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The Jarnfolk's Ragnarok: Isengrim Origins


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#1 Mech The Dane

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 09:43 AM

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Deep Periphery, JarnFolk Cluster, Planet Hofn
September 2985


The ancient structure groaned as the seasonal ormhrithr battered against its sturdy walls. The wailing warning sirens, so clear only minutes ago, were mute beneath the cry of the Dragon-Storm.

Arnulf Torgrimson steadied himself. The ormhithr, or Dragon-storms, were nothing new to the inhabitants of Hofn. To an outsider it might seem as though they took an almost casual approach to these 300kph storms, but they'd be sorely mistaken. Every Hofnarr was keenly aware of the easy terror these storms were capable of. Everyone understood that the Frost-Giants of old were deep within the bones of this world and that they wandered at the heart of the Dragon-Storms urging them on to rip of the flesh of living.

Arnulf was still dripping with melted sleet and hail. He'd been out on his sturdy knorr tending his herds of Hegomi who swarmed beneath the Serpent's Sea when he recognized the sea's eery calm. By the time he'd heard the warning klaxons echo across the water he was already rowing madly towards shore. When the sleek fog rolled over him he was sprinting towards his mostly subterranean homestead, known on Hofn as a Hlifa. When the skin-stripping bone crushing winds rammed into his Hlifa, Arnulf had barely secured the door behind him.

And so Arnulf Torgrimson steadied himself. Today had been close. But then it always was. Such was the risk of maintaining a deep-sea Hegomi herd. As Arnulf collected himself he noticed a fresh set of boot prints in the antechamber. He had a guest.

Arnulf took a moment to dry himself and then ventured deeper into his Hlifa towards his guest-hall. A guest during an ormhithr was a common occurrence on Hofn. The need for shelter outweighed any other social protocol and even mortal enemies were known to share a hearth during such a storm. The Aesir had taught them that against such elemental enemies as Giants, Trolls and Dragons that humanity always shared the same side.

Arnulf's homestead, however, was very remote. For a stranger to be close enough to use his homestead for cover in a dragon-strom was highly unusual.

As Arnulf approached his guest-hall he slowly pressed his hand against the hilt of his personal saex sheathed behind his back. While attacking a guest in his homestead would be a grave and dishonorable crime, Hofn was located in the Deep Periphery where one always had to be wary of unexpected strangers.

Arnulf saw a figure huddled before a red flickering fire and his tension eased somewhat. At least it didn't appear to be an ambush.

"Hail Guest! I hight Arnulf son of Torgrim, son of Grimdan founder of this Hlifa." Arnulf announced with his hands held open in the sign of hospitality.

His guest was draped in a ragged black cloak with a rain-drenched winter cap pulled snuggly gripping to his head. The flickering light danced shadows on his face as he turned towards his host. Arnulf couldn't tell if the deep lines the shadows danced in were wrinkles, scars or a trick of the light. The man's greying beard bristled as his voice boomed in response, "Well-met Arnulf son of Torgrim, son of Grimdane founder of this Hlifa." The stranger brought his hand up to his head in an informal salute," I hight Freyulfr son of Freybjorn. Thegn of the Raven's Throne and Deep-Seer of the Hofn Althing."

Stunned at his guests high rank and heritage Arnulf immediately dropped to one knee, even though no protocol actually demanded it. "My Thegn!"

Freyulfr rumbled a deep chuckle, "Rise, friend! You forget we are JarnFolk. There are no Star Lords to be bowed and pampered in the deep dark womb of the Periphery."

Arnulf nodded and returned to his feet, he decided to speak plainly, as was the way of his people. "A Thegn would not be here in the sea-wilds of Hofn unless he had an express purpose. What is yours, Thegn Freyulfr."

Freyulfr nodded approval. "A question well asked." He gestured towards the bench next to him. "Join me by the fire Torgrim's heir."

"The Abtakha who, as you know, maintain our Jarnskib Jumpship fleets to their extremely high level of technological excellence have grown very uneasy as of late. They fear their cousins beyond the Veil of the Protector are going to try something. They think that no one, not them not our distant kinsmen back in the Inner Sphere, will be safe. Their concerns demand our action."

