Battletech Mercs Unleashed

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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Katherine, Daughter of the Fox III

Continued from KDotF2

04/22/3056 06:17 Location – Dove class MCHS Temperance

NO! NO! it was all I had left of him, just another week and he would have known! now its all gone! its not right! its not right! why me!, overcome with grief and rage Katherine grabbed and clawed at Dr. Bhola, Orderly! A large man rushed to help the Canopian doctor, he stabbed a syrette of quick acting sedative into the madwoman who swooned and was guided back into her hospital bed. Dr. Bhola checked herself and found everything in proper order, Poor girl, I’ll make a note to keep her sedated until someone comes to pick her up.

04/23/3056 03:47

Prince Peter Steiner-Davion arrived aboard the Canopian dropship with a company of the 1st Royal Guards. He was escorted to his sister, she had told the doctors to not mention the baby, Katherine, I’m so sorry about Galen and so happy you’re still alive. Victor wants me to bring you to Tharkad.

I’m not going to Tharkad Peter, take me to Gallery, he was confused, But why?, she remained adamant, Just do it or you’ll have to drag me there kicking and screaming., she was wringing her hands, I’m not ready to go back to Tharkad yet.

INN News Report

Archon-Prince Victor Steiner-Davion continues to content with an increasingly restive Skye Province, he has extended subsidies to it’s inhabitants but sentiment continues to build against him as more rumors circulate that he was responsible for the death of his mother, Melissa Steiner-Davion last year. Unverified reports also claim he might have been involved in the bombing that killed Galen Cox and the attempted murder of his sister Katherine on Solaris VII. Spokesmen for the Princess vociferously deny this but her current location remains unknown. Leftenant Peter Steiner-Davion has returned to duty in the theater and is attempting to bring a civil end to the growing unrest.

05/18/3056 Location – Blacktree Estate, New Stockholm, Gallery, FedCom

Katherine stood alone in the cool, damp, concrete underground rail terminal and pulled her dark blue wool coat closer. Three weeks and it still felt so fresh, she just needed to be alone for a while to get herself back together. Dowager Duchess Nondi Steiner walked through the utilitarian doorway with a pair of black suited porters to take her grandniece’s luggage, the larger woman embraced her, I’m so sorry Katrina,

Aunt Nondi, I don’t know what to do now. Everything I ever wanted was just torn away from me in a week. I just need some time away from all this.

It will be fine dear, you can stay as long as you like.

The world of Gallery was a dismal place, the orange dwarf sun lacked the power to break through the constant rain clouds. Like everything in the Lyran Commonwealth the Blacktree Estate on this planet had been built to last, it was mostly underground but there were surface structures that interrupted the large forest of Blacktrees (a genetically engineered Oak that can survive on the meager sunlight and rocky soils of Gallery).

Katherine Steiner-Davion stayed in the same rooms that her namesake Katherine Steiner, the women who founded a dynasty, and Katrina Steiner, her grandmother, who did the same, had. The crushing weight of history was just as powerful as the mass of stone and metal that surrounded her.

While she recovered she watched as the Skye Province burned, Peter and Victor were out of their league. Ryan Steiner, the treacherous Duke of Porrimo, protege of the deposed Alessandro Steiner, and head of the Skye Rebellion was surely the one that had tried to kill her. He was either afraid and trying to save his own skin or a fool to think that his little rebellion would be enough to unseat Victor, who was on the clock to find their mother’s killer as the one year anniversary came up. If Ryan had succeeded there would no doubt have been a press release exposing the conspiracy to kill Melissa Steiner-Davion had been solely her idea.

She had spent long moments at her Grandmother’s grave begging her forgiveness, if she hadn’t been so foolish there might have been a chance of reconciliation, in time either Mother or Daughter might have seen their errors, even though she hated her mother so much for so long maybe it could have happened. She even considered going to her brother, confessing it all and throwing herself on his mercy for killing their mother, it had cost her everything already surely he couldn’t do worse.

Finding all those options wanting however Katherine devised a plan to eliminate all their problems, she arranged a series of HPG messages, calling up everything she could on Ryan, searched her Grandmother Katrina’s diaries for references to the man. Several long nights were spent investigating and pulling up the accounts that she had laundered money through to finance his rebellion and the payment to the Dancing Joker, the man who had killed her mother on Ryan’s orders. She already had everything she needed so she added in some cutouts, flung C-bills across the universe to the Federation Outback before bringing them back to Skye, collated it and neatly packed it up to anonymously leak to her brother.

