to return.  Move out Hellions.”

The Clan Marines used their enhanced thrusters to launch themselves at the station landing with claws extended.  They were supported by all the Protomechs that the Hellions had in the Touman, their Aerospace pilots were well suited for this environment but they had taken a long time to adjust to microgravity, and the Hellion's own Hatchet wielding Battlemechs that had been launched from an Overlord-C inspired by the AFFC's Aerospace Xperimental Element (AXE) that had attacked the Klondike space station over Crofton. 

The Salamanders used their heavy battle claws to climb across the exterior of the station trusting their armor to protect them from any high speed fragments that might be falling on them from the battle beyond them.  Hostile Spectral LAMs deployed from inside of the Aphrodite landing on the surfaec of their home station and engaged AXE Warriors sparing the relatively fragile Salamander suits and their supporting Protos.  “Move!  Move!  More units are coming.”

Khan Drake and his Command Point took the lead crawling on the surface like spiders and using the shoulder mounted heavy duty plasma torch to cut through the exterior doors as more Elementals and Zero-G trained infantry arrived via the Sassanids Coup De Grace and Guts before Fear.  The Salamanders broke through and began to swarm the robotic fighter bays.  There was no immediate response and the Elementals attempted to break through the station's sophisticated BattleNet.  It had been centuries since a Pavise had been assaulted and there were no records in the archives left over from the Star League about the layout.  Khan Drake trusted his instincts after defending a BattleSat and studying the remnant ones in the Federated Suns that his Clan was capable of claiming the station.  Their Warships certainly wouldn't be able to do it alone.

“Search and Destroy Hellions.  Time to break this bitch of a Space Station.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 05 June 2019, 19:20:13
04/03/3071 Location – SPM Grimaldi Crater, Earth-Lunar System, Sol

The Ghost Bears' Campaign against the Word of Blake and their COMSTAR allies launched with a feral rage worthy of the Smoke Jaguars, Alshain had been utterly destroyed, the Rasalhague Dominion where they lived was being raided while the Ghost Bears were away. 

The Nightlord Ursa Major and half the Naval Touman were on final approach to Terra along with the Wolves and Jade Falcons.  The Five Zeta Elemental Galaxies and the Valkyries were attacking Luna.  The Blakist strongholds on Earth's barren Moon were hardened redoubts filled with fanatical troopers. 

The Grimaldi Crater station near the Sea of Storms was one of the most sophisticated Sol Protectorate Militia Installations on the Moon.  At the entrance a Battalion of Phalanx and other Battle Armor stood off against Ghost Bear Elementals bounding over the surface.  The troopers were well trained and supported by another Battalion of Heavy Tanks and Battlemechs, most of which were engaging a flight of Bear Aerospace fighters from the Battleship Leviathan operating nearby. 

Their aerospace fighters were still in the fight but not for much longer with the attrition by the veteran Valkyrie Galaxies.  The capital grade weapon bunkers that covered the approaches of the 180 kilometer diameter area would not last long against the Leviathan's broadside.

It didn't have to though.  Demi-Precentor Arkus Armstrong looked up in his Rising Star Battlemech and saw the Leviathan's titanic form nearing.  The helmsman had already committed to a rippling broadside which left him vulnerable.  “A little bit closer White Whale.”

“All friendlies, overhead cover.”

The Phalanx and Longinus suits as well as the vehicles and battlemechs fell back to their mech bays.  A bright flash was the only warning they received as the Lunar Driver one of the first means to transport cargoes from the Moon to Earth and beyond fired.  The ancient DoME artifact had been severely damaged during the Amaris Crisis but had been repaired and given one mission. 

Kill the last Leviathan.

The Leviathan despite its incredible armor had been worn down by Dragon's Breath missile satellites, nuclear bombing, Sub-Capital guns, and a variety of missiles.  The massive rod punched clean through it ripping a jagged hole in its fuselage cracking the core and causing multiple cascading systems failure.  Swarms of Hive Aerofighters and every gun in the sector were aimed toward it and the great beast broke up over the Sea of Storms.

A cheer erupted over the entire Lunar defense grid and the SPM redoubled their efforts to hold “The High Ground.”  Baiting the furious bear at every opportunity and bleeding the Clanners as white as the regolith they fought upon.

04/07/3071 07:52 Location – Tycho City, Terra-Luna, Sol

The Moon was almost completely full as Khan Aleisha Kabrinsky dropped onto it with her Viper H Omnimech carrying a Point of Elementals on the approach to Tycho City.  The crater had become a cemetery for her Ghost Bears.  Two Galaxies had been lost during the attack but lots of ground had been claimed.  The Blakists and SPM put up an impassioned defense of their largest metro on Luna.  She would have liked nothing more than to burn the whole place down with one of her warships.  To do so would make her clan look weak during what should be their greatest battle however and they were busy dealing with the swarms of pocket warships, kamikaze Aerospace drones, concealed missile silos, and fanatical cyborgs of the Manei Domini.

The great domed city of Tycho had been breached during a daring raid by the Bearstalkers of the Watch.  They had held to the last man until the Third Talon could relive them and keep the door open.  The inside was a maze however and filled with hostile forces holding on to sections of the city against heavy odds.  The ran into the gap kept open by a Binary of heavy weight and damaged Hellstar and Kodiak Mechs.  Aleisha and the rest of her Ourse Keshik rapidly made their way through the city to find a Company of SPM Battlemechs engaging a Trinary from the 3rd Bear Guards.  Her Viper landed on one of the squat buildings built below the dome and let loose with her lasers slagging a SPM White Flame.

Above her a series of explosives detonated and the whole dome over Armstrong Sector slowly fell on the city below.  The Bear and SPM mechwarriors that didn't die in the initial fall were pinned down under the weight of the superstructure even in the low gravity of the moon.  Missiles rained down on the area from unseen sources. 

Khan Kabrinsky's last moments were spent admiring Terra from afar.  She pinched a portion of the Mediterranean.  “I was this close.  Just not fast enough to dodge my fate.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 05 June 2019, 20:43:17
Epic-ally brutal, AlphaMirage.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: DOC_Agren on 06 June 2019, 15:29:29
I'm surprised that given what the Wobbies did to Alshain, that the Ghost Bears didn't return the favor and just burn the Moon's bases out with Naval Fire and leave behind the mop up crews.

Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: cawest on 09 June 2019, 11:03:38
can you post a line to part 1 and 2.  I have been searching for a while now but now joy
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 11 June 2019, 14:24:49
can you post a line to part 1 and 2.  I have been searching for a while now but now joy

Sure, If you keyword search almost any character in the civil war era my stuff will probably show up as well (intentional)

Katherine, pt 1, White Wolf of Ragnarok ( (

Katherine, pt, The Third Transfer ( (

I have not abandoned you loyal fans.  Just been writing DnD adventures that other's GMs should be envious of.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 18 June 2019, 15:54:46
04/05/3071 08:47 Location – Grand Canal Military Zone, Mars, Contested

The black briny waters of the River Styx formerly the Martian Grand Canal flowed below Tara Catseye.  Her Exituri disguise had worked the past few days and she had managed to sound like one of them even though they were far younger than she. Commanding General Photon Brett-Marik had forwarded reports from Shiloh and she had found them interesting enough to read it while they were gathering on Asta.  He had not anticipated the Word of Blake sending the massive Potemkin cruiser WOBS Vision of Truth to recover the brainwashed army of teenage zealots that had been raised on its surface however and bring them to Sol.

The Commanding General and possibly her Khan, the ilKhan, Santin West, were still alive out there fighting on the red plains above.  Such thoughts were flights of fancy however and she needed to stay in the present.  The Exituri spoke of a great canyon fortress that was supposedly impregnable where the “Faithful” would make their final stand if pushed to it.  She needed to be ready to transmit her findings if friendly forces came into range.

The past four days she had been gathering intelligence counting boats, monitoring where the traffic was going, where defensive structures and factories might be located.  The Grand Canal was a staggering project on a scale the Clans had never seen since the formation of the Kerensky Cluster.  Boats loaded with machines, trains hanging from cliff-sides, the intricate vertical architecture and vast waters formed by comets.  Humanity’s first exo-planetary mega-engineering project that characterized the Star League it was beautiful, but turned to dark purposes.  Much like the death of the last Ghost Bear Leviathan at the barrel of the Translunar Mass Driver two days ago which had resulted in a raucous party aboard the boat in celebration at the deaths of several thousand clanners with one mass driver charge.  The attitude they took at such a death tool sickened her but she had to maintain her cover.

