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Author Topic: Kerensky's Hound - The Fall of Arc-Royal  (Read 4866 times)

Lyran Wolf

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Re: Kerensky's Hound - The Fall of Arc-Royal
« Reply #30 on: 07 August 2019, 00:28:00 »
Part 2 of Chapter 14.  Longer than I anticipated, so I will have to finish up what I intended in Chapter 15.  Funny how they keep having a habit of growing.

Lana hurried into the maintenance bay as fast as the duffle bag slung over her shoulder would allow.  There were people running everywhere in the controlled chaos of an emergency scramble.  At least one junior tech caught her attention and placed himself in her path, stretching his arms wide and calling for her to give him the bag.  With rather less grace than she had intended Lana slipped the bag from her shoulder and tossed it to the tech, who hurried off in the direction of Vormund.  Lana angled her way towards the table that was currently surrounded by the remainder of the warriors in her binary.

   One of the warriors, Chiana, held out a steaming cup of something hot for Lana.  “I know how rough waking up right after a patrol can be.  This should help.”
   Lana smiled at Chiana and replied, “Thank you.” Before taking a deep taste of the coffee and trying to blink away the last remnants of sleep.  Star Captain Tuco called for everyone’s attention and started the briefing.

   “I will make this quick as we do not have an abundance of time.  The Falcon 53rd have broken our lines.”  The Star Captain pointed to the paper map laid out on the table in front of the assembled warriors, indicating the eastern half. “They recovered more quickly than we expected and massed to smash through our defenders.  We have received word that they specifically targeted our Gulltopr artillery assets with a risky combat drop, so they are no longer in play.  Given this change in the tactical situation, the Star Colonel has given us a specific assignment before we are to join the rest of the defenders.”

   The Star Captain let the murmur die down before he continued by pointing to a specific spot at the center of the map.  “Beta Star will rendezvous at the Grand Duke’s compound form an escort team.  The Knox armored truck is already on standby.”  He then pointed to the harbor area at the southern portion of the city.  “There is an assault carrier, the Dobhar-chú, stationed at the Fred T, Barry Naval base.  We are to escort the Grand Duke to that vessel and get him out of the city.  To make sure that happens Hound Star will be tasked with securing the naval base and providing security until we arrive.  Radio discipline will be maintained and the Duke will be under the call-sign Ultra for the duration of the opp.”

   Lana joined the seven warriors in signaling understanding of the plan.

   “Good Deal.  Now get to your ‘mechs so we can get finished quickly, I want the Duke safe and sound out on the ocean within two hours. After that we join the rest in making the Falcons pay.”

   The Table broke and Lana joined her warriors as they jogged towards their ‘mechs.  “We do this by the numbers.  I want us to be at that base as quick as possible so we can get a perimeter set up.  Keep your eyes and sensors open but emphasize the pace.”

   Everyone split up to head to their own elevators or stairwells, and clattered to the top before sliding into their cockpits.  Lana checked her personal bag in the corner before tugging at her cooling vest to check the fit.  She secured herself in the five-point harness before donning her neurohelmet and initiating the startup sequence.
She glanced to her weapons display to double-check her triggers.  Both Extended Range PPCs had been kept, but the Streak Missiles were replaced with a pair of six-pack advanced tactical missiles launchers, one over each shoulder.  They did not have the throw weight of her old nine tube launchers but they offered her the battle-field flexibility she had grown used to.  The last weapons rounding out her arsenal were a pair of anti-personnel gauss rifles.  They would be useful against any infantry or battle armor she encountered in the city confines as well as a decent secondary weapon if she needed to put some more metal down-range.

   Once she was satisfied that everything was set as she wanted, Lana walked her Savage Wolf from the bay and into the city streets.   In the darkness of night she could see the engine trails and light displays as aerospace fighters jockeyed for superiority overhead.  There was a fiery glow emanating from the eastern portion of the city along with the occasional laser burst or tracer rounds streaking into the sky.  Lana went through a quick comm check with Star captain Tuco before they split up and each headed towards their objectives.

   The Star kept a tight formation as they raced along the city streets towards the naval base.  The only enemy contact was an unfortunate Skadi fast attack VTOL.  The star spotted it and Vanessa knocked it from the sky with her Hyper Assault Guass rifle before it could duck into cover.  Vanessa purposefully had her Mangonel step on the downed VTOL as its crew fled the stricken aircraft.

   “You know Hound 2, I could get used to this thing.  It has a certain charm to it.”

   Erwin responded with a chuckle.  “It’s the gun.  I’m still trying to figure out how to convince Roger to get me one in an omnipod.”

   Lana smiled to herself but kept it from her voice as she shut the two down. “Cut the chatter.  Eyes out and keep the comm traffic to a minimum.”  A series of double clicks returned the acknowledgment of her orders.

   The group continued in silence until they reached the entrance to the Naval base.  This portion of the harbor was fenced off with a series of automated gun towers spaced around the perimeter.  There was a guard post at the main entrance through the gate.  Each of the turrets at the top of the towers tracked towards Lana and the group of ‘mechs as they entered the area.  Lana brought her Savage Wolf to a stop and dialed up the comm circuit for the naval base.

   “Fred T. Barry.  This is hound 1. We are here to provide perimeter security while the Dobhar-chú is loaded with passengers.”  There was a long few seconds as Lana and her warriors kept their ‘mechs still while staring down the painful end of a number of weapons.

   “Acknowledged Hound Star.  IFF tags check out.  Glad to have you lads here for back up.  Pier 6 has the Dobhar-chú, the orange lines will get you there.”

   The main fence started the slow trundle open as the chain link slid to the side.  Lana switch over her comm and addressed her star.  “Hound two, stay here and keep an eye on the entrance.  Hound three and four, split up and take a pass at the fence perimeter.  Call out anything if you see it.”

   A triple reply of “Aff.” Came through her neurohelmet speakers and Lana watched as Erwin parked his new Timber Wolf just inside the fence and began a slow sweep of his torso from one side to the other.  Vanessa and Christopher entered the area and split in opposite directions working their way along the inside of the fence. 
Lana herself followed the orange line in search of the Dobhar-chú.  On the way there the call came through from Star Captain Tuco apprising that Ultra was secure and the convoy was on its way.  After navigating her way through a series of buildings Lana caught sight of the pier and the Naval ship docked at its side.  The Dobhar-chú, was a flat topped vessel with space for several VTOLs, both on deck and inside a cavernous internal hold.  A conning tower was situated to one side along with a series of missile batteries and laser barrels.  Lana could see crewmen manning the lines and prepping the vessel for departure.  She walked along the pier until she reached a ramp that headed into the hangar. 

It was large enough for her to get her Savage Wolf inside, perhaps even a Dire Wolf if the pilot worked at it.  She opened her external speakers and called to the nearest crewman.  “Will this ramp hold a ‘mech?”

