Battletech Mercs Unleashed

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.

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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

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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”.

12:41

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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Katherine, White Wolf III
Birth of a Wolf

Katherine woke up in her new “home”, she was pretty sure it was yesterday that she had fought Khan Ward in combat and ended up in the infirmary. The MedTechs had treated her wounds and allowed her to clean up before escorting her to this small room alone where she passed out. Her body ached from the beating she endured yesterday and her stomach growled, she had no idea what time she had arrived in this room and was certain the Clans didn’t synchronize their chronographs to Tharkad time like she had been operating on.

She got up and turned the light on to get water and use the head almost tripping on a small duffel bag within was a paper copy of the Wolf Remembrance, red tank tops, gray cargo pants, and other clothes next to a new set of gray combat boots on the floor, everything in her size. After dealing with those needs and dressing she rubbed her right wrist, her bond-cord’s three woven gray and gold strains were the only adornment she wore now. It’s rough texture was a constant reminder that she was no longer the Archon of the Lyran Alliance, a Princess of Federated Suns, or anything but a prisoner to Clan Wolf.

What would Victor do? He always had some last minute plan to deal with any problem that threatened to overwhelm him. Of course he probably wouldn’t have done something dumb like challenging a Clan Khan to a sword-fight, he had a Battlemech after all, or even gone to Clan space in an attempt to get them to fight on his side. No those faults were hers alone, she always trying to exploit an angle or come up with a new scheme, never thinking long term and now all of her cleverness had failed her. She was aboard a Clan Warship surrounded by enemies with no help on the way and no idea what would come next.

Lacking any kind of formal order and afraid of attempting to leave before someone said it was okay, she opened the Remembrance and started reading the epic poem worthy of Ancient Greek myths. She wondered how much of it was really true or just artistic flourishes added to disguise past ugliness. Barely starting she was startled when the door opened and Wolf Lore-master Katya Kerensky stood in the door having switched to a less formal uniform with a a wicked looking whip on her hip. Katherine couldn’t get up fast enough and her eyes spent a little too much time on the weapon, afraid of what was to come.

“Katherine, the Khan has tasked me with your training until we get to Tamar in fifteen days. Clearly I have displeased him in some fashion but we both must follow his orders. Step out of line or fall behind and you will be punished. If you prove yourself a Warrior he has promised to release you and your unit who are unharmed. Failure will result in your death or assignment to a Labor camp in the Homeworlds. _ Do you understand?_” She confirmed and followed the woman to the mess deck.

She had ten minutes to eat the bland food served there before listening to lectures with a small group of other Wolf Free-borns. Lectures were followed by PT on the Gravity Deck, she mostly kept up but felt the excruciating lash of the Medusa Whip whenever she fell behind. PT was followed by simulator training, then more lectures, than sparring than dinner, than more lectures. She had never worked so hard in her life and passed out every night from exhaustion only to rise the next day and do it all over again. Everyday it got harder and the punishments more severe but she endured.

The final ride from the Dire Wolf to Tamar was the only rest she got. The Command Overlord Drop-ship Lair being too small for large training groups, instead she got personal attention from Katya, a strict taskmaster, fierce warrior, and absolute bitch although a grudging respect began to grow between them. Khan Vlad Ward stopped and watched her training several times and seemed impressed with his Bondswoman thus far. He was a cipher, she couldn’t figure him out yet.

03/01/3058 Alpha Wolf Training Site, Former Tamar War College Grounds, Barbale

The Tamar War College like many Regional Training Centers is located near as diverse a geography as possible, mountains were visible in the distance separating the grounds from the small city on the other side, large open fields of Quillar (an engineered plant similar to maize) were tended by Wolf Laborers, and a vast dense forest thinned by fire and lumberjacks.

It was a very nice place in it’s prime and Katherine knew that because her late fiancee Galen Cox had gone here. Once she liberated this planet she had already commissioned a statue to commemorate him, her heart would always belong to him even in death. The traumatic experience in the wake of his death on Solaris VII had caused her mental state to deteriorate to baser impulses better left checked by professionals and pharmaceuticals. It wasn’t as overwhelming as some of her distant relations but the possibilities were terrifying, it took all her self-control to moderate it.

Clan Warrior training even just two weeks of it was bad for her, it flipped everything that she had been trying to keep controlled. She might not be able to escape it even if she was released, the urges were so strong, the sweet release of madness so tempting. She wasn’t sure how long it could be kept at bay.

After settling in with her now meager possessions Katherine formed up with the rest of the 600 Freeborns on the Parade Grounds, each “pup” wore a red tank top with gray pants and combat boots. Some were from the Occupation Zone, others raised from the home-worlds after Vlad reformed Clan Wolf by killing the ilKhan in the Great Hall bare-handed. His Crusader Wolves had the standard bias against anyone not engineered and trained as a Warrior from birth serving as one, so they were very harsh but not overly cruel like Smoke Jaguars or Steel Vipers. Only a quarter of this group that survived basic training would even be granted a chance to achieve Warrior status and that was generous, many would still fail.

