Battletech Mercs Unleashed

MechJock Magazine #1158

May 3064 / Recap Solaris 7 Arms Expo

Another report on Solaris 7, this Arms Expo brought to you by Tharkad Aerospace Group and Blue Shot Weaponry.

Centurion and Starslayer Omnimechs

This S7AE Corean and Blue Shot Weaponry brought us a surprise, Hesperus Advanced Research Projects (HARP) and NAIS’ Banzai Team have developed Omnimech variants of these workhouse designs. First the similarities

Both Chassis’ still weight 50 tons, are made of Standard Internals, and powered by a Edasich 250 Light Fusion Engine and have a max speed of 86 km/h. They are armored with 9 tons of Ferro-Fibrous and have redesigned gyros capable of handling the diverse load of weapons they carry. The right torso of the Centurion also has CASE capable of safely carrying ammo.

We will start with the Centurion, the Prime version has a Mydron Excel LB-10X autocannon mounted in the right arm, above that is one Brightbloom ER Medium Laser. a Luxor 3R LRM10 is located in the left torso. Two tons of LBX ammo and one ton of LRM ammo are in the right torso.

The A version replaces the LB-10X with a Mydron Tornado Rotary 57mm Autocannon, a total of two Brightbloom ERML lasers are mounted above and below it The Luxor LRM is unchanged.

The B version differs from the A version in that a Mydron A (Annihilator) AC/20 replaces the RAC/5 and its coaxial lasers. To accommodate the extra weight the LRM 10 is replaced with a Harpoon-6 SRM-6.

The C version is very different from previous in that it replaces the Autocannon with a Johnston High Speed ERPPC which is fairly uncommon in the FedSuns. The PPC has a pair of Magna 600P Medium Pulse Lasers mounted side-by-side with it. The Luxor 3R is replaced with a Zeus XV LRM-15 with two tons of ammunition.

The D version carries a Zeus Slingshot Gauss Rifle and two tons of ammunition in the right arm with a Holly IV SRM4 and one ton of ammo in the right torso.

Now to the Starslayer variants, the Starslayer unlike the Centurion does have jump jets capable of powered it out to 150 meters, it also has fourteen double heat sinks to the Centurion’s ten.

The Prime Variant includes two Defiance B3L large laser and two Defiance B4M medium pulse lasers. Solid short to mid range firepower.

The A Variant is designed for long distance sniping, it replaces the arm mounted weapon cluster with a Defiance 1001 ERPPC, the Defiance B3L in the torso is upgraded to a Maxell Burner ERLL. This one gets toasty.

The B Variant is a close range knife-fighter, all weapon clusters are replaced with a pair of Thunderbolt-12 Large Pulse Lasers.

The C Variant replaces all weapon clusters with a pair of Donal PPCs, giving it a solid mid range punch. That one’s my personal favorite.

Commentary

Seems like the Commonwealth Military Command intends to send these mechs to newly formed LCTs (The Alliance Jaegers Brigade and the Outback Legion) before the mainstream military gets them. Makes sense considering those LCTs have a regiment of Battle Armor, they have to get to the battlefield somehow. Should be good practice for both Mechwarriors, Cavalry Armor, and Armored Infantry alike.

Apparently someone in the AFFC has been paying attention to how the clans fight.

I tell you what I don’t want to be on the other side of that assault.

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Rentry

09/14/3065 18:00 Location – Skies above Al’Jair

Squad Leader Alina Kunimoto was currently inside a fireball rapidly heading back to land, her heavily damaged Slayer was in real danger of falling apart. The cockpit temperature gauge kept climbing, rapidly turning from yellow to orange then red. The cooling system would normally prevent that but right now it was shot to pieces; much like the rest of her critical systems, almost everything was on tertiary backups. She could see the smoke of burned out electronics behind her, one of the enemy Lightning’s armor piercing 57mm slugs had just barely missed her cockpit.

The Slayer’s ammonia fuel flashing off was the only thing preventing the fuselage from melting but she still needed that fuel to land safely. Her trained breathing kept her from blacking out in, the computer wouldn’t be able to make do this any better even if it was unadamaged.

She cleared the interface layer in one piece, a small victory and tiny step in the right direction. The condition readouts were poor, most of her control and lifting surfaces were so heavily damaged they were actually more detrimental than useful. Her landing gear failed to engage and she was going to need to vector thrust in atmo while low on fuel. Raging Bull this is Kingbreaker actual, I am going to need a crash team

Affirmative Kingbreaker, we are clearing the runway now

Alina keyed in the six axis vector controller (Wings, Nose, Tail, and Main Thrusters) module switching control to it from the normal stick and throttle arrangement. It was three times harder to fly in atmosphere this way and required even more input from her neurohelmet to ensure she didn’t send the Slayer into a death roll but it was her best chance. Puffs of super-heated air shot out of the wings, the thrusters keeping her trim steady as she approached Al’Sur.

