Battletech Mercs Unleashed

Cold as Ice, pt 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cold as Ice, pt 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Real Red Menace, part VII

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

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

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

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

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

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

But she noticed something that set her on edge,

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

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

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The Real Red Menace, part VI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cold as Ice, pt 2

09/14/3065 00:32 Location – “The Icebox”, Mule Dropship “Rodeo”, Al’Sur

Lieutenant Jasmina Ilonka put her hands through the brig door to get cuffed by Hendrick, apparently she was “extremely dangerous” so required these extreme measures for her visitor’s safety. The cold steel closed over her wrists and she was ordered back to her bunk before the door opened. Major Felicity Grey stepped in her arm still in its sling with bruises everywhere,

Mina looked her over I guess it was to much to hope for that you would die in Shervanis Felicity,
Major Grey replied in a condescending tone, That’s not a very nice thing to say Mina. I’m very disappointed in you, four on one you should have made it a little more difficult for them

Mina started at her intently, and where would I have run to? They would just send more, I realized it was over I thought there would have been more time before Leon discovered Samira

Felicity locked eyes with her forcing Mina to avert her eyes, You know Commander Brant thinks that you have become to much of a liability, he doesn’t think you should be on the team anymore, dangling a key in her hand, I could of course convince him otherwise; unless you think Joe will be your champion and do it, grasping the key back in her balled fist, Now what do you think the odds of that are?

Mina reached violently toward Felicity but paused just as abruptly, Why are you here Major; why didn’t you tell us about the gem mines or your suspicion of Chief Idlewood?
Would it have changed anything?_, Major Grey shifted her intonation to be more sing-songy, Now, be a good girl and tell me what you think of my pet project now that you have seen them with and without me?,

Lieutenant Illonka slacked and sat back down on her bunk facing Felicity, This unit falls apart without you, its amazing they made it this far. Tack refuses to take command and issue orders, insisting on building consensus, I fear his indecision may have given enough time to the Titanfellers to defeat Ash and prepare to issue the coup de grace against us.

Hotfoot is quick to react but lacks the confidence to lead effectively he’s already looking for an exit rather than take the responsibility. Adrian’s misogyny and cowardice have poisoned his relationship with the rest of the unit, he should have been fired a long time ago but Markus and Joe appreciate his tactical acumen and loyalty over the years.

Alina resents Commander Brandt for holding the pilots back and not using them properly for fear of endangering her, she wants to help not sit in a grounded Aerofighter all day. At least Joe understands and is willing to let her earn her keep.

Leon is a threat to the unit’s security, he’s unstable and I have suspicions that he killed six workers on Dainmar Majoris but no evidence, additionally he lied about what happened at the scavenger outpost and now the Titanfellers are going to use it to turn the Emirs against us, not that they need much help with Markus taking in the Jaguars.

Felicity looked intrigued, I heard you had Leon at gunpoint in the camp, if the situation would have been different would you have pulled the trigger?

In a cold monotone Mina replied, Without hesitation, I didn’t have enough time to figure out a proper alibi to avoid retaliation from his men. You ordered me to protect the unit from all threats…

Felicity leaned forward from her sitting position, That’s enough, I have what I need
Mina snapped back with tears in her eyes, Why me?

Major Grey got up and grabbed Jasmina’s chin with her left hand, leaning uncomfortably close, I just saw so much potential in you, I’ve taught you almost everything I know. Why didn’t you want Markus or Joe to know about our relationship? Its not like I ordered you to keep it secret. Were you afraid they might compare you to me?
Mina pushed her away, I’m nothing like you Major!

Felicity grabbed her cuffs and pulled them down with impressive strength for her off-hand, But you are sooo close, I’ve been doing this for nearly twenty years, what has it been ten since I came across you on Logan Prime after that Hegemony raid. Lost little Maria, I gave you a second chance in Canopus space. You wanted to help the innocent so they didn’t meet the same fate, noble ideals for a naive little girl. You volunteered for the Dreamwalker Program five years ago and I told you what that meant, it’s not my fault it wasn’t as successful as they would have liked on the first round.