Their trainers were older hardened veterans of the Clan Invasion, Tukayyid, and Refusal War already beyond joining the ranks of the Blood-named but not quite old enough to be forcibly retired into Solahma units to die. Each had a Medusa whip on their hip to ensure their groups stayed in line and only the strong survived lest weak soldiers fail their Clan in a moment of need.

The trainees were grouped into 24 person platoons with a trainer, even with a two week head-start Katherine was still pushed to her limits during the training. It wasn’t just PT, lectures, and sparring either most of this training was more intense and complex, Mech simulator training, firearms training, martial arts, knife fighting, PT, and the occasional lecture and indoctrination session were all part of it.

Six more weeks passed, the mental strain eventually overwhelmed her, it was either madness or death and she embraced it becoming more ruthless, tougher, and meaner to the point that even the trainer was fearful she might turn the knife or gun on him.

She made it past basic but that was only the beginning she still needed to pass two Trials of Position to be a Warrior and gain her freedom and the respect of Clan Wolf. The first was un-augmented combat against two opponents, she had to defeat one and then defeat the victor of the other match up, four in, one out. The Second was the actual Trial, her Battlemech vs three of differing weight classes and skill levels.

She was given a light day to prepare and spent most of it wandering the grounds, she wasn’t nervous anymore, and that scared her. The next morning she was taken to the Arena, it was a welded steel cage, and the four combatants were locked in. The trainers gave her an initial opponent, a Freeborn with Elemental ancestry from her group, he outweighed her by nearly 20Kg and had 12cm more reach. He hit hard but she had gotten much tougher and killed him with a guillotine choke on her back after he charged her.

The second, a Tamar woman and thus a former Lyran citizen had beaten her opponent with a choke, the two of them pummeled each other but Katherine finished her off with an axe kick to the neck. Laborers removed the corpses and MedTechs tended to the injured man, and another four trainees entered to do it all over again. The rest of the day she just watched as the endless gladiator combat continued with the rest of the “pups” who made it out of the cage victors. It was carnage, unfettered by any rules other than the strong prey on the weak, everything was fair game. Laborers had to wash off the blood off the Cage’s surface three times that day, it was horrific but so was being a Clan Warrior.

The next day she engaged in a proper Trial of Position, since she had two kills already she had first pick of the mechs available and choose a Pouncer D as her ride, its combination of 6 ER Medium Lasers and 12 Streak SRMs along with it’s mobility fit her personal style best.

Her first opponent was a Kit Fox B and she defeated the mech using terrain to cover her swift advance from its firepower. The next opponent was an Ice Ferret Prime, it was faster but her advanced targeting system managed to give her enough of an edge to leg it.

The final engagement was against a Hell-bringer, the mech was nearly twice her size and she had already taken damage from her previous opponents who were not lacking in firepower themselves. The Pouncer suffering an ammo explosion that blew it’s side off and pummeled Katherine’s mind with neural feedback through her neurohelmet causing her to black out. She had made him work for it though, dodging and weaving with her more agile mech to negate at least one side of his weapons until the fateful blow.

An impressive record for a freeborn but she was the daughter of Hanse Davion and sister to Victor so her pedigree was impeccable as far as Clan Wolf was concerned. Khan Vladimir Ward cut all three strands of her bond-cord and awarded her the Star Commander rank at “graduation”. From 600 candidates, 187 didn’t make it past basic, 46 died after that, only 57 became Warriors and 3 of those were Star Commanders.

Clan Wolf still had plenty of rebuilding to do but it was a solid start, a little more than cluster of new Mechwarriors. Some of those that made it past basic and the first trial would be recycled through the next batch but most had blown their chance to be Warriors.

The next class would start in two weeks but this was the first class and thus filled with those most likely to succeed so the numbers would get worse from there which suited the Wolves just fine. The Wolf’s problems were more than personnel, their Occupation Zone lacked any heavy industry to replace material losses and while food was plentiful, minerals and metal ore were not, too many things needed to be brought in along the Exodus Road from the Home worlds which took months. With Jade Falcons still weakened by the Refusal War it was a race against time for Vlad to rebuild the Wolf Touman and stave off any attempts at predation by other clans, the Kell Wolves, or the Inner Sphere.