She watched as the crewman gave her an exaggerated thumbs up, and motioned her inside.  Lana placed one of the Savage Wolf’s feet unto the ramp and tested it before she walked the rest of the way and peeked inside.  The hangar was empty except for some supplies and munitions and she could see an elevator to one side that formed a part of the upper deck.  Satisfied that the hangar could safely fit the Grand Duke’s convoy Lana exited and retraced her steps along the path making sure the way was clear.  As she caught sight of Erwin’s Timber Wolf at the entrance the Wolf Strike Grenadiers Command channel chirped.

“All 1st Wolf Strike Grenadiers.  This is Wolf Strike Actual.  Prep all support personnel and equipment for evacuation.  Use any means necessary.  Dropport will be open for 45 minutes.  Otherwise rendezvous at site Bravo.”

The pit in Lana’s stomach blossomed as she switched her comm to the frequency for the maintenance bay.  “Heather.  This is hound 1.  Acknowledge receipt of command order.”

After a few nerve-wracking seconds Heather’s voice came over the comm.  “Acknowledged, Hound 1.  We are packing up.”

“Grab what you can but head towards the Fred T. Barry naval base.  I think I have a ride for you.  Get the people out before the equipment.”  Lana hesitated on the next order but finally decided which way to go.  “Scuttle the remaining ‘mechs before you leave.  The Falcons don’t deserve them.”

“Aff, Star Commander.  Headed your way.”

Lana joined Erwin in standing at the entrance there was really nothing left to do but wait and listen.  The light show continued through the city.  Distant flashes indicating where the fighting was taking place.  A clear concentration was gathered in the direction of the cities Drop port.

Lana’s comm system alerted her to an incoming tightbeam transmission from Erwin standing next to her.  “Waiting is always the worst part.  Don’t be too eager, I suspect there will be plenty to go around.”

“Thanks Erwin, that really helped my nerv—“

“Anybody, this is Kell Hound Cadre.  Requesting immediate support.”  A young man’s voice broke into the Wolf Strike Command Channel walking all over the current transmissions.

“Clear this channel Cadre.”  The Star Colonel’s voice showed clear signs of being pre-occupied but there was no mistaking the authority in his tone.

“No can do. I have dependents in tow and am cut off from the drop port.”

“Sorry son, busy holding what I have. Find another channel.”

“Charlie eight seven, Cadre.”  It could barely have been considered a conscious thought, Lana just found herself blurting it out before she could stop herself.  She mentally kicked herself as she switched back to C87 her Stars tactical channel.

“Thanks for the assist Charlie Eight Seven.  Sending you my co-ordinates now.”

“This is Hound 1, Cadre. You misunderstand I cannot assist.”

“Then why the hell did you give me the channel!  I have Kell Hounds dependents here there is no way we can let the Falcons get a hold of them.”

“You will have to trust me, I cannot leave my current post, but I can offer another route.  Head to the Fred T. Barry Naval base.  We can hold the transport until the current passengers are aboard.  Switch to Echo two nine, Hound 4 will guide you in.”

There was clear frustration in the young man’s voice. “Sure thing, leave everything to the mercs.”

Lana pitched her eyes shut to drown out the evening, but it was still there when she opened her eyes.  She switched to the Binary’s channel to check in with Star Captain Tuco.  “Beta 1.  This is Hound 1.  Extraction site secure, and all clear.  Requesting ETA.”

“ETA twenty minutes.  Be advised reports of enemy contacts headed in from the North East.”

“Acknowledged Beta 1.  Be advised Kell Hounds assets and dependents are in the area.  Wolf techs headed towards extraction zone too.”

“Acknowledged.  All units confirm targets before engaging.”

Lana left the entrance and worked her Savage Wolf to the Northeast portion of the perimeter.  She passed Christopher’s Jade Hawk on the way and he lifted an arm in salute as he walked by.  Lana settled her ‘mech behind a low building near the perimeter and began scanning out into the city.  It was only a few minutes until she had a sensor contact.  The contact resolved into a series of intermittent blips.  Jumpers?  VTOLs flying through the city?

“Hound Star.  I have contacts to the North East.  No confirmation yet. Be ready.” 

Lana worked to increase the sensor clarity as the sensor contacts moved steadily closer.  She noticed the green reading of Christopher’s Jade Hawk nestle in behind her on her left flank.  When the contacts were just a few hundred meters away she caught a glimpse of a ‘mech leaping to the top of a building within sight. “Gyrfalcon!!  Confirm enemy contact. You are clear to engage in defense of the base.”

Lana zoomed and sighted at the Gyrfalcon perched atop the building.  She waited for the tone and let loose with both PPCs.  The Gyrfalcon hopped to the street below spoiling most of her aim but she landed a glancing blow onto its left shoulder before it dropped out of site.  She looked towards the exits of the street it was in as well as the nearby rooftops.  She saw no clue to anticipate where it would pop up next.

Her computer hummed a warning tone in her ears and highlighted a flight of missiles headed towards her.  Her sensors highlighted an Eyrie on a rooftop in the distance.  Lana selected her extended range missile and replied in kind.  She weathered the Eyrie’s attack the light loads on the few long range missiles that connected barely putting a dent in her Ferro-Lamellar armor.  She watched her own missile plumes arc upwards and plummet to follow the Eyrie out of sight, no way of gauging what if any damage she had done.

Lana walked her ‘mech to a new position while the Falcons were out of sight, working for a better set of firing angles.  As she did she caught a glimpse of a ground contact amongst the urban terrain.  It quickly resolved itself into a point of Chalchiuhtolin support tanks.

The Naval Base alarms started the slow wind up into the blaring cycle of a raid horn.  Lana could see the base turrets seeking an enemy and a firing solution.  When movement caught her eye in the 360 display monitor she shifted to her right and locked on to the Gyrfalcon as it leapt atop another roof.  It was pointed in the wrong direction, aimed at where her Savage Wolf had been standing a few seconds ago.  Lana took the time she needed and lined up a shot over the enemy ‘mechs chest.  There was a satisfied explosion of lighting as her PPCs struck the reflective armor over the Gyrfalcon’s chest.  The missiles that followed them to pepper the enemy torso and arms were much more effective, crumpling armor and marring the reflective surfaces.

Lana ignored the harassing missiles from the distant Eyrie and focused her attention on the tanks as they emerged from between the buildings and into the clear space before the base fence.  Both vehicles fired at her, one Pulse laser missing wide and the other burning a staccato line across her ‘mechs right side.  A grouping of short range missiles achieved a lock and tried to claw against her armor.

I could get used to this.  This thing is a juggernaut.

Christopher sent a volley of his own missiles towards the lead tank as the towers added their own ruby lasers and missile fire once they identified a target.  The lead tank lost part of a wheel as the missiles engulfed it and the lasers that missed burnt a red line through the pavement nearby.

While her weapons recycled Lana caught a glimpse of a fast moving target slipping by overhead.  Too quick for her to catch on the way in she looked to the back of her 360 display and saw the rapidly shrinking form of a Cardinal Transport VTOL.  The outline of Ironhold battlearmor peeking out of the exit ramp on the enhanced display.

“Fast moving VTOL inside the perimeter.  Battlearmor inbound.  Protect the Dobhar-chú.”

