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Author Topic: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier  (Read 3295 times)

Zweihart

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The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« on: 16 February 2016, 20:54:49 »
Before anything I'd like to get a few disclaimers out of the way. Firstly, my access to source material is very limited, so it's likely that a number of things might not make sense, but I try my best to provide something interesting and to use custom-tailored units and planets to avoid issues. Secondly, this story is based off a mixture of a RP and a small campaign I've been running. I've been taking a number of liberties, and I hope no one will be offended because of those.
I'm also unsure if this would be better in the Units sub-forum, but I intend to add more actual, conventional scenes. This so far is mostly just one big synopsis and preview.





--- Modest Origins ---


The woman who would later set all these events into motions originated from the radiation-ridden mining world of Dalkeith V, within the Lyran Commonwealth and close to the border with the Draconis Combine. After an unremarkable early life on the harsh wastes of the planet, the only daughter of a local miner named Laurenz Faust and an ex-PoW going by the name of Izumi Nagasawa moved away to study at the Sanglamore Academy on Skye. She returned to the sector of her home-world in 3042 under the flag of the 7th Lyran Guards, where she fought many engagements, from minor skirmishes to larger ones against House Kurita, to the various rebellions in Skye, and others. She originally fought in a Thunderbolt-5SS, and from that point on, the call of warfare never truly slowed down for the 7th. All the while she performed notably well in its command and by the time she soon became a Hauptmann, or Company Captain, she had moved on to piloting a Warhammer-6R .

Faust was always a rather cynical, pragmatic and no-nonsense soldier, both when it comes to fighting and commanding. Her upbringing on a world devastated by nuclear attacks, as well as her complete indifference for the local nationalists fervors they regularly had to put down and the glaring incompetence of the higher-ups most of the time all contributed to this. Yet, despite all the issues with deployment, logistics, and other Division-scale ******-ups of all proportions, her unit has always managed to yield appreciable results, especially under duress and daunting odds. They were eventually nicknamed the Lyran Ghosts for their feats, but mostly because they had come to specialize in Night Warfare and other blind fighting scenarios which made it seem like they were appearing from nowhere on the battlefield.

That was, until a fateful operation against the Draconis Combine in 3045 where the Lyran high command's traditional lapses in competence caused them to have to be try to defend alone  the industrially important border planet of Tiegel while faced with an entire Regiment of DCMS forces, which was, of course, quite impossible. The Ghosts went into hiding after sabotaging key communication and sensor infrastructure and let the force, land unopposed. While the planet was under occupation, they proceeded to use guerilla and hit and run tactics to slowly bleed down the invaders over two years, coordinating with underground resistance cells and leaders of the government in exile to provide assistance and intelligence. It was thanks to their support that the Ghosts were able to hit the Kuritan Dropships, managing to destroy the three Overlords stranded when their power capacitors were temporarily knocked off-line before quickly retreating. With that shift in the balance, the Ghosts were the only ones with an operable planetary transport and were able to ultimately rout the Draconis' regiment's ground forces, prompting the orbital forces protecting the system to fall back.

While this was one of their greatest accomplishments, High Command had already assumed them destroyed and struck them from the roster when they lost contact one year before. It was then that the Lyran Ghosts became a mercenary unit and that it became apparent to Faust how important conventional infantry commandos and agents were in providing the necessary edge to a force that was badly disadvantaged in the form of intelligence and support. Soon afterwards, the Lyran Ghosts always maintained at least one platoon of SpecOps at any given time and up to 3. Later on after facing the clans for the first time, they also adopted the Star system and reformed their Lances in the same manner.

From that point onward, the Ghosts became a very active unit that earned some recognition for brutal efficiency, not through overwhelming force or savageness, but rather through skillful deployments, great use of intelligence and a very fluid mobility. The battle-hardened Veterans took every opportunity to scuffle with the Clans on smaller scale operations, something the sheer ferocity of the losing battle that was the 50-52 invasion did not allow them to do to satisfaction, which also contributed to their comfortable Dragoon Rating. There was only so much a small unit could do, however and soon enough they began expanding, recruiting volunteers on worlds they passed through to serve in supporting units. MechWarriors however were most often bondsmen from the aforementioned scuffles, or jocks from Solaris VII drawn by the shows Faust occasionally put on the Medium and Heavy circuits as publicity stunts. By the time FedCom civil war broke out, the Lyran Ghosts had grown to the size of a slightly under-strength combined-arms Cluster with a handful of naval assets for transportation, capable of handling their entire unit.


--- The call of the Mantle ---

During her Mercenary years, Hannah became increasingly fascinated by the Clans. That interest was purely martial at first, as she merely recognized their battlefield and technological prowess and sought to learn from that and strengthen her own unit. In the process of doing so, however, she also opened the door to a culture that was so thoroughly alien her, so impossibly different from Dalkeith, from all the stale, corrupted and indifferent state of the Inner Sphere, that it couldn't help but to mesmerize her. Although they were relatively childish, naive, often in conflict with her methods up to then and not always respected by its own makers, the Clans' ideals both of honorable combat and minimizing waste of lives and resources appeared as a refreshing breath of humanity in a word so lacking of it. After all, in those many years she had see countless suffer and die for the greed of others; the Houses and planetary governors treating the Ares Conventions as little more than toilet paper were but the most common examples of that. From there, her perspective shifted. She was no longer studying the Clans just for their martial prowess, but also as a foundation, flawed as it admittedly was, towards a better society.

For that purpose, she took bondsmen as often as possible, yet treated them as equals and granted them freedom on very short order, so long as they remained. Most of the time they were understandably bitter about their fate - forced to obey to a filthy Freebirth mercenary - and acted in a very closed manner, but Hannah showed such a genuine, earnest interest, coupled with a sharp mind, that she managed to get past these cold defenses and learn from them. She learned of their history, of Strana Mechty, of the Remembrance, of Kerensky and their Exodus, of the various differences - and conflicts - between the Clans themselves. By the turn of 3060, she was so well-versed that she was able to cite and follow Clan traditions better than many Warriors themselves who were, contrastingly, less and less inclined to follow their own tradition in consequence of all the deceit and treachery served by the average IS unit. Through her and through the Abtakha that occupied an ever increasing portion of her trusted circle, that mindset trickled down to the rank-and-file of the Ghosts.

Yet, that was never enough. For all her efforts, to most, she was still merely a lowly Freebirth, and worse of all, a filthy Mercenary - the lowest of the low among Inner Sphere units to many Clans. Any tiny shred of respect that was gained had to be so with extreme reluctance and only begrudgingly. Because of that status, trade was difficult, and batchall not always honored. This needed to change. Fortunately for her, Faust had been able to establish a fairly developed network of connections and contacts through the decades which would begin to come into play. It was time to return to the world that started it all: Tiegel. Just a few years after being liberated from the DCMS' occupation by the then-LCAF Lyrans, the resource-rich planet had fallen under the talons of the Jade Falcons' occupation zone and suffered from years of oppression.

Plans had been drawn for many years and a resistance had slowly been building up in the underground of the ash-covered world, waiting, bidding for their time to strike. Yet, events would take a different turn than they had initially been meant to. It was in 3064, at the height of the fighting of the Second Jade Falcon Incursion that Faust's Lyran Ghosts returned to Tiegel in force, strong of one battle-hardened, Elite Cluster and two more of second-line, un-blooded locals lying in wait. No Planetary battle was fought that day, and the Ghosts ceased to exist as a Mercenary unit.

Instead, in a passionate speech, the 23rd Jade Falcon Regulars cluster's Star Colonel Adel Helmer was presented by a batchall from the 1st Corsac Praetorians cluster's Star Colonel Hanah Faust over the ownership of the planet as the adoptive Home world of a new Clan. Unlike the precedent set by Snord's Irregulars, however, this was machination: it was the real thing. The Falcons' Commander was outraged, citing as sacred and inviolable the character of the original 20 Clans and of Trueborns, yet at every objection, Faust calmly cited passages of the Remembrance that diminished the Star Colonel's arguments and strengthened hers until the increasingly-humbled Falcon begrudgingly yielded. Both sides agreed to meet on the south-western continent, where an inspiring textbook example of proper and clean Zellbrigen was fought, with unmatched ferocity and determination being displayed by both opponents. When the last duel came to a close, Clan Ashen Corsac was formally created and a polite, respectful Hegira was granted, as per the terms of the batchall to the Jade Falcons whom were rather surprised to see a complete lack of enmity and gloating coming from the Corsacs, whom instead remained humble and praised the skills of their Falcon opponents. 

There was little time to celebrate however, as before the Falcons could even finish properly evacuating all their material and troops, a Lyran task force came in-bound: A counter-attack in response to the Falcon Incursions elsewhere. A full RCT of the 18th Lyran Guards, supported by mercenary units made planetfall, completely uncaring of the local politics and only wishing to conquer it back for the Commonwealth. To this goal, they even concluded a false batchall to confuse the unprepared Corsac defenders on the whereabouts of their landing site. Falcon forces remained neutral at first, but eventually intervened when the advancing Lyrans threatened their evacuation sites. Even with the help of the 23rd Falcon Regulars, the Corsacs' battlegroup were still very badly outnumbered, to a terrifying 5 to 1 ratio and with half of their troops being green garrison troops. Fortunately, several factors played in their favor to even the odds: The traditional logistical incompetence of Lyran Social generals, the significant air superiority of the Clan forces, the very large proportion of conventional infantry and vehicles within the RCT, the in-depth knowledge of the planet by both Colonels, and last but not least the sheer skill of both Falcons and Praetorians. Within but 2 weeks, yet at a heavy cost, the Lyran Task force was thoroughly defeated.

After this sound display of cooperation and the markedly  honorable and respectful ways of the Corsac, the uneasy bases of a potential friendship with the Falcons was laid down. It was a must as the small fledgling Clan could be very easily overwhelmed by its much larger and powerful neighbors if it triggered their wrath. Later that same year, the neutral planet of Grenze was also absorbed into the Corsac territory, which now strong of two rich industrial worlds, was able to secure itself as valuable trading partner in their local area...





--- The Corsac ---

The Ashen Corsac (animal) is a frightening creature genetically engineered by Praetor Erudito Elise Linström according to the vision of Khan Hannah Faust between 3059 and 3061, date to which it was introduced to its new natural habitat on Tiegel.

The Corsac looks and sounds very tame, much like the common corsac found in the steppes of old Russia on Terra, but with an ashen-gray fur. However, resemblances stop there. The Ashen Corsac is capable of short bursts of speed and formidable leaps, as well as armed with a jaw able to exert great pressure. These attributes make it a fearsome predator capable of taking down much larger beasts by quickly striking at their vitals, usually the neck, and tearing them apart in short order.

The Corsac is primarily carnivorous, but can subsist on other types of food as well if times are dire, although they need a high quantity of energy to operate at peak efficiency. They usually gather in small packs of no more than 5 individuals for social interactions, but tend to hunt alone. The Ashen Corsacs have a very keen sense of danger and react very swiftly and aggressively when threatened, but do not lash out if unprovoked. While they do not hunt together, the Corsacs will come to the defense of one another if they find themselves the prey.


--- Touman Culture ---

The Ashen Corsac Touman features many unusual characteristics that are a reflection of the unique challenges and handicaps the fledgling Clan faces. First and foremost, the proportion of Freeborns among their rank and file is disproportionally high compared to other Clans. This is due to the difficulties experienced in setting up their Eugenics system and the very limited legitimate genetic material available for use. The native mindsets on many planets also compounds this issue.

However, leadership positions feature a much more important proportion of Trueborns. Even more importantly, the default training provided to Freeborns is much more intensive and Spartan than that found in other Clans where they would be confined to lesser duties and considered as not worth the effort. This has for effect to lessen the disparity between Trueborn and Freeborn troops that is much more evident between First line and Second line units elsewhere.

This training, in a manner similar to that dispensed by the Snow Ravens, makes heavy use of simulators. The reason for this is two-fold: Firstly, a desire to avoid wasteful use of resources is shared with the older clan. Secondly, with the expansion projects of the Touman, the industrial complexes of the Clan are far too busy producing wargear to equip new Clusters, replace combat loss and sell to partners to be able to supply training bases.

While unarmed combat is always part of Sibko programs, the Corsacs put a particular emphasis on hand-to-hand skills as they take the philosophy of minimizing waste to its extreme and unaugmented combat to settle inner disputes are highly preferred. Unaugmented combat is also an integral part of Trials for this reason. Also of note is the inclusion of more academic courses. As Khan Faust sees it as her duty to bring wisdom and enlightenment to 'barbarians', a great importance is given to properly educating Freeborn warriors of native worlds into an acceptable mastery of the rules of honorable combat and the importance of respecting the Clan ways. Those courses make use of shock methods, exposing the unfathomable ravages of the early Succession Wars to accomplish this. More pragmatic courses about the art of war and proper methods of occupation of a conquered world are also included in the Academic portion of the training curriculum. To graduate, a cadet must show an adequate mastery of all 3 of these elements: Combat in their primary vehicle, unarmed combat and academic knowledge. Two of these are fought by ways of a two-phase Trial of Position while the last part is evaluated through a surprise interview from one of their instructors at the beginning  of the Trial. This order of the least to most dangerous evaluation ensures that no wargear is wasted by a cadet succeeding in the field but then failing academics.

Trials of Position for advancement in rank among the Touman takes a similar form and always includes a two-phase battle, but as Warriors advance in rank, they are expected to show an increasing understanding of Battlefield tactics and combined-arms knowledge. A MechWarrior Star Captain is expected to display an acceptable understanding of Elemental tactics and Battle Armor usage due to the high use of Novas among the Corsac Touman. A MechWarrior Star Colonel is expected to display the same amount of understanding and experience with AeroSpace Fighters as well, once more due to their common inclusion in nearly all Clusters. This is based on the logic that for a Warrior to properly command an unit, he or she must have an adequate idea of how every single unit type under his or her command functions and fights. These many requirements make advancement within the Ashen Corsacs particularly difficult and ensures only truly gifted commanders make it to senior leadership positions.

The Corsacs make little use of PGCs as they prefer to organize permanent garrisons on each secured world, whose ranks are invariably drawn from Warriors native to each planet. While a part of the Garrison forces is filled by cadets who failed to master all of their courses and to join a front-line unit, the psychological motivation of an individual heroically defending their home has brought plentiful volunteers as well. Although training and requirements are more lax on the matters of unarmed combat and academics, any Warrior in the Garrison forces is still required to have displayed adequate performance in their primary mode of combat like any frontline troop. These Garrison forces are not counted among the Touman clusters as they are not meant to be moved around.


--- Touman Tactics ---

The Ashen Corsac Touman makes primarily use of Medium and Heavy vehicles across all its branches, with Assault vehicles being rare and Light vehicles only present at the conventional vehicles level. There is a good level of uniformity as their Wargear comes primarily from the Tiegel and Grenze production lines rather than Isorla. Heavy Corsac Mechs  usually keep top speeds of 80km/h to conserve fluidity and initiative and the most common sights are the classical Timber Wolves and Mad Dogs, supported by Rapiers. The ubiquitous Medium OmniMech most commonly fielded by the Corsacs is the Fire Eel, a home design of Tiegel's MachtWerk facilities, while Vanguard Aerospace's Phoenix OmniFighter serves as the go-to medium interceptor.

The Salamander battle armor plays an important role in the Corsacs' Touman as the primary model of Battle Armor fielded in large numbers. It is almost always paired with formations of Mechs in Novas and act as screening force, capable of wiping out ambushed infantry easily and threatening to drown even Assault vehicles and Mechs in a torrent of flamers. These Warriors are taught to scout ahead of forces and conduct quick seek and destroy operations to secure perimeters for the Mechs they accompany. They are also taught to make liberal use of their jumpjets together as a cohesive unit to bring their firepower to bear all over a battlefield in a coordinated and very aggressive fashion. Their main weakness is the dire lack of Trueborn Elementals in the Touman preventing the Freeborn users from bringing out the full potential of the suits

Similarly, Air power is also a significant part of the Touman, although this has been more of a circumstantial occurrence. Indeed, as Vanguard Aerospace production lines equal in capacity that of MachtWerks, the Corsac can produce roughly similar amounts of Mechs and Fighters. This has reflected into giving AeroSpace Fighter a large presence. With the nascent naval forces of the Corsacs also boasting a significant amount of Fighter Bays, Vanguard Aerospace has been further solicited and expanded.

There exist 3 types of Clusters within the Corsac Touman. Praetorians clusters are essentially Keshiks and are usually customized to the needs and styles of the Galaxy Commander in charge. Regular clusters are, as the name implies, meant to be a mainstay of forces centered around  three Trinaries of OmniMechs, one of Battle Armor, one of OmniFighter support, and finally a Binary of commandos for intelligence and security, covert operations may also take place against dishonorable opponents who would do the same. Finally, Reiter clusters are a rapid strike, combined arms formation numbering two Trinaries of each OmniMechs, OmniFighters and Battle Armors. As speed is a key part of the doctrine, no Assault Mechs are found in Reiter clusters.

Garrison forces are formed around a core of conventional infantry and vehicles which serve in counter-insurgency and anti-raid roles, but they also number small amounts of either proper OmniMechs or AeroSpace Fighters, which coupled with Mech-hunter vehicles allow them to fend off small forces of proper troops as well.

« Last Edit: 08 May 2017, 10:05:49 by Zweihart »
Lore and fics page for the Ashen Corsacs homebrew clan here

Ajax_Wolf

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #1 on: 16 February 2016, 21:26:09 »
Quote
The Ashen Corsac (animal) is a frightening creature genetically engineered by Praetor Erudito Elise Linström according to the vision of Khan Hannah Faust between 3059 and 3061, date to which it was introduced to its new natural habitat on Tiegel.

With large razor claws, I hope.
Why does everyone "Fire at Will"? Is he really that bad of a person? And what did he do to make everyone want to shoot him?

If a group of necrophiliacs met a group of zombies, who would do the chasing?

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Zweihart

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #2 on: 16 February 2016, 21:33:06 »
While that's also a thing, the jaw is the main weapon of the wild Corsac. The inspiration for its bite comes from alligators, so it has a slightly longer snout and is very difficult to dislodge once it slams down those fangs on a vulnerable soft spot.
Lore and fics page for the Ashen Corsacs homebrew clan here

Ajax_Wolf

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #3 on: 16 February 2016, 22:48:58 »
Was hoping from more info on the critter, mammal or reptile, height, weight, tail length, such and such. This is a  designed critter, so you should have plenty of info on it.
Why does everyone "Fire at Will"? Is he really that bad of a person? And what did he do to make everyone want to shoot him?

If a group of necrophiliacs met a group of zombies, who would do the chasing?

Bacon is Life! Even vegaterians eat bacon.

Zweihart

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #4 on: 17 February 2016, 00:28:20 »
Ask and you shall receive. Seriously, I always have too many ideas in the back of my head and I get all over the place unless people request me to focus in specific areas.


===Biological analysis report===

Description:
The Ashen Corsac is of relatively modest size, but slightly larger than its genetic ancestor. Its average full body length varies between 90cm and 125 cm, broken down as such: 30 to 45cm for the tail and 60 to 80cm for the body and head. A significant portion of this increase over its predecessor is due to the longer snout that was necessary to accommodate its stronger jaw and new methods of attack. Adult Corsacs usually weigh between 3.6kg and 5.4kg. Once more, the increase was a product of the genetic engineering and focuses on additional muscle mass in the legs, allowing the Corsac its far leaps and short bursts of speed.

The fur of the Ashen Corsacs varies according to their natural habitats, bur always feature some mesh of shades between light gray and black. Some specimens have been reported to show white and light gray fur. The creature's eyes have been reported to share similar colors although in a certain contrast; with predominantly black-furred Corsacs exhibiting lightly-colored eyes and vice-versa. Although its eyesight is nothing to scoff at, it is the Corsac's hearing that is most developed, able to make out the slightest hints of either danger or prey. It is also of note that unlike average vulpes, the Ashen Corsac has no scent glands, which means it does not communicate through pheromones and does nor mark its territory, making it more difficult to track by smell. Instead, the barks and whines of the Corsac are much more diverse and used often in social situations.

Habitat:
The Ashen Corsac can be found on all 3 main continents of Tiegel, but are the most numerous on the geographical region called the Basalt Steppes on the southeastern continent. The Corsac prefers steppes and plains, but is able to adapt easily to woodlands and mountainous territory as long as it remains within acceptable temperature. A Corsac tolerates hot environments better than cold ones and will usually migrate to new pastures if the temperature drops below -20° C or above 50° C. Some specimens in areas bordering those temperature thresholds have been reported to have more dense or more thin fur respectively. Some specimens have also been reported close to human settlements on the farming fields of the city of Vorsehung, but they are very wary of humans wielding weapons.