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Katherine, White Wolf II
Duel aboard the Dire Wolf

02/12/3058 Nadir Jump Point, Nox, Wolf OZ

The Dire Wolf was a massive spaceship, Katherine and Loki Special Agent Roderic were aboard a teeny, tiny KR-61 Dropshuttle nearing it. The size of it was awe-inspiring, nearly twice the size of the Monolith Jumpship, the largest jumper in use throughout the Inner Sphere. She thanked God that most of the Clans refused to use Warships during their invasion, the Inner Sphere would have never stood a chance, it was humbling to think this was how everyone felt when faced with the Terran Hegemony’s legendary fleets.

The pilots receiving a docking berth and matched velocity with the looming vessel, Katherine was anxious she wanted to be anywhere else in the universe but here. The KR-61 initiated the landing procedures and the craft landed on it’s struts, awaiting the green light for the return to normal pressure. The greeting party consisted of Five Elemental Marines in Armor and a slightly older blonde woman that was similar looking to Katherine in a gray military uniform, the drop-shuttle crew disembarked led by Archon Katherine Steiner-Davion.

Katherine was dressed with a white blouse, black leather bodice and boots, and dark blue pants, her hair in a tight bun, she had decided to take the Archon’s icon as a medallion from a steel chain. She put on her best first impression and locked eyes with the Wolf woman who did the same. Roderic carried a collection of swords wrapped into a roll in case the Wolves didn’t have any, Katherine didn’t know everything about the clans despite reading heavily on the subject. The woman introduced herself as the Wolf Loremaster, Katya Kerensky, and ordered the Lyrans to follow her.

Katya and her Elementals escorted them through the bowels of the Dire Wolf, the ship’s crew parted as they neared before continuing on with their various duties. It seemed to go on forever until they walked into a wide room, clearly one of the gravity decks for the vessel. Dozens of spectators had gathered, after all the Khan was “honoring” a spheroid by fighting them. Fear surged through her, this was dumb, so dumb and she wouldn’t make it out of here alive but she couldn’t refuse, worse things would happen. If by some miracle she managed to best her opponent she still felt they wouldn’t let her leave, Clan “Honor” was such a fickle thing.

She stepped forward into “The Circle of Equals” and faced her opponent, Vlad wore red and steel gray pants, a thick leather belt protected his guts, but little else. He would have been handsome if it weren’t for all those scars etched into his body. She had a sudden strange urge to jump into his arms, his body language betrayed that he seemed very interested in her hopefully that would work in her favor.

Welcome to the Circle of Equals Katherine, I am Vladimir Ward, I see you have brought your own weapons, that is good, I am eager for a challenge, Roderic put the swords into the middle allowing the combatants to choose their weapons, Katherine chose a Longsword, Vlad a Saber and the weapons were removed.

Vlad checked the balance of the saber seemingly at ease with such a weapon, doubt and fear knotted her stomach, she had never been in a real sword-fight but had been training with them since she was a girl. Vlad however was born to be a fighter and Katya told her he had already slain two Falcon Khans with his bare hands.

The combatants took their positions opposite one another in the Circle, Katherine dropped into a ready stance, En Garde Wolf Khan The Khan said nothing but stepped forward his saber bared, ready for combat.

Katherine parried and feinted to gauge him, Vlad was agile and dodged her strikes. He wasn’t as aggressive as she thought he would be, which made sense; in fact it was her plan if there was such a thing. He wanted her alive for some unknown but likely sinister purpose and she had no such reason to spare him and attacked vigorously. Finally she drew blood, a glancing blow on his off arm, Vlad took a brief moment and looked satisfied that she was at least not going to play with him.

His saber was quick, the attacks ruthless and expertly executed, the saber cut into her but the damage was mitigated by her own skill. Now on the defensive she attempted to riposte but the attacks continued to hammer into her guard, blood was drawn on both sides. Her blouse was ripped up by the saber, blood flowed over her pale skin just as it did over his tanned hide. Both sides equally matched this fight would go to whomever didn’t wear out first and make a mistake. Katherine’s breath came in gasps as Vlad breathed easy, he was engineered to be a Warrior, she had only recently started to taking it seriously.

She made a mistake, over-eagerly striking at an opening he presented and went full strength, Vlad sidestepped it grabbing her main arm with his off-hand. He overbalanced her and broke her grip with his sword arm before kneeing her in the chest causing her to drop the weapon and dropping her to the deck-plates. He then dropped his own sword and kicked both of them outside the circle. He stood and cracked his fists, I have not had a challenge like this since Sibko. Now get up, keep fighting or I will kill you right here.

Katherine was dizzy and winded having hit the deck-plates wrong and getting a knee in her abdomen, this was all just a sick game for him. She wasn’t out of the fight yet but she did take a moment to catch her breath.

Standing back up and readied herself for what was coming next, Hand to Hand combat wasn’t her strength but the Bodians had given her a crash course in it for more than a year. She started safe and got punched and kicked repeatedly for her timidity, she tried more advanced techniques and mixed them in, solid punches and kicks did some damage but he broke out of the locks she tried to put on him.

