Battletech Mercs Unleashed

Cold as Ice, pt 8
Markus and Mina, pt 2

09/14/3065 04:27 Location – “The Icebox”, Mule Dropship “Rodeo”, Al’Sur


Markus “Tack” Brandt and Jasmina Ilonka continued their relatively calm conversation, after all she wasn’t sleeping with him; so the betrayal was not as severe between the two of them then say his Co-Commander Joe “Hotfoot” Leeson whom she was.

That is so boring Lieutenant, I expected more sex, drugs, and violence in your story

I’m afraid my prior history with Major Grey is not quite so exciting as my tenure here, now me and Cearra… well there is a a reason I don’t drink Magliss Lime Lightning anymore.

While he was mildly intrigued by that statement, he really didn’t want to get in an uncomfortable tangent about prior relationships, Why didn’t you tell us about your assignment sooner?

I didn’t want it change how you perceived me. I’ve done everything I can to ensure you have the operational picture you need to stay alive and complete the contract. I wanted you to appreciate my work without any preconception that it might influence future work offers from the Magistracy of Canopus on behalf of our mutual frenemy Felicity Grey.

You hardly need my help, this unit’s alumni organization has done an admirable job marketing the unit, not many merc units still deliver solid results over nearly six years. Additionally Mrs Deepwater has commented multiple times on the (cough) “staying power” and (cough) “ferocity” of Ryan Corsair and his “unit” (cough), that was sort of engineered by Felicity to give you guys a reason to stay but that is perhaps the most overt attempt.

I certainly hope that Roger and Nathan can continue the legacy after you and Joe leave. I will admit that I did sent you a diverse list of pre-selected free agents from across the Inner Sphere with the intention for them to stay and enlist in the MAF when they were done here. You are certainly welcome to do so as well, Felicity might even spot you the million c-bills to come in as a Major if you can bring the whole unit in.

It would certainly be a tempting offer, right in character for the Magistracy of Canopus but then again quicksand looked like solid ground till you stepped on it, So Felicity was using us as a Feeder Team?

Not specifically, as far as I know. It’s kind of the Canopian way, the MAF’s Mech force is nearly half prior service mercenaries that got a nice resettlement package and citizenship in exchange for a fixed term of service, most of which brought their mechs and techs with them. Local girls love rugged mercenaries, the MAF has relatively few major enemies except the Marian Legions or perhaps the Red Chasseurs and Syrtis Fusiliers so its mostly hunting pirates or fighting second rate units, casinos and vacations take the rest of the paycheck. Everyone wins.

The Canopian Institute of War has managed to increase the training and screening of dependable Officers and NCOs and the influx of Liao and Taurian tech has finally started to give the Magistracy the hands up it needed to really hit its stride.

Alright fine, I would have preferred to not have so much drama but I don’t think you pose a greater threat to the organization than Felicity Grey does so you’re back, but on a probational period. Please talk to me before you do something crazy next time and speak up, I’m sure between you and Grey there is a volumes of things unsaid that might be of interest to me. Your antics have cost me a lot of sleep and a good portion of my liver’s functionality over the past few days.

Since you’re back now. What do you think of our current situation? I am going to have a lot of things on my mind for the next couple of days so spit it out, I really don’t have time for games and puzzles.

Are you sure Commander? I don’t think you will like what I am about to tell you.

Do I have to put it in a direct order Lieutenant! Spit it out!

You have to give Sergeant Reinholdt and Corporal Hermes to the Scavengers for justice along with Nathan’s chit, the medicine Samira promised them, and make restitution for the people they killed. They have betrayed the rules of Sacred Hospitality by attacking and killing their hosts and by extension have gravely dishonored the unit and hurt our standing with the Emirs, and it needs to be You and Joe that hands them over too with the Emirs present.

Karras and Heron have both made multiple mentions that the Titanfellers radio station has been playing that non-stop and Chief Engineer Ingress pulled his people out of As’Sab into the wire because the local’s attitude changed from suspicion to barely concealed hostility. It was bad enough to the locals that we took in the Jaguars although I think it was a good call Commander.

We have to hurry to because even though I think Lieutenant Commander Post’s armor can fight off the locals it will be a massacre. The only thing that held them back was the mechs, without their very intimidating presence the odds are greatly evened. A wounded mech won’t do either they would see that as weakness and an opportunity.

He actually hadn’t considered that angle, everyone on this planet was armed and very touchy about tradition, You’re right I don’t like that very much. You want me to send two men to their likely very painful deaths, probably detain and disarm their friends to prevent a mutiny, and expend resources to appease the locals?

Yessir, it is the only way to prevent the bloodshed

I appears like he was not getting any sleep tonight, he exited the cell. Hendrick you can release the Lieutenant, I will send a message to Major Grey to collect her. Also do you have an encrypted terminal here?

Cold as Ice, pt 7
Mina and Markus, pt 1

09/14/3065 03:52 Location – North Ridge, Al’Sur

Markus “Tack” Brandt had removed his cooling vest and was working on his Katas in the moonlight, he struck down imaginary enemies with extreme prejudice; ever since his Guillotine had been refitted with Triple Strength Myomer he had tried to smooth out every motion in his mortal form. Now his Guillotine stood broken in the Raging Bull’s repair bay, the Dragon Fire he would piloting till the end would feel different and he only had seven hours to get used to it before he charged right into the jaws of the Grenadiers at Al’Jair.

His displeasure at Major Grey had mostly dissipated, admittedly some of those imaginary enemies had been her. How dare she lecture him, he was the senior Commander of this unit. If she had just spit it out earlier this whole incident might have been averted, her and Mina should not be his prominent thoughts this night. There were a whole lot of guns pointed at him elsewhere to deal with knives and whispers behind his back.