INN News Report

Ryan Steiner was killed today on Solaris VII while visiting the ongoing reconstruction efforts, allegedly by the same assassin that killed Melissa last year. His aide and the sole witness of the event Sven Newmark has disappeared and is wanted by MIIO and the LIC for questioning.

The Free Skye Movement continues to lose ground after their disastrous defeat on Glengarry at the hands of the Grey Death Legion. The Fourth and Tenth Skye Rangers have been disbanded for participating in the invasion and their commanders have been imprisoned. Low grade violence continues unabated as security forces from the Federated Suns attempt to quell the uprising.

Archon-Prince Victor Steiner-Davion has announced that he will rule from New Avalon this upcoming year and that his sister Katherine will serve as regent on Tharkad. Prince Peter’s location remains unknown since the events on Lyons, every other sibling showed up at their mother’s one year memorial service.

Her package clearly worked as intended, while it wouldn’t bring back Galen or her baby she felt immensely satisfied once she heard that not only had Ryan Steiner been killed but the Dancing Joker was in the wind. It didn’t make her feel good though, despite her Aunt’s insistence that her older brother was a fool she knew he was just in over his head. He was never good in the Court, any problem that couldn’t be solved with his Battlemech he had little appetite for

With Ryan Steiner out of the way and Katherine (who knew enough about the Free Skye Movement to ruthlessly direct the LIC and regional security forces at it with surgical precision) in charge things began to stabilize in Skye but she still didn’t have a plan for what would happen next.

So she continued the ongoing plans of her mother and grandmother, played into the ongoing Pro-Steiner media circus, expanded her influence with the Tharkad court, created a Peacemaker persona ,and devised a new way to deal with the looming Clan threat.

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Katherine, Daughter of the Fox II

Continued from KDotF I

“Solaris 7 News Service”

An explosion has rocked the Allegro Hotel in Solaris City’s International Zone, firefighters are responding and evacuating the building.

04/17/3056 19:18 Location – Unity Hospital, Solaris City, Solaris VII

Princess Katherine just stood there, timed slowed down, she watched the monitor and could see the smoke just a few blocks down. Her hands closed over her mouth whimpering, no, no, he was here just a few minutes ago, maybe he didn’t make it there yet

Her main bodyguard Krauser reacted immediately, drawing his pistol and grabbed the Princess’ arm. All points collapse on the principal, we are evacuating She meekly allowed herself to be surrounded by Diplomatic Guard as they rushed her to a waiting car and then to a safe-house.

INN News Service”

Firefighters have extinguished the Allegro Hotel fire, tragically Galen Cox and five other citizens perished in what appears to be a natural gas leak. Fire Marshals are investigating the explosion but right now there is no evidence of foul play. Princess Katherine Steiner-Davion is safe but has been moved to a safe-house and will no longer make public appearances until the investigation has been concluded. Her brother Archon-Prince Victor Steiner-Davion extends his condolences to his sister and will privately mourn the loss of his friend. He has sent Prince Peter to bring Katherine to Tharkad and asks that all of your prayers and well wishes be sent to his grieving sister.

04/20/3056 Location – LIC Safehouse, Greyland

Hauptmann Isadora Agravine looked helplessly at her friend, Katherine had gone catatonic after crying her eyes out for a whole day and had refused to eat or talk for three days now. All she did was play with her engagement ring.

Isadora pleaded Katherine! Katrina! Morgan! please say something, anything. Everyone in the Commonwealth is sad about Galen you’re not alone, but Ivona and I are really concerned, please snap out of it, all she could do was give her a hug once and a while and make sure she didn’t do something she would regret. She tried everything stories about their time together at Tharkad Elite Women’s Academy, Her experience at Sanglamore, stories that Katherine had told her about NAIS, her family, and youth. Nothing worked, she was really concerned that her friend was gone for good.

So Cold, Katherine muttered, Isadora looked at her, What did you say?, Kat muttered again So Cold, Isa grabbed some blankets from the closet and put her friend under them. Hang in there Katrina, your brother is coming in a few days.