Ecology and Behavior:
The plains and steppes of Tiegel are often very desolate and smaller critters do not usually suffice to feed an Ashen Corsac properly. As such, they tend to ignore these smaller prey and to prefer hunting larger game in the form of large herbivores. As those herbivores tend to congregate around the rivers and lakes which are exceptionally rich on aquatic plant life, especially in contrast to the barren earth, those same rivers and lakeside terrains constitute the primary hunting ground of Ashen Corsacs.

While the Corsacs usually hunt alone, they often kill aggressive, territorial animals such as mooses and will often share the feast with other kindreds, as there is only so much meat the drastically smaller animal can eat before it spoils. It is of note that the Ashen Corsac is able to scavenge from carrion, but it prefers fresher meat and will neglect kills made after a few days. Ashen Corsacs have been occasionally reported to slaughter human livestock animals when prey is rare, but this is uncommon.

As the ground is often rough and solid, the Corsacs do not dig burrows and usually prefer to rest in small natural alcoves whenever they can find some. If none is available at the time, Corsacs are able to rest on the steppes and will slumber in small groups tightly tucked together to share heat. There are no natural predators of the Ashen Corsac on the desolate steppes of Tiegel, so they have no need to hide. The only animals native to Tiegels known to hunt Corsacs are large aquatic species hunting the coastal shores. Due to this, the Ashen Corsac prefers to live inland and away from the shores.

Interactions:
When not hunting or resting, Ashen Corsacs have been known to be playful. They enjoy racing on various distances socialize with their wide range of barks. Humans may approach them, but are to remain careful. While the Corsac does not normally attack human beings, it is very quick to do so when it perceives threat and there have been many accounts of hunters and especially poachers becoming the prey of the Corsacs. It is possible to tame them, but one must exercise caution as the animal's instincts are deeply rooted and it will always remain a wild creature.
Lore and fics page for the Ashen Corsacs homebrew clan here

snakespinner

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #5 on: 17 February 2016, 04:07:18 »
An interesting small clan.
Can they be Ilclan. O0
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Ajax_Wolf

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #6 on: 17 February 2016, 04:44:25 »
Quote
Ask and you shall receive. Seriously, I always have too many ideas in the back of my head and I get all over the place unless people request me to focus in specific areas.

Interesting critter, thanks. Now, get back to writing.   >:D
Why does everyone "Fire at Will"? Is he really that bad of a person? And what did he do to make everyone want to shoot him?

If a group of necrophiliacs met a group of zombies, who would do the chasing?

Bacon is Life! Even vegaterians eat bacon.

Zweihart

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #7 on: 17 February 2016, 08:11:27 »
An interesting small clan.
Can they be Ilclan. O0

Considering all the factors that play against them, it would take easily a hundred year for them to be recognized at all as proper peers, so for enough time to pass for the 'real' Clans to allow such a thing, it'd probably have to be in the 3200-3250 bracket, so we'd most likely be talking about an hypothetical future era when it comes to plausibility. On another hand though, Faust's respect of the tradition is I think one of the closest to the original vision of the founder; with even less waste than the average, less discrimination, and a drive to educate the barbarians rather than subjugate them. So if her successors continue in that line, they'd be forcing a certain degree of respect and legitimacy.

Interesting critter, thanks. Now, get back to writing.   >:D
I aim to please. Feel free to ask for more about just about any elements on there.

Next up should be the Touman's more Crunch-y composition as well as the description of the two core worlds.
Lore and fics page for the Ashen Corsacs homebrew clan here

Zweihart

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #8 on: 20 February 2016, 15:41:20 »
Not sure if I'm allowed to double-post but it's been a few days and it seems to be a common practice.

--

===Tiegel===
Stellar mass: 1.62s (Class A white star) (s= in relation to the sun)
Luminosity: 4,25s
Diameter: 1,43s
Surface temperature: 1,28s
Habitable zone: 1,958 AU to 2,824 AU

Mass: 2,82e (e = in relation to earth)
Radius: 1.48e
Gravity: 1.29e
Density: 0.87e
Escape velocity: 1,38e
Surface area: 2,19e

Major axis:  2,032 AU
Orbital revolution: 831 days
Orbital velocity: 0,8e

Development index: A-B-C-B-C

The planet of Tiegel is a very large world which offers primarily a volcanic landscape characterized by large areas of basalt and ashes. its surface hosts small ecosystems of sparse flora and small  and larger animals, similar to tundras or savannas on earth-like planets. Its oceans, however, are teeming with life thanks to the heavy geological activity making hydro-thermal vents large and common, which in turns supports diverse and sizable marine ecosystems especially in the deeper abyssal plains. It is also noteworthy for its particularly high gravity which takes a toll on both men and machines. The gravity is so consequent that people with weak hearts are at a serious risk of suffering heart failures if exposed for too long. Additionally, the high gravity makes it more difficult for DropShips to gather the necessary thrust to reach escape velocity.

The capitol city of Kern serves as a center point and hosts most of the planet's population and heavy industry. It also features the largest number of purifying towers which comb away dangerous ash particles and other noxious elements from the air. The underwater city of Blaunacht is equally sizable and hosts most scientific ventures as well as exploitation of rare deep sea minerals and lifeforms. Two mining expeditions at Edelstein and Schmeide provide installation for both the extraction and refinement of precious stones or metals and more common, industrious metals respectively. Finally, the city of Vorsehung provides food through aquaculture and exploitation of the planet's only fertile plains.

The infrastructure of the planet is centered around a mix of naval vessels and magnetic high-speed train networks, sustained by the supermagnetic metals harvested from the depths. All structures are built to resist the violent earthquakes resulting from the high geological activity. Finally, a military academy  is hidden in an area of difficult terrain criss-crossed by lava flows and water, making it very tricky to fight around. Geothermal power provides most of the civilian needs, allowing all nuclear fuel to be set asides for military/scientific use or exportation.

After the establishment of Clan society started under occupation and then the reforms enacted by the Corsacs, food, public transit and entertainment have become free, and instead of having to pay, every citizen is granted a comfortable minimum of these goods, suited to their needs, to which one can receive added bonuses through high productivity and/or initiatives. The strategic assets of the planet are the production of Clan Ferro-Fibrous armor, Myomer fiber for BattleMechs and combat vehicles, as well as XL Fusion Engines, a variety of weapon systems and even some finished models. Exportation of those military assets are supplemented by jewels and precious metals as well as exotic products from the planet's marine ecosystem. Finally, the namesake Ashen Corsac can be found on all three continents, but is most numerous throughout the Basalt Steppes.

Of note is also the presence of the ruins of an Outpost Castle on the south-western continent, rediscovered during the 4th succession war by Lukas Dresner. While nearly all of its valuable SLDF equipment had already been stripped and looted by the time of operation Revival, the Corsacs have used the remaining installations as a base to construct a new fortress, outfitted with batteries of locally produced weapon systems and native troops. Four Reinforced Weapon Bunkers were reactivated and restored while a number of gun emplacements have been added and the network of automated AP-turrets was rebuilt according to the new maps. This fortress, called Fort Renewal, serves as a deterrent against invasions and the Military Academy located further south is in the process of being relocated within its bowels as of 3066.


Manufacturers:
Engines: (MachtWerk)
   * MachtWerk 200-XL (IS-base engines)
   * MachtWerk 240-XL
   * MachtWerk 280-XL
   * MachtWerk 300-XL
   * MachtWerk 375-XL
   * MachtWerk 400-XL
Support systems: (MachtWerk)
   * MehrKalt (Clan Double Heat Sinks)
   * Komm-MW302 (Comm systems)
   * Komm-MW304
   * Komm-MW403
   * Adler 201 (Tracking-Targeting Systems)
   * Adler 202-Compact
   * Gespent ECM (ECM Suite)
Armor: (Schwarzstein Metall)
   * Panzer Standard
   * Panzer CFF
Weapon Systems: (Schwarzstein Metall)
   * FeuerSturm SMFS : Clan ER PPC (Firestorm)
   * KurzSchwertz SMKS: Clan Medium Pulse Laser (Short sword )
   * Lange Lanze SMLL : Clan Gauss Rifle (Long Lance)
   * SeeHund-6 SMSH-6 : Clan Streak SRM-6 (Sea Hound )
   * Schutze-20 SMS-20: Clan LRM-20 (Marksman) (Licence-produced VS-20)
   * Fallbeil SMF: Clan LBX-AC-20 (Guillotine)

Home Mechs:
   *Timber wolf-DA3 (75 tons)
Based on the original Timber-Wolf D, the DA3 variant is essentially a slight downgrade to compensate for the fact that the Corsacs cannot produce proper Clan XL engines and have to make do with inferior IS substitutes. It removes the 4th Streak SRM-6 and the small laser, with the 3rd being located in the Center Torso rather than the back. A single half-ton of armor and 3 heat sinks are added to increased heat efficiency.
   * Fire Eel (50 tons)
A Medium Omnimech designed by Tiegel's MachtWerk Mech factories and introduced in 3054, It boasts a top speed of 97,2km/h provided by an expansive MachtWerk 300 XL engine and 6 jump jets further increase its mobility. It is protected by 8 tons of Ferro-Fibrous armors, an ECM suite and CASE. Both the FRE-3 and FRE-4 models share a trio of KurzSchwertz medium pulse lasers for close-range brawling, but they differ in their ballistic load-out. The FRE-3 mounts a Lange Lanze gauss rifle and an active probe, which allow it to scout and harass from long range. The FRE-4 however mounts a Fallbeil LBX-20 with 2 tons of ammo, allowing it to deliver a much more consequent short-range punch.
   * Leviathan LVT-A (100 tons)
One of the more venerable designs of Tiegel's MachtWerk, this Assault Mech is in many way the big brother of the Fire Eel. A Pre-invasion BattleMech, it is based around a massive MachtWerk 400 XL engine, reaching speeds of up to 65 km/h and protected by 16 tons of Ferro-Fibrous armor. 2 AMS and CASE supplement this defensive ability, while twin Lang Lanze gauss rifles are installed in the Torso and each arm mounts a trio of medium pulse lasers of an older variant. While resilient, the design suffered from sub-optimal heat efficiency at short range and made up for it with its long-range punch.
   * Leviathan LVT-C (100 tons)
An OmniMech rebuild of the old Leviathan Assault Mech introduced in 3058, it downgrades its engine to a VanStern 300 standard fusion engine, which allows to drastically reduce costs and free up a small amount of tonnage. The 6 old lasers are upgraded to 8 KurzSchutz Clan-tech medium pulse lasers, AMS are traded for higher ammunition capacity for the Gauss and a TAG is added to allow it to spot for friendly fire support units. The heat sinks are also upgraded and increased by 2 to make it heat efficient.
   * Mad Dog MDG-AC-2 (60 tons)
Similarly to the Timber Wolf DA3, this variant of the Mad Dog also factors in the need to downgrade to IS-made XL engines, however its load-out is a bit more varied. While it conserves the original's 12 heat sinks, 8 tons of armor and 300-rate engine, it carries an all long range complement to serve as a dedicated fire support Mech. 2 LRM-20s in the torsos are a familiar sight, but its left arm mounts a FueurSturm ER PPC and the right mounts a Stark Reiter gauss rifle. The original AC-1 model suffered from a direly short supply of missile ammo, but the AC-2 upgrade released in 3068 mitigated that slightly by incorporating an XL gyro, which freed enough tonnage for an additional 2 tons of missiles.



===Grenze===
Stellar mass: 0.79s (Class K1V orange star)
Luminosity: 0.493s
Diameter: 0.84s
Surface temperature: 0,888s
Habitable zone: 0,667AU to 0,962 AU

Mass: 0,68e
Radius: 0,89e
Gravity: 0,86e
Density: 0.97e
Escape velocity: 0,87e
Surface area: 0,79e

Major axis: 0,814 AU
Orbital revolution: 301,6 days
Orbital velocity: 0,98e

Development index
: B-B-D-B-C


Unlike many other planets in its vicinity, Grenze boasts rich biomes and ecosystems. Its main landmass is a sprawling supercontinent rolling along the equator and nearly connecting the entire circumference. While other landmasses exist, it is this supercontinent, divided in 3 provinces, that supports most of the population and infrastructure. Due to the geography of its primary landmass, a certain uniformity can be found within its biomes which tend to be humid and densely-wooded. vast swathes of untouched regions feature extremely thick jungles which are hostile to human life and very difficult to traverse, even for Mechs. This is due in part to the presence of the Darkwood Sierra, a distant cousin of earth's Giant Sequoia which towers over even its colossal sibling by reaching average heights of between 65 to 100 meters and a diameter of 8 to 10 meters.

The planet is divided between four provinces for ease of administration, with the Absodin province covering the western and central region of the main continent, the Mekels province covering the south-eastern branch, and the Kavar province occupying the north-eastern branch. Finally, the Tarma province covers the secondary, colder landmass to the north-west of the primary continent. Two unnamed chains of islands and larger bodies are also present.  One in between the Kavar and Mekels provinces hides the Corsac Initiative research centers while another to the south of the Abdsodin province hosts Vanguard Aerospace's installations. Vanguard Industries' main factories are located in the Absodin province, but at an equal distance of the capitols of each of the 3 main provinces and a planetary starport is also present at its facilities.

While a centralization of the heavy industries can be found. The planet's population is rather large and settlements are many and spread out, especially across the primary continent with the Tarma province boasting a much smaller population than the other 3, as it was settled later. Most of the long-range transportation between the provinces are done by air, with Vanguard Aerospace owning sibling corporations with a monopoly over the civilian aerospace industry. A missile base is also present near the Aerospace industries, which have helped deter raids and invasion so far.

Grenze is a world with history, having been settled some 600 years ago, it is a fairly rich world  in the near periphery thanks to Vanguard Industries being a major provider of both military and aerospace hardware in the near-periphery. Although it was not under the cusp of the Amaris line, it was not spared by the civil war, but it has managed to rebuild since then and is once again a dim jewel of the far reaches. Its prosperity however came at a cost and for most of its history the local population has been living in poor conditions for the profit of Vanguard Industries which has always had a certain control over the government.

This came to a change in the early 3050s. With worlds starting to crumble and the Houses scrambling, the population was shaken out of its quiet submission and began open protests, riots becoming more and more common while strikes plagued the industries. The people demanded a new government and while the planet was a democracy, its ruling parties offered little change. A new party of the workers was established and quickly began to quite literally snowball in support. A number of thinly-veiled repressive measures were taken by the ruling party and supported by Vanguard Industry's money and thugs and the plant was on the brink of full-out civil war.

This was something the Corsacs were keen on taking advantage of while their Touman was still recovering from the Lyran counter-attack of '64. Corsac Warriors  offered protection to local figureheads and candidates of the Workers' Party and advice from the lessons learned establishing the reforms on Tiegel. This appeared selfless and benevolent to the unwary onlooker, but it was far from disinterested. The planet had already been in Khan Faust's sights, but she couldn't afford to take on the world directly. Before long, the Workers' Party had been taken under the Clan's wing so to speak and a viper-tongued observer might have claimed it had become no less of a puppet than the current government was to the corporations.

Unsurprisingly, the Workers' Party won with a startling majority in the elections. Almost immediately afterwards, an armed putsch  was attempted to install an all-out autocratic regime, but the scheme was thwarted by the Khan's Command Star hot dropping onto the capitol with fighter escort. At the same time, Corsac commandos took over the remote missile base held by Vanguard and the CEO of Vanguard Industries, Gerhard Hummel, ultimately decided to cooperate rather than risk the planet being ravaged as it had been in the Amaris civil war.

In the Aftermath of it all, the people were initially ready to rebel once again under the Corsac occupation. However, the quality of life of civilians improved markedly, following the same models as those tested on Tiegel, and resent slowly disappeared. Gerhard Hummel went on to become the head of the Merchant Caste for his influence and experience.

The strategic assets of Grenze include standard fusion drives, Clan Ferro-Aluminium and standard armors as well as a number of weapon systems, combat vehicles and AeroSpace fighters. Its most valuable assets though are not on the planet but in orbit; the space yards of Grenze are capable of producing a number of Dropships and include rare and valuable Endo-Steel facilities. Civilian exportation include Aerospace transports of all sizes, woodwork from the planet's rare Darkwood Sierra trees and a great number of manufactured goods and rare minerals not directly used by local industries.


Manufacturers:
Engines:   
   * VanStern 165
   * VanStern 200
   * VanStern 260
   * VanStern 340
   * VanStern 400
Support Systems:
   * Vox Pioneer Mk3-A (Comm Systems)
   * Vox Pioneer Mk4-H
   * Vox Pioneer Mk5-M
   * Vox Pioneer Mk5-A
   * Standardized Vanguard Suite (Tracking-Targeting System)
   * Vanguard CASE
   *Vanguard Interceptor (AMS)
   *Vanguard Interceptor MkII (LAMS)
Armor:
   * VanSchild CFA
   * VanSchild Standard
Weapon systems:
   *FeuerSturm VFS : Clan ER PPC (Firestorm) [Licence-produced SMFS]
   *KurzSchwertz VKS: Clan Medium Pulse Laser (Short sword ) [Licence-produced SMKS]
   *Schutze VS-20: Clan LRM-20 (Marksman)
   *Schutze VS-5: Clan LRM-5 (Marksman)
   *StahlFlut VSF: Clan machinegun (Steel Torrent)
   *FueurZunge VFZ: Clan Flamer (Fire Tongue)
   *EisenFaust  VEF: Sub-Capital Naval Gauss Cannon (Iron Fist)


Home Vehicles:
   * Phoenix PHX-C (50 tons)
An updated variant of a flagship product of Vanguard Aerospace, the Phoenix is a medium Omnifighter interceptor. The current -C version upgrades its previous IS weapon load-out to Clan Tech weapons imported from Tiegel or produced under license. A Lange Lange gauss rifle in the nose serves as primary weapon while 2 KurzSchwertz medium pulse lasers in each wing provide with close-range dogfighting power. The craft is protected by 12 tons of Ferro-Aluminium and a rear-facing AMS while 10 double heat sinks keep the lasers cool.
   * Saker Falcon(75 tons)
Like the Phoenix-C, the Saker Falcon is the most recent evolution of a line of heavy fighters. Vanguard AeroSpace has long been producing low-tech Rapier models and partnered it with its earlier Phoenix models, but when came the time to modernize the Rapier with the latest technologies, it had to be rebuilt from the ground up to incorporate Omni technology. The added cost, combined to that of the new XL engine, made the costs simply too high and an entirely new craft was what eventually came out of the drawing board. The final result was 10 tons lighter than the Rapier but boasted a similar weapon profile with a FeuerSturm ER PPC in each wing and a Stark Reiter gauss rifle in the nose with 3 tons of ammo, all guided by a targeting computer. The Saker Falcon was originally to be named Ebon Rapier but that was changed in 3066 in honor of the warming relations with the Jade Falcons. 15.5 tons of Ferro-Aluminium and a rear-mounted LAMS protect the Saker Falcon while 18 double heat sinks keep its heat under control.
   * Skirmisher(50 tons)
A Brand new product of the land branch of Vanguard Industries, the Skirmisher is a very flexible hovercraft mixing three older vehicles in a single, standardized and streamlined role. Fast and well protected with 10,5 tons of Ferro-Fibrous armor and an ECM suite, the Skirmisher IFV carries a single point of 25 conventional infantry and is able to provide both short and long-range fire support. 4 StahlFlut machine guns clear the way of any soft opposition while 2 KurzSchwertz turret-mounted medium pulse lasers serve as general-purpose weaponry. A pair of Schutze LRM-5s also mounted in the turret brings both regular and FASCAM ammunition rounds into play, allowing it to both harass and lay down minefields.
   * Hunter MkII(90 tons)
Yet another updated model, the MkII Hunter is intended to replace the unsuccessful 70-tons Hunter with an entirely new frame and locomotion system to solve its critical issues with rough terrain. This complete rework created a mammoth tank very similar in load-out and purpose to the famous Demolisher II. The Hunter Mk.II shares engine rating and a main armament of 2 heavy LBX-20 auto-cannons, but replaces the machine guns with a single front-firing flamer. Thanks to efficient design and lighter weapons, the Hunter also features 15 tons of Ferro-Fibrous armor, a single ATM9 launcher in the turret and an ECM suite.

Spearhead-Class Dropship: (5 000 tons)
The Spearhead was designed partially out of need due to the failure of the Corsacs to acquire Union-C schematics and the too prohibitive price of simply buying large numbers of Union-Cs. Heavily armed for insertion, the Spearhead's weapon systems and armor are rather evenly spread across the hull to avoid having any weak or blind spots. It is able to transport a full Trinary of Mechs as well as a Star of commandos for support and intelligence and is meant to become the workhorse of Clan Ashen Corsac in the future. It was first fielded in time for the Jihad with 3 models being built by the outbreak of it. The Spearhead's most defining feature is the turret on its nose which carries the twin Heavy Gauss Rifle and has exceptional mobility, able to cover a 360° field as well as straight up. Its systems are however delicate and prone to strain and an over-taxed experimental design.

