Battletech Mercs Unleashed

Katherine, White Wolf V

08/18/3060 04:52 Location – Tamar Starport, Wolf OZ

The Tamar Starport was incredibly busy, Khan Vladimir Ward had returned from the Homeworlds with Materiel and Castemen from the Home-worlds, and Warriors gained from the Harvest Trials. Brightly lit Lion, Union-C, Confederate, and Mule drop-ships were parked as close as safe, Wolf Patrol and Elemental Guards wormed their way through watching for sabotage and managing the numerous Laborers and Technicians working to unload their cargoes. The Wolf Factors were working around the clock to find places and allocate resources to the new arrivals and nearly one million tons of Cargo, even with advance notice and planning it was a logistical nightmare. Dozens of C-1 Dropshuttles were scattered about, their bulbous tops emerging from the permacrete like mushrooms carrying all manner of goods from the three Warships (CWS Provider, Bloody Fang, and Dire Wolf) that orbited Tamar. Khan Ward had decided that the Inner Sphere would be more hospitable to Clan Wolf and begun preparations to transfer the whole Clan there; ready to pounce on Earth when the Truce ended.

The newest arrival was different, rather than the Crimson and Steel Grey of the Wolves this one was a White, Gold, and Blue K-1 Dropshuttle marked with the Archon’s Crest. Khan Vladimir Ward and a group of Wolves walked across the still warm permacrete and stood a safe distance from the small craft. The Dropshuttle’s bay door opened up and Archon/Star Commander Katherine walked off toward Khan Ward followed by a small entourage. She was wearing the red leather jacket that Vlad gave her two years ago with her uniform underneath. Her once golden hair was now streaked with copper and brass, an unfortunate side effect of her Davion parentage surfacing, and she kept it in a short ponytail.

“Welcome back to Tamar, White Wolf”

“It is good to be back among the pack, Vladimir.” Katherine looked around at the massive star-lift operation taking place, “You have been busy while I have been away.”

“You have been away a long time. I am sorry about your trothkin Victor Katherine. He died gloriously but The Great Refusal should have never taken place, better to have allowed your people to properly annihilate Smoke Jaguar.”

Katherine looked Khan Ward dead in the eyes, “You didn’t kill him did you?”

“I did not, his foe was Lincoln Osis, late Khan of Smoke Jaguar. Victor could have killed him from afar but was goaded into closing and engaging him with his sword.”

“Good I might never be able to forgive you. I was always afraid his courage would win out over his cranium. May we get moving Khan? I only have two weeks before I am missed.”

Katherine was first forced to retake her Trial of Position to maintain Warrior status, having literally only one day as a Wolf Warrior before leaving to return to Tharkad. She used a Stormcrow to defeat an Adder and Viper/Dragonfly to retain her Star Commander Rank and silence protests that the Khan was to close with a soft freeborn whose codex was bare. Fortunately Khan Ward’s critics never realized she was the Archon of the Lyran Alliance or there might have been very difficult questions asked. She still had to settle some Trials of Grievance before they were satisfied, defeating her opponents unaugmented. Katya demanded she be debriefed to ensure there wasn’t a sudden change of heart that might have led to hostility toward the Clan.

Vlad took Katherine on a tour of the new construction that had taken place, the War College of Tamar was now fully repaired and older trueborn sibkos just transferred from the Homeworlds were busy on its practice grounds. They showed great promise and the War College’s facilities were now nearly on par with those in the Home Worlds.

A new Genetic Repository was being constructed in the former University of Tamar, technicians were rapidly working to bring it online. The first new Trueborns in the OZ would be six months away and the whole program would be in the Inner Sphere within three years, the sibkin produced now would be too young to take part in the next invasion but they would grow up in the ilClan.

Vlad had reduced his hostility to freeborn replenishing the ranks of his Touman, having witnessed a Freeborn kill the ilKhan, Hellion Freeborns fight him to a draw, and one particularly lucky one becoming a Khan even if it was over the False Wolves. The Harvest Trial warriors were young Trueborns and would have to serve as the leading edge of a new Invasion. If all went as planned perhaps the Jade Falcons would be weakened enough that he could finally get his revenge and absorb them instead of the other way around, taking Terra would not be an easy feat even with the Lyran Alliance as an ally and there was plenty of Glory to be shared.

The Star Port had been expanded, new equipment had to be manufactured in the OZ and added as most had been damaged when Clan Wolf took the planet. It needed to be ready as there were going to be large quantities of men and material flowing into it for years to come. Khan Ward had strengthened the Wolves’ alliance to the Hell’s Horses and they would soon join Clan Wolf in leaving the Home Clans and their isolationism behind.

The Clans’ destiny was in the Inner Sphere; they could no longer hide and wait to be destroyed by the Successor States. Katherine was impressed with the way things were going but the Wolves were known for planning ahead even the Crusaders. Perhaps Vlad actually took some of Ulric Kerensky’s advice to heart and mellowed with his responsibilities as Khan while maintaining a sharp edge capable of defending the Wolves rightful place at the top.

08/23/3060 21:48 Location – Khan’s Palace, Tamar

Star Commander Katherine and Khan Vlad had been expecting to spend every night together, in fact Katherine was eager for the opportunity. She still couldn’t place what drew her to the Wolf Khan but it was heartily reciprocated, they were both equals in the partnership even if on paper they should be enemies. Their nights together were not quite as intense as the first time, she was much more balanced now than she was after ten weeks of hell. It was pleasant but manageable, both doubted they would have been able to walk if they could even sustain that amount of passion for two weeks.

Before turning in for the night Katherine grabbed a data-chip from her pants which were now lying on the bed. The couple were standing intimately close to one another still reveling in each other.

_“Vlad I have something for you.”

“What is on this?”_

“I had the University of Tharkad and Nagelring Archivists pull up as much as they could from Aleksandr Kerensky’s time there, including some of his writings. It’s incomplete but I want you to have it. I added a few other things that might interest you as well including a very extensive Star League and Succession Wars historical. I figured it would give you something to do while you are stuck on a starship between the Homeworlds and here.”

Khan Ward tentatively took the offered data-chip unaware of how to receive a gift politely and placed it into his personal Noteputer. _ “Thank you Katherine, I have never received anything like that before.”_

_“You are welcome…while we are here, I have something really important that I need from you.”

“What could you possibly need from me that you cannot get in the Alliance?”_

_“I need a Legacy Vladimir, with my brother gone it is only a matter of time until someone moves against me. I need someone to carry the Steiner-Davion name on for me and only you can give me that because I can’t do it anymore.”

“What do you mean?”_

“I cannot have children naturally anymore. Which means that I cannot continue the dynasty and might be enough cause for my enemies to remove me as Archon. As much as I would love to spend the rest of our days together I do not want to lose what I have worked so hard to get. The Iron Wombs can give me a chance to protect myself.”

“You want a sibko? The Scientists would never allow that. It is one of the few things they can veto even the Khan on.”

“I do not need a whole sibko, just eight spots, mix them in if you have to as long as I can determine the timing. I need a few quickly though, they can be ours… I know you only have one Steiner-Davion sample but it should be enough for your scientists to work with.”

“That is not entirely true Katherine. I do not want you to be upset because it is a great honor but I have your brother’s DNA as well, taken from his body as it lay in state within the Wolf Enclave of Zolotaya Gora on Strana Mechdy.”

Katherine slapped Vladimir hard across his cheek, “*YOU WHAT*! Is THIS (pointing to her mostly nude body)_ just some weird science experiment for you! I’ve never felt so violated.”_

Vlad grabbed her hands to avoid a slap again, no doubt that would bruise,_ “That’s not it at all. I have never been so honored to be among such promising individuals, surely this is a time of destiny. We stand poised to win one last time and begin a new Golden Century after the ilClan, whatever form it takes, reclaims humanity’s home-world. Everything is coming together, the Clans have created a Second Star League and returned to the Inner Sphere just as it was foretold by Kerensky.”_

Katherine growled as she tried to escape his grasp, “Let me go Vlad!”

“I cannot. I have grown quite fond of you Katherine and it will pain me to see you leave next week, you are so close but so far away. I will help get your Legacy and I want your help to get Terra or allow me to die trying so that another Wolf might, I do not even care if it is a False Wolf. The goal I seek is Clan Wolf as the ilClan…and if possible you at my side.”

While still tense Katherine relaxed slightly and was released, _“You really mean that?”

