Battletech Mercs Unleashed

Yvonne, Princess of Camelot VI

05/27/63 06:00 Day 1

Prince’s Champion Marshal Bishop Sortek stands behind the podium outside Castle Davion, his Atlas behind him, the Commonwealth Press Corps in front. “Citizens of New Avalon and the Federated Commonwealth, I have grave news to deliver this day.

Early this morning a group of Republican Guard Commandos kidnapped Princess Yvonne from her residence in the New Hebrides. These commandos killed her protectors and escaped with her on a Coast Guard Helicopter, I have put every man I can in the field to find and rescue her. If you see her please report it immediately and you will be rewarded.

Additionally Archon Katherine Steiner has come to New Avalon at the head of an invasion fleet of Lyran, Tikonov, and traitorous Commonwealth troops. No doubt she seeks to usurp the Sunburst Throne just as she did the Archon’s from our beloved Victor. She now burns toward the planet at high speed eager to bring war to her home-world so that she may continue her illegitimate reign of terror.

The entire Guards Brigade stands with me, we will not allow the Federated Commonwealth to be seized by someone who so callously handles her own nation. Surely this is her final act of collusion in a long chain of Anti-Commonwealth actions that reveal her true motivation, Total Domination.”

Elsewhere on New Avalon

Yvonne woke to a snap of a fire, she was surprised to find that she was trapped in a sleeping bag, and suffered a moment of panic while fumbling with the zipper. After working her way out of the bag she looked down and saw that the clothes from last night were in tatters and her legs were bandaged. Every muscle in her body felt like it was on fire and she gritted her teeth while rising to her feet.

The camp looked abandoned, there was another sleeping bag on the other side of the fire, and a GM Outrider truck was backed into the glade which was surrounded by trees. It was early morning but she didn’t know what time it was or how long she had been out but she was thirsty. There was a small water cooler lashed onto the truck’s tailgate and she grabbed a cup from the attached holder, as she poured the water into the cup she was reminiscing of playing Field Hockey for Avalon City Girl’s School.

Lost in her daydream she didn’t hear the man walking out of the woods until he was on the other side of the truck. “Morning Sleeping Beauty,” she snapped out of it and saw Nikolai but to late to not throw water on him. Horrified she put a hand to her mouth, “I’m sorry Nik,” he grabbed a towel out of the truck bed and began patting the wet spot out of his clothes. He wasn’t wearing the camouflage uniform from last night having changed into a gray shirt and hat, green jacket, blue jeans, and brown work boots, a pair of sunglasses hung from his shirt pocket.

He tossed the towel back into the truck bed, “No problem Yvonne, sorry to surprise you”
“Where are we?”
“Around twenty kilometers east of Copper Gulch, Rostock”
She put her hand on her forehead, “Rostock!? How long was I out?”
“About seven hours, it’s nearly ten now”
“Where’s everyone else?”
“They are joining the Loki teams on-planet and getting ready to go again.”
“I’m sorry about the others”
“I know, I didn’t think the Striker would get out that quickly. They knew the risks, but I thought I could get them all out, that we would be fast enough.”

He grabbed a pink duffel bag from the truck bed, “These are yours, get changed and drop the camo in the pit on the other side of the truck.”
“I don’t think any man has brought me so many outfits. Are you sure you aren’t just using me like a dress up doll?”
“One of Katherine’s agents brought them, you apparently like her choices. I just hope she got the right size.”
Taking the duffel she walked to the other side of the truck, “I’m sure she did”

Yvonne changed and walked back to the fire wearing a blue shirt, gray pants, brown boots and jacket, with two jars of hair dye in her hand. “What is this for!?”

Nikolai had a cast iron skillet in the fire cooking some bacon, “Sorry Yvonne, but you are gonna need a dye job. Your red hair is to distinctive, people will know it’s you. Your choice, blonde or brunette?”
“But I love my red hair! I’ve never dyed it before, dad used to call me Sunshine”
“That’s cute. Who would have thought First Prince Hanse Davion would come up with such clever nicknames for his daughters. Way better than Vic, Pete, or Arty.”
She stomped, “Well I can’t do it out here! I don’t even have a mirror.”
“There’s a farmhouse not far from here with a proper bathroom, so think about it. I will help you do it right, but first how do you like your eggs?”

5/27/63 17:13 Location – River Daring Region, Rostock

The now showered and brunette Yvonne sat in the passenger seat of the grimy Red GM Outrider truck as it bounced along the gravel farm roads. She was still working through last night’s events with the help of Nikolai, distantly watching the fields of grain and grass while idly waving at passing motorists. Her arms were crossed and she had sullen look, her mood darkened by the impending rain storm and hours on the poor roads.
“We’ll go over it again. What is your name?”
“Melanie Amber Woods of Crossroads Prairie, Age 24, Teacher at Little Sprouts Preschool, I have a little brother named Matt, who is a bother, and my parents are Mary and Richard, Birthday May 23rd”
“Good now who am I, Melanie?”
“Lars Henry Anderson of Temperance Forge, Age 29, Licensed Freelance Mechanic, you have an older sister named Susan whose truck we borrowed and your parent’s names are Wilma and Donovan, Birthday July 9th”
“And how did we meet?”
“The Bonnie Flats Blaze (Firefly/Lalapolooza with a 10 meter bonfire) last year, neither of us remember the exact time but I was in your truck that morning and we started a relationship”
“And where are we going?”
This was the fifth time he had gone over it and Melanie (Yvonne) was getting tired of the repetition, “Back to Crossroads Prairie after spending the week camping in the East Queensbury Royal Park and prior to that we visited the Gorge again.” She pushed away a pile of Gaveston’s Gorge and East Queensbury Maps and Brochures that were part of their legend.
“Good, now there is something special in the glove box that will seal the deal and maybe lighten your mood, go ahead and grab it”
She reached into the truck’s glove box and a small ring case fell out and onto the plastic floor covers. Leaning down she grabbed it, eager to see what was inside, gasping when as she saw an engagement ring sitting on the pillow.
“Nik!”
“There’s no Nik here Melanie”
Correcting herself, “Lars, it’s beautiful”
In an exaggerated Southlander (Australia/Texas) “I had to put in some extra hours at the shop to pay for it darlin’, but it’s all yours now”
She put the ring on her finger, “For real sweetheart”
“For now honey”
“You’re terrible at this”
“No Princess, acting is something I’m really good at, seems like you did pretty good for yourself for a college dropout”
“I don’t even regret that, I hold it as a badge of honor, it was the first thing I ever did for myself. I was always the dutiful daughter and sister, I had to draw a line somewhere. Who did my brother think he was to stop me from transferring to Tharkad by decree no less!? Where was he for the first twelve years of my life, when it was only Hanse, Arthur, and Katherine?”
“You shouldn’t speak ill of the dead. I would be appalled if my brother spoke of me that way were I to die.”
“You have a brother?”
“I do, my commission and salary go to paying his way through medical school and caring for his family. He just started his residency at Tikograd General as a Surgeon and my nephew is turning two in three months.”
“Your brother is a Surgeon?’
“Dah, he refused to take my money initially but I told him at least one of us should be getting their hands bloody for the right reasons.”
“All your money? but you buy things all the time”
“Yeah with the Agency’s money, I don’t actually own most of the things I possess. I like to travel light, all my valuable things are kept here (points to his head) and here (hand over heart). It’s difficult but I try not to be sentimental because I have to burn or blow up most things after using them. I never talk about my brother since we don’t share the same last name anymore to protect him and his family if I were to be compromised.”
“Your brother is a surgeon, did you always want to be a spy?”
“No, Artist”
“You can’t be serious, you wanted to be an artist?”
“Yes, in fact I studied at a Conservatory. Even was the Rat King for two years.”
“A Ballerina!? How does an Artist become a Spy?”
“Well if you think about it both are professions that reward careful experimentation and observation, creativity, clarity of focus, grounded in fundamentals, precision, and attention to detail. I even got the Tinkerers at TNGB to make me a sniper rifle that can fit into an easel assembly.”
“What? Why?”
“It’s so boring being a sniper, but the view is incredible, no one gets the kind of access I do. Katherine even has one of my originals on her personal drop-ship. I call it Towers of Tatyana, I painted it after I killed somebody that was trying to kill her. I think it was a SAFE Agent, but he might have been ISF or ROM, hard to tell nowadays not that it was easy before.”