Arnulf rubbed his head, "Everyone knows the wisdom of the Abtakha and no one doubts that their military prowess is unparalleled by anyone, except their cousins who exiled them so long ago. This is dire news indeed. But I don't understand what it has to do with me, Thegn."

Freyulfr's eyes seemed to twinkle as he reached into his cloak and carefully pulled out a velvet wrapped object gently resting it on the open bench between them. Arnulf reached for it than hesitated and looked to Freyulfr who encouraged him to continue.

Reverently Arnulf pulled back the velvet, Arnulf's breath sucked in with the sudden shock of what he had uncovered. There before him was one of the most beautifully designed slug-throwers he'd ever seen. Carefully handcrafted, as all JarnFolk weapons were, this one had clearly been designed by a master smith. Rune covered with a wolf head handle, dragon muzzle and raven firing mechanism it was true work of artistic brilliance. Arnulf dared not breath and quickly placed the velvet wrapping back over it.

Arnulf understood the significance of Freyulfr's silent request. He lightly placed his hand on velvet and bowed his head towards Freyulfr. "I pledge my service to you my Thegn. My will be your will, my hand be your hand, your goal be my goal. Under the One Eye I accept this honor until your mission complete or Valhalla takes me."

Freyulfr clapped his hands together, pleasure clearly visible on his face. "That is most welcome news my young Huskarl! Now for the details.."

"My Thegn" Arnulf interrupted Freyulfr, "I agree to this honor gladly. But I don't understand why you chose me?"

Freyulfr gave Arnulfr a serious glance that immediately softened. "Of course of course." He pointed towards the velvet obscured weapon." I don't give such a prize to all my Huskarls. I come here in payment of an honor debt I owed to your father. We served together in one of the Abtakha's Training Sibkos and then..", Freyulfr pasued, " let's just say I owed him."

Freyulfr gestured to the Hlifa all around him. "I know how your father died. I know he was ripped apart by one of your famous dragon-storms and I know his weapon was never recovered."He put a hand on Arnulf's shoulder, "I also know that without that weapon, the very essence of your family's honor, that you have almost no future." He shook his head grimly, " one of the worst fates a freeholder can suffer here. While I can never repay the honor-debt I own your father, I can make some good on it by honoring his son."

Arnulf struggled to contain his emotions. Even as the storm battled outside so too did a storm battle inside his soul. A sob or two escaped his lips before he regained control, taking comfort in Freyulfr's strong hand on his shoulder. So much had suddenly changed. From pauper to prince. From undesirable to the cream of the social crop. His honor restored, his family line would no longer have to end with him. It felt like his entire life had been restored.

Arnulf's voice was a quiet whisper, barely audible over the storm, "Anything. Anything you ask my Thegn."

Freyulfr sat back in his chair and looked deep into the fire. He took a long quiet moment than spoke, "My good eye can only see as deep as the four worlds we inhabit, but for us to be ready I must see more. I need to know what the Abtakha's kinsmen are preparing on their secret worlds." Freyulfr looked up and into Arnulf's eyes, "I need you to infiltrate them and learn their plans. I need you to go where I cannot see and find out what I must know."

Grimly Arnulf nodded. The price of his restoration was indeed steep. But he would have gladly paid it a hundred times over. "Your will is my will, Thegn."

Freyulfr smiled, "I know you won't let me down, Huskarl Arnulf."

Arnulf's eyes returned to the wrapped weapon, "When, my Thegn, will my mission to infiltrate the Clan homeworlds begin?"

Freyulfr leaned forward, "Immediately, my boy."

Freyulfr listened to whirring storm with-out the sturdy walls of Arnulfr's Hlifa. "Well, once this damned Dragon-Storm is over, anyways."

Edited by Mech The Dane, 06 November 2013 - 06:13 AM.


#2 Mech The Dane

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 05:50 AM

Deep Periphery Near Clan Space,

Onboard the Dropship Widow’s Retort

February 2988



Sweat stained Arnulf's brow as he nervously fidgeted with his weapon's holster. After three years of hard training on Alborg the Abtakha had finally given him a pass. The Abtakha believed he could now survive upwards of an entire minute in a hand to hand fight with a clan warrior. They beamed with pride at their accomplishment.