“I do”_

Rise of the Hellions

04/24/3060 00:01 Location – Hall of Ice, Hector, Kerensky Cluster

The Bloodnamed of Clan Ice Hellion were gathered at Hector to elect a new Khan, their previous one the Ristar Asa Taney having fallen fighting the treacherous Nova Cats. The Hall of Ice was an impressive structure built during the Golden Century and it had fared as well as their small clan throughout history. Its winged buttresses were elegant and its light gray structure mimicked an Ice Hellion lying in wait. Since they were such a small clan they had slightly less than 500 people in attendance many of their blood-names having been Reaved during one of the two Hellion Civil Wars so nearly all of the bloodhouses were below 20 and some below 10 active counts, the only one at 25 was Cage, the founder’s bloodname.

The saKhan Weilland Cage was the favorite to succeed Khan Taney but a challenger emerged from the Hellion’s atypical Delta Galaxy, Star Captain (Ale)Xander Drake nominated by his abtakha Ghost Bear Star Colonel. As the commander of the Hellions’ only Supernova Trinary, the Elemental was well respected despite the disdain most of the Trueborn had for their infantry.

He had won many trials for the clan during the Hellion’s Fury Campaign nearly ten years ago and was one of the more charismatic Ice Hellions. During the past decade he had been sent to Clan Goliath Scorpion, where he dancing the scars and participating in the Circus Honorae, and Clan Fire Mandrill’s Mattilla-Caroll and Mick-Kreese Kindraa as part of joint development efforts winning a Cage’s Clasp in the process. He stepped forward from his position in the balacony standing a head taller than the assembled Mechwarriors.

Unlike other Clan Elementals he was a Hellion and traded bulk and brute strength for speed and grace, built more like an NFL corner or professional soccer player than a Linebacker. A testament to Prapa Drake, founder of the Bloodhouse and a Pentathlete at Sandhurst later serving as an infantry officer in the 72nd SOG who fought against the usurper.

“You dare to challenge me Star Captain Drake?”

“I do saKhan, I am the superior candidate. Under your command Beta Galaxy has lost many excellent fighters to the hated Wolves due to your lack of Vision. You were unfit to command that Galaxy and you are unfit to command this Clan. I on the other have grand plans for the Hellions that will earn us the respect we so richly deserve.”

“We shall let the Bloodhouses decide”

Star Captain Drake won by a narrow margin (219 to 213), saKhan Cage issued a Trial of Refusal over the results, First Blood. Khan Drake slashed him across the throat killing him and in the process drawing first blood. Star Captain Joan Norizuchi of Beta Galaxy succeeded him as saKhan and the Hellions were mobilized to take Londerholm (under Norizuchi and Beta Galaxy) and Huntress (under Drake using Alpha and Delta Galaxies).

04/27/3060 Location – Grid 8-37, Huntress

Commander Sarah Jol of MIM Active Response Team GOLDLEAF carefully picked her path through the overgrown jungle. The rest of her team followed loosely keeping alter to avoid Smoke Jaguars of the two and four legged variety in this awful place. She swatted away at the alien flies that buzzed past her ear and flew into her curly brown hair. Since Major Danai Centrella and General Victor Steiner-Davion had died they had to revert to their secondary orders, grab as much as you can and don’t tell anyone. The Magistracy of Canopus would likely only have one chance to go to the Clan Homeworlds and there was a wish list given to her ARC team by the Magestrix for things to acquire from the Smoke Jaguars.

Their recently acquired Anhur transport had to land 20 kilometers south-east in a small glade to not attract attention to their true target. Her unit had captured multiple technicians as isorla and interrogated them to find any easy targets. A Hellion Flurry unit was operating in the area no doubt looking for the same remote research outpost. The world of Huntress had become a free fire zone between five different clans and remnants of the Smoke Jaguars that managed to evade the 2SLDF’s forces, her platoon had to be cautious sub-machine guns and grenades would do nothing to a Clan Elemental Point or a single Protomech.

Nearby Hellion Khan Xander Drake jumped out of an Anhur and used his Hellbat’s Jump Jets to land softly on the spongy jungle floor. A point of Donar Attack Helicopters was orbiting the area while he went down to investigate the intercepts his force had regarding where the Roc Protomech scientists were located. The Hellbat was a new design developed to support Scorpion Seekers, it could carry a Machine Gun or Active Probe and had a built in vibro-blade that could easily be swapped out for some other useful tool, Improved Jump Thrusters gave it more mobility that standard Elemental battle armor but he wasn’t going to risk leaping through this mess. It had plenty of armor to deal with anything he encountered here and the remainder of his Command Point were outfitted in the standard Hellion Elemental Armor (which removes the SRMs and replaces the small laser with a cERSL). With the Active Probe nothing would catch his unit by surprise.

Khan Drake and Commander Jol arrived at the site, initially the ARC Team had their weapons leveled against the Elementals that did the same but the commander met in the middle, there were more important things to do then waste some spheroids. Following Clan Honor Commander Jol issued a Trial of Possession for the site allowing her to leave with as much as she could carry on the Anhur.

Sarah Jol watched as the Khan of Clan Ice Hellion who were well known for their love of speed and hand-eye coordination got out of his armor. She figured he was an Elemental but was surprised when a fairly normal sized man walked out, he had dirty blonde hair and blue-green eyes, and his skin was pale from spending so much time out of the sun. _ “Aren’t you a little short to be an Elemental?”_

“Commander, I am an Ice Hellion we are kilo for kilo the best fighters in the Kerensky cluster. I am willing to accept your challenge. How will we decide the winner?”

The MIM operative was no slough in hand to hand but this man was a Warrior born and bred for it. His thin tank top and shorts revealed many scars from duels with other clanners so she decided on something she knew better than he did. _ “The Trial will be decided by the most exquisite test of skill in my homeland, Rock, Paper, Scissors. I win if I beat your throws seven times and you win if you beat me five times.”_

The Khan couldn’t hide his curiosity he was a bad bluffer that was good, “What are the rules for this “Rock, Paper, Scissors” I will not accept a challenge using some stravag nonsense that I do not understand.”

Her ARC teammates barely contained their amusement as their Commander explained the rules and allowed the Khan some practice throws, allowing him to win more than he lost. When they called the official trial a MIM operatives and one of the Elementals were the judges. Sarah beat the Khan and her unit was allowed first pick of the research center. Meanwhile the Canopian Intelligence Officer continued to chat with the Khan gathering intelligence along the way. She showed him the meaning of “*quickie*” while the rest of her platoon was working. RPS and Quickie both were rapidly included into the Hellion Clan upon the Khan’s return.

The Anhur was called over and a landing zone was cleared to allow the Magistracy operatives to leave with a pair of Harpies, a group of pilot trainees, four scientists, and copies of the data banks and interface modules used to create the direct interface. The Ice Hellions had possession of more and called in a small craft to begin loading up the tooling and other necessary infrastructure to build Protomechs taking it to Hector.

06/17/3061 Location – MIM HQ (“Mirror Palace”), Crimson, Canopus IV

Commander Sarah Jol returned for debriefing at HQ, their captured Smoke Jaguar material was sent to Selene Station in the Niops Association for investigation and reverse engineering. Magestrix Emma Centrella and the Directors of the Magistracy Intelligence Ministry were the only ones invited to this very secure meeting. Commander Jol went through all of her experiences and had a video documenting the Clan Elemental Phenotype’s “prowess”. All of it was very interesting but the Magestrix had to classify the video as ULTRA TOP SECRET, CMDR Jol asked why and the Magestrix responded, “Girl, if I let that video out among the other MIM Commanders I will have to fend off demands to return to the Homeworlds in order to bring back specimens. We have more important things to do.”

The Message

04/27/3060 09:17 Location – The Triad, Tharkad, Lyran Alliance

Archon Katherine Steiner was busy running the affairs of the Lyran Alliance, the latest reports from the SLDF were encouraging but heavily out of date. She sent her condolences to Duchess Kym Sorenson-Hasek for the death of her husband and Katherine’s cousin Duke Morgan who had been killed en route, but the DRUM relay was slow, taking nearly a month to get word back. Unless of course you used the Clan’s HPG system which could shrink it down to a few days but as far as she knew she was the only one that got direct clan transmissions.

Her primary concerns were the impending launch of the Yggdrasil Mjolrnir Battlecruiser from Alarion, she had sunk massive amounts of Kroner into building up the LAAF’s Fleet assets and it would soon come to fruition. Having experienced the awe inspired by Warships she knew these would give her fledgling forces a psychological edge while General Esteban and her officers honed their physical edge into something truly terrifying. As long as COMSTAR continued to provide them with Compact K-F cores she wouldn’t need Vlad to trial the Snow Ravens for it. Coventry Metal Works was close to being truly overhauled although Duke Bradford continued to prove his disdain for her reign, she had slowed the rebuilding process due to that very attitude.