Fortunately Alina had showed him some of the methods used by the Omniss and by the Outworld’s Aerospace pilots to calm down. He attempted to emphasize with her, as much danger as he faced on the ground in a Battlemech it had to be an order of magnitude worse for an Aerospace pilot. At least his Mech wouldn’t fly off into the cold, dark, airless void of space or crash violently into the ground engulfed in a fireball, well normally. I mean it could happen but there was a reason he liked to walking off dropships and that orbital assault drops were a rare thing for Mechwarriors, unless you were a Death Commando but those Mechwarriors were insane.

He re-centering himself before marching off to the ominous Mule dropship carrying his bag and cooling vest with him. He took a long shower, changed, and grabbed chow at the galley, it was fantastic; no wonder everyone had such good morale, this acquisition was money well spent. He had clearly joined the wrong side of the AFFC so very long ago.

Enough time had passed, he wanted to give Joe and Jasmina enough time to work through their problems and hopefully not kill one another, the unit could ill afford the loss of either of them. He received directions to the brig from one of the Dextran crew and walked through the labyrinth of passageways built into this drop-ship.

Arriving at the brig he saw Hendrick looking at his personal console, the man stood up Good evening Commander, Mr Leeson left about twenty minutes ago, the Captain says I don’t have to cuff the Lieutenant anymore, but its your call, Markus was caught by surprise cuffing her in a cell, he wasn’t happy with her but that seemed like overkill, No I think I can handle myself around Lieutenant Ilonka Hendrick, Hendrick walked over to the center door and knocked on it, Suit yourself Commander but if you get in any trouble hit the door three times hard and fast then close your eyes, she did try to break my nose

Markus entered the small cell, he stepped on a collection of papers, it was unlike Jasmina to leave a mess her small office area was always immaculate. Her eyes were puffy, damn, he really should have talked to Joe before coming here to understand what happened between the two of them.

JL: Hello Commander
MB: Lieutenant, I am going to try to make this as painless as possible. I am disappointed that the situation got this bad, but trust you have good intentions; although I disagree with the actions you have taken of late.
JL: I understand
MB: However I want to clear the record and you to answer my questions truthfully. What is your relationship with Major Felicity Grey?

That is a long story but I will summarize it for you because we have a lot to do, My name is not really Jasmina Ilonka and I wasn’t born on Royal Foxx like it says on my dossier. I was born Maria Mendoza on Logan Prime in the Lothian League, my family’s village was attacked by the Marian Legions and I escaped into the forest with a few others. We survived for about a week before then Lieutenant Grey and her first round of Wildcats rescued us and took us off-world.

Everyone was relocated, I went to school on Vixen, enlisted and went to the Avalanche Justice Academy before Felicity recruited me back into the third iteration of her unit where I did whatever she needed me to.

After you fought in the Xin Sheng Campaign I joined the unit under a false name at the request of Commander Grey. She really wanted a spy in a FedCom employed mercenary unit that could give MIM a clearer picture of what was going on there from a different perspective than say a pleasure circus or diplomatic mission. After I told her about what happened on Zavijava she and Shonsa Kiang Shi Fang contracted your unit to take down Sullivan Bane, he tried to kill me too so I didn’t cry when she got to him first, it is unfortunate that neither of them could find real evidence of what happened to the UrbStyc-A, I pray it was all buried in a landslide with the thuggees so it never sees the light of day again

With her (Shi Fang) death I suppose I am the only other person besides this unit that has managed such a long term relationship with Felicity Grey. Her Wildcats keep getting poached or used as seed units for new ARC teams, I think she is on the sixth iteration of the unit. She is really afraid of being recalled to Headquarters due to her being such a high profile target now. She may be the deputy director of the Active Response Corps but Directrix Elliot can still issue that order and Grey would have to follow it.

Cold as Ice, pt 6

09/14/3065 02:18 Location – Grey’s Quarters, MIM Baba Yaga, Leeward Valley, 16km N of Al’Sur

Major Felicity Grey shifted and another bolt of pain lanced into her side, three broken ribs, a compound fracture of her right arm, and to many bruises and cuts to count, unfortunately she felt everyone of them. She was fortunate that Dr. Radha Selaj was one of the best in the Magistracy even if she was a bit to enthusiastic about cybernetic prosthetics. It was mostly her work that created Thane, Arachne, and the others but they were at least volunteers with years of experience that knew the risks involved.

Her ongoing experiments with the other MIM, Niopian, and Smoke Jaguar scientists on Selene station were one of the best kept secrets in the Magistracy of Canopus. Felicity had been given a Special Access Pass from her former Commanding Colonel Josephine Le Blanc, whom she was apprenticed to twenty-four years ago. The woman was hardcore and old school, while the Canopian Institute of War expanded its class every year most MAF officers still learned the old fashioned way, on the job and sink or swim, especially with her.

MIM had attempted to gather a more formalized training program at Headquarters but there was too much work to pull more than a few people off their assignments to train rookies in the basics. Not that most of the agents wanted that assignment either, she had joined MIM to fight dirty for the Magistracy on the front lines, not be some lecturer resigned to a quiet life on Palladix.

Now that she was Deputy Director of ARC by default she had a regular pass to some of the Special Access Programs. Including the results of the first round of DREAMWALKER where she learned what they did to Jasmina. If she turned out like the other first round subjects she probably would have killed Dr Selaj and Colonel Le Blanc herself and blown Selene to hell.

It galled her even more now that she had seen what happened when you replaced to much man with machine and twisted it the wrong way. The image of that monster surrounded by carnage smiling as it burned popped into her head, nothing could make that go away she felt it would haunt forever. Despite her fierce patriotism victory seemed hollow if you sold out your humanity in the process.