Defender-class DropShip (11 200 tons):
Based on the hull of the Mule-class transport Dropship, this Q-ship is such a radical conversion, in addition to being purpose made, that it warrants its own class. The Defender was created as a Pocket WarShip to, as the name implies, defend Corsac worlds as the Clan lacked any ability to produce proper WarShips on its own. The use of the Mule as a base streamlined many of the components of the base design and hull, making it easier to produce at the expense of maneuverability and the redundancies that contribute to the sturdiness of true military hardware.

The Defender replaces the Mule's 3 000 tons lower cargo bay by 20 Aerospace fighter bays allowing it to double as a Carrier for a full Binary of Omnifighters, although the conditions are very cramped and sub-optimal. Most of the 5 500 tons upper bay is also filled by the inclusion of a massive array of 10 Sub-Capital Light Gauss Cannon which provide a startling long-range punch to the harmless-looking DropShip and are fed with 50 tons of ammunition. It lacks in point-defense weaponry though, as it is only equipped with 16 medium pulse lasers  and has to rely on its own crafts to fend off hostile Aerospace Fighters.  The remainder of the 1000 tons of freed space are split between the various structural reinforcements that were needed, quarters for the additional crew and a small amount of storage capacity. Due to converting so much of its cargo space, the Defender has a low autonomy and cannot operate far from support for long.



Alpha Galaxy: (Vanguard Spirits)
1st Corsac Praetorians (The Khan's Finest) (Elite/Fanatical) [Organized 3064]
   * (OmniMech/Elemental) Command Nova: 5x OmniMechs, 25x Salamander battle armor
   * (OmniMech) Trinary Alpha: 15x OmniMechs [Assault]
   * (OmniMech) Trinary Beta: 15x OmniMechs [Battle]
   * (OmniFighter) Trinary Gamma:  20x Phoenix PHX-C, 10x Saker Falcons
   * (Infantry/CV) Supernova Delta: 250x Commandos, 20x Skirmisher IFVs

1st Corsac Reiters (Schwarze Reiters) (Green/Reliable) [Organized 3066]
   *(OmniMech/Elemental) Command Nova: 5x OmniMech, 25x Salamander battle armor
   *(OmniMech/Elemental) Supernova Trinary Alpha: 15x OmniMechs, 75x Salamander battle armors [Battle]
   *(OmniMech/Elemental) Supernova Trinary Beta: 15x OmniMechs, 75x Salamander battle armors[Battle]
   * (OmniFighter) Trinary Gamma:  20x Phoenix PHX-C, 10x Saker Falcons
   * (OmniFighter) Trinary Delta:  20x Phoenix PHX-C, 10x Saker Falcons

1st Corsac Regulars (Corsacs' Heralds) (Green/Reliable) [3068]
   * (OmniMech/Elemental) Command Nova: 5x OmniMech, 25x Salamander battle armor
   * (OmniMech/Elemental) Supernova Trinary Alpha: 15x OmniMechs, 75x Salamander battle armors [Battle]
   * (OmniMech) Trinary Beta: 15x OmniMechs [Battle]
   * (OmniMech) Trinary Gamma: 15x OmniMechs [Assault]
   * (OmniFighter) Trinary Delta:  20x Phoenix PHX-C, 10x Saker Falcons
   * (Infantry) Binary Epsilon: 250x Commandos

Homefront Naval Star (Green/Reliable) [3068]
   *CAS Indomitable Spirit - Tharkad-class Battlecruiser
   *CAS Ambitions - Lola III-class Destroyer
   *CAS Liberation - York-class Destroyer
   *CAS Ascension - York-class Destroyer
   * 6x Defender-class Q-ships
« Last Edit: 08 May 2017, 00:08:43 by Zweihart »
Lore and fics page for the Ashen Corsacs homebrew clan here

Doc Wolf

  • Master Sergeant
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  • Posts: 278
  • An inability to duck can be a painful liability.
Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #9 on: 18 April 2016, 15:40:42 »
I LIKE IT.
Just remember that all of your equipment was made by the lowest bidder...
Two greatest flaws of a battlemech:
1. The designer, who thinks he has created the ultimate machine.
2. The pilot, who believes the designer.

Zweihart

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  • Posts: 48
  • Worldbuilding Addict
Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #10 on: 18 April 2017, 22:55:20 »
I live again, so I figured I might as well finish one of my many half-done old scenes. This one is fleshing out the initial formation of the Clan

======

29 August 3064
Planet Tiegel, Jade Falcon territory
Capitol city of Kern, planetary command center



"Unscheduled emergence signature detected." The robotic voice of the automated warning signal caught the attention of all those gathered in the room. "Processing source." It continued as the personnel on duty scrambled, dead silence abruptly replaced by hushed but enthusiastic whispers. Most focused their attention on the consoles, but one of the guards quickly left to relay the information to the commander in charge.

Everything had been calm ever since the conquest of the planet many years before, and the sudden, unexpected event was a welcome reprieve from the idle boredom that characterized garrison duty. Although the world was close to the front lines, it had not seen action in a long time and the troops keeping it secured - a Cluster of Regulars - had been growing rather discontent with being tied up into a task that was seen as below them, and worthy only of Solahma units or PGCs.

Not much later, the man commanding the Cluster entered the room, flanked by a few other warriors who had been with him as the new was brought up and who also wanted to see what was going on. "Emergence signature analyzed and identified." One of the staff members reported, almost as if on cue "It's a lone Sphere jumpship, Invader-class, a common type. Hardpoint capacity is 3, but it's too far away to tell how many dropships it carry yet."

The colonel took a few steps closer to the main screen where a video feed was showing images of the jump point, deeper into the system. He narrowed his eyes, as if trying to peer deep inside for any clues, or any tiny pixel which would suggest movement or activity. Several seconds followed in silence before a response was made. "Have the first Trinary prepared to move out." The man said with neither urgency nor concern, his tone remaining calm and even. There was no doubt in his mind that even if this were an invasion force, his cluster would have no difficulty in fending it off.

As the commander turned around and left the room, his retinue in tow heading for the hangars, new information started to come in and activity resumed in full. He had not been able to make five steps outside before being hailed back by the communications officer. "Star Colonel, the unknown units have made contact and are seeking to speak with you directly. They identified themselves as the Lyran Ghosts." Hearing those words, the superior officer's expression changed to an hostile scowl and he hurried back on his steps, heading all the way to the console with a brisk pace.

"So it is the infamous mercenary captain whom I've heard so much about. You've made many Falcon warriors angry by your claims and arrogance. I am Star Colonel Adel Helmer of the 23rd Jade Falcon Regulars." Helmer had heard of the 'Ghosts' before, although not quite in the most flattering ways. As a mercenary unit, they were a formidable force, with a Dragoon Rating of A, but they were still mercenaries, and a warrior who sold his skill for material gain was seen as one with very little honor. What made matters worse was that these specific mercenaries were known for issuing trials of possession and, most insulting of all, having won a score of them, making a mockery of their venerated system and traditions.

"Batchall was issued, bidding took place in an orderly manner and Zellbrigen was not breached, there is no need for bad blood." The mercenary on the screen countered with a dismissive and almost annoyed manner. She was a woman in her late 30s or early 40s with long, raven hair and matching black eyes which exuded sharpness and the weight of a great many battles. She wore a form-fitting pilot suit, over which a pair of fatigue pants preserved modesty, both of them black. At her hips were a holster featuring a Clan gauss pistol, and to the other side, a combat knife.

"Which is the only reason I'm responding to your call at all. Your kind of mercenary scum has made us used to expecting nothing but lies and treachery." Helmer countered, making it sound like he was being of magnanimous generosity by speaking to her at all, yet his tone and expression remained no less hostile. During the 3050-3052 war, Inner Sphere units and their mercenary allies had times and times again exploited the codes of honor of the Clans to deceive them and score under-handed victories, which contributed to their being perceived as scum, but the Ghosts had shown themselves to be different, and had respected their word without fail in the past.

"I ask not to be judged by the actions of other units, only by the actions of my own Warriors." The woman spoke with cold dismissiveness again, as she was not very fond of being lumped in together with backstabbers and deceivers. She was Hannah Faust, the leader of the Ghosts, and a veteran pilot with two decades of experience in active service under her belt.

Helmer scoffed lightly. "Aff, that much I can grant. What is it that you've come to steal this time, freebirth?" He was no dupe, and he knew that if the Lyran Ghosts were here, if -she- was here, it was because something that interested them was under his supervision.

"No longer." Faust's eyes narrowed slightly as she let out a short but stern statement that was rather confusing in its vagueness.
 
"..what?" Helmer inquired, leaning forward slightly. The woman was not making any sense, but that made him curious.

The raven-haired pilot cleared her throat then crossed her arms under her chest.  "I understand how you can perceive my Trials of Possession as thievery since I am not part of the Clans. But I intend to put an end to that perception. Now. " She concluded with a tone and expression full of resolve.

"Explain yourself, freebirth." Helmer demanded, his tone still hostile, but slightly less so as now genuine curiosity was growing within him. Frankly, he did not think it was even possible for her to find any way to accomplish what she was claiming, so the idea amused him. How would this lowly mercenary attempt to sway their perception? It could be anything.

"The wisdom of Kerensky has reached the Inner Sphere and while most have shunned it, not all have ignored it." Faust spoke with confidence and took a half-step forwards, getting slightly closer on the feed

Needless to say, these were not the words that Adel Helmer had expected to hear. He had, granted, not known what to expect, but this came as a genuine surprise; something that had been beyond the scope due to how improbable it was. "..continue.." He stated with a more calm tone, his expression also settling down slowly but steadily.

"The corruption of the successor states has been apparent for a long time now, although few have dared to take actions about it. The States slaughter and burn worlds without restraint, blinded to their own folly by material ambitions and petty prides." Faust did continue, and with every sentence, her own words became the ones tainted by anger and disgust. The words were not hollow, and as she spoke them, images of her homeworld of Dalkeith V came to the back of her mind. The planet she had grown up on was but a charred husk plagued by radiations; it was a silent witness to the nuclear wars the Successor States had waged on one another in the past.

The Falcons' Star Colonel leaned back and allowed himself to relax ever so slightly. "Indeed, spoken true and sound, but I do not see how this is relevant." He noted after a few seconds, trying to connect the dots and predict where they were supposed to lead.

"Besides me are such warriors, who have had enough of the rampant atrocities and savagery, as are everywhere now with the FedCom Civil War. Besides me stand no barbarians, but enlightened Sphere Warriors and Abtakha. Warriors under a new banner and in need of a new Home." She uncrossed her arms and peered straight into her homologue's eyes with her jet black own. "Thereby I, Star Colonel Hannah Faust, claim this planet as the adoptive Homeworld of Clan Ashen Corsac. State your forces." The declaration caused such shock that a generalized silence fell for a few seconds.

"WHAT!? Is this your idea of a joke!?" Predictably, Adel burst in outrage and anger, his hostility now back with renewed vigor as he pointed an accusing finger at the woman behind the visual feed. "How dare you insult the sanctity of the legacy of the Founder!? Your claim will--" Before he could fully voice his own disgust, however, he was interrupted.

"Passage 24! Verse 1!" Faust raised her voice to be heard over the ruckus that began to overtake the command center. "  'Liberation and justice was their goal. To purge the corruption and to make the land whole. But through stone and sky and sand and sea. Bitter tears' would be Circe's legacy.' " She quoted a hand-picked passage of the Clans' own most sacred tradition: the remembrance. It had been chosen carefully to remind the initial desires set forth by Kerensky so long ago, and to showcase how their goals - hers and the Clans - aligned in the pursuit of cleansing. It was also a humbling passage that spoke of duress.

This brought pause, and it managed to stop right in its track the verbal assault she had coming to her just a moment ago. "You.. how do you even know the remembrance?" Helmer inquired with disbelief. The remembrance was normally passed down as oral tradition from one Clan Warrior to another, and was not widely known in the Inner Sphere, let alone well enough for her to quote.

 "I did not look down on my bondsmen. I instead sought their wisdom." The raven-haired mercenary explained, with the hint of a smirk curling up on her features. Indeed, most if not all of her knowledge of Clan culture, tradition and values came from such a simple source as discussing at length, and with eager interest, with defeated foes. It had not been easy to get them to warm up at first, but she had managed to make more than one open up.

"Even so, your claim is still empty!" Renewed rage came to Helmer's lips like a second wind. "Inner Sphere scum cannot hope to put themselves on the same level as Trueborn warriors of our lineage. We are purity made flesh and you represent nothing but carnage and greed." The man had a difficult time accepting that an inferior Freebirth would dare to put themselves on the same level as Trueborn Warriors with such a comparison, and he felt nothing short of personally insulted.

"Passage 25. Verse 3. 'Like shining stars the warriors' descended, A fiery rain to purify and punish, Yet even angels can be corrupted, brought low by base desires.' " Once again, the woman in black spoke calmly and delivered another surgical passage from the Remembrance. This one was meant to remind him of the sin of arrogance he was himself in the process of committing, with the angels in the verse referring to Trueborns themselves. The verse's spirit was that of a call to humility, and it worked more effectively than any other words she could have ever came up with herself.

"... You have spoken noble words today, freeborn.." The Falcon conceded with some reluctance and a calmer tone.  As a show of goodwill, he even stopped using the pejorative 'freebirth' and referred to her in the non-demeaning version of the term instead.  He was not convinced yet, however, far from it. "Very well, I will hear your terms. Show me if you truly possess even just a shard of the wisdom of Kerensky, or if you are nothing but an empty act."

At this minor victory, Faust's expression softened up ever so slightly, and so did her tone shift from a stern, commanding one, back to a more formal and polite one. "The trial will be over the planet itself, including its resources, industries and native population. In the event of a Corsac victory, all Jade Falcon Warriors, Mechs, combat vehicles, fighters, support personnel, ships, and genetic repository will be granted unconditional, safe Hegira. No bondsmen will be taken, and no Mechs will be made Isorla. However, We will require Technicians to stay behind to keep the industries functional." The conditions were lenient and generous. More greedy individuals would have not discarded these potential, additional prizes.

"And if you are defeated?" While not an absolute obligation, it was the defender's right to demand a compensation from the challenger, and Helmer certainly intended to make this whole mess - which he considered a farce to a degree still - worth his time.

"Then I will concede my Invader-class jumpship. I apologize I cannot offer more consequent contribution." Faust answered with the same polite tone from earlier and seemed genuinely sorry. The Falcon commander, meanwhile, rose an eyebrow. Jumpships were prohibitively rare and expensive prizes, and even if it was inferior Inner Sphere technology, it was still a considerable gain. To win a Jumpship while on garrison duty would bring great honor to himself and his Cluster, and the thought of brightening up their reputation was certainly appealing.

"Safcon?" The Falcon inquired, returning Faust's gaze and seeing in her a prey. He had no obligation either to grant Safcon as the trial was over a valuable planet, but he was confident in his ability to win, and he was curious as to where this unique situation would follow.

"Safcon will be requested. The Circle of Equals shall be of 5 kilometers wide, and I strongly suggest an area of my choosing on the western continent. This area will be able to challenge the piloting skills of both of our Warriors." The location of the trial of possession was traditionally  chosen by the defender, but Faust dared to make the offer regardless. More often than not, it would have been flatly refused, but if the location was picked specifically for its hostile nature, then it was an additional opportunity of displaying their skills, and so Helmer was inclined to consider it. "We will allow Jade Falcon warriors to search the land of the Trial prior to arrival to guarantee we could not set up any form of ambush or trap." Faust concluded, eliminating the possibility of bad surprises.

" Your terms have been heard and considered... Star Colonel Faust" After careful consideration, Adel Helmer straightened his posture and tone, now addressing his soon-to-be foe with a begrudging respect. "This planet is defended by the 23rd Falcon Regulars Cluster. What assets do you bid in this Trial?"

" The 1st Corsac Praetorians Cluster bids two Stars of Corsac Warriors to claiming this planet." Hannah stated, repeating the nature and goal of the batchall.

"Hah, Bid Diving like a Diamond Shark!" Adel noted with a first display of genuine amusement. It was a common practice among Clan Diamond Shark to abruptly bring the bids straight to cutdown or below.  "I refute your claim to this territory and I will bid no lower than one Trinary of Jade Falcon Warriors. This is a rich world, not a deserted outpost. Do you wish to rebid your position?"

"Neg, Star Colonel Helmer." The ex-mercenary objected immediately, shaking her head. Another faint smile found its way to her lips as she continued with a softer tone. "As the spirit of batchall is to minimize waste of lives and material, I would have bid nothing but my own Mech if I could, but I did not want to insult you by implying this world was of no worth. I do not urge, but I would wish for you to join this spirit by matching my bid." She explained her position in a polite and formal manner, appealing to the most central virtues and traditions of the Clan.

"Hm, again you surprise me.. -if- your words are indeed honest, then their nature is pure like a true Warrior's. Two Stars of OmniMechs sound reasonable." The Falcon conceded. Deep in his mind, he was impressed. Ever since the Clans had come to the Inner Sphere, the disgusting treachery and manipulation of their foes had so greatly decreased the use of their sacred traditions of Batchall and Zellbrigen that it was a breath of fresh air to be able to deal once again with a foe that followed the codes and was honorable. Or at least one that -appeared- to be. "Before we conclude, though, I wish to know. on whose Khan's behalf are you fighting for, Star Colonel?" Of course, if the black-eyed woman wished for a new Clan - the thought still irked him - there could be no Clan without Khan, and she did not refer to herself as such...

"If there is no victory, there will be no Khan. Securing a worthy homeworld from powerful foes for my Warriors will be the final part of my own Trial of Position." Hannah concluded with calculated compliments. She thought every word of it, of course, but that did not make the words less useful to wield.

"So it is..." Helmer began, making no effort to hide his amusement. The woman had ambition to say the least, and he had seen through it from the start. "You claim to the most venerable position in clan society, and you've shown wisdom and knowledge." He continued, feigning praise, only to turn it around on itself and into a taunt. "Good qualities for a Scientist, but woefully insufficient for a Warrior and a Khan!" He exclaimed suddenly. "If you dare to claim this sacred title, then show me you have the mettle for it with skill and courage." This time, he was the one smirking, with a ploy in the back of his mind. "I will humor your earlier statement. You said you would bid only yourself if you could? Then do so. Come to the Circle of Equals alone and defeat a full Star of my Warrior in sequenced combat. Nothing less can satisfy the height of the ambitions you claim to."

There was not even a shred of hesitation. "I accept your terms, well bargained and done Star colonel Helmer. Falcons and Corsacs will next meet on the field of Honor."

"Well bargained and done." Helmer responded in turn, sealing the deal. Both belligerents seemed happy with the outcome as the transmission was cut short. For Adel, he was convinced that he had just managed to score one of the easiest victories of all time and to secure a priceless JumpShip to his name as prize, but the daring woman would prove to be difficult prey...
« Last Edit: 22 July 2017, 23:55:43 by Zweihart »
Lore and fics page for the Ashen Corsacs homebrew clan here

Siegfried Marcus

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #11 on: 30 April 2017, 21:31:20 »
Nice.  I like the narrative.  When you first described the Corsacs acquiring Tiegel, I thought it sounded a bit implausible, but now I can see Helmer agreeing to those terms.  Five against one should be a breeze by comparison. ;D  I look forward to seeing how she pulls that off without some dirty trick.
Here is my AU story set in the Free Rasalhague Republic.
http://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=52953.0

Zweihart

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #12 on: 07 May 2017, 20:25:14 »
29 August 3064
Planet Tiegel, Jade Falcon territory
Low orbit, onboard the Union-C DropShip "Preying Kraken"


With the coordinates transmitted and the perimeter surveyed, a lone vessel had split off from the small flotilla in the system. The DropShip was of the Union C model, a variant on the widespread Union known as a workhorse throughout the Inner Sphere forces, along the larger Overlords. Unlike its Inner Sphere cousin, the Union-C was far more heavily armed and armored, noting a 30% increase in total weight, and also far more rare and valuable. Like many of the former Mercenaries' most prized possessions, it had been earned on the field of battle, but it had been desired for a more logistical reason than for its combat strength. By reforming its Lances to Stars, the former Ghosts encountered serious logistical hurdles in transportation and support due to nearly all DropShips and bases kept by the Successor States and independent forces being built to accommodate the 4-Mechs Lance format. Only DropShips of Clan design could solve this so simple, yet so crippling issue.