Additionally all of the Lyran combat academies were adding Naval programs and Battle Armor training was being added to Basic Training throughout the Alliance. The Alliance Military-Industrial complex couldn’t make enough of the stuff to satisfy the LAAF’s desire for the technology. She was even looking to acquire licenses to produce the Wolf Trap Battlemech from House Kurita through Rasalhague connections to LAW while commissioning several new programs with Defiance and Bowie Industries (Uziel, Cobra, Defiance, and Razorback). Her wishes to upgrade the Aerospace forces required assistance from the Outworlds Alliance as there were not enough Academy trainers in the Alliance for her ambitions.

While writing a message to President Avellar her Loki courier entered the office, he was dressed like every other professional civil servant in the palace, poorly. However, Kobin Diras was not a man to be trifled with, intensely loyal to Loki he could kill a man fifty ways with just the pen in his pocket. He carried a medium manila envelope in his small satchel along with an H&K 597 Machine Pistol. “Archon I bear a message from GARM, I know nothing else”, Katherine eyed the envelope intently and concerned, “leave it on the desk Herr Diras, you are dismissed”, he bowed slightly, “I hope you have a pleasant day Archon” before turning and leaving her office. She pressed the “secure room” button in her desk and a series of jammers and locks activated as the curtains drew down.

Removing the smaller foil-sealed package from the larger envelope she disabled the immolation charge built into the holder. From it she removed a verigraph and pressed her thumbprint into it, the blocky metallic print appeared on the thick paper.

_“White Wolf

Your Prince has come and gone and now joins the ranks of the 800. His example is an inspiration to even the Warriors of Kerensky. Though he fell his end was swift and glorious and he leaves us victorious. He has shown that the Inner Sphere is not beyond redemption. It is an honor to live in such a Golden Age and a deep sadness to have lost such a noble exemplar.


Katherine was stunned and re-read the note again and again. Her brother was gone and it was only a matter of time until the rest of the Inner Sphere knew. She didn’t know how much time; days, weeks, months? Would Focht try to keep this low key until they returned to not cause too much disruption. Vlad had given her advance warning which was nice but still difficult to deal with. She triggered the burn capsule in the note and tossed it into the secure disposal bin where it consumed itself.

NO! Now Yvonne was trapped as Princess-Regent for a two more years at least until Arthur could be First Prince, damn your selfishness Brother. This would crush her, she already was straining under the pressure and they never let her do anything anyway. What would they do now? There were too many unknown factors and she would need to come up with a plan to deal with the fallout. She was really hoping Victor would just come back the hero and she could just hand him the Alliance recognizing that he was now worthy of it. She didn’t care who was Archon-Prince of the Federated Commonwealth as long as she still controlled the Lyran worlds. Failing that she already had a plan in place to fight him for it or flee to Tamar if her support evaporated, either one was acceptable though she didn’t want to fight him.

Would Peter come back if he could? He was the only stronger candidate but she could deal with him if necessary. Arthur was impressionable but she wasn’t quite sure how much of a grip the Sandovals had on him already, she could pull strings but it would be difficult to do with him so far away. Yvonne was solidly on her side but she couldn’t count on much support from the other March Lords they would have to be more forcibly convinced.

However, she could deal with any of this today and canceled the rest of her meetings for today choosing to take the next day off due to “fatigue”. Boarding her private KR-61 she was transported to the Royal Hunting Lodge. It was a quaint structure comparatively and built in the middle of a vast wilderness preserve near a series of hot springs, the facilities included a stable, in house vintner, and smaller cabins scattered about the preserve and since it was spring wildflowers were growing in the meadows. The Lodge was a place for simple luxury and seclusion the only more remote place she could be was on her yacht; but she preferred to use that for private business purposes, she never brought work out here.

04/28/3060 06:38 Location – Royal Hunting Lodge, Tharkad

Archon Katherine woke up face down on the heated wooden floor, her mouth was dry, and her head hurt. Attempting to stand she got to her knees before falling into a richly upholstered chair. Her vision was blurry but she blinked several times and looked at herself, her nightrobe had come undone and there were small scratches and bruises on her arms and legs. As her vision cleared she looked upon the parlor, picture frames were broken, various items smashed including a couple of crystal bottles, curious she grabbed the one nearest her. Skye Spirits Select 3017, Archon’s Reserve, damn that was expensive brandy. Her Grandmother would have killed her if she knew it had been wasted this way, she couldn’t have gotten blackout drunk on Acrux Avanti or something cheaper. Even when she lost Hanse or Galen she hadn’t lost control like this, Victor was gone and though she did feel numb it didn’t numb the raw emotions she still felt.

She staggering rose and went to the bathroom suddenly having the urge to vomit. Summoning a maid Katherine haltingly rose and went out to meet her, “I’m sorry Mara”, the older woman had grown into one of Katherine’s friends over the years, grateful that they had someone that could truly appreciate this place, “It’s not a problem Archon. We can get this squared away in no time”, Mara looked over the Archon, she was an utter mess and pitiful sight, “Shall I draw you a bath?”

“That would be nice, and coffee”, Katherine put her hands on her head which ached, “black, leave the pot.”

World of Monsters

04/17/3060 18:39 Location – Hall of the Khans, Strana Mechdy, Kerensky Cluster

Wolf Khan Vladimir Ward and his SaKhan Marielle Raddick left the Hall of the Khans in disgust, both removed their ceremonial masks and handed them to the attending Laborer. His former Bondswoman’s trothkin General Victor Steiner-Davion was waxing lyrically about the evils of the Clans. Vlad and Marielle had abdicated the vote but it mattered not, the Grand Council had betrayed their very nature by allowing this Freeborn a chance to refuse the invasion. Cowards that they should make deals with pretenders, the Star League was to be reborn under the Clans and a new Golden Century would follow. Nevertheless he would win this “Great Refusal” as he has overcome every challenge set before him, the Wolves cared not for the concerns of sheep.

The relocation of Ghost Bear and betrayal of Nova Cat were unwelcome surprises. However, Khan Ward already had plans on their soon to be former holdings. No doubt that was cause for Abjuration or Annihilation but one step at a time.

04/23/3060 15:17 Location – Bloody Basin, Strana Mechdy

General Victor Steiner-Davion sat in his Daishi as the last pulse burst brought down the final Ebon Jaguar of ilKhan Lincoln Osis’s Binary. All that remained of the Jaguars was twisted steel in the sands and three Elementals. The battle had been hard fought, his foes had broken all the rules of Zellbrigen; Danai Centrella and others had been lost, a senseless tragedy but the risk anyone takes when they strap in to a Battlemech. At least she had a good evening before she died, Victor felt guilty that he had brought her to this terrible place and over what Omi might think; she couldn’t hold it against him they weren’t married yet, it actually would have felt worse had he said no.

_“Lincoln Osis, this is Victor Steiner-Davion, surrender your forces and accept the results of this trial. You are defeated and with it the Smoke Jaguar threat is ended.”

“Victor you may have defeated my Mechs but I challenge you personally. The whole purpose of a Trial is to find out who is a better Warrior not who has the better War Machine. Come out and fight me… or cowardly shoot me from that Dire Wolf.”_

Lincoln Osis stepped out of his Elemental Armor, his dark skin covered in sweat, he limped and had several injuries left over from the defense of Huntress. No doubt his injuries were what kept him out until the end. He was not at the top of his game but he was a monster, topping 2.3 meters and 172Kg of Battletested Clan Elemental.

Victor thought about for a moment watching the man through his Daishi’s targeting screen. His mech had been heavily damaged and most of its weapons were offline but there were still enough lasers to turn the man into Char in the blink of an eye. Now without a radio uplink Lincoln postured and beat his chest daring Victor to come out and fight him, making crude gestures of where to shoot him if he was a coward.

While Victor was normally even-keeled and pragmatic but he was enraged and decided to finish the Smoke Jaguar by his own hand and put this long and bloody campaign behind him. The Daishi knelt down and Victor grabbed the Katana given to him by Coordinator Theodore Kurita as a pre-wedding gift. Walking towards his foe his combat boots kicked up the fine red sand that gave the Bloody Basin its name; the sand blew in distinct “veins” it was a figurative heart of the Clans, a heart that Victor would cut out to save the Inner Sphere from their tyranny. Along the way he discarded his cooling vest and drew the Katana its polished blade reflecting the light of the alien sun it now fought under far from home, placing its scabbard into his belt.

He had been preparing for this moment all his life, the culmination of all the training and sacrifice he had endured for the people of the Inner Sphere. Once Lincoln Osis was defeated he would return The Hero, marry Omiko, and remove his scheming sister from Tharkad if he had to in order to claim his Birthright of First Lord. Then the Second Star League would bring about a new Golden Age and he wouldn’t need to win another battle. He was sick of war, had seen far too much of it in his thirty years, tales of Valor were no comfort to the families of the fallen.