The Next Day

Katherine had slowly begun to come out of her depression spiral, Hauptmann Isadora Agravine, Countess Ivona Reba, and her were gathered around the small table talking while lunch was being prepared. With LIC, MIIO, and S7 investigators out trying to find out who was responsible for the Allegro bombing there was little else to do. The lunch looked very tempting but there was a problem, a sole glass of wine was put in front of Katherine, What is this!? I didn’t order wine, take it back now! or I will break it and remove your eyeball with the jagged stem like a martini olive! Isadora and Ivona were shocked they had both seen Katherine angry before considering they had spent much of their adult lives in her friend circle but even they thought that was overboard.

The remainder of the lunch was uneventful and the women retired to the living room, the TV was of course off, no one wanted to watch the news. Aftershocks still caused the ground to tremble but they had to wait for a more secure arrangement rather than trust the retinue that had come with them.

Later on tea and cakes were served, Katherine drank a small portion of it, the tea tasted strange so she put it down, Is there anything strange about your tea Ivona?, No it tastes normal, within minutes she knew something was wrong. Ivona looked concerned, Katherine you don’t look well, Increasingly concerned I don’t feel well either get Krauser right away, then the convulsions started.

04/22/3056 Location – Dove-class MCHS Temperance

Patient Chart
Name – Morgan Elizabeth White Age – 24
Sex – Female Blood Type – A+

Dr. Seraphina Bhola was making her rounds, the Canopian Hospital Ship was packed with injured but fortunately most of them were being quickly discharged as the Commonwealth and Free Worlds League were getting their acts together. She certainly hadn’t expected to go to Solaris during her cruise through the Steward Confederation but the Magistracy’s best press came from these sorts of missions, although the Inner Sphere welcomed pleasure circuses’ just as eagerly. Those girls are going to make a killing once they get here, Dr. Bhola sighed, all those hunky firemen with their overtime pay… oh well, everyone had their parts to play.

She got around to her most recent patient, she almost didn’t make it, poor girl, at least her vitals had stabilized. Dr. Bhola reached down and pushed her blonde hair off her face. Ms White, please wake up, no response. Too bad, she needed to check her and make sure there were no residual effects from the poison; and it was better to get these things out quickly. Dr. Bhola grabbed the young woman’s shoulder and pushed her, she snapped awake immediately and looked terrified. Ms White, I am Dr. Bhola, you are aboard the Temperance Hospital Ship, someone tried to poison you. You’re better now but I have bad news.

Where are my friends? What bad news? Poison?, Dr. Bhola looked at the woman’s chart, Look I need to check you to make sure there is no lingering effect, please calm down for a little while longer., The Magistracy Medical Corps doctor treated the young woman unaware that it was actually Princess Katherine Steiner-Davion’s alias, as of now she was only marginally known in the Commonwealth’s upper echelon. Her vitals cleared, there was no better treatment for a woman in the Inner Sphere than a Canopian doctor so she was lucky they were there.

Well there don’t appear to be any lingering effects that won’t heal shortly, but now for the bad news Ms White, please sit down, Katherine sat on the bed as Dr Bhola sat down in a rolling chair facing her, Ms White, I’m really sorry to tell you this but we couldn’t save your baby, the poison killed him and it may have rendered you infertile, no technology I know of in the Inner Sphere can reverse the damage.

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Katherine, Daughter of the Fox

Continued from Previous

INN News Service”

Archon-Regent Melissa Steiner-Davion was killed this evening during a live broadcast while attending a banquet on Tharkad. Grand Duke Morgan Kell was injured and is in critical but stable condition, his wife Duchess Salome Ward perished during the explosion. All of the Federated Commonwealth and indeed the Inner Sphere is in mourning with her death.

The Estates General and High Council have named Victor Steiner-Davion Archon-Prince, he will unfortunately be unable to attend his mother’s funeral due to prior military commitments. His sister Princess Katherine and Prince’s Champion Galen Cox will attend the ceremony with Prince Peter. Princess Yvonne and Prince Arthur being so far away will honor their mother at a later time. Katherine and Galen Cox will return to Arc-Royal and attend the funeral of Salome Ward. Afterwards they will tour the Sarna March and return to New Avalon for several months before heading back.