"Somehow, I knew it would come to this one day, but I'm unsure whether to feel like it's too early, or like it's about time." A calm, soothing voice came in from the captain's chair, thoughtful. There, seated in great contrast to Faust's all-black appearance and piercing gaze, was a woman with long, flowing hair of pristine white that reached mid-back and blue eyes which always seemed patient and forgiving.

"Then your foresight beats mine, Iona." Hannah commented with a small chuckle as she stood nearby, arms crossed and eyes glued to the main monitor which displayed the approach to the planet. Soon the descent phase would begin. While she was analytical, Faust's adoption of the Clan ways had been a progressive and slow process. She had changed much in the decade they had known one another. "If all goes well, you shouldn't need to fight your former comrades." She concluded in a way that meant to be reassuring.

"Was that meant to be comforting? Please, we all know you're basically hoarding the glory at this point." It was not the woman named Iona who responded, but another on the other side of the captain's chair. This one wore a similar practical outfit with a sleeveless shirt and shorts; the tell-tale mark of a pilot who ran a hot Mech and had to deal with searing temperatures regularly. Her eyes were of the eponymous Jade green and looked half-jesting, half-serious. Her hair was auburn and kept in a tidy ponytail. "-Try- not to get yourself killed. It would be embarrassing."

"If I had known you were this eager I'd have offered you to take my place." Faust responded to the banter with the faint hint of a smirk, but she meant none of it. "I know what you're gunning for after all..." Iona Folkner and Kadenza Schtern were both Abtakha; Warriors formerly belonging to the very same Jade Falcon Clan. Effectively, they were the first, and as such held a somewhat special place amidst Hannah's inner circle of commands and advisors. To say that it was their vision and knowledge who influenced the most what would later become Clan Ashen Corsac was not an exaggeration. This translated to the newly founded Clan sharing with the Jade Falcons  their insistence on upholding traditions and institutions as well as recognizing the importance of the Civilian castes in keeping the Warrior Caste strong.

"Save your energy, you two, the day is far from over, and I get the feeling we'll see a few surprises still." Iona interjected. Although she was more or less scolding them, her voice sounded nothing like it, remaining deceptively soft as usual. This apparent gentleness made the Commodore popular with the soldiers, especially the men, but when the time to fight was nigh, she never shied away, which could sometimes be a bit jarring. "Either way, I'm sure Andrei will appreciate the show. He's still bitter even after all this time." The snow-haired naval officer jested with a faint hint of sarcasm and caused general amusement.

 Andrei Seles was another Abtakha, but the Aerospace pilot came from Clan Wolf, the mortal rival of the Jade Falcons. He was another member of the De Facto command team, but was currently on another DropShip, a Miraborg-class, on stand-by in case something went awry. The final two members, in a similar situation, were Lukas Dresner and Wilhelm Schreiber. Older Lyrans like Faust, they were both veteran Mech pilots, with Lukas taking on the role of Loremaster of the Corsacs with a more literal approach to his duties.

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**

As the DropShip descended onto the surface of the planet, the hostile nature of the wastelands below quickly made itself obvious. This area was nicknamed by the locals the Fractured Plans due to the countless flows of lava that criss-crossed the otherwise desolated lands. The entire planet was one with heavy volcanic and tectonic activity, and it was known for being covered in ashes on vast swathes of its territory, but this region was particularly severe.

The choice of this location had been a calculated one,  and fighting here would be a challenge for even the most seasoned of pilots. Most obvious of all, the lava flows made navigation dangerous and hazardous as the streams could seriously damage any Mech bold enough to try to cross them. Also obvious was the fact that the massive radial heat permeating the Fractured Plains made Heat Sinks less effective and as such was much harder on Energy-based Mechs. As an avid user of Particle Cannons,  Hannah knew well the pain of using this type of weapons in such an environment. But she would not use her signature weapon this day.

Another, much more subtle after-effect of this battlefield was that the massive heat practically voided thermal detection. Sensors were blurred, thermal vision was utterly blinding, and sudden geysers of magma could trick a pilot into believing a new contact just appeared by briefly lighting up on the HUD as an energy source activation. Other interferences hindered different types of sensors, and thick smoke made long-range detection through Visuals difficult. Yet, visual detection was still the most effective method in this hellscape, and it all would turn the fight into a true challenge to find and terminate the foe. Hannah was not lying when she claimed it would test the mettle of all foes alike.

By the time the Union-C touched down and lowered its ramp, Faust had already went down to the hangar and boarded her Mech of choice for the Trial. In a bit of an ironic twist, while she generally favored fast, Heavy-class Clan Mechs in the 60-80 tons range, it was with an Inner Sphere design that she had elected to fight this most decisive, most symbolic battle. The bulky, massive Assault Mech slowly lumbered out of the DropShip with heavy steps as it proceeded towards the Circle of Equals. Its legs were blocky and made for large targets, but the bulk was necessary to support the warmachine which faintly cracked the dried, scorched earth with every step. Its torso itself was notably wide, and the center portion was flanked with two goliaths of a weapon system, nearly as big each as the core of the Mech itself.

The mammoth of steel was a Fafnir, a 100-tons Mech very recently developed by Defiance Industries on Hesperus. The Mech had drawn Faust's attention during the first year of the FedCom Civil War after a few contracts on Hesperus II where she was able to see one of the early production models in action. It carried only two weapons, the twin behemoths of Heavy Gauss rifles. The base model also came with a few Medium Lasers and an ECM, but as she planned to use it for dueling, then the extra weight had been stripped and the CASE had been upgraded to lighter Clan variants. The saved weight was used to add in a LAMS, Flamers and 4 tons of additional ammunition for the voracious weapon system which only had enough for 12 shots in its default configuration.

Nicknamed Thor's Hammer among Lyran forces, the Heavy Gauss Rifle was a weapon of frightening potency, capable of solidly out-performing even the fearsome AC20s, but it suffered from a number of drawbacks of its own.  Low ammunition was already mentioned, and the sheer weight and mass of the weapon system were also obvious, as the Fafnir was essentially designed to accommodate it. Also noteworthy was the fact that the weapon lost power over longer range and while still powerful, it was not nearly as effective at long range than it was at short or medium ranges.

The choice of Mech and battlefield, however, complemented one another well. Although the Heavy Gauss was at a disadvantage at long range, the fact that it would be difficult for warriors to spot one another made it so she had a good chance of engaging at an optimal distance. The use of an all-ballistic armament was not very sustainable on a real battlefield, but for Zellbrigen, it would be enough, and the low heat would be advantageous among the pyres, while inversely if a Warrior attempted to engage at too close a range - dishonorable as that method might be - the flamers would act as good deterrents.
« Last Edit: 22 July 2017, 23:56:21 by Zweihart »
Lore and fics page for the Ashen Corsacs homebrew clan here

Zweihart

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #13 on: 07 May 2017, 20:27:13 »
The lumbering behemoth came to a stop as it reached the edge of the designated area. The Circle of Equals, as it was called, was an area determined by the participants within which ant given battle was to take place, and leaving it in any way during combat was seen as greatly cowardly and dishonorable. Depending on the nature of the Trial, a Circle of Equal could be relatively small, or large enough to encompass an entire planet. In this case, it was of only 5 kilometers of diameter, which meant that there was room for manoeuvering, but that any new challenger could reach the center relatively quickly, especially with long-range weapons.

"I claim this Trial of Possession against the MechWarriors of Clan Jade Falcon, who stands in opposition to this claim?" The formal statement, almost as ritualized as the rest, was made on an open channel that reached enough to cover the entire battlefield. Hannah's Fafnir rotated slowly as she did, scanning the area visually, but there was nothing to see yet. The foes were too far away among the pyres and smoke.

"I, Gérald Desmar, bid this Summoner in defiance of your claim." The first response came from not too far away, but it was impossible to  confirm its position from the transmission alone.

"I, Sophia Kalsee, bid this Mad Dog in defiance of your claim." As the second response ringed on the comms, Faust began to take inventory of the Mechs she would need to face. So far, it was two fast Heavyweights.

"I, Torin Brak, bid Hellbringer in defiance of your claim." A third fast Mech of Heavy Class. Those were all typical parts of the Falcon Touman so far, and while she outgunned them, they would no doubt try to outmanoeuver her.

"I, Joan Malthus, bid this Night Gyr in defiance of your claim." This time, the more rare model was unfamiliar to Faust. She knew it was recently designed by Clan Jade Falcon to test new technologies, but was not aware of its specifics fully. She would need to be particularly careful with this one.

"I, Adel Helmer, bid this Turkina in defiance of your claim." As the last transmission came in, Faust couldn't help but think that despite this solid choice of Assault Mech, Helmer never truly expected to have to fight himself. His tone hinted it by being colored with thinly-veiled dismissiveness. "Gérald Desmer, begin." He declared, and the Trial finally began with the first duel.

Zellbrigen was in essence a simple and straight-forward ordeal. The ritualized custom of honor duels was generally done in one on one and only traditionally applies to Mech, Aerospace and Elemental pilots, with conventional infantry and vehicles not being included. The rules themselves were also relatively simple. As it all boiled down to a contest of piloting and gunnery skills between two warriors with direct or indirect weapon systems, so simply being mindful of that was a good general guideline. It was forbidden to use systems that required a second unit to function, as those relied on the skill of another, as well as large Artillery weapons, which voided gunnery skills. It was also seen as dishonorable to purposefully and continuously stay out of weapon range or line of sight of an opponent.

Without delay, Faust restarted her Mech's walk cycle. Its slower top seed was not too much of a bother here as she preferred to navigate a bit more cautiously amid the hostile environment. The flows of lava streamed lazily across the plains, their colorful hues breaking down the monotony of the all-gray terrain. From above in the cockpit of a Mech, they didn't seem all that threatening,  but most of them were still several meters wide. Hannah followed alongside a particularly strong flow as she proceeded towards the center of the Circle of Equals, using it to shield her right flank and keep foes from stepping into the minimum range of her Heavy Gauss Rifles with a surprise attack.

The lava was not the only danger to MechWarriors on the Fractured Plains. The ashen fog that made visibility difficult was prone to getting into heat dispersion systems, potentially lowering their efficiency or even jamming them in extreme circumstances. Right now, however, the ash clouds were relatively thin, which meant that risk was lower, but also that spotting ranges were farther. At its thickest, the ashes could make it impossible to see past 200-300 meters, but right now, it was probably possible to catch glimpses of armor or muzzle flashes as far as 700 or so meters. With good eyes and a little bit of luck, both sides could try to engage at somewhat long range.

Slowly but steadily, the Fafnir  entered within only one kilometer of the center of center of the improvised arena, and she redoubled her vigilance. The Summoner she faced against now was faster, and even though its pilot was probably not familiar with the terrain, she thought it reasonable to assume he had already reached the middle point, and possibly even crossed it, which meant they were likely separated by less than 900 meters. She skirted around to the right, avoiding to move in a straight path, and flanked herself - on the left this time- with another lava stream.

Thus the game of cat and mouse escalated in earnest and Faust slowed her Mech slightly further , torso cycling back and forth looking for prey. She almost fired when a sudden geyser erupted just a handful meters away from her, baiting her with a sudden heat spike, but she kept discipline and restrained herself. This kind of carelessness would have cost her dearly. With the comms dead silent and everything outside tuned out, the only noises were those of the machine itself; the whine of its hydraulics, the heavy thuds of its footsteps, and the low grumble of its engine. It could almost have felt like she was alone and the others had left her to wander for eternity, but she knew better.

At last, the hints of color presented themselves through the ashen fog. It was faint, and only her experience with this kind of terrain allowed Faust to be sure of what she was seeing. She halted her Fafnir and traversed to present the front of her Mech. The target was roughly 450 meters away and moved towards the South-west, in the direct opposite direction as she was. A little bit further apart, and they would have missed one another. The Summoner was going at roughly 60km/h, roughly 70% of what its engine was capable of, which told her this foe was relatively impatient. Too fast.

Hannah traversed once again and straightened the throttle. With her slower Mech, her prey could escape if she didn't act quickly, as he didn't seem to have spotted her yet; a 'predicament' she intended to solve immediately. With her Mech setting course due South-West, in parallel, she aligned Thor's Hammers and took the shot. A deafening sound rose as ghastly blue light tore through the grey ashes and impacted. It wasn't a torso hit. While the mammoth paired Gauss had managed to chop clean off the Summoner's left arm, they had failed to punch through its most important sections and to disable it in one shot.

Now alerted to his foe's presence, but without knowing its precise location,  the Summoner's pilot first had to struggle to keep his balance. The impact of paired Heavy Gauss Rifles carried such great momentum that it was capable of knocking a Mech off its feet in a single hit. As a testament to Clan pilots' skill, however, he recovered and quickly, traversing his own torso and sending immediately a salvo of unguided missiles slightly ahead of where the shot had seemed to come from. He could figure out her more precise location while they reloaded. Gérald was using the Alt-E configuration of the Summoner, which meant that with his PPC arm gone, he was still armed with an ATM12 and an ATM6.

The snapshot had been accurate, but not accurate enough. A score of the missiles passed behind the Fafnir, while a few others were shot down by its LAMS. A handful of missiles did connect with Faust's Mech's right arm, but they were not enough to cause significant damage to a behemoth with 19 tons and a half of armor. Hannah prepared herself for another shot, but the Summoner surprised her by veering to the right, away from her and further into the fog. Had he managed to get a lock this quickly? Was he planning to unload salvos from maximum range despite the conduct being dishonorable? She had no way to know.

Hannah slowed down her Fafnir and reversed gears, turning as well to keep the Summoner in her line of sight. It seemed like he had pushed his own engine to max speed and was circling back around, likely having intended to try to hit her in the lighter back armor of her Mech. It was a valid strategy, considering the difference in armor thickness and the futility of trying to engage the Fafnir head on... but she wouldn't be fooled so easily. Hannah had fought for nearly two decades now, first in the LCAF, then as a mercenary, and she knew Heavy Mechs well.

As if by a stroke of bad luck, however, another geyser stirred up from the lava, and she lost sight of the Summoner for a short moment. Faust looked everywhere frantically to find her target again, but it seemed gone in an instant. She pondered on it for a few seconds, then it finally clicked, and she pulled the throttle to maximum abruptly to reposition herself: That hadn't been another geyser, it had been jump jets! The Summoner crossed the lava stream with a high jump to surprise her.

As if on cue with the realization, another salvo of missiles screamed in-bound and her LAMS activated again.  More shaved off armor from the Fafnir's right arm, while a few others impacted on the torso. As the explosion receded, she could see her target once again, barely 300 meters away and circling around at full speed, intent on getting in her dead angle.

The opportunity, however, never came. When the roar of the Heavy Gauss rose once again, this time it was a deadeye shot and the Summoner had been hit squarely in the chest. The cockpit had been spared, but the reactor had certainly been badly damaged and the smaller Mech stumbled backwards, falling. There was no forgiveness from a direct hit at this distance.

"Gérald Desmar has fallen, Sophia Kalsee, begin." Helmer's voice suddenly broke the relative silence as the IFF indicator of the Summoner shorted out. If he had felt anything for the potential death of his comrade, he showed nothing.

"Bringing such a slow Mech to a duel is like asking to be outmanoeuvered, what is it even anyway, a Steiner recon unit?" The new opponent, Kalsee, opened with some banter and seemed rather dismissive despite the results of the first round. It was to be expected, as mobility and speed were part of the core battle philosophy of the Clans,  and during the 50-51 Invasion they greatly outperformed their Inner Sphere counterparts. Moreso, the Fafnir hadn't even seen widespread presence on the market yet, so it was not yet a well known Mech.

"Oh, it's still fast enough to pick off a pack of Hellions if they try to pick the wrong fight." Hannah responded in a composed manner. If Sophia's line had been tainted with venom, Faust's, in contrast was good-natured jest that harbored no particular hostility. Jaded as she was, the usual disdain for Freeborn was something that she had grown used to and which simply did not affect her anymore. In a way, she almost found it cute. Sure, Trueborns were in general performing much better than their counterparts, but arrogance was a common pitfall, and she was no hapless rookie pilot.

More importantly, now that the second match had begun, she did not know where her next opponent would come from. The remaining 4 MechWarriors were waiting at various points around the edge of the Circle of Equals, but she did not know which was were, so Sophia could have come from any direction. She needed to be careful, especially so because the Mad Do carried large amounts of missiles - even more than the Summoner E - and if it could get a lock on her before she found it, it would have a chance to bombard her with impunity from afar.

With that in mind, Faust set her Fafnir back in forward gear and began to perform an outwards, spiral sweep. Ideally, it would have been better to use some sort of bait, but she had none. She could have moved back towards the edge and waited for the Mad Dog to reach the center itself, but that would make the fight last for a very long time, and she couldn't help but to find the idea cowardly herself. No doubt, they would see it the same. Or perhaps was it rather that it was their influence which brought her to think in such a way in the first place? It was likely. Zellbrigen brokered no retreat, especially not from inferior foes.

Luck was not on her side this time, as the first indication of the enemy's presence was the firing flash of a salvo of missiles. Kalsee's Mad Dog had prowled more slowly than her predecessor and managed to avoid detection long enough to line up a shot, ironic after her taunt about speed. Faust veered as quickly as she could when the first flames lit up the dark fog to protect her Fafnir's center torso from damage, but this time the salvo was much more painful, showing the skill of a dedicated missile gunner. The LAMS was overwhelmed and while some LRMs missed their mark and others were shot down, many did hit and even though their payload was weaker than ATMs, their sheer number made up for it, spreading damage across the Fafnir's left arm and left torso.

The biggest surprise of all, however, was when a lone Arrow IV missile, concealed at the back of the LRMs, also hit her left arm, setting some of its components on fire and rocking the mammoth Mech slightly. Arrow IVs were such large and powerful missiles that they were considered Artillery weapons by official classification. This would normally make it a prohibited weapon that was not allowed in Zellbrigen, but a few factors played in Kalsee's favor to not cause the act to brand her as Dezgra. Firstly, unlike, for example, a Long Tom, Arrow IV missiles could be shot down by AMS and thus required more skill to land. The fact that there was a 40 tons difference between their Mechs also played a part in making the act more acceptable.

The truth was that Kalsee had correctly predicted Faust's rough choice of Mech. In a battle of attrition against several other Mechs, there was only two ways to survive. One was to have a Mech nimble enough to avoid most attacks, but that was usually only possible with lighter Mechs which lacked in firepower. The other was to bring as much armor to the fight as possible to try to weather the storm. Sophia had thus guessed Hannah would bring an heavily armored Mech, and armed her own Mad Dog in consequence with as heavy-hitting, as damage-spreading a configuration as possible, with two LRM-20s and an Arrow IV. It was a true threat.

Recovering from the impact, Faust brought her Mech as fast as its engine would go, and slightly regretted not having thought of installing a supercharger for this kind of situations. The Fafnir traversed back to retaliate and close the distance, using the sight of the launch flames to approximate the position of the Mad Dog. Faust knew that her opponent had to have started to move again after firing, and it had been a smart move for the Falcon to stop first, because it made it harder to predict in which direction she would go afterwards, once the flames stopped.

Hannah glanced down to the indicators for a brief second. The left arm of the Fafnir had taken severe damage and had very little armor left, with its structure damage. While she only had an auxiliary flamer mounted there for weapon, she did have Gauss Ammo, and the minor fires greatly increased the hazard that the ammunition could cook off, especially in the searing heat of the Fractured Plains. The Trial had grown tricky, and it was only the second round yet. Hannah could not afford another hit from this Mad Dog, and she knew it.

Unfortunately, it was easier said than done, and it was still difficult to spot where the lighter Mech had gone. Precious seconds passed with little result, and the challenger knew that by now the launchers were ready again. Unrelentingly, this was confirmed as the flash of the missiles broke through the fog once more, but this time, Hannah was ready. With honed reflexes, she unleashed the Thor's Hammers with two quick successive snapshots towards the source of the light.

The first missed with a graze, but the second hit the side Torso of the Mad Dog and made it rock to the side, causing its launchers to suddenly twist to the side and to interrupt part of the launch sequence, with missiles going in wild arcs and many of them, including the dreadful Arrow IV, to be steered off course and to hit meters behind the Fafnir. Of course, several of them still had enough time to launch before she fired, but not nearly as much as a full broadside. Many were intercepted by the LAMS and only a few peppered its torso.

This time, she finally had the target in her sight, and Hannah kept a straight course, the smoking mammoth charging the Heavy Mech like an angered elephant. The battlefield was more open in this area, and no lava flow separated the two opponents. The Mad Dog tried to circle around after recovering, much like the Summoner had done before, but once again the effort was futile. The Fafnir's torso traversed and kept the Mad Dog in its sights and fired as soon as its weapon systems became available again, managing to hit the central section of the Mech in a fine display of gunnery and interrupting another early salvo.