Victor drew closer to the Smoke Jaguar Khan, both were ready to do battle and his remaining unit was watching in the event that the Jaguars try something. Lincoln Osis cracked his knuckles and stretched his neck. _ “I see you are not a coward, good”_

The pair began their duel, Lincoln Osis was slower but he wasn’t as injured as he let on from a distance. His fists were hardened by decades of combat and hit like Sledgehammers. Victor had been in many fights and slashed with his sword dealing what would have been mortal wounds for a normal man. But Lincoln Osis was no normal man, he was a Clan Elemental, the Khan of Smoke Jaguar, and the ilKhan; his will was iron, just as deadly as Victor’s steel and he reveled in the melee. Sensing the end was near Lincoln gave Victor a golden opportunity to stab him, the Prince took the bait and drew closer stabbing his Katana into the monstrous man. Faster than he had ever seen Victor’s sword arm was grabbed and pulled deeper trapping him, in his death throes the Elemental had one last strike to give and Victor knew it would the end.

As he saw the bloody fist coming down on him time slowed, every mistake and triumph, all of his good and bad deeds were remembered. He knew better, the first rule of combat was never fight someone who has nothing left to lose but had been blinded by passion. Everything that could have been, was, and never would be flashed through his mind as the instrument of his death neared. He was at peace with it, he had done the best he could, and prayed the Inner Sphere would prove worthy of his sacrifice.

IlKhan Lincoln Osis’s death blow took the life of The Golden Prince. The two Warriors fell, their blood mixing with that of so many others that had fallen this day. The red sands covered the fallen as the Kathil Uhlans ended the Smoke Jaguar Elementals in rage and wasted the fallen Mechwarriors. Colonel Andrew Redburn jumped out of his Hellbringer and pushed the dead Jaguar Khan off Victor attempting to treat his injuries but it was too late and he cradled the dead man, weeping for his loss and that of the Inner Sphere.

Khan Vladimir Ward watched the end of this Trial from the wreckage of his Gargoyle and mourned the loss of Victor Steiner-Davion in his own clan way. The Inner Sphere may have lost one of its best, some portion of his mind felt compelled to do something, and later inform the White Wolf of what had occurred here.

Katherine, Dawn of the Second Star League II

After becoming the Hero of Coventry with few shots fired, First Prince Victor Ian Steiner-Davion issued a long and grandiose speech about uniting the Inner Sphere against the Clans, the plebs ate it up. Archon Katherine Steiner offered to host a Sphere-Wide Conference on Tharkad, “grateful” for her brother’s assistance and “inspired” by the show of multi-nationalism fighting against the Clans. Secretly she seethed and raged that Victor had cost her a chance to kill Clan Jade Falcon since she was aware of their weakness after the Refusal War. Victor left Alliance space to return to Tukayyid and his war games, morale high, and would stay there until the Whitting Conference occurred in October.

Archon Katherine Steiner spent that time dealing with the confidence crisis that arose from the Coventry operation. LIC Operatives and the LAAF’s Public Relations were kept busy, some officers were cashiered out, others were sent to the Periphery March to take over garbage posts as punishment, and General of the Armies Nondi Steiner was allowed to retire. General Maria Esteban took over as the LAAF’s Top General, this was a controversial move as both Katherine and General Esteban were both NAIS Alumni. There was an unfounded fear among the Lyran Academy graduates that their foreign influence would prove disastrous.

With new blood in command the Archon commissioned the Alliance Jaegers LCT (Light Combat Team) Brigade using equipment from the former FedCom RCTs. The aim was a regionally sourced rapid reaction force easily transported to hot spots and capable of dealing with an opponent until a heavier formation could respond. Katherine wanted young officers eager to make a name for themselves as their commanders. These new officers could experiment with different tactics much easier as a smaller formation. The commands would never go beyond five battalions, more would just be split off and added instead. The prestige of being the 1st of something meant that the slots filled quickly. Archon Katherine also rebuilt the 11th Lyran Guards and 3rd Royal Guards using up excess equipment and appointed more loyal and capable commanders.

Loremaster Katya Kerensky had covertly built a HPG repeater circuit from Tharkad to Tamar allowing the Wolves to have an inside peek on the Inner Sphere’s current events. She was quite eager to see what Katherine had planned for the proceedings.

The Whitting Conference needed to go off without a hitch and be a magnificent display of her young Lyran Alliance to the rest of the Inner Sphere. Delegates and various government ministers of the five successor states, COMSTAR, and the Free Rasalhague Republic began arriving in September to hammer out the agenda. Bringing together this many conflicting nations to even talk peaceably would be the ultimate test of diplomacy and negotiation.

Even with her extensive micromanagement the core portions of the Whitting Conference still strained Tharkad’s extensive infrastructure to cater to that many VIPs. Katherine had been forced by polity to allow her political and personal enemies to attend. The 2nd Royal Guards kept a close eye on the Kell Hounds, Grand Duke Morgan Kell and Exiled Wolf Khan Phelen Kell were enemies of the state as far as everyone in the Alliance was concerned. Lohegrin operatives watched Intelligence Secretariat Tancred Sandoval, who arrived as part of the FedSuns delegation and “monkeywrenched” their covert opponent whenever they could. Omiko Kurita also had tails, there was too much potential for her to be a spy; it would be a shame if “Free Skye sympathizers” took this golden opportunity to kill her.

Ultimately it turned out to be a successful conference and birthed a Second Star League with associated trade and non-aggression pacts between the member states. A new Star League Defense Force would be formed from existing combat commands of all six states and the ComGuards. This SLDF would launch a massive offensive against Clan Smoke Jaguar (despite Katherine’s insistence it be against the Falcons she was the only dissenting vote). A new First Lord and Commanding General would be elected to head the endeavor. COMSTAR would only cast a vote in the event of ties.

Now the main event; who would be the first First Lord of the Second Star League? No leader could appoint themselves and every one of them had a single vote.
Archon Katherine Steiner(-Davion), First Prince Victor Steiner-Davion, Coordinator Theodore Kurita, and Captain-General Thomas Marik endorsed Sun-Tzu Liao.
Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao and Elected Prince Haakon Magnusson supported Katherine Steiner.

While she was enraged that her gambit to be First Lord had been foiled she had to admit that Victor had finally started figuring politics out and that might be a problem especially if he came back a conquering hero.

After the votes were cast he empowered his little sister Yvonne Steiner-Davion as Regent of the Federated Suns during his long absence and in the event of his possible death to serve until Arthur took over after his five years of military service. Katherine was incensed by this announcement because her double, Lady Voight, had told her that Yvonne wanted to study at the University of Tharkad and that Victor hadn’t allowed her to leave New Avalon despite her dropping out of NAIS in protest.

Katherine had never imagined her brother to be so cruel as to deny one of the only friendly relationships between the Steiner-Davion siblings. The other being Victor and Peter, who still was missing despite the LIC looking for him for the past few years. Arthur was close with Yvonne early one (the so called “twins” were legendary for the mischief they caused in Castle Davion) but had chosen to live with the Sandovals on Robinson after First Prince Hanse Davion’s death and seemed happy with his adopted family. Perhaps Victor had spent too much time with the Kuritas, the snakes were notoriously cold-blooded when it came to blood.

As Katherine could no longer have any her little sister was the closest thing she could have to a daughter and both sisters were equally angry with their brother for his actions. Yvonne was only 19 and woefully under-prepared for this kind of responsibility having never been groomed for succession. Victor was never at Castle Davion already and Marshal Bishop Sortek, the Prince’s Champion, had finally accepted he would be Minister of the Crucis March until Victor tired himself out fighting. Now as regent she would have to return to New Avalon and would be tied down with responsibilities that would put her at odds with her beloved sister. Katherine fumed, Federated Suns Princes’ predisposition to lead from the Front was THE reason that the office of Prince’s Champion existed.

11/16/3058 07:17 Location – Archon’s Office, The Triad, Tharkad

Archon Katherine Steiner(-Davion)‘s 26th birthday was today but no one came bringing her the present she wanted the most, The First Lordship of the Second Star League. Especially her brother, General Victor Steiner-Davion, who was the first appointment on a very packed agenda for today even as things began to wind down after three months of day to day meetings where she had actually lost weight from skipping meals. She was dressed casually, having been treated for nearly seven months for the physical scars she had from Tamar and it still would be at least till spring before she could wear anything “exciting” again. She was looking forward to tonight’s gala, a final party before people she didn’t like started to leave so she could get back to work and stop pretending she liked them.

