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Author Topic: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III  (Read 16419 times)

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #30 on: 14 December 2018, 11:41:35 »
The 3rd Canopian Fusiliers’ Armor Guard occupied the bank looking out over Oni Island.  All of Major Connie Gemmin’s tank turrets were pointed in the fateful island’s direction as were her binoculars from atop the turret of her Assault Pike.  The facility controlled a crucial part of the river that they needed to cross in order to reach their main objective, Kali Liao’s Temple.  They could not allow Rakshasa to operate behind their lines.  They had already proven capable of attacking the SIAC in force for months without suffering meaningful degradation despite the casualties inflicted on them.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

“Delta-Six to Navarone.”
“Navarone online.”
“I need an emergency redirect from the main mission.  Stand-by for coordinates.  Danger close.”

ckosacranoid

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #31 on: 14 December 2018, 19:15:21 »
That is one hell of a screw up to drop into your lap waiting to attack and then having to defend all of a sudden.

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #32 on: 17 December 2018, 12:04:21 »
Major Seraphina Bhola walked back to the hospital through the gloomy gray haze, grateful for the half day off-duty but dreading the upcoming shift.  A major offensive was going on today the first of the latest campaign that stood a chance to bleed the MAF white against Kali's Thugees.  A heavy roar caused her and many others on the walkways to look up as two squadrons of heavily loaded SIAC Tiê Hè (Iron Crane) fighters streaked by on afterburners followed by a squad of heavier MAF Estrela (Modified Meteor).  “That is not a good sign.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

It is full of Demons. 

Demons that now stirred from their slumbers.
« Last Edit: 27 December 2018, 09:06:53 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #33 on: 18 December 2018, 10:31:36 »
The 336th PIR advanced across the jagged rocks of Oni Island, the footing was treacherous but the infantry's boots were tough enough to advance carefully without harm despite the chill calf high water that obscured hazards.  The guns of the Whirlwinds and Crocodiles had suppressed all enemy firing positions on this approach before they disembarked. 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

“Major Thoms, tell Control that I need more Battle Armor or they won't have enough body bags even if we combine the pieces.”
« Last Edit: 18 December 2018, 11:15:04 by AlphaMirage »

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #34 on: 18 December 2018, 20:55:45 »
A sprawling, grandiose tale of war and politics. There's a reason I stick to smaller stories: Haven't the head for such intricate plotting and details. A true feat of imagination.
BattleTech fiction and SciFi writing: https://one-way-mirror.blogspot.jp/

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #35 on: 19 December 2018, 11:39:24 »
A sprawling, grandiose tale of war and politics. There's a reason I stick to smaller stories: Haven't the head for such intricate plotting and details. A true feat of imagination.

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

---------------

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

“Roland, Michael, deal with them.”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


She drew the Katar up and pressed the edge to his neck, “I want kill the Magestrix first; and only when Naomi's broken body lies before me will I complete my revenge.
 With you.”
« Last Edit: 19 December 2018, 11:48:31 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #36 on: 20 December 2018, 12:25:47 »
Magestrix Naomi Centrella’s Journal - Day 50 of Highspire

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She searched the woman’s pockets removing her ID and comm headset while replaced it with her own.  If anyone found this body they might think that the Magestrix was dead until she proved them otherwise, it wouldn't fool many people but it might just cause enough confusion among their ranks.  After changing, she tied the headscarf and dropped the veil in front of her face before recovering the woman’s weapons after cleaning and sheathing her dagger.  She walked back toward the door they had exited from and found no one standing watch.  “Guess who has a backstage pass to Kali’s place now.”
« Last Edit: 20 December 2018, 14:47:41 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #37 on: 22 December 2018, 01:02:01 »
Magestrix Naomi Centrella worked her way through the corridors that snaked below the Mahakali compound disguised as a Thugee initiate.  Others in similar gear jogged past her without looking beyond their own rifles toward the front lines.  She still kept her head down while attempting to navigate toward her destination; careful to avoid any non-verbal communication that might make them spark a conversation in a language she didn't know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Djinn suit looked around obviously communicating with the rest of its squad-mates.  They nodded and picked up the body before heading back to the Temple.
« Last Edit: 27 December 2018, 11:20:35 by AlphaMirage »

