Battletech Mercs Unleashed

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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Into the Jaws

09/14/3065 07:57 Location – Trojan Dropship Raging Bull, Al’Sur

Markus and Joe both stood on the walkway watching the techs bring everything online, they both could see the sun rising through the open mech bay doors. Major Grey had given the Mercs the remaining tech teams, their duties fulfilled by rebuilding the Ebon Magistrate’s mechs that only Arachne and her sisters could operate. So there were a lot more NAM logos on the backs of jumpsuits then before not that Chief Tech Dolens cared.

They both were unhappy with the recent turn of events, Samira had been handed over as collateral to the scavenger tribe to replace Ravinia and ensure the Locust that was Mercs Unleashed’s restitution showed up. Leon and Ames had both been executed by sword at dawn for their crimes, at least it was a fast death. Joe still hadn’t gotten over Mina’s reveal and Markus wasn’t happy that he was sending Alina into combat against four to one odds.

Morale was low but they needed everyone on their game if this operation was going to successful. There was nothing more for them to do but run right into the Jaws of Death and hope to prevail. Mercs Unleashed needed to defeat the Titanfellers before they showed up on Dainmar Majoris to fight that apocalyptic battle they so wanted. To think that neither of them were even part of the initial group that Major Brekard hated so much.

At least here Grey had given them the option to take the Titanfellers out after they had wasted some portion of themselves against the rogue Jaguar Khan Ash. Jakk, her Combine saKhan was close to waking up, both really hoped it would be worth it and that they too wouldn’t be subjected to the fury of an angry Smoke Jaguar. Even spending what time they had spent with the rogue clan they understood why Grey had tasked them with removing her before she posed a threat to Canopian worlds.

08:14, Raging Bull Ready Room
Markus keyed open his locker, his neurohelmet was clean and polished, ready for action. The paint and logo it previously held were faded but recognizable as the 2nd Robinson Rangers, Two Red Stripes and Black, it was going to need a new paint job soon.

Nearly eight years ago he had deserted, sick of the politics that surrounded the mission, how Katherine had just fed the Sarna March to the League and Confederation throwing it into Chaos, and how the Rangers nurtured their fanatical hatred toward all things Combine. At least Tancred Sandoval would give them a chance, he could re-enlist and serve under him, although the MAF needed him to, he didn’t know if the helmet would look good in teal and gold though.

There was a note on his locker’s door, a woman’s calligraphy all delicate curves and artistic expression. He tucked it into his pocket, she could tell him herself when she came back safely to ground and he came out on the other side.

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RUBICON Briefing

09/14/3065 08:00 Location – Strategic Command Room, Trojan Dropship “Raging Bull”, Al’Sur

Co-Commanders Markus Brandt and Joe Leeson stood at opposite sides of the holo-table. Major Grey, Lieutenant Ilonka, Squad Leader Kunimoto, Lieutenant Commander Post and Captain Blackwell sat in the gallery, the rest of the Mercs Unleashed Lances Leads on the flanks. Markus looked up, Bring it online Lieutenant, the holo-table booted up and provided a topographically accurate map of the Operations Area. Al’Jair and Coolwater were surrounded by a gold glow, Al’Sur and As’Sab were blue, Neo Szabo Red.

Alright people here’s the general plan me or Joe will go over the specifics for your intended part to play afterwards. First, Nathan congratulations on your promotion to lance lead you’ve looked death right the eyes and came back in one piece just as strong. Lance Leads McKinney and Law your forces are with me, Drummond and Alphaios you are with Joe. The plan is relatively straightforward, my company will attack Al’Jair; McKinney you are finally going to get a chance to rip those tanks. A Dark Blue line appeared shimmering the midair with the three letter abbreviations of the task forces mechs, Task Force STATIC

Ironhide punched his fist into his closed hand, About time Commander, I’ll turn them to scrap

Commander Leeson and his quick strike force will wheel around Al’Jair between it and Ni’Keet to attack the Titanfellers preferably around Sleeping Jaguar Oasis, if they don’t find any targets they will collapse back on Al’Jair. Specialist Heron and Chief Engineer Ingress will wait to break camp till the exact last moment to make sure any local informants have the least amount of time to report it to Major Brekard and his unit. We are not trying to keep it a secret I just don’t want to be facing down a company of Battlemechs and two companies of Armor at the same time. As far as Tom knows he still has time to beat on the Jaguars while we enjoy cocktails. A purple line cut between Al’Jair and Ni’Keet arcing towards the Oasis before straightening out to hit Coolwater. Task Force FEATHERWEIGHT

Lieutenants Ilonka and Inderpol as well as the NAM Mechs and Jaguars will stay with the techs to blunt any attempt to exploit a breakout from hovercraft or light mechs. She and Specialist Heron will try to keep my Task Force’s C3 systems online and coordinate with Squad Leader Kunimoto and Flight Lead Wodan.