Victor arrived in a SLDF Formal Uniform looking sharp, medium green and gold with three polished silver stars rising out of each Epaulet. Having designed the new uniforms Katherine was impressed at her handiwork; 2nd SLDF guys were going to be lady-killers, especially if they came back. She walked out from behind her desk; no Archon or First Prince, just brother and sister having a private conversation.

_“Good morning General, I trust you had a good rest”

“I did yes, in my old room. Drop the act Katherine.”

“Fine Victor, you have my assistance and that is all you shall have. Words cannot describe how angry I feel at you for showing me up in my Capital.”

“You mean the one you stole from me! You will never have my support sister not while you play games with other people’s lives. When I come back things are going to be different and if you stay on this dark path… I will come for you.”

“Well do come back brother, I hear those clanners are monsters. It would be shame to lose you.”

“I will take my advice on the clans from someone who knows what they are talking about, sister. alles Gute zum Geburtstag und wir sehen uns heute Abend.”_

With that he turned and walked out no doubt plenty busy, returning to her desk and taking out her Codex she ran her hand across it’s raised Wolf’s head, “Ah, brother if only you knew”

Thinking about it she was fairly certain that was the only time he had wished her a Happy Birthday in person. Apparently their family dysfunction was to be driving force in the Inner Sphere, she had never wanted that to happen, thought if Melissa was out of the way there might be a chance. If she hadn’t lost everything at Solaris she would have refused the full duties of Archon to raise her and Galen’s children. Would have been a better mom than Melissa who took them on to early and in the process split up the siblings until they hardly knew or liked each other. So many things could have gone differently that would have made the Inner Sphere a better place, and she was guilty of at least two.

The rest of the day went well. Katherine had a long lunch with Yvonne and Arthur, spending most of the remaining time preparing for her Birthday Gala that evening. General Steiner-Davion’s escort was Omiko Kurita and though she couldn’t help but show her displeasure at the couple there was little she could do about it. The Grand Ballroom of the Royal Palace was filled and that was impressive, she couldn’t imagine all of the logistics involved but if it’s one thing the Lyran Commonwealth was good for it was logistics.

The formal constitution of the Second Star League was signed the following week and Victor left with the Kurita and COMSTAR delegates toward Luthien to prepare. Katherine spent two weeks with Yvonne until she tearfully had to return to New Avalon.

As her sister’s dropship lifted off, Katherine was left alone again.

Katherine, Dawn of the Second Star League I

04/18/3058 Location – Asgard, Tharkad

Archon Katherine Steiner entered the situation room in a 1st Royal Guards uniform without insignia, she was after all nominally in it. General Nondi Steiner had come out of retirement to become her General of Armies until she found a more long term appointment. She walked up to her and Mandrinn Liao at the head of the holo-table surrounded by the Top Brass of the LAAF.

“I would like a situation report General Steiner.”

“It is good to have you back Katrina. Here is current situation, the 14th Donegal and 11th Arcturan Guards are leading two paired task forces to cut the Falcons off from their Occupation Zone. Mandrinn Liao has retained the 71st Light Horse, two Regiments of Dragoons, and Waco’s Rangers with their Crazy Eights to reinforce the garrison or defend Tharkad should the Falcons come here.”

_“General Savinson, what are the odds the Falcons will strike here?”

“Poor, Archon while we have imposed a media blackout in the afflicted area our sources on-planet have reported that the Falcon’s primary objective is Coventry. They have six clusters and we still receive sporadic reports that the garrison and academy cadre harry the Falcons. The Khan hasn’t made any other moves beside clearing the corridor for their logistics.”_

_“Will three regiments be enough to hold the Falcons on Coventry until the 14th and 11th can get into position?”

“Current estimates have a 70% confidence interval that a one time reinforcement should give Generals Steiner and Esteban a chance to completely cut off the Falcons. They have been slowed by a lack of Jump-ships to move their RCTs.”_

Katherine quietly cursed herself, if she hadn’t given those Jumpers back to her brother they would already be there. She wouldn’t be stuck in a war of attrition which even with the Falcon’s Touman in a damaged state would still look bad and cause a lot of damage. By the FedCom accords she didn’t have to give them back, if they were in the Alliance they were under General Steiner’s command. Victor wouldn’t have been able to sell that to the March Lords though and no doubt the whole Davion Brigade of Guards would be dropping on Tharkad by now if she hadn’t returned them. She knew the Waco Rangers hated the Dragoons, there is no way the two commands would work together well despite their elite skill.

Katherine looked over the holomap, it was showing the current force map of the Falcons, she pointed to a world near the edge. “70%, I don’t really like those odds. Mandrinn Liao would Waco’s Ranger be able to launch diversionary raids in the Falcon OZ around the Blair Atholl? There is almost a full command circuit to speed them back there, I just used it. They can be at the Falcon’s borders in a a little more than a week.”

Colonel Wayne Waco was brought up on the long range and after some haggling that gave him a lot of Falcon salvage he accepted the terms. He would raid the Blair Atholl and worlds near the attack corridor. That would also give Khan Ward a chance to take advantage of the Falcons when he got the next round of War Materiel to reinforce the Touman from the Homeworlds.

“If Khan Pryde thinks we can attack her back lines in force, she might have to pull at least one cluster back to deal with the threat. They can’t keep fighting if they can’t resupply their forces. That should give us a chance to do some damage and force her to act on the defensive.”

The War Council finished up other situation reports with the recently arrived Archon their current high level duties completed she was dismissed for the day, her Realm was in good hands. Before leaving she took a look at the holo-map, the circled Task Forces were inching their way across light years of void. She hoped they would get there in time. Every day Khan Pryde spent on Coventry was another she could spend destroying Coventry Metal Works and increased the chance that something would leak which might be worse.

04/22/3058 Location – Archon’s Office, The Triad, Tharkad

Archon Katherine was busy managing the various crises that afflicted the Lyran Alliance, it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep up the media blackout about the Falcons on Coventry. She was going to have to go public about it soon and face whatever credibility crisis arose from that issue. The Mercenary Relief Force had arrived and was beginning operations against the Falcons. Waco’s Rangers had begun to attack the Provisional Garrison Clusters that were left behind when Khan Pryde engaged in this bold attack. The twin Task Forces remained slow, several jump-ships had suffered technical problems and they needed to find alternate transport while it was being repaired. Problems always arose when you tried to move things the size of RCTs on a dime across hundreds of light years. It’s not like she could rent more jump-ships or dragoon civilian ones, questions would be asked.

The phone on her desk rang, she grabbed the elegantly crafted device, “Archon, your brother is demanding an immediate audience via HPG concerning Coventry”

She knew that he wasn’t on New Avalon, Prince’s Regent Bishop Sortek was there managing the Crucis March. Her dear brother had been very public about his multi-month training exercise in the Combine with Hohiro Kurita and Precentor Martial Anastasius Focht, no doubt spending quite a bit of his off time with Omiko. Coordinator Theodore Kurita had taken full advantage of her love-struck brother and was angling to either make an alliance (by him marrying Omi) and get him to put down the immediate rebellions that would occur, or allow him to die on an Anti-Clan operation that ultimately benefited the Draconis Combine alone.

No doubt he (Teddy) wanted to get a Kurita-Steiner-Davion (“KSD”) kid as quickly and quietly as possible, that way if her brother died on some field of battle he could still be useful. His lack of guile never ceased to amaze her and it was concerning that he knew about Coventry, no doubt ROM had leaked something to him from Duke Bradford.

_“Hello Brother”

“Katherine, the Falcons are on Coventry, yet you didn’t tell me. I am coming in whether you want me to or not with the 1st Genyosha, ComGuard Invaders, and the Davion Heavy Guards. So you can help me by telling me how many Falcons there are or I am coming to Tharkad after that.”

“Dammit Victor, the LAAF has this under control I already have forces in motion that will deal the death blow to the Jade Falcons. If I have to I will send both Royal Guards to fight them off and lead them myself. I am not some shrinking violet that needs her big brother to bail her out. I am The Archon of the Lyran Alliance.”

“Katherine how many Falcons are there on Coventry? I am going to fight them, the Lyran Alliance was my nation first and you don’t know what you are doing.”_ His tone left no room for negotiation, Victor had roughly three regiments near Tukayyid right now. The Falcons certainly would be eager to fight him, he had long evaded them during the initial Clan invasion and they probably would try to take him as a Bondsman. An amusing thought crossed her mind, Vlad declaring a Trial of Possession for him with Star Commander Katherine bid in the fight, he would lose his mind.

The extra regiments might prove a greater diversion that might allow the task forces to set up and would save the LAAF three regiments that could be raiding Sudetan or Twycross instead. He would probably try to pick up forces from the Kells and Exiled Wolves if he knew there were still six Clusters on-planet but she didn’t want the Falcons defeated utterly by them, it would be catastrophic to LAAF morale.