04/02/3056 07:18 Location – Cerulean Sea Resort, New Kyoto, FedCom

Katherine Steiner-Davion woke up to the sound of the tide coming in and bird song, Galen still slept beside her in the bed of their island bungalow. She got up and put on a blue robe with white floral patterns on it and took her long blonde hair out of its braids. Their week on New Kyoto had been spectacular. The cherry blossoms were lovely and everyone they saw was pleased that she and Galen had decided to stop there during their tour from New Avalon to Tharkad celebrating their engagement.

The tabloids thought it was peculiar that the Princess and now former Prince’s Champion were getting married so close to the death of Melissa Steiner. Katrina shut that down with life is precious and you might only get one chance to be with the one you love. That had played so well because it was true.

She played with the ring that Galen had given her during the New Avalon Christmas Ball. White and red gold twisted into each other with a ruby and sapphire (META: same design as her Archon-Princess circlet, hint), it was gorgeous; apparently Yvonne had helped him pick it out. She had been so happy for her big sister that she couldn’t contain herself, she told Katherine Galen had the ring because she would have exploded if it stayed inside.
Victor let his friend go as Prince’s Champion but gave him the Princess’ Champion honorific, which Galen never used. Marshal Bishop Sortek took over duties as Prince’s Champion allowing his cousin Ardan to retire on New Avalon.

Katherine heard a rustling in the other room, Galen, are you up darling? I’d like to get some breakfast, Galen Cox rounded the corner shirtless, multiple scars from his time in the LCAF fighting Jade Falcons and Dragons wound intricate patterns into his toned chest. He leaned over kissing his bride to be and tickling her cheeks with the silly beard he was trying to grow before whispering, We could just get room service again love, Kat shivered, I’ll never get a tan if you keep this up, Tharkad’s summer just won’t do it, You’d look beautiful either way Kat, Kat returned his kiss with more, Room service sounds like a good idea Galen

Later

A knock on the door caught Katherine’s attention, Galen was in the shower so she went to answer the door. Hauptmann Isadora Agravine was on the other side, Katherine a massive earthquake has hit Solaris VII, the planetary authority has called for assistance, Oh no! That’s terrible Isadora! I will speak with Daimyo Endo right away, Can you contact the garrison commander and the Prime Modulus (their current on-station jumpship)?

Katherine picked up the phone and used her encryption card to get a direct line to the Daimyo. Galen got out of the bathroom to see her speaking of the logistics involved to get a Buccaneer merchantman and her Monarch dropship loaded with supplies. She even volunteered her entourage to assist in whatever manner her people needed.

INN News Service”

Princess Katherine and her fiancee Galen Cox arrived via a pirate point in the Solaris system to assist in the ongoing rescue and recovery efforts. The Dove-class MCHS Temperance and Mule-class FWLT Arrivaderchi have also arrived but via the Zenith point and are en route to assist the overburdened Solaris First Responders.

Footage of Galen Cox’s Crusader Battlemech using its hands to clear rubble for the Silesia Feuerwehr (Firefighter) in the Xolara slums, another one of him eating with the Black Hills Bobbies

Picture of Princess Katherine Steiner-Davion holding a baby in the NICU of Unity Hospital, another one of her distributing food in Kobe to victims of the earthquake, and visiting Montenegro first responders

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Parched Ground

09/14/3065 07:11 Location – Sleeping Jaguar Oasis, Astrokaszy

The Sleeping Jaguar Oasis had long since gone dry and nothing remained of the once plentiful Divine Palms but bare trunks that stood out of the rocky ground like the skeleton of a once great beast. Strike Commander Joe “Hotfoot” Leeson’s Phoenix Hawk walked through the desolate terrain, its parched soil crumbling under the Battlemech’s feet as it’s sensors reached out trying to find the Titanfellers that he knew should be nearby. Ranvir “Roughrider” Kapoor’s Phoenix Hawk worked it’s way through the parallel track, Task Force FEATHERWEIGHT had broken itself into pairs. His force was faster so they just needed to find targets, any patch of bare desert was as good a battleground as any other.

His force was far enough away from Al’Jair to not suffer the negative effects of the Davy Crockett Nukes that had hit the Baba Yaga, Squad Leader Kunimoto had given him an update on their condition, amazingly their Aerospace and Grey were still alive and Top Shot was grounded for good this time.

