09/11/3065 05:48 Location – Strategic Command Center, Trojan Dropship “Raging Bull”, Al’Sur
Command Staff and the Lance Leads were assembled around the central map table, a rather expensive piece of kit that collated a wide variety of sensor inputs from the Dropships, remote sensors, and the Field Command Post. The Combat Support Staff had left at the insistence of Vanguard Command Markus Brandt and the whirs of the Mech bay beyond leaked through until they closed the door, then there was silence. Captain Blackwell stood in place of the incapacitated Commander Arachne. Behind him was Ebon Magistrate Operative “Thane” whose face is concealed behind a shemagh and hood with heavily tinted goggles hanging around his neck, his Ebony Assault Rifle slung over his shoulder and a Sternsnacht Python on a drop-leg holster. Newly promoted Sergeant Leon Reinholdt watched him warily, occasionally moving his hands to his TK MP-76 Pistol although Thane didn’t seem to care.
Alina Kunimoto hadn’t changed out of her flight suit yet having been kept on high alert overnight as Top Shot flew multiple sorties that veered their way before tracking south toward Jaguar controlled territory. Adrian Post’s fire-resistant armored tanker uniform was immaculate as always; the man was a consummate professional when it came to military matters. Jasmina Illonka had changed out of her Gendearme uniform back into her more casual clothing, the same was repeated throughout the room except for Harold Ingress and Michael Dolen who were both in their work uniforms.
LCmd Post looked ready to pounce on SqLd Kunimoto they were frequently at odds but this was unusual. Markus and Joe had called this meaning to calm everyone down, they were rapidly approaching a point of no return they had been lucky thus far but mistakes and misunderstandings would prove fatal on the battlefield and already had. There were numerous unanswered questions and the people they wanted to ask them of weren’t here.
Joe and Markus had already discussed Jasmina’s outing as a mole working for Major Grey in depth prior to assembling the others. The betrayal was visceral to Joe but Markus had expected that somewhere along the way they might have been infiltrated. In fact he was relieved because if she was working for Grey there was little chance that any other agency but MIM was spying on them even if it felt strange to admit it. After the discovery he had Raging Bull’s crew and Leon’s men check everywhere discovering several bugs and some defeat devices but left them in place.
Captain Blackwell’s elevation to contract liaison was concerning, Major Grey should have been here to answer these questions rather than doing her own thing in Shervanis. Markus spoke first eager to resolve the series of conflicts quickly.
VCB: “Captain, where is Commander Arachne?”
CB: “I am afraid she is incapacitated at the moment but improving. I am not sure when she or any of the other Mechwarriors will be ready for action again.”
VCB: “I heard from Mechwarrior Bowman that they fought against two tanks and one hundred battlesuits and were almost overrun.”
Alina piped in, “If it weren’t for my Aerofighters they would have been! That battle cost us Andre I don’t know what we would have done if they have failed.”
Adrian yelled over her, “Yet you left the dropships defenseless, if Top Shot hadn’t veered off to the south we wouldn’t be standing here right now either you would have been shot down or they would have bombed us.”
SLK: “With all due respect Lieutenant Command I am the Aerospace Commander in this unit not you. Your plan could have cost us the entire command if we hadn’t modified it You even realized it when you sent Gloves and Dolphin to join Hotfoot.”
LCP: “Squad Leader your reckless assault could have paved our road of ruin as well.”
SLK: “Adrian, you know my Aerofighters can’t stop Top Shot if they are determined to attack! Why hold us in reserve, if not to buy time for you to roll away.”
Markus slammed his fist into a nearby table derailing a conversation that was rapidly devolving. “Both of you knock it off! The Titanfellers are out there right now, and we don’t know what they are up to. But we aren’t going to stop them if we are at each other’s throats. We have already lost people in this fight, good people, get control of yourselves.”
The strain was visible throughout the command, this was not an easy contract but they would get it done. Chief Tech Dolens and Operations Director Baasch showed it plainly, this was their first campaign, even Signals Officer Heron was unusually sedate. The two sub-commanders regained their composure, Alina fixed hair that had fallen out of its bun and Adrian was still tense but diffused.
Continuing Markus looked toward Abram Baasch, “Director Baasch, tell me, was it worth it?”
Abram drank from his canteen before beginning, “While I can’t put a price on eleven people’s lives, from an operations standpoint it was worth it, we have enough armor to continue the fight and several mechs that can be made operational. The ammunition is a bonus but please be more careful in the future we need all the Mechwarriors we can get.”
Joe looked toward Chief Tech Dolen eager to resolve the standard business and get to the more important discussion, “Strike Commander we are currently stripping the armor off the tech and combat vehicles to base it forward where it can be used. Tack’s Guillotine and Cheapshot’s new Charger will be operational by sunset. The Defiance will be ready later, we have prioritized fixing active mechs. If we ever get a break we will start bringing the damaged salvage mechs online. I don’t see that happening anytime soon though based on the reports I see.”
Joe was on a roll, “Mixed news but positive Dolens, Karras, Heron report”
Karras wore a look of concern that was unexpected, “We are still in the good graces of our hosts although the Titanfeller’s propaganda continues unabated and rumors have been flying, most of them negative. The locals grow increasingly concerned as the weather worsens.” Heron also looked concerned and about ready to pass out, “Something is going on with the Titanfellers, the traffic has picked up pace. I don’t know what they are doing but Top Shot has been active all night veering toward us then heading South. I have been close to hitting the panic button more than once.”
Increasingly impatient Joe continued “Ingress, report”
Chief Engineer Harold Ingress smoothed over his coveralls, “I have nothing to report but do have something to suggest. During the salvage and recovery operation we didn’t see any villagers in town. One of my men walked into the village and found it abandoned. From the sensor readouts we know where the landmines are and the village is already surrounded in defenses. If we base a strike force or logistics point out of the village we can rapidly attack Tai’iqih without having to go via the Divine Palm Oasis. We will eventually have to deal with Top Shot Commander."