Arnulf furtively glanced behind his shoulder. He knew this was going to be it. He'd been riding in these old pirate refugee Jumpships for months. They skirted along the very edges of clan space, often making contact with various Dark Cast enclaves along their route. They pretended to be nothing more than refugee haulers, moving the dirty masses of some suddenly uninhabitable dirt-hole to the next barely habitable mud-hole. But their purpose was the movement of weapons and stolen goods from various pirate organizations. Arnulf knew this, and he knew the Clans knew it. Eventually one of their patrols would pick up the Dopship-freighter he was riding in. That was the plan at least.

Arnulf looked over this Dropship's, the Widow's Retort, flight plan for the hundredth time. After weeks of studying freighter reports he knew this rickety Dropship was going to be unloading supplies for a Dark Sect base. And if he knew it than the clan's most know it too.

The Dropship finished its final landing procedures and opened up its primary bay-doors. The smelly cramped sea of humanity that made up this ship's refugee cargo heaved towards the door like a violent wave. Even as they began crashing out into the waiting light screams of terror filled the entrance way. Waiting for them, and the crew we're Clan Elementals in full body armor. The refugees, docile from a life beneath the boots of others, willingly entered the holding pens that awaited them. The pirate crew, on the other hand, geared for a fight.

Four elementals leapt into the dropship bay and began pivoting their heads around searching for their prey. An errant laser shot blasted the metal floor a few feet away from one of the Elemental's armored feet. In a blur the Elemental was on top of the pirate who had taken the shot. Not bothering for finesse he simply crushed pirate beneath him. The man never even had a chance for a second shot, as his laser rifle fell uselessly to the ground.

The other three elementals had strung out in other directions, chasing or fighting the completely out-classed pirate crew. Meanwhile Arnulf stood up and faced the Elemental that had crushed the laser-rifle carrying pirate.

The Elemental immediately recognized Arnulf as a refugee and gave him one quick stern order. "Holding pens now."

Arnulf brought himself up remembering his training with the Abtakha and roared, "I will not willingly submit to captivity like an animal. I am Arnulf son of Torgrim and I challenge you to fair hand to hand combat." Arnulf jabbed his finger as the armored Elemental.

The Elemental paused for a few seconds, visibly shocked by Arnulf's outburst and then began a slow arrogant chuckle.

Arnulf felt his heart-racing, his entire body tensing, even as the Elemental just stood their laughing.

Finally the Elemental's laughing subsided and he spoke, "Honorable combat is for warriors, not Freebirth refugee scum like you. I see now I should not have debased myself by giving you the option to crawl into our pens. An animal too stupid to follow the herd is a liability we do not need."

Arnulf realized the Elemental meant to execute him while wearing his Battle Armor. This was not what the Abtakha had told Arnulf would happen. This was not part of the plan. This was not survivable.

Arnulf frantically dodged away from the Elemental, even as he calmly stepped in Arnulf's direction. Confidence oozed from the Elemental. Arnulf pulled his slug-thrower from his holster and let fly the weapon's thick powerful shots.

The Elemental, whose Battle Armor made him immune to almost all small arms fire, didn't even try to dodge the incoming bullets. Yet he showed genuine surprise when the bullets crashed into him. JarnFolk small arms were unlike any others in the Inner Sphere, their beautifully crafted weapons were also made to be more powerful than any similar weapon ever forged.

The Elemental looked at Arnulf, the shock on his armored face evident in his bodily reactions. Arnulf knew the Elemental had been bruised.

The Elemental leapt at Arnulf. Arnulf's quick dodge only barely saved him from being crushed. The Elemental slapped Arnulf's precious gun from his hand. It went sliding across the room. The Elemental than savagely swung at Arnulf.

Arnulf, nimbly dodged the Elementals armored claws, knowing full well a hit by any would kill him. He rolled to the side and punched the Elemental squarely where his kidney would be. Arnulf's hand broke against the armor.

The Elemental swung wildly at Arnulf, who momentarily stunned, only partially avoided the attack. Claws easily ripped through and down his chest and abdomen like a ppc through leather.