We are going to borrow the Warawi airfield to make sure the Blue Hawks can carry their full ordnance and still have loiter time, two MULEs will transport field and security teams as well as additional fuel and ammunition. The Boomerangs will also use the field during the operation to watch the terrain for hostiles. Their presence should be low key enough that Top Shot won’t bother them, they have bigger fish to fry. A big T appeared 40km WSW of Al’Jair with an X appearing over Warawi and a series of arcs mirroring proposed search patterns materialized. The holo-table ran through likely arcs of attack for Top Shot from Tai’iqih, most of them veered south before looping back to Al’Jair. The computer estimated that Task Force STATIC would be the primary objective with only a few scenarios involving an attack on FEATHERWEIGHT

Kunimoto and her squad will intercept any Top Shot ground attack attempts and Wodan will support Joe’s task force against the Titanfellers. Markus stepped off and looked up at Alina, Your job is to cripple those fighters, we don’t need them or you blown to pieces we just need them to leave us alone long enough to deal with the Titanfellers and Grenadiers., she nodded and Markus went back to his former position

Lieutenant Commander Post shall remain on high alert with all the tanks. If we really need him there are a couple of possible drop zones near Waypoints Diane or Ruby, but its a lot of loose sand, not great stuff for landing zones. I really hope it doesn’t come to that when we have the mechs to do it.

Once we have routed the Titanfellers and Grenadiers the dropships will do a quick low orbit burn from Al’Sur and take up position near Coolwater assuming it is safe enough. I don’t need artillery raining down on the Rodeo, we still have payments to make on it. Not to mention this ship, we’ve put a lot of money into these and they are our way off-world. Two large circles appeared on the bluffs near Coolwater, based on the Jaguars input those would be the best chance to support the Command’s Dropships.

By my estimates the main assault should be at the Marshaling area around seventeen hundred. Its a long walk but the temperature is supposed to reach sixty-one Celsius today so those tanks will be sitting ducks after baking in the heat . It should also give our techs a chance to get some shut eye en route so they can put us back together overnight. I want to be within striking range of Neo Szabo by this time tomorrow! We leave in one hour.

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Katherine, Archon-Princess

08/17/3065 17:18 Location – Tharkad City, Tharkad, Federated Commonwealth

Katherine Steiner-Davion walked out of her royal apartments, her blue and gold dress was trimmed with furs imported from the Marian Hegemony’s Lothan Province, a diamond and platinum necklace dangling elegantly from her neck, resting delicately on her left wrist was a finely crafted watch, and the Archon-Princess’ circlet twisted into her braided blonde hair.

The first snow of Tharkad City’s winter marked an auspicious day in the Ink District, the opening of the Seth Marsden Opera House’s 200th Gala season. She walked along the hallowed halls of the Royal Palace passing seven centuries of legacy, an entourage of AFFC officers, their escorts, and Honor Guard assigned to her protection followed her.

A collection of cars idled quietly in the underground transport hub of the Royal Palace, she was guided to a snow-white limousine, Lieutenant-General Adam Steiner stood outside it, his dark blue dress uniform was pressed, his many medals and ribbons glimmered under the lights.

“Hello General Steiner, I’m glad that you have decided to join me this evening.

You hardly gave me a choice Archon-Princess, an order is an order.

Is that so? Well then I order you to have fun this evening. The Strategy and Tactics Division will still be there tomorrow… although if it isn’t then that order is even more important.

An aide opened the door for both of them as they took to the streets, with so many VIPs on the move tonight the Tharkad City Polizei had their work cut out for them. Adam sat across from Katherine in the limo’s passenger compartment, Katherine are the rumors true? She stopped looking outside at the waning moon and faced him, Now which rumors would those be? I truthfully don’t know what the Tharkad Tribune has been saying about me the past few days.

You have been spending a lot of time in the Alistair Mountains, great place to hide a secret rendezvous She laughed, Oh is that what they say? I really must spin up a new scandal if they feel its something so banal. I never took you for a gossip Adam perhaps you really have been on Tharkad to long.

Adam looked down, he yearned to get back in the field, reform the Somerset Strikers and reclaim his home-world. He chafed at being a Staff Officer drawing up plans and lecturing to the University of Tharkad’s Military Science students while the Jade Falcons still occupied Lyran worlds especially as the expiration of the Truce of Tukayyid grew ever closer.

I understand you are restless here but you will soon be back in the field I guarantee it. Your work at Asgard has been very helpful. We have never been more prepared for any eventuality that might befall the Commonwealth. One day you will again lead the strike to liberate Somerset and it shall stay that way this time I promise you. The Jade Falcons will be driven out of the Inner Sphere and Annihilated just like the Smoke Jaguars.

Adam looked at her, What of the Wolves? Phelen Ward’s Wolves and the Kell Hounds shall not wait on Arc-Royal forever, Vlad will surely attack them when the Truce expires. We should be giving them what they need to withstand that assault.

An almost imperceptible tell went across Katherine’s eyes, Adam apparently hadn’t noticed it though based on his non-reaction. If Grand Duke Morgan Kell was so upset with my ascension that he took it upon himself to secede then he can take it upon himself to succeed. I have recognized his claim to the A.R.D.C. for now, he will have my help when he recognizes my claim to the Throne of the Federated Commonwealth and stops trying to undermine me.

Royal Guard Battlemechs stood sentry around the Ink District their bright searchlights reflected off the white snow, the skies were empty except for flurries, and the streets were watched like hawks by the Diplomatic Corps. Free Skye is and always would be a threat and they had grown bolder since Katherine had begun cracking down on them. TCP manned roadblocks and patrolled the district in force, whole areas were under curfew but that mattered little everyone was hosting a party tonight.

The Archon-Princess’s motorcade rolled along deserted and spotless streets as a thin layer of snow collected on the sidewalks. They didn’t even slow for the pair of Royal Guard Zeus Battlemechs who parted to let them pass before returning to their posts and blocking the street with 160 tons of Lyran steel.

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