Blood loss and her other injuries started to catch up to her and she started to slow, Vlad’s strikes started to weaken as well but he was so far ahead of her it was all she could do to block and dodge, rolling with his punches to protect herself. Occasionally she would counterattack if he presented a clear opening to keep him honest. Her vision started to narrow, adrenaline began failing her, and eventually he had her in a submission hold on the ground. She had no more strength left to resist and yielded.

You have fought well Katherine, but you now belong to Clan Wolf.

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Katherine, White Wolf I
Secret Mission

12/20/3057 The Triad, Tharkad

Archon Katherine Steiner stood around a circular table in one of the many secure LAAF briefing rooms in the War Ministry. The General of Armies Nondi Steiner, Political Adviser Tormano Liao, and the new Director of the Lyran Intelligence Corps General Alicia Savinson were the only other attendees.

I am about to undertake a covert mission to bring about an end to Clan Jade Falcon, I can’t tell you all the details because you might try to talk me out of it but I’m going to try. All you need to know is I will be gone for some period of time and you need to make it seem like I’m still here. My body double will make public appearances and I’ve already recorded tapes of myself explaining the policies I want you to implement for the press. General Savinson’s people already have that portion of the act under control. All you need to do is follow my instructions while I am gone, my group will have a Black Box so we can communicate.

Tormano Liao was curious, Where are you going Katrina?, I am going toward the Rasalhague Republic to make contact with someone who might be able to deal with the clans that threaten the Lyran Alliance. Nondi cut in, and what if you don’t return?, It was a valid question that she had considered strongly, this mission was high risk she could end up dead or worse, If you don’t get anything from us in six months, tell everyone I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough.

Her mad plan was to make contact with Clan Ghost Bear and attempt to make a deal with it’s Khan that would eliminate or weaken Clan Jade Falcon and Clan Wolf. The LIC’s sources indicated that they were increasingly searching out opportunities in the Inner Sphere so it was her best chance. She took with her a K-4 Black Box Fax Machine and the LIC team capable of operating it as well as a group of Loki Black Ops and her friend Hauptmann Agrivane. The Scout Jump-ship LIC Traume der Nacht and Leopard drop-ship LIC One-Eye Raven left after the Christmas Ball of 3057. Their destination Alshain the de facto capital of the Ghost Bear OZ deep beyond Rasalhauge space.

For seven weeks she spared with her longtime friend Isadora and the Bodians, trained in the simulator for her Griffin and Isa’s Falconer. She would only have one chance to deal with the clans and either she would die, become a prisoner, or impress them enough that they might be willing to negotiate. The Forty people attached to this mission were hand-picked by the Director who still thought she was crazy but probably wouldn’t die.

Feb 11 Nadir Jump Point, Nox, Wolf OZ

The Traume der Nacht had just unfurled it’s jumpsail to being recharging when the Sovetskii Soyuz Class Warship Dire Wolf, the Wolf Clan’s Flagship, arrived at the same point several thousand kilometers distant. It’s captain noticed the small, low profile jump-ship on scanners and began burning for them. Katherine was terrified, she was so close to her objective, they had escaped under the Radar thus far but now they were found out and helpless to resist.

The massive Warship stopped nearby, a man’s voice came over the open radio channel, I am Khan Vladimir Ward of Clan Wolf, identify yourselves or be destroyed

This is Archon Katherine Steiner-Davion of the Lyran Alliance, Enemy of Falcons and Wolves. Do you intend to give us a chance to earn our freedom or are you an honor-less brute?

Steiner-Davion, as in Victor Steiner-Davion, the man whom the Jade Falcons sought to kill, and Archon as in the Khan of the Lyrans?

Yes, he is my Brother and I am the Khan of the Lyran Alliance

Very well, I issue a Trial of Possession for you Katherine, how will you defend?

Katherine was stunned and a little flattered but mostly terrified and she needed a response quickly, I will defend myself alone in a sword fight against you Khan Ward, unless you think you cannot beat me in melee. If I win I want SafCon out of Wolf Space and you.

You would dare to challenge a Clan Khan to a duel? I am descended from a long line of Warriors that shall one day rule the Inner Sphere…

Katherine interrupted what might have been a long and gratuitous speech, Me too, Khan Ward, now I believe you must volunteer the venue for this duel

You have been paying attention after all, at least some Spheroid Freeborns know our ways, the duel will take place aboard the Dire Wolf in twelve hours. Well Bargained and Done

Khan Ward disconnected and Katherine almost fainted, her heart and mind were racing. How could she hope to stand alone against a Trueborn Clan Warrior? This was dumb and she might get killed in the process so far away from home and no one would know what happened, she wouldn’t even be remembered.