_“There are four Clusters on Coventry right now Victor, I have already sent three regiments to reinforce the garrison until the main task force can get into position. You have clearance to enter and priority access to charging stations en route to Coventry.”
Now that it was out of the bag it was only a matter of time until it hit the airwaves and she needed to go into damage control mode. She had no problem making her brother a hero but she was not going to have his foolish ass in her seat. The Archon issued a wide band broadcast throughout the whole HPG Net,

“Citizens of the Inner Sphere, I have a grave announcement, the Jade Falcons have launched a large attack on Coventry and while the LAAF are fighting them as we speak, we cannot prevail alone. The Archon-Prince has offered aid to the Alliance and I am imploring the other Successor States to show the Clans that we will not succumb to petty rivalries while they wage war against us all. The Inner Sphere will stand or fall together under this threat.”

While Captain-General Thomas Marik and Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao were not entirely supportive of the Lyran Alliance neither of them wanted the factories of Coventry to fall into Clan hands. They were not willing to expend themselves though so they both sent a few Battalions. Archon-Prince Victor Steiner-Davion gathered more forces from the Kell Hounds and Exiled Wolves and showed up to Coventry at the head of six regiments equally matching Khan Pryde in numbers, any fight would be hard fought. The Jade Falcon’s Khan knew that Wolf Khan Ward stood poised to attack her Occupation Zone if she didn’t leave but was honor bound to engage and eager to claim The Archon-Prince as a bondsman.

Then Victor, the man who never met a problem he couldn’t solve with enough Battlemech, did something no Inner Sphere Commander had ever done to achieve victory. He let the Falcons go, allowing the “defeated” Falcons to leave honorably as Wolves stood poised to kick the Jade Falcons out of the Inner Sphere. Katherine was stunned, she watched the progress reports from Waco’s Rangers and the Generals at Asgard, the Falcons managed to stay one step ahead of the Task Forces. They returned to stop the Wolves and severely damaged Waco’s Rangers who nevertheless grabbed a lot of Clan Tech salvage.

Katherine, White Wolf IV


Katherine’s first night as a free woman she spent in the Khan’s bedchambers, finally giving in to her baser drives with him. A real attraction had developed between the two of them and it made Vladimir Ward, a staunch traditionalist, uncomfortable but that just resulted in more intensity than the otherwise libertine bonding experience “coupling” was in the clans.

In between the lovemaking sessions they talked and she found that Khanslayer Vlad the Beakbreaker and Green Eyed Monster had hidden depths that surprised her. He was still a blood-soaked warlord but was genuinely trying to bring about a new Star League led by the Clans. There was just disagreement on how to do that to that end Vlad had learned Russian and read Alexander Kerensky’s and his son Nicholas’ journals to try and understand what their real drive. He adopted some of Alexander’s other interests. Since the Great Father was not at first a military man but a political science major at the University of Tharkad interested in the arts Vlad had taken up poetry to try and connect to what he saw in the man many centuries dead. He was dreadful at it but Katherine was genuinely impressed at his attempts.

Ever since the clans had been exposed to the Inner Sphere especially the Invading Ones began to have doubts and start taking on characteristics of their occupied people. Even the most traditionalist Crusader had to admit that the Star League would not arise by force of arms alone especially since they had been stymied by the Freeborn Stravag Spheroids. Each clan had their own idea on how to achieve it but they were all too fractious and warlike to work together without a strong common foe. Despite the former ilKhan Ulric Kerensky’s attempts to kill him Vlad was inspired by the man’s leadership ability even if he thought it was the wrong path. If the clans were not a means to bring about the Star League what were they?

The next morning Vlad gave her a red leather jacket as a gift which was a touching but unusual gesture. Nevertheless Katherine had to admit it looked good on her and it was nice to have a pretty thing that was unique after wearing a uniform for two months. She was also given her Codex, in the form of a steel bracelet with a raised Wolf’s head on it, which marked her as a Wolf Warrior and allowed her to freely move about occupied Tamar City. While she would love to be free of the stress of running the Lyran Alliance she had to return before anyone noticed her deception.

As a Star Commander she needed a post and sought out Katya, who accepted her as a Wolf Watch Officer with the future left somewhat open-ended. She would establish an HPG link to Tharkad from Tamar and this would add another back channel to the Inner Sphere other than Ranna Kerensky, Star Colonel and consort to Khan Kell of the Wolves-in-Exile. Kerensky as a Warden was interesting in checking Khan Ward’s more warlike impulses though she was impressed with his pride and prowess. Watch Commander Katherine took a light rail from the Governor’s Palace, Wolf Clan HQ, to Tamar’s spaceport where the Leopard dropship LIC One-Eyed Raven was impounded.

Upon arriving at the Spaceport she took a utility transport onto the Tarmac and the Wolf Patrol guards assigned to the vessel parted to allow her entry. She immediately rushed to her room and undressed, jagged lines ran along her fine features, she would have to dress more conservatively or people would ask questions. Even the Canopian beauty industry wouldn’t be able to make them all disappear. Even if they did though the emotional and mental scars would remain. She had fought and killed people for the privilege of fighting and killing more people and she felt sick and vomited into her quarters’ private toilet.

Upon cleaning up she looked at her reflection in the mirror, she still had cuts and bruises along her face but all she could see was the dead eyes of that young women in the cage. She couldn’t have been older than her own little sister, Yvonne, yet she had murdered her. “This isn’t me, I’m not a murderer.” Freed of its constraints for her survival and still suffering from the neural feedback she had received the previous day her broken mind finally snapped.

But of course you are, you killed your own mother without remorse, Galen and his son are dead because of you. Vlad loves this side of you because it is the real you, he has broken down all the little lies you tell yourself and freed your true nature. An Alpha Female, a White Wolf red with blood, that’s what gets him off and you love it. Don’t try to hold yourself back just accept who you are like you did in that cage. You savored the moment you walked out proudly after murdering two people. Before this too your fight with Vlad, every cut delivered felt just as good as every thrust last night.

Katherine’s anguish was clear on her face, she hadn’t experienced a break this intense since Solaris. Desperate to bring it under control she opened the medicine cabinet and pulled out a pill bottle, the small white tablets shaking inside their plastic container. She placed three of them into her hand and held them.

*Katherine/Katrina is just a weak pretender maybe that is why Mother wanted to replace her with her lesser brothers. She just gives and gives, a tragic heroine married to the state, destined to never be happy. Even Victor hates you, Omi turned him against you and they are going to try and kill you. She needs to die if you want your brother back, and you do.

Deep down you want him more than anyone else even Galen, he was just a great consolation prize because Victor had eyes for another but if she’s gone you might have a chance. Why did he leave you? Both of you were supposed to rule together as King and Queen of the Universe just like you dreamed. You were so close, he might never have known it was you that night at the ball but it felt wrong. You had him but couldn’t do it and ruined it for yourself just like you always have, because you hate yourself for wanting it so bad.

Morgan is just a scared little girl calling for her daddy, desperate to make friends. You can’t cling to her, Daddy’s dead. What if they just like her because they found out she is a princess? You can’t let go because the happiest years of your life belong to a woman that doesn’t exist. It is all just pretend, no matter how much you try to charm them they still hate you because you are fake. Krazy Kat is the real you and the sooner you admit it the better off you will be. Why should you care what they think if they will never accept you?*

All the stress and pain from the past two months had worn down her defenses against the one enemy she feared the most, herself. Katherine looked down at the three tablets in her hand, all it did was buy time. She had to keep her condition to a low burn or she would turn out like another “Mad Marge” Olsen wrapped up in a cell on Gallery, whispering to the darkness after losing a civil war. Would they give me the old woman’s cell?

What if Peter is already there? She didn’t want to be lonely maybe he snapped before she did, he was always wound tight. Would anyone visit their poor sister who thought she was so great before she lost her mind?

Why go back? If this was just about the Falcons she could fight them as a Wolf, just run away and die in glorious battle. What was she trying to prove? No, she wouldn’t run. She had castigated Victor for running away. She took the pills and washed them down with a water bottle before taking a long shower to gather herself and dress her wounds. She could keep it under control, she had to, because Krazy Kat was right.

Katherine’s clothes were too big now, she couldn’t recommend the training regime to anyone though even if she looked great. She cinched them tighter and put the red leather jacket back on, it was a gift and Vlad would be offended if she didn’t like it. Now she needed to get back to the rest of the unit, Katya had given her the address and told them they were expecting her. What did they think happened over the past two months?