The truck pulled into the Pine Creek Motel of Pine Creek, a small town along one of the tributaries of the River Daring. The sky was dark with the impending rainstorm and the “couple” rushed to unload everything into their room before it got rained on.

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Hellions on the Prowl II

10/17/3061 00:58 Location – CHS Trapper, en route to Gwithian

Bondsman Red is on the gantry surrounding a Wolf Hunter aboard the CHS Trapper formerly a Nova Cat Overlord-C before it’s seizure in the wake of the Cat’s Abjuration and the resulting feeding frenzy. Two Trinaries of the 40th Hellion Lancers, their support, and the Watch contingent remained on Wynn’s Roost with a rough map from the Red Rooster’s Jumpship and pirate group in which to raid nearby Outworlds Waste or Draconis March worlds for additional colonists and provisions. Despite the fact that Red had put the best man in change while he was on the yearlong possibly one way trip to the Homeworlds he was concerned that his group wouldn’t be there, if and when he returned. His hair had returned to its natural black and he had been forced to cut the Mohawk down to a short strip of hair that ran down his head. Now wearing a blue jumpsuit he was attempting to pry a stubborn access panel that refused to bulge.

“You really should try one of these,” Technician Paula said slowly elevating to the scaffolding aboard an electric scissor lift handing him a hook attached to a comealong. _ “Thanks Paula, I didn’t know you had those,”_ she held her ears and looked at him strangely, “What is it?”
“It is those contractions please stop being so vulgar.”
“Right I forgot you are all really touchy about those things. Seems strange, curses are curses, you would be amazed at my vocabulary of such things.”

Red put down his prybar and attached the comealong and pumped it eventually breaking the panel cover before beginning to check the rainbow vomit of wires, “Reminds me of my service to the Dragon. Everything was broken all the time, had to maintain my own machine with nothing more than basic hand tools and spray adhesive.”
“You were a Mechwarrior for the Combine? And you took care of your own Mech?”
“I was Blood in the Water, Fifth Amphigean Light Assault Group, shattered to pieces fighting the Ghost Bear rather than the Davion Devil. Escaped with my Jenner and fought until I could no longer win, then I just hid and waited for a DCMS raid, got rescued then deserted. Of course I maintained my own Mech! The Pillar of Steel started getting rusty around my section we were glad when we had enough armor and food. Who do you think took care of that Archer?”
“That is just strange, you are the first inner sphere person I have met. Sorry for all the questions.”
“No Clan Mechwarriors take care of their machines?”
“No that is the Technician Caste’s job.”
He got real close and looked around, “How are any of them still alive then? Couple of mis-calibrations, lapsed maintenance cycle, the reactor running a little too hot and then you guys take over.”
“We do not think that way.”
“Fortunate for the Warriors then, that is why the Combine Mechwarriors all the way up to the Coordinator help take care of their own machines. We would have been long dead otherwise.”

Paula whispered, “Your Technicians would kill a Warrior by negligence?”
“In a heartbeat if he pissed them off long enough. Now are you just going to stand there or help me splice these cables?”
“Well I hope they do not kill our Warriors?”
“What do you mean?”
“I was a Nova Cat before the Abjuration, our banishment from the Home Worlds for siding with the Second Star League, Star Colonel Montrose and the Ice Hellions trialed for some isolated enclaves in retribution for the death of Khan Taney. We just could not get out fast enough. Now the Nova Cats live in the Combine and I serve the Ice Hellions. What was it like?”
“Quite unpleasant, I am afraid I cannot recommend it. I would rather be a pirate than return, not just because they would kill me.”

10/21/3061 06:00 Location – Gwithian Colony

The small former Nova Cat garrison had been expanded slightly by the CHS Maker while it was in orbit mostly by putting more former Nova Cat and Smoke Jaguar Laborers and Technicians on it. The Aqueduct Montrose set down on the other side to take on water before being sent to another surveyed world that would soon be the next target for the CHS Maker, its crew composed of Pirates and Hellions split.

The Potemkin Coterie was scheduled to arrive by the time they made it to Hector and establish as large a support base as it could. The CHS Maker returning to Hector before venturing out again to some other world surveyed by the Nova Cats or Smoke Jaguars which had borne the brunt of the Hellion’s post refusal revenge rampage seizing supplies, sibkos, and survey data and sabotaging said data to ensure it would not be used again.

Star Colonel Montrose, Bondsman Red, and the staff aboard the mostly empty Trapper stepped out onto the Ferrocrete landing pad. A raw looking man with brown hair greeting them, a fellow Warrior though his uniform was different, charcoal gray compared to the Star Colonel’s white and blue, “Star Colonel, we did not expect you back so quickly, have you completed the initial survey already?”

_“I have Star Captain Vozka or rather my Bondsman Red has provided me with sufficient information to send to Khan Drake. I trust you have made sure this colony is ready, is the HPG still active?”
“Aff Star Colonel, the Enclave has been hard at work ensuring this station can manage the Khan’s planned transfer.”
“Good, Did the Diamond Sharks or Snow Ravens return this way Star Captain?”
“Neg, Star Colonel Montrose, we did expect them to and were prepared to disappear should they appear but they may no longer have interest in the Abjured Nova Cat’s holdings. No doubt the Sharks already have their own way stations and the Snow Ravens have the Bear’s stations.”
“I fear they may return. We cannot have either of those Clans figuring out what the Ice Hellions are planning, quiaff”
“Aff”
“Good take me to the HPG I have to send this data to Khan Drake immediately. Bondsman I will find you in the Technician’s quarters, quiaff”
“Aff Star Colonel Montrose”
_
Red, Paula, and most of the other onboard technicians waited for a truck to come around and loaded their gear inside. The Technician’s barracks were small and relatively new having been constructed when the colony was founded but none of the Techs had many possessions. Everything was stashed and they were on break for another three hours. Red walked around his new surroundings there was no escape for him but he was happy to at least be back on solid ground after spending months in space.

10/22/3061 07:19 Location – Training Site A10, Hector, Kerensky Cluster

Khan (Ale)Xander Drake was completing his morning exercise in full Salamander armor. It was his favorite suit type, one of the reasons he was sent as part of the joint redevelopment of the armor by the Fire Mandrills having won their respect despite his smallish size for an Elemental Trueborn, he was more driven, smarter, faster, and no less deadly than the Brutes of even the hated Ghost Bears.

Scaling the icy wall with his razor sharp battle claws was one of the ways he relaxed, each strike into the wall a killing or practice for ripping armor plating off a Mech. There was nothing like the thrill of battle especially for an Elemental Warrior. He longed for a chance to fight in the Inner Sphere and win the Glory that had eluded him for so long but he settled for burning Dark Caste and Snakes for now.

He cleared the wall jumping off the 150 meter cliff and using his jump jets to slow his descent, breaking right in stride running toward the test range where silhouettes of infantry, tank hulks, and a Mockup of the hated Timber Wolf loomed. He burned each to ash with the Flamethrowers under his forearms, the Ice Hellions would no longer be denied and he watched as the Timber Wolf burned.

Soon the Ice Hellions would win again and the Inner Sphere would burn at his fingertips.

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Hellions on the Prowl I

05/17/3061 Location – “The Roost”, Wynn’s Roost, Outworlds Wastes

The once prosperous world of Wynn’s Roost had become a pirate’s den of nearly eight thousand lost souls over which the Red Rooster ruled. He may have had a different name at one point but on his world everyone just called him “Red” for his distinctive dyed Mohawk and preferred palette.

Red walked around the small pirate town celebrating their latest raid against the Draconis March world of Hazelhurst which led to the capture of an Aqueduct Dropship that had been filling up at one of its vast lakes complete with a full grain store in the hold. Enough to help feed his pirate world for a year and enough fresh water to drink with plenty to trade.