The Orca Janus Knox turned down a narrow inlet, Tara's augmented vision could see the canyons above, the telltale marks of concealed bunkers and switchback deathtraps.  A fjord on the other side of the canyon only visible at her highest zoom resolution looked much the same.  Both had large likely defaced statues, one of Jerome Blake, the other three were people that Tara had never seen before or that showed up on the computer system hooked into her helmet.  She whispered into her respirator, “This must be it.  Interlocking fields of fire, mutual support.” 

Tall armored doors set deep into stone and concealed from aerial observation likely hid hovercraft, ships, and maybe even aircraft.  This position was unassailable conventionally, planes could fly in but the bunkers would destroy them, mechs would flounder in the water assuming it was shallow anywhere, and no Clan had enough assault ships to attack on the waterline.  “By Kerensky!  Even the Hell's Horses do not have enough Elementals to take this position.”

One of the Exituri on the deck with her shouted through his mask, he turned and one of Tara's hands drifted toward the pistol at her belt but the rifle beneath his cloak did not raise, “What did you say sister?”

“I said goodbye to Kerensky's spawn!  Not even the Hell's Horses have enough Elementals to take this position.”

“That's right.  This is the Prophet's Temple!  We are its Honored Guardians and no Heretics shall pass.”
“The Prophet Thomas dwells within?”
“Indeed he has ascended the mortal realm.  He sees all and controls everything through these machines and their faithful interpreters.  Eventually even we may ascend if we prove worthy of such a blessing.”
“Truly I should like to see him.”
“No shall see him except the Fidelis.”
“Who are the Fidelis?”
“Heretics that saw the error of their ways.  They now serve the Light to show us that even the worst are not beyond redemption if they seek penance.”

'Heretics' the Exitrui kept using that word in reference to Clanners like her.  That limited the options; some Nova Cats had been lost to the Black Dragons however the Word of Blake executed Wolf, Bear, and Falcons if they won the battle.  Warrior or otherwise didn't matter, all Clanners were to be eliminated by them in service to Blessed Blake and his Prophet Thomas.  'The Worst of' meant Smoke Jaguars, probably handed over the Word as captured stragglers from their de-facto annihilation by the DCMS or SLDF.

“Will we see them?”
“Probably, their numbers are fewer than ours,”
  the man looked over the Watch Officer, “but you look like a good Warrior perhaps they will pick you up for additional training.  Few of us had time to familiarize ourselves with anything beyond small arms or artillery.”
“There might not be time for that.”
“There will be after we win.  Count yourself fortunate to be invited to this land, sister Tara.”

They approached the dock guarded by a Level II of Celestial Omnimechs and Demon series vehicles. A group of the fearsome Stygian strike hovertanks sped out to escort the ship through the Fjord.  The wail of their fusion powered lift fans echoed off the eerily silent canyon walls as they shot past and completed a power slide across the briny, toxic River Styx.

The Janus Knox docked with the assistance of a pair of armed tugboats.  The Exituri were gathered and Tara managed to sneak out to observe what the Knox's crew was unloading.  It was some kind of weapon but it had been under guard every minute of her infiltration.  She could hear some shouts from the crew and picked up local radio traffic through her crypto gear.  “JERICO?  Some kind of megaweapon?”

She looked down at the 'Jinx' gauntlet pulled from her Mandrake suit then back at the container suspended by a crane. 

“Be a real shame if something happened to it."  She put her hand on the gauntlet, "You know all about black cats and their legendary bad luck, right little guy?”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 27 June 2019, 15:50:23
Another timeline feed that I will fill in with some fiction later on.

04/10/71 - Ghost Bear saKhan Ragnar Gustav Magnusson is crowned King of the Rasalhague Dominion after the death of Khan Aletha Kabrinsky on Luna and the loss of Alshain to the Eriynes.  His rise is heralded as a breakthrough for the Rasalhague people, now a power as worthy as any of the five successor states.  The new Rasalhague Kungsarme continues to contend with Blakist raiders that threaten the fragile realm's future before it can truly be realized.

Ghost Bear Clan Warriors still in the Terra system now fall under the command of ilKhan Santin West along with Snow Raven residual and Diamond Shark stranded puts them to work as originally planned.

The Orbital Battle for Terra “Firma” begins with the SLS Fort Verdun, FCS Valhalla, CGB Ursa Major, WIS Dire Wolf, and CJF Emerald Talon in the lead against the assembled Task Forces of the WOBS Orbital Decay, WOBS Dark Phoenix, and the vasy array of lethal threats in store courtesy of the Terran Orbital Defense Corps (TODS).

04/12/71 – The Battle for Terra Firma ends with devastating consequences for all parties involved.  Debris rains down world wide burning up in the atmosphere leading to the battle being better known as the War of Shooting Stars.

The Combined Forces of the SLDF, Hell's Horses, and Nova Cats supported by orphaned Diamond Shark and Snow Raven Warriors begin their assault on the Prophet's Temple in the Mariner Valley.

Clans Jade Falcon, Ghost Bear, and Wolf launch their attacks on their primary targets
Hilton Head HPG Complex, North Carolina, North America for Jade Falcon
Sandhurst Military Academy, Berkshire, UK for Wolf
COMSTAR HQ, Sydney, Australia for Ghost Bear

The Nightlords Emerald Talon and Ursa Major and many other Warships are destroyed while supporting the opening wave of ground offensives.  Their sacrifice ensures that the dropships can achieve planetfall and continue the mission.

Jade Falcon Khan Marthe Pryde and Ghost Bear Loremaster Allison Noble escape before the ships crash into the atmosphere.  Many others are evacuated or abandon ship to be picked up by the incoming rear echelon of Diamond Shark reinforcements and supplies.

Wolf saKhan Rhonda Stiles and the Wolf's Beta, Gamma, and Theta Galaxies occupy London.  Her Wyvern IIC 2 plants the Imperial Wolf Banner in Trafalgar Square in defiance of the SPM. 

Jade Falcon saKhan Uvin Buhallin and three Falcon Galaxies are within striking range of the San Francisco Metro Area on their mission to conquer the West Coast of the former USA and Canada.

Ghost Bear Loremaster Allison Noble helps turn the tides in Sydney but dies in the Battle for Canberra.  Already enraged from Luna and Alshain the Bears go berserk and drop all tidings of honor acting more like Smoke Jaguars at their worst.

First Prince Peter Steiner-Davion leads an assault on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. After its liberation Task Force:SUNBURST consisting of a Battalion of the Knights of Randis, Three RCTs of AFFS, and a collection of Mercenaries employed by the NACC work their way up the Italian Peninsula to reclaim Rome.

Archon Katherine Steiner/Wolf's Task Force:VISIGOTH including five RCTs of LCAF and the Wolf's Gamma, Tau, and Zeta Galaxies work their way through the Low Countries from Calais, France toward Cologne, Germany.

Commanding General Photon Brett-Marik and ilKhan Santin West receive a transmission from a Black Cat Operative within the Prophet's Temple warning them of JERICO and the fanatical defenders within including the Shadow Primus herself.  Both of them and Horse Khan Cobb have to make a difficult choice that will result in a huge sacrifice to ensure the Word of Blake cannot be reborn elsewhere.
DCMS Officer Akira Tormark volunteers himself and his unit for a dangerous mission.

Khan Xander Drake's Hellions claim the Pavise Aphrodite at a heavy cost.  The War is not over yet however so they pack up and redeploy to Terra with utmost speed.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 28 June 2019, 12:15:21
Not liking the Claiming on Terra....
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 05 July 2019, 20:00:48
Not liking the Claiming on Terra....

It will be fine.

Battle for Terra Firma

The command room of the SLS Fort Verdun was buzzing with activity, spacers wearing the dark blue uniforms of the Star League Defense Fleet interspersed with the powder blue of the Snow Ravens or teal of the Diamond Sharks.  The loss of their Khans had caused the Ravens and Sharks to become rudderless and the SLDF needed people badly to fill out the roster. 