She departed the Leopard dropship and ordered the Wolf Patrol transport her to the rest of her unit and have a bus on standby to take them back, they would be leaving immediately. While initially hesitant to listen to her he followed orders and made the appropriate arrangements with the Starport Factor and drove her to the hotel in a gray Wolf Patrol car.

Driving through Tamar City was depressing, the city had already been going through tough times before the Clan Invasion. One of the original colonies of the Lyran Commonwealth it was much like Arcturus, mines had been played out, fertility in people and soil had fallen, factories had closed down or been destroyed during five hundred years of war with the Draconis Combine. People just left and never came back, seeking better opportunities elsewhere. As Archon and before that as a Princess everywhere she went they put on their best appearance. Here she saw what it was really like it was humbling experience and she endeavored to do better if it was possible.

She arrived at the Starflight Hotel, it had once been a solid four star hotel used by traveling merchants doing business with House Kelswa now it hosted Wolf Merchants and their dropship crews while their vessels were awaiting cargoes. At least her unit wasn’t lonely, no doubt the Loki agents had gathered quite a bit of information from the travelers. Katherine ordered the Patrol officer to remain on site in case she needed to go somewhere else and he grudgingly complied, upset to be doing a Laborer’s job. Opening the hotel lobby’s double doors she was happy to see that her friend Isadora was there waiting for her. The woman rushed her friend and embraced her, “Katherine! I’m so happy you’re alive!”_, she looked closely at the barely concealed bruises and cuts on her face, “What did they do to you?”_

“That’s not important Isa, I’m fine. I managed to come to an agreement with the Wolf’s Khan. We can go home tonight.”, Isadora was furious and poked her firmly in the chest, * “It’s not important! You were gone for eight weeks! and you come back to tell us that you have an agreement with the Khan with all these injuries. And it’s not important! Dammit Kat I want answers! I have been worried every day that the Wolves would turn on us or I’d hear my friend died.” *

Isadora’s angry voice caught the attention of the rest of the Loki operatives that were waiting in the hotel lobby but they waited. “_Isa, I had to do some things for the Khan to accept me; some things that I’m not proud of, but the other option was worse.”_

Katherine started crying, “I’m so sorry to have put you through this, so very sorry. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make it up to you but I’m willing to try. Please forgive me, I shouldn’t have pulled you into this.”

_“I don’t want to tell you what happened, please don’t make me. I’m so happy that you are all unhurt I couldn’t live with myself if I hurt anyone else. Can we just please go?”
Katherine and Isadora stood apart from each other for a tense moment, before Isa turned and stomped off likely to her room. The Archon joined Special Agent Roderic and the other Loki operatives, “Archon, we have an immediate situation, it is timely that you are now free because the Falcons have attacked Coventry. General Steiner and Mandrinn Liao are dealing with the situation and we haven’t informed them of your status whatever it was we are glad you are returned to us. We have passed some intel to Asgard that we overheard about current events here but nothing substantial.”

Archon Katherine was terribly concerned, “The Falcons have attacked Coventry! How did they rebuild so quickly and get past our Clan Front Forces.

“Archon, when Phelen Kell returned to Arc-Royal with three Galaxies of Wolves General Steiner deployed the quick response forces that might have opposed them. We weren’t sure whether or not his Wolves would make a move on Tharkad with the Kell Hounds.”

“Verdammt! Inform Asgard that I will be returning to Tharkad via Pandora in sixteen days and need a command circuit in position by then. Until then gather two task forces to deal with them and if you have to drain Galatea of mercenaries do it, but do not let Coventry fall. Pack everything up and get to the One-Eyed Raven, we leave tonight. I have to go for a few hours but will meet you back at the dropship.”

Watch Commander Katherine returned to the Wolf Patrol vehicle and left for the Governor’s Palace, this unwelcome news might yet to prove fortuitous for her Wolves. She ascended it’s grand staircase past the Wolf Patrol guards and the new and imposing Gnome battle suits acquired from Clan Hell’s Horses. Rapidly finding Katya she informed her of the recent events by the Jade Falcons. She then spoke with Vlad and shared a touching moment with him before departing, still feeling strange with this unusual relationship.

OP:RUMBLE Epilogue

The remaining Titanfellers task force remained on Tai’iqih and though the Ebon Magistrate maintained patrols Loki seemed content to hold and report. Ash and cutouts from MIM restarted trade with one of the smaller city-states for food and materials to sustain their population which was grateful to not be under siege anymore. The scavengers received their reparations in the form of the Locust Battlemech and released Samira back to Mercs Unleashed.

Major Grey was recovering quickly and had spent the last week debriefing the Jaguar Pirate Queen, verifying that she was not going to be a threat to the Magistracy. Ash despite her fierce pride had been honorably defeated and was content to continue in service to people who recognized her abilities. Something that even the Smoke Jaguars had failed to do as evidence by her exile into the Watch. Strangely Felicity and the Ebon Magistrate as well as Niops personnel understood a lot about the clans, and the Smoke Jaguars in particular.
Something that Lieutenant Jasmina Ilonka made plain to Commander Brandt; her and Leeson were still on the rocks which while he understood, he wanted his co-commander to be happy.

09/25/3065 Location – OAMT Raging Bull, Coolwater

Former Khan Ash Smoke, Major Felicity Grey, and Commanders Brandt and Leeson stood around the holo-table in the now Command Dropship. SQLDR Kunimoto also stood by interested to see a real Clan Trueborn up close and lacking anything important to do. Major Grey was ready to lift off, Commanders Kell and Post were assigned to keep an eye on the Jaguar Lion and Buccaneer crews,

Alright everyone, I’ve transmitted the coordinates of Ash’s Jumpship to a Magistracy one. We are going to burn out fast having recovered everything of value here before the Commonwealth can send reinforcements.

Since we are going to a non-standard point they won’t have a chance to catch us before we jump to Addhara then Niops. After that you are free to return to Canopian space and move past this campaign. I’m proud of all of you, we’ve done good work this past month..

It is unfortunate that I will never have a chance to fight alongside you again.

The Dropships lifted off and burned along the equatorial disk of Astrokaszy. Felicity Grey set the Baba Yaga on a collision course with the Commonwealth dropships at Tai’iqih which hit like a 3 kiloton bomb utterly annihilating most of the dropships parked behind their Anti-Air screen.

The Commonwealth sent in a Star Lord loaded with the 3rd Alarion Jaegers but they weren’t able to catch up before the Canopian and Jaguar Jumpers escaped. Thomas Brekard was kept in custody, the girls of the Magistracy Spy School needed real world experience. As part of a larger Trinity Alliance operation the group was subtly pushed into accepting a contract in the Federated Commonwealth’s Periphery March with the intention of emboldening the forces there to rise up around Grand Duchess Yvonne Steiner-Davion to put her on the Sunburst Throne.

Mercs Unleashed returned to Dainmar Majoris and informed the Countess that they could no longer remain. While she initially didn’t want the group to leave the 3rd Raventhir had already spent plenty of time there and the M3 factory had it’s own garrison. The unit returned to Outreach after spending several years away, resupplied, and set off in their now updated Merchant Jumpship.

Katherine, Archon-Princess V

10/01/3065 21:37 Location – Royal Hunting Lodge, Tharkad, Federated Commonwealth

Katherine Steiner-Davion stood out on the balcony of the Royal Hunting Lodge on Tharkad in her blue evening robes. The planet’s moon Marsden was full and moonlight twinkled off the freshly fallen snow deep in the Alistair Fells. She took another sip of mulled wine, it was spicy, refined, and aromatic, a perfect companion for the harsh cold purity of winter’s grasp. A knock on her door broke her contemplation, she realized her robe had separated and re-cinched it before bidding her handmaiden Vanessa in.

I told you I didn’t want to be disturbed.
Vanessa curtsied, in her hands was a verigraphed envelope addressed to Katherine Steiner-Davion personally, not the office of Archon-Princess of the Federated Commonwealth. Few would dare to send her personal messages rather than send them to her office in the Triad.
Apologies your highness but this just came in from the Tharkad HPG, Priority Alpha from someone named Tigress. The Royal Guard has already cleared it.
“Thank You Vanessa, please leave it on the nightstand I will summon you if I need to issue a response to the Precentor.
Vanessa curtsied again before quickly leaving Katherine’s chambers.

Katherine turned the envelope over, removed the thick white paper, and activated it with her thumb, the advanced circuitry built into the paper displayed the message in blocky black metallic print.

Dear Kiddy Kat,

We have found a little yellow book that belongs to you out here on the Rim. You needn’t worry we shall return it to you in time. I am very disappointed, you have been very naughty, your Mother should have spanked you more. Next time we look for a tape.