The multi-colored ground grew ever closer as velocity bled off, her fuel was almost gone and the thrusters were the only thing keeping her aloft. The remains of her plane’s stubby wings weren’t going to give her any wing in ground effect so she nosed up and used the dorsal thrusters to slow her down before the aft portion of the plane hit the unforgiving compacted sand runway. The fuselage crashed down gouging a deep hole in the runway and creating a massive sand cloud. It pirouetted in midair but didn’t roll eventually coming to a halt sixty meters away from the point of impact. The Raging Bull’s crash teams were en route but she had landed short of where they had wanted her to.

Squad Leader Kunimoto’s helmet faceplate was shattered after hitting her instrument cluster during the crash but training kicked in and she unbuckled it, her five-point, and popped the emergency release on the canopy. Explosive bolts separated the ferroglaz and armored cowling that secured her. She jumped off entirely on adrenaline before falling to her hands and knees five meters away from the wreck.

What could of been her last meal came back up and she was weeping; all the panic and fear coming out after being held in while she was in battle.

If Major Grey hadn’t ordered her to attack when she did or if the Baba Yaga didn’t come to help there wouldn’t be anyone left. Her squad would have been shot down, Markus, Joe, Mina, everyone she cared about would have been on the receiving end of those bombs. Top Shot had carried enough firepower to level a town twice in one salvo.

They wouldn’t have stood a chance.

She tried to look over at the Slayer but couldn’t find the strength to do anything other than not fall to the ground. She knew it would never fly again but had spent so much time in it, it felt like a piece of her. It had given it’s all and that’s the most she could ask.

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Katherine, Archon-Princess IV

Katherine was drifting, the Opera {“Trauer des Schneefeuers”, (First person to post the translation gets 1 free point to P/G)} was superb, a virtuoso performance for the ages, but nothing could match the circumstances of her life. Like always, she saw everything play out again just like it was on the stage before her.

She saw herself thirteen years ago, coming back to the Palace in New Avalon after spending the day riding for the NAIS polo team…

When she opened the door to her father’s office only to see him slumped over at his desk, rushing to him, calling the doctor in hysteria, tears running down her face as Victor joined her after they had taken him away.

She could relive the moment she met Galen Cox, Victor returning to Tharkad from the Clan front with a shiner after Galen punched him in order to save his life. She was just about to begin school at NAIS, so they only met briefly before she went back to New Avalon far away from the Clans. They both went back to the Lyran front to command the Tenth while she remained on New Avalon with Yvonne.

Later she had gone to Arc-Royal where Victor was with the Kell Hounds facing down the clans after Phelen’s return. Victor was soon going to be the Archon-Prince, Katherine didn’t know when or how Ryan Steiner was going to kill her mother just that it would happen soon. She knew he was not going to be happy as Archon-Prince, that he had refused it when offered after father died, and that she could be of service regardless of which brother held the title.

Arc Royal didn’t welcome her but did not wish to offend Victor by making to much of her unannounced arrival while they were hosting the Kurita clan. After all she was sincere in her intended purpose to meet with Galen again after a long period of correspondence. She didn’t even aspire to Archon-Prince at the time, Peter and Arthur were still in the line. Both of them were doing their five years before they could be First Prince, she had no intention to enlist even though she could pilot a Battlemech.

Her and Omiko were instant enemies, there had been tension between the two of them when Jaime Wolf brought all the scions of the Great Houses to Outreach during the pause, but both women had changed dramatically since then. Many times she wanted to plunge a dagger into the daughter of Theodore Kurita’s long, graceful neck. How dare she try to take her brother away from her.

Both of them were fighting for him but Omi could fuck him so it wasn’t a fair contest. She knew the snake would do whatever her father commanded her and that such a close agent would be nothing but trouble in the future, even if her affection was sincere.

She pleaded with Victor to just step down, let Peter rise up, avoid the problems that a Kurita-Steiner-Davion marriage would cause. The Lyran Commonwealth and Federated Suns still had a long list of grievances with the Combine and each other, so their marriage would surely sunder it. Even in the Combine there were factions that would oppose such a union, It didn’t matter to the March Lords that Hanse had saved Luthien from the Jaguars and Nova Cats, they would have been perfectly content if the planet burned.