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The Real Red Menace, part V

09/11/3065 18:43 Location – Northern Polar Sea (Alqamar Bahr “Moon Sea”), Shervanis, Astrokaszy

Commander Turner pointed to the rendezvous points for the commandos to be picked up as well as the safe house’s location, if they can get Major Grey to the beach she can be picked up by a mini-sub and smuggled out of the city. If not the Dodo was going to have to fly in and extract the team under fire, it wasn’t a combat vehicle but armor is armor whether it was stealth or not. Twin Sabers would run interference, Tina believed she knew where the Loki Alptraum was hiding but it would take most of her troops to fight their way through the Hidden Hand militia leaving very little in the way of support if something went wrong.

Thane and the Ebon Magistrate prepped their gear, loose robes, and their Hellkite PAs (Prowlers modified to carry heavy weapons instead of magnetic clamps) would conceal their more obvious features but Twin Sabers looked disquieted as they loaded the cyber-commandos. Inside his “coffin” Thane could hear himself being loaded into the water sinking several meters below the calm night sea.

The display built into the top of the Siren’s Song Aquatic Entry System (SSAES) lit up with a small fish eye view from the periscope built into the “foot” of the tube. He pressed his Hellkite’s boots into the pedals in front of him and the engine above his head powered up and began moving him quickly across the three hundred or so meters that separated the mother-ship from the beach beyond. The pedals adjusted his trim and throttle and he noiselessly piloted the craft toward the city. A small 3D audio cue told him when he was nearing an obstacle underwater and eventually he grounded himself on a sand bar near his rendezvous point.

Thane popped the hatch and flooded the compartment with sea water, his kit was fine and he hustled across the twilight beach to the waiting vehicle. The rest of his squad joined him and the van’s suspension lowered noticeably at the addition of nearly three tons of commandos.

19:19 MIM Safehouse

Major Felicity Grey and the fire team of Twin Sabers suited up, things were about to get real hot in the city and they needed to be ready. She donned a Ballistic/Ablative Armor Jacket that weighed heavy on her damaged right shoulder, the pain was intense but bearable, it would all be over soon either way. She wielded a M3 6.8mm Carbine southpaw and a TK MP-76 Machine Pistol was holstered in a reverse cross-draw across her Armor, her pockets and belt pouches were filled with extra magazines and medical supplies. There was no easy way out of the city according to Adam although the Ebon Magistrate had arrived this afternoon to assist in her rescue. This was only their second time in real action and while Commander Arachne had given them high praise Felicity seemed less sure of their high technology preferring more reliable methods.

Ghost Harris noticed the foreigners were acting differently, that was the signal he was looking for. Speaking to no-one, Demi-Precentor, the Witch is here send everyone

19:27 Armory District

Commander Turner and most of Twin Sabers arrived in the area of the Alptraum Command Post. She gave the order and a large truck dropped it’s fake trailer covering revealing its rocket tubes and skewed them onto the target. The Pugio rocket truck fired all ninety rockets in one massive volley, the back-blast did nearly as much damage as the actual impacts ripping masonry apart behind it. Twin Sabers infantry emerged from their unmarked armored cars overturning carts and hiding behind concrete barriers as the Pugio drove away.

Tense moments passed while they watched the heavily damaged structure for any sign of life. Weapons team set up their heavy weapons awaiting return fire and didn’t need to wait long. Sirens blared across the city and a squad of Loki Grenadiers emerged from the ruins firing their mini-PPCs, light machine guns, and Short Range Missiles at Twin Sabers. The Assault Battle Armor’s heavy weapons tore into the meager defenses and vulnerable troopers behind. The Weapons teams poured autocannon shells, rockets, and grenades into the hulking machines as they withdrew to harder cover, sickly yellow smoke filled the streets from hand grenades.

19:58 MIM Safehouse

Major Grey was sandwiched between her fire team of Twin Sabers infantry as Thane and his Ebon Magistrate arrived in armored cars from the beach. Four kilometers of hostile city stood between them and escape.

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The Real Red Menace, part IV
Dodos do fly

09/11/3065 20:43 Location – MIM Baba Yaga (Amur Hull#000), Al’Sur, Astrokaszy

Ebon Magistrate Operative Thane was on watch when he received a flash transmission from Twin Sabers, their authentication codes cleared as ones that Grey would have used.