Her time with the Red Skull prisoners was unproductive thus far, she had ordered Kell to crush that bastard Konstantine’s ugly skull after he crossed the line. It was gruesome but got her point across to the survivors. They could sweat it out with his corpse for a little longer until they told her everything they knew; then she would figure out which of them was unlucky this day.

She had to get out and move its not like she could lie around for any real length of time anyhow. Her aches veered her toward the MedBay, Kell was there getting his myomers reattached, all four of the Ebon Magistrate Mechwarriors were still strapped down with various leads and IVs put into them, their vitals erratic but improving. Dr. Selaj and her aides worked their way through the patients before seeing her.

She turned as Felicity walked towards her, Ah Major, good to see you again, I trust you have been managing your injuries well, the pained look was evident, I am a very bad patient doctor especially when threats loom, Radha looked around, Surely in this most formidable spacecraft you could find a moment to actually take a light day, Felicity raised an eyebrow, Could you?, the other woman looked back at her, they had radical different views on all matter of things but could cooperate when necessary, No I suppose not, I guess that is why we are both at the top of pyramid in our respective professions Major

What is your assessment of the girls Dr. Selaj, it pains me to see them in this state Felicity could barely look at them, they were so lively just days ago now they are trapped inside and no one could help them get out but themselves. Dr Selaj positioned herself off of Grey’s shoulder and looked over her patients’ charts, I believe their bodies will pull through, I can bring them back to consciousness given enough time and the resources at Selene station.

It is their minds that I am most concerned about. It is highly unlikely they will ever be able to interface again, they might not even be able to pilot a Battlemech via a neurohelmet anymore the neuro-feedback trauma is that severe. I can’t be certain. This is unknown territory we are dealing with I’ve had to go back quite far on Feedback Fatigue to find literature on the matter. The case will surely benefit the Magistracy even if they never once more take the field.

Two missions and out, A tragic waste of potential. I wonder what they think of now?

I too wonder. That is why we are here after all, to answer all the questions? I will get you something to manage the pain Major but you really must keep to a light schedule. I don’t want your broken ribs to hit anything important, the bio-scaffolding I put there will take days to begin the healing process and is quite fragile to rough handling.

Felicity walked over to Commander Arachne’s bed while Dr Selaj pulled the appropriate drugs. She appeared to be in a deep sleep despite the overactive brain waves. Was The Magistracy of Canopus so in need of soldiers that we should fight even in our Dreams against Nightmares made real. She really hoped not. the waking world was dangerous and scary enough.

Cold as Ice, pt 5
Hotfoot Heartbreaker

09/14/3065 03:48 Location – “The Icebox”, Mule Dropship “Rodeo”, Al’Sur

His primary task complete Joe “Hotfoot” Leeson departed the Infirmary and walked up a series of narrow staircases to the Auxiliary Refrigeration Loop because that is where the brig was, “The Icebox” was an apt nickname; indeed as he neared he could feel the chill. The fact that the Rodeo had a brig was curious enough, if someone acted up on an AFFC ship they were just confined to quarters, there wasn’t an actual brig to lock people up in except on Frontier Guard Furies and those were effectively prison ships.

The Master-at-Arms Hendrick was a bear of a man it was amazing that he even fit through some of the narrow access ways with shoulders that broad. The “reception area” led to three different cells but only one was occupied at this time, Captain Baasch ran a tight ship and the men kept out of trouble. Hendrick opened a dark blue locker and sets of cuffs jangled, he pulled out a set. Joe looked at him, Is that really necessary Hendrick?, Hendrick re-locked the locker’s door Captain’s orders Commander, take it up with him, he took the restraints and knocked on the bulkhead before opening up the access port to apply the cuffs to Lieutenant Ilonka.

Joe could feel the trepidation and took a few deep breaths before opening the door. He could hear the locking mechanism close behind him, it was just the two of them now, no secrets. Mina looked up at him from the plain cot she was sitting on, her Brown eyes stared at him, he couldn’t really tell what she was thinking and all of his preparation for the moment evaporated

Lieutenant, why didn’t you tell us you were sent by Grey to spy on us?, Mina’s eyes narrowed in defiance Don’t Lieutenant me Joe! Use my name!

Dammit Mina, answer the question!

I didn’t want you to treat me any differently! I’ve always been Grey’s girl, even in the Academy; people knew. Do you know how that makes me feel? always being in her shadow. You can’t say that wouldn’t have changed the nature of the unit… of our relationship, knowing that I was her understudy for five years.

Why didn’t you tell us about the Nukes on Marius’ Tears?

I wasn’t even aware of it immediately! Arachne put a defeat device on Raging Bull’s sensor and comm feeds that I didn’t find till later. I confronted her about it and she told me what happened when I threatened to take it to you. However it was so successful, The Marians brought that it was the Word of Blake that attacked them and kicked them out, so we tried to keep it quiet, I thought I would have more time to come up with a better explanation.

Why all the reports and secrets? Is Felicity trying to turn us all into cyborgs like Thane or worse?

Thane is dead Joe! He sacrificed himself so Felicity could escape Shervanis; and NO there is no plot to turn you into cyborgs or whatever wild conspiracies you can think up.

Why did Grey send, Joe pointed to her accusingly, You to spy on us Mina?

I’m sorry that you feel so betrayed Joe, I really am… I wanted to tell you but wasn’t sure how you would react or really how to explain it. Spy is perhaps to strong a word, I watched, waited, did my job, and occasionally sent some reports to Felicity. It is not as if she doesn’t trust you, she just thought you might need some help so I volunteered for the job. In fact she has pulled every bit of her personal capital to ensure this mission is a success. If she distrusted or doubted you even a little bit would she have risked so much?