Peter was there too, he told her that Melissa intended to completely remove Katherine from any position of importance when the brothers completed their term of service. How could she; all her life Katherine was getting ready for these responsibilities. Was she just to be Yvonne’s companion?

She could remember with perfect clarity watching the fateful broadcast where her mother was murdered by Ryan Steiner with her assistance, closing wounds that long festered.

Then things got worse

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Grey's Final Stand? pt 2

09/14/3065 17:08 Location – High Altitude 100 km S of Al’Jair Station

Squad Leader Benjamin Cirillo and his eight plane task force were about to complete their loop. The Grenadiers had surrendered to the Mercs Unleashed attack force but that didn’t change anything about his mission. His objective wasn’t the Mechs and he didn’t much care for the Grenadiers anyhow. No he was gunning for the Mercenary tech support that was slowed and mostly unguarded. It didn’t seem sporting but Major Brekard had given the order and they were valid military targets.

Four minutes out, he was so focused on the bombing sight that Ben missed the threat indicator blinking in his left eyepiece. All four of the Mercs Unleashed Aerospace fighters dove from space like avenging angels and took out the damaged Lightning in a single pass before neatly breaking back to the Thermosphere. The Lightning’s pilot bailed out and the frame crashed into the desert below.

8BALL actual to all contacts, drop bombs and break for the thermosphere. We apparently have company.

The remaining seven fighters dropped their ordnance which detonated harmlessly but noticeably near the tech crews rapidly making for the now captured Al’Jair travel station.

Cirillo had switched his Stuka back to fighter configuration, tracking the hostile fighters along their arcs. Then they disappeared on RADAR, he saw the Amur dropship on long range optical scanners all missiles, cannons, and armor, his Aerofighter’s warbook blinked Unknown Configuration, Active ECM

A transmission on open frequencies was brought to his attention, Squad Leader Benjamin Cirillo of Top Shot, this is Major Felicity Grey aboard the MIM Baba Yaga, return to your base right now or be swept from the sky like so many falling stars.

Major Grey, 30 million c-bills sure would be a nice chunk of change especially if the Titanfellers get killed off, Top Shot blast that dropship and take out the Aerofighters if they give you a shot. Time to really earn our pay.

The seven craft moved to engage, the Redtail bringing up the rear as it fired its Arrow IV missiles at the Baba Yaga. Hundreds of missiles and autocannon rounds from Top Shot and the Baba Yaga crossed the void between them silently impacting their targets with subdued explosions that still shook the fuselage. The Stuka and Thunderbird both took a 203mm Autocannon round to their armored wings, the debris scattered light from Astrokaszy’s bright sun and burned upon re-entry.

The Lightnings were chasing Squad Leader Kunimoto’s Slayer boxing her much larger fighter in with careful maneuvering. Their Autocannons mercilessly tearing through armor panels, punching holes in her coolant lines which bled a sickly neon blue liquid. The Sabres and Stingray vaporized armor off the Lightning’s armored fuselages which gushed with ammonia and other gases that quickly dissipated.

The Lucifer hunted Sabres with it’s large lasers forcing the smaller craft to evade or face annihilation. The light fighters broke off to remove the larger aerofighter from the four member dogfight and give themselves more space to maneuver. Laser fire melted and charred their thin armor, frying electronics and upsetting the balance they needed to pull of their impressive maneuvers. They were trying to bait the heavier fighter closer to cross with the Baba Yaga which would deal it a mortal blow with her weapons.

Spending to much time on his gunsight rather than on situational awareness the Lucifier did just that giving the Baba Yaga a clear profile shot on the whole fighter. The heavens lit up with the massive rocket barrage that the fighter received. Nearly 320 rockets were fired at once followed by the heavy autocannons. The Lucifer became nothing more than a field of space debris after the impact.

The Dropship was taking heavy fire it was effectively a sitting target for most of Top Shot’s weapons and the RedTails’ Arrow IV’s punched big holes in the thick armor. Alina’s Slayer was heavily damaged, her right wing was completely exposed after taking a heavy autocannon shot from the G15 Block II Lightning that tailed her. The entire fuselage was compromised, her cooling systems were nearly shot and it was all she could do to keep the Binary laser online. Aeropilot Devarine’s Stingray was equally shot up, having traded places with her wing mate on several occasions, her Binary was off-line and she was down to one heavy laser. Their opponents were severely damaged but still functional, one rotary autocannon was slag hanging onto the nose cone of the Lightning G16D fused together after being hit with a Binary laser cannon.