DOC_Agren

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #38 on: 23 December 2018, 21:43:24 »
Still good reading   :thumbsup:
:beer: :popcorn:
More please
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #39 on: 24 December 2018, 02:11:18 »
Still good reading   :thumbsup:
:beer: :popcorn:
More please

Thanks DOC, I still have lots to go

----------------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creeping closer she looked around her checking corners wary for danger.  She was in Kali's Liar now and a Canopian knew better than to underestimate another woman.  Behind her Kali quietly dropped down from the silks she had been suspending herself from and undid a yellow sash.  Naomi crept closer to the occupied throne stopping just long enough for Kali to wrap the sash around her throat, pull it tight, and kick her knees out from beneath her.
« Last Edit: 24 December 2018, 02:14:23 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #40 on: 25 December 2018, 13:36:52 »
Kali Liao tightened the silk scarf against Naomi's neck the crushing might only held back by a single hand interposing between it to give her the barest bit of breath.  Her strength wouldn't hold for long and with her knees down it wouldn't be long before she was strangled.  “Naomi, I heard your mother didn't make it out of Crimson so I'm going to send you to hell to be with her.  Then its Kai's turn to see my dear aunt Candi and uncle Torm once more.  I'll be right behind don't worry.”

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

The two women faced one another with the world outside on fire, the jet fuel had ignited some of Kali's banners and flames eagerly climbed the cloth.  The sounds of battle outside grew louder as Kali's Temple Guards continued their last stand against the Magestrix's forces.  The future of the Trinity Alliance would come down to this singular battle between two warrior women.

snakespinner

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #41 on: 25 December 2018, 17:05:18 »
Cat fight.
This is what Sun-Tzu's dreams are made of.
Enjoying the story. :beer:
I wish I could get a good grip on reality, then I would choke it.
Growing old is inevitable,
Growing up is optional.
Watching TrueToaster create evil genius, priceless...everything else is just sub-par.

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #42 on: 26 December 2018, 15:36:17 »
Naomi swore as her spear tip went through Kali's jacket, again.  She ducked the spinning strike from the smaller woman's Guan Dao; Kali landed perfectly barefoot on the stone before using the momentum to keep moving.  Naomi was immediately looking for another of the scarce opportunities to strike.  All it would take is one good thrust and her fight was over.  However, Kali was less than 1.5m tall and petite but strong and agile.  She had more than 20 years of acrobatics conditioning and her Kalari-Wushu training meant she, her long braids, and obscuring silks were always in motion making her a frustratingly difficult target to track.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

"That was too close."

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Newton dropped his head slightly, "Naomi, he didn't make it.  His Awesome was swarmed but he took a lot of Thugees down with him."
"I'm sorry Newton.  We both knew that might happen but this needed to be done.  I didn't know who I could trust if things got hard like they did."
"I know, he didn't hear about your disappearance from the field before they got him so don't blame yourself.  He just fell into one of Kali's traps.  His experience saved me from a similar one later on.  It's just the business unfortunately."
"What are you going to do after Highspire?"
"I am starting with a month of R&R on New Macao in order to give us time to refit.  Alys' Krushers are looking for more soldiers so I think we're going to sign up with them and see this fight to the end."
"Don't get lost in the fight Newton.  I want you back in the Magistracy when this is over.  You deserve a break and I think some time home would be good for you."
"One can dream.  We'll have time to mourn later.  At least our parents are together again now if only in the afterlife."
« Last Edit: 26 December 2018, 15:39:17 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #43 on: 27 December 2018, 08:44:57 »
02/14/3070 Location – Zi-Jen Cheng (Forbidden City), Sian, Capellan Confederation