Red swaggered into the Roost’s watering hole to cheers and then he waved and called for quiet, “Attention everyone! Very important news,” pausing for effect,_ “Drinks on me tonight!_” The inside of the saloon exploded with applause, the clientele a varying sort of malcontent, piercings and prison tattoos mixed with poor fashion sense and too much chrome. The Pirate Lord walked up to the well worn wooden bar behind which stood a black man wearing a rough leather vest and fancy feathered hat, “Steve, How much whiskey can one make with three thousand tons of grain?”
“More than you can drink in a lifetime Red.”
The barkeep handed him a cloudy glass bottle of rye which Red raises over his head,_ “You heard the man! Who’s up for a challenge!”_

5/19/3061 Location – CHS Swift Bait above Wynn’s Roost

Star Colonel Raina Montose was aboard the Fredasa Corvette Swift Bait as the vanguard of Khan Drake’s proposed (Ice) Hellion invasion. Her task force’s jump-ships and the Carrack CHS Maker were covertly establishing way stations back to the Home Worlds but they needed a stronger base from which to launch an incursion and support the Clan’s civilian caste. She had been put in command of this Warship in addition to the 40th Hellion Lancers and this world was one of the targets he proposed after investigating old Star League charts.

She looked over the sensor feeds the planet was mostly abandoned, small farming villages and wildcat mines surrounded a small town where a Union, Trojan, and Aqueduct drop-ship had located at a rough spaceport. No doubt carried here by the Invader ship that two Points of her Elementals had seized at the Nadir Jump Point and which still remained there. Those ground-side refused her hails and that made her angry, she slammed her fists on holo-table, “If they will not answer we will just go down there ourselves.”
Her subordinate Star Captains Gavin Vorobiov and Dominic left to ready their trinaries, leaving the Warship and it’s fighters under the command of Star Captain Law De Geode.

5/20/3061 08:09 Location – “The Roost”

Red was woken up by a a door slamming open, his latest floozy whom he was sure was just named “Pretty” beside him still naked, her dirty blonde hair a mess across the pillow. In his drunken stupor he grabbed his pistol and shot at the empty space expecting someone to be there,_ “Who the fuck wakes me up before Noon!”_

A voice off to the side of the door shouted, “Sorry Red but there’s a Raina Montrose outside town asking who’s in charge.”
“Did you tell him?”
“Its a her but she wants to talk to ya?”
“Did ya get everyone else?”
“Aye Cap’n”
“Fine I’ll be at my mech in five minutes. Now get!”

He kissed “Pretty” on her cheek, “Sorry baby, daddy’s gotta kill somebody, shouldn’t take long”

Red walked outside his petty manor and up into the cockpit of his modified Archer 5R Battlemech, powering “Big Red” up and walking out to where the rest of his reinforced Mech lance and tank company waited. Ten other Mechs stood outside the shabby town’s boundaries, _“This is Captain Red, whattayawant Raina?”

“This is Star Colonel Raina Montrose of the 40th Hellion Lancers, I am issuing a Trial of Possession for this world on behalf of Clan Ice Hellion. What forces do you defend with?”
“These ones.”
“I will just bid my Star against your forces then Captain Red”
“We gonna fight or just talk! This is the Red Rooster’s turf!”_

With that the pirates ran or flanked out of their assembly area and into the open field beyond. Red’s Archer facing off against Raina’s Stormcrow C.

Red charged forward letting loose a volley of thirty long range missiles and shots from his lasers. The lasers managed to hit, melting ferro-fibrous armor off of the Star Colonel’s omnimech, his missiles impacted behind her and near the Hellion B dodging most of the fire from a Panther and ripping into a Commando. She returned fire, her pulse laser cutting a jagged streak across the pirate’s mech, her auto-cannon shells missing by less than a meter.

Red’s cockpit was warming up he watched the ambient temperature rise in his Neurohelmet’s HUD, he might be a deserter but the DCMS had taught him how to fight and win, he would endure. He backpedaled trying to keep more open ground between himself and this Clan warrior but her Mech was too fast and was closing the gap. He cycled his weapons firing a volley of fifteen missiles and the opposite arm laser, both connected center of mass missiles crashing throughout the torsos which staggered the smaller mech and exposed structure but it was still advancing. Raina’s pulse lasers and auto-cannon connected in the right arm and left leg cutting deep into the armor.

A Wolf Hunter D brought down the Shadow Hawk by slicing it’s gyro, to fast for the Hawk’s weapons to impact reliably, while anti-missile systems knocked down it’s small missile volleys, shells from the cannon tore up chunks of dirt as the beleaguered pirate tried to stop the swift mech and failed faceplanting into the mud. The Commando went up in an ammo explosion as heavy lasers melted it’s weak armor finding the missiles, the pilot ejecting and landing in a small pond nearby. The Panther had taken one of the Hellion’s arms off with a lucky PPC shot. A pair of Mist Lynx Bs were tearing up the tires of four Hetzer tanks taking only minor hits from the Scorpion’s cannons while dodging fire from a Pirate Swayback and Watchman. A Thunderbolt was engaging a Shadow Cat Prime and had managed to damage the swift hard hitting omni, holding it’s own as the battle raged around it.

Red’s mech cooled and he let off another alpha strike on the Clan mech, his long range missiles impacted but hadn’t armed causing the projectiles to clatter uselessly onto the ground, slagged armor fell and steamed in the damp grass. Raina had run forward coming within the 180 meter arming distance for the missiles and connected with everything, the Archer stumbled as its thick armor melted or was blasted apart, the pirate managed to stay upright but had to take a hard impact that made his teeth chatter crumbling on the Mech’s knee and arm to avoid tumbling backwards. His cockpit’s temperature climbed and the armor indicators were yellowed, this fight was going the wrong way and he remembered why he ran away from his post in the first place.

Around him most of the hetzers had been incapacitated by motive hits and the Wolf Hunter engaged the Pirate Swayback and Watchman who were now trapped between it and the Mist Lynxes. The one Hellion was in the middle of melting it’s Panther foe, the light mech’s structure was exposed, the pilot unable to track the quick mover. The Thunderbolt’s missiles and lasers connected with the Shadow Cat causing damage to it’s laser arm but the Gauss rifle was wearing down the heavy mech who was to slow and heavily focused on mid range combat to engage the swift long range fighter.

Now free to engage the hostile mechs the Mist Lynxes and Wolf Hunter jumped over the pirate Swayback and Watchman changing places and hit with everything, the mediums taking heavy damage from both lasers and missiles. Big Red stood back up from it’s kneeling position and tried in vain to track the Stormcrow which stayed to close for missiles and out of arc for one of his lasers. The one laser hit melting more armor off the clan mech but the Star Colonel hit with everything again and knocked the Archer down this time, slicing through the myomer actuators in it’s legs. Red willed it to stand but the mech refused and fell with a great crash throwing gravel up in it’s wake.

The Stormcrow loomed over the fallen Archer it’s autocannon pointed toward his cockpit, “Captain Red, this is Star Colonel Montrose, it appears you are defeated. Power down now, I will take you as a bondsman and your people and world as Isorla or die.”

He was outclassed even with three on one odds with light and medium mechs, even if they won there was at least another five mechs waiting in the wings, there was no chance for his pirate band but for him to take the bond-cord. If more Clans were coming it would be slightly better to cooperate,_ “I yield Star Colonel, The Roost is yours.”_

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Mission Briefing, Brothers in Arms

Brief

Company on Company Battle, Knights of Randis vs The Honorable Edge

Brotherhood Mechs
Lord Knight Peter Focht, Warhammer 7S
Griffin
Dervish
Enforcer

Knight-Errant Daphne Vonn, Marauder 5D
Wolverine
Thunderbolt
Centurion

Knight-Errant Xavier Vulpes, Crusader 5M
Rifleman
Hunchback
Phoenix Hawk

Tonnage – 695 tons

versus

Whatever you choose

Training exercise so all hits are simulated, in character fiction to follow

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Yvonne, Princess of Camelot V

05/27/63 02:28 Location – NASDF Air Station Cliff Key, Isle Azul

Yvonne and three squads of the Tikonov Republic Commandos waited in the palms outside Cliff Key’s perimeter, standard AFFC procedure was a 30 meter clearing from the fence-line but there was plenty of tall grass for them to get within 15 meters of the fence. The gravel ring roads around the facility was worn with tire treads from the 33rd’s patrol vehicles but was still in good condition. Captain Vasiliev’s flash goggles were on his forehead as he looked through the rangefinder binoculars.