If it had the advantage of range on a clear field, the Mad Dog could have hounded the Fafnir from a safe distance, using its superior speed to remain out of harm's way, but the environmental conditions forced a closer-ranged confrontation, which was to the latter's advantage. Not to mention, purposefully staying out of weapons range of one's opponent for extended amounts of time during Zellbrigen was generally Dezgra...

"Sophia Kalsee has fallen, Torin Brak, begin." Helmer's voice broke the uneasy silence once more, and Faust took a moment to recover from the encounter, taking a deep breath. So far, things had been within expectations for Helmer. Gérald and Sophia, while good pilots, had not earned Bloodnames yet, and as such their worth was seen as lesser by the Star Colonel. Torin and Joan, however, the next opponents, did, and as such he expected the match to come to its overdue conclusion now.

Once more, Hannah needed to mind every direction, but this time, she was not the only one who had to deal with some issues. Torin's Hellbringer was in the Prime configuration, which meant his main armament was an all-Energy load-out with two PPCs backed by three Medium Lasers. This meant that he had to be particularly mindful of the heat levels as they would build up quickly, but have great difficulty dispersing between the heat of the terrain and the ash deposits hindering both of their heat sinks by now.

"It's surprising you were able to make it this far, but your luck will run out soon." Torin hailed Hannah regardless and meant his words fully. Despite the great challenges he was facing at the moment, the Falcon pilot had genuinely not expected her to survive the first two rounds. He could not see the Fafnir yet, and had no true idea of its current status, but he imagined the entire Mech to be in the same state as its left arm.

This time, the enduring game of cat and mouse brought the two participants into an area of the battlefield which was more hilly and provided some amount of cover, as if it was not difficult enough to spot one another in visual. To complicate matters further, both of them were running passive to take advantage of the sensor interferences fully. It was as a surprise to both when each's sensors lit up at roughly the same time, as they found one another to each be on the other side of a small ridge.

This was a fortunate position for Faust, so she tried to take advantage of it. In normal battlefield conditions, crossing a ridge with contacts on the other side was a dangerous move as it exposed a lone pilot to the fire of potentially up to a full Lance or Star of hostiles, but in a one-on-one duel, this was not a concern. With foresight, Torin opted for the opposite action and moved away. While he did not expect the Heavy Gauss specifically, he did suspect his enemy might be using heavy-hitting close-range weaponry such as LBX or Ultra autocannons of the 10 or 20 calibers.

The Hellbringer backed off as much as it could and readied its weapons. When the Fafnir manifested itself above the ridge, Torin fired a single PPC shot to get her attention, and so he did as it struck squarely on the beast central torso. The second shot came a second later, held back both to mitigate heat build up and to throw off its aim. The manoeuver was successful as it knocked the Fafnir slightly, and one of Faust's shots missed completely while the other only hit the leg.

The hit was still severe due to the comparatively light armor of the Hellbringer, but it had not been enough to break its internal structure and to cause it to limp so easily, which would have made it an easy target. Hannah clicked her tongue with displeasure and kept her sights trained as the Hellbringer made a dash for the ridge she was descending, to her left, more highly damaged side. Although she had been able to keep in check the previous two foes who used a similar tactic, the addition of the hilly terrain made it more difficult to keep track of a foe mobile.

Once more Faust steered off an reversed gears to traverse towards the foe while simultaneously backing away from the ridge she had just crossed. If she tried to follow him in a merry-go-round around the rocky formation, she would absolutely be out-manoeuvred and lose aim. With that in mind, putting distance between it and herself was the only option, but she still had to be mindful of accidentally backing into a lava flow, so she checked her auxiliary camera as well for a second. The split second of inattention was poorly timed, as it prevented her from taking additional evasive action as the Hellbringer suddenly slowed and aimed down its first PPC, now recharged.

A lone PPC was not a danger for the behemoth in normal circumstances... but this one was aimed to the crippled left arm. The bright beam of energy hit its target dead on, aiming specifically for the part where some small flames were still coming from, and the ammunition inside detonated catastrophically. The only thing that prevented the explosion from starting a chain reaction and engulfing the entire Mech was the use of CASE in both the arms and side torsos, which ventilated the massive blast outwards. While the arm itself had effectively been obliterated, damage to the side torso was kept minimal. A second shot followed, aimed to throw off Hannah's riposte, which also hit, but this time she had learned her lesson and waited.

Trading off another hit to the torso for a stable firing position, she showed a boldness that surprised the Falcon. Even a single shot would be troublesome in this battle of attrition, so Torin had expected her to traverse away to protect herself with her remaining arm or to fire early to try to prevent him from getting a second shot off, which would have granted him the time he needed to relocate and fire again. However the thundering weapon system rose up with delay and punched a hole through the comparatively flimsy side torso of the Hellbringer, damaging the bulky XL engine it housed and causing it to shut down.

"T-torin Brak has fallen, Joan Malthus, begin." A small tinge of hesitation and apprehension could be heard in Helmer's voice. The outcome of the first two rounds were within his expectations, but this was not. With the thick ashen fog as it were, he was not able to watch the battles himself and was left to wonder what was going on. How was this impudent Spheroid mercenary with over-ambitious ideas still alive? Was she using some sort of foul play? Was the cover of the dark mist to conceal dirty methods that would otherwise breach honor? Previous behavior and conduct, would suggest otherwise, but he was starting to grow nervous as a third IFF signal powered down, and the fourth initiated. There was only one left.

"It's time to end this farce, come, Freebirth." Like Torin before her, Joan was also convinced that Hannah's Mech was barely holding together, but while it was true it had suffered significant damage, it was not down for the count just yet. Another thing that played in the favor of Joan was the Night Gyr itself. Indeed, the Night Gyr carried 8 additional heat sinks, which were drastically improving its heat dispersion as it was, but it was also used as a testbed for the new Laser Heat Sinks, and while those had been phased out of production, those that were equipped with them still retained them.

Hannah had heard of the Laser Heat Sinks before when she discussed with a Diamond Shark merchant, years ago. They boasted the same performance as Double Heat Sinks while not being affected by outside weather. While this meant they could not benefit from cooling off in water, it also meant the Night Gyr she now faced was still working at 100% heat dispersion efficiency. Back then, she had not considered them useful due to how that ability came at the price of them being much more visible - Laser Heat Sinks produced bright lights when dispersing heat - but now her opinion had changed. In the distant past, she put too great emphasis on stealth to ever consider it, but now, everything was different.

"I couldn't agree more, would you mind sending your coordinates so that I may disable your Mech more quickly? This has been going on for a while..." Hannah responded to the insult with a taunt. While it was true the heat was starting to be troublesome, she was used to it, and could remain there for a while longer. She hoped to cause the Falcon to act more rashly and to take advantage of that for a cleaner kill.

"If you're so eager to meet your maker I'll humor you. I was waiting straight West from the center of the Circle of Equals, and I'm coming for you." Joan responded sharply with a smirk, which caused Hannah to blink twice in genuine surprise. Never would she have expected to actually get an answer to the provocation, but then again it was understandable. This Falcon didn't want to play around, so she was setting up as straight a confrontation as possible. This was fine, though.

Faust set course towards the Western edge of the arena and glanced down to her indicators. The left arm was gone and the left and center torso had both taken worrying amounts of damage. Neither of them was fully stripped of armor yet, but there wasn't that much left. The right torso and arms were faring better, and the legs were practically untouched.

This time, the game of cat and mouse could be skipped, but she still had to be wary. She couldn't afford to take any more damage if she wanted to have a shot at facing Helmer, who had also picked a powerful Assault Mech and who would both take and deal more punishment than the Heavy Mechs so far. This time, what would play in her favor the most, ironically, would be neither the terrain or tech. Malthus did not take Faust seriously and simply advanced straight at full speed, with sensors on maximum setting. Her Night Gyr had more than enough firepower to finish off a crippled Assault Mech.

While Hannah prowled more cautiously among the smoke and pyres, she noticed something familiar in the edge of her vision, to the left. Flames rose, but like before, they were slightly different than the gouts of magma produced by the geysers that sporadically spurred around them. It did not take her long to connect the dots and recall the first round: Joan's Night Gyr was another of those Heavy Mechs equipped with Jump Jets, and likely they had just been used to cross a lava stream more quickly.

With that clue on hand, she steered to the left and approached with care. It was difficult to make out at this distance, but with effort she could just barely discern the shape of the Mech in the distance. This time, it was further out and just barely in range, so it would likely remain a proper gunnery duel instead of escalating into a brawl. Faust took a few seconds to line up her shots, but she held and approached a bit further. At this range, the Gauss would lose most of its kinetic energy and while she had the ammunition to spare, she preferred not to expose herself to return fire until she was close enough to deal real damage. The foe's PPCs outranged her after all.

Despite the precaution, when the shots tore through the ashen fog, she clicked her tongue with displeasure. The slugs had spread between the right arm and torso, but had failed to cripple either. They had taken off most of the armor, but inflicted no real structural damage. Unsurprisingly, after recovering its balance, the Falcon Mech turned and riposted, wary of approaching closer after such a shot and rightfully so. The particle beams arced through the fog as well, but did not hit. While she knew the general direction of the shots, she could not see the Fafnir just yet. The thermal beams however, sundered through the gray ash and helped her pinpoint Faust's Mech, exposing it for the next salvo. An additional shot of Autocannon rounds were fired, but at this distance it was not as accurate as the PPCs and only grazed the Fafnir.

The exchange lasted for a longer time than the previous ones, as it was difficult for both MechWarrior to hit mobile targets while moving at full speed, at this distance and through a fog that had thickened a bit more since the beginning of the trial. Three rounds yielded no result on either side, until finally two Gauss slugs lodged themselves into the Night Gyr's left leg, breaking its articulations and causing the Mech to limp. In the end, the light from the Laser Heat Sinks, while they had allowed Joan to fire her PPCs repeatedly in the extremely hot environment, were what helped Hannah keep a closer bead on her location through the ashes and to fire more accurately in the end.

With that limp preventing the crippled Falcon from dodging accurately, the final strike of the Thor's Hammers battered its torso and caused the reactor to grow unstable, prompting its pilot to eject, but from this distance, Hannah could only see the even brighter lights coming from the plasma discharges of the reactor pouring out menacingly.
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Zweihart

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #14 on: 07 May 2017, 20:28:39 »

"Joan Malthus has fallen." Helmer commented grimly, not calling out another name, because it was now his turn to enter the field. This turn of event had been entirely unexpected for him, but unlike Malthus, he, too had learned a lesson earlier today. With the words of the Remembrance still fresh in the back of his mind, he forced himself not to be arrogant. This Mech and its pilot, inferior freeborn and Sphere design as they were, had now survived encounters with 4 seasoned Clan Warriors. This was an act worthy of respect, and analogous to how many true, proper Trials of Position for higher ranking titles went. He would not be arrogant. He would not take her lightly. He would not leave her any chances.

To say this was the only thing Adel Helmer learned that day, however, would be grossly inaccurate. He had also learned that his subordinates - and perhaps even himself - could use more training in low visibility and blind fighting conditions. The environmental conditions present on the Fractured plains were similar to that of Night Fighting, something that many MechWarriors preferred to avoid entirely, but with the heat and interferences further challenging them by making thermal detection and light amplification, the usual ways of dealing with darkness, unreliable.

Helmer almost wanted to laugh as his Turkina advanced through the thick smog. It really was a challenging battlefield, just as she had promised, and if he survived that day, he elected to conduct training exercises here in the future. This would be good for his Warriors in general and would help them deal more effectively with underhanded foes who made use of ambushes and stealth technologies. Adel wished he had thought of it first, but he had no knowledge that such a place existed on this planet because it was so remote and nothing of significance was on this continent, save for a small installation on the northernmost shore, thousands of kilometers away.

Meanwhile,  Faust's Fafnir slowly prowled back towards the north, the only location where she knew in advance where the final opponent awaited. As it did, she took stock of the remaining ammunition 6 slugs on the right, 9 on the left. Since the ammunition was split over multiple locations, she was thankful to her foresight of having set her machine to begin by using up the slugs in the arms. If she hadn't, then the loss of the left arm would have left her with only a single slug left, and essentially an useless, volatile weapon in the corresponding torso.

For the ultimate round, the two final Mechs were fairly similar, with the same speed and almost the same weight and armor classes, only two very important differences split them apart. One of them was that the Fafnir relied on single-burst, medium range, massive damage ballistic strikes while the Turkina's more rounded equipment was capable of dealing sustained damage over all range and all weapon type profiles. The other was that the former was significantly damaged while the latter was still fresh from the hangars.

Essentially, this meant that if Helmer was able to keep his foe at a distance and whittle down her armor while denying her a clear shot, he could easily win. Both combatants knew this and acted accordingly, with Helmer putting all his energy in detection, while inversely Faust was cautious and wanted to avoid being exposed from outside her Heavy Gauss Rifles' optimal firing range. The codes of Zellbrigen stated that it was poor form to step out of weapon range of one's opponent, but it never quite specified what conduct was to be honorable or dishonorable when two foes had significantly different optimal engagement ranges, which was, no doubt, fertile grounds for endless debate among those who cared to ponder its ethics.

As fate would have it, it was Helmer who found his target first, but he decided to be patient. Just barely through the ashen fog, he spotted the lumbering form of the Fafnir, showing its damaged side as it moved on a different trajectory. He had a good shot, but it was not a good enough shot in his mind. He desired to land a Center Torso shot and nothing else before exposing his position to return fire, and so he would wait for the Fafnir to face him. He stopped his own Turkina, becoming one with the fog and the terrain to bid his time as it slowly traversed right and left. Soon, the Fafnir's torso rotated towards him, and Helmer readied every single of his weapon for an Alpha Strike.

As it finally reached the apex of its turn, he crushed the triggers and all his weapons spewed forth their lethal payloads. In his focus on scoring a perfect shot dead center on Faust's Mech, however, Helmer had failed to properly assess the half-concealed surroundings of his target, and with misfortune, the Fafnir began to ascend a slope just as he fired. The faster but smaller AC-5s did reach the torso, but the slower PPCs and missiles did not and instead smashed against the massive leg below.

Reacting with the same lightning reflexes as usual, Hannah, who was now in a perfect position to see her own target, retaliated as soon as the hit subsided and her Mech became stable again. She, too, was unfortunate, however, as the Gauss slugs, while hitting their marks, were shot from too far away and only scored a fraction of their potential destructive power. The decrease in power was so pronounced that they did not even threaten the Turkina's balance.

The final duel had began, and Hannah quickly steered her Fafnir around, with her first priority being to expose the much less damage side of her Mech to fire. Helmer at the same time set his own Mech forward to make himself a more difficult target, but the acceleration on such beasts as 90 to 100 tons Assault Mechs was slow, too slow to prevent the first round of slugs from impacting on the torso sections, one center, one left. For him, things were still going well even though he was not able to finish it in one blow. Helmer still had a serious advantage in attrition, and as his weapons recharged, he swapped his tactics. Rather than go for Alpha strikes, he resolved to go for a continued chain fire to prevent Faust from ever being able to get a clear, unmolested aim.

Meanwhile, Hannah's strategy couldn't be more different, as it rested not on her weapons, but on the terrain itself. Hannah knew the planet well, and she had been fighting on this specific stripe of land for a good while now, so she was starting to know its layout. The direction in which the Turkina was heading led into a big of a dead end as the nearest lava flow curled outwards into a shape reminiscent of a horseshoe. If she could keep him headed forward, she could trap it into an area where it would be difficult for him to evade. 

Needless to say, that didn't mean she was not going to try and take a shot immediately if she could, but first, she needed to close the distance, and while it wasn't very long or difficult to cross roughly 150 meters, getting a proper shot was difficult as Helmer's disruptive strategy was effective, Individually, the weapon hits were not so great, but they threw off her aim and prevented her from being able to expose the front of her Fafnir for long, lest she presented its most vulnerable sections as an easy target while attempting to get a steady shot off.

The situation was quickly getting from bad to worse for Faust, but she was getting closer, and so was her foe, but just as she was smirking in anticipation at his surprise, it was her who ended up shocked. When he reached the  edge of the horseshoe, instead of trying to break in extremis to avoid the stream of molten rock, the Turkina activated the now familiar flare of jump jets to leap right over. The presence of jump jets on a 95-tons Assault Mech was such an egregious concept that it took her completely by surprise, and yet, for as ludicrous as it seemed... the short leap that the massive Falcon Mech's jump jets struggled to make had been effective; they had dodged the trap.

Faust was not one to waste a good opportunity, however, and as the Turkina soared above like the bird it was once named after, the Fafnir's guns rose, taking advantage of its locked trajectory and of the lull in the chain fire to at long last let lose a salvo of her own. This time, the Gauss slugs struck more direly, and while they did not have their full force, they were now close enough to strip the rest of the armor from the left torso and to significantly cull that of the left arm. The impact threw off Helmer's flight vector and his Turkina stumbled clumsily on landing, trying to recover balance as quickly as possible and to pick speed back up.

Adel then quickly traversed and fired off both paired autocannons and LRMs in pursuit, which forced Hannah to quickly twist her own Mech's torso to absorb as much of the spread as possible with its remaining right arm and torso, but she wasn't fast enough to block it wholly, and some of the cluster shells and missiles essentially shaved off what little remained of the armor on her left and central torso sections, exposing its internal structure to damage.

This was it, the moment of truth at this point, even just a single lucky PPC hit or missile salvo to the torso could hit either the reactor or the mammoth weapon system, both now vulnerable to fire, and both utterly unforgiving. Even so, Faust was not willing to concede, and even though she was anxious, she did not slow and did not relent. This one, last duel was the culmination of the past 20 years. 20 years that had seen her enter as a cynical, ruthless and even borderline cruel soldier with a care for no one in the galaxy and ended with her at long last having learned to fight to protect, to bleed for others and even, if needed be, to sacrifice victory or gain for the sake of doing what was right.

She would not relent. Yet nor did her foe. For Adel Helmer, the trial had turned sour and was just a hair's breadth away from disaster. When he accepted the Batchall, he saw it as an easy way to gain recognition by swooping in his talons a valuable prize and eliminating a thorn both in the same go, but all of his Warriors had fallen, and he was the last rampart that remained to protect the Jade Falcons' honor from humiliation. At least in his mind. The truth was that despite how close this match was, the defeated Falcons had been fighting a terrifying powerhouse of an Assault Mech in environmental conditions that would have alone made many IS MechWarriors fear and reconsider their career choices. The fallen Clanners had fought valiantly, given the circumstances. They had also did so without fear or hesitation, weathering the storm with braveness and audacity.

As the metal Behemoth stared off one last time, both of them fired with deadly accuracy. On one side; two Gauss slugs, on the other, two PPCs held in reserve.  Once more, Faust tried to block the coming shots but couldn't do so fully, and while the right torso armor soaked one of the PPC hits, the second impacted squarely in the Fafnir's center torso, damaging its gyro. While not immediately fatal, this kind of damage would have made it impossible to continue fighting and manoeuvring effectively.  The Gauss slugs, meanwhile, punched through the Turkina's vulnerable left torso, one of them shattering a heat sink while the other found the ammunition supply from the launcher.

While Helmer's Turkina was also wisely protected by CASE, although the rocking explosion that followed did not hit the Mech's vitals in the center torso, it destroyed what remained of the left and blew off the corresponding arm, also damaging the side components of the XL reactor, as had happened earlier in the fight. Faust quickly stopped her Mech to avoid any imminent further explosions, but was greeted instead with the sight of an ejection system. Something was not quite right, however. The rocking of the impact had thrown off the course of the ejection seat.

If left alone, it would land in the molten stream the Helmer had crossed just a moment before. This was not the kind of horrible, slow death that a honorable Warrior deserved. Indeed, a death no human being deserved. Eyes narrowed and with heavy, ragged breath from the heat, spall and exhaustion combined, Faust set her Fafnir's throttle back to full speed, heedless of its crippling damage and malfunctioning gyro. Every second counted and each of them seemed all too long. Step after step, the fallen Turkina became closer and closer, while the parachute came lower and lower. She had to make it.

But it wouldn't be enough. The Fafnir's stubby arms were not nimble or long enough to reach the center of the lava flow from the safety of the side. Without a second of hesitation Faust forced her Fafnir to take a single step forward and the lava immediately began to gnaw away at the armor of its right foot and actuator. For even longer seconds she waited, the battered, half-smoking, partly burning Mech awaited, motionless and still, until finally its last somewhat-functional limb secured precious human cargo.