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

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

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

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

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


Naomi had been working through what to say to her daughter but failed to find an acceptable answer on the way back from Highspire.  She hoped Ilsa would in time forget that they existed and eventually come back when she was mature enough to deal with it,  “They are very far away and we can't go there.”
“Will they come back?”
“No.”
“But I miss them.  Why won't they come back?”
“ I miss them too dear.  They would love to come back, but can't.  You have Aunt Erdé, Adonis, and Uncle Newton.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Naomi rose from her seat to straddle Sun-Tzu on the Celestial Throne itself and dipped her head low while parting her robes just enough to entice interest, “I have missed you Sun-Tzu.  It has been so long since we've last seen one other and we both almost died in the interim.  Time for you to make it up to me."
« Last Edit: 27 December 2018, 09:19:36 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #44 on: 27 December 2018, 10:35:35 »
Adam Steiner of Somerset

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

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

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

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

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

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

They walked back inside toward the Duke’s Chambers, “That would be nice too.  It is a pity our guests are due to arrive shortly because I would desperately like to hear more.”
“Think of it as incentive to get rid of them faster.”
“You are a cruel woman Mrs. Steiner.  I have to be polite, they are our guests.”
“They tried to kill you.”
“If I refused to meet with anyone who thought about killing me at some point I fear I might cut off nearly a third of the Commonwealth nobility, half the AFFC Staff Officers, and every Clan Warrior.”
“Less work for you and more time for me then.”
She put a hand on hip to emphasize, “I don’t see how that is a problem.”
“You are incorrigible.  You’re a proper noblewoman now.  This is unfortunately how things are done in polite society.”
“As long as you are noble, polite, and proper everywhere,”
she pointed to their canopy bed with lifted eyebrows, “but here.  I guess I can live with that.”
« Last Edit: 27 December 2018, 16:06:32 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #45 on: 28 December 2018, 10:33:14 »
From New Syrtis to Sian and back again with the Fusiliers

01/18/3070 Location – Orbisonia, Federated Commonwealth

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

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

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

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

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

All George accomplished was getting a bunch of Fusiliers killed and he ultimately lost worlds that had been FedCom possessions for decades.  The Commonwealth lost the Kittery and Ziliang Salients!  To the damned Trins and Talon Zahn!  Make no mistake Christina, the ultimate winners of that campaign were CapCon (Cappellan-Canopian) and we paid for it with our blood.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #46 on: 30 December 2018, 16:10:30 »
12/19/3069 Location – Kamakura Palace, New Samarkand, Draconis Combine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

“What happened in Fortress Dieron Tara?”

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


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

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

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


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


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

Your father's bloodline ends with you.”

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


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

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

“No, just hand this to the new Loremaster and tell them to inform me when you find her.”

DOC_Agren

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #47 on: 31 December 2018, 01:27:40 »
Theodore had another child?  or Takashi Kurita?
"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!"

Shadow_Wraith

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #48 on: 31 December 2018, 02:44:01 »
Franklin Sakamoto is the son from one of Theodore's ex-girlfriend, before he met his wife.   I think she was ISF, not sure?

Wrangler

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #49 on: 31 December 2018, 08:25:39 »
Grandfather did not kill all his sons children apparently.
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #50 on: 31 December 2018, 12:13:29 »
Franklin Sakamoto is the son from one of Theodore's ex-girlfriend, before he met his wife.   I think she was ISF, not sure?

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

Grandfather did not kill all his sons children apparently.

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

---------------

Dominion of Damocles, Ghost Bears Friend or Foe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Rachel Drake sighed heavily and sunk against the console looking at the holographic portrayal of the Inner Sphere where black wedges still cut deep into Lyran space from the Free Worlds League.  “Do it, send the ComGuards in.  We can't let the Blakists cut up the Federated Commonwealth.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #51 on: 01 January 2019, 23:20:44 »
The Donner Party
01/16/3070 Location – Aboard the SLS Defender of Versailles, Nox Pirate Point, Rasalhague Dominion

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Asteroid impact or WMD exchange.”