The Stuka, Thunderbird, and Redtail were heavily damaged but these craft were designed to go toe to toe with assault dropships. The Baba Yaga’s fuselage was charred and rent metal, some of it’s guns had been slagged by lucky shots from the Thunderbird’s Gauss rifles. It looked like Mercs Unleashed and Major Grey were starting to get the upper hand. The remaining Aerofighters began to pull back breaking for atmosphere as quickly as they could.

KINGBREAKER squadron seemed to win when their radiation alerts blared, the Redtail launched a pair of Davy Crockett M Tactical Nukes at the Baba Yaga.

ALL CALLSIGNS BREAK FOR ATMO!

Aboard the Baba Yaga

Major Grey looked at the readouts, the Baba Yaga couldn’t evade this but might be able to take it. Captain, it has been a great pleasure to serve with you

Thank you Major but the pleasure has been all mine

Felicity Grey keyed a set of macros to Blackbird’s command console.

I’m really sorry Maria, I hope you can forgive me for being so selfish.

META – Does Felicity make it? Serious question, the Baba Yaga could theoretically tank a pair of nukes if they hit the right spots, or it explodes and creates an amazing meteor shower.

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Grey's Final Stand? pt 1

09/14/3065 14:15 Location – MIM Baba Yaga, Al’Sur

Major Felicity Grey watched Alina and her KINGBREAKER flight take off standing just outside the Baba Yaga, she couldn’t help but feel it might be for the last time. For all her professional career this group had been her longest serving collaborators, ones that higher command couldn’t request to be transferred or assigned to new units. As long as the checks cleared and they always would they had never disappointed her. She kept a professional distance but she felt proud for all of their accomplishments.

This mission had pushed both of them past their limits though, she didn’t expect this much action and hated being stuck on the sidelines while others fought on her behalf. Grey knew this would be her last field mission, MIM had ordered her to report to the Academy before she went AWOL and planned this operation. She couldn’t let Idlewood kept betraying them, let the Jaguars get powerful enough to threaten Canopian worlds, and having the Titanfellers attack Dainmar Majoris would not only greatly imperil Mercs Unleashed but the brand new M3 factories nearby. This would be her last op and she would be damned if it wasn’t going to be the best ever.

Alina despite being a brave and competent pilot couldn’t stop Top Shot, she didn’t have enough firepower but Felicity knew something that did. This Amur dropship was the prototype, the design had changed since then but the MAF had just left it in Niops space until she had “stolen” it. The Baba Yaga was designed to take on a squad of fighters in order to clear the way for on-board ground forces to assault. She had added Dr Selaj and her medbay and replaced most of the vehicle hangers with battle armor barracks but the weapons were original and loaded. Someone had to give her a test spin.

Major Grey walked up to the bridge where Captain Warez sat observing sensor read outs. Captain, we are assisting the mercenary aerospace fighters. They are outmatched and this is the best platform to deal with the threat.

Certainly Major, I will inform the XO and gun crews. Major Grey took position at the Intercept Officer console, Captain Baasch, I am taking the Baba Yaga up to deal with Top Shot. I am transferring my excess crew, Battlemechs, and injured to your vessel.

Affirmative Major, I will send out my people to assist in the transfer.

Felicity oversaw the transfer, all four of the Ebon Magistrate Battlemechs, their pilots and medical staff, and the remaining Ebon Magistrate infantry were off-loaded. Commander Thane was not happy, Major you are in no shape to engage in orbital combat. I am very tempted to knock you out and put you in the Raging Bull’s infirmary myself to stop you from killing yourself. He relaxed and flexed his hands, Thane we both know that even if you wanted to hit me you couldn’t do it even with my injuries. I’m not looking to kill myself, based on previous experience I think that Death is afraid of me, if she shows up I will fuck that bitch up and the pale horse she rode in on. You know I can’t sit idly by while others fight in my stead, even with one arm I can still operate the intercept officer’s console.

Thane was still pissed, she had nearly died twice less than three days ago and kept trying to get herself killed, Damn you Grey, if you kill yourself up there I will never forgive you. You’ve been pushing your legendary luck to long, it better not have run out. MIM still requires your experience, heaven knows we don’t have enough people with your abilities.

I guess we will see Thane, you know that if Top Shot breaks through, the Mercenaries are as good as gone, especially if my suspicions of that Zavijava container are right. This entire operation would be for naught. You have your orders Thane, keep the girls safe and make sure everyone makes it back to Canopus. I will return when I am done.