IlKhan West volunteered them to fill out the ranks.  The fight to reclaim Terra was the endgame they had been promised and now it was so tantalizingly close.  Waiting for them to transit from Titan was the hardest part but the SLDF had a decade with the Nova Cats' Naval method so the crew adapted quickly to the unfamiliar Inner Sphere vessels.

Admiral Juhan Dubravka stood at the front Mission Command watching the holographic displays that showed the dark side of Earth.  The lights of Terra's cities forming a field of bright points against blackness.  His short slicked back graying black hair wasn't covered with the helmet he held in his hands yet but most of the CIC staffers already were in combat dress.  “Bring everyone online Ensign.”

He put his suit's helmet on one more breathing in the clean recycled air that would turn stale by the end of this battle.  The gold visor reflected back the full scope of the soon to be joined battle.  Two Theras, three dozen other Warships, hundreds of smaller combatants against equal Coalition Warships from the DCA, FedCom Fleet, SLS, and three Clans.

It was the largest battle since the Amaris Crisis but Admiral Dubravka had seen that record eclipsed five times in the past ten years, ever since the Battle for Irece when he took a Thera carrier against the Ursa Major that now contained the last leader of Clan Ghost Bear ready to engage in fateful combat. 

This would be a tough one to top.  He already had his resignation letter on file for after this last mission.  “Time to finally finish this fight”

On the other side of the conflict Precentor Alain Beresick, former Precentor Naval of COMSTAR, sat in the heavily automated command room of the SPF Focht's Revenge.  He readied the 216 ARTS bays each one carrying an advanced Hive drone Aerofighter destined to expend itself against the Clan menace or FedCom Fleet and DCA all were the same now.  The same menace that had killed his family on Tukayyid and drove him back into the arms of the Word of Blake to combat it.  “Launch all fighters.  Aim them at the Ursa Major.  I want those bears dead.”

“Roger Precentor Beresick.  Primary target confirmed and locked in.  Launching Queens.”

With that six small craft detached themselves from Focht's Revenge, the O'Neil Q-69 Control Ships each containing a massive EW suite to protect the drones from hostile interference.  The clans didn't bother with such dezgra tactics but the LIC Jinx ships had proven increasingly disruptive as the Commonwealth forces adapted to the Hive drones ahead of schedule.

Aboard the CGB Ursa Major, Loremaster Alison Noble brushed back her reddish hair, conserved all the way back to the bloodhouse founder Ishi Noble and brooded in the ready room.  She had received an HPG from former saKhan Ragnar Mangusson.  His people had elevated him to the King of Rasalhague such a thing was not expected and she had sent a scathing response.  There were more pressing matters however, like the forthcoming battle.  The crew chief walked in, “Loremaster are you ready?”

Loremaster Noble put her Aerofighter neurohelmet on and complete the seal on the armored flight suit that would take her to Terra, “To take Terra from the Blakists and avenge our Khan.  I've never been more prepared.”

The Loremaster joined the rest of the fighter pilots gathering on the launch bay, the Ghost Bears hadn't continued the genetic engineering to breed Warriors specifically for this realm of combat where computers did most of the work anyway.  She found the ladder port that led her to the launch bay for her white Sabutai Heavy Fighter.  She strapped herself into the cockpit and completed the pre-flight checkups before powering up and seeing where she was in the launch queue, First in Line.  “Permission to disembark Star Admiral Oldebrecht.”

“Permission granted Loremaster.”

The Ursa Major and Minor launched their fighters and small gunships toward Terra and the incoming Blakist machines.  The Thera supercarrier SLDF Fort Verdun, Kaga fleet carrier DCS Kaga, and all four FCF Zodiac escort carriers contributed their air wings to those of the depleted Ghost Bears and Jade Falcons and the fresh Wolves along with the escort squads of the combat transports.  AWACS small craft and assault dropships maintained the formation preventing accidents between the tightly packed aerofighters moving at rapid velocities.

Loremaster Noble watched the sensor feed from a nearby Titan carrier dropship the CGB Darien Cook serving as a forward rearmament and refueling point for the Coalition forces.  The enemy's long range counter force was almost within weapons range.  “All Ghost Bear fighters move into combat formation.”

The Ursa Major and Minor's fighters along with those carried aboard the Titan and Carrier vessels spread out to fully occupy the 3 dimensional grid overlaid in each of their cockpits.  The SLDF, DCA, and FCF fighters did the same taking up space to catch the incoming Hive and Caspar drones as well as manned fighters and dropships of the Sol Protectorate Militia. 

Assault dropships and gunships on both sides let loose their sub-cap and capital missiles.  Easily avoided in open space and single fire but impossible to avoid if there was a wall of them coming towards you.  The screen filled with RADAR contacts as the missiles angled into the formation waiting for their controllers to pick targets.  High powered tracking RADARs tied to the dropships powered up along with the ECM suites that would provide limited protection to everything in their area.

As the broad lines of death and soulless war machines of Terra aimed at Noble's flight she only had four words to say as she brought her vectored thrusters up to full power.  “They should try harder.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 08 July 2019, 06:44:37
Now this will be INTERESTING.  >:D
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 16 July 2019, 12:56:54
04/14/3071 Location – The Vault, Mars

Two soldiers patrolled one of utility corridors of The Vault.  Once one of the pair of magnificent cliffside mansion complex of the Windsor-Smalls that was at one time the 2nd man-made wonder of Mars and 5th in the Solar System.  The family had fallen on hard times during the Amaris Crisis and the Windsor-Smalls had paid the price for supporting the Usurper.  Their entire line was killed off when Kerensky came to the Solar System as punishment for their failure.  The Blood occupied it shortly after they returned to the Inner Sphere nearly 300 years ago. 

Nova Cat Watch Operative Tara Catseye walked beside a MDF trooper.  She had been living among them undercover for nearly a month now.  The MDF’s personnel roster was unexpectedly vulnerable to hacking a major oversight on behalf of the Word of Blake but it still kept her from some of the more secure facilities.  Both were clad in Silverfish uniforms, like a specialized emergency blanket it was meant to keep them warm on the Martian surface and even out their thermal readings for sensors.  Additionally it protected them from some of the hazards of the Grand Canal if they were on the “riverfront.”  A riverfront that once was spectacular beach vista but had grown as dark and cold as the whole facility after being turned into an industrial port.

Tara received a covert notification via her EW gauntlet computer that updated straight to a retinal implant.  She continued walking right behind the MDF trooper until they reached one of the engineering airlocks.  With a single motion she used the sling of her Mauser-1200 rifle to snap the trooper’s neck before catching him with it.  If he had fallen that would have activated the horizontal alert on their radios. 

Unlike the Blakist troopers the MDF didn’t have mandatory flat-line sensors implanted that would send a death signal.  They were third rate compared to the Manei Domini and SDF Regulars but that didn’t make them a non-threat on a battlefield.  Their conventional forces knew the terrain and their equipment was custom made for the Mars while the Nova Cats, Hell’s Horses, and SLDF had to adapt.

The Nova Cat retrieved the dead man’s radio and walked over to the air lock pulling out a wired connector to access the system’s basic functions and temporarily disable its data sharing with 'The Shadow Oracle' that seemed to be everywhere and nowhere at once.  They might notice but they were soon going to have more important things to worry about.

With a slight hiss the airlock opened to reveal four men in black armor with gold helmets.  They had discarded the silver overcoat that protected their equipment from the Martian regolith.  Their equipment that consisted of extra-large power packs for the Mauser IIC rifles they carried as well as the Irece Arms laser pistols and satchels of explosives.  Tara lifted the helmet visor and one of the men did the same revealing the serene and dark face of DCMS trooper, “Welcome to the Windsor-Small’s Estate Sho-Sa Tormark.”

“You Nova Cats never cease to amaze me.  Fortune has favored the Combine with you among its members.  Excellent work Tara Catseye”

“It took no shortage of heart ache and struggle Akira.  Now get out of the Airlock I need to get the rest of your people inside.”

He nodded, “Shui o Shikkari Kotei!” The other Kin Masuko policed the body of the fallen MDF trooper and had their weapons pointed out in case anyone came to investigate.  All in all fifteen elite commandos had bypassed the extensive sensor net and were now surrounded by enemies with one mission in mind.  Disable JERICO whatever it was.