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

The Leviathan's thrusters came to life but the sudden acceleration strained the gargantuan vessel and it was not able to evade the still tracking ship.  The impact was powerful enough to knocked the mortally wounded Rasalhague into a rapidly degrading orbit around Jasper.  The great beast went down creating a impact trough and debris field large enough to be seen from Nox via telescope the following day.
« Last Edit: 16 January 2019, 16:45:35 by AlphaMirage »

ckosacranoid

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #52 on: 02 January 2019, 15:28:07 »
that had to hurt. blow up the meeting and knock out a huge ship at the same time. do not do things by half for sure.

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #53 on: 03 January 2019, 08:32:59 »
that had to hurt. blow up the meeting and knock out a huge ship at the same time. do not do things by half for sure.

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

Now for another blow against the Blakists

------

Regulans vs Robots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

“Who are these people?”

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

----------------

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

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

The Regulans blanketed the world of Gibson in nuclear hell-fire from pole to pole, methodically killing everything and everyone on the wretched planet 'just to be safe'.
« Last Edit: 03 January 2019, 08:49:33 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #54 on: 03 January 2019, 10:33:06 »
Short one but teaser
----------
12/15/3069 Location – New Avalon, Federated Commonwealth

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

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

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

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

“You have a lot of nerve coming back after so long Peter.  Do you truly think they will accept you back like nothing happened?”
“They are not my concern, Katherine and the sustainment of the realm are.  I think we both know it would be better for both of us if you do not press the issue to hard.  Besides I’ve got a Clan to back me up.  Khan Xander Drake this is Duke George Hasek of New Syrtis.”
“Just challenge him to a Trial of Position already Peter.  I volunteer myself to be the referee.  It would save us a lot of trouble.”
“That’s not how it works here Khan Drake.  In fact I hope it doesn’t go that far but that’s not really up to me.  Let’s be away Duke Hasek.  Parliament awaits.”
« Last Edit: 03 January 2019, 10:50:53 by AlphaMirage »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #55 on: 03 January 2019, 17:55:02 »
12/15/3069 Location – Parliament, Albion, New Avalon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Order!  Order!  We are all surprised to hear that Prince Peter has returned to us from wherever he was.  I call for a twenty minute recess before we begin in order to calm down and prepare questions.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #56 on: 04 January 2019, 18:14:35 »
The Countess returned to the Prime Minister’s chambers in order to collect her thoughts.  She was Katherine’s agent on the planet but would not be able to vote on ‘her’ successor.  The Prime Minister had been primarily a ceremonial post but the Privy Council would now decide on the next First Prince and possibly Archon-Prince of the Federated Commonwealth.  There were normally contingencies in place to ease transitions but those had broken down with the HPGs being off-line and Katherine's regency was regularly questioned due to the method of acquisition and her power sharing arrangement between the member states.  A single ruler split between realms was always going to have strained relationship with at least one but it had gotten worse under pressure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I think we have what we need Gentlemen.  Please leave us while we discuss amongst ourselves.  We will release our decision tomorrow.”

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #57 on: 06 January 2019, 17:41:00 »
12/16/3069 07:00 Location – Parliament, Albion, New Avalon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile across the Grand Avalon Mountains in the city of Barrington a plain looking man was reading the NAA forums.  He too had seen the morning news and was just waiting for the call from at least one of his previous masters, there was work to be done.  619_DJ_3055 responded to the post.  "Let's talk compensation."

AlphaMirage

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #58 on: 06 January 2019, 19:23:36 »
12/22/3069 06:00 Location – Niflheim, Dagda, Federated Commonwealth

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

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

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

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

“Yes Maam, here are the rest of the morning transmissions.  Some will need a response.  I will inform Star Colonel Waters that we are pulling up stakes.”

snakespinner

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Re: The Price of Victory, Katherine pt III
« Reply #59 on: 06 January 2019, 23:33:57 »
The Hasek is about to hit the fan. >:D
I wish I could get a good grip on reality, then I would choke it.
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