Sincerely, Tigress

Katherine eyes narrowed with rage, Canopian Bitch! How dare she! I am the Archon-Princess of the Federated Commonwealth! I will not be blackmailed by some flyspeck nation on the far side of the Inner Sphere! She threw her glass out onto the fells, its crashed and shattered, red liquid steamed in the cold snow like blood.

Damn that Emma Centrella, she had long played some of her best Loki operatives for fools. If that idiot Sherman Maltin had just shot the bitch and Jeffery Calderon like he was supposed to instead of holding them hostage… She wasn’t even sure it wasn’t Emma that pulled the trigger that ended the Protector’s life.

Her move to occupy Detroit but recognize the NCR as independent and with it blow millions of Concordat Bulls while still keeping trade between Canopus and Fronc robust. The constant insurrections spurred on by Lohegrin in the NCR or the release of the Crimson Flu on Mechdur that had spread across the Aurigan Coalition hadn’t even phased her, the Canopians withdrew and left the Concordat to clean up the mess. Sun Tzu Liao could surely never ask for a better mother in law than one whose agents could move so freely or whose manipulations were so masterful.

Military action was out of the question as well the AFFC would need at least six full RCTs to secure the Capellan worlds needed long enough to execute a deep raid on Detroit and that would spark a larger war with the Trinity Alliance, a war she was not yet ready to fight. The Inner Sphere would surely be overwhelmed by Centrella-Liaos before a Steiner-Davion was First Lord of the Second Star League.

If the Dancing Joker ever made himself known again she would send him to Canopus. There was no way she could continue to allow the Centrellas to make her seem the fool.

Katherine touched her shoulder, Magestrix Centrella’s gift horse had bucked her off the saddle, nearly breaking her neck, surely not a coincidence. The injury had broken her scapula, she could feel the implants the NAIS doctors had put there to hasten an otherwise long healing process. “Kiddy Kat” how did Emma know what Hanse called her when she was a girl and what was with the mention of her Mother, she couldn’t know about that, everyone that knew was dead or in hiding.

She slammed her fist into the balcony’s cold stone railing, the entire Inner Sphere seemed to conspire against her. Her guileless brothers and wicked mother started it, Melissa may have been loved by the public but she had nothing but scorn for Katherine. The bomb just finished her off, her mother had been dead to her years before that fateful day, all she did was arrange payment. It wasn’t some grand ascension scheme Victor was always fated to die on some battlefield, Peter, Yvonne, and Arthur didn’t have the fortitude or cunning to hold the Federated Commonwealth together without her.

What a cruel twist of fate that she should possess the Fox’s cunning and killer instinct, be his oldest remaining child, and yet her claim was still so tenuous. Like The Sword of Damocles one misstep and she would be lucky to be exiled. She didn’t want a Fifth Succession War when she set upon this ordeal, done everything to avoid open conflict costing her dearly in territory and perceived strength. But if there was going to be a war, it would be one that she would win to end it once and for all.

Regaining her composure she looked out over the Fells once more, a wolf howled in the distance.

Vlad’s Wolves

He would soon return to Tharkad then the Inner Sphere would part for her or be torn apart because of her. There was a lot of work she needed to do before that day however, tomorrow she left for New Avalon and the Federated Suns.

A small towheaded (Platinum Blonde) blue eyed girl stood in the doorway, Mommy, I’m thirsty, can I have some water?

Katherine turned to the three year old, Of course Morgan, Katherine took the child’s hand into hers and walked over to the bathroom to fill a cup with water before returning to the girl’s room. Can you read me a story?, Sure sweetheart, where did we leave off?, the girl brought a book (Le Morte d’Arthur) to her mother who sat in a small chair by the bedside. This is your Aunt Yvonne’s favorite story, the little girl was lying on the bed facing Katherine, I’m really excited to meet her, the Archon-Princess tucked her in and gave her a kiss on the forehead, I know, You will love Castle Davion; you will make new friends and I’ll show you the secret rooms. I’m so sorry you’ve had to spend so much time here without me, but Mommy had a lot of work to do

Red in Tooth and Claw

09/16/3065 07:17 Location – Coolwater FOB, Astrokaszy

Tech Chief Dolen’s Techs worked diligently bringing everything online. The Komodo and Grim Reaper were the top priority and everyone was fully engaged, eager to see an end to the violence.

Yesterday a Jaguar came under a flag of truce and handed Vanguard Commander Brandt a secure line to speak to the Jaguar Khan. He issued the Trial of Absorption Batchall for the Jaguar’s Claw’s entire unit and she answered his call. Zell would be recognized and it would 10 Mercenary Mechs vs 12 Jaguars, the three smallest Jaguar mechs would organize as a Pack Zell and attack the unit’s Stalker. The battle was to take place at noon near “The Black Pillars” a geological formation near Hin’Fadir and the now grounded Flight Lead Wodan had sent Boomerangs out to map it yesterday.

Major Felicity Grey, Jaguar SaKhan Jakk (Dust), Vanguard Commander Brandt, and Strike Commander Leeson peered over the map with the other 8 Mechwarriors that would be participating. Lance Lead Alphaios’ salvaged P-Hawk had been decapitated to provide a head for the now updated Komodo they had taken from the Titanfellers, much to his excitement. Brandt had made a few adjustments to Ironhide’s initial pairing and bid his Dragon Fire against the Jaguar Warhammer instead of the Defiance, no way he was missing out on this action.

Grey and Jakk both seemed at ease, this was the final piece of this operation and it was in good hands. Well to be fair they weren’t facing down elite, hardened Smoke Jaguar raiders in SLDF gear in their native terrain so they didn’t need to worry. Jakk had coordinated his own Trial of Grievance against Watch Captain Dillon (Nova Cat) with the MIM Major. When this was all done they would be all to happy to hand the Titanfellers’ former commander Captain Thomas Brekard over to the Khan, Grey was almost giddy to see what would happen.

09/16/3065 12:00 Location – “The Black Pillars”

Jaguars Claw’s Khan Ash (Smoke) had arrived at the battle site, her grey painted Akuma crushed the small basalt boulders that littered the ground here. It’s Red Skull and Claw markings painted a grim picture as it was joined with the remainder of her Touman, her remaining Elementals lay in wait to attack the invaders should they dishonor this sacred ground. Loremaster Vaska piloted a Champion C at her side, “Exalted Khan the hour is upon us, where are the challengers?

These stravag spheroids have never been known for their punctuality.”

Mercs Unleashed showed up on the other ridge with a collection of vehicles, their claw markings matched the ones on the Jaguar Battlemechs. Vanguard Commander Marcus Brandt opened a channel from his Dragon Fire, “Khan Ash, we are here to finish this but first we have something else for you.

Jaguar saKhan Jakk exited the lead Sand Cat aided by Kat, two others escorted a man with a bag over his head. “Khan I have returned to issue a Trial of Grievance against Watch Captain Dillon Nova Cat, he has betrayed the Clan and attempted to have this man (the two men remove the bag exposing Captain Brekard) kill me. He did not even have the courage to do it himself, I demand satisfaction.

Khan Ash checked her Akuma’s zoom optics, it was Jakk, a pity that the Jaguars’ underestimated the fighting spirit of these spheroid freeborn. They might still live if they had gotten over their zealous hatred. “You shall have it saKhan, Commander Jan bring Dillon and his team to us now!

Jan and his Salamander’s were waiting near Coolwater with Dillon and his scouts, “Watch Captain the Khan demands your presence immediately.

What trick is this Jan? I will not go with you unless she speaks directly to me.

I was hoping you would say that Watch Captain, Seize him waste the rest”, Jan’s Salamander drove it’s wicked claw into the Watch Captain’s Elemental Bodyguard Mantis, he was unarmored and the myomer augmented strength left a gory mess. The Watch Captain was seized and thrown into the Jaguar’s Anhur transport for the short trip to “The Black Pillars”.


The Jaguar’s Anhur Transport arrived with a point of Salamanders and Watch Captain Dillon, the VTOL landed in no-mans land. Ash’s Akuma and Marcus’ Dragon Fire occupied the space, the Akuma addressed the group, “Watch Captain Dillon, step forward, you stand accused of betrayal and are ordered to stand in a trial of Grievance against Jakk or his Champion or I will end you now.”

“Exalted Khan, clearly the saKhan has been poisoned by Spheroid lies and turned against us. Why else would they return him but to see our end? His force failed to prevent the Invaders from breaching our defenses and now they will destroy us.”

“Are you calling your saKhan a liar Watch Captain?”

“I am Khan.”

Ash’s Akuma crashed one of it’s fists into what was once a man, a bloody smear remained on it’s battle fist. “I have the first kill of the day Mercenary, let us trial now, I am eager to add to it.”


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