Why didn’t you tell me you were going on the Warawi raid Mina? or that you knew how to operate Blackbird’s Command Console? That wasn’t part of the plan.

I was scared alright! I’ve never been in Battlemech combat before. She seemed sincere, he could see her eyes light up, I got out my old uniform trying to work up the courage but it wasn’t enough. I went to Arachne and Lieutenant Inderpol and then you came and I just had to do it. I didn’t want to lose you…, She trembled a little bit, I love you.

Bullshit! how do I know that wasn’t some con,

Mina looked hurt and began to cry, How can you say that?

Joe was unmoved, I don’t know if I believe you Mina

Combined Intelligence Assessment, RUBICON

Red Skull HUMINT, Major Felicity Grey

I have the full order of battle on Tai’iqih for the matters most concerning this operation. Top Shot has a spare Lightning, an older model but it is still a flying 203mm Cannon. They also have a Redtail Small Gunship which is unwelcome news.

No doubt they anticipate our attack during this relatively clear weather period after an extended break, so expect all of them to come to aid Captain Holfsted, his Grenadiers, and their local auxiliaries at Al’Jair. There are also local informants that have surely relayed the fact that the camp at As’Sab is being packed up.

My technical intelligence teams took a look at the C3i unit installed in the Assault Pike so we know that the Werker-Henz at Al’Jair can jam those systems in addition to your standard C3 battle networking systems. Blackbird’s command console can protect the system but I am unfortunately unable to operate it.

An extra note of Caution, one of the Red Skull Mechwarriors reports that an ordnance container on the tarmac was marked with the same signs recorded in your unit’s historicals from Zavijava. It was guarded by Alptraum Commandos but I will try to figure out what might be in it from the others. If Jakk wakes up I will send his debriefing along to you.

Top Shot TOO
Stuka (D6), Thunderbird (D36b), Lucifer (R20), Corsair (V14), 3 Lightnings (1 G15, 2 G16D), Redtail (2 A4, 3 ERML)

Jaguars Claws HUMINT, Specialist Cearra Heron

Point Commander Pike has given us a rough table of organization for the Titanfellers, at least the forces that attacked Coolwater. It has been several days so Ash may have destroyed them but Major Brekard had a reinforced battalion of 40 Battlemechs. Mostly heavy-medium with a lights and assaults mixed in. That was before he spent two days fighting the around 25-30 Battlemechs that Ash was capable of fielding. Who knows what he has left, they have also told me what they remember being fielded by Ash; but one step at a time the Titanfellers need to be dealt with first.

The Jaguars cannot guarantee that Ash won’t attack Mercs Unleashed. She is hell bent on rebuilding her clan she might even be willing to sacrifice her SaKhan if she believed it was worth it long term. This Watch Captain is a genuine concern as well, he seemed eager to rid the clan of Jakk based on Mina’s interrogation of Ravinia. I don’t know what Major Grey will want you to do or what Jakk will be able to offer to aid you when he finally wakes up. Nevertheless we at As’Sab will be ready for you when you arrive this morning.

Coolwater Order of Battle
Battlemaster, Crossbow, Komodo, Wolverines, Hercules, Anvil, Thunder, Nightsky, 2 Shadow Hawks, 2 Griffins, 2 Warhammers, Catapult, 2 Dervishes, Starslayer, Clint, Whitworth, Archer, Jackal, Phoenix Hawk, 2 Panthers, 2 Fire Javelins, Lancelot, Thunder Hawk, Zeus, Jenner, Wolf Trap, Stalker, Crusader, Kit Fox B, Howler, Hunchback, 2 Wasps, Valkyrie

Scouting Report, Mechwarrior Keiko Muruyama

The Cicada, Wolf Traps, and Cronus were sent to test Al’Jair’s response, the response was swift and powerful but we mobility hit some of the hovers (Scimitar, Gladius, Harasser) causing them to withdraw. We did get close enough to update the previous reports however courtesy of the Guardian ECM on Scatterbrain’s mech. We counted a combined 20 heavy gun and tank emplacements and observed eight artillery units firing on us but they weren’t able to pin us down. The area is surrounded by Minefields and patrolled by hovercraft. Its not going to be an easy fight Commander but it has to be done.

Observed Units
Behemoth (Headhunter), Ontos (Headhunter), 2 Von Luckner Type II (Gauss), 2 Heavy LRM Trailers, 2 Improved Pikes, 2 Zhukov Type II (2 LGR, 1 SRM6), 2 Scimitar (AC/5, TAG), 2 Gladius, 2 Harasser Rocket Carriers (7 RL15), 4 Dual Ultra 10 Gun Trailers, 3 Warthog Thumper Carriers, 3 Marksman SPAs, 2 Derecho Arrow IV MLRS

Known Units
2 Hawk Moth VTOLs, 2 Warrior H-7s, 2 Guardian Jump Jets

The Real Red Menace, part VIII

09/11/3065 20:51 Location – Shervanis Old City, Astrokaszy

Ebon Magistrate Operative Thane stepped forward, Major we need to go right now. The Dodo is almost here, we just have eight hundred meters to the exfil point and haven’t seen anything in minutes. Major Grey kept her eyes glued on the path before her, the moonlight and auroras reflected off the Northern Polar Sea. The way out looked beautiful but the shadows were made even darker by the light above.

Okay we should have minimal time in the open now, Thane take point, Kell you’re rearguard, Saber Squads with me

Thane’s nine man squad advanced checking corners and alleyways for hostiles, Twin Sabers’ advanced in a staggered diamond formation centering on their charge, Kell and his eight man squad was split watching their six.