By now, between the rocky ejection and the searing radial heat from the being straight above for several seconds, Adel had fallen unconscious, and Hannah slowly began the long trek back to the nearest medical center she knew, her DropShip. The Trial had concluded.




=====

>tfw I had to triple-post because the fight scene itself was too big for the site to handle.
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Dave Talley

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #15 on: 10 May 2017, 23:12:50 »
more!
Resident Smartass since 1998
“Toe jam in training”

Because while the other Great Houses of the Star League thought they were playing chess, House Cameron was playing Paradox-Billiards-Vostroyan-Roulette-Fourth Dimensional-Hypercube-Chess-Strip Poker the entire time.
JA Baker

Zweihart

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #16 on: 10 May 2017, 23:21:32 »
Good to see some appreciation, I was a bit worried people might feel I'm taking too many liberties or not getting the system right for a number of reasons.

Either way, what's coming next right now:
1) An exploration journey to the Deep Periphery (a bit later in 3065)
2) Things go horribly wrong (Just a few days after this latest update)
3) The Putsch on Grenze (Between those two)
4) Slow build-up towards the Jihad and Wars of Reaving
Lore and fics page for the Ashen Corsacs homebrew clan here

Dave Talley

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #17 on: 10 May 2017, 23:29:30 »
oh since when does gauss ammo explode?
the weapon will if hit but the slugs are inert
Resident Smartass since 1998
“Toe jam in training”

Because while the other Great Houses of the Star League thought they were playing chess, House Cameron was playing Paradox-Billiards-Vostroyan-Roulette-Fourth Dimensional-Hypercube-Chess-Strip Poker the entire time.
JA Baker

Zweihart

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #18 on: 10 May 2017, 23:33:40 »
Hm, that's odd I actually vaguely remember bitching that it made no sense for exactly that specific reason but either being told or reading that it worked that way anyway because 'Shut up, the game says so'. However, a quick check to the wiki confirms that it actually DOES use logical reasoning.

I am not sure whether to be happy that the setting makes more sense than I remember it doing, or unhappy that it retroactively makes things in my update not make sense. Then again, Case, so the end result is not changed.
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DOC_Agren

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #19 on: 11 May 2017, 14:21:25 »
 [cheers] [rockon]
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

Zweihart

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #20 on: 14 May 2017, 23:46:01 »
18 July 3065
Uninhabited planet T82-44-16, The Aquila Rift
System periphery, onboard the Lola III-class Destroyer "CAS Ambitions"


In the desolate, hollow darkness of the Deep Periphery, the petrified stillness of the void was suddenly disturbed by a pair of electromagnetic pulses within just a few seconds of one another. As abruptly as the ripples fired out, two large vessels materialized within the endless emptiness.  The first one to arrive was a WarShip, and while it was comparatively small, it was still a massive vessel of several hundred thousand tons. The Destroyer's shape looked a bit like an oval disk flattened on its side with two hemispherical giant thrusters at the back, fin-like segments underneath its belly, and a conning towards to the front, on port side of the vessel.

Further behind it and above was a much sleeker and lighter vessel; a common merchant JumpShip which was only slightly shorter and had a cylindrical. The long and thin, spread out sections at the back however gave the ship the uncanny appearance of a mechanical squid of gargantuan proportion, with its arms emulating tendrils in mid-motion. The vulnerable JumpShip carried a trio of spheroid DropShips, and its presence was necessary because the WarShip itself, an old Lola III from the age of the first Star League, was not capable of transporting them itself.   

"All vessels report successful jumps with no damage or complications." The ever calm, silky voice of the commanding officer rose up with a subtle hint of playfulness as her eyes were set straight ahead, towards the rest of the bridge, although her interlocutor stood behind her. "The signal is still online, but the source is hidden on the other side of the planet. Your orders, my Khan?" The snow-haired Commodore continued with feigned disinterest among an otherwise formal tone.

"Set course to circle around the planet and keep a safe distance on the approach. Have the Miraborg detach and follow, but deploy and leave a Star of Fighters behind to cover the JumpShip." Faust's directives came in clear and terse as usual. Since the many battles that took place on Tiegel, her appearance had changed slightly, and she now wore a large fur coat over her usual garb. It was entirely ceremonial and quickly discarded whenever she needed to pilot, but she felt it appropriate to the title and rank, overall giving her a look not too different from the warlords of ancient Terra who had shared the same, thousands of years ago.

The sight of an heavily armed WarShip in such a location, seemingly lost in the middle of absolute nothingness and far away from known civilization, would have no doubt been a puzzling one to any onlooker. There was nothing to defend and nothing to conquer here, above an uninhabited planet that had not even been named yet. Appearances, however, as they often were, could prove rather deceiving, and the distress pulse that came from the other side of the planet  was the first hint of that.

The entire reason for this expedition to the Deep Periphery had came from a source both unexpected and unlikely. Some time after the Ashen Corsacs had taken effective control over the Near Periphery world of Grenze, the damaged vessel of an Explorer crew appeared in orbit one day and limped back to the space yards. Its crew, shaken, but alive, had quite the fascinating tale to tell upon their return.  They were unsurprisingly startled by the change in rulership, but were quick to talk nonetheless.

As the Explorers would have it, they were in the process of charting out wild sectors of space, not too far away from the Aquila Rift, when they suddenly picked up a distress pulse. The signal came from an equally unlikely source; a WarShip that had been lost to time with its fate unknown centuries before. Jubilant at the prospect of such a discovery, the crew had attempted to investigate, but had been attacked by pirates and thus forced to retreat back to known space. Time had since, and there was no doubt the lawless scum of the void had been able to catch wind of the signal long before Faust's expedition could arrive, but it was still here. This suggested that the crew might have survived and fended off or scared away assailants, but it brought many questions as well...

In a relative quietness broken only by the occasional reports from the many staff manning the various consoles of the bridge, the Destroyer circled around from the jump point and by the planet itself,  seeking to get a visual without entering weapons range in case something went wrong. The atmosphere was fairly relaxed on the bridge, and some allowed themselves hushed chatter with one another. This was not a military operation, but instead, and that was the hope of all, a rescue one. Because of that, a certain degree of laxness was tolerated.

Slowly as the WarShip maneuvered, the planet gave way and the shape of the derelict behind it started to become visible, progressively becoming more defined and clear. Its bulk was even greater than the Corsacs' lone Lola III, being 50% longer and significantly more massive overall. The ironically slightly newer vessel had a more sleek and straight form, almost box like. It featured four giant thrusters and several docking collars for DropShips ran across its back. Its front jutted out and down with its bridge, while two small auxiliary segments extended outwards from the sides, giving it all the looks of the head and forelegs of some strange animal on the prowl. Far more heavily armed and armored, the motionless WarShip once was a powerful and feared Tharkad-class Battlecruiser: the Indomitable.

Last known for having taken part in one of the largest naval battles between the Commonwealth and the Combine of the entire Succession Wars, the Indomitable had fought at Skonida alongside its sister ship the LCS Impregnable and nearly three hundred other vessels in 2787, nearly three centuries before. Yet, now, it stood lost in the shadow of a nameless planet; forgotten and drifting like a forsaken giant. The sight was sad in many respects.

"By the Halo stars.." Faust muttered with contained surprise and disbelief. As if this sight was not enough as it were, the vessel did not seem to bear any signs of battle whatsoever. Or at the very least, none obvious from this side. "It looks like it's been perfectly preserved out there." Yet, this brought up new enigmas as well. If the ship had not been damaged in combat, why was it stranded out there?  Why or how was it broadcasting its signal?

"Scan for life signs." Iona instructed the bridge crew calmly. If she was surprised or affected by the display, she did not let it show. Another enigma worth considering that with the WarShip having been lost centuries ago, then its crew should have expired from old age long ago already. Who was even broadcasting this signal? Descendants of the original crew? A new one that had replaced it but never been recorded? Or had the vessel fallen into the hands of outsiders?

A handful of seconds passed as various officers tended to their consoles in silence. "127 life signs detected, Commodore." One of them rose up dutifully. "Atmosphere and temperature appear to be normal."

Iona took a few seconds as well to check something among the databases aboard the CAS Ambitions. She accessed the records of specs kept about all known WarShips produced by the Inner sphere and pulled up the Tharkad-class' file. "That's about a quarter of its optimal crew complement." She noted for the Khan's information. "No matter what happened, being under-manned as they are, there is no way they can maneuver or fight properly in a combat situation."

Hannah nodded in acknowledgment and focused. It was pointless to be too distracted by trying to figure out what could have happened when there more urgent things to tend to and when the answers could simply be found. "Hail them, we'll let them know our intentions." It was surprising how often people seemed to utterly forget that asking things was an option that existed. The accounts of the survivors should prove valuable.

A moment more slowly elapsed, but the main monitor remained unchanged. After a short while longer, another officer turned back and shook his head. "They're not responding to our hails at all. Either they're ignoring us, or their short-range communication equipment is malfunctioning." He explained.

"Considering the lack of any apparent battle damage and that the far more complex mobile HPG is still functioning, the latter is rather unlikely." Commodore Folkner noted, bringing a hand to her chin in a thoughtful position. "This makes no sense. Is the distress signal still being broadcasted?" The man answered tersely with the affirmative and Iona's eyes narrowed. "Then they have to be ignoring our hails. Why would they send such a signal if they didn't intent to.." She suddenly perked up slightly, her words interrupted for just a second. "Oh I see, so that's why we saw no signs of the pirates the Explorers mentioned, it's a trap. Battlestations!" The snow-haired officer concluded with displeasure, raising her voice ever so slightly at the command.

As if on cue, the hangar bays of the derelict vessel opened and a mix of medium Aerospace Fighters began to pour out from the drifting hull. Just like the Corsacs' ship, the Fighters were ancient models dating back to the Star League era, composed of the ubiquitous Hellcat, a sturdy and reliable medium brawler, and the Lucifer, an anti-DropShip raider. The black void soon became alight with beams of thermal energy as the Fighters were all equipped with laser-heavy weapon load-outs. It was a common strategy among outlier units with limited or infrequent access to supplies, but in the cold vacuum, heat dispersion was much less of an issue than for Mechs in the atmosphere.

"Get me an open comm." Hannah hailed the communications officer tersely, with a voice that brooked no compromises and no delays. She was obviously upset about the turn of events, but did her best to remain calm even as she approached the console and the officer gave her the nod. "Attention all hostile units, this is Khan Hannah Faust of the Ashen Corsac Clan. Cease your attack immediately and present a proper Batchall or we will use all available force to terminate you."

"You know they're just going to ignore you and try to delay our reactions, right?" Iona asked rhetorically with a somewhat deadpan, straight expression. Hannah gave a somber nod. Both of them knew that it was futile. Not only had the lawless scum of the Endless Wastes no honor and no word to speak of, but they also would not have attacked if they did not think they could win the confrontation. The chances of them halting their attack was slim to none.

"That's what separates us from them." Hannah turned back to face Iona, as more red Laser beams illuminated the main display before them, bathing the bridge in a red tint for a split second. "Even if they won't take it, we still do what's right and offer them a chance." It was certainly a situation of great, hilarious, dark irony to Faust. Years ago, herself and the Lyran Ghosts were the target of well-deserved distrust by the Clans for being mercenaries, and now? She was the one looking down on outsiders with cold contempt. She could not be upset at the other Clans' past behavior; she had quickly experienced it all too well already... "It's all in Seles' hands now."

As uneasy silence continue to fill the comms, Andrei Seles brought his own Omnifighters forward in two formations. To stand up against the six Squadrons gathered by the unknown hostiles - a total of 36 crafts - the former Wolf Warrior only had two Stars, totaling 20 crafts. The odds seemed dire, but the pilots were skilled and their machines were modern, efficient designs One of the Stars was composed of D model Phoenixes, a fast and nimble dogfighter equipped with 10 LRMs under each wing and 4 pulse lasers in the nose, while the other was made up of Saker Falcons, an heavier Omnifighter that carried a PPC under each wing and a Gauss Rifle in its nose. With one capable of short-range rapid-fire and the other of long-range heavy-hitting, they complemented each other well.

As they closed in, the hostile crafts spread out to take advantage of their numbers and to disorient their foe. Had the Ambitions been well-equipped to deal with them, it would also have split its fire, but as it were, the Destroyer lacked proper anti-air weapon system. Lola III-class Destroyers were from an age of the Star League where WarShips were built with only capital weapon and left air defense to their escort Fighters entirely, leaving it relatively powerless to influence the engagement that was about to take place.

The Clan Omnifighters however had a different strategy. While their doctrine heavily favored one-on-one, individualistic duels, in situations like these, it was not possible, and as such, they were to fight together. The lighter Star of Phoenixes soared forward, their powerful engines easily outperforming their foes', and closed the distance under the cover of a coordinated salvos of missiles which created a widespread cluster of explosions in their advance. Within seconds, both formations broke off and engaged in a general melee.

In many ways, the Phoenix-D was identical to the more widely known Phoenix-C, both manufactured by Vanguard Aerospace. The only difference was essentially in the much more expensive and difficult to manufacture XL engine which allowed it to perform with a 33% increase in speed and maneuverability. The craft was extremely agile and although they were heavily outnumbered, this agility combined with the skills of their pilots made them very difficult targets for the lawless Hellcat pilots who soon found themselves hard-pressed. They had expected a quick, easy fight against such a numerically inferior foe, but all too often the red beams of their arrays of medium and large lasers could only graze wings or clip the frame.

Nonetheless, this did not come without a cost. The Phoenixes were on the defensive, and by barreling from one evasive maneuver to another, they were just as much hard-pressed to find any opportunity to retaliate as the darkness of the vacuum was filled with more and more pillars of light. From the bridge of the Ambitions, the criss-crossing strands of red could almost be seen as beautiful, had one been a neutral observer. The lack of return fire, however, was telling and worrisome. As skilled as the pilots were and as advanced as their machines could be, no man could simply dodge forever.

Fortunately, the Phoenixes were not alone. As per standard doctrine, it was time for the Saker Falcons to enter the play. Not all of the enemy Fighters had engaged the Phoenixes yet, however, and others had began to attack the Corsacs' WarShip, strafing its giant hull with missiles and more lasers. "Red Star break up into Points, First and Second Points are on me, Third through Fifth are to support Blue Star." Andrei gave quick instructions with an almost eager tone. Unlike Faust, he had no patience and no respect for what he saw as no different than the scum of the Dark Caste.

With the directives given, six of the Falcons continued forward to engage while four veered off to intercept the Lucifers attacking their WarShip. Without any further delay, their long-range armament screeched through the void, adding the blue thunder of particle cannons through the red net of lasers. The effect was immediate. Already in the first pass, Andrei and his wingman had both managed to set ablaze the  wings of two of the Lucifers. All the other Points also managed to score nasty hits on several other Fighters, seriously weakening their armor in each hit location.

Although Aerospace Fighters were, unlike their much lighter atmospheric counterparts, as heavily armoured as BattleMechs, the alpha strike of the Saker Falcons was nothing to scoff at. With paired extended-range particle cannons and a Gauss rifle, all together linked to advanced targeting algorithms, a single salvo was often all that was needed to punch straight through armor and cause structural damage to any foe. Understandably, the pirates reeled from the assault. While the Hellcats were still tangled in dogfight with the Phoenixes, however, the Lucifers pulled off from their bombing run and attempted to double-back at their interceptors.

While the outlaws' Fighters maneuvered, Andrei's formation was able to get off another round of attacks before their foes could come in range, thanks to the great range of the Falcons' equipped weapons. Three more Lucifers suffered severe damage, with one taking a crippling strike to the aft and the previously damaged being finished off. Although the Corsac pilots were still outnumbered, the first, deadly strike had evened the score by a significant margin.

At the same time, a similar situation was playing out with the Hellcats. The remaining Saker Falcons of Red Star proved themselves accurate marksmen enough to pick off several of the hostile ASFs through the melee despite its chaotic nature and high speeds without hitting any friendlies, but it was still a timely intervention. Many of the Clan's Phoenixes had taken some degree of damage in the fighting ad would require fresh armor at best and some repairs at worst. A squadron of Hellcat broke off to intercept the heavier Omnifighters, not exactly intent on letting them take free shots undisturbed.

By then, forces had been roughly evened out there as well and the Phoenixes finally had a chance to start fighting back. In the close-quarters dogfighting, their quad Pulse Lasers proved a harrowing opponent. While weaker than their heavier cousins' long-range weaponry, they were fast and relentless, inflicting significant damage over time to anything unfortunate enough to be in their sights.

From the bridge, no communication nor report was needed. All that was needed for the gathered officers and their Khan was to observe. As time went on, the number of red beams lighting up the void of space in the distance became fewer and fewer, while blue ones, on the other hand, become more and more numerous until they began to dominate and then extinguish the opposition.

"Star Colonel Andrei Seles here. The barbarians are no more. We're heading back to the Miraborg for triple-R." Although he remained calm, enjoyment was clear in Seles' voice. Of all the high-ranking Officers among the Corsacs, the former Clan Wolf warrior had always been one of the most bloodthirsty, and he took pleasure in killing those who he saw as unworthy scum. The fact that he ordered his pilots to fall back to their DropShip without having first asked permission to do so could also have been seen as outrageous insubordination, but neither Hannah nor Iona minded. They both tolerated the hotshot pilot's attitude partially because they also wanted the fighters to be refueled and repair before any hypothetical enemy reinforcement could come.

For now, this battle had been won, but they still needed to get aboard that Battlecruiser, from which the pirates' Aerospace Fighters launched, and to neutralize whatever other plans they might have up their sleeves. They also needed to investigate the past of the Indomitable, find out what happened to its original crew, how it got here and, most importantly of all: If they could get it back in one piece to the Inner Sphere.
« Last Edit: 23 July 2017, 00:12:06 by Zweihart »
Lore and fics page for the Ashen Corsacs homebrew clan here

Zweihart

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #21 on: 19 July 2017, 16:27:21 »
Like with everything else, the bridge also showed age and neglect from 300 years away from a proper spaceport. Most secondary consoles had fell into disuse and had been scavenged for components to keep the primary ones running properly. At first glance, there was no sign of what exactly had happened to the original crew, or even of the fact that it once had been a Lyran ship. All recognizable heraldries and iconographies had been blanked out, presumably by the pirates who took it over.

It took a while for the technicians to assess the damage due to the extensiveness of the decay and the amount they had to survey. Once it was finally done, the engineer in charge walked up to Faust, whom had been observing quietly from the command station. He shook his head and gave a weary sigh. "The vitals are still functional, but just barely. Most of the weapon controls are busted, and the helms is jammed. Even with the two Mules full of spare parts we brought, we're not going to have enough to fix everything, but we should have enough to make sure life support doesn't fail and to restore communication and navigation. It's going to need a full overhaul at a spaceyard"

The man was Adrian Adler. Back in the early days, he was a mere Mech technician who was assigned to the 7th Lyran Guards with Hannah, Lukas and Wilhelm, but over the year he proved himself an amazing tinkerer to the point of genius and had rose to occupy the rank of Praetor Machinator, the supreme authority of the Technician Caste in the newly formed Clan. Contrasting with his high rank, Adrian had an unkept, neglected appearance, with wild hair, and cheap casual clothes that were often some combination of burned,  slashed or stained from work.

"It's almost like this has turned into a space station more than a spaceship." Faust noted. With so many systems off-line or needing extensive repairs, the vessel could hardly be called a WarShip, and it was practically a miracle the pirates had been able to make use of point defense lasers earlier. "For now, focus on the HPG and the KF drive." She then added, her tone and expression having gone a little more somber. Somehow, this just felt unpleasantly wrong; unpalatable. She hated the sight of a noble warship like this being reduced to such a sad state.

"The HPG should still be mostly intact, else it wouldn't have been able to broadcast its distress signal." Adrian countered in a contrastingly relaxed and composed manner. When tasked with salvaging the unsalvageable, he was in his element. "The KF drive though, that's another thing entirely. I won't lie, the odds of it being intact are pretty darn low, and if it's busted, then we have no way of replacing it." Hannah gave a nod. She knew from the start that this was the greatest obstacle. KF drive technology had fallen into obscurity and those installed on Warships were practically impossible to procure for anyone not a House Lord or a Snow Raven high officer. If the KF drive was destroyed, then their journey was effectively meaningless...

For now, the long wait began. In prevision for this rescue, the Khan had planned two full Mule-class DropShips of supplies, machineries, spare parts, tools, medical aid and other necessities. As such, with 17'000 tons of cargo space, it would be able to last for a while. With the hostile threat neutralized for the time being, the cargo DropShips, which had been kept in reserve near the jump point and away from harm, were ordered to come closer. In the meanwhile, the guards and technicians left in the bridge began to disperse and look around  to try and find clues.