FEATHERWEIGHT Lead, this is BIRDSEYE one, we’ve spotted the Titanfellers, they are heading out of the Coolwater pass now

Roger that BIRDSEYE, keep close, Joe keyed the wider BATTLENET, All FEATHERWEIGHT mechs head towards Coolwater, STATIC I’ve found the Titanfellers, send in the Blue Hawks

Outside Coolwater, Jaguar Territory

Major Thomas Brekard and his Titanfellers left the valley of death behind him, he knew that Mercs Unleashed had spotted him, in fact he even called a halt. Let them come he thought he wasn’t going to get captured again, the first time had nearly broken him, no he was going to die fighting.

No Surrender, No Mercy, No Choice

He could see his opponents across the rocky plain, Thomas broadcasted on an open comm channel, We should end this now Strike Commander, you killed a lot of my people on Marius’ Tears under Blake’s colors but I should have crushed you on Zavijava. I’m not going to stop until you and your allies are dead.

Hotfoot responded, I was hoping you would say that because I’ve been itching for a good fight. This is the end for you Major Brekard, your pathetic group has lost, Top Shot is grounded or space junk, the Grenadiers have surrendered to my co-commander. Not even Lyran nukes can give you a chance to beat Mercs Unleashed. We’ll stop Katherine’s dirty little war here and eliminate the Smoke Jaguars. If you want this fight your blood will soak into this parched soil or you’ll disappear into some MIM cell so dark, Loki will never find you.

Task Force FEATHERWEIGHT

2 Blue Hawks, 2 Boomerangs, Dervish, Cronus, 3 Phoenix Hawks, Locust, Wolf Trap, Wolf Spider, Charger, Hunchback SF, Cicada (Weight – 625)

Hostile Forces

2 Guardian Jump Jets, Battlemaster, Archer, Komodo, Nightsky, Crossbow, Anvil, Starslayer, Griffin, Shadow Hawk, Lancelot, Zeus, Panther, Fire Javelin, Wasp (Weight – 790)

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Strange Company

09/14/3065 19:18 Location – Rodeo Mess Deck, Al’Sur

Squad Leader Alina Kunimoto and Jaguar’s Claw SaKhan Jakk sat together at one of the stainless steel benches that filled out the mess deck. Jakk had gone through three meals in less than an hour, he did have nothing but compliments to the chef however odd they sounded coming out of a Combine turned “Clanner.” Commander Kell of the Ebon Magistrate Assault Commandos observed with a squad of his men behind Jakk, they stuck to the shadows and still creeped her out even if they were here for the ship’s protection. Despite the fact that the two of them had been there during prime dinner hours no one else seemed to be hungry today.

Jakk was now wearing one of the tan and grey desert BDUs the Merc infantry had shipped out with and while she convinced him to not grab a rifle from the arms locker there was little doubt that he could prove a threat if provoked. Alina concealed a pistol within her Black jumpsuit’s inner pocket, it was mostly unzipped which looked strange (or provocative) but she had a grey tank top underneath.

Jakk looked at her as she was finishing her cup of tea, When do we leave for Jaguar territory?, Alina checked her watch, Liftoff is in thirty minutes, we have to dock with another dropship in orbit after that, so you have two hours or so until you are home, Jakk looked back at Kell’s Commandos, Friends of yours?, Kunimoto eyed Kell who gave her no sign, They work with our employer, I’ve never seen their work in person but they have a fearsome reputation just like she does.

What of your reputation?, now Alina felt strange why would he want to know?, We are winners, nothing has ever proven our match., Jakk took another one of the pills that Ravinia had given him with his tea, Perhaps you have now, Ash would have ruled this planet within five years. Nothing has stopped her yet and I won’t help you fight her however if she falls I will not fight you, I am not sure what I would do with my people should that occur. All I know is Dillon Nova Cat and his treacherous cronies must die, he has long envied me but has gone to far this time.

No she needed to know more, Jakk how did your people end up with Nova Cats and Smoke Jaguars? The Combine fought them for years.

Jakk slammed his fists on the table causing Kell and two others to get up and raise their weapons, NOT ON MY PLANET! No, we were abandoned by the Dragon and left to the mercy of the Smoke Jaguars. I watched my mother and friends die during occupation, the Jaguars didn’t even offer terms. We were neglected just like we were under the Dragon except the Solahma used my people for target practice. I fought them for years, hated them with all my being, eventually raised an army of starved and orphaned children to fight them, anyone who could carry a rifle was in didn’t matter. Knives in the dark, guns in the brush, suicide bombs, disease, poison gas, whatever it took to fight the Jaguars we gave everything and then some.