Thane departed, Felicity Grey pulled out a religious pendant from around her neck, it was emblazoned with an obsidian crow set in jade, Give me your blessing Morrigan one last time, my fate is in your hands

16:40 Tai’iqih Airbase, Astrokaszy

Squad Leader Benjamin Cirillo of Top Shot walked out on the Airfield in the shadows of the four dropships currently looming over his small Aerofighters. Ground crews buzzed along like insects in a finely coordinated dance, his Stuka was loaded with 10 TBAM-65 bombs. The large thermobaric bombs would blast Mercs Unleashed to pieces and that was just on his plane.

Every one of the other six Aerofighters was loaded with a full bomb load, they hadn’t seen much of the enemy Aerospace but if they didn’t send someone out to get him there is no way they would walk off the field. The Redtail idled nearby, it dwarfed even his massive Aerofighter but that’s because it was almost a drop-ship. According to the pilot we even had a pair of Davy Crockett-Ms to use today. That would be interesting he’d never seen a nuke go off before.

16:33 Above the Desert of Lost Souls

Squad Leader Alina Kunimoto sat inside her Slayer Aerofighter, the plane was a finely tuned fighting machine but she hadn’t been in a real dogfight since the disastrous attack on Zavijava years ago. It took all her training to maintain her breathing as she looked down on the planet below. She could see the storm fronts coming, massive sandstorms that would engulf the valley in a few days but the planet looked much prettier at high altitude than on the ground.

Her flight had been waiting in the Thermosphere for an hour and a half; they didn’t know when Top Shot would come, they might show up early and bomb the attack group, and Marcus, before they reached Al’Jair so she had told everyone to be in place.

Her long range radar picked up a different contact, MIM Baba Yaga, Major Grey’s dropship. Baba Yaga this is KINGBREAKER actual what are you doing up here?

Sorry for coming in uninvited KINGBREAKER; but this vessel makes the Lung Wang look limp, we are here to give her the first trial by fire. I’ll take control of the Aerospace defense, shoot what I tell you and we will get through this. Watch the flanks and rear I’ll sweep the skies.

The MIM Baba Yaga revealed its massive arsenal, 80 MRMs, 40 LRMs, 200 rockets, rotary autocannons, heavy bore autocannons, short range missile pods, anti-missile systems, and nearly two dozen energy weapons with the thickest armor the frame could support. It was designed to take a beating and deliver one to any fighter that dared get in it’s crosshairs.

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Katherine, Archon-Princess III

The Archon-Princess needed a chance to catch her breath, she was spirited away to a loft located above the stage with three bodyguards and an aide. The orchestra was tuning their instruments below, the show would start soon and she would have to stay to enjoy it. To do otherwise would be a huge embarrassment even if she wanted to get away from the constant pestering of her guests.

She had known there would be to many people tonight but favors needed to be exchanged. The list grew ever longer, but the more time she spent on the floor the more impatient with their vapid conversations she became.

Producing a pair of pills from a secret compartment in her watch she took them with a glass of water. The Curse of Steiner afflicted her gravely, yet another reason to hate her mother, fortunately the medicine had gotten better, but she wasn’t sure if it was her condition or her disposition that would be the biggest liability.

Katherine returned to the Grand Ballroom, meeting with the Lyran Free Trade Association’s President concerning the recent trade missions and pending opening of the Marian Hegemony to Commonwealth interests.

Precentor Gavin Dow was present and spoke of recent COMSTAR business, he was quite fond of the Archon-Princess, to an almost unnerving degree. She of course cultivated it, he would sometimes get what he wanted as long as the compact jump cores for her ever-growing fleet of warships kept being made with the Sacred Order’s assistance. He was gunning for Primus as well so it made sense to keep him on her side, the Word of Blake was far less cooperative.

Gavin wasn’t the only one either, she looked very similar to her late mother, blonde hair, blue-grey eyes, attractive, and in charge. Though few made overt action of it, she was unmarried and thus a potential target for some ambitious and powerful suitor… with a death wish. She checked her watch, the show was about to begin thus the hardest part was over.

Her guards watched from the rafters for any assassination attempt during the show. The opera box was spacious and fully appointed with everything that would be needed, the whole floor was sealed off and the lights dimmed. General Adam Steiner returned, his uniform disheveled and missing a few buttons, he smelled of Heather’s perfume. Following orders I presume, General Steiner?

You could call it that. He sat down in his chair but didn’t look particularly excited, Why did you arrange this Katherine? I don’t like being a prize handout for your supporters.