Aboard the Dire Wolf

Khan Vladimir Ward and Loremaster Katya Kerensky both stood in the CIC surrounded by the technicians that actually operated the Warship. Katya cut in, You should just take the foolish girl if you want her so much, send some Elementals. Why did you accept such a bumbling Batchall?

You think I can’t beat some Freeborn, I have slain two Khans in the past months, resurrected Clan Wolf on their bones, and still had the strength to raid Smoke Jaguar for ilKhan Leo Showers’ giftake. If this freeborn has the courage to challenge me I will accept it, perhaps she is a worthwhile Warrior. If not I will have slain a weak leader so that a stronger one might rise up and be a challenge to us when we decide to renew the offensive.

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Katherine, Daughter of the Fox V
Ascension

INN News Report
Princess Katherine Steiner’s popularity continues to increase throughout the Lyran Theater of the Federated Commonwealth. The Skye province has returned to normal, the fires of rebellion having been quelled by an increased humanitarian and police presence. Refit kits and new equipment are still being rushed to the clan front to hold the line and rebuild the shattered AFFC with FWL industry.

Katherine had prepared her whole life for the role of Archon and now she had it, but there were a lot of things she hadn’t anticipated on dealing with, like the looming Clan threat. The speed and ferocity of their attack had only been blunted at great cost to the Inner Sphere, the only thing that held them back was their own sense of honor. She racked her mind to come up with a way to deal with them, they were a threat so alien and so human at the same time.

The Wolf’s Dragoons had come clean about their clan ties several years ago, she was there on Outreach with the other Successor Lords and their Heirs. Colonel Jamie Wolf would be able to enlighten her on more specific workings so she started up a correspondence with the man asking him various questions not covered in the materials he had presented then or later.

Regardless she needed to project enough confidence that the Lyran people would be fine so she started training with the Bodians, the LIC’s elite training cadre, and restarted Battlemech training in secret, it was unfortunate because she needed to cut her beautiful hair to fit in a neurohelmet. She still refused to join the AFFC, she didn’t want to be seen as a soldier like her brothers. They could have all the “glory” in combat, she was more interested in making sure the Clans didn’t roll over her nation without a fight.

That required a Battlemech unfortunately, the ultimate war machine. She owned four, her grandmother, the Legendary Red Corsair’s storied Warhammer, her late Fiancee Galen Cox’s Crusader still bearing the scrapes and orange HV stripe from Solaris, a new Griffin, and a battered but functional Wasp. Every day when she had completed the training exercises she would find herself in either the Warhammer or Crusader, they were all she had left of the people who once piloted them.

As weird as it sounded she would hop into the cockpit and just talk and ask questions to their former owners, it was completely preposterous and she could only imagine what her brother would think of that if he knew. Would he think it an idle fancy, start of madness, a woman who speaks to soulless weapons of war, or did he do the same with Father’s Battlemaster? At least Galen’s Crusader had been doing good work before he was killed, not the good work of killing bad people, but saving people in need from the cold uncaring world around them.

INN News Report

The tragic death of Joshua Marik on New Avalon has apparently been covered up by Archon-Prince Victor Steiner-Davion who replaced the young man with a double. Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao and Captain-General Thomas Marik have launched a retribution campaign against their former worlds in the Federated Commonwealth’s Sarna March. Victor’s sister Princess Katherine has been ratified as Archon by the Estates General and activated the Emergency War Powers clause of the FedCom Accords to secede the Lyran Theater from the Federated Commonwealth, renaming it the Lyran Alliance and ordering an immediate withdrawal of the traditionally Lyran units from the Sarna March back to the pre fourth succession wars borders of the original Commonwealth.

Now Archon Katherine Steiner(-Davion) exited the Estates General after delivering her acceptance speech and activating the FedCom’s Emergency War Powers clause, the FWLM and CCAF were intent on reclaiming some of the worlds that her Father had “liberated” from them during the Fourth Succession War. Most of those worlds were useless and nothing but a money pit, needless distractions and potentially far more dangerous to attempt to defend, let them have them back.

Those Lyran Garrisons were needed on the Clan Front and her fool brother sought a Fifth Succession War for some worthless rocks. So she had to make the hard choice, if she seceded then Thomas Marik would have no reason to stop shipping the refit kits to her own forces. “Grand” Duke Morgan Kell immediately formed his own little fiefdom on the Clan Border in protest, foolish Kell Hound. Her diplomatic contact informed her that her brother demanded an immediate audience from Castle Davion half the universe away.

The Archon walked into the bowels of the Triad alone, before arriving at the door she sought, a pair of Battle Armored Royal Guardsmen stood guard over the insulated doors, whatever was said in there was for the Archon’s ears only. They opened the room and saluted as she walked past into the spartan room.