Despite the blood welling up beneath his shirt Arnulf stayed on his feet. He dodged another fatal strike by the Elemental than lunged punching the Elemental right in his face-plate with his his left hand. Arnulf felt the bones in his hand shatter and he barely had time to fall to his rear to avoid the next high-aimed blow.

Jumping back to his feet, hollering in anguish, Arnulf felt his teeth break in a final futile attack to bite the Elemental through his Battle Armor. Everything suddenly went black as Arnulf felt his head explode.

He wasn't sure how long he was out, it must have been brief though, for he opened his eyes to see the Elemental towering over him.

"I misjudged you, freebirth. A warrior's heart may yet lurk within you. I claim you as my bondsmen."

Arnulf wearily tried to nod, but instead passed out.

***




Arnulf had heard tales of a broken system. Where warriors were forced to succeed despite its' flaws. Where corrupt leaders strove to torment those they could and keep the rest down, especially freebirths. Arnulf heard these tales, but experienced none of them.

As a bondsmen of Clan Hell's Horses he was not mistreated or crushed under foot. As long as he did what was asked and worked well with others, he was left alone. His Bondholder, Star Commander Roshak Jewell, was reasonable and patient. It wasn't a breeze either though, it required hard labor and hard lessons. But Arnulf got out of it what he put into it.

The day came when he was released as a bondsman. Then another day came when he tested into the Warrior Cast. With great pride he was named an Elemental and placed within the 11th Mechanized Calvary Cluster of the Hell's Horses Touman.

Years passed and although Arnulf was no ristar he earned the respect and trust of his commanding officers. At the age of twenty-seven he was made Star Commander. At thirty-three Star Captain. He loved Clan Hell's Horses and his old life was nearly forgotten.


Kerensky Cluster, Planet Kirin, Classified Location

March 3001





"Star Captain!" One of Arnulf's Star Commander's voice crackled over the radio, " We have broken through their defenses and are in the facility."

"Good work!" Star Captain Arnulf's voice boomed back, "secure the facility and I will move my command Star in. Keep a look out for data cores. We need to know how much this rebel spy network really knew about us and the other clans, quiaff."

"Aff, sir"

Star Captain Arnulf's heavily armored Elemental, along with rest of his Command Star briskly made their way into the bandit facility. One of his Star Commanders was waiting for him at the entrance.

"Sir, you should take a look at this." The Star Commander handed him a data core," I glanced at it real quick to verify it had useful intel. I think, sir, that it is above my security clearance."

Star Captain Arnulf took it in his hands and walked over to one of the computer consoles. He connected the Data Core and started scanning the information. He realized he was reading the recording of a very recent Clan Council meeting. His heart skipped a beat when he read what the Khans were discussing. He quickly regained his composure and committed it to memory.

He handed the Data Core off to one of his ****, "Make sure the Khan gets this". Arnulf then went about his work dismantling the facility. As he went through the motions he knew everything had changed. He knew it was time for him to go home.

Edited by Mech The Dane, 06 November 2013 - 02:13 PM.


#3 Mech The Dane

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 06:24 AM

Deep Periphery, JarnFolk Cluster, Planet Hofn

August 3002



Frantic pounding woke Freyulfr from his slumber. Although no longer as spry as he had once been, he managed to get to the door of his chamber with some agility.

The heavy oak door inched open and Freyulfr saw a young Herald waiting impatiently. "What is it?" Freyulfr's tired voice spoke hoarsely.

The Herald immediately saluted. "My Thegn, Heimdall's Watch demands your presence as soon as possible." The Herald quickly looked around to insure privacy and leaned closer to the Thegn, in a hushed voice he continued, "An unidentified dropship is approaching Hofn. Heimdall's Watch has been tracking it but they don't know what it is. Raid, invasion or worse."

The Thegn promptly nodded. "I understand. Go along and tell them I will be there shortly." "Freyulfr didn't wait for the Herald to respond before slamming his door and scurrying off to get himself dressed.

Shield-Thegn Bjornlaf sat at his command chair deep within the Heimdall's Watch Hofn facility with a practiced calm. One of his Huskarls offered the newly arrived Thegn Freyulfr a bench.