The Duchess has long been a supporter of House Steiner and her daughter is madly in love with you. I simply arranged the meet, but if anything comes of your “orders” Arielle expects a proposal, you are of course free to offer it of your own free will as well.

Katherine peered through her opera glasses to see the young Baroness in her mother’s box across the auditorium. She was quite the sight, perhaps they might leave before the show was over to ensure the paparazzi didn’t catch her in that state.

Adam, If anything were to happen to me, the Estates General strongly favor making you Archon, an arrangement that I too favor although it would sunder the Federated Commonwealth permanently. Which is one of the reasons you are here on Tharkad rather than commanding a regiment staring down the Jade Falcons. It is my duty to ensure the continued success of this realm.

That’s cold of you. Why put this all on me? I would be a terrible Archon, you have no heirs nor does your sister, your brothers are gone. Why have you not considered anyone since Galen Cox?

Katherine gave him a death stare that almost made him fall out of his seat. Stop right there Adam., it came out in a cold, harsh whisper unlike her external persona

You don’t know what you’re talking about, you don’t think I hadn’t considered it. Who would this mystery man be, that I could wed that didn’t just attract more enemies or seek to usurp my birthright?

Her fists balled up on the armrest as she looked over the balcony at the assembling audience, I can’t be First Prince, I don’t meet the prerequisites. I wish every night that father would have pushed me harder to join the AFFC but he had Victor, Peter, and Arthur and decades more life in him. He couldn’t have expected the tragic turn of events that have led us to this dilemma. He always thought I would be better on Tharkad anyhow and the Office of Archon doesn’t require military experience.

She relaxed slightly sitting back down in the richly upholstered chair, Despite my ability to do the job I can never be accepted as the ruler of the Federated Suns just a regent until either Peter returns, I have a child or Yvonne does. At least this way it’s something I can promise to consider over members of the Estates General and March Lords until I come up with a better plan.

Adam regained his composure, I am sorry Katherine, this is all out of my comfort zone. I will of course do right by when the time comes. I promise I won’t speak of Galen again.

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Carnage Crossing

09/14/3065 08:42 Location – “Carnage Crossing”, 40km NNE of Neo Szabo

Brevet Major Thomas Brekard dismounted his Battlemaster at the forward staging area, the Titanfellers’ repair techs were scrambling to put armor back on his remaining fifteen mechs. He had showed up with a reinforced Battalion! They had fought the Jaguars brutally the past three days, twice a night, no holds barred. Sometimes they would form up during the day just to force him to stay on guard at all times, denying rest, but why bother; daylight is when they left the Titanfellers to fall prey to their other means.

Snipers on the slopes, anti-personnel mines scattered along walking paths that wounded without prejudice, poisoned wells, sick, hungry, wretched civilians, random mortar fire, abductions, and the constant inky black smoke from the burn trenches on the other side of the pass that stung his eyes, burned his lungs, and left a black film on everything that wouldn’t wash away. The Titanfellers had been before the MRBC multiple times for atrocities in the Chaos March, deservedly most of the time but their enemy were Liao terrorists and wicked dark cults that hid among the people. There was a a reason the AFFC cycled troops through the Sarna March rapidly during their occupation of the territory, if you didn’t leave, it never left you. Not even that had prepared him for this hell.

To think that it was the one time he decided to spare an enemy, if he had just killed her on Derf, on the other side of the Commonwealth he could have spared so many misery. If he could take it all back even if it cost him his life there he would have done it. To make matters worse Mercs Unleashed was here no doubt to finish the job they started on Creshan so long ago.

He knew them immediately, once they brought out the salvaged mechs, it was the same unit that attacked Marius’ Tears and killed his men in a nuclear explosion. This time he’d give them a taste of their own medicine although he was sorely tempted to launch the pair of Davy Crocketts at Neo Szabo and put an end to the Smoke Jaguars once and for all. The only thing that stopped him was he needed a body (or head) to prove that Ash was dead.

They even brought the Magistracy of Canopus with them, oh the stories he could tell about their secret gem mines here or the slaves that had worked them. He didn’t believe it at first, it seemed out of character, but there was plenty of evidence emblazoned right on the mining equipment his men had found. Loki was already working up a report to transmit to the Archon-Princess. Of course they would try to cover it up, after all that is why he is here, making sure Katherine’s dirty laundry didn’t see the light of day why shouldn’t Emma Centrella be any different.

13:47

Major Brekard was woken up by Sergeant Foster with less than five hours rest, Major Mercs Unleashed is on the warpath, they’ve packed up their camp and departed As’Sab less than twenty minutes ago.