The Holotank was an engineering marvel, her parents despite their issues with COMSTAR in the past had spent lavishly to bulk out the HPGs connecting the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth so much that real-time holography between Tharkad and New Avalon was a very expensive but possible thing.

There were only three things in the room, a dais, camera rig, and projector, she walked up to the dais, a computer generated male voice emanated from it, Authorization needed, she place her hand over the scanner, Archon Katherine Steiner, authorize

The lights dimmed except over her, Confirmed, 10 seconds to virtualization

Katherine was a little giddy, not only was she in charge now for real but it was not everyday you got to sling a hologram of yourself halfway across the universe tying up a dozen HPGs at the same time. Her brother, Victor’s hologram appeared, it was obviously virtual but looked nearly lifelike and very angry.
Hello Brother
Katherine what are you doing? I trusted you to lead the Lyran state while I was on New Avalon, now you abandon all of the Sarna March and dissolve the Commonwealth

Now she was angry, I trusted you to treat me as an equal partner in this. Why didn’t you just tell Thomas Marik that Joshua died? The NAIS can’t save them all and it’s not like the League would turn down Kroner or Pounds for a death by natural causes. Your bumbling attempt to cover up his death with one of father’s convoluted plans threatens a Fifth Succession War while we still have the clan threat to deal with. I can’t support that so I’m suspending the FedCom Accords, now we will be separate but equal.

Our parents would be turning in their graves if they learned you have decided to embark on such a bold power grab. I demand that you repatriate the Federated Suns Theater forces and their jumpships immediately, I will defend the Sarna March myself if I must.

You will have them returned in due time but not before you can’t do that, you will have to find some other war to fight.

Victor disconnected, Katherine felt immensely satisfied to say that to his face. She was born to rule the Lyran State, this was the culmination of all her life’s struggles and little victories, validation beyond measure. Now she just needed to make herself a legend worthy of her bloodline, Victor would be a flash in the pan, just another warrior prince lost to the meat grinder of history, her name would be etched into its very bedrock.

The problem of the clans still remained but she had a plan to deal with them and now was the best time.

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The Jaguars Domain

09/14/3065 22:18 Location – Coolwater Ruins, Astrokaszy

The Mule Dropship Rodeo burned in from orbit after boosting the Baba Yaga into a better orbit. The large dropships’ engines lit up the night and the remainder of the Mercs Unleashed group was gathered on the ridges below. The company had made camp and guards were at their stations, this was definitely enemy territory, although the Jaguars made no overt moves scouts moved along the mountain side quietly observing the new force.

23:08 the Northern Ridges above Coolwater

Watch Captain Dillon Nova and the Elemental Mantis observed the new force with interest through night vision optics. Several vehicles were painted like Jaguars Claws, could they have been salvaged? or did some of SaKhan Jakk’s force escape? He had delivered the plans right to his enemy in order to kill the spheroid Jakk who thought he could be a SaKhan, Dillion spit, he had no idea what it was to be clan. Their trial of position had been hard-fought but despite the fact that he had bested Dillon that time, there was no chance he made it out of this alive.

His plan would have been flawless, Ash would have defeated the Titanfellers this day, he would be made SaKhan, but instead this new group appeared and there was no way even she could fight them off. They were too numerous, his guerrilla fighters could only do so much they were low on everything. The four month siege had completely cut them off from the trade at Shervanis that they had been relying on to meet their needs. Even the warriors were short on food though none would complain about it.

23:17 Former FOB:Greenhill, Jaguar Territory

Khan Ash had given the techs a light day, plenty of mechs could be cannibalized for parts and brought online but she needed the best ones now. Her force couldn’t hold against another heavy assault even in the pass so she forward deployed them now, let this next group of invaders try to best the Jaguar Claws. She would stand and fight until she met her glorious end in battle like a true Warrior, a fate that had been denied her on Huntress.

Her Akuma was a fearsome sight any scavengers from Hin’Fadir ran in terror whenever it was near. Now it stood ready to fight once more wherever the new invaders sought to push, they wisely waiting near Coolwater according to her scouts. It was a big force but she had no other information regarding it, at least she knew why Major Brekard was splitting his force now. Her supply trucks ran food, water, and armor to the former Titanfeller camp, they had burned everything they couldn’t take with them which was unfortunate, her supplies were nearing an end. She had considered just abandoning this territory and taking everything of value now that the threat had changed but thought better of it. Smoke Jaguars never ran from a fight, they were not cowards or pirates, her group was the toughest and meanest Warriors in the Inner Sphere. They would fight to the very end in a battle worthy of the Rememberance.