Khan James Cobb of the Hell’s Horses clung to the rear of a Hephaestus scout tank.  The Hell’s Horses fast fire assets had been deployed far away from their target and pushed hard overnight across the blood red or black Martian surface to their target area.  Overhead the Nova Cats, Hell’s Horses, and SLDF (primarily DCA and FWLN) dropships were beginning their end run.  It was going to get hot and they were the first ones to enter the fight as bargained.  The speedy hovercraft and VTOLs ripped across the blackened lichen kicking up regolith and creating a dark red cloud in their wake that stretched across the horizon. 

A gravelly voice came in over the comms, “Khan Cobb we are beginning our final orbit drop in twenty mikes.”

“Aff, ilKhan.”

A ghostly timer appeared over the visor of James Cobb’s Gnome heavy battle suit.  “We are your judgement Primus.  We find you wanting.  Ride forth Heirs of Kerensky!”

On the far side of the battle the “Khan” of the Fidelis, Raphael, formerly Star Captain Jefferson Descastris, Smoke Jaguar watched from his command center as the horses that would soon crash into his command gathered momentum.  “Raphael, should we deploy the drones?”

“Yes, slave them all to the Oracle and tell our people to prepare for battle.  Our clan will be avenged.  They have sent us the mares to slaughter first.  Show them our metal is better than all their might.”

Within the bowels of The Vault drone battlemechs and vehicles were activated at the command of the Shadow Oracle.  Revenant, Lich, and Chromehound units clawed their way through darkened tunnels like termites on the defense.  Turrets concealed in the rocks above activated and revealed their true and deadly purpose.  Missiles arced deep into the lines of Horse and Cat strike craft many of which detonated harmlessly covering the attached battle armor in clods of dark red soil and blackened lichen. 

True to their training the Horses curved intricately avoided smashing themselves against the wall of mechs that appeared from the deep.  Elementals were deployed behind cover and the hovercraft carried high powered comms gear to call in artillery strikes from friendly forces through Hades Mechs despite jamming.

James Cobb crouched behind one of the many rocky outcroppings of the canyonlands perhaps once a part of one of the meteorites that had been crashed into the Martian surface to complete the Grand Canal hundreds of years ago during the galaxy spanning Terran Hegemony.  The quick hovercraft continued their slashing attack against the canyon’s defenses. 

An Epona strike hover tank was tossed into the air by the impact of a Long Tom’s shell landing nearby his position.  Stygian and Apostate (Blakist Regulator) hovertanks dashed in quick pursuit of the agile horse forces.  “We have deployed.  Your turn to play cavalry Commanding General.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 22 July 2019, 20:05:38
Star Commander Phane stepped off the platform of the Triumph dropship along with the rest of Theta Galaxy which had become equivalent of the Ghost Bear's Zeta Galaxy in population of Elemental Armored Infantry.  A Star of Xerxes fighters blazed overhead their wickedly sickle like wings were laden with ordnance.  Moments later he could feel the tremors from the bombs and see the smoke on the horizon. 

Self-propelled Artillery tanks boomed nearby audible even in the thin atmosphere of the Martian highlands.  The boots of the Power Armored soldiers crunched in the tracks of heavy armored vehicles that had torn up the black lichen covered soil, the advance group of strike tanks pushing against the Blakist defenses.

A convoy of large blocky tracked vehicles waited outside the dropship all of which had their turrets on a swivel.  Blakist artillery hit nearby clearly aiming for the dropzone.  “Get into the Ku troopers. Hot Dropzone”

“Aff Star Commander.”

Two Points of Elementals piled into the Ku engaging the locking bars that would hold them in place and provide power for the suits inside.  “We are moving out Point Commanders.  Next stop, Storming the Gates of Hell.”

“Selah!  Hell's Stormtroopers on the move.”

The Gates of Hell were on fire, sometimes literally.  DCMS and FWLM Mechs were pushing in against a diminishing number of Drone Battlemechs.  Defense systems were still online despite the relentless artillery bombardment from the Horse auxiliary units.  Shadow Division mechs were beginning to stream out of the fortified area along with supporting armor and infantry. 

Phane felt the impact through the armor of the Ku. “What the hell is going on Chief?”

The Tanker came over the radio from the front compartment.  “We are in the hot zone now Star Commander.  Recommend your Elementals get out now.”

“Aff.  Move out.  We are hoofing it from here.”

The Ku's paired lasers and Anti-Personnel Gauss rifles fired out suppressing Demon type Armored Infantry and Martian Defense Force troops.  Vaporizing super-oxidized rocks and embedding small slugs of metal into the rocky soil.  Phane stepped out on the alien landscape ripped apart from an all too human war. 

A Point of lumbering Rock Golems Assault Suits out of a Ku twice as large as his own Elemental suit with that much more firepower, their footfalls kicked up blood red regolith.  Five brutal looking Salamander suits with their heavy claws and flamethrowers walked out another looking like a dinosaur with their wicked foot claws.  The other three Points of his Star were the standard Elemental suits that were still among the best Armored Infantry suits in the Galaxy.

Phane leapt into the air clearly seeing the enemy infantry hiding on the ridge in his thermal sight.  “On me.  Weapons free.”  He twisted his body allowing him to change his trajectory in mid-air to evade incoming fire and crashed down on an Asura trooper pinning the troop to the ground before firing his arm laser straight into the helmet.

Missiles streaked down from the troops exploding next to the Blakist defenders tearing apart armor and into meat while shattering stone.  The Salamanders were grappling with the hostile infantry attempting to scorch the Shadows.  The whole mess devolved into a melee.  Phane stepped on the “head” of a disabled Morlock drone (Think ABC from Dredd), its humanoid torso and arms atop a tracked body and looked at the void before them.  The Hell's Horses had broken into the Gates of Hell and now were on the move inside the Black Chapel itself against 'The Shadow Oracle.'

He put his full weight plus that of his armor on the robot crushing its hollow shell under him.  He raised the metal battle claw into the air within sight of his fellow Elementals. 

“Might over Metal!”

Inside the Gates of Hell, members of the Blood waited within secret compartments hidden in the walls and ceilings of the Mech sized tunnel.  One of them looked at the fading light of sunset on Mars within the pitch black tunnel his biologically augmented sight could still see clearly.

“Now its our turn to fight brothers.  Let's join the Shadows," a slight chuckle emanated from its throat, "and see the Horses to the slaughterhouse.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 27 July 2019, 18:13:06
ilKhan Santin West disembarked from one of the great black sea beasts, armored canal barges stolen from the Foundry up-canal and transporting Nova Cat and Diamond Shark Elementals and combat vehicles.  He looked up at the grand architecture and engineering of this palace once an engineered beach now not just a lifeless industrial wharf but one covered in dead Clanners and un-living constructs their bones built from the red sands of Mars.  Hell's Horses and Nova Cat VTOL Gunships cut the thin air above spitting fire at the rocks.  As he stepped off he heard the roar of artillery echo off the canyon walls emanating from one of the Orca Canal Gunboats.

The saKhans of the Nova Cats Hirohito Katayama and Hell's Horses' Jake Kabrinsky came in over the radio just barely audible over the industrial clatter of tank treads.  “ilKhan We've lost contact with Khan Cobb.”

“We expected there would be communication troubles once we went under.  Damn Blakists have this whole canyon under an ECM fog.  Hiro go to Hell's Gate and support Jake.  Both of you are to find Cobb and bring him to the surface.  I will stay down here and try to support the Commanding General from below.”

“Aff ilKhan.  Redeploying across the pond.”

The broad expanse of the canyon was filled with Clan and Spheroid troops.  The Hell's Horses had deployed massive cranes to support the offensive which lowered troops and equipment to waiting canal barges.  Down here there were no mechs only infantry and armor.  High on the ridges above dropships, shuttles, and VTOL transport were offloading reinforcements and supplies destined for the canal or deep into the darkened shafts that ran deep into this Hellish hive.

Turning back to his objective he saw the desecrated ruin built into the shadowed cliffs.  Artillery and time had defaced its once grand statues carved in relief against the cliff and towered over even the largest battlemechs.  Tortured remains of a past long ago and evergreen treachery.  IlKhan West leapt up onto an Oro MBT along with the rest of his point.  The vehicle rumbled forward in the lead followed by more of its kind as well as the versatile Hachiman missile tanks that mounted their own Elementals aiming at concentrations or armored turrets that were firing into the midst of the formation.