“On it.” Was the only reply Vanessa gave.  Lana caught glimpses of a stream of silvery trails tracking the Cardinal as she returned her attention to her own fight.
Lana jockeyed for cover and firing solutions as she darted among low buildings and traded fire the tanks.  Between Christopher, the turrets, and her own fire they gave better than they received, but the two ‘mechs used the opportunity to take long range shots while they dealt with the tanks.  Lana was forced to turn her attention to keeping her ‘mech upright when she took a series of hits to her ‘mechs left leg.  The Savage Wolf’s heavy armor was holding up remarkably well but it would not last forever.

“I have visual on the techs, hound 1.  Letting them through now.  You need an assist, QuiAff?”

“Neg, Hound 2.  Keep an eye on the door until Ultra is secure.  We have this handled.”

Lana kept one eye on the movements of the Gyrfalcon as she continued to tangle with the tanks.  There it is!  They alternates two streets and then three. “Dobhar-chú, target indirect Missile fire at grid Alpha nine seven on my mark.”

“The buildings, Hound one?”

“Neg, the Street!” Lana weather the Gyrfalcons next attack. Wait for it. “Mark!”

Lana watched in satisfaction as nearly one hundred long range missiles arced overhead and plummeted into the street the Gyrfalcon had just landed in.  A satisfying set of explosions lit up the night and sent debris high into the air and bouncing along the streets.

“Contact.  Hound Star we have heavy contact with the enemy two klicks north of your position.  Requesting immediate assistance.”  The excitement in Star Captain Tuco’s voice was clear.  A pit opened up in Lana’s stomach as her sensors registered another grouping of contacts headed her way from the Northeast.

“Savashri.  Hound three head North to link up with Beta Star.  Hound two ease east and support us as you can we are swinging back your way.  Hound four pull back with me, let the turrets slow them down.” 

“Still engaged with the battlearmor, Hound lead. Confirm orders to head North.”

“Neg hound three finish up there.”

As Lana pulled her ‘mech west with Christopher she caught a glimpse of a Shrike as it leapt over a building in the distance.  “Assault mech incoming!” Lana found a good spot and turned to hold the east flank to allow the convoy time to get to the Naval Base.  Lana opened a channel to order Erwin north but was cut off by the clusters all call channel.

“Wolf Strike Grenadiers. This is Star Captain Ansella Ward.  All Wolf Strike forces disengage and retreat. I repeat, disengage and retreat.”

“Hound two, head north and get to the convoy, we need to go, now!”

“Aff, Star Commander.”

The leading edge of the new Falcon forces started trading fire with the base turrets.  Lana lined up a few long range shots and added what weight she could.  She watched the sensor blip representing Erwin’s mech start its way North.

“Hound Star.  This is Beta three.  Ultra is down.  Beta 1 is down.  I am cut-off from your position and retreating west. Do not wait on us.”  Warrior Chiana’s voice was heavy with defeat.

Lana sat unmoving in her command chair for long seconds a mixture of sadness, rage and a sense of failure building within her.  Erwin’s voice broke her from the trance.

“Lana, we need to retreat.  Get to the assault carrier and get to safety.”

The anger and emotion boiled to the surface and Lana couldn’t stop herself from snapping at him.  “I am not leaving him!”

“You heard Chiana. He is gone.”

“I said I am not leaving him.  He is my cousin, damnit!”
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Lyran Wolf

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Re: Kerensky's Hound - The Fall of Arc-Royal
« Reply #31 on: 14 August 2019, 23:21:53 »
Well if you make it to the end of chapter 15 that will be 43,505 words.  Thank you all for reading and I hope you continue to enjoy it.  7ish chapters left in the outline depending on how they go when I write them.  Then on to the next outline.

Chapter 15
Old Connaught
Arc-Royal, Arc-Royal Theater
18 September 3146

   The comm system chirped at Lana to indicate a private channel request.  She angrily slap the control that would accept the call as she turned her Savage Wolf to make her way towards the gate, and North to the Grand Duke.

   As Lana expected it was Erwin’s voice she heard over the channel.  “Hey Lana, I know those of us with Kell blood can end up feeling attached to the family but now isn’t a good time to pick the habit up.”

Lana ran her Savage Wolf around a building and turned towards the entrance gate her old Timber Wolf just walking into the area to occupy the opening in the fence.  With more venom in her voice than she intended Lana answered Erwin’s challenge.  “I’m not picking up a new sentiment.  Martin Kell is really my cousin.  Khan Phelan Kell is my genefather.”

Lana stopped her Savage Wolf just shy of colliding with Erwin’s Timber Wolf, the cockpits close enough that she could just make out Erwin inside.  There was a long pause as Erwin threw his hands in the air in frustration.  After Erwin calmed and return to his hands to the controls his voice was low with the same demeanor the instructors would use when questioning students.  “Lana.  Did he even know you existed?”

“Well…..no.  At least not that I know of.  I know it sounds crazy, but he is family.  I wanted to be a part of it since I was a kid and finally figured out all the connections.”
“Lana I understand family, a desire to belong.  But you forget you already have one, and it is going to take both of us to get them out of here safely.  Save the living now, mourn the dead later.”

At the reminder of family Lana found herself looking to the 360 degree video display around her ‘mech.  The image was distant but she could just make out Christopher’s Jade Hawk tangling with the lead elements of the attacking Falcons and Vanessa’s Mangonel racing to support him.  Memories of Adrik gripped Lana’s chest and her mind wandered towards images of Vanessa and Christopher laying amid broken machines.  “Fine.  We group up and present a unified defense and then leap frog back to the carrier.”

“Or, I distract the Falcons and you three get on the ship.  We can’t risk them crippling it before it gets out to sea.”  Satisfied that she would not be headed North Erwin turned his Timber Wolf towards the incoming Falcons and the rest of the Star.

“I will not let you---“ Lana paused midsentence as the Kell Hounds symbol on the side of the Timber Wolf jogged her memory.  The Cadre! Where are they?  Lana opened the Star’s tactical channel her excitement causing her to practically yell into her neurohelmet.  “Hound four, ETA on Cadre?”

The reply touched with static and stress as the Jade Hawk rocked backwards from a group of missile strikes.  “No ETA.  A little busy.”  The Jade Hawk was obscured by smoke as it returned fire with its own missiles.  “You guys joining?”

“Hang tight Hound four.”  A grunt was all Christopher gave in reply.    Lana maneuvered her Savage Wolf towards the line of Falcons, snapping off a few long range PPCs shots at the group to keep them occupied and give them something else to worry about.  Lana switched over to the channel she sent Cadre to earlier.  “Cadre.  This is Hound Star.  What is your position and ETA to the naval base?”

The young man’s voice was clearer than before, the comm system only fought ECM instead of distance as well.  “A few minutes northwest of the naval base.  Lost a Griffin to a Flamberge before we could drive it off, but we are moving again.”

“Ok Cadre. Listen carefully.  There is a group of Falcons in assaults and heavies threatening to overwhelm the naval base.  We will pull them into the base proper and then I need you to hit them hard in the rear and flank when you get here.  Hammer and Anvil, easy, just like the sims.”