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Katherine, Daughter of the Fox IV

08/22/3038 Castle Davion, New Avalon, FedCom

First Prince Hanse Davion kneeled in the Grand Hall of Castle Davion facing a small blonde girl in tears.
Why do I have to go away daddy? Is it because I made Peter cry? I’m really, really, really sorry.
No that’s not it Kiddy Kat, this isn’t a punishment.
But I don’t want to go, I want to stay here.
I know you do but your mother and I can’t give you what you need here at Castle Davion right now. You will make new friends, have fun adventures, and learn a lot at Sister Jocelyn’s.
But why can’t I be Katherine there?
You can make Morgan anyone you want her to be? If people knew you were daddy’s little princess they would treat you differently, you want people to like you for who you are, not what you are.
Can I make Morgan, Queen of the Universe?

Hanse laughed, I wouldn’t wish that on you Katherine, I don’t think you can handle that right now.
But Victor is going to be King of the Universe
Victor isn’t going to be King of the Universe, but he will have a lot of responsibilities and he would be smart to find good helpers, you would help him wouldn’t you?
Of course, he is my brother even if I never see him
I know this is difficult for all of you, being apart. If I could change it I would, my brother and I were inseparable when were lads. He was my best friend, Hanse got a little misty eyed remembering the good times before his brother’s unfortunate death, I really hope that you and your brothers and sisters will eventually be just as close. We will go and see him and your Grandmother on Tharkad in the summer when school is on break. I will write you regularly and if you need anything go and talk to Sister Jocelyn, she knows who you really are.
I love you Katherine, you will do great things some day

12/17/3048 Royal Ballroom, Triad, Tharkad

Cadet Victor Steiner-Davion was the man of the hour, ambitious men and women circled him speaking with praise of his parents and eager to hear his thoughts and stories. A similar collection surrounded a young and pretty women who always seemed on the other side of the room from him, he caught glimpses through breaks in the rank and was curious. Few people tried to evade the Future Archon-Prince of the Federated Commonwealth, eventually he excused himself and managed to shake some stragglers. In the corridors surrounding the ballroom he caught a glimpse of golden hair and blue dress it was the woman who had been avoiding him, overcome with interest he sought her out and quite accidentally cornered her in one of the antechambers.

She looked mildly panicked, Yes Prince Victor? Relax young lady, may I know your name?
Katherine It was only the third most common name on Tharkad and consistently in the top ten for the whole Lyran Commonwealth portion of the Federated Commonwealth, he had known dozens of Katherines. May I ask you for a dance, Katherine? She produced a small fan from a pocket in her dress, I don’t think that would be appropriate Victor looked confused how could anyone turn down that invitation, Why not? She let out a long exhale and put the fan handle under her chin, Because I’m your sister Victor’s cheeks went red with embarrassment, You’re that Katherine! but you look different, and you weren’t on the guest list
Well it has been four years since we last saw each other face to face and I haven’t used my real name in public for years.

Minutes later

Isadora Agrivane chatted with a Nagelring cadet, they had really hit it off but she still was wondering what happened to her friend she had been gone quite some time. Cadet Erik Schneider noticed that Victor hadn’t been around recently either and made a comment to the fact. Isa seized upon that, Maybe they are with each other. If Morgan scored herself the Archon-Prince I am going to be so jealous. A small group of “Morgan” and Victor’s friends decided to find out in true teen fashion by walking in on the supposed lovebirds. The Ballroom had an intricate series of corridors and small chambers surrounding it, many of which were occupied by love struck couples. Eager and foolish teenagers the small group peeked into each room to shrieks, giggles, and yells, sometimes items were thrown. In due time they came upon Victor and “Morgan” chatting in a brightly lit room much to their immediate disappointment. “Morgan” seemed concerned but Victor was unworried, Do you mind? I’m having a conversation with my sister. Their peers jaw’s dropped and they made haste, of course Prince Victor, we apologize for the interruption.

12/18/3048 Tesseraburg Women’s Academy Fencing Room 2

Katherine and Isadora were fully armored with plate and mail over a padded arming coat, they were posed with helmets down and long-swords up. The Commonwealth school of fencing was much like their military formations, heavy, cautious, and focused on endurance. It took a lot of training to avoid hurting yourself when an assault mech fell over after taking a heavy volley of fire and dueling scars were a common occurrence among the warrior-aristocrats. The two opponents took in each other’s measure before beginning their bout, Katherine laid into her partner but recognized that she was holding back. After a few moments she was certain something was different and called a pause, angrily removing and throwing down her helm and banging her gauntlets on the breastplate. YOU’RE NOT EVEN TRYING! COME AT ME WOMAN! Isadora lowered her sword and lifted the helmet’s face-piece, I can’t do that. Katherine was incensed and stomped the ground, WHY NOT!