They got most of the way down the narrow road before the grey stucco buildings exploded and a squad of six “creatures” broke out of the walls. Five were three meter tall hulking beasts, a heavy white cloak shrouding their bulk, but their “masks” were horrific, shaped like demons or mythological beasts, massive support lasers that would take an exoskeleton to carry normally were held as if they were no burden. The sixth wore a black sneak suit with a cyclopeian mask and cybernetic claws for hands like some kind of predatory beast.

Thane’s commandos didn’t hesitate, before the dust cleared they fired their weapons killing one of the monsters. Kell’s rear guard pushed forward trying to shield the light infantry and Major Grey. Most of Thane’s nine man advance team was taken out in moments, the heavy lasers burned through the Hellkite armor and into the cybernetically enhanced Ebon Magistrate commandos inside leaving steaming holes 12 centimeters wide and scorching the building behind them. The now lifeless commandos collapsed where they stood, cracking the pavement with their mass.

The sneak suited cyborg weaved through the commandos and into the ranks of Twin Sabers and Major Grey. The armored sneak suit and myomer musculature absorbed their small arms fire and its strange, unnatural movements made it difficult to target. Its claws ripping through light armor cutting flesh and bone in a gruesome spectacle. It was finally brought down but not before leaving fourteen dismembered corpses in its wake, heads, arms, legs, all cut with no apparent effort lie amongst the gory pile.

Felicity was tackled into a wall by one of the Hellkites. She could hear bones cracking in her right side. Instantly she regretted not getting that pain inhibitor last time she went under the knife as white hot pain lanced through her broken body. Looking back she saw Thane’s Hellkite collapse into the cobblestones burned through, where she had once stood.

One of the monsters gazed her way as it’s myomer muscles charred from the plasma from the remaining Ebon Magistrate commandos, she fired her rifle at it with her good hand, thirty rounds impacted it barely leaving a mark, by muscle memory she drew her machine pistol switching it to full auto and emptying the magazine, no effect, in fact the creature smiled before being consumed in white hot plasma.

Commander Kell ran to where Major Grey lie slumped against the wall, she was ghost white, he couldn’t tell if it was the trauma of her injuries, the shock of seeing the carnage before her, or terror caused by the monsters that he had sent to Hell. Either way he gently scooped her up and sprinted to the beach where the Dodo crested above the white caps.

A quick burst of Inferno SRMs was the only funeral pyre for the fallen this day.

Cold as Ice, pt 4

09/14/3065 03:28 Location – Mule Dropship “Rodeo”, Al’Sur, Astrokaszy

Strike Commander Joe “Hotfoot” Leeson walked up to the darkened Spheroid drop-ship on the sandstone ridge-line, carefully placed reflective strips marked the path through the rocky outcroppings above Al’Sur.

His combat boots crunched on the black sand of Astrokaszy as he walked alone in silence with a pack across one shoulder on the path between the unit’s dropships. He looked over to the sheltered valley below, Twin Saber’s Fury and the Matte Black MIM Amur dropships were down on the airfield where Squad Leader Kunimoto kept the Aerofighters hot and ready for action at a moment’s notice, Lieutenant Commander Post’s tanks lurked somewhere in the darkness under blackout covers.

Joe thought about everything that had happened recently, it had been nearly a year since he was last on their home base of Dainmar Majoris, a world on the other side of the Magistracy of Canopus, a full year that he had spent with Jasmina Ilonka. A woman whom he loved but just found out was a spy put into the unit by their current employer, the enigmatic cipher and current Queen Bitch Major Grey.

In the distance he saw the headlights of the salvage vehicles heading to his location, carrying their latest haul. This mission had produced a lot of salvage, even with a ten percent cut it could be another five or six mechs for the command; not that it mattered he was done with active duty after this.

He approached the massive Mule drop-ship, walking up a set of corrugated metal stairs installed to allow easier access to the ridge. Not every rock on this miserable world could support 12 kilotons of mass so they had to pick the hardest one, clearly that also meant the hardest one to get to.

The vessel was a massive bulb painted a burnt ochre color with “DEXTRAN” painted in four meter tall Dark Blue block letters across it. Dim lights illuminated a small access staircase and two of Leon’s security team, they seemed tense but he could understand that. They saluted and went back to manning their guard station.

Joe walked up the stairs into one of the smaller cargo holds on this massive ship, it mostly held crates of supplies that would be of interest to the other drop-ship crews and curious locals. One of Dextran’s crew manned a small desk where he was playing some game on his comm-pad.

Joe had never been on this ship before so he needed directions to the infirmary where Jakk, the Jaguars, Ravinia, and Nathan Alphaois, their missing mech-warrior, were and “The Icebox” where Mina was being held for the previous days misbehavior. She had been acting weird for the past couple of weeks but he dismissed it as spending to much time bottled up in a dropship.

The clerk gave him a series of cryptic instructions on a piece of paper he set about trying to figure out where these places were, he really didn’t want to look foolish asking directions, these dropships especially Lyran ones were laid out for maximum efficiency. Joe walked through the hexagonal framed corridor, the walls were meshed steel designed for easy access to the various sub-systems. it was too cold, must be a Lyran thing they sure do like their ice worlds, he liked things a little bit warmer but Astrokaszy was to damn hot.

The infirmary was on the same deck as the lower cargo bay, he did need to figure out the frames but that didn’t take to long, no more so than any other building or space construct he had ever been on. Thank you Star League standardization.