“Foot patrols are light, they have a gun truck coming once every five minutes, we need to get rid of those sensor towers.”

Nikolai pointed them out to his 3rd squad who took up firing positions. Yvonne noticed they were wet but didn’t know what they were doing while the first two squads busted her out. She felt better not knowing what was going to happen, or where the 4th squad was.

“Blue squad with me, Green take out those sensors on my mark, Red prep charges to blast that fence. After the blast Green you move to us we’ll cover your approach” The squad leaders confirmed and the Blue and Red squads crouch walked into the tall grass. “Yvonne, stay down and stick with me”

Yvonne’s legs burned as they approached, her drop leg rig had slipped and was uncomfortable, she was in poor shape and would need to hit the gym after this, and stretch more. The masked group stayed low and moved slow making as little disruption as possible as they threaded their way through the clumps of rough grass.

Nikolai called for a stop and dropped prone, he whispered, “Yvonne draw your gun now, things are about to explode, watch my back and keep up we’ll get through this fine.” She did so nervously, the last time she had fired a gun was with Nik nearly a year ago, he was amazed that The Guards hadn’t taught her how to defend herself, afraid she was to “delicate”. _ “I know you’re nervous but keep that weapon toward the bad guys and your eyes open.”_

Nikolai signaled to his team to ready their weapons,_ “when the next Pintel comes by take it out”_, the squad was ready to pounce. _ “green mark”_, six invisible laser beams disabled the three sensor towers overloading their optics with light focused into a deadly lance of energy. Everyone wearing the flash goggles saw the targeting strobe as an orange flash reflecting off the tower. “right on target green move up”

A Pintel from the 33rd Motorized approached slowly its large off-road tires crushed gravel beneath them, the searchlight and machine gun panned across the grass. As it neared the grass moved as muffled bursts from the commando’s carbines tore into the lightly protected troopers, as the riders crumbled, and the ATV lost control and rolled into the berm that protected the fence from charging motor vehicles. Thirteen individuals rose up out of the grass, six rushed forward and primed satchel charges at the base of the fence. The other seven took cover on the other side of the berm and watched for more signs of movement and lights.

Six more ran through the grass toward them, their rifles up and ready to fight, stealth was no longer needed now they needed speed. An alarm blared as the central security office realized someone had disabled their sensor masts. _ “Right on time. Everyone go loud!”_

Yvonne laid prone behind the berm with the other commandos, Nik covered her as the satchel charges went off and blasted the fence to pieces, and the pressure wave rolled over and deafened her. Debris fell down around them and she locked up, paralyzed in fear. Nikolai stood and swung his laser rifle around to fire over the berm, holding the weapon steady before releasing a lethal stream of invisible light somewhere downrange. She turned and looked up, he was yelling something at her, a moment passed before she was pulled to her feet. The ringing in her ears stopped and was surrounded by the crack of gun fire around her, “We have to move Yvonne! Keep up!”

One of the squaddies pushed the body of the gunner out of the Pintel and fired its machine gun at the approaching vehicles, she could feel the air around her and saw tracers streak out across the night sky. Illumination rounds were fired from a mortar nearby, the base lit by a pale white light as vehicles and men began stirring to deal with the intruders.

The three squads moved constantly firing at their attackers in single fire with both suppressed rifles and their lasers whose barrels steamed. Yvonne could see the orange targeting strobes through her glasses as the commandos held the trigger before releasing it and sending the laser downrange into human flesh and metal. Taken by surprise the FedCom troops were unable to achieve a solid defense but began to rally and solidify their positions forcing the commando assault to slow.

Blue squad was pinned down in a small block structure by a pill box where a light machine from the 2nd Jump was firing upon them. Every member of the squad had been hit in the vest, by glancing shots, or shrapnel so far, even Yvonne was bleeding where shards of stone had cut her. Nik shouted, “Sergei deal with that gun,” the grenadier opened his launcher and fed a TBAM munition into it. He cleared the corner firing the Thermobaric grenade close enough to silence the gun.

“Status Orange Squad”, Yvonne heard something in russian in Nik’s earpiece which she couldn’t translate. She still had one hand on Nik’s armor strap the other holding her pistol watching his back.

“All Squads move to the Marten now! Striker and Toads incoming!”

The three independent squads moved throughout the base, taking cover behind trucks and mobile sheds crashing through buildings. Yvonne watched over her shoulder as two squads of Elementals in FedSuns colors crashed through and leaped over the buildings. Vehicles and other objects were crushed under their bulk or leaving heavy boot prints in the asphalt. She heard a volley of missiles being launched from the toads and heard screams of pain from Green Squad. Flechette darts whistled around her as the Striker indirectly fired LRMs at them arcing them over the base’s support buildings.

Nik took one in his right shoulder, she felt something hit her back but no penetration, she was close enough to him that her forearm also avoided harm. “Chert poberi! Chertov FedKrysa!” he stumbled, his rifle dropped from his hand, but was still held by the sling. He reached back with his left hand and pulled the dart out of his arm.

Half the squad was hit but still mobile,_ “Start the chopper Ivan!”_

However Red Squad had been mostly incapacitated by the attack and were unable to continue on. Nikolai slowed as he came upon the wounded men, “prodolzhay Kapitan, my ub’yem etikh zhab”

Yvonne was barely able to continue, even Captain Vasiliev was flagging after having run so far, they still kept moving. She heard a large explosion behind him as the Heavy Weapons squad gave the FedCom Toads hell, the remaining injured Blue Squad turned the corner to see the Marten’s blades coming up to speed with Orange squad positioned to provide cover fire for their extraction.

Yvonne almost tripped on the bodies of FedCom soldiers, most of whom were unarmored to reach the helipad, but she kept up. Without turning the Republic commandos tossed a thermate grenade into the Ferret’s cockpit and fell back. Another squad of Guards turned and were immediately engaged while Orange squad worked their way back to the deck of the Coast Guard Marten. The Chopper took off and gained elevation as the torn up Elementals attempted to launch their second volley of SRMs at the fleeing vehicle but they fell short.

As they wheeled around the island Yvonne saw the pier explode and the emergency lights of the Sea Skimmers and Blue Harvest snap on. Orange squad fully boarded the aircraft and closed the bay doors behind them sealing the Marten up while it veered SSW. The pilot kicked the narrow chopper into high gear and flew dangerously close to the water.

“What if they scramble fighters to shoot us down?” Nikolai had removed his armor and cut away the uniform near his injury pulling the sleeve off and exposing his upper arm while Vilen, the platoon medic, bandaged the injury.

“Nearest Air Base is 600 kilometers away, their best time was 20 minutes according to records. They will scramble the heavy stuff first and wait on the light stuff, we can disappear before they find us.”

Vilen checked her over, “Princess, you are very lucky.”
“I don’t feel lucky.” He removed her armor and showed her the dozen flechettes embedded in it.
“Trust me, you are lucky.”

Princess-Regent Yvonne Steiner-Davion went pale and felt like the world dropped out from under her. Vilen snapped his fingers as he watched it take effect

“She’s going into shock, grab a blanket and help me here.”

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Yvonne, Princess of Camelot IIII

05/27/3063 00:00 Location – Isle Azul, New Hebrides, New Avalon

The blue-green sea around Isle Azul was calm, storm season had passed and summer would soon be upon the sleepy island. The three moons were full as they danced across the starry night sky, gentle waves lapped along its wide white sand beaches. A black suited figure appeared out of the surf and removed the re-breather from his mouth, then another, and more cleared the ocean quietly dashing across the sands to the cover of the dunes.