Ten years of constant fighting with the jaguar garrison, thousands of casualties from war, hundreds of thousands from neglect, and then it’s BULLDOG and a Commonwealth regiment that liberated the planet, no recognition was given to all the sacrifices we made. The Dragon returned to start anew, I refused to submit to them, I took whomever from my group wanted to leave and bribed a returning jumpship to take us to Port Moseby.

Shortly after we arrived Ash did, reduced from proud rebels to common criminals we saw that she didn’t move like the Nova Cats or Wolves that were rapidly filling the planet. I attacked her, she won but recognized my ability, the first time anyone ever did. There is no sympathy for Dracs in the Commonwealth but there is fear and respect for Jaguars, Lincoln Osis killed their beloved prince, so I joined her. Dillon came from the homeworlds abandoned by his Clan, fighting the entire way with his own group so we then cut a swath through the Commonwealth to here. At least we offer terms to our enemies on this planet, they refuse them at their own risk.

Alina was horrified but waved off Kell and his squad, I’m sorry to hear that Jakk, we didn’t know that. You and I should head out now and move Kat and yourself to a different room, the infirmary bed might be needed. We’ll be lifting off soon.

Jakk picked up Kat cradling her in his arms as Alina guided them to one of the bunk rooms,

All hands this is Captain Baasch, we are lifting off in ten minutes, check to ensure that all items are secured before reporting to your assigned places. All external hatches and doors are sealed.

The Mule dropship Rodeo blasted off from it’s ridge into the setting sun, everyone in Al’Sur watched it as it ascended. Back in space, the Baba Yaga was barely maintaining it’s parking orbit. Captain Warez and Grey both saw that the Rodeo was on an intercept course, I love you Alina and Abram. Captain Warez move to dock the Baba Yaga to the Rodeo. Felicity really wished the large spheroid dropship could just take the whole of the Amur dropship into it’s cargo bays (weight =/= volume unfortunately) rather than abandon ship but her vessel had taken a heavy beating and there was no way it would land in one piece, nor could it leave orbit under it’s own power. They couldn’t risk pushing it into a higher salvage orbit either, too much classified equipment and information was on the vessel, it had to be scuttled.

The two dropships engaged in an intricate dance, the Baba Yaga flipped exposing it’s ventral docking collars and the Rodeo dropship gently completed the perpendicular. The Rodeo extended it’s standard docking tube to the smaller Aerodyne dropship and locked in. Pressure was normalized and the injured crew of the Baba Yaga was met with Dr Selaj and the rest of the medical staff to immediately treat their injuries and ensure that any ill effects from being hit with a pair of tactical nukes would be minimized. Major Grey ever the center of attention was rushed to the infirmary to make sure she hadn’t broken more pieces of herself.

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Let Sleeping Jaguars lie

09/14/3065 18:32 Location – Infirmary, Mule Dropship Rodeo, Al’Sur, Astrokaszy

Squad Leader Kunimoto sat impatient and bored, Dr. Justine Westcastle had stitched up her facial wounds. Fortunately the helmet glass had broken below her eyes so it was merely cosmetic damage that would heal, but It took all her willpower to not touch the stitches that caused her face to itch. She had a concussion, the headache was the worse she had ever experienced, there were ugly looking bruises under her blacks and she still felt dizzy but didn’t like being fussed over. Without an Aerofighter however her part in this operation was done, on the plus side no way Top Shot was coming back, hell they’d be lucky if they landed in better shape. Now Blair just kept a close eye on her to make sure she didn’t pass out.

Alina looked out from the observation room at the new patients, the four Ebon Magistrate Mechwarriors and several Twin Sabers soldiers had been added. A new doctor and her staff had joined the rapidly crowding infirmary on the Rodeo, Dr. Radha Selaj hovered over her Ebon Magistrate patients writing things down on her CommPad but not talking much. Alina couldn’t tell how they were hurt unlike the Twin Sabers and Jaguars, they didn’t have gun shots or burns. They just laid there in state, it was disconcerting because they might as well be dead.

The Baba Yaga had survived amazingly, it had taken two hits from those Davy Crocketts and their Comms had been knocked out. There was still someone at the helm however, the long range tracking RADARs confirmed it was in a near parking orbit. She really hoped Grey survived so she could thank her.