Eventually, an ancient datapad was found, discarded into a dim corner. It could have easily been missed in the inadequate lighting and among the junk shoved into said corner. Once, the device might have been cutting edge, but now it was almost indistinguishable from the scrap metal around it: covered in dust, its colors faded, its screen ran across by a long crack that ranged all the way from both edges. It would not turn on, but it was brought in nonetheless, and a few technicians looked it over. If the pad belonged to the original crew, it might have some information worth trying to extract.

It might have looked like a total loss to the guards glancing over their shoulders, but the technicians were not so quick to give up. In fact, the solution to manage to turn it back on ended up being an ironically simple one. Indeed, the power pack had simply ran dry over the centuries. Despite the device's battered outside, its internal components still functioned, and a simple change of power pack was enough to get the screen to flicker to life, if albeit in a somewhat blurred manner due to the cracks.

"Khan Faust, you have to see this!" one of the technicians hailed Hannah with an urgent tone, and she headed over to see what the fuss was about. "Looks like some form of log or journal. Might even be the captain's." The technician explained enthusiastically before handing the device over.

Soon, that guess revealed itself to be correct. The entries were indeed the captain's travel log, most likely discarded without a single glance by the pirates when they took over. Without losing any time, Faust began to read, quite curious herself to finally figure out what exactly had caused this so bizarre situation. It took a moment to flip back and find the entries that corresponded with the time of the disappearance.

The first part seemed normal enough. Apparently, the Indomitable found itself far off course into unknown space after a misjump incident near the border with the old rim worlds republic. That in itself was not entirely uncommon; misjumps happened with some degree of regularity and in the worst cases the ships were never heard of again, often destroyed by the jump itself, or assumed destroyed. It was the lot of interstellar travel. Even over a thousand years after mankind first reached out for the stars, traveling through the void still held such perils to this day...

But the ship had not been destroyed, clearly, so if it had been able to get a rough idea of its position, it may have been able to find its way back through the maze of uncharted systems. It would have been a long and arduous journey, however, and keeping discipline on such an odyssey would have been an hellish challenge for even the most seasoned of captains. Supplies were limited, and prone to running out, and as entries went on, they described the situation degrading due to exactly that: ever-dwindling supplies of food and fresh water.

As fate would have it, the next entry described how they arrived on T82-44-16, the planet in current orbit. The world seemed to look like a godsend, as its rich native flora and fauna allowed the weary crewmembers to find new sources of fresh food to replenish their depleted stocks. The entries immediately following described a new light of hope as the lush world had plenty of exotic produce, which boosted the moral of the crew. That hope, however, quickly became marred.

A handful of entries later, the captain noted the emergence of some sort of sickness among the crew just a few days after their arrival on T82. The sickness appeared limited and benign at first, but it quickly spread and escalated in potency. Before a week, a large portion of the crew had become affected, many were dead, and quarantine measures had been too little too late to contain the unexpected epidemic. Whatever they had found on their poisoned Eden, it was devastating the crew and fast...

She needed to read no more to know what had happened. In all likelihood, there was no one left already when the pirates boarded the Indomitable some unknown time later. The fact that the pirates didn't also die from the sickness meant one of two things, however: Either the sickness had worn off and the bacteria disappeared... or it hadn't, and the pirates had been using some sort of antidote the ship's doctors managed to create at some point during the outbreak. She couldn't take the risk to just assume it was the former.
 
Cursing under her breath, Hannah put the device down on the nearest console and stormed over to the comm, opening a wide frequency channel covering the area. "By direct order of the Khan, no one is to be allowed on the surface of the planet, I hereby put the entire planet under quarantine. Anyone who disobeys will be executed on the spot." The order was harsh and unusual. Faust did not like to use executions unless in extreme circumstances, as she found it a waste of lives and skills, but in cases like this? It was necessary to avoid even more deaths. "Additionally, no one is allowed to return on the Ambitions if they've been onboard the Indomitable until I say so, and any new personnel boarding the Indomitable are required to wear environmentally sealed suits." That, of course, included herself. She closed the channel and her expression became more somber. Had she spelled the doom of everyone present by coming here?

With that said, and now the full attention of the bridge crew on her, Hannah turned around to face the men and women nearby.  They were understandably anxious after such an ominous declaration. "Forget the bridge, find and secure the medical bay and find me every last bloody datapad you'll find in it. Watch out for any form of samples or lab equipment still usable. It might be nothing, and we could be safe... but I'd rather not take the chance."

Those who had once hoped for a simple and somewhat relaxing rescue operation now had their hopes quite sorely dashed. The attack of the pirates was predictable and part of the expected, but this? No one had expected to open this Pandora's box of a phantom disease and no one really knew how to handle it. Tensions were high, and so was anxiety. For several hours, work continued like this.

Finally, roughly 12 hours after the attack, the first results came in while most had gone to rest after an exhausting day of endless work:
Firstly, the remaining pirates had been rounded up and taken care of, Iona could confirm from the Ambitions' sensor suite that there were no life signs left unaccounted for onboard the Indomitable.
Secondly, Adrian reported with pleased surprise that the warships's Kearny-Fuchida drive was still functional. He needed to replace a number of worn down parts, retighten most connections and recaliber some components, but it was operational at last; a great new.
Thirdly, the logs of the head doctor during the epidemic had been found and were now being reviewed.

The first two news would have been good enough for the expedition to begin its return to the Ashen Corsac territory, but the incertitude about the phantom plague paralyzed everything. Faust refused to risk bringing it back unwittingly, which could cause planet-wide deaths, so they were all stuck there until this matter was properly sorted out.

The following days passed slowly as everyone still held hostage onboard the Indomitable were left to wonder what would happen, and even Hannah herself with her otherwise always unnervingly stern composure and Adrian with his otherwise always relaxed, laissez-faire leniency were not immune. Despite these questions, both of them did their best to conceal their worries and to keep a solid front before others. Panic would have been the worst thing that could happen to them right now.

During those days, repair work focused exclusively on the propulsion, navigation and life support systems. Navigation systems were a relatively quick fix by installing replacement components and updated star charts and jump algorithms onto the bridge, but sub-light propulsion was badly damaged and would take weeks to repair in optimal conditions, or months in their current situation.  It was decided that work on the reactors would resume when the WarShip was brought back to Grenze's spaceyards only, and the technicians shifted their efforts on checking and reinforcing the entire life support and power generation lines. This, too, would be a factory-level rehaul, so for now they only focused on the most important, primary lines, to avoid sudden shortages.

At the same time, the content of the logs found on the Indomitable's med bay were transmitted electronically to the Ambitions's chief doctor, who could review it more easily from the updated, fully functional terminals on the Destroyer without stepping on the barely-functional, potentially disease-ridden Battlecruiser. There was a lot to go through, as the logs went on quite extensively, with records of the evolution of each and every patient, the various attempts made at developing an antidote, and the master list of symptoms and observations.

This time, the news were not so encouraging. The doomed vessel's crew had started working on an antidote, but did not seem to have been able to finish it, and if a completed version existed in its med bay, no one had been able to find anything resembling it. It increasingly appeared like the unfortunate people had simply.. ran out of time and expired slowly. Quite the horrible end to meet, and not one to wish upon anyone. This also meant that if the virus still survived, there was no known cure, yet.

After two more days of high tensions and unspoken fears where discipline was harder to maintain aboard the derelict Battlecruiser, there was a sudden shift. According to the logs found on the bridge, the first apparition of symptoms on the Indomitable had started roughly on the third day after getting planetside. It had now been five days since the Corsacs had boarded the Indomitable, and no signs of disease presented itself yet. This made the people hopeful, as it suggested the virus was no longer present and had died out over the centuries from a lack of victims to host it. Slowly but steadily, moral started to rise back.

On the sixth day of quarantine, the Corsac doctors onboard the CAS Ambitions were able to narrow down the possible origins of the virus and to theorize screening methods to identify the presence of the pathogen once and for all. However, to do that, they needed samples, and that meant going to the quarantined planet.

Soon after the decision was made, a shuttle descended planetside, carrying brave volunteers in environmentally sealed suits. Theoretically, they should be safe, but due to the lack of information about the workings of the disease, no chances would be taken. If it were an airborne, vacuum resistant pathogen - and these existed - then it could cling to the very airframe of the shuttle and infect the ships that way. For that reason, the smallest hangar on the Indomitable was pre-emptively quarantined and turned into a disinfection station, with hoses and potent chemicals ready to spray the shuttle's entire hull and the suits of the volunteers once they left the planet.

For now, their time was short, and they needed to make haste. It was impossible to eat or drink without compromising the integrity of the suits, so the volunteers only had so many hours to scour the planet searching for the indigenous lifeforms identified by the scientists and to bring back the desired samples. At that point, everything seemed on the brink of resolution, but the Deep Periphery had one last surprise for the Corsacs...

"Damage on the aft section! It came from near the engines!" A report came in as the bridge of the Ambitions shook from a sudden, unexpected explosion that rocked the massive Destroyer from the rear. "Fire detected in section 73, extinguisher grid is functional at 84%."

"Make sure there's no one in section 73 and purge the oxygen, that'll take care of the fire in the area where the extinguishers were knocked off-line." The snow haired Star Commodore gave directives in the same calm and soothing voice as always despite the unusual situation. When others would have started yelling for answers, she simply remained serene, and that was one of the reasons why Iona Folkner was respected by all her crew. "Engineering, any chance of a mechanical malfunction or overload down there?"

"Neg m'am." A distant but steady and rustic voice came in from the crackling of the intercomm. "It came from the outside and hit the hull. That ain't a darn meteor Comm'dore, we're under attack! There's somethin' out there." The Chief Engineer seemed convinced, but something was wrong.

"Nothing on the sensors ma'am." An officer on the bridge responded to the outburst immediately, having heard but being quite skeptical. "There's nothing even at maximum range. No hostile ships, no ASFs, not even meteors or debris. With all due respect Commodore, I'm pretty sure there was an accident in Engineering or.. maybe worse." A somber silence fell onto the bridge as all other officers gathered understood what was being suggested here: A saboteur... Such a dezgra individual, if he or she even existed, would be a blight on the crew's honor, and would meet swift termination for their treason.

"That's not entirely accurate." Andrei Seles' portrait appeared on a side feed on the monitors, his hazelnut eyes gazing with a piercing stare. "We picked up a small interference near the jump point. Figured it might be nothing because it was too small and faint, but it -could- be a Scout-class JumpShip. We'll make a pass to verify the origin."

"Go ahead then." Iona gave her authorization, but something was still wrong. Most JumpShips had essentially no weapon whatsoever, and even if a Scout sneaked into the system and had weapons equipped.. then it would not be able to get close enough to fire without being detected. This entire situation smelled foul, and Iona frowned ever so slightly as she tried to figure out what was going on. Her ponderings were cut very short.

Once more, the bridge shook. "Another explosion on port side Commodore. We're definitely under attack by.. something.." Another officer relayed damage control. "No fire this time, but we have some crewmen knocked out and needing medical attention.

"There's still nothing  on the sensors ma'am.. nothing at all." Another responded with an increasingly worried tone and expression. What was going on. "Whatever it is.. if there's something out there, it's not showing up on any of my readings."

This time, it was Faust' turn to appear on another side monitor, on the feed opposed to the one Andrei had used earlier. "That was a Barracuda. I'm sure of it. I was watching from the bridge of the Indomitable and I barely made out the thrusters a few seconds before the explosion." Barracudas were heavy missiles capable of damaging capital ships or obliterating fighters. Ubiquitous, but low on the supplies, they had been developed by the Star League Defense Force and then trickled down everywhere else.

"That could be.. but in this case, where was it fired from?" Iona countered with the obvious question that was on everyone else's lips. While ECM measures had existed for a very long times and the Capellans had developed stealth armor, neither of these were capable of full concealment. "It almost reminds me of the old SLDF Headhunter Mechs with their Null-Signature systems and their Chameleon Shields.. but on the scale of an entire ship."

"A Null-signature system? Aren't those extinct?" Faust inquired with some skepticism. This system, along with the accompanying light shield, were among the many technologies lost to the succession wars, yet among the few which were -not- recovered in recent years between the Helm Core rediscovery and the introduction of Clan technology to the Inner Sphere. Moreso, even at the height of the SLDF, these only could equip Mechs or similar-sized vehicles.

"More or less, I don't know -what- they're actually using, but it has a similar effect for end result, and that's all that matters, really." Indeed, there was no point in debating this kind of technical details. All that mattered was that something out there was trying to hound them down; something that could not be seen in visual or on the sensors...

"Seles here, confirmed Scout-class JumpShip hiding out near its emergence point. Its docking collar is empty." The former Wolf pilot came in at an opportune time to bring in new information. "It doesn't appear to have any escort."

"So whatever is attacking us is some sort of heavily armed assault DropShip with an unknown stealth technology that's superior to anything we've access to." The raven-haired Khan noted with some displeasure, but also a tinge of excitement. "Star Colonel Seles, leave a Point or two to secure the JumpShip, send all your remaining units to screen for that bloody DropShip. Star Commodore Folkner, I'll leave the defense and overall battle plan to you." And with that, Faust left the bridge of the mauled Battlecruiser. Both of her interlocutors already knew what she had in mind, so neither of them asked where she was going.

The answer, of course, was the hangar. Hannah had always been the type to lead from the front, as was usually the case for Officers who fought in BattleMechs, and now, remaining on the bridge of the crippled WarShip would only make her feel powerless, so instead she decided to assist in the screening work. Despite being a Mech pilot, Hannah was also trained in Aerospace combat and manoeuvers, so she planned to make use of a salvaged Hellcat from the Indomitable's complement, freshly repaired and with a new IFF signal.

Among the Inner Sphere, most Warriors tended to focus solely on one type of vehicle or combat, but in the Ashen Corsacs' touman, things were a little different. Due to the great amount of combined arms between Mech, ASFs and battle armors in the Touman, Faust had decreed that every superior officer needed to brush up secondary vehicle skills in order to better lead the various elements of their units. As a result, Corsac commanders had a better understanding of combined arms and of tactics beyond that of their primary vehicle.

That was not all, however, Hannah had recently acquired a personal interest in Aerospace Fighters from a most unexpected source. During a medical check-up, the scientists on Tiegel claimed that the Corsacs' Khan shared distant ancestry with the Nagasawa bloodline; the founder of the Diamond Sharks and a notable Aerospace pilot. Since then, she wanted to refine her skills, although she doubted she would ever try to claim the Bloodname. Despite the prestige that would yield, she preferred to bring honor to her own name, and she was not confident she could win against some of the Diamond Sharks' best pilots with her still unrefined skills.

And it was certainly not in this machine that she would refine them. While rugged and reliable, the Hellcat felt as if it handled like a brick to the Clan Warrior used to more agile designs. It had decent thrust for its weight, but poor turns. After a little bit of confusion from the other pilots, she quickly joined in on the search for the ghost DropShip.

While the Khan joined in on the search, two more missile hit the Ambitions, slowly but steadily inflicting damage on the venerable Destroyer and causing a lot of chaos. For the time being, the only solace in this situation was that there seemed to be only one DropShip, and that it did not benefit from cloaked escorts itself, which would have made the situation untenable.

"There! I caught a glimpse of a missile thruster!" If Andrei Seles was short tempered and impatient, he was also quick-witted and perceptive. It was no surprise that the glory hound managed to catch the trace of the shadow stalker first. "I'm transmitting its vector right now."

"Helm, evasive maneuvers, all Aerospace units, trace that missile trajectory in reverse, that DropShip can't be too far away from its launch point." New directives came in from the snow-haired Commodore who took back command swiftly. Even after this harrowing barrage from an invisible enemy, she showed no signs of worry or stress, and it had a positive effect on the entire crew.

"Already on it. All Stars fan out, we'll cover a wide net." Andrei acknowledged the order also in his usual manner while Faust said nothing, simply focused on the battle. Even the most advanced cloaking systems of the Star League were not perfect and could be defeated at very short range, so it was all only a matter of coming close enough from the cloaked DropShip to get a bead on its position. A feat easier said than done in the infinite emptiness of space, yet, the noose was coming tighter and tighter.

It didn't take too long after the Ambitions managed to just narrowly avoid the new missile before a faint distortion in space presented itself. It was like looking through a transparent gas in motion: There was no color, no volume, or anything else, but the surrounding space was wavy and blurred, betraying the presence of something. Once detected, the DropShip came under a deluge of fire from the combined might of roughly 30 Omnifighters and it was hard-pressed to defend itself. Had the Corsac WarShip traveled without escort, it would have slowly been hounded to destruction, but now? It was the hostile vessel that quickly buckled under the pressure of over two dozen PPCs and countless missiles and pulse lasers.

Even in the end, the unknown DropShip made no attempt to communicate to negotiate a surrender, not even after its cloaking field fell. No shuttle attempted to flee either, as if something prevented them from considering it. The truth was that this was the last trump card of the Deep Periphery pirates; their last ditch attempt to destroy the invader, and they expected no mercy or forgiveness, preferring to go down in a blaze instead.

With this new and final threat neutralized, the Corsacs were able to finalize their research on the violent pathogen that caused the demise of the Indomitable's original crew. As it turned out, the pathogen was found in the planet's water sources, and when the crew tried to use it to refill their water reserves, the disease spread like wildfire. Amazingly, the pathogen was so resilient that it was capable of resisting most modern filtration or purification methods, making it one of the most dangerous yet most insidious water-borne pathogens known. It permeated all of the planet, and slowly attacked a body's nervous system until everything else followed and broke down. There was still no cure for it, but now at least, the Corsac expedition was safe in the knowledge that they were not infected, and would not bring this plague home with them.

A week later, the Ambitions, the now barely afloat Indomitable, and their accompanying JumpShips - including the Scout taken as Isorla - finally made the first jump on the long way to return home for some sorely needed repairs. Some time later, a new expedition, a scientific one this time, would be sent to T82-44-16 in order for experts to come up with a treatment for the deadly pathogen, in case it was encountered again in the future...
Lore and fics page for the Ashen Corsacs homebrew clan here

Zweihart

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Re: The idealistic dream of a jaded soldier
« Reply #22 on: 04 August 2017, 14:43:45 »
21 September 3066
Planet Tiegel, Clan Ashen Corsac territory
Tiegel War College, Fort Renewal


Tiegel was an harsh world in just about every way. The oppressive, high gravity of the large planet could never be escaped and the environment was hostile to life; with most of its surface nearly barren and charred while the air often carried ash particles able to kill a grown man by causing serious injuries to the lungs. The Tiegel War College was in many ways a mirror of the planet it was built on: harsh, relentless in its trials and as daunting as a journey alone across the ashen plains. While many Military Academies on other worlds funneled all candidates in a standardized basic course before branching them into their specialities, the Tiegel War College did not concern itself with such trivialities. Instead, Freeborn cadets were thoroughly tested for their physical and combat abilities with requirements far exceeding the Spheroid standards.

It was common for cadets at the War College to have already completed some form of training at other, less prestigious schools in Kern, but this was not an explicit requirement. As it was often the case with the Corsacs, skill mattered more than curriculum. Nonetheless, the decision to skip such 'hand-holding' courses was dictated by a need to cut down on time and train even MechWarriors in a Spartan, 2-year program. Free time was nearly nonexistent at the War College and its location in the refurbished ruins of the ancient outpost castle gave it an austere atmosphere of greatness and majesty which helped tolerate the burden of its daily life.

Most famous - or infamous, perhaps - among the cadets was the penultimate test that completed a Warrior's training at the College. Together within a Star, cadets were challenged to go through a simulation that lasted not a few hours, not a few days, but 3 months. Isolated in a separate building of the Academy, the aspiring Warriors would go through an entire campaign simulating the invasion of planet followed by the repulsion of an hostile retaliation force. This fictional campaign was separated into multiple operations and the cadets had to endure skillfully recreated battlefield conditions of fatigue, attrition and nasty surprises that would push them to their very limits physically and mentally. In this challenge, the hostiles had no honor and only Cadets capable of looking out for one another had a chance where self-centered glory-hounds were picked off and torn apart by the unforgiving mission set-ups. This focus on teamwork may have seemed un-clanlike to some, but the battlefield was an unforgiving mistress indeed and the War College aimed to prepare its cadets for the worst the Inner Sphere had to offer.

One such Star had recently succeeded at making it through the appropriately nicknamed "3-months hell". Among them was Florian Krause, a native of Tiegel who had displayed enviable results throughout his training. A 21 years old youngster, the man was full of mettle and sharp on his wits. His prim and proper black uniform emphasized his traits, contrasting with his short blonde hair and piercing hazel eyes. For his instructors, Krause was a bit of a poster child; a model for his fellow cadets.

Yet, he had not been granted an opportunity to earn his rank as a Warrior in one final trial despite his latest success, and apprehension gnawed at him because of it.