“Zero Hour”

05/27/3063 01:11 Location – Villa Azul, New Hebrides, New Avalon

Princess-Regent Yvonne Steiner-Davion couldn’t sleep anymore, she was shaking, this place had become more a prison everyday, they were trying to break her will, she wasn’t even sure who they were anymore. The only people she saw were masked and showed up with guns and a script for her to read, or else. She resisted at first but they beat her until she did as they asked now it was just reflex.

Radio addresses to her loyal and loved Federation citizens that were concerned about her well-being assuring them that she would return when she was ready; that they were never far from her thoughts. That Bishop Sortek was doing what she asked of him, not a rogue general that had kidnapped her and imprisoned her on a remote island, that likely planned to murder her.

She couldn’t eat either, she eyed the plate of cold food from dinner but refused to touch it despite her hunger. She was sure they were drugging her, since she had stopped eating the food her thoughts had cleared but rapidly turned back to food; fancy parties at Castle Davion, exquisite state dinners, lunch meetings with important ministers, now all she wanted was something to quiet her growling stomach.

Six months of near isolation was taking its toll on her body and mind equally, her will was beginning to falter as it became clear just how little the universe cared for her. All of her friends had abandoned her. Why weren’t they pushing Bishop to release her? To be allowed to visit? Maybe they weren’t her friends at all, she had grown up with them, trusted them with her heart’s desires, and believed it to be true. Maybe they were just using her, like Katherine said they would.

When she got out…if she got out

The balcony and windows had been barred and shuttered with metal, the only sign of time was the clock that ticked relentlessly like a metronome. It’s constant click was slowly driving her mad, many times a day she walked up to it and almost broke it to quiet the noise. She could hear birds sometimes, but most had moved on with their migrations or were driven off by the sounds of construction around her. Her captors had taken all her books, stereo, everything but a bare chest of clothes, the gaudy colors of this resort’s walls mocked her in this now barren room.

Soon they would have to finish the job or move her to another location, she almost wanted them to finish it. All it would take is a moment of pain to free her from a lifetime of nightmares.

She heard a faint crash in the hallway but dismissed it, maybe her guards dropped something. However, she heard the lock turn and froze, whispering to herself, _“not again, I can’t take it anymore, please go away”
_
Three camouflaged, armored, and masked men holding pistols at the ready entered, their rifles hung forward from the slings. One moved with purpose toward the bathroom, he low kicked the door then entering with his pistol up. A fourth came behind them carrying a duffel bag but his rifle is strapped behind him.

Yvonne stood up, defiant. The three men in the room look at her through gray tinted goggles, “If you are going to shoot me at least let me see your face.”

The three men looked at each other apparently confused, the fourth returned to the room weapon down. The leader carrying the duffel takes his goggles and mask off, “We are here to rescue you Yvonne.”

Yvonne ran and embraced him almost knocking him over he only managed to stay up by crashing into the wall behind him,_ “Nik you came back.”_

“I said I would, Katherine will be arriving at the Zenith point”, he checked his chronometer over Yvonne’s shoulder, “in four hours, give or take thirty minutes.”

“Really!?” Nik covered her mouth and she quieted down

Yvonne let go and Nikolai handed the bag to her, “Really, but let’s get off this island alive first. I need you to change.” She hesitated looking at the rescue team for a long moment, Nik made a hurry up motion, but she looks at them again, understanding finally developed in the Captain’s head, “Gentlemen we have some FedCom traitors to deal with, let’s give the lady some space.”

Nikolai’s squad left the room and she opened the bag on the bed it was filled with gray combat boots, camouflage uniform, flash goggles, head cover, Ablative/Flak vest with a knife on it, some TRG rations, first aid kit, and a pair of canteens. She ripped open the rations and chowed down on the nutty and sweet snack bars inside, it was the best thing she had ever tasted. Yvonne stripped and dressed taking a moment to breath and collect herself.

She exited her prison into the simple corridor eating a cracker pack from the rations, she was still so hungry but this made it a little better. One of the commandos adjusted her vest and web gear tightening it in the right places so it wouldn’t shift and impede her movement.
“Yvonne, are you ready to go? If not tell us right now. We can bring the way out to you but it will get messier.”
“I’m fine Captain, I can walk.”
“Good, do as I say and stick close, if everything goes according to plan this should be an easy extraction.”
“When does anything ever go according to plan?”
“Princess, I always try for the best and plan for the worse. If we run into more trouble than we can handle take this.”
Nikolai removed his drop leg holster containing a L110 Semi-Auto pistol and magazine carrier handing them to Yvonne who attempted to strap them onto her own legs but not to Nikolai’s satisfaction. He knelt down, adjusting and tightened them which drew looks from the squad, and “The Look” from Yvonne. “Don’t you have more important things to be doing?”

They turned away and Nikolai was satisfied having confirmed with Yvonne that the rig was comfortable and secure. He ordered the squad to form up and move on, his rifle at the ready. Yvonne stayed right on his back, one hand on his armor’s carry straps as they moved in the center of the formation. She tried to stay clear of the FedArms M42B Carbine that occupied that space as well having been taken from the fallen jump infantry after the commandos dealt with them. She didn’t know how many guards had been staying in the house but there were no bodies, just dark pools that she saw in the red tinted lights attached to the commando’s rifles.

As they slowly walked through the manor Yvonne secretly seethed. If Tancred Sandoval had any balls he would have ordered the DMI’s Rabid Foxes or one of MIIO’s Covert Ops teams to bust her out and eliminate Bishop Sortek. Instead he was off world supporting the Capellan and Draconis Marches in their unsanctioned wars against the Combine and Confederation. That’s what she gets for trusting Victor’s friends rather than Katherine’s agents, she at least got the job done. I mean DOPPLEGANGER; who thought that was a good idea?

Once the lead commandos neared the exit, one of them whispered to Nikolai “wait here, we’ll deal with the sentries” Three of the squad drew their pistols and screwed on the suppressors, their rifles were put over their shoulders and they held their narrow daggers in the other hand and crept out into the darkness.

They returned in five minutes, “we’re clear now”, the Captain nodded and signaled for them to continue. The squad regrouped with another in a palm grove and headed out toward the village.

02:07

Yvonne watched as Captain Vasiliev spoke with his subordinate squad leaders, she was happy to be outside again and the stars were beautiful tonight untainted by big city lights or the near constant storms that had whipped the island during her captivity. All she could make out was that they were going to have to move soon, the elimination of her guards would not go unnoticed much longer. The village below was dark, only the long pier showed any lights and those were from the NASDF auxiliary ship Blue Harvest and the pair of Sea Skimmers docked there.

A Karnov was on the Blue Harvest’s fantail and a Marten and Ferret were painted in Coast Guard colors on the ground of NASDF Air Station Cliff Key. She looked through a set of Rangefinder Binoculars and followed a PVC-141 on its patrol route near the barbed wire fence that formed the perimeter of Cliff Key but didn’t see any other lights or movement.

“It’s so dark, where is everyone?” she asked
Nikolai looked back at her, “Most of the houses are summer rental properties, so they weren’t occupied while you were here, Colonel Bareis asked the few full time inhabitants to leave for an extended military exercise. There is a reinforced company of troops mixed between the 2nd and 33rd on the ground and most of them are aboard the Blue Harvest or at the Air Station. Problem is…we need to go there.”

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Peter, the Lost Prince pt I

04/3063

An old man walks a twisting path that draws him deeper into the mountains, a satchel carries his supplies for the long travel as he cannot wear a backpack with his missing arm and is too proud to wear its replacement. His footsteps follow those of a younger man, more vital, just as conflicted when he walked this path last. The brilliant white sun beats heavily upon his tanned and scarred skin with only momentary respite from rock formations or the thorny plants that call this place home.

He has prepared for all the hazards that he barely survived last time he walked in this desolate place. Upon the path he finds bones long picked by scavengers, just like life not everyone that sought out their destination would make it there but they were honored to have walked it. He gathered the remains and piled rocks upon them as a cairn, many such monuments lined the path he walked, a constant reminder of his own mortality which drew closer by the day. So many people he had known had already succumb before their time falling short of what the aspired to become.