Kat “Dust” maintained her vigil over the Jaguar’s SaKhan Jakk both under the watchful eye of Twin Sabers now. The late Sergeant Reinholdt’s desert rats had been reassigned to crew LCMD Post’s vehicles to stretch his thin manpower after capturing so much during the mission. Kat, the starved teenager, had been up for three days now, her hands constantly on her rifle, eyes darting like a frightened animal. How much longer could she hold out? She knew the Combine’s people were tough; had been there multiple times while serving in the AMC; but even they had limits.

Alina could hear a rustle and howl of pain as Jakk woke up, Twin Sabers was caught off-guard as the Jaguar finally woke up and was stopped by the handcuff on his hospital bed. Twin Sabers drew their pistols and Kat readied her weapon as Jakk came to a sitting position, Dr. Richard Westcastle and Medic Ravinia LaCroix rushed across the clinic. SQLDR Kunimoto got up and steadied herself on the bed walking out toward the Jaguars.

Rirakkusushitekudasai, Jagā ("Relax, “Take it Easy”, Jaguar")

Suddenly all attention was on Alina, Kato wa kare ni sore o setsumei suru (“Kat explain it to him”), the Jaguar girl remained focused on the potential threats.

Alina looked towards the Twin Sabers guards, You two put your guns away, this is not a good time for that. and give me those keys, the two men reluctantly holstered their weapons, handed the handcuff key to Alina, and raised their hands as they walked behind the frosted glass. Kato wa jū o oroshita (“Kat put the gun down”), the young woman thankfully listened and put her gun away. Dr. Richard Westcastle and Ravinia stood behind Alina and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Guns in the hands of teenagers were never a good idea especially when they might be sleep deprived and twitchy. Kat explained the recent turn of events, Alina filled in the details from Ravinia’s confession, and Mina’s interrogation of the woman that stood behind her.

Jakk was furious at the betrayal of Dillon Nova Cat, many colorful threats were yelled which echoed throughout the dropship. So much so that Commander Kell and his commandos and Master-at-arms Hendrick and his security volunteers showed up only to be turned away by the other Dr. Westcastle.

The young man was covered in burns, they would leave terrible scars but at least Canopian MedTech meant that he likely wouldn’t die from infection. So many other scars were visible on his mostly naked body that Alina thought at least 80% of him was scar tissue, from what she had heard of Ash it seemed a common trait.

Ravinia whispered something to Alina, We have to give him something now, he wasn’t supposed to wake up yet, the burns are still healing. You have the key, we’ll dope him, check him out again, and then he can join the others

She was hesitant to close with the raging Jaguar but agreed, Karera wa anata ni itami no tame ni nanika o ataeru tsumoridesu, Anata wa hokanohito ni sanka suru koto ga dekimasu (“We are going to give you something for your wounds, then you can join the others”), Jakk stopped his raging long enough for the medics tend to his injuries and give him some sedatives so he wouldn’t be raging all the time. Kat said something to him that Alina didn’t pick up and he responded in a whisper, Jakk got up and his sheet fell off revealing the missing 20% and then young woman took his place in the bed and curled up asleep immediately.

Watashi wa jakk Sumōkujagā, anatahadaredesu ka? ("I am Jakk Smoke Jaguar, who are you?)

Alina was now alone, Dr Richard and Ravinia having left her to deal with a now sedate but naked Jaguar, Kunimoto arīna yōhei (Alina Kunimoto, Mercenary)

Jakk raised an eyebrow, yōhei?

Hai yōhei

Naze koko ni kita nodesu ka? (“Why did you come here?”)

Shigoto wa shigotodesu (“A job is a job”)

Watashi wa ifuku, tabemono, fukushū ga hitsuyōdesu, Kunimoto arīna_ (“I require clothes, food, and vengeance, Alina Kunimoto”)

Forō shite kudasai (“Follow me”)

Alina turned to Dr. Westcastle, Twin Sabers Corporal Bryce, and Master-at-Arms Hendrick, I am going to take a walk with Jakk, please make sure we don’t run into any trouble, she saw Jakk looking at Kat, and, ah… don’t touch Kat, he might kill you

As she exited the infirmary with a naked Jakk following her she really hoped this day didn’t get more interesting.

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