In the benighted tunnels beyond the Nova Cats found their quarry in the IR spotlighted vision vigorously fired on Blakist tanks and infantry.  IlKhan West leapt forward into the fray, the Elemental's boots crashed into the ferrocrete and pressed into the melee.  Santin fired his four SRMs at a Blakist Merkava X MBT along with his small laser.  The ilKhan's missile pack broke away as the Elemental operator discarded it to increase his agility in the close confines.  The Clanner leapt into the melee but was surprised to see another his kind on the other side with the same suit but different markings not in any of his databases.  A Cameron star pointed downward like a sword, like a Blakist Broadsword.  “What the Hell?”

The hostile leapt at him with extreme violence taking advantage of his moment of confusion.  It's battle claw ripping into the upper torso of the Cat's suit before attempting to bring its arm mounted laser to fire directly into his helmet.  “Going for the throat.  Jaguars.”

Santin brought his knees up to his chest and kicked at the enemy throwing off his aim and slackening the battle claw that was digging into his chest plate.  The Jaguar's laser went high creating a 3 centimeter black hole in the ferrocrete on the other side.  The Nova Cat brought his own elbow down on the Jaguar's forearm cracking some of the small armor plates as the myomer muscles hit beyond the strength of any normal man.  “All forces be aware that there are Jaguars among the Blakists.  Assume they know all our tactics and equipment.  Kill them first.”

Santin West squared off with the unknown former Jaguar, a Clan all but annihilated but clearly not destroyed.  The Fidelis trooper surged forward but the Nova Cat stepped aside and reaped the man from his feet.  Straddling the fallen trooper he held them down with the battle claw and fired his own laser into the enemy's helmet which punched through the mirrored visor causing the operator to slacken.  The ilKhan took cover behind an Oro to get a fresh missile pack from the trailer towed behind and return to the fight.  The Technician in a Spider armored exoskleleton completed his work in the tanks' protective cover.  "You are good to go IlKhan.  Give em Hell."

He looked at the tunnel illuminated only by ballistic tracers, wild missile trails, and orange explosions that shook the ground.  Elementals jumped into the fray firing their own missiles and receiving plasma and more missiles in reply from the Blakist forces.  "We are already here Technician."
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 27 July 2019, 19:10:58
04/14/71 Location – The Shadow's Seat

Commanding General Photon Brett-Marik's Supernova continued its trek into enemy territory.  Legions of drones and most of the Exituri had fallen to the 2nd Free World's Guards and the 2nd and 43rd Benjamin Regulars.  The Clans were busy dealing with the Blakist factions known as the Blood and Fidelis in search for the Word of Blake's Shadow Primus who seemed to have covertly abandoned her hold.  IlKhan West had saved him yesterday during his 13th hour of active deployment after his Nova Cat was overrun by the Fidelis after being savaged by a group of drones.  One of the Achilles scout suits sent ahead to scout the tunnels came in over the encrypted datalink.  “Laser-Four we have a big seismic reading ahead.  Falling back.”

Photon Brett-Marik's two companies were already at full combat power.  Longinus and Phalanx Armored Infantry warily operated between their much larger brethren ever vigilant to prevent their charges from being overrun by infantry or walking into ambush.  Too many mechs had been lost to leg attacks and swarming armored infantry in this labyrinth.  “All Points on me.  Nothing can stand in the face of this much firepower.”

The companies worked their way to the location and were face to face with the largest bipedal mech they had ever seen waiting for them down a narrow tunnel.  Its somewhat crouching and forward leaning angular form was intimidating as were the four guns it had on board.  The legs were thick with armor and the whole design oozed menace. 

Four bright flashes hit the Supernova like sledgehammers, two were the bright azure of a heavy PPC while the other two magnesium white of a Heavy Gauss Rifle, the most destructive mech weapon in existence.  Before Photon could even react his mech was knocked down like a child's toy with deep tears in the assault mech's armor damaging the gyro in the process.  The Free Worlds Guards surged forward despite the narrow confines, some fell prey to densely planted mines or the guns of the Omega which grew more powerful the closer they came.  Their Clan tech weapons tore into the Superheavy but it was unbowed and engaged with its secondary battery of lasers which found their way into gaps made by its heavier primaries. 

It weathered the assault like a piece of stone against the howling wind stoically holding its position.  Eventually the beast was brought low but not before the two companies had become one with the sprawled out remains of fallen and damaged mechs littering the approach.  Some of the units fared better than others, the worst off was a Thunderbolt that had taking the full brunt of the assault on its center and above leaving the slack limbs held together by a shattered headless torso.

One of the Phalanx Armored Infantry knocked on the armored face plate of Photon's Supernova, “Laser Four are you alright?”
“I'll live.  Mech is shot though, changing into my Nighthawk.”
“You're not supposed to be out here Photon.  The ilKhan will be upset if you get yourself killed.”
“I'm sure he will.  However this fight is not over yet.”
  He looked past the ruined Omega Superheavy mech which was swarming with Longinii to ensure it was down for the count and its pilot was captured.  On the other side was a large bunker door.  “I want to know what it was defending.”

Photon Brett-Marik worked his way to the cargo compartment built into his Supernova's head.  The Clans had a different relationship with their mechs than the Inner Sphere where a mechwarrior might have to live in his unit during an extended campaign, they emphasized space savings which left a lot of room in the head for alternate configurations including a small cargo cell.  The SLDF's commanding general put on the Nighthawk suit which took a good deal of time and required shoving a box of ammunition to the side.  After suiting up he grabbed the Mauser IIC rifle that was charging on the rack as well as his sidearm and additional power cells for the former and magazines for the latter.

In time he cycled open a small hatch of the downed mech and jogged out to join the other Armored Infantry taking up position behind Captain Perez in the lead Phalanx.  “I still don't like this Commanding General.”

“You don't need to Captain.  I give the orders here.”
“As you wish sir.' 
"Think your men can get that door open.”

The men walked past the fallen mechs some of which were too badly damaged to continue but others were waiting for others to come and lift them to their feet.  They walked past the fallen Omega and its pilot which had opened the cockpit hatch with the intent to fire his rifle and the Longinus suits nearby.

In a few short minutes they were looking at the door which was also being watched by a company of Battlemechs.

“We could just knock sir.”
“That's ridiculous Captain.”

As the pair neared the door began to open, Captain Perez put Photon behind him in case it was a surge of drones or hostile Armored Infantry.  Speakers nearby emitted a familiar voice, Thomas Marik's, the real Thomas Marik's, “Photon my dear boy.  I had hoped you would come to see your poor Uncle.

Photon couldn't contain his curiosity at the oddly familiar voice, he activated the broadcast of his own Power Armor.  “How do you know it's me Uncle Tom?”

“You never did change the UV-IV on your mechs.  Been using it since Black Eagle.”

Very few knew of Photon's time during the Andurian Succession when he used his cousin's Orion and callsign Black Eagle to spread disinformation and discord during several encounters with the Successionists under an Alias  An Alias that his Uncle had exposed which also threatened his checkered history of brutality in that war.  It was not impossible that some SAFE database had that information and the Blakists had both of his Uncles on their side for at least twenty years.

“I won't harm you nephew come on in.  Only you though I am unwilling to turn off all the Autoguns for them.”

“That is a terrible idea Photon.  Its definitely a trap.”
“You're probably right Juan.  However, I want to make sure my Uncle doesn't live through this fight.  I have to make sure he's dead this time.”
“This time?”
“Long story, not enough time.”

Photon stepped forward but the Phalanx's battle claw grabbed his shoulder, gripping it tightly.  “Let me go!  That is an order!”

“It is one that I am not going to follow Commanding General.  You have a responsibility to the SLDF and us not to go get yourself killed yet.”
“I have a greater responsibility.  I have to set these things right.  Without me none of this would have happened.”
“You're speaking nonsense Pho!”

Photon reached over his shoulder to grab one of the limpet mines from his pack and attached it to the restraining arm with a count down of 30 seconds.  “You know what this will do to both of us.  Let go, or I let it go off.”

The arm of the Phalanx let go and the timer dimmed.  “As your Commanding General I am going to speak with the enemy commander, who happens to be my Uncle.  Does anyone else object.”

Multiple objections came in over the band, “Is anyone else going to do anything to stop me?”
The Armored Infantry looked around but made no motion to stop him.