“Acknowledged Hound Star.”

Lana turned her attention back to the fight at hand.  A Falcon Shrike was the closest nearby so Lana fired her PPCs and missiles at it as it descended from a leap.  Her PPCs struck the Shrike’s left side burning armor from the lower part of its left arm and hip, and her missiles sent explosions rippling along its chest.  The assault caused the Shrike to shift in flight, but the pilot managed to land with only a slight stumble before righting the ‘mech.  The Shrike’s pilot abandoned their current target and turned to engage Lana.  The Shrike’s lasers lanced out towards Lana and the autocannons barked shells.  One laser cut a swath across the roof of a nearby building while the other sliced across the Savage Wolf’s chest, the autocannon tracers flew past headed deeper into the naval base.

Lana keyed her comms while she ducked her Savage Wolf behind a nearby storage tank and headed to a new position.  “Hound Star give ground to the Falcons.  I will anchor the right flank while we retreat towards carrier.  Swing the left flank west and south, I want the Falcons with their back to the north.  I have a hammer coming.”

A chorus of replies greeted Lana as she finished her circle around the tank.  She scanned her display for signs of the Shrike.  Lana was greeted by the warning klaxon of incoming missiles and rocked by a volley of Autocannon fire as the Shrike descended from above to land less than a 100 meters in front of her.  The autocannons struck the Savage Wolf’s right leg and sent pieces of concrete flying in all directions, as the missiles tore armor from its left side, marring the clan Wolf symbol painted there.  Lana backpedaled the Savage Wolf and fired everything in an effort to drive it back.  The PPCs, missiles and gauss rounds struck the Shrike dead center over its chest.  Something touched off one of the missiles and a chain reaction split the launcher form within, leaving the chest burnt and slightly smoking, the fragile components within visible through the damage.

Eager for a kill and sensing blood Lana reversed her Savage Wolf and headed towards the Shrike.  Tension rose as she waited for her weapons to cycle.  The Shrike struck first, leaping away on jets of fire as it sent blue laser beams and autocannon fire to drive Lana back.  The lasers bit into the Savage Wolf’s left arm and side while the autocannons stuck her right side and shoulder.  From the corner of her eye Lana noted the left side wireframe resolve to red.  “Savashri!  Quit flying and stand still.”  Lana lined up her reticle and snapped off a shot with her PPCs as soon as they were charged.  The PPCs slammed into the right shoulder, tearing a portion of the laser barrel free of the body just before the shrike dropped from sight behind a storage building.

The sight of a Night Gyr walking out from behind a stack of cargo crates sent Lana into retreat.  She angled her Savage Wolf to present her right side towards the Night Gyr and opened fire.  The PPCs struck the right torso and hip, blackening and shattering the armor.  Lana’s missiles sent armor tumbling from the Night Gyr’s legs and waist, her gauss rifles sent a steady stream of ferrous metal into the left leg up to the chest.  Lana fought to keep her Savage Wolf upright as Autocannon and gauss rifle rounds pummeled her ‘mech.  Autocannon rounds breached the armor or her right arm and a heatsink blinked away on her damage display.  A blindingly bright violet laser beam flashed past Lana’s cockpit and speared into the night sky.

Her Armor display flashed an angry red in multiple spots as Lana turned the Savage Wolf in place and raced towards the cover of an overhead crane. She could see an open space before the pier that she intended to make a stand at.

The young leader of Cadre came through clearer than anytime that night as Lana sprinted to take cover behind an abandoned cargo truck. “Hound Star.  We can see the fighting, we are almost there, get ready to hold them.”

Lana watched the rest of her star swing into the open area as she took cover.  She counted at least five falcon ‘mechs follow them into the open.  Both sides showed clear signs of battle damage.  “Alright Hound Star, we hold them here.  Cadre is about to hit them in the back and we are the anvil.”

The Collective ‘mechs of Hound Star found the piece of ground they intended to hold and ceased their retreat.  As one they became an immoveable wall, sending a fusillade of fire towards the advancing Falcons.  Lana planted the left foot of her Savage Wolf behind her as a gauss rifle round tore a hole through her missile launcher and knocked her off balance.  Her armor display went from red to grey in multiple spots.  She poured fire at the assaulting falcons and refused to give ground.  The carrier behind her added its own defense weapons to the mix, as missiles rained down upon the Falcons.

From the haze of battle Lana watched as the shapes of more ‘mechs materialized behind the Falcons.  An instant of fear that they could be Falcon reinforcements was banished as a Verfolger in Kell Hound livery sprinted in behind the Night Gyr.  Lana watched with satisfaction as the Verfolger reached out with PPC and laser fire to rip open the Night Gyr’s back.  The Night Gyr was just starting the process of turning to meet the new foe, the momentum spun it in a circle as the engine died and it twisted to the ground cracking the asphalt below it.  A Hatchetman and Wolfhound joined the verfolger soon after, pinching the Falcons between the hounds.

Two more Falcon ‘mechs fell before the remainder organized a retreat and broke free.  Lana wanted to pursue them but checked her own urges as well as her Stars.  “Let them go. Set up a close perimeter and get the civvies loaded so we can get out of here.  Hound four, coordinate the loading with Cadre the quicker the better.”

“Aff, Star Commander.”

Lana fought the tension as they all waited for the Kell Hounds dependents to load up.  No Falcons returned and the dependents made good time loading up.  Lana made sure she was the last to board the carrier only relaxing when her Savage Wolf was safely stored in the hold and the Dobhar-chú was headed into open waters. 

She let out a deep breath and removed her neurohelmet after finishing the shutdown sequence.  She released her safety straps and made her way to the hatch, popped it open and watched the chain ladder descend to the ground.  Careful to avoid swinging to close to the still cooling sections of damaged armor she made her way to the deck.  Glancing around she saw the seven damaged battlemechs, a number of transport vehicles, and people milling about.  The Verfolger was the closest ‘mech to her own, and she could see the pilot making their way down the ladder.

We owe them one.  Guess I should go see what cadet kiddies we have picked up.

Lana cut a straight path towards the pilot, rocking slightly with the waves.  The pilots form became clearer as she approached and they neared the bottom.  Male, blond hair stuck close to his head from the neurohelmet and sweat, slightly above average build, about her height.  She reached the ladder just before he reached the bottom and she grabbed it to help steady the last few steps.

“Hey I wanted to thank you for sav---“  Lana stopped midsentence as the pilot reached the bottom and he turned to face her.  A flood of teenage memories hit her as their eyes locked inches from each other.  Those blue eyes! Conor Moore.

Conor Moore’s eyes narrowed into icy daggers as the recognition hit him too.
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Lyran Wolf

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Re: Kerensky's Hound - The Fall of Arc-Royal
« Reply #32 on: 25 August 2019, 20:40:23 »
Part 1 of Chapter 16.  Has anyone ever mentioned that writer's block sucks?  Might be a day or two before work lets me get back to this, but I promise to power through and continue working towards the closing.