Buzzing the infirmary Joe was greeted by Sergeant Leon Reinholdt, Acting Chief Security Officer. Good to see you again Joe, I trust you didn’t have to much trouble finding your way around, No more so than any other place I suppose, this drop-ship is much larger and nicer than what I’m used to, I suppose I’ll have to spend some more time aboard Joe put down his pack and walked into the office, he could see the whole medical bay through the smart glass currently set to transparent but the panels could become frosty white with the press of a button in case the staff needed some privacy.

Various medical monitors silently kept the Drs Westcastle staff on top of any issue. Jakk, Kat, and the three Jaguars along with five Twin Sabers and Nathan were the patients today, all were stable. Jakk was almost conscious his injuries were dire and Dr Richard Westcastle didn’t want to wake him up sooner despite Major Grey wanting to speak with the Jaguar SaKhan. Leon and Corporal Hermes kept a close eye on his companions and the young man was handcuffed to his hospital bed in case he became violent, everyone’s guns were unloaded as agreed but they still were slung across their chest.

The Jaguar Kat “Dust” hadn’t slept since arriving yesterday and likely the night before. Her hair was a wild, tangled mess, she was dirty, and her eyes were bloodshot, she looked like some half-starved wild animal than a teenage Japanese girl. She was sitting in lotus pose with her rifle cradled against her shoulder, according to Dr Westcastle she wouldn’t leave her vigil despite Squad Leader Kunimoto trying to get her to calm down for the sake of Sandra and Blair. All Kat took was water from her canteens and refused anything from the mercenaries or their staff, she didn’t talk much but was always listening.

Dr Richard Westcastle was on call tonight, his glasses had a small loupe built in and his salt and pepper hair was still cut AFFC regulation short, a testament to his prior service Military Medic before “retiring” to a personal medical mission in the periphery marches with his wife Dr Justine Westcastle.
Doc, is Nathan in good enough shape to get back into the fight?
Dr Westcastle looked over some charts the man had been in bad shape three days ago but there was nothing wrong with him besides concussion related trauma, Yes Strike Commander he’s not one hundred percent but he is all yours if need him
that wasn’t the answer joe was looking for, How much off of one hundred percent is he Doc? I won’t put him out there if he’s going to be a danger to the unit, we’ll make due but we need all the people we can get.
He’s probably ninety percent there is some lingering trauma but there is no medical problem limiting him.
That’s good enough, this pack is for him, get him re-synced to this helmet before 08:00

Joe walked into the medical bay it smelled of antiseptic, soft clicking and buzzing sounds filled the air as various medical gadgets sustained the lives of the ten people within. Nathan looked like hell but he had almost died three days ago but he was still alive, he slept lightly, no doubt used to a normal routine during his hospital stay. Joe tapped him and he sprung awake alert and ready.
Evening Commander, its been a while
It sure has Nathan, you had us all worried we lost Iris and Andre we didn’t want to lose you too. Have you been keeping up with the reports?
Yessir, seems like our options are rapidly narrowing and I’m ready to get back to action.
Good I like your attitude Mechwarrior, we have a slightly used Phoenix Hawk that you’re taking all the way to Neo Szabo. I dropped your new uniform and neurohelmet off with Dr Westcastle. Briefing is at 08:00.
I’ll be there Commander.

Cold as Ice, pt 3

09/14/3065 03:17 Location – Trojan Dropship “Raging Bull”, Al’Sur, Astrokaszy

Vanguard Commander Brandt and Strike Commander Lesson returned from their skirmish with the Red Skull, Tack’s Guillotine was carrying it’s right arm in it’s left hand in what would have been comedic if it weren’t for the blackened rent metal that was the Battlemech’s right torso. Sergeant Reinholdt, his Desert Rats, and the Red Skull Mechwarriors had arrived earlier, transported via the Marten VTOL, so that Major Grey and her people could debrief/interrogate/etc… the newly arrived mercenaries. The report was still being prepared but some of the Red Skull were playing hardball while others rolled with little provocation.

What was rolling was Joe and Markus’ tempers, each seethed for their own reasons. Joe walked his Phoenix Hawk into the Raging Bull’s Mech bay hopped out and immediately left going to their neighboring Mule drop-ship “Rodeo.” Markus would get there eventually but he had to clear the air with Major Grey first, her attitude was wearing on him after the past week, god it had only been a week since they made landfall and things didn’t make sense anymore.

By providence she was on-board with her new cybernetic bodyguard, one of the “freaks” that Joe had unmasked several days ago, and was responsible for detonating nuclear demo charges on their previous assignment without telling them. After checking in with Captain Radimir he went to her still in his cooling vest and jumpsuit, walking past several troops with the Twin Sabers logo on their fatigues.

Major Grey and Operative Kell were waiting for him in the corridor outside the Strategic Command Center. Major we need to talk right now!, Felicity turned and spoke calmly, I agree. Where do you want to start Commander?

Why didn’t you tell us about Mina?
She didn’t tell you so I didn’t either, you will have to ask her motivation to keep it secret. I didn’t order her to keep it under wraps when she volunteered for the assignment
Why even send an agent into this unit Felicity?
You needed an intelligence officer and she is one of the best, I forwarded her profile through a cutout to you and you hired her. She sent me occasional reports on your progress and I provided guidance when it seemed necessary.
You act like its not a big deal!, Markus was fuming yet Felicity remained calm
Its not, fire her if it pleases you but you will not find a more loyal and dutiful worker than that young woman
She pulled a gun on Sergeant Reinholdt, drugged and assumed the identity of Specialist Samira, and then assaulted Ravinia. What else has she done?
As far as I know asked the difficult questions, maintained a low profile, did her job, and kept an eye out for infiltrators from ROM, TMI, AIM, Loki, or hell even Mask, Canopus may be allied with the Capellans but that doesn’t mean they need to see everything we do. Leon is unreliable, you know it yet do nothing, and Ravinia has critical first person intelligence on your enemy yet refused to provide it until Mina “persuaded” her.
She’s a wildcard, the slightest strain was visible on Felicity’s brow as she continued to answer the angry questions of the Vanguard Commander, I know and that’s why she is perfect for this unit, you are all too predictable.
I don’t trust her anymore, what others lies has she been telling?
I don’t know. Her secrets are not mine to give, again ask her and fire her if it pleases you.
You’re not even going to offer a token defense of your agent., Frustration began to mount on Major Grey’s face, She asked me not to. Nor does she offer any apologies for her behavior, she was performing her duty and seeks to be judged based on results not your idea of politey.