As he progressed the path become more difficult rockier, narrower, and steeper the wind howled seeking to throw him into the vast chasm that lie beside him but he persevered, his boots scraped across the sharp tan stones his left hand steadied him. This was not a path that an old man should walk and return from yet his fate lie at the other end and he mustered the stamina to press forward aware of the pitfalls that lie in the road this time. Suffering from the great trials he walked through the final passage, it was dark and fearful, the wind outside howled and filled the chamber with wicked screeches and howls. The path grew darker, more difficult to follow as it cut a serpentine passage through the dark and damp stones.

Soon he found the light, no longer being force to follow the pale illumination of his lantern. He walked out and saw a verdant paradise, hearing birdsong, the bleating of sheep, and the steady calm sound of the waterfall that provided all the moisture that the valley required. The path eased, a well-trodden gently sloping ribbon of gravel and small stones that he followed. He passed through a strand of bamboo and a grove of hardy nut and fruit trees that overflowed with nature’s bounty grabbing an apricot from its branches.

Here the weather was steady, partly cloudy, and cooler than the path he traveled before, the tops of mountains lost in the mist. The man grabbed a handful of berries from a bush by the roadside, their flavor was sweet just as he remembered. Stopping by a stone basin he worked the pump handle with his left hand, cool clean water flowed out, and he dunked his empty canteen into it and drank greedily, relieved that his journey was nearing its end.

As he drew closer to the other side of the valley he noticed people, some he recognized many more were new, all were here for the same reason. A village of hovels stood at the base of a stone ridge visible throughout the small valley, the stone had been carved like that of Terra’s Cappadocia that he had witnessed long ago, a rare moment of awe in his impressive life. He walked forward with renewed vigor asking the people of the village for a name, “Peter”, none knew the man he spoke of or refused to answer.

Discouraged after a long quest he walked up the narrow steps and turned, he knew the way and his body followed his mind. At the end of his travel he arrived at a cell cut into the stone where an old man sat watching out the window. Unwilling to disturb him the man walked and took a seat on the rough-hewn bench placing his bag at his side, grateful for the break.

The older man paused and turned, he was wizened man his arms and legs were lean but gnarled, his garb was simple robes of coarse fabric hand-sewn and durable, his sandals were hanging by the door. The younger man spoke first, “Brother Giles”, but was interrupted, “Brother Kell, have you finally decided to join us?”

Grand Duke Morgan Kell paused, he could but he felt there was a more pressing need for him to remain. His heirs were not yet ready, Phelan still needed structure, Caitlin needed more time to grow into her position, he couldn’t stay.

_“No Abbot, I am looking for Peter Steiner-Davion”
“What will you do when you find him?”

“The Lyran Commonwealth needs an Archon”
“Does it not have one, Duke Kell?”

“It needs a new one!”
“Does it now, why?”

“Damn you Giles! Katherine killed Salome and Melissa”_, he paused again, _“She took my arm and almost killed me too”
“Are you not a Soldier Morgan? A soldier must always be willing to lay down his life if need be, you should always approach War with Peace.”

“Giles! Peter needs to fulfill his duty, he is the only one with a better claim now that Victor and Arthur are dead.”
“Yet he refused to stand up and fight for it. Brother Peter never wanted to be Archon-Prince, he walks his own path now as we all must”

“Where is he? I have to speak with him, I need his help.”

“I do not know where he is, he left St Marinus a small fortune, enough for my successor to continue all that I have done here when I pass from this life. I am afraid I haven’t seen or heard anything from him in three years.”_

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Yvonne, Princess of Camelot III

02/19/3063 21:19 Location – Isle Azul, New Hebrides

“Ah Nikolai how did you end up in this situation?”, he placed another cam into a crack in the wet stone, “Dmitri is surely laughing his head off in hell knowing”, three meters, “you are climbing a sea cliff,” another three meters, “during a cyclone”, three meters more slipping twice, “to save a Davion princess”, five meters more, “guarded by an elite jump company”_, he pushed forward nearly there, “unarmed.”_

Clearing the edge he flattened out taking a moment to catch his breath, coughing when the rain went down his throat. Taking a moment to unharness and position the climbing rope for rapid rappelling if that became necessary, afterwards stashing his climbing gear and wet-suit in a waterproof bag then placing them within a nearby bush. Then he donned his Sneak Suit over his under-layer and powered up his multi-spectral optics. Taking a moment to look around and verify that everything was working creeping through the dark palms whipping in the wind.

The Villa belonged to Wilson Lycomb, an executive of Lycomb-Davion IntroTech, Nikolai Vasiliev didn’t know whether or not Mr Lycomb was aware that it now held Princess-Regent Yvonne Steiner-Davion but it didn’t matter. He climbed a small shed near the gardens crouching then zoomed in and saw two squads of the 2nd Necedah Jump Infantry on patrol. They clearly hadn’t brought proper MilSpec foul weather gear with them, instead the reflective stripes on their civilian gear marked them in his goggles. There was a whole company on this island but his intelligence had been correct that the majority of them were located near the port village. There was probably only a platoon at the villa itself, after all their captive couldn’t run anywhere.

Nikolai used the landscaping to avoid the patrols which were moving around in pairs and reduce his exposure time to the surveillance systems, visible because they were recent additions and didn’t fit with the villa’s Neo-Revival architecture. The Cheka operative stuck to the shadows avoiding the pools of light emitted from the mobile light towers and settled beneath an illuminated window where a towel hung out on a balcony.

Princess-Regent Yvonne Steiner-Davion sat on a chair surrounded by piles of books wearing a red top and grey capri pants. She had screeched and whined long enough that her captors had bought her whatever she wanted to keep her quiet and she figured she might as well try to complete her studies. The island had its own power generator so there was no threat that the Class 3 Cyclone howling outside would cut off her reading light or air conditioning. She had just finished reading the biography of Reynard Davion and was beginning to work on Reunification War Historicals when she heard a tap at the window. “Shut up! stupid storm”

The tap occurred again, and again in a rhythmic pattern, eventually she got up and looked out the window. There was a figure beneath it that she recognized, she opened the window and the sopping wet man cleared the window frame. Yvonne kissed him, Nikolai paused for a moment, that was unexpected but not unwelcome they had already gone way further than that.

She was about to speak but he put his finger to her lips and whispered directly into her ear, “Yvonne, can you put some music on?” Confused for a several moments while she worked her way through possible scenarios she nevertheless did as asked playing popular music in the FedSuns from the room’s speakers. Nik adjusted the volume and went into the bathroom, it was an elegant room the walls a light pink with a very large bathtub and glass shower stall, Yvonne followed confused.

His sneak suit was still wet and dripped rainwater onto the white floor tiles and he pulled the mask off placing it in the sink, then adjusted his hair and she got really close.
“I’m happy you’re still alive Yvonne, but we have to speak quietly, if I was your captor I would have an audio recorder somewhere in the room, that’s why I wanted you to turn the music on.”
“Nikolai you found me. How are we getting out of this?”
“I don’t know; your sister is on her way, she already has a force near Tikonov but she can’t launch an invasion without cause. ”
“A Ferret should be coming in tomorrow and you know I can pilot it, we can get off this island you can take me to her.”

“I know you can but I can’t get you off-world. Marshal Sortek has everything locked down, I only managed to sneak in via a refrigerated meat container.”
“Well if you can’t get me off world. What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to smuggle a message back to Katherine, I can’t send it back via the New Avalon HPG. If you were in immediate danger I would have busted you out but the whole Guards Brigade is on planet. You are safer here than free unfortunately. Especially since Bishop has been launching a very slick campaign trashing you and your sister trying to convince people that Conrad or George might be a better choice than either of you for First Prince.”

Yvonne’s eyes went wide, “The Whole Brigade? That’s nearly sixty regiments plus the Militia.”
“I think the Militia will be loyal to you if they knew what was going on, the Guards too but they don’t know everything that has happened. If they don’t however, three other Crucis militias and the 1st Armored Cavalry are already mobilizing since we convinced them that something was wrong. The Admiralty is with us as well. They are already positioning themselves to negate George and James if they try to support Bishop.”