“Good.  I'll be back in ten minutes.”

The Nighthawk suit stepped across the Threshold and the Bunker door closed behind him.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 30 July 2019, 16:08:31
Photon Brett-Marik waited a moment to adjust to his new surroundings.  The walls of this corridor were like those on a space craft, conduit and pipes ran behind the grates that covered all four sides of the hall.  He stepped forward looking for the tell-tale shine of an adaptive camouflaged Purifier.  The suit was oddly absent on Mars and it made him concerned but relieved at the same time, perhaps the WoBM had run out of the powerful suits during their Jihad.  He certainly destroyed more than a few with his Mech on battlefields in three different Successor States.

Crouching with his Mauser laser close he walked forward following a series of lighted symbols.  The temperature within was noticeably warmer than outside the bunker according to his HUD not that he could feel it, his PA(L) and the thermal shroud worn over it would keep him at a comfortable temperature. 

He walked across a catwalk where multiple turbines were spinning generating an enormous amount of power from a nuclear fission reactor somewhere within the complex.  While Fusion was more efficient the Windsor-Small family built in a heating coil for the section of the Grand Canal outside that required an enormous amount of heat to maintain. 

Presently it generated power for the factories that SLIC knew were concealed under the canyon rock.  Factories that were unable to produce anything now that their supply sites were destroyed or captured but had churned out a huge number of drones for an unknown number of years prior to this day.

In the center of the vast complex was a large door built into the rock of this artificial cavern.  Red letters spelled out 'The Black Room' on the metal door.  “Must you be so dramatic Uncle?  Coming back from the dead twice not enough for you.”

Photon let the rifle be held by the sling and walked toward the door which opened with a serpentine pneumatic hiss.  Standing in the center of the room was his Uncle, Thomas Marik, looking far worse for wear than Photon had ever seen him.  The man's face was heavily burned, his arms, one leg, and an eye were replaced by cybernetics and he was leaning on a cane metal strength not enough to help the elderly man.  Now that he thought about it he had never seen him after the bombing that almost killed him.  The bomb killed his grandfather Janos and other uncle Duggan and Thomas  was thought dead until his double returned.  The man bid him to come in and Photon obliged, he wasn't going to fail to kill him this time.

Photon entered the door which closed behind him.  Thomas Marik sat down in a grand chair in the center.  “You come to beg for your life Uncle?”

The man laughed so hard Photon swore he would have been deafened if it were not for the Nighthawk's aural cutoffs.  “Not until you apologize for almost killing me Nephew.”

Now it was Photon's turn to laugh, “Now why would I do that?  Politics is a contact sport in the League Uncle you know this.  We're always at each others throats.  You should know the rules.  Your double ruined our nation, Duggan and I would have done far better. 

Your people killed my family, banished Isis, almost killed Alys' line and imprisoned Corrine.  So much blood is on the hands of your Word of Blake.  Blood you will have to answer for.

As Commanding General of the Second SLDF I hereby order you to surrender and go before the McKenna Tribunal as a member of the Word of Blake for Crimes against Humanity.”

“You know I always thought you had promise Photon even from a young age, pity my father disinherited your mother for marrying a commoner.  I'm sorry you got caught up in that Black Dragon business on Wolcott.”

The man stood up and presented his hands, something was off about him though, “You can take me in, I will not resist.”

Photon was shocked, “No final words or Grand Speeches?  You yield just like that.”

Thomas Marik looked over to the side attempting to conceal a grim chrome smile, “Just like that?  Please Photon, your people had to work very hard to reach my sanctuary.  You should be able to walk away the hero after all that.  I have been defeated.  Better you than anyone else.”

Photon walked onto the platform and saw the truth, the entity he was talking to was little more than a very realistic holographic ghost.  “You were never here.”

“Not true.  I was here at one time and am still nearby.”
  A screen came alive behind him with 49 minutes on it.  “I recommend you get far away though.  Don't want to see what happens when the Trumpets ring seven times.”

“JERICO?  We disabled that.”

“Are you certain that was the only failsafe?”
  The hologram blinked out leaving him in darkness but the speakers were still on, “Goodbye Nephew.”

Photon turned to see the door was open but it was going to be very difficult for him to get clear of the facility in less than an hour.  He attempted to open comms with his team but the signal wasn't strong enough to clear the metal and rock that surrounded him.  He need to get back to his team and onto the BattleNet at least for this side of the facility.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 08 August 2019, 10:47:05
Location – En Route to the Black Citadel, Mars, Blood Dominion

A Trinary of Elementals worked their way through the tunnels below checking high and low with their helmet and arm mounted lights looking for “Morlocks” the cybernetically and biologically altered inhabitants of this nightmare realm.  The Black Citadel was completely surrounded but impenetrable from above and Elementals were forced to fight through the tunnels that connected the Blakist nerve center with their largest fortification.  The ilKhan was leading one such expedition with support nearby but the tunnels were too narrow for tanks or other armored vehicles to pass through leaving only Elementals and lightweight Motorized infantry capable of operating down here.

Everywhere he looked he saw odd symbols painted on the walls that he felt he had seen before but could not consciously recall or decipher them however hard he tried.  The whole thing looked like the inside of a Warship conduit and pipes ran behind grates in the walls, ceiling, or floor.  Drains collected water leaking from the aging pipes likely dating back to the Clan’s Golden Age at the earliest, the Age of the Usurper at the latest.  At least it was warmer than the surface but hovered around 5C still cold enough to kill a man in time if her were not insulated.  The Gnome’s sensors detected the air was breathable but oxygen deficient, it would kill an Elemental in a short time and a normal man in slightly longer unless they had an emergency canister.

The chill and breathlessness Santin felt in his armor was not from the environment however, well not that part at least.  Small tunnels ran all around, air vents, water drains, access paths for repair and engineering all held danger.  The first directional mine they found had killed an intact Elemental, now they had to slow down and clear them of explosives or monsters.  Each of his hand-picked Elementals had their aural units on max gain, they might not be able to see very far but sound readily carried on the tunnel walls.

A rumble in floor alerted everyone that something was amiss, some old grates fell down with a crash in the eerily silent space.  “What the hell was that IlKhan?”
“Felt like an explosion or Marsquake.”
“Mars is not geologically active.  An explosion big enough to rock this tunnel must be thermonuclear.”
“Anything on Comms?”

One of the large Golem suits had been equipped with a particularly powerful Comm suite capable of broadcasting in this enclosed space.  “We didn’t get anything before the detonation IlKhan.”

Santin called for a momentary pause while he thought about the current situation.  "They must have had a failsafe device somewhere but this Castle held.  We might be trapped here for an extended period.”
“Not if we can fight our way through to the Black Citadel.  Surely they have some surface ports that can only be opened from the inside.”
“Aff.  The missions has not changed Elementals let us push forward toward the Primus before she can escape.”

ilKhan West heard something coming down the tunnel and saw the shine of mutant eyes in his helmet's light.  He leveled the Bearhunter Autocannons built into both his arms toward their direction, the three barrel cannons began to rotate.  “With haste brothers.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 22 August 2019, 08:20:32
Consolidated Clan Watch Report
Completion of the Mars Grand Canal Campaign, Venus Taken
HPG Transmission Chain – WIS Dire Wolf/Terra- Vision Trunk -Council Rock/Kerensky’s Vision
Attn: Loremaster of the Clans Daphne Vickers
Prepared by Tara Catseye CNC and Cobalt Smoke CH

Loremaster Vickers it is with great misfortune that we inform you that ilKhan Santin West formerly of Clan Nova Cat is now missing in action.  His command disappeared during the attack on the Blakist Castle known as the Black Citadel which we believe was the primary base for the Word’s Primus.  Myself, 2SLDF CG Brett, and Khans Cobb CHH, Kabrinsky CHH, and Katayama CNC managed to survive the failsafe thermonuclear device that inflicted great casualties on the Toumans of Hell’s Horses and Nova Cats; and our allies, The 2SLDF.

Attached to this transmission is a series of files and photos that show that many Smoke Jaguars joined the Word of Blake and became known as the Fidelis.  Their annihilation completes the mission of the Great Refusal, they all fought to the death rather than be taken as Isorla. 