Immediate assistance required in Shervanis, Major Grey and allies trapped by hostiles

Arachne and the other officers were still delirious, an unfortunate side effect of their sympathetic implants and extensive damage the previous few day, so he was in charge. Not that walking a group of Battlemechs across thousands of kilometers of desert would be easy or subtle.

Kell prepare the Dodo, Full Kit, we are going to Shervanis

In Transit

The Dodo’s sleek lines and low RADAR signature shape caught favorable tailwinds as it sped along at flank speed with a full compliment of Ebon Magistrate Commandos. Thane and the others sat in silence under the red lights in the cargo bay even though most of them could see just fine in the dark. The commandos checked their kit ensuring all power packs and magazines were full before they even got close, you never know when you would need it. Thane and his squad leaders went over detailed maps of the city, memorizing every turn and intersection for potential choke-points and escape routes. The wing in ground effect vehicle’s powerful engines blew great clouds of black sand in its wake. Even at best speed the Dodo wouldn’t make it to the Rendezvous point until nearly Noon with luck it would be fast enough.

Meanwhile in Shervanis’ Old City

Felicity Grey grimaced as she nursed her injuries, she would just have to shoot southpaw since her right wing was busted. The Twin Saber’s Medic Adam attempted to dose her with more painkillers but she refused. Painkillers would make me slow and loopy, both could get me killed, I’ll live, Adam gave up, Suit yourself Major.

The five riflemen had been joined by another squad of troopers, they rotated the watches to ensure all angles were covered as much as possible by fresh eyes. The sporadic gunfire kept everyone on edge but most of it was standard fare for this part of town, just gangsters fighting over territory.

Ghost Harris continued his search through the Old City, there were many non-locals in the district, he could smell it on them, a few entered a beaten up concrete building with a fenced off lot and sun beaten van in the parking lot. Suspicious, Harris found a shadowed balcony and settled in to keep an eye on the area. If his quarry was here surely more would come, his brothers and sisters of the Manei Domini would not come out in daylight yet, unless needed; the Inner Sphere wasn’t ready for them yet.

11:48, Location – OAMT Sabers Crossed, 114 km South of Astrokaszy

Operative Thane and his HELLCAT crew disembarked from the Dodo, the Twin Sabers Commander Turner looked over it impressed. I’m afraid its not for sale Commander, Tina looked at the Ebon Magistrate operatives curiously, they were completely covered despite the relatively pleasant weather, Damn its a fine looking machine, I presume you are Thane, he walked up to her, Yes I am Thane, Where is the Major?, She’s at an old MIM safehouse in Shervanis’ Old City, she’s been hurt but she’s tough to kill, a high speed car crash won’t take her out of the fight, Thane noticed an update on his wrist mounted CommPad, I presume you have some way to get us past the Militia’s checkpoints so we don’t have to shoot our way in, not that we wouldn’t do that if necessary. These plasma rifles and rocket launchers are not for show you know., Tina walked him over to a desert tan tarp and revealed a group of “coffins”, man sized torpedoes, When do we leave?

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Cold as Ice, pt 1

09/14/3065 00:18 Location – “The Icebox”, MULE Dropship Rodeo, Al’Sur

Lieutenant Jasmina Ilonka shivered, when she memorized the schematics for Rodeo she thought it was just some amusing nickname that the brig was called “The Icebox”. NO, IT WAS COLD! What made it worse was that Dextran wouldn’t give her any of her clothes from Raging Bull for fear that she had sewn hidden pockets in them which was only kinda true, all she had was some surplus scrubs (Dr. Justine Westcastle accidentally put 10 instead of 1 for boxes of female scrubs to order) and a lot of anger to keep her warm. LCDR Post had stopped by with the Jaguar Point Commanders Debriefing from earlier, she didn’t even know what time it was but she had nothing better to do than sulk.

Jaguar’s Claws Debriefing Summarized by Cearra Heron, 13 September 08:17

Point Commander Pike reports that the Jaguars’ Claws have located a Star League cache of military equipment including Battlemechs and Combat Vehicles from the 17th Army of the SLDF. He says that Ash has been attempting to bring everything online and train Mechwarriors and Armor Crews to operate it but the Titanfellers interrupted her grand plan. Noted for questions when Jakk awakens.