Markus realized her wasn’t going to get further with those questions, Why didn’t you tell us about the bounty on your head? I can’t say it hasn’t been tempting. Thirty million Eagles would fix a lot of problems., Kell shifted to draw his sidearm but paused as Major Grey signaled him to stop, her face went intense and voice cold, Markus had stepped over the line and he couldn’t retract it fast enough, he realized to late that something was really bothering Grey,

You’d like that wouldn’t you? An end to your little problems. You have only been on planet for a week, sitting inside the heavily armored cockpit of one of the most impressive war machines mankind has ever made, winning by the way. Felicity grabbed his cooling vest and pulled him down to her level, You have no idea how many problems I would like to get rid of, yet you come here whining about your situation. Let me enlighten you., he’d never seen her this intense and pondering how fast Captain Radimir’s crew could respond if he shouted, The former Chief of Station cost me my whole network in the Marian Hegemony, my network, my people tortured and murdered in the wake of your Co-Commander’s raid on that secret factory on Marius’ Tears. Commander Arachne had full operational control of that mission and she chose to use nuclear demo charges to eliminate the threat. I had nothing to do with it but support her choice, Mina and her likely had some kind of agreement to deal with the fallout later but were pulled into this mission back to back without sufficient time to decompress.

Felicity released her physical grip but maintained the death stare that cut right to his soul, For me years of work gone along with dozens of lives lost to give even the slightest advantage to the Magistracy. The Word of Blake being kicked out was collateral damage but they still attacked MIM Headquarters on Canopus with the Revenant! I was there! I saw them, they killed two hundred people that day, the Ministry still hasn’t even quantified the damage to our operations.

I’m running out of allies Vanguard Commander, you remember Shonsa Kiang Shi Fang right? Her unit and her were killed and mutilated by Thuggees less than a month ago, I have the picture*. Felicity pulled her wallet out of her shirt pocket with her left hand and produced the picture of a woman’s decapitated head.

Markus looked away, Look at it! This is a war, undeclared perhaps, but people die, people lie, sometimes it catches up to them. You live with it and move on or don’t.

Major Grey paused, her breathing was harsh and she was clearly in pain but she wasn’t done, So if you want your little problems gone, go ahead, claim your blood money, I have not regrets for what I do., She was getting increasingly agitated, The Archon-Princess will stop at nothing to get her bitch ass on the Throne of the Second Star League and keep it there. The Federated Commonwealth has been waiting centuries for the opportunity, the only worse power is the Draconis Combine.

Me, Kell, Arachne, Mina, any of us would gladly sacrifice ourselves to avert the bloodshed on even a single Canopian world if it was possible but we have to pick our battles, we are fewer in number everyday. Not all of us can walk away and pick a new side., Felicity penned Markus against one of the corridor walls, Katherine has pulled right from the deepest depths of sludge in the Inner Sphere to wage her little wars out here. Before Konstantine died he was bragging about how many liberated slave girls he raped before returning them to their families. This man was a Baron! The Marians are slavers and pirates, sure they act more civilized but they are the very boogeymen all Canopians fear, with good reason, I’ve seen their depravity first hand, entire villages burned, people crucified or left to die in the cold.

Something changed in Felicity’s features as she continued something Markus hadn’t seen in her ever, a blanched face of terror. The Word of Blake has pulled inhuman demons straight from the Pits of Hell to fight for them, I’ve seen them, fought them, six of them killed fifteen of the finest soldiers in the MAF including Thane and twenty of Tina’s men. I’ve killed people and sent them to their death but these things are monsters. There is nothing so horrific in the entire universe, they are just empty shells of violence.

War is coming Commander, a war on the scale of which the Inner Sphere hasn’t seen since the end of the Star League. I won’t have it on my conscience to say I didn’t give it my all even if it was impolite.

You don’t have to like me or what I do Commander. As a matter of fact its better if you don’t, I respect your skill and straight forwardness but that doesn’t mean we need to be friends. But don’t try to judge me for what I do, you’re not from here.

The Real Red Menace, part VII

09/11/3065 20:17 Location – Shervanis Old City, Astrokaszy

Major Felicity Grey, Thane, and the other forces ran from cover to cover, war had broken out everywhere and it didn’t matter whether it was a precision shot from an Alptraum Sniper Ace with his M&G 813 Trolljager Rifle or some fifteen year old with a Roryrex knockoff, bullets didn’t discriminate. The size of her unit did dissuade some opportunists but it wasn’t them she was afraid of.

Fear, Fear felt strange, she had spent her whole life trying to eliminate it, she had almost forgotten what it felt like, everything had been going according to plan until recently. Three kilometers of hell still awaited her, her injuries the other day slowed her slightly, couldn’t get away from the effects of a car crash that easily, she knew it would have almost been faster for Thane to carry her but she needed his arms behind that gun.