Chapter 16
Hangar bay, Dobhar-chú
Arc-Royal, Arc-Royal Theater
18 September 3146

   Lana watched as Conor’s features cycled through a gamut of emotions before finally settling on a stony façade.  Unaware of what her own face may have betrayed Lana forced herself to adopt an inviting but professional mien and took the initiative.  “Conor.  I am glad to see you alive, especially when you help knock down some Falcons.  Were you not scheduled to have graduated already, QuiAff?”

   Conor stared at Lana, letting the silence stretch on to just the point it was starting to be uncomfortable.  “I did graduated a few months ago.  With some of the highest marks in my class, too.”  Conor took a moment to look Lana over stopping at the daggerstar attached to her cooling vest.  “I see you survived that damnably crazy live-fire graduation of yours.  It probably is better that you keep to yourselves maintaining traditions like that.  How many did you all lose this time?  Any chance it was that brother of yours you fancied?”

   Lana felt the heat rise to her face and only through extreme self-control did she manage to stop her clenched fist from flying from her side and into Conor’s face.  She took a calming breath before she trusted herself to speak.  “Adrik, and he is my sibkin not my brother.  No one was killed, and those who earned scars will wear them with pride as a reminder of their victory.  Those traditions you scoff at keep us strong, our warriors have been defending this planet while the top mark graduates of the academy still cut their teeth in cadre units.”  Lana saw the flush of anger touch Conor’s cheeks as his eyes took on a hard edge.  Good that one stung.

   A navy serviceman interrupted them before either could continue their verbal sparring match.  “Sir and ma’am, the captain asked me to escort you all to the available staterooms so you can make yourselves presentable before joining him in his office.  Suitable uniforms will be made available for your use if needed.  If you would kindly step this way.”  The serviceman turned towards a door at the far end of the hangar bay, and motioned with one arm for Conor and Lana to proceed.

   Lana motioned to the Savage Wolf parked in the hangar. “I have a field uniform available with my effects.  You can arrange for them to be brought to my stateroom instead of a loaner.”

   “Yes Ma’am.” 

   Satisfied, Lana did as requested and walked with the rating to the upper portions of the ship, directly below the landing deck.  They were joined by the rest of the mechwarriors as they left the hangar.  When they arrived at the staterooms the sounds of returning VTOLs could be faintly heard from above.  The navy rating motioned towards a room and addressed the gentlemen of the group.  “I am afraid that on short notice the only berthing we have available is in the men’s junior officer berth.  You will find enough bunks available and bedding from the ships supplies.  The men’s head is down the hallway over there.”  The rating pointed to a doorway at the end of the hall that was clearly labelled as the men’s restroom.

   The men grumbled a bit before filing into the room, Lana heard the first part of the typical ritual as they all started comparing rank and jockeying for the best bunk.  Vanessa and Lana were the only mechwarriors left as the rating walked them a few doors further down the hall.  He stopped at a closed doorway and then indicated this was their destination.  “Ma’am, this room only has two other female pilots, so the two of you will fill it out.  Same routine, you can request any needs from the purser.  The women’s head is down that hallway and to the right.”  He indicated a hallway and then excused himself.

   Vanessa allowed Lana to enter first. “After you Star Commander.”
 
The room was comfortable looking if a bit cramped.  Four bunk beds, an equal number of desks and chairs, two of which were already claimed.  Lana shrugged, “I guess it is no different than a typical dropship berth.  Maybe even a bit bigger actually.  Looks like we are each left with a top bunk.”  Lana glanced between the two for evaluation and decided on the one closest to the door.  She walked over and tested her way on top.  “I will take this one, you can have the other Vanessa.”

   Vanessa walked towards hers and smiled back at Lana, “I will take this over the twenty of us crammed into the Sibko berth.  I am more surprised by the fact they wasted resources and space to make separate facilities for the men and women.”  Vanessa climbed onto her bunk and tested it out.

   “Well they do have some different notions about modesty, among others.”

   The women quickly settled into a discussion over the merits of clan versus inner sphere societies as they waited for their bags to be delivered.
***
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Re: Kerensky's Hound - The Fall of Arc-Royal
« Reply #33 on: 30 August 2019, 21:20:15 »
Part 2 of Chapter 16

   Lana tugged at her camo patterned field uniform one last time to check that everything was presentable.  She was standing outside the sea-cabin of the Dobhar-chú’s captain, Rowan Lynch.  While the intelligence and mutual defense pacts between the Arc-Royal Wolves and the Lyran Commonwealth made the wolves the defenders of the Arc-Royal Defense Cordon, they were not in fact part of the Lyran chain of command.  On the other hand ancient traditions dating all the way back to Terra made certain that the captain of any vessel at sea was the undisputed master of their command.  Lana had every intention of showing the military decorum and respect she had drilled into her from a young age.  It also helped that it would give her a chance to show up Conor who by all accounts was still carrying a massive chip on his shoulder.

   Lana glanced down the passageway but so no one else coming.  Excellent, I can make it in first and score one for the wolves.  Lana raised her fist and rapt it against the metal door to announce her presence.  She heard a muffled voice from within call her to enter.  She wasted no time in working the door latch and swinging it open.  She was greeted by the sight of a tiny room just large enough to hold a desk with chair and what looked to be a folding rack against the wall.  Captain Lynch was seated behind his desk, salt and pepper brown hair and a stern look.  The most surprising occupant was standing in front of the desk, navy camo colored fatigues and blond hair, standing at easy but disciplined stance with his feet apart and hands clasped behind his back.  How did Conor get here first?  Savashri, women’s showers are too far away.  As Lana squeezed into the tiny room beside Conor she was almost certain she saw the barest hint of a smile on his face.

   Lana came to attention before the captain and gave her best clan salute for good measure.  “Sir, you requested my presence, QuiAff?”  She stared at the unit plaque hanging behind the captain’s head, a stylized otter like creature flying a gyrocopter.

   “I did.  You can cut out that clan language and stand at ease.”  Lana did as ordered and looked to the captain to continue.

   Captain Lynch looked between Conor and Lana, locking each of them long enough that they could see his scowl.  “Now that both of you are here I would like a debriefing.  I was called upon to ferry the Grand Duke to safety, but instead of being granted the honor of entertaining my liege in my stateroom below, I have a hold full of two lances of mechs, support crews, and few score civilians.  Only about half of the VTOLs that have decided to land on my ship were even assigned to me.  Help me understand how we got here and where we are headed, before I decide to disembark you at my convenience.”

   Lana took the chance to seize the initiative and just edged out Conor with her response, his mouth caught open but not quick enough to speak.  “Captain Lynch.  My star was assigned to protect the port as part of the operation to escort the grand Duke.  We proceeded there while the other elements of our Binary linked up the Grand Duke and escorted him through the city towards the Fred T. Barry naval base.   Once we arrived we set up a defensive perimeter and awaited the arrival of the Grand Duke.  We eventually made contact with advanced elements of the Falcons when the overall defenses of the city were overrun.  We held the port while guiding elements of the Kell Hounds cadre, dependents and our own support elements to our location.  During the combat the escort elements with the Grand Duke made contact with the enemy.  I did not shift support to their location fast enough and the Grand Duke and elements of the escort were killed.  When the order to retreat from the city was given we maneuvered the Falcons into a pinch between my Star and the arriving units of Lieutenant Moore’s lance.  This allowed us to force the Falcon’s into retreat and load the final dependents.  At which point my Star loaded aboard the Dobhar-chú and we put to sea shortly after.”