Point Commander Tashi confirms the suspicion we had about their unit’s origin, apparently Jakk trained, equipped, and led a guerrilla campaign against Smoke Jaguar on Virentofta in the Draconis Combine. The unit found its way to Port Moseby where they met Ash Smoke and Dillon Nova, Jakk’s adopted surname is Dust. Most of the unit carries the same being orphans or “unproductives”; they typically don’t use it preferring their mononyms. No one in the unit has information about how Dillon or Ash arrived at Port Moseby.

Point Commander Helm has given us a brief timeline of events since they sided with Ash last July. The group had seized a Jumpship and jumped across the Lyran hinterlands hitting non-strategic worlds for supplies.

Upon reaching Astrokaszy, Dillon and Jakk were sent out to search for targets, they found one here, Ash killed the Sheikh and locked the valley down. She destroyed two villages with incendiary bombs causing the others to fall in line, Dillon and his men purged “disloyal” elements including some Canopians overseeing gem mines, Jakk began aggressively expanding the security forces, Loremaster Vaska set about rebuilding using the Shiekh’s contacts with former Chief of Station Idlewood. (Mina looked again, former?)

Five months ago they found about about “The Tomb” and Dillon killed a group of people, we guess were Word of Blake who had stolen a powerful Electronic Warfare weapon from an unknown party. Jakk and Dillon fought a Trial of Position to be SaKhan and Jakk won, they don’t detail the Trial or have much information on Dillon, apparently his people were on the other dropship (The Jaguar’s Claws have a Lion and Buccaneer apparently) during their transit from Port Moseby.

Dr Richard Westcastle has informed us that Jakk will pull through but will not be able to take questions for two days while he heals.

Ensign Cearra Heron

Mina looked over it again and again looking for any minor detail, the whole thing didn’t make sense. Draconis Combine Guerrillas that fought against Smoke Jaguars joining together was already straining credulity, If Dillon Nova is/was a Nova Cat that just added a whole new dimension of madness. Who was Ash initially? How did she survive the SLDF’s attempt to kill the Smoke Jaguars? Where did she get her omnis? The Lyran Intelligence Corps intense interest in this operation added to many unknowns into the equation, she really wished the boys hadn’t killed so many of the Headhunters they might have known something. It was maddening, if only she was out there, she’d do anything to find the secrets that eluded her.

A knock at the door broke the recursive loop of information voids. Lieutenant Illonka, you have a visitor

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The Real Red Menace, part III
Boxed in

09/11/3065 15:17 Location – Alptraum Command Post, Armory District, Shervanis, Astrokaszy

Hyrien Krieger hammered his fist over the map of Shervanis laid out before him, it was marked with the last known locations of their prey. How does COTTONTAIL keep escaping! Can no one in this damn city run down this Frau? Dieter, any word yet on our mysterious adversaries? Dieter was looking over a display that was tracking various signals throughout the city, Afraid not Hyrien, they have dropped off the map but we are checking everything that leaves the city. The Alyad Alkhafia (“Hidden Hand”) Militia have been ordered to shoot any who try to run the checkpoints and our gunships will shoot any who make it past. Major Grey’s face has been plastered in all the markets with a handsome reward for any information that leads to her capture shouldn’t be to hard to find a red headed white woman in this city..

Hyrien sat back down in the only chair in their sparse operations center, Don’t count on it, she could just grab an Abaya and blend in. Meanwhile any new reports from the Titanfellers on our other lady problem?

None yet sir, Baron von Hulger has just jumped in system to force the issue, Major Brekard has been playing it too safe for such an important operation, Konstantine will give him a kick to get his ass moving and kill the Pirate Smoke Jaguar Ash. According to Konstantine the Director has called any periphery LIC units, the longer they draw this out the more ruthless the mercenaries, but jumpship availability remains a problem this far from the core, Hyrien popped the top of a beer can, We had better not disappoint the Director or at least have the dignity to die trying rather than live with the failure on Niflheim.