Her optical implants picked up a flash of motion ahead and called a stop, the Ebon Magistrate assault commandos’ implants were better. They scanned the area and fired on a level I of Purifiers attempting to hide in the shadows ahead, bullet holes, laser pulses, and plasma scorched their mimetic camouflage but they were dealt with quickly. The commotion drew out a level I of sneak suited Word of Blake fighters as well who though their ambush had been spring, Twin Sabers Marksmen picked them off along with the Hellkite’s heavy weapons. The smell of burnt flesh, crushed concrete, and ozone filled the air as the building to the right of them burned in the aftermath of the plasma rifle. Casualties were mounting, the Purifier’s lasers had torn through several Twin Sabers troops and killed a pair of assault commandos wounding others. Felicity didn’t have enough of those to spare, only some of Thane’s company could make the trip to Shervanis and they were the only way she was going to make it out of this alive.

As they continued moving through the Old City she couldn’t help but feel like she was being watched by an unknown power. The city was fully involved in combat now various “militias” were fighting it out with their rivals, Grey’s team moved to avoid being caught in the middle of that while still heading north. The Aurora Borealis of Astrokaszy filled the sky and illuminated the ground with dancing green and red lights adding to the faint white light from the waxing gibbous Ghada, it was surreal to see it so far South but she welcomed any light that could help her see the monsters that waiting in the dark for her.

One Kilometer to go through the snaking avenues, comms were still dead, she checked her watch, 20:42, they had less than twenty minutes but that was an eternity in a firefight, every second counted.

But she noticed something that set her on edge,

The city was quiet
Quiet was bad
Predators were quiet
She was quiet

Stop! Something is wrong, Thane and Squad Leader Brent stopped surprised by the sudden outburst. They checked windows, and sent up a drone to take a look at rooftops, nothing, the whole area was abandoned. There is nothing out here Major, Commander Turner must have drawn them off, No that’s not it and you know it, its those power armored troops from before they are just waiting for us somewhere.

The Real Red Menace, part VI

09/11/3065 20:08 Location – Shervanis Old City, Astrokaszy

Major Grey and her bodyguard units convoyed across the city, Twin Sabers had done a good job of pulling the Hidden Hand and Alptraum out of position and things were going according to plan. She should have known better.

The lead vehicle blew to pieces and the explosion shook her armored car as small arms fire began pouring out of the buildings around them. We’re under attack all units reverse and redirect, the rear vehicle was blocked in by a six man group that had to be wearing power armor based on their size. That left the whole group vulnerable, Operative Thane came in over the radio, Darkwings engage right flank, clear a path for alternate exfil, Grey could see their Hellkites emerge and begin firing heavy weapons at the hostiles in the buildings and the power armored troopers behind.

Their heavy weapons were deafening as they echoed off the wind-worn grey stone buildings, Lets go Major!, she nodded and followed the point-man as he exited the right side door of the armored car which maneuvered to provide some cover to the light infantry. She fired a few rounds to suppress the windows and took cover as the point-man kicked down the nearest door and triggered a mine, pieces of him were thrown across the armored car behind the unit. Fuck!, Saber Six I need you to blow a wall we need to get out of the kill-zone, Roger Major, take cover, danger close, Grey and her fire team dropped prone and covered their heads, Saber team Six prepped their recoil less rifle with an anti-material round and fired it into the masonry wall creating a hole wide enough to enter.

Move, Move, Darkwing collapse on us we will clear the building and find another way out, Felicity and Saber One cleared the building room by room, they weren’t fighting Alptraum but Word of Blake Militia, Watch for Purifiers, shoot anything that shimmers, flash grenades will dazzle them

Ebon Magistrate Operative Thane and his platoon engaged their targets rapidly and with extreme prejudice, gouts of white hot plasma, armor piercing bullets, and explosives tore into their foes and the environment, small fires burned everywhere, his side only had minor casualties, just one fatality, less than a dozen wounded, Thane torched the remains with plasma. He noticed the mysterious power armored troops had broken the axle of their rear armored car and set it aflame killing everyone inside. He fired another burst from his Ebony Pulse Rifle at a particularly brave soldier in the opposite building before falling back having covered the armored car drivers as they torched their own cars with phosphorous grenades.

Felicity Grey followed three behind as Twin Sabers crept through the building, the Pointman’s Pinard Predator auto-shotgun dealt with any Militia infantryman and doors, his secondary TK-576 sub-machine gun at the ready in its sling across the other shoulder. She keyed her radio, Commander Turner we are blocked in by hostile forces can you get to us?, nothing but static answered, Shit! they are jamming us, we have to move, pointing to a pair of her fire-team, you two find Thane we are going to need to stick close, they nodded and doubled back toward the entry point where the Ebon Magistrate was still engaging stragglers.

Elsewhere in the city
Twin Sabers Commander Turner watched through her range-finding binoculars as another salvo was fired from the Light LRM Carrier. There was no point in being stealthy about this now that she had engaged the whole goddamn city. The fragmentation rockets burst in the sky throwing shards of red hot metal into cluster of Hidden Hand militia, the effects visible in infrared from her popped hatch.

There had been no word from Major Grey in twenty minutes that wasn’t a good sign, she should have been at the rendezvous point by now. That meant that she needed to push toward her location which meant fighting through an armory district thick with enemies while low on ammo.

The dull thuds of her Warthog mortar carriers echoed across the street firing gas shells to disperse the militia as her troops advanced slowly, dealing with any foes that popped up to meet them. A Hetzer assault gun blasted holes in any enemy strong-points they encountered while a pair of Super Scorpion Mark IIs provided cover fire with their auto-cannons, missiles, and machine guns. The Canopian sponsored Army of Virtue militia was nowhere to be seen which was unfortunate but not unexpected.


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