Soverzene, Rubigen Prefecture
Alshain Military District, Draconis Combine
9 September 3050
Any time now. Any time ….
Loremaster Laurie Tseng watched her radar display carefully. The garish, green light—the only illumination in her nearly powered-down BattleMech—threw harsh angles on her sweat-slicked face behind the neurohelmet face-screen. Despite her superb physicality, a smattering of wrinkles wove around the corner of her intent eyes and pursed lips, showcasing unusual age for a Clan warrior.
Her fingers fluttered as though wishing to grab joysticks and search for targets of their own volition. Her lips twitched.
Two decades of fighting, and now I engage in the most important battle of my command as all my Night Howlers take this world from these stravag Combine warriors. And yet I would spoil the trap? As she had done ever since her Trial of Position on Arcadia all those years ago, she schooled her impatience. The fight was almost here, the trap almost sprung.
Pyrotechnic flashes burst in the distance, painting the night in the whites and reds of combat, throwing strange shadows among massive tree trunks. While the sound was muffled to extinction in her hermetically sealed cockpit, the vibrations of ever closer explosions worked their way up from the forest floor, through her Kodiak and into her seat.
“Galaxy Commander,” a voice sparked in her ear. “This is Star Captain Vuk. My aerospace fighters have finished forcing the Second Alshain Regulars into the forest. The 304th Assault Cluster is harrying their retreat, keeping their attention. The trap is primed, quiaff?”
She clenched her jaw to open a return channel. “Aff, Star Captain. If this conquest is worthy of inclusion in The Remembrance, there may yet be a line for your contributions.”
There was no response, nor was any expected. Duty performed with excellence, as all her Night Howlers exemplified.
She watched the darts on her radar cascade closer, their line of retreat haphazard after losing almost twenty percent of their fighting strength. She gauged the moment, right hand cradling a joystick, left poised above the power sequence. The stench of too many days in the cockpit filled her nostrils as adrenaline slowly spiked in anticipation. Breathing increased as her body ramped up to the coming fight.
The lead Draconis Combine BattleMech—a light machine they called a Panther—crossed the invisible line she had drawn across the radar screen. Her left hand flashed through the power-up sequence and her Spirit Bear surged to life with joy. The thrum of the awakened fusion reactor unleashed its energy to her fingertips, and euphoria poured dopamine into her system until her skin tingled.
As her ’Mech awakened, she brought the targeting reticule into line, and it flashed gold … past the Panther to the mammoth tree trunk where she had carefully cut away large chunks earlier in the day. She lit off her massive ultra autocannon, and its stream of depleted-uranium slugs tore into the trunk, tearing away the last of its structural integrity. With a horrendous snap that echoed despite the awful drone of the autocannon, the tree began to topple then gained speed as it neared the ground. The mammoth evergreen drove down atop the Panther’s head as though a hammer to a nail, instantly crushing the cockpit and driving most of the thirty-five-ton hulk into the rich loam.
At the spectacular signal—which would also push the heavier BattleMechs of the Second farther into her trap—her 332nd Assault Cluster awakened across a curving arc more than a kilometer long. Savage lights tore into the enemy like bear claws, stunning an already wearied foe.
Her lips twitched towards a rare smile as she pushed the throttle forward, Spirit Bear taking a massive step, targeting the next BattleMech through the trees.
This planet is mine.
KODIAK “SPIRIT BEAR”
Sensing a shift in the balance of power among the Clans following the Dragoon Compromise of 3000, Clan Ghost Bear commissioned the Kodiak. While it would not go to the extremes of the Mandrill or Thunder Stallion, the Kodiak was nevertheless intended to be a totem ’Mech, showcasing the power of the Ghost Bear to dominate its enemies. This is exemplified in its heavy armor and massive array of eight extended-range medium lasers, making it a perfect defensive unit to hold the center of any line. Its surprising ability to hit bursts of sixty-four kilometers an hour while bringing to bear the massive power of an ultra-class autocannon 20 allows the Kodiak to surprise opponents with a powerful offensive attack.
One of the oldest Ghost Bear warriors in frontline duty, Laurie Tseng is a perfect fit for her Spirit Bear: ever cautious and methodical, but striking unexpectedly with ghost bear–like ferocity. She earned a single kill in her initial Trial of Position and slowly climbed the ladder of leadership within Clan Ghost Bear, despite numerous ristar warriors challenging her path. Whether navigating the political machinations of a Clan Council or developing the strategy required for a large-scale planetary invasion, her slow-but-steady mindset raised her to the level of Loremaster and commander of Beta Galaxy.
Despite some still openly questioning her battlefield acumen, there is no doubt Loremaster Tseng and her Spirit Bear will make a pivotal mark in Ghost Bear history for years to come.
Written by Randall Neil Bills