I don’t want to hurt you
Since when!? Two days ago we had a hell of a match, I still can feel the bruises, Come at me!
I can’t do that Katherine
Teufel noch mal! Isadora, and this is why father insisted most of us use aliases, I’m sorry I lied to you but I’ve been living as Morgan White for most of my life. It shouldn’t change anything, you already have your slot in Sanglamore, you are best Commonwealth school fencer here, how will I get better if you hold back? Her friend still seemed reluctant but pulled her faceplate back down and got into a ready stance, Katherine retrieved her helmet happy that at least this wouldn’t be a wasted morning.

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AAR - Battle of Sleeping Jaguar Oasis

09/14/3065 17:38 Location – 10km NW of Sleeping Jaguar Oasis, Astrokaszy

Flight Lead Wodan brushed the grey sand off of his olive flightsuit, he was still dizzy from the headrush, some divine providence and years of experience had activated his ejection seat moments before the crash. His distress beacon was blinking so it was working now, that was a good sign. What was once a Blue Hawk Conventional Fighter was now wreckage on one of the smaller ridges, a shame but he made it out alive so that was a solid win for a fighter pilot.

Tracking back to his ejection seat he grabbed the M3 10mm pistol carbine strapped to it and walked toward the crater where what was once a pristine Battlemaster now was mostly pieces. Johnny and his chopper were due to arrive shortly, the mission at the station was complete so they had sent him forward. Strike Commander Leeson’s Phoenix Hawk had circled back after picking up his beacon leaving the rest of the Titanfellers, shadowed by the rest of the FEATHERWEIGHT task force. His voice came in over the helmet’s set, Gabe is that you?

Affirmative Strike Commander

That’s great news I was afraid you didn’t make it

Me too Hotfoot, just blacked out for a little bit and needed to change the batteries on the beacon. You wouldn’t happen to have any alcohol in your cockpit do you Joe?

Afraid not Gabe, there is plenty back in the dropship though, you earned it today

The desert camo Phoenix Hawk squared up to the fallen Battlemaster, keying it’s PA, Thomas Brekard, exit the Battlemech now or we will extract you, you are finished

The Battlemaster while still on the ground responded via open radio, come and get me you bastard, if you are going to send me back to hell, I’m gonna go fighting

Joe Leeson sat in his cockpit, the Phoenix Hawk’s ERPPC was pointed right at the Battlemaster’s head, he could just end former Major Tom now and save Grey the trouble of finding new ways to kill a man. At the same time though he didn’t want to ruin her fun even if she had cost him a lot of sleepless nights and a great deal of trust in the “fairer” sex.

He settled for a final quip, I was hoping you would say that

The chopper arrived with a platoon of Jaguar’s Claws to extract the man who had formerly commanded their enemy and thus caused the death’s of many of their friends. They smoked him out and returned to the chopper with him.

19:07, Location – Coolwater, Disputed Territory

The Trojan dropship Raging Bull had landed on a ridge near Coolwater to reunite with the bulk of Mercs Unleashed, FEATHERWEIGHT had secured the initial landing area and STATIC had worked it’s way through the desert from Al’Jafir Station. The repair and salvage teams transported the fallen Marauder and recovered the Komodo and Battlemaster from the Oasis, pushed them into the Raging Bull’s cargo bay. Several mechs had been damaged but it had been a stellar day for Mercs Unleashed, the rested techs returned to the duty of replacing many damaged armor panels and fixing broken systems.

The ruin of Coolwater was a raw and terrible testament to the horrors of war, artillery had broken the stone village to pieces. Everything was scorched and pockmarked with bullet holes, fresh graves had been dug for the fallen. It was an apocalyptic sight and the smell was horrid, raw and inescapable. The Jaguars dispersed desperate to see if perhaps others had survived the Grenadier attack and weren’t able to evacuate with them. The hillside their fort was dug into was torn apart by shell and missile fire, rusty wire and blasted stone littered the slopes.

20:48 Location – In orbit aboard the Mule dropship Rodeo

Major Felicity Grey and Captain Warez had taken their bitter medicine, iodine to prevent cancer, she had to laugh if she lived long enough that cancer finally killed her it would have earned the right to. She checked her journal entry, 49 times she had faced death, amusingly her legend said she had 100 lives, but then again those were a little embellished. Now she feared it wouldn’t make it to 50, of course there was still time before she was stuck playing Headmistress.

Captain Warez was looking over his noteputer, Major, the databanks have been wiped and all classified equipment has been destroyed, now we just need coordinates to scuttle her to, I was thinking somewhere near the equator where no one lives

Major Grey plugged in some coordinates, the vessel tracking chart shifted How about these?

The Captain eyed her incredulous, You’re certain?

I’ve never been more sure of anything Captain, I only wish I could see the reports they send back

Those coordinates will do nicely Major, I will lock them into the NavComm for remote activation once were are off-world

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