   Captain Lynch took a long moment to process the information before turning to Conor. “Lieutenant, do you agree with Star Commander Lana or do you have anything else to add?”

   Conor glanced over to Lana with an expression she could not quite read, and then turned his head to address the Captain.  “No sir what I do know of the events matches what the Star Commander has said.  I would like to thank you personally for accepting the Kell Hounds dependents aboard.  The Falcon’s have been going out of their way to harm the Kell Hounds and I shuddered to think what they might have done to children if we had not made it out of the city.”

   Captain Lynch dropped his scowl and nodded.  “As I am sure the Star Commander can attest, Arc-Royal has a history of providing aid and shelter to those in need.”  The Captain propped his elbows on his desk and interlocked his fingers before his chest before continuing.  “So did either one of you think about what the next step was or did you just turn the old saying on its head a go for any ship in a storm?”

   Both Lana and Conor were silent.

   “I thought so.  Well I intend to make the Falcon’s life a living hell from the seas.  I can’t however do that in good conscience with a ship full of children and civilians.  I can however drop you off at a little known port on Grunwald.  You will be on your own from there but I suggest making your way to Wolf City.”

   Lana nodded her understanding.  “Thank you sir.  If there is anything I or my people can do to assist let me know.”

   “Duly noted, Star Commander.  For now I would prefer you and your people make yourselves as unobtrusive as possible for the next few days.  Dismissed.”

   Lana exited from the tiny room and headed back towards the temporary quarters she had been given.  Due to the proximity of their rooms Conor walked beside her through the passageways.  Neither one of them decided to speak, letting the tension hang between them.  Lana glanced to Conor on occasion and caught him doing the same to her.  He still bore the occasional glimmer of hatred, but his expression was more often than not neutral.   For Lana’s part she found herself remembering old times and the fun they had.  A young academy cadet and Sibko trainee, turned loose on Old Connaught.  They were both older by three years since they had last met.  Conor had definitely filled out and lost any lingering awkwardness from his early years at the academy. 

   As they walked Lana remembered the laughter, the pleasure, the mischief that had gotten into.  The taste of the Inner sphere she rarely experienced from the confines of Wolf City and training regimen of the Sibko.  She slow remembered the love struck fantasy Conor had started to utter.  Talks of fighting in the Kell Hounds together, an unstoppable fighting couple, a home to share on Arc-Royal.  Kids.  Silly, immature thoughts.  It was pure fantasy then and no more likely now. 

   Lana focused her mind elsewhere for the rest of the walk.  Still try as she might she could not stop herself from being a little upset as Conor’s absence when they separated at his doorway.  Nor could she quite shake the lingering siren call of the other life she might have led if she never forced him away.
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Re: Kerensky's Hound - The Fall of Arc-Royal
« Reply #34 on: 16 September 2019, 21:56:19 »
Chapter 17
Assault Carrier Dobhar-chú
Arc-Royal, Arc-Royal Theater
20 September 3146
   
   Lana leaned against the inside railing of the well deck.  Four hovercraft were secured below her in the aft portion of the ship.  She was finally adjusted to the rhythmic rocking that marked their continued passage through the ocean.  If I close my eyes I bet I could fall asleep right here. Best sleep I have had in ages.  Guess I get three more days of it until we reach port.  Lana closed her eyes and let herself sway with the ship, she concentrated on listening for the waves outside and let her mind drift.

   The ceremony was passing for what could be thrown together aboard ship.  At least Captain Lynch was passionate in his send-off for the Grand Duke.  The pang of guilt pricked Lana again and she forced herself away from the thoughts that would send her down a rabbit trail of what-ifs and self-doubt.  Adrik would always have something quick witted to say that would lighten any mood.  Sibko training would have been impossible at times, without him.  Images of Adrik tumbling away from the Savage Wolf’s arm and laying on a gurney flashed through Lana’s mind.  I need to get my mind off of everything for a bit.  What I need is a good…, great now I am thinking about Conor.

   Lana crossed her arms over the railing and laid her head on her forearms.  “Any other bad decisions I need to think about tonight?”  Lana’s voice faintly echoed back to her in the quiet confines of the cavernous well deck.  She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, mentally focusing on the breathing exercises her close combat instructor taught her.  In the quiet she noticed the faint sound of footsteps walking towards her along the platform.

   Lana raised her head and looked towards the newcomer.  Erwin was walking down the pathway about ten feet away.  He halted mid-step and a wide grin split his face, after a brief pause he nodded and continued to Lana’s side. 

   “I was certain you were too pre-occupied to notice me.  Either you are getting better or I need to try harder and step up the lessons.”

   “Just poor luck.  You picked the moment I decided to focus on digging myself out of my mound of self-pity.”

   Erwin lifted a bottle and placed its bottom on the railing sending a faint clink through air.  “I guess that means it would be poor form to share this then.”

   Lana read the label and faintly recalled it as a mediocre brand of local whiskey.  “Did you raid the captain’s personal stash, Quiaff?”

    “Neg. If you learn the signs you can find just about anything in the other militaries of the galaxy.  It seemed the most appropriate thing to drink in honor of Martin Kell.  The family is rumored to be a fan of whiskey.  Though at least speaking for myself it must not be a genetic predisposition.”  Erwin lifted the bottle in Lana’s direction.  “As the only two family members on ship I consider it a sacred duty to drink one in Martin’s honor. What say you?”

    Lana cocked her head and gave Erwin a sideways glance.  “I do not see any glasses with you, are we drinking straight from the bottle?”

   Erwin made a deliberate show of undoing the cap.  “Unless you want to waste time and risk having to share.  Yes.”  Erwin lifted the bottle in the air and toasted, “For Martin”, before putting it to his lips and taking a swig.  When he finished a long draw from the bottle he offered it to Lana.

    Lana took the bottle and stared at it for a long moment trying to think of what to say.  She settled on what summed up how she felt and raised the bottle overhead.  “To the cousin who will never know I exist.  May he rest easy with his people in our care.”  Lana took a long sip from the bottle.  It was surprisingly smoother than she expected, but not something she intended to continuing drinking straight.

   Lana passed the bottle back to Erwin and tilted her head back and took a deep breath.  She dropped her head and shoulders back to the present and looked to Erwin.  “I keep running everything through my head over and over again, wondering if I could have done something different.  If I should have done something different.”  Lana dropped her gaze to the deck and shook her head from side to side. “It feels like I am to blame for my cousin’s death.”

    Erwin’s voice was harsh and devoid of warmth when he answered. “What answer did all of your ruminating give you?”

    Lana lifted her head and looked to Erwin she wanted to put fire in her eyes to meet his harshness but she had none. “That if I had sent you to him as I originally wanted to, you would not have arrived in time.  In addition I would have separated my forces when facing the weight of superior numbers.  Leaving you cut off and the remainder of us in danger of being overrun.  In short I may have gotten us all killed.”