Tom thought of the original Sun-Tzu not the scheming Chancellor he was determined to end, “and when the men do not hang their cooking-pots over the camp fires, showing that they will not return to their tents, you may know that they are determined to fight to the death.

Fuck! Sergeant tell everyone to begin evacuations immediately; if it takes time to load scorch it. I want everyone out of this valley before they trap us in here with the Jaguars. Get the techs to hasten repairs while the Karnov is en route, they will leave ahead of us. I want Top Shot hot and get me Herr Schmidt. Sergeant Foster left and called out everyone else to begin leaving, Thomas keyed his mic, Forester get me an over-watch lance, no doubt Ash is going to notice our hasty retreat, I don’t want her to try and take advantage of it

The Loki operative Karl Schmidt showed up shortly after, Karl, I want the Davy Crockett’s authorization codes, put them on the Redtail and tell your people to let Top Shot load up with the TBAMs. I’m going to send Mercs Unleashed to Hell with a little warm-up.

14:52

Khan Ash Smoke Jaguar looked out through the black smoke with the rangefinder binoculars across Prophet’s Pass, the broken bones of mechs, charred ground, craters, and fluids mixed to make it a hellscape. Her ragged band of Mechwarriors was almost at an end, the remaining mechs in the cache were in such dire need of repair she couldn’t bring them online yet. Her Warriors were depleted, lost to attrition on the battlefield or some freeborns had attempted to flee; they didn’t get far. Yet Major Brekard fled, perhaps he had seen enough combat, there was no such thing to a Smoke Jaguar, the bloody struggle of war was in their DNA.

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Camelot Class Carrier

Technical Details of the Camelot Class Carrier

Designed and first manufactured by Ioto Galactic Enterprises on Alarion under orders from Archon-Princess Katherine Steiner-Davion (named by her sister) eight years ago. The Camelot class carrier is effectively a half sized Thera carrier capable of carrying 60 Aerospace fighters into combat. The vessels also include a Lithium-Fusion battery to allow multiple jumps and react quickly to trouble in their patrol areas in the Periphery and Chaos Marches. While it lacks long legs only having three kilotons of cargo capacity the Archon-Princess has also built up a series of supply depots so the ships can stay out for six month patrols unhindered.

The primary weapons are a trio of Medium NPPCs and pair of NAC/30s on the broadsides, multiple lasers and other weapons protect it from enemy fighters and missile attacks. It typically carries an Light Combat Team and support company though it can carry and support a full RCT with it’s four docking collars. Thus far it has proven popular with the Admiralty of the AFFC and Universal Air has begun manufacturing them as well.

Named Vessels
Guinevere, Queen of Camelot
King Arthur
Morgan le Fey
Lancelot, the Brave
Percival, the Swift
Gawain, the Green
Galahad, the Chosen
Tristan, the Hero
Ywain, the Lion (under construction launch 3068 from Alarion)
Merlin, the Enchanter (under construction launch 3067 from Galax)

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Katherine, Archon-Princess II

The Seth Marsden Opera House was a majestic piece of Architecture and Engineering, it’s graceful spires reached to the heavens and it’s auditorium was engineered so finely that the performers didn’t even need speakers to reach the back seats with their full power. It hosted the grandest balls in the Inner Sphere outside of perhaps the Royal Palace on the other side of the city. Nobles, Notables, and Officers from across the Federated Commonwealth shook hands and stood on the red carpet to get their pictures taken for the news.

A notable perk for many self-styled “Generals” was the chance to get an invitation to the party and this was the hottest ticket in town this year. Katherine still tried to reward actual experience and put forward any truly exceptional individuals like Adam Steiner, Maria Esteban, and Archer Christifori for what Lyran soldiers should aspire to, but she was content with dishing out small favors to keep members of the Estates General or Privy Council on her good side and reward their loyalty.

The motorcade rolled into the underground parking structure where it would remain as long as Katherine needed them to, this was her party she could come and go as she pleased. The Grand Ballroom was awash in colorful dresses, dark suits, and formal military uniforms from across the Commonwealth, gold, brass, and jewels shimmered under the chandeliers, drink and hor d’erves flowed freely. Undercover Diplomatic Guards kept a close eye on the assembly ensuring that everyone remained safe and removed drunken VIPs before they embarrassed themselves or their Hostess.