“Where’s Ardan or Jackson? Why haven’t they done anything yet?”
“Ardan is still in the Capellan March overseeing the end of the St Ives conflict on behalf of the Star League. He has no reason to distrust Bishop and still thinks you are taking time off to deal with Arthur’s death. I don’t know where Jackson is, he apparently hasn’t made any public appearances in the past few weeks.”

Yvonne looked concerned, “Do you think Bishop killed him?”
“I don’t think so, Jackson is a longtime friend and General of the Armies but then again Bishop isn’t acting like himself. I’ve poured over the scuttlebutt and archival videos I picked up the last time you had me spy on him again. I just can’t figure out who might be influencing him or to what end, he has to be compromised in some way.”
“Why would someone do that?”

“I think someone is trying to collapse the Federated Suns, the Black Dragons are already sabotaging the Combine, the Confederation is a weak state barely able to overcome a breakaway province, the League is on the rise if they can get over their many internal problems. The only state that is still hanging on is the Alliance and they still have the clans on their borders. There were plenty of opponents to the Federated Commonwealth, people who opposed your father’s marriage. You know that, we used them to weaken Bishop’s power base and remove potential enemies from the field before they turned on you.”
“Could it be Tancred?”

“I don’t think so, this conspiracy is far deeper and more expertly executed than anything he is capable of. We both know he’s no Quintus Allard, that is why I’m here after all. Although maybe…it doesn’t make sense though, the moves are all wrong. Arthur wouldn’t have been killed if he wanted to be First Prince, your brother and him were so close, he would have been on the shortlist to be his Champion.

He would have tried to convince Arthur to get you to marry him, then once that happened, killed him. His dad too, he’s not the most stable of men but he treated your brother like a son. Even with all his hatred for the Combine he wouldn’t have used Arthur as a pawn like that, he could have come up with any number of reasons to attack the Combine.”
“I’m really scared Nikolai, I want to leave, I don’t want to be the Regent, I don’t even want to live on New Avalon anymore. I’ve spent my whole life here but it feels like a changed place. Why is this happening to me?”
Nikolai had spent years cultivating agents and spent more than a few months as a prisoner but it was something else when it was a friend that was breaking down under the strain, “I understand Yvonne. You know I’m doing everything I can, but you have to hang in there. I’ll be back and Katherine is on her way. You are not alone or forgotten, you will get out.”

Nikolai spent a few more hours with her before heading out and re-boarding his mini-sub clearing out the climbing cams on the way down. He smuggled himself to Argyle and then boarded a Loki vessel to transit back to Tikonov and delivered it to the Loki commander there personally before heading back out into the Outback.

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Katherine, Dawn of the Second Star League IV

01/19 09:27 Location – Parliament, Atreus, Free Worlds League

The League Parliament Building is a massive structure, it’s Neo-Gothic brightly polished chrome pillars were covered in purple eagle banners. All the Representatives were in town for the annual session and Atreus was bright and busy with the Affairs of State. Two days ago Thomas “Marik” had received an urgent message from his “daughter” Isis currently staying on Luthien, officially as a representative. Unofficially she had spent such a long time away from home that she didn’t wish to return after Sun-Tzu Liao tried to kill her and sent her away, a move that Thomas found reprehensible despite the fact that the young woman wasn’t really his daughter. Nevertheless he had spent the past two days digesting it and figuring out what he should do. The League had a long tradition of not getting involved in other nation-states business but some things needed to change in this new world.

As he walked along the hallways leading to the Hall of Lords itself, he could just order what he wanted but chose this time to make a statement. He wanted to rally all the League together in order to ensure the Second Star League wasn’t just paper, the Free Worlds League had grown too powerful to be content with dealing with itself.

_“Fellow Citizens of the Free Worlds League, I come bearing grave news this day. I have received a message from my daughter on Luthien informing me that Clan Ghost Bear has launched a large and fearsome strike against the Draconis Combine.

My daughter fears that they will not stop and will instead restart the invasion and she is afraid they will take Luthien either by force of arms or orbital bombardment. At the same time the military adventurists of the Federated Commonwealth have attacked the other side of the Combine. She has implored me personally for aid and I am willing to offer it.”_

Prince Kirc Cameron-Jones shouts out, _“What should we care for the Dragon? You would have us send our military to fight their wars, surely you are mad.” Other MPs nod and mumble in agreement

“You know that I may deploy the FWLM at my pleasure Duke Cameron-Jones. What I really want is to know how deep Parliament’s commitment to the Whitting Accords is? If our faith in this Second Star League is so weak as to allow a member to fall under a clan then it has failed its purpose.

You may not believe in it but I do. I strongly believe that the Free Worlds League must step up in order to be recognized as the power we truly are. No longer shall we face ridicule from the other Successor States over our divisions we must look to our strengths.

When the Clans come to Atreus or Tamarind or Regulus, who shall we call upon to aid us? The Capellans? The Canopians? The Commonwealth? There is no doubt that the Clans have designs beyond Terra, they seek to enslave the whole of the Inner Sphere.

I shudder to think of Clan Warriors using the Lyran or Combine’s war machines, factories, and resources to give them the strength they need to accomplish this goal. We saw what they did to the DCMS and AFFC in the initial wave, these were the best armies in the Inner Sphere. The FWLM hasn’t fought a real war in a generation. We won’t stand a chance against such a juggernaut alone.

Then there is the chance that others come to reinforce them? You have all seen the intelligence reports of the Clan’s strength, if they see weakness the whole of them will strike anew Truce of Tukayyid or Great Refusal be damned. The only thing that holds them back now is their own sense of honor but honor is such a fickle thing.

We must strike them now! We sell the Draconis Combine weapons, time for us to have courage enough to put men behind them. If we do not then our sons and daughters should be afraid of the Clans for we have failed them.”_

02/15/3062 Location – Hanger 517, New Glasgow Military Reservation, Skye

Archon Katherine Steiner had seen the press reports from Atreus and Luthien apparently the Dragon stirred the Bears up into a frenzy and Duke Sandoval started a fight with the Draconis Combine. Her own task force was nearing assembly, all 15 Regiments of the Jaeger Brigade, 5th, 6th, and 7th Donegal Guards, 3rd Royal Guards, and another three regiments of mercenaries from Galatea and Outreach were beginning their trek across the Chaos March. The Jaegers were already ahead in the Chaos March, she had sent them forward with the Yggdrasil and its escorts to Tikonov to establish supply depots there in the event this turned into a longer war. Thus far she was impressed with the tenacity of the new officers, they would serve her LAAF well in the future, time for their true baptism in fire. This was the Jaegers first major operation and she hoped they would work together nicely with the four Guards RCTs.

She was ecstatic that Yvonne was still alive and unharmed as of four days ago; she knew sending Nikolai there would pay off. Bishop Sortek had isolated her in the middle of the New Hebrides, very clever such a position would be difficult to find and potentially assault. Her LIC operatives already in play were spreading propaganda and provoking demonstrations that Yvonne and the Privy Council oust Bishop though it was very difficult for anyone not a First Prince to dismiss a Prince’s Champion, in fact it was unheard of another byzantine mess of the FedSuns Succession Law. The good news was that her influence agents had the Admiralty on her side, sometimes all it took is a budget line to sway someone.

Nikolai was working his magic in the periphery to give her another force to fight the Davion Guards Brigade. She wasn’t too picky when it came to that they were mostly support for the LAAF units. No matter how many forces she had the Guards are the crack elite of the AFFC and they’d be on their home turf. They knew almost every aspect of the New Avalon Self-Defense Force and knew this was going to be one hell of a fight if they all stayed loyal to their commander.

Katherine had spent a lot of time thinking lately, this was going to be a dangerous mission, she would fight and might die. Even though it was for her sister she still second-guessed herself.

As she was walking along the tarmac to the hanger in front of her one of her aides ran towards her with a noteputer.