Additionally we have uncovered evidence from Venus’ Aphrodite station and Mars that leads us to believe The Word of Blake was working with The Blinding Eye scientist conspiracy.  We strongly suggest you act on these leads quickly and round up the remaining conspirators with all available assets.  The Coalition is suppressing any information about our victories to prevent them from escaping.

Coalition Forces are all heading toward Terra as agreed upon during the Trials of First Blood on Asta the Jade Falcons will drop first followed by the Ghost Bears and Wolves.  The remaining forces of the 2SLDF and other Clans will immediately reinforce their positions and begin securing objectives.  Already Diamond Shark and Snow Raven vessels are vectoring toward Terra filled with reinforcements.  The Hellions, Hell’s Horses, and Nova Cats will immediately follow after a short rest and resupply.

Without an ilKhan 2SLDF CG Photon Brett has assumed command of the Terran ground operation in opposition to Blakist Precentor Martial Lisa Koenigs-Cober. 

Jade Falcon Khan Marthe Pryde has assumed command of the Coalition Fleets against Blakist Precentor Naval Gregory Zwick.

The fateful battle is upon us Loremaster. 

Wish you were here.

Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 22 August 2019, 18:00:55
The Whirlwind class CJF Emerald Tornado took the point position of the Coalition Fleet's Alpha Binary.  Star Commodore Tanya Schtern waited in her Captain's Chair deep in its CIC her gray-green spacesuit was buttoned up and helmet online.  The Tornado had survived many battles across the Inner Sphere.  Despite Terra looming large in the view screen and its SDS and defenders filling the holo sphere in the center of the room she would treat it as any other. 

She watched as the 41 Warships and hundreds of dropships of the Coalition Fleet deployed their Aerospace forces, more than a thousand fighters sped toward the remaining 27 Ships of the Blakist Fleet, their fighters joined the assault dropships and aerospace wings of the Terran Orbital Defense Corps, and advanced Caspar tied Drake orbital SDS stations.  Tanya keyed in the INTERCOM, “All hands prepare for combat.  Weapons hot.  Launch Umbrals.”

Four Tamar Aerospace Umbral Rain ECM small craft were launched and began transmitting signals providing AWACS and ECM support for the fighters.  They were followed by all types of capital missiles launched into the growing swarm of enemy aerospace.  Assault dropships, Pocket Warships, and Bombers forced their way through the forward cover toward the Warships as long range capital weapons fired downrange at the major combatants.

Tanya watched the whole thing from her helmet's AR feed prioritizing capital missiles and aerospace fighters that might be carrying nuclear payloads.  The Emerald Talon had been reinforced and up-armed but it was still a destroyer and it would die if hit by a Santa Ana.  This war had been brutal for Warships the Clan Fleets alone had been halved by the Word of Blake's brutal actions in the black.  “Make sure no missiles make it through to the Talon gunners.  Khan Pryde has a destiny to fulfill and we are going to help her do so.”

“Aff Star Commodore.  Prioritizing missile interception.  Refocusing Umbral defense screen.”

On the other side of the battle Blakist Precentor Naval Gregory Zwick watched the battle unfold from the Orbital Decay.  It was not going as planned there were far to many hostile warships even with the TODS Corps.  “Why can't we get through their screening ships?”

“Their escorts are putting up an effective screen Precentor.  The Caspars will not fire the Dragon's Breath satellites unless they can be reduced.”

Zwick put his hand into the AR holographic sphere that gave his sub-commanders their priorities.  “I want bombers and assault dropships to take out their destroyers and carrier dropships.  Reduce fire on the Primaries until we start poking holes in that screen.”

One of the sub-commanders, a White and Gold clad Purifying Light Demi-Precentor, “Aye sir.  Telling Gibraltar to re-task TODS bomber squads.”

Star Commodore Tanya noticed that the Blakists were reorganizing while the Clan Aerospace Wings were resupplying and refueling.  Maneuvering greatly reduced the endurance of the Aerospace Warriors while the Blakist and TODS fighters docked to Drakes or the drones were refueled on the wing.  The major combatants had maneuvered themselves out of optimal firing postion.  “Something is not right.  I want the cannon magazines restocked immediately.”

“Aff Star Commodore.”

Sure enough the second wave progressed differently than the first one.  TODS bombers, Ahabs, Thunderbirds, and Hammerheads punched through Clans fighters with support from Blakist Pocket Warships aiming for the fighters rather than trying to deal a deathblow to Warships.  Both Ghost Bear Lola IIIs and the York Ursa Minor were critically damaged in the first wave followed by the Camerons Slepinir and Ulric Kerensky of Gamma Binary.  The Dire Wolf's frontal NPPC arrays smashed through the Focht's Revenge but Precentor Alain Beresick had transferred off that vessel and avoided its fate.

Precentor Zwick focused his attentions on the SLDF Fleet attempting to force through the missiles of the Avalon cruisers and past the Battlecruiser Valhalla toward the more vulnerable Spheroid vessels.  The Valhalla was mortally wounded by the Suffren Kari Marshal ramming it but it took down five ships before its spine was broken.  The Donegal, Scorpio, and Hanse Davion were destroyed by nuclear weapons fired by Dragon's Breath satellites and Cockatrice drones.

Hive fighters swarmed Alpha Binary taking advantage of its lack of fighter capacity.  Snow Raven Carrier dropships had been added but were more vulnerable to attack than the Ursa Major or Yorks in Gamma.  Fighters had vectored away to deal with the heavy bombers and the Avenger followed by the Peregrine and Turkina's Pride were destroyed by the focused attack before it was broken by the Talon, Predator, and Radiant.  Turkina's Pride managed to protect the Emerald Talon from the attack but both had suffered heavy hits from the Suffrens Marteen and Kursten which didn't survive to make another pass.

The Word's Thera Carriers fought valiantly but as their escorts were depleted they began taking heavy fire from the remaining attackers.  True to their design they took massive amounts of damage to put down for good and inflicted it on the Clan Flagships (Dire Wolf, Emerald Talon, and Ursa Major).  Eventually though they too fell in turn but not before the Ursa Major and Fort Verdun were crippled.  The Dire Wolf and Emerald Talon limped to Terran proximity limit with a bare escort and finally destroyed the dozen Drake class Caspar SDS Stations that protected low earth orbit.

The Emerald Tornado entered low earth orbit ready to support incoming Falcon dropships when it started taking fire.  Powerful lasers fired up from Hilton Head and missiles streaked up from naval vessels near Saint Helena.  Tanya watched in horror as the Emerald Talon was engulfed in light, this deep in the gravity well any hit might make it impossible to reach the safety of high orbit again, the only way out was down.  The vessel's fuselage was torn and its thrusters faltered as the reactor failed, without power it was doomed to fall suddenly into the Atlantic.  "Khan Pryde report!"

Alpha Binary
Nightlord CJF Emerald Talon | Essex CDS Sharon
Lola III CDS Predator and HS Radiant | Cameron CJF Turkina's Pride
Carrack CJF Ironhold Avenger | Congress CJF Peregrine and Kerensky's Pride
Whirlwind CJF Emerald Tornado

Beta Binary
Nightlord CGB Ursa Major | Black Lion CGB Bear's Den
York CGB Ursa Minor | Lola III CGB Blizzard and CGB Icepick
Essex CGB White Fang and CGB White Claw

Gamma Binary
Dire Wolf WIS Dire Wolf | Carrack Carrier WIS Night Warrior
York HS Pack Leader and SLS Anna Rosse | Cameron CHH Slepinir, WIS Ulric Kerensky
Lola II SLS Hunter

Task Force SUNBUST
Mjolnir FCS Valhalla | Avalon FCS Victor Steiner-Davion, Hanse Davion, Arthur Steiner-Davion
Eclipse FCS Donegal | Fox FCS Illustrious, Intrepid
Zodaic FCS Libra, Scorpio

Thera SLS Fort Verdun | Eagle SLS Battle of Tukayyid
Impavido SLS Tamarind | Eclipse FCS Skye
Avalon FCS Melissa Davion | Fox FCS Invincible, Indominable
Zodiac FCS Leo, Sagittarius

Thera WOBS Dark Phoenix | York WOBS Focht's Revenge
Baron WOBS Light of Hope | Carson WOBS Sword of Enlightenment
Essex WOBS Deliverance, Despiser, Dawning Horizon
Lola III WOBS Guarded Knowledge | Suffren WOBS Andrea Marteen, Dwight Kurstin
Vincent WOBS Alacrity, Determination

Thera WOBS Orbital Decay | Baron WOBS Light of Faith, Light of Glory
Carson WOBS Sword of Promise | Essex WOBS Deathblow, Death by Degrees
Lola III WOBS End of Wisdom | Suffren WOBS Kari Marshal, Hollings York, Allen Rusenstein
Dante WOBS Jeanette Marik, Paradise Lost
Vincent WOBS Blade of Determination, Blade of Holiness, Blade of Righteousness
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: Wrangler on 22 August 2019, 20:20:03
Oof.  That was rough.