The Archon-Princess stood behind a gilded door before being introduced to the gathered crowd. The Master of Ceremonies took his sweet time, Introducing Her Highness Katherine Morgan Steiner-Davion, Duchess of Tharkad and New Avalon, Archon-Princess of the Federated Commonwealth and her escort, Lieutenant-General Adam Steiner, Hero of Somerset and Barcelona. The assembled crowd bowed or curtsied before returning to the revelries, she walked down the red carpeted stairs, and her entourage dispersed into the crowd.

The pair mingled with dignitaries and high ranking officers, two women found their way into the closest orbit. Katherine greeted them, General Steiner I would like to introduce you to the Duchess of Arcturus, Arielle Fyhne, and her daughter Lady Heather. Heather was flirting with the limits of the dress code for this event, her dress hugged her svelte body and its sheer panels were near scandalous. She was every bit the fashionable socialite that the gossip mags made her out to be. She was also about to burst over with excitement and looked toward the Archon-Princess, Yes Lady Heather?

Your Highness, may I be so bold as to ask your escort for a dance?, Katherine moved uncomfortably close to Adam, You may. I shall even let you keep him until the show starts, share him with your friends, take all the pictures you like. He’s under standing orders directly from me to have a good time. I trust you can show him one. Katherine put her hands on the stars on his shoulders, and if he doesn’t smile tell me and I shall take his stars for being such a grave disappointment. With that she gave him a nudge and General Steiner was to his horror mobbed by a flock of young Baronesses that pulled him ever further away.

Duchess Arielle watched the scene, bemused. Thank you for arranging this Katrina, Heather has been talking about Adam Steiner non-stop since she saw “The Heroic Somerset Strikers” as a girl. I thought she would grow out of her infatuation but I fear she has a terminal case of lovesickness. Grabbing a glass of Champagne Katherine looked back at her, You’re welcome Arielle, you have been one of my most ardent supporters and your family has long been an ally of House Steiner.

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Strongpoint

09/14/3065 15:47 Location – 72 km W of Al’Jair, Astrokaszy

Scout Falke of Gurn’s Grenadiers looked over his remote sensor readouts, the Captain said this would be an interesting day in the briefing. It sure was damn hot, he had to borrow a Mechwarrior’s cooling vest to even stay out on auxiliary power for as long as he had. Even with the camouflage shelter his Swift Wind sat under, it was still 47C in the cabin, the small fan mounted on his dashboard just blew coarse sand in his face.

This planet was fucking awful he couldn’t wait for the Titanfellers to kill those damn Jaguars so he could get somewhere nicer. At least the other Mercenaries had been mostly quiet, to bad about Red Skull though, would have been nice if Baron von Hulger had killed them then he could go back to the AC at base.

His sensor console beeped load, big contact, then another. Falke put down the water bottle and turned his chair to face the console, he cycled the sensors and pulled up the transmission controls.

Khaki Station this is Sidewinder, Fourteen Big Walkers heading your way. Awaiting orders.

Sidewinder, maintain long range contact with the Walkers, Station is moving to full alert.

Al’Jair Station

Captain Gurn Holfsted and company went to full alert in an orderly fashion, the heat slowed his tanks but they didn’t need to move very far to get to their fighting positions. The trailers were backed into position and powered up, they were slaved to the central command center. The comm arrays were receiving closer sensor feed-outs that confirmed the scout report and transmitted an alert to Tai’iqih, Top Shot was ready to burn at a moment’s notice. They could make the 140 kilometers that separated them in less than ten minutes when hot and airborne.

The VTOLs were off the ground watching the rear approach to the station and the Guardians stood by at their alternate airfield ready to launch.

Their informants had told them that Mercs Unleashed was going on the Warpath earlier this morning so then it was just the waiting. Captain Holfsted hopped into his Von Luckner, the heat of the day had been extreme enough that the mounting surfaces were covered with burlap so the crew could enter without burning themselves. The heavy tank rumbled to life, the PPC and Gauss Rifle in the turret moved into their active positions and the tank rolled along leaving a large and distinctive tread path.

17:00

Commander Markus Brandt stared out at Al’Jair station the sun framed the wasteland in a harsh light as it started it’s journey to the horizon. His long range tracking RADAR and comms was jammed despite Mina’s best efforts, so he couldn’t know where Alina or Top Shot was, even the C3i signal gain was weak between his mech and the Defiance to his right but it was still active. His telescopic optics and tactical tracking systems picked up the right number of contacts, which was a good sign. At least there weren’t more guns than he had already expected to charge into.

He could feel the sweat pouring out of his forehead into his neurohelmet’s liner, a quick thought entered and quickly left his head.

Were the Grenadiers nervous?

Cause they should be.

All units, this is STATIC actual, engage at will

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