Location – Twin Sabers Safe House, Old City, Shervanis

Felicity laid down on a small cot in the mostly empty building, a few bedrolls, water jugs, crates of ammo, medical supplies, and MREs were its only other decorations. A small light buzzed and occasionally cut out leaving the building in darkness despite it being mid-afternoon. Her injuries earlier that day were starting to catch up to here and the painkillers were wearing off, Adam had been right it fucking hurt. Her right arm was in a sling and she could feel the pins and needles of nerve damage, she had been cleaned up a little but every movement was pained due to the bruises and strains.

The five riflemen looked out of the barred windows being extra vigilant, the Alptraum and Lyran sponsored militia had boxed them in and they couldn’t make it to the dropship a hundred kilometers away until they were dealt with. The Canopian sponsored militia (Jayse Alfadila “Army of Virtue”) couldn’t be trusted they would likely betray them to Loki so that just left Twin Sabers behind enemy lines. Commander Turner had broken her unit up to track down where the Alptraum commandos were based so she could headhunt their commander and protect Grey should they be compromised.

That Night

Ghost Adept Beta Harris found himself in Shervanis’ Old City, the Lyran militia had plastered it’s now abandoned markets with posters of his quarry. The market was dark and quiet the only inhabitants being militia patrols making their rounds with large battery lanterns illuminating circles in bright white light. Harris needed no such illumination his gifts allowed him to see as well in pitch black, blinding light and through the mightiest storms and still hear a pin drop or heartbeat thirty meters away. Moving unseen in his sneak suit he evaded the militia’s amateur patrols.

His mission was simple find the woman that had set back The Word on at least three occasions, not just on Hell’s Paradise or in the Hegemony but she had killed the best Generation One Poltergeist assassin with her bare hands on Herotitus. The failure of the Headhunters to kill her pet mercenaries galled the Demi-Precentor and all of the Hands of the Master were looking to grab her while she was trapped here.

He would find her and then she was doomed, she would never make it off the planet alive.

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Showdown at High Moon

09/13/3065 23:58 Location – 61km North of Warawi, Astrokaszy

The Mercs Unleashed task force heading out over the windswept wastes from their forward base at As’Sab. Leaving behind Lance Lead Donovan Law and a mech company to guard the base in the event their enemies use this as an opportunity to attack. The trip had taken them three hours of walking under the stars, Astrokaszy’s moon, Ghada, shed pale light that reflected off their Battlemech’s canopies and faintly illuminating the black sand, wisps of it blew off the dunes as they moved in radio silence.

Upon arriving their RADARs detected eleven units near the ruins that were their rendezvous point. The Red Skull’s Atlas reflected his persona, it was definitely not stock, and terrifying to behold, its crimson death’s head illuminated by his running lights. Even the lowly locust looked more terrifying due to armor morphs applied to it. Beside the Atlas was a tank that was little more than a Fafnir’s gun put on a Marsden V’s body. Konstantine came on over the radio, I take it by the welcoming committee that you do not have what I seek.

Vanguard Commander “Tack” Brant responded on the same channel, You’re damn right we would never give Grey up and I promised the Jaguars we would help. Very disappointing commander, I’m afraid I will have to kill you now. With that the LRM Carrier launched red flare rounds into the sky, illuminating the area in a blood red hue over black sand. All radio waves began playing this and all combatants went to full power.

Hotfoot’s sensors picked up two bandits burning in from orbit, the warbook figured them to be Lightning G16Ds arriving in forty seconds. Damn, well let’s get this over with

Merc Forces
Niops Crab and Guillotine, Shugenja, Longbow, Stalker, C3 Phoenix Hawk, Hotfoot’s Phoenix Hawk, Tack’s Guillotine, Penetrator, Defiance, Charger, Blackjack

Hostile Forces
Atlas Custom (cERPPC, LPL, AC20, A4), Locust (5 cHMG, 3 SL), Victor (GR, ERLL, 2 cMPLs), Thunderbolt (cGR, LRM15, MLs), Grim Reaper (cLPL, LRM15, SSRM6), Phoenix Hawk (LPL, 2 cMPL), Wolfhound (ERPPC), “Igor” HGR Siege Gun, Armored LRM Carrier, Hetzer Mark II, Light SRM Carrier Mark II, 2 Lightning G16D (2 RAC/5, 2MPL, 2 ERML)

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