After the simulation had ended, the cadets were left in the dark for about three hours before finally being told to return to their respective quarters on the complex, and there Florian was: pacing back and forth in the hallway next to his bunk, hands tucked in his uniform's pants' pockets. The rest of the dormitory was utterly empty, as the other, younger cadets were either on the endurance course or on marksmanship training at this time, depending on their cohort. With a heavy sigh, Florian ceased his tireless walk and sat down on his bed, his mind frantically trying to find answers; to find what he had done wrong.

Before he could ponder it for too long though, footsteps entered the dormitory and demanded his attention. Immediately, Florian could recognize who these footsteps belonged to; they alternated between normal and a dull metallic sound. No doubt about it, it was Jonas Amsel, one of the College's instructor who taught academic matters and was forced to replace his right leg and arm with artificial prosthetics. The man was a veteran MechWarrior who had just barely survived a rather nasty engagement in the heat of which said limbs had been burned to uselessness and had needed to be replaced. The experience, Florian believed, had been understandably traumatic and the man had retired from active service, but still served his Clan in this new calling.

"Cadet Krause" Jonas' voice broke the silence, his tone was stern and serious where he was usually a bit more lax, which further concerned Florian. "I want to have a word with you." The man concluded as he took a seat on the opposite bed in the cubicle-like, semi-enclosed area.

Florian nodded in acknowledgment and his posture stiffened a little. It was rare for instructors to come to the dormitories like this, and the fact that it was essentially empty made it all the more uncomfortable. He had no idea what to expect, but he did his best to look ready for anything. "What can I help you with?"

"Now that you have passed the final simulation, your time here at the War College is almost over. I think it is a good time to reflect on the time you have spent here." The instructor spoke calmly, his tone becoming slightly less stern, but it did little to help with the confusion Florian was feeling. "What would you say is the most important thing you have learned as a future Warrior in our classes, in your opinion?"

Florian leaned back slightly and remained quiet for a moment, bringing one hand to his chin with a thoughtful expression. He felt this was not a question he could just answer casually without giving it proper thought, and so he did. Meanwhile, Jonas awaited for his answer patiently, not pressuring or rushing the cadet. When finally the silence was broken, it was with faint hesitation. "I think.. it has to be how we learned to always be ready for breaches of honor. I'll admit it's kind of weird.. we're being taught to always follow a code of rules and conducts, yet at the same time we've also been taught not to expect our enemies to play by the rules."

"I see how that could be a little jarring. It must be frustrating to a certain extent." Jonas added in the same neutral tone, but the words were suspicious to Florian, who started seeing where it all was going. The content of these lessons about proper conduct had been drilled into them with a near-religious fervor and the prospect of doubt was just odd. It was the exact opposite of how classes went, and for a reason: The instructor was trying to probe for any cracks. "What do you think should be done about those dezgra enemies?"

 Once more, the cadet took a few seconds to ponder the question, only to ultimately shake his head. "Sure, it might put us at risk and at a disadvantage, but if we start doing the same, then it'll just feed the Escalation cycle." Escalation, as had been discussed at length in classrooms, was the concept that the more two sides of a conflict resorted to dirty methods and treachery, then the more 'acceptable' it became, and subsequently, the more extreme those methods became, culminating in horrific scenarios like the widespread use of weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear devices, orbital bombardment, and chemical or bacteriological attacks. The cadets had been shown the ravages of the pre-Ares Succession Wars: Glassed planets, irradiated wastelands, metropolises in ghastly ruins, populations exterminated by the billions... It was definitely a scare tactic, yet it was also, tragically, the facts of human history... "It's our duty as Warriors to prevent Escalation and to minimize waste of lives and resources."

"That it is." The instructor allowed himself a faint smile, his expression and body language seeming to mellow a bit as the answers had been satisfactory so far. "It's a lesson every Warrior needs to keep in mind at all time. Our Caste doesn't exist to lord over the civilians, it exists to protect the Clan."

 Indeed, this encounter was a test. In most Clans, a cadet's final Trial of Position was simply a livefire fight to test the skills they had honed over the years, but among the Corsacs, this test was preceded by a few others. The first was a test of character. The Tiegel War College taught in large parts Freeborns, some of whom had little experience  with the philosophy of the Clans altogether. As such, it was one of the College's main directives to make sure their trainees came out with the skill to fight, but also the judgment to fight righteously rather than to become glory hounds or self-centered tyrants.

 Of course, not all cadets embraced this philosophy. Two years was a fairly short time, and many cadets came from Inner Sphere planets each with their own values and culture. It was not too rare for trainees to reject the teachings of the Corsac instructors and to dismiss them as naive, idealistic preaching, or even dangerous dogma. Some changed their ways throughout their training , but others did not. Some were honest about it, others tried to lie - something that was in and of itself a great offense - and it was the Instructors' task to weed out deception and troublemakers. Those who failed were denied entry into a First-line unit, being relegated to Garrison Clusters. Assuming they were still skillful enough.

The exchange lasted for a moment longer, but was quickly conclusive. Florian Krause had been an exemplary student indeed throughout the past two years, making this first test a bit of a formality. Others might have tried to lie to make themselves look better, but the instructors were savvy and would usually catch on quickly on disingenuousness. Florian, however, was honest throughout and answered with integrity. He showed an adequate on-the-spot understanding of Zellbrigen tenets and other more conceptual matters such as the working of the Councils and the Bloodname houses. Satisfied with what he had heard so far, Jonas 'released' his trainee by directing him towards one of the College's several training halls, where someone was apparently waiting for him.

There were many training halls inside Fort Renewal because the Corsacs put an above average importance on martial arts. Among the Clans, many disputes and grievances were settled by trials, but when those trials involved wargear, such as when two MechWarriors fought their trials in their respective Mechs, then material or even full warmachines could be lost to petty quarrels or squabbles for authority.  This was seen as an un-clan-like waste of material, and grievances were greatly encouraged to be fought in unarmed combat. As such, martial arts were prevalent both inside and outside the War College.

It was to one such training hall that Florian headed after parting with instructor Amsel. The exchange had made him sharper on his wits and had alerted him that something was going on. He did not know of the two preliminary tests in his Trial of Position, for those two were kept in relative secrecy, and as a result he was preparing for anything. This method, among others, mirrored the uncertainty of war that future Warriors would need to face, keeping them alert and on their toes.

While the College itself was overall rather austere, as opposed to the luxurious academies found in the Great Houses, the training halls were even more so. As the aspiring Warrior pushed the double doors open, they revealed a large but mostly empty room. The floors and walls up to two meters high were cushioned by black leather mats with foam cores, firm enough to provide a solid surface, but soft enough to mitigate impacts. Lighting was plentiful and hung roughly 4 meters high at regular intervals. The only thing breaking the sanitized, empty environment was a small indent on the right side of the room for medical supplies and first aid in case of injuries.

The only thing? Not quite. At the center of the mats stood Vera Frei, another instructor. The woman wore a red bodysuit and waited with her arms crossed under her chest, black eyes staring patiently at the entrance and matching hair hung in a ponytail. Unlike Jonas, Vera handled more hands-on courses, and the tight outfit hinted to a significant musculature underneath. "Ah, finally, cadet Krause." Vera greeted with a tone and an expression that indicated mild impatience. Had she been waiting for long? He came here without any delays or any detours after Jonas had let him go.

"Instructor Frei." Florian acknowledged with a polite tone and a small nod as he assessed the situation. The hall was fully empty, just like the dormitories earlier, and once again, he found himself alone with one of the instructors, with no one else in the vicinity. Considering all the hints available to him, Krause made the safe assumption that he would most likely have to fight. That assessment quickly proved itself to be correct.

"I'll be straight." Vera began with that same tone. In the two years he had known her, if there was one thing Florian had learned about her, it was that this instructor was straightforward to a fault and hated formalities and wasting time. "Prove yourself, here and now. Show me I haven't been wasting my time." With that, the woman uncrossed her arms and took a stance, with arms at the ready and footwork wide.

Florian had very little time to prepare himself, only able to take a few steps forward and to take a stance of his own before coming under assault. The instructor was relentless, not pulling back any punches, proverbial or real, and forced him almost immediately to be on the defensive and to stay on the defensive until he could find some sort of opportunity to exploit.

The primary martial art taught among Ashen Corsac warriors was called the Blitzschlag, or 'lightning strike' in old German. The style was noteworthy in that it incorporate techniques from two different Strike arts of old Terra: The punch-focused Boxing and the kick-focused Capoeira. Capoeira was an highly fluid martial art that emphasized being in constant motion, evading blows, and patiently exploiting opportunities to make decisive, powerful strikes to vitals such as the head, face or chest. From boxing, the Blitzschlag focused on specifically the out-fighter style and counter-punch techniques, which was a defensive boxing style that also favored evasion, mobility, and exploiting an opponent's mistakes. It required good reflexes, great awareness, accuracy, and speed. Those were all traits that translated well to a MechWarrior in the field, so the style was seen as in perfect synergy between augmented and non-augmented combat.

The end result was a martial art that focused neither on the punches or kicks, but taught the user to use either whenever it was the most opportune to deliver sudden knockout blows. These knockout blows were hidden behind a defensive strategy of evasion, mobility and stamina that aimed to outlast strong opponents or handle multiple opponents while outnumbered. It was dangerous, and when properly complemented with feints and discretion, it was very difficult to predict where the decisive strike would come from or when.

That being said, Blitzschlag being focused on defense did not mean that it lacked in offense, and Florian was now on the receiving end of such a technique. At the moment, Vera's technique was more alike to the swarmer style than counter-punching style as she moved in close rather than stayed out and sought to tire her opponent out, draining his stamina by forcing him to dodge over and over a furious serie of relentless blows from both her fists and feet.

Despite his excellent results in training and his status as one of the best cadets of his cohort, Florian was quickly put under severe pressure. Vera was a master of the style who had much more experience practicing the art and putting it to concrete application. Again and again, blows grazed his skin, just only narrowly failing to find purchase. Had it been bladed combat, he would be sporting a myriad of cuts by now. Sweat started to pearl on his forehead and his breath began to grow dry. Although he had been proud of his performance while fighting fellow cadets, now he only felt slow, all too slow, and it caused his entire body to come tense under the pressure.

The anxiety that had struck the cadet while waiting earlier was now back. He was eager to prove himself, just as she told him to, and his pride demanded he put on a good show, even if no one was watching... but this seemed increasingly easier said than done with every passing jab and grazing direct. He had been taught to look for openings, but there were simply none. Vera was too seasoned in the art and too disciplined to be sloppy, over-extend, or to make simple mistakes, leaving him with nothing to work with.

 'If you can't find any opportunities, then you have to create them yourself'. His instructor's words rang at the back of his mind, the memory giving him a new focus and renewed energy. Again, it was easier said than done, but if there was no mistakes for him to exploit, then he needed to try and -make- her make mistakes. The real question though, was how? Needless to say, it was not exactly easy to be trying to brainstorm a strategy while still weaving between blows either...

Observing Vera's attacks with a new angle, Florian was able to spot why exactly he was unable to find any opening. Most foes, when they attacked, would be carried forward by their momentum in such a manner that they would expose themselves, even if just for a second, to counter-blows, but Vera? She was absolutely meticulous. Every jab and every sweep was calculated flawlessly so that she never exposed herself far enough or long enough, and if she did expose herself, it was when he was out of balance and unable to take advantage of it.

And that gave him an idea. If he continued like this, he would tire out, lose all stamina, and be easily knocked out the moment his speed and reaction times began to fade. To be truthful, his energy was already starting to run low from the relentless up-low chain of attacks, and he didn't have much time left at this rate. His only chance to achieve anything in this fight was to shift the tide and become just as aggressive as she had been, if not more so, and to break her balance.

There were only two ways to accomplish  this: Staggering with a good blow, or forcing overextension. If the first option was possible, then he wouldn't be stuck in this situation in the first place, so that left only the second. Although he was running out of steam, Florian pushed himself to the limit and beyond. He needed to move more quickly and to be more mobile than he had been so far, but his muscles strained in protest at the duress they were being put through. Krause ignored the pain, motivating himself by keeping in mind it would be even more painful if he let instructor Frei catch him into a chain of blows.

Florian grit his teeth as he forced his body to obey and managed to leap back out of the hellstorm of strikes he had been locked into before. Vera moved in to catch up, not giving him an inch to breath. Taking his move for a mistake, she moved in for a knockout blow of her own and sent a dreadful upwards kick that only just barely missed the cadet's jaw. Had he been just a millisecond slower, Florian would have been sent sprawling on the floor right there and then, but he weaved just in time and pressed on, charging into range and to the side. He seized the initiative with two flanking jabs, which Vera unfortunately dodged without too much trouble.

Those weren't the true attack, however, as Krause knew they would not succeed. He had just been buying some time and space, and that part of the plan did succeed, giving him a few seconds of respite as Vera was put on the defensive for the briefest of moments. With a fleet foot, he shifted to her side again and sent a sideways kick of his own, striking with the shin to the midsection.  Vera stumbled slightly, but recovered in seconds and withdrew, allowing Florian to catch his now ragged, heavy breath.

"Heh, not too shabby." The crimson-clad instructor noted, crossing her arms once more. She barely seemed bothered by the strenuous exercise. "It took you a while, but you finally got it. A bit slow I would say, but at the same time, managing to stay on your feet for -that- long was a bit of an accomplishment in itself." She smiled with a shark-like toothy, look. Vera Frei was known among the cadets for not being gentle, and some even claimed she took pleasure in beating up the trainees. Whether that was true or not, though, was anyone's guess.

"..Wait what..?" Florian breathed out, still trying to recover. "You mean.. that's.." He was skeptical, and had difficulty believing the challenge was over. This fight had been grueling, and although he hadn't received any knockout blow, he had been badly exhausted in a matter of minutes. Being honest with himself, he could not really consider this a victory when deep down he knew that if it had went on any longer he would have crumbled.

But that was what was expected. "Yeah, that's it. " No cadet was expected to actually outperform a martial arts master with one or two decades of experience after only two years of training. Simply managing to survive and to land a hit back or two was considered acceptable performance in such an unfair test. "You have half an hour to rest, report to Arena C by then for your Trial of Position." For once, Vera's smile mellowed and softened up slightly, showing a rare hint of genuine approbation.

It was finally it. The moment he had been waiting for was here at long last. Florian had been among the first to enlist at in the Corsacs' training program back in September 3064 after fighting in the militia that helped defend Tiegel against the Lyran counter-attack of September 3 to 14. He was driven to become not just a MechWarrior, but one who fought for ideals rather than the greed and territorial interests of the Great Houses, and that drive had contributed to his performance so far greatly.

As with the martial art halls, there were also multiple arenas for Mech combat at Fort Renewal. Some of which were within the walls of the fortress, but more stood outside the main complex. Such was the case of Arena C, which was located on the edge of the infamous Fractured Plains. It was on those plains that the great Trial won by Khan Faust took place, and the arena itself was partially covered in the ashen clouds of the plains.

Florian was not able to make much of his short-lived rest time.  Arena C was relatively far away from his dormitories, so he only had about 15 minutes to head back and take a quick shower and change of clothes, with the other half of his spare time being used to reach the location of the trial. Even outside, a thin spread of ash dust surrounded the arena, which meant that a respirator had to be used during the jeep trip and could only be cast asides once he arrived.

The arenas on the outside perimeter were more barebones than the two ones inside the Fort proper. While the latter followed a coliseum-like style reminiscent of the battlegrounds on the gladiator planet of Solaris VII, the former were little more than two hangars on opposed sides, observation lodges above each and a set of columns with bright lights indicating the limitations of the battleground. These lights were powerful in order to pierce through the thick smog of ashes and rose up tall at regular intervals of every five meters.

Florian took a deep breath and steadied himself as the war machine he was to pilot gave its boot report in the usual, soft digital voice and the control panel became illuminated by backlights, indicators and displays. The cadet took the time to survey the data, but he was already familiar with the model, which both Warriors in the trial would use. It was always the same set-up, and that part of his trials was probably the only one that was truly predictable.

Indeed, Krause now stood in the cockpit of a Mad Dog AC1. The Mad Dog was an historical Mech; a symbol of the 3050 Clan Invasions, but the AC1 variant was a very particular machine, born out of a mixture of restrictive constraints and precise vision. First and foremost, with the Corsacs unable to produce the powerful XL engines that required rare materials found only in the Homeworlds, they had to use inferior, bulkier Inner Sphere substitutes which made the Mech more fragile and vulnerable. The AC1 retained the paired LRM-20s of the Prime variant, but replaced its array of pulse lasers for an ER PPC and a Gauss rifle. With a relatively low amount of ammunition, the AC1 was dependent on good supplies for prolonged staying power, but it had an all-long-range B/M/E load-out that generated less heat and could cause grievous damage without coming close.

Mere seconds later, the heavy gates of the hangar began to open, slowly revealing the gray and black wilderness behind it. Florian took a few cautious steps away from the gantry and towards the door as the faint light of the outside began to reflect on his Mech; pouring in from right to left. Outside, the fog of ashes was thicker than usual, which reduced visibility further than what he was used to, but he would have to make do. Warriors did not have the luxury of always picking their battlefields and to have clement weather, so he did not complain, knowing he needed to simply get used to the fact that nature was a fickle mistress.

"Cadet Florian Krause, today is your chance to prove to your peers you have what it takes to become a Warrior of the Ashen Corsac Clan... and trust me kid, you don't want to look bad today." The voice that rose up on his flickering comm was that of Oswald Reinhardt, one of the Mech Instructors at the War College. The first part of his sentence had been formal and little more than protocol, but the second half confused Florian because of the sudden shift to a much more informal tone that contrasted sharply with the first. He would not have to wait long to receive an explanation however. "SaKhan Schtern has graced us with her presence, be sure to give her a good show."

Instantly, Florian's body tensed. The presence of the SaKhan was not an everyday affair, and he knew that when either Khan was around, it meant something important was ongoing. What though? He had no idea. He gave a closer look on his Mech's sensors and barely made out a contact on the left, by the edge of the arena at mid-way between both hangars. It was hard to make out, but from the distance, he could see the blurred, faint outline of a Turkina assault mech. The steel mammoth turned to face him through the black mist. "Greetings cadet. Fight skillfully, and you will be rewarded with the honor of taking part in a great operation very soon."

A great operation? The Clan had been for the most part content with licking its wounds and rebuilding its strength for the past two years, knowing that it would soon go on the offensive was a thrilling prospect, and to participate in the coming battles even more so. The stress that had been daunting him morphed to become further motivation. More than ever before, he was determined to show what he was made of. Before long, the sound of a great horn resonated throughout the arena, signaling the beginning of the Trial.

Florian set his Mech's throttle ahead at a careful half-way speed. The poor visibility conditions were not everything he had to be wary of in this arena. Large concrete columns provided additional protection and cover from shots while preventing him from getting a straight line of fire right through the center. He would need to be mindful of these both to avoid being flanked to try to bait his opponent into wasting shots, especially when it came to missile locks.

While many Trials of Position among the Clans were to the death, it was not so among the Ashen Corsacs. A victory could be scored in one of three ways: Destruction of the gyro, destruction of all weapon systems, or shutdown of the engine. Shots straight to the cockpit were seen as particularly dezgra and were met with severe punishment.

The duel that followed was not one fought through bravado and brute force, but rather fought with the mind. Speed and reflexes were of the essence, as were every pilot's perception and awareness of their environment. In the searing heat of the Fractured Plains with its lava rivers and its ashen smog, heat management was difficult. Alpha strikes were prohibitive, and even just their single PPCs could not be fired too liberally, while low ammunition storage meant that every shot had to count, whether ballistic or energy.

In other words, Florian and Oswald had to fight like sharpshooters of old on ancient Terra; anticipating their foe's actions and movements while seeking the perfect knockout strike. The fight lasted for a few minutes only, but it was enough. Oswald's greater experience showed in that he managed to land more hits overall and to significantly damage multiple locations on Florian's Mech, but the ambitious Cadet swept in with an unexpectedly sudden win by managing to take out his trainer's Gyro with a particularly precise chain fire where both a shrieking PPC shot and a Gauss slug managed to hit the opposing Mad Dog's center torso and to break though, causing Oswald's Mech to stagger and collide against a concrete pillar.

 "Well done, Mechwarrior Krause. Your time at the academy is over. You have 48 hours to take a mag-train to Kern and to report to the spaceport there." SaKhan Schtern's voice came over the comm as her Turkina advanced ponderously on the misty battlefield. "From this day onwards, you will fight as part of the 1st Corsac Reiters cluster, Alpha Galaxy. Expect to depart by DropShip within a few weeks at most."
Lore and fics page for the Ashen Corsacs homebrew clan here

 

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