    Erwin met Lana’s gaze and his reply had none of the edge the previous had. “That is Lana the Star Commander and tactician speaking.  The one that can be pricked into the response I desire.  Think beyond that immediate engagement.  What does Lana the person think when she thinks of everything, how does she feel?”

    Lana contemplated the question and then found a little spark of fire for her eyes.  “Pissed Off.  That is how Lana feels.  Upset that we had nearly a Trinary of Falcons waltz through our area, some of which just so happened to find the Grand Duke’s convoy.  Then my mind races to figure out why.  Was it the fog of war and bad luck, or was there something else more sinister going on, QuiAff?”

    Erwin shrugged his shoulders as he finished another long pull from the bottle.  “No clue.  But you are asking the right questions.  So what are you going to do about it?”
“I…I had not really thought about it beyond the conspiracy theory part.”

    “Well if it was me I would sit down and theorize on some credible suspects.  No sense in expending unneeded effort if you have nowhere to start looking.  Then I would start the intelligence gathering.  But that is because I was trained to think that way, to act that way.  If you really think there is something to your hunch I could start to train you to think that way.”

    Lana turned her head to stare into the open well deck.  She thought about it all for a long time, taking more than a few sips from the shared bottle, before she answered, “I can think of no person or reason why they would have sold out Martin to the Falcons.  So I have no place to start anyway.”  Lana bit the corner of her lower lip then decided to go for it.  “As to your offer of training.   Was what you told me the other evening true, QuiAff?  SaKhan Shaw and Loremaster Mehta argued over where to place me and the Khan told them it was my choice.”

   Erwin scowled slightly and sighed.  “I was not there, but in this case I believe the Loremaster was telling the truth. Mostly.  Yes he did call on me to convince you to join the Watch.”

    “But you are not trying your best, QuiNeg?”

    Erwin searched Lana’s face for a moment before taking his own turn staring into the well deck.  Lana let the silence hang and busied herself with a sip of whiskey.  Erwin continued staring into the distance when he answered. “I could lie and tell you circumstances have not permitted it, but I want you to know the truth.  In the beginning, yes, the Falcon arrival made me hesitate and put the needs of the Clan first, everyone needed to be focused on pushing them off our home.  Once I saw you in combat however, you reminded me of myself.  Young, eager, fresh from a triumphant trial of position, stumbling your way into how to be a leader and a warrior.  Alive.”  Erwin turned to meet Lana’s gaze head on.  “I decided then that I would let you make your own choice.  The offer is there and I will tell you honestly what that means, but I refuse to try and convince you.”

    “Why?  Why refuse your orders?

    “I have spent too much time as you have been doing, thinking about how things might have been.  Longing for a Bloodname I will never be allowed to earn.  Wondering if I would have become a Star Colonel, or more.  The reverse is true as well.  What I have seen in my travels reaffirmed my faith in the inner sphere and my conviction to guard it from danger.  I have been exposed to cultures and situations I would never have known if I was only a warrior.  I want you to own that decision, not look back at it and praise or curse my name.”

    Lana stared at Erwin and took the time to take in everything he had just told her.  “Thank you, I guess.  You will not even give me advice on which to choose, QuiNeg?”
“Neg. I know that from the moment your parents were chosen you were destined for greatness.  Whatever you choose on your own is the right path.”

    Lana rolled her eyes and playfully punched Erwin in the shoulder.  “Ugh.  You sound just like the scientists, who would rattle off my list of ancestors.  They held me and my nine siblings with some kind of reverence, like we were the culmination of the eugenics program.”  Lana let more whiskey burn its way to her belly and stared into the half-empty bottle.  “You know, of all of us I was the only one to even make it to my Trial of Position.  Bet the scientist did not account for that low of a success rate.”

    Erwin took back his bottle and gave his opinion before taking another drink, “It just means you were the best.”

    Lana and Erwin shared the last of the bottle in silence before they stumbled back to the waiting bunks of the officer’s deck.
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Re: Kerensky's Hound - The Fall of Arc-Royal
« Reply #35 on: 25 September 2019, 21:58:39 »
A short chapter today.  Might get a second in this week.

Wow, so close to 2400 views.  I must be honest it's a bit exciting, humbling, and nerve-wracking that people seem to be returning each time I post.  Hope you enjoy.

Chapter 18
Assault Carrier Dobhar-chú
Arc-Royal, Arc-Royal Theater
22 September 3146
   
   Lana leaned heavily against the side of the shower stall, one arm pressed against the wall with her head pressed into her forearm.  She stood there and savored the hot water pounding against her shoulders and cascading to the floor.  That sparring session was a welcome change to the boredom, but I have not tasted the mat that much since my earliest sibko days. Lana shifted slightly to let the water pound against her right shoulder and worked it in a circle to let the motion and heat loosen it again.  Well I know now that Erwin was not joking when he said he would fight all three of us.  He moves just like instructor Anne did, just younger and faster.  That is the last time I mock someone for studying “soft” martial arts.

   Lana let the water flow over her and release any lingering tension while she replayed the high points of the day’s session in her mind.  There were a few things Erwin had stayed to teach her when Vanessa and Christopher had excused themselves.  She wanted to commit them to memory for next time, and a relaxing shower always helped.  The days return to regular calisthenics and martial practice was good, but a nice shower was better.  Lana quickly lost herself in the moment and just stood there savoring the sound of falling water.

   The moment was shattered some time later when a hard pounding came from the changing alcove outside the shower stall she currently occupied.  An unmistakably male voice followed it by calling inside, “Come on, no holovid showers.  The rest of us need to get ready for our watch too.” 

   Savashri.  What time is it?  Lana quickly shut down the water and started glancing around the shower stall.  Tiny and barren with a dry alcove with a bench attached outside, the curtain at least was good enough to give full privacy.  Well I am not sneaking out of this one.  Lana shook off what water she could and stepped into the changing alcove to grab her towel and begin drying herself off.  She was most of the way done when the caller pounded on the frame again, “Ah man, if you are done come on out and let somebody else in. It’s no different than basic training.”

   I suspect mine was a bit different than yours, but yes no different than the sibko.  Ah well not going to going to get out of here anyway.  Just wish someone had a camera on their faces.  Lana threw her towel over one shoulder and scooped up her dirty and clean clothes.  A grin split her face as she prepped her most feminine voice and called through the curtain.  “If you insist.”  She then walked through the curtain, past the impatient sailor, and into a room full of men getting ready for their watch.  She couldn’t help but strut a little as she walked naked as the day she was decanted towards an open spot on a bench.

   It took a few moments for the reality to register on a few of the bathroom occupants.  Some of the mostly disrobed ones angled for cover or covered themselves, some stared in shock, a few made a point to look away, and one or two openly enjoyed the view.  Lana saw Erwin, on the other hand, take stock of the situation and the reactions of the other occupants.  Lana watched as he started to convulse in silent laughter unable to finish putting on his shirt.  She reached the empty bench spot and plopped her clothes down before resuming the effort to towel herself dry.