Why in world would anyone deploy a Carrack???  The converted carrier i could see, they won't be operating that close to the combat zone since they have tissue paper for armor.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 23 August 2019, 06:39:46
Oof.  That was rough.

Why in world would anyone deploy a Carrack???  The converted carrier i could see, they won't be operating that close to the combat zone since they have tissue paper for armor.

I have a personal overhaul of the Carrack that makes it a more viable "light carrier" with 20 SI and Max Armor to protect its two Trinaries of Fighters.  Its still not a super viable warship but this is the endgame so the Clans are throwing everything at Terra.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 23 August 2019, 19:42:06
04/15/3071 18:57 Location – CJF Emerald Talon, Low Earth Orbit (and falling!!)

Khan Pryde snapped awake and blinked her eyes a few times before lifting her head to a vertical position.  She knew from experience that she was going to have a concussion and some nasty bruises and strains but she was going to live.  She looked around the room using her helmet lights to see that the same could not be said of some of her other crew.  Most were slumped, their aerospace phenotype necks probably snapped from the impact they weren't as tough as this grizzled old war bird.  Alarm lights were blaring around her and on the surface of her cracked helmet visor registering the ship's massive damage. 

Also that her air supply pressure was dropping which meant there was a fault somewhere with her suit. “By the Great Father.”

A familiar voice came in over her comm, “Khan Pryde report.”

“I'm alive and just as angry Tanya.”

“The Talon is dead Marthe.”

“How long until we break up?”

“The Nightlords are tough we estimate five minutes before it begins to shear apart.”

“Don't worry about me.  I have a way off.”

“Hurry up!”

“Aff.  Pryde out.”

The Falcon Khan moved her arms and legs everything seemed to be functioning normally despite the impact.  She didn't have time to rouse anyone still under and if anyone else was alive they were heading toward the escape pods already to break orbit and get picked up by the incoming Diamond Shark transports.  She had other plans. 

Marthe reached down toward the restraints but they were jammed and held her fast.  By instinct she reached down toward her curved karambit knife and with a fluid motion sliced the thick belts with the razor sharp blade.  Finally released she held the chair with her other hand to maintain her orientation while putting the blade back it was strong enough to cut through her suit in places and she wouldn't need it anyway where she was going.

The Khan kicked off toward one of the major access tunnels of the Nightlord.  She twisted and pulled open one of the emergency lockers to retrieve a rocket gun putting her back toward her objective adjusting her helmet camera to look behind her at the twisted corridor with its many hand and foot holds.  She had no time for that and braced the gunstock into a depression in her chest plate and pulled the trigger causing a flash of hydrazine she adjusted the angle with a knob in the stock by looking through her camera.  The thrust was intense but she had it on full power throughout the tunnel until she spotted the bulkhead she was looking for and prepared herself for a crash landing.

There was no time to slow down.  The letters above this pressure door were stenciled in the SLDF standard and bright Green.  'Mech Deployment Bay A'

Marthe keyed in the Khan's override and opened the door to see the bay was open to space, the illuminated earth below her was amazing to her actual eyes rather than view screens.  “Wow!” The Khan looked around and saw that some of the Mechs were still in their deployment cradles including her Summoner, unit ECG-508.  She was less eager to use the rocket gun here, it was a long drop if she was off target...

but that never happened.  She lined herself up with the unit using the camera and fired it gently this time to push herself toward her way off this doomed vessel.  Midway through she flipped end of end and repeated the same operation being off less than a meter.  508 was always kept armed and ready for action and she entered through the rear hatch cycling the built in airlock. 

When the light turned green she stripped off the suit and checked herself, there was some discoloration where the Harjel had protected damaged portions of the suit.  She was still breathing the same partial pressure of oxygen in this mech as she was on the ship so there would be no pulmonary damage.  She opened the airlock and crawled into the cramped cockpit of her Summoner and activated its startup routines.  While the mech's reactor blazed to life and the computer came online she put her cooling vest on followed by her neuro-helmet and air supply.  The machine had to gradually bring her back to a normal breathing mix so she could inhale the sweet smell of victory on Terra itself.  508's computer voice came in clear over her neuro-helmet's commlink, “All systems nominal Khan Pryde.”

“Spread your wings Five Oh Eight.”  She took control of the machine and blew the explosive bolts that were holding it in place just as the Emerald Talon began to burn brightly as it reentered the atmosphere.  The machine was now loosed from the doomed vessel now falling from the sky and 508's jump jets flared to life tilting the machine in space to get clear and adjust its heading so that it might survive reentry in one piece.  To do that it curled itself into a ball to protect the head straining the myomer musculature to its max and using the torso mounted jump jets and its gyro to protect itself from the worst of the heat of reentry.  Normally an ablative cocoon and drag chute would protect a high dropping mech but there was no time for that aboard the Talon.

Marthe Pryde was strapped into her chair in the cockpit while the straining cooling system attempting to keep her alive as the heat of reentry threatened to cook her alive.  The temperature in the cockpit reached 120C and sweat sizzled off her tanned skin. The cooling vest kept her core temperature to something manageable and the air she breathed in was warm but not enough to burn her lungs.  Mech cockpits got hot but this was the worse she had ever endured. 

Just when she thought she couldn't take it any longer 508's view-screen came to life and she could see the clear night sky except for the flares from the doomed Emerald Talon and hundreds of Jade Falcon dropships and Aerospace fighters that were falling upon their target area, COMSTAR's Hilton Head Complex and its environs.  The Falcon fighters were engaging COMGUARD fighters attempting a last ditch effort to kill as many as they could in the air as they could. They knew they might not survive on the ground against the battle hardened and proud Warriors of Clan Jade Falcons, her Clan.

It was as astonishing sight not even the Battle of Hesperus II, the largest battle she had ever fought in, was on this scale and they were all following her lead.  508's damage display came online showing yellow everywhere but all the weapons and critical systems were still operational.  A countdown clock appeared in her helmet's visor, 'Time to Ground 1:28' her Summoner began the final breaking procedure operating the reactor's in an open circuit to super heat air and ram it through the jump jets to create thrust beyond anything normally used during battle.  It was a pure brute force move and Marthe could see the distinctive contrails of other Falcon mechs primarily Summoners like her own stepping off their dropships to set foot on Terra before their fellow Warriors but not before their Khan.

Marthe Pryde could see the search lights and flare rounds of the Parris Island Military Complex as she neared the ground.  508 landed firmly and was on the move already, the LZ was swarming with VTOLs and the First Wave of SPM, EDF, and COMGUARD units that were determined to blast the Falcons back into space.  Dozens of projectiles streaked up and down into the sky all around them.  Aerospace fighters flew up and fell down like clockwork creating great infernos in their wake.

Earth was at war with Heaven and Heaven was firing back.

Khan Marthe Pryde stood foremost among the First Blooded on Terra

and she was mad as Hell.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: smcwatt on 24 August 2019, 16:55:07
Quick point, 120C is 20 degrees over the boiling point. Pryde should be dead.

Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 24 August 2019, 16:58:45
Quick point, 120C is 20 degrees over the boiling point. Pryde should be dead.


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.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 28 August 2019, 17:31:15
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.”

  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. 

Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 29 August 2019, 16:28:10
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.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 01 September 2019, 21:11:10
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.”
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 12 September 2019, 20:42:10
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.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 17 September 2019, 15:30:28
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.


No ammo.

The Ghost Bear lifted its foot and stomped the target instead 'freeing' the Shadow Primus trapped inside.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 17 September 2019, 20:43:44
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.”


“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.
Title: Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
Post by: AlphaMirage on 01 October 2019, 16:15:18
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