_“Archon, message from Commanding General Photon Brett-Marik”

“Play it”

“Archon Steiner, I am informing you that we are sending a large task force of FWLM Warships and Jumpships through your territory. We are here to stop the Ghost Bears and not cause problems. The FWLM and DCMS would both appreciate any aid you might be able to offer.”

“Response – You may utilize the recharging stations at no cost but I regrettable cannot provide any other aid to you at this time. I shall of course consider the Coordinator’s requests once the current situation has passed as a good member of The Star League. End Response

Sophie please inform Admiral Moretti that a large Marik force is coming through and I want them carefully escorted through Alliance Space. Additionally inform Marshal Regis that CRYSTAL CHAPEL is approved and may launch immediately.”

“Right away Archon”_

She never through she’d see the day that the Free Worlds League did anything good for the Inner Sphere. Not that she though saving the Dragon was a good thing.

She passed the Union-X “Avalanche” that was to be her ride to New Avalon, it was serial number 003, the Shipil Yards here rushed to fulfill demands from the Jaeger regiments for a better combined arms transport. This would be its first full combat operation but she trusted the Lyran Military-Industrial Complex to deliver results and they had never failed her yet. Walking into the reinforced hanger she saw the fruits of their effort, eight mechs stood ready painted in White and Blue marked with a distinctive crest of a White Wolf howling against Dark Blue Background.

An Uziel Prime (2 PPC, TAG, 2 SSRM2), 2 Hollander IIs (40t, GR, 3 ERML), 2 Falconers, a Cobra II (45t 6/9, CASE, 2 LRM15, 2 ERML), Thanatos 5S (ERLL, LRM15, 2 ERML, MPL, GECM), and Barghest 2T. Within the same hanger were a pair of Rapier 300s and Lightning G15s and 20 suits of Fenrir Mark II Armor (10 points of armor, improved sensors, still heavy payload) as well as their operators.

The hanger door was secured by one of the battle armor operators, a smallish darker skinned man that would not be out of place in any Lyran Armor company. Another that fit right in with the Skye Islanders came forward,_ “The White Wolves of Tamar await your command, Star Captain”_

Katherine smiled remembering something about Wolves using Lyran war machines to take over the Inner Sphere in Captain-General Marik’s speech to parliament. The Wolves were on the hunt and they would take over the Inner Sphere one Successor State at a time.

Starting with New Avalon.

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Yvonne, Princess of Camelot II

12/10/3062

The Black Dragon Society bomb claimed responsibility for the bombing but questions still remained and dark rumors spread. There was no body, the explosion was small, the holovid cameras had cut out frames before the explosion completed. There were too many unknowns but nevertheless Duke Sandoval swore swift and terrible retribution for the attack. Yvonne had sent both Tancred and Nikolai out to make sure he didn’t do anything rash but it left her with few even unreliable allies on New Avalon.

Yvonne was grateful that her sister had sent Nikolai as a seed for her own personal network. In the few years she had worked with him they managed to build a network of “fellow travelers” and engaged in an influence operation to rally the slumbering Warrior Cabals in the Outback. Those idiot noblemen gladly martyred themselves to make Marshal Bishop Sortek look like a bastard.

It was a double win, he looked like every bit a warmonger but still dealt with a possible future problem especially since Battlemech production had increased dramatically over the past thirty years. After all it was the Davion Brigade of Guards (currently commanded by Bishop) that killed the Cabals the last time they made themselves known nearly a hundred years and four First Princes ago.

20:17 Princess-Regent’s Office

Yvonne was watching the rising moon after a long day of work, to many things needed to be done and even though she had once been a heavy sleeper there was scant time for sleeping in. She normally would have retired to her apartments by now but taken to long a lunch break. While the Ministries, whose lights were rarely off, were responsible for all the day to day she still needed to provide guidance to them. A loud knock on the door broke her out of her concentration, no one should be here right now.

“Who is it?”

The very large door opened to reveal Prince’s Champion Marshal Sortek in his Garrison Uniform followed by a squad of infantry.

_“What is the meaning of this Marshal Sortek?”
_
“Princess, I would apologize but I believe it is the right thing to do. Yvonne Melissa Steiner-Davion, you are under arrest for conspiring with Enemies of the State. If you go quietly, we will allow you to remain in Castle Davion under guard, for your own protection of course.”

“What! How dare you?” Yvonne stood up from her chair,_ “I am the Princess-Regent of the Federated Commonwealth a title I did not seek but was given to me, one that I would be eager to shed in fact, and you are supposed to be my Champion.”

“I am not your Champion Princess, I would have been your brother Arthur’s but I am Victor’s Champion and a Champion for the people of the Federated Suns. As such I believe you are far too close to the usurper Katherine Steiner and have been compromised by her malevolence.”

“What proof do you have of my sister’s supposed malevolence? The Lyran Alliance is prosperous and strong while the Federated Suns wastes its strength on War while the Outback starves. It would be lucky to have her as a Ruler, I am lucky to have her as a sister. You may cover your actions with alleged justice but this is nothing more than a coup.”

“Very well Princess, off to the New Hebrides for you then”

“It shall be a short vacation then. This will not end well for you Marshal Sortek”

“Lieutenant help the prisoner pack, she won’t be back in Castle Davion for a long time”_

12/12/3062 04:39 27km NNW of Villa Azur, New Hebrides

Yvonne Steiner-Davion had spent the past two days on the Rapier NASDF Bonaparte, fitting considering she was currently en route to her own exile. Officially her absence was the result of the “protective measures” put in place to ensure that she was safe. Bishop Sortek may be a fool but he didn’t have proof for his accusations or he would have made them public. He just wanted to rule like Victor had let him before he made her Regent.

With Arthur now gone and her allies away attempting to prevent the Draconis March from starting a war there was never a better time for a coup. She only wondered what he told Jackson or how long he would keep her in exile until she committed “suicide”, grief-stricken at the loss of her brothers and estrangement from her beloved sister. He may be a bloody bastard but she didn’t think he was that bloodthirsty. Regardless she was going to have to do something, Katherine would come but she needed to make sure it was sooner rather than later.

Her quarters were spartan, formerly those of the third officer mainly because that was the smallest independent room there was. They hadn’t handcuffed her during this journey the door was locked and guarded by a squad of unarmed but highly trained 2nd Necedah Jump Infantry. She couldn’t overpower them having received only the barest of martial skills training. Supposedly the ship was traveling in radio silence so she couldn’t make contact with Jackson or any of her friends even if she did somehow sneak out, no she would have to wait for the right opportunity.

12/17/3062 Location – Skye, Lyran Alliance

Archon Katherine Steiner landed at the Inverness Military Starport in the Claymore LAS Blue Molly 7, the assault dropship was a pleasant change of pace from her Monarch. It was sleek and deadly something she was increasingly trying to become and make her LAAF forces into.

She was on Skye because something was going on in the Draconis Combine but the Coordinator refused to speak of it. Expecting trouble she posted the Ygg and her escorts to Port Moseby, capable of responding to a situation within two weeks. Even the LIC lacked answers, the Combine was a difficult place to operate and while her intelligence service could best anyone given time the ISF and O5P were equally capable when they worked together.

Being on Skye also put her closer to New Avalon, while her sister insisted she was all right after the death of their brother Arthur she hadn’t spoken to her in more than a week despite sending many messages. Normally Yvonne would respond within a day or two, something was wrong she just didn’t know what. To that end she sent messages to Jackson Davion, as well as Ardan and Bishop Sortek, they could not deny that she speak to her sister even if it was through proper diplomatic channels.

Returning to the Villa where she was staying she checked her inbound messages on the house’s console. Jackson replied that her sister was fine just under protective measures for her safety. Ardan had not seen her of late but sent his condolences for the loss of Arthur.

Bishop on the other hand said that Yvonne refused to speak with her. Suddenly her pattern recognition kicked in, the secret to keeping an operation undercover is to make sure everyone is on the same page. Yvonne would never refuse to speak with her and with Bishop Sortek as Prince’s Champion he was the second in charge of the Federated Commonwealth. That meant that he had done something to her.

She sent a message to her General of the Armies Maria Esteban on Tharkad

“Green Light FALSE DAWN”

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