   Lana listened to the low murmuring over whether she was allowed to be in here, or those that were perfectly happy to discuss their assessments.  Lana saw the shadow creep over her as she finished toweling with her legs and feet.  She tensed for a confrontation and looked up to see who was there.

   A flush of anxiety hit her chest as she looked up into Conor’s hard edged eyes.  He stood over her with his arms wide, holding a fresh towel stretched between both hands.  He stood with his back to the bulk of the room positioning the towel to block Lana from view.

   Lana halted, frozen in surprise for a few seconds before she forced herself to continue.  Finished with it Lana threw the towel on the bench behind her and stood facing Conor.  “Do I look better than you remember or do you need time to compare, QuiAff?”  Lana watched as Conor looked her over before catching himself and pointedly looking away, hints of red touching his cheeks.  The muscles of his jaw tensed for a second before he spoke.

   “You should not be in here, and you know it.  What is your game, tired of that brother of yours and looking for someone new?”

   The sorrow and Conor’s mentioned of Adrik and the old hurt Lana saw in his eyes was almost too much.  She was saved by a flying towel that pelted Conor in the back of his head.  A voice from someone she couldn’t see followed the projectile.  “Come on no private sessions, share the show.”

   When Conor turned his head to address the offender Lana turned to busy herself in donning her undergarments and fresh clothes.  She spoke softly while she dressed herself in the makeshift enclosure.  “The ladies room is so far away from my bunk.  I was going to slip in and out before anyone else arrived.”  Lana finished pulling on her pants and reached for her shirt.  “The towel and all is cute but not necessary.  Sibko barracks are co-ed with not a lot of privacy.”

   “The towel wasn’t to protect you, it was to protect them.  They don’t understand your games, or what they would be getting themselves into.”

   The barb struck true and Lana felt the pain of guilt spread from her chest.  She sensed the first welling of tears and instinctively lashed out in anger to prevent herself from showing weakness.  Without really thinking about it she threw the shirt in her hand straight into Conor’s face.  She knew instantly it was the right choice, so she grabbed her dirty shirt and yanked it over her head.  She snatched up her boots and the rest of her dirty clothes and walked from the restroom barefoot.  She never looked back as she addressed him, “You can have it back since it is no longer my favorite.”

   Lana never saw the look of recognition and confusion as Conor stared after her, holding a black shirt emblazoned with the red and black symbol of the Kell Hounds.

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Re: Kerensky's Hound - The Fall of Arc-Royal
« Reply #36 on: 02 May 2020, 15:05:27 »
Well started this whole thing a year ago.  Took a very long break at the end of September.  Let's see if this can help spur me to finish the outline I have down.

Part one of chapter 19.  Looks like easing back in with baby steps will be how this goes.


Chapter 19
Assault Carrier Dobhar-chú
Arc-Royal, Arc-Royal Theater
23 September 3146
   
   
  Lana surveyed the bay at the center of the Dobhar-chú, the wolf techs and laborers were in the process of taking down the makeshift living quarters they had set up in the bay.  Even though it consisted mostly of makeshift cots and barriers, it was orderly and utilized anything they had brought with them when fleeing Old Connaught.  The clan does not waste resources.  Looks like everything will be stored and ready to move when we reach port.

  Lana turned her attention to the remaining ‘mechs of her command, all of them stowed in one corner and watching over the rest of the bay.  Somehow the techs had found the time to paint a snarling wolf’s head over the cockpit of Christopher’s Jade Hawk.  The Timber Wolf and Mangonel were in good repair.  Lana’s own Savage Wolf no longer had the custom loadout she had set for it.  Instead larger boxes perched on each shoulder holding nine tube Advance Tactical Missile launchers.  As Lana continued to move her gaze over her Savage Wolf appraising the repair work for combat readiness, she caught the sound of safety boots on deck, clearly walking her direction.

  Lana closed her eyes and tried to practice guessing who it was without turning to look, which would give away the fact she knew they were coming.  Heavier footfalls, with purpose, even in the crowded bay.  Must be used to the environment.  A Tech, quiaff?  The mostly likely one to come speak to me would be Heather.
Lana crossed her arms in front of her chest and continued looking at her Savage Wolf as she waited to see if her guess was correct.  Lana did her best to suppress a smile as Heather walked up beside her wiping her hands clean on a rag she was carrying.  Lana waited for Heather to speak first.

  “Star Commander, we did not have the parts needed to put her back together in your custom configuration, but we did have the parts to outfit her in an alpha configuration.  Once we get to Wolf City I will requisition what we need.”

   “It is not your fault Heather.  You had no way to anticipate we would be adding this much salvage to our roster.  Not to mention being cut off from any supply.  I commend you for the fact you could put them all back together at all.  We took a beating at the port.”

   “No need to feel obligating to put me at ease, Star Commander.  I should have anticipated needing to repair the Savage Wolf.  You have shown no indications that you will be one of the warriors who think of beating up a tech just because they do not like the reality the tech brings them.  Feel free to yell at me a bit if you feel the need.”  Heather winked at Lana as a predatory grin spread across her face, “Might help me put some fire under the other techs too.”

   “I was being sincere.  I have done a lot of thinking on the logistics lessons we received during Sibko training.  I understand now why the instructors were so insistent we study those in addition to our combat training.  No chance to even meet the enemy on the field if there is nothing to do it in.  Any warrior so trumped up on their own delusions, they think it will never be an issue, deserves to be crushed on the field when it does.”

   “I see no reason to contest your logic, Star Commander.”  Heather paused long enough to pull out her pocket computer and reference some data, “Everything is on track to be ready for offloading when we make port in 3 hours.  As the highest ranking Tech I organized our transports, personal and cargo, as well as giving, shall we say, suggestions, to the Kell Hounds convoy of dependents.”  Heather offered Lana her pocket computer in an outstretched hand.

   In response Lana motioned heather to put the computer away.  “I trust your expertise and judgement Heather.  Tag the vehicles that will be carrying passengers and send them to the Stars tactical computers.  I want to prioritize their protection if we find ourselves in hostile territory.”


   Heather replaced her computer in its usual coverall pocket, and nodded acknowledgement.  “Aff Star Commander.”  She then used her left arm to motion towards the Kell Hounds ‘mechs crowded in the other corner of the bay.  “We assisted in the repairs to those three as well.  They are at least up and running.  You will be taking command of all elements in the convoy, quiaff?”

   Lana looked over to the three Kell Hounds ‘mechs and spotted Conor standing nearby with his mechwarriors.  Lana felt the heat rise as the anger of yesterday’s encounter returned.  “Neg.  I feel that attempting the integration would go poorly under these conditions.  I believe each unit will work best if we guard our portion of the convoy.”
Heather stared at Lana for a long moment.  Her mouth twitched a few times as if preparing to speak before setting into a thin line.  “Permission to return to my duties Star Commander?”

  “Granted”

  As Heather walked towards the continuing prep work, Lana headed to towards her Savage Wolf intent to be the first off the ship into the port.


CDT Agent #1000