"The unidentified dropship will make planet fall in less than ninety minutes. We've scrambled our aerofighters, but most of them will not be able to make it to the dropship before it lands." Bjornlaf pointed towards a display of all JarnFolk forces stationed on Hofn. "Our ground forces will be even slower in deployment. I've requested all the available infantry from the Great and Minor Houses, but it'll be days before that bureaucratic nightmare is sorted out. In the mean time that only leaves us one armored company, our Abtakha Infantry regiment and..well the Lance."

Thegn Freyulfr glanced over the troop positions on one of the military displays, "Only the Lance is close enough to reach the Dropship before its occupants can scatter into the wilderness." he sighed, "but that'll mean we're tipping our hand from the start."

The Shield-Thegn shook his head, "Better we tip our hand now while we can face whatever it is in a single location than later when we're chasing them all across our world."

Freyulfr nodded agreement. " I see the wisdom in that."

"I knew you would,"Bjornlaf spoke, "as our official Herald to the Abtakha please inform them that the Lance has a mission."

Freyulfr consented to his orders and began to stand.

"And one more thing, Thegn. "Bjornlaf added, "I want you to lead the Lance. Take one of our small prototype scouts and stick close to them to keep an eye on things and take command as needed. For this mission you're being promoted to Spear-Thegn."

Freyulfr, now standing, immediately bowed to the Shield-Thegn in respect.

"You've served the JarnFolk well, Freyulfr. Go forth and do so once more".

"All who dare trespass on our land shall soon discover the true strength of Iron" Freyulfr replied as he left the command facility for the secret Abtakha base.


Deep Periphery, JarnFolk Cluster, Planet Hofn, Secret Location

August 3002





"Those were excellent scores on your last field exercise", Star Commander Ragnar McKenna-Furey patted one of his Sibko cadets on his back, " you'll make a fine 'Mech Warrior some day."

The cadet beamed with pride as Ragnar began walking back down the halls of the make-shift hanger. He only made it a few steps into his thoughtful stride when the facilities operational sirens began to sound. Ragnar started in an all out sprint towards his old 'Mech. He noticed a few of his veteran MechWarriors doing the same.

Ragnar strapped himself in and punched in the old command codes to get his ancient Hunchback powered up. Thankfully the fusion core activated without a hitch and Ragnar was able to lumber his old 'mech, long ago named 'Redemption' out of the 'Mech bay.

"This is Exile-Leader, Exile Star readiness check." Ragnar waited for his star-mates to respond.

"Exile-2 Ready."

"Exile-4 Ready."

"Exile-5 Ready"

Ragnar frowned, "Exile-3 what is the hold up?"

"Sorry sir, my hip gyros are off again. I cannot keep her steady."

The Star Commander sighed, "Understood Ex-3, power down and get the techs to look at the old girl again, quiaff."

"Aff, sir. Happy hunting."

"It always is, MechWarrior."



Exile Star followed the Nav Coordinates 80 kilometers from base where they rendezvoused with their liaison from the JarnFolk's limited command structure.

"Thegn Freyulfr," Ragnar comm'd, " what is this all about?"

The Thegn who had just arrived along with a large transport of some kind responded, "We have an unidentified dropship landing only a few klicks from our present location. It'll be down in the next ten minutes."

"Ten Minutes?!" the Star Commander almost spat,"how did your Seers miss it? Where is the jumphip? What is going on."

"I don't know!"Freyulfr almost shouted," maybe they have spies. Maybe one of the Great families has been paid off. Maybe one of my seers was just incompetent or asleep. I will figure that out later, if there is one. In the meantime we need to meet whatever this is head on. Hopefully they have no idea your existence, not even that noisy ComStar agent realized we had any 'mechs. "Freyulfr took a deep breath and steadied himself," if you can hold them off and keep them contained for sixty minutes, that'll be enough time for us to get our armored company and your infantry regiment in position to support you."

Star Commander Ragnar gritted his teeth, "We will buy you that time, Thegn. You should fall back to a safe distance from battle, quiaff?".

"Neg," The Spear-Thegn responded," I am here to help." At that moment the transport's doors peeled back to reveal something marvelous.

Powered down with it's cockpit and center torso nestled between its legs in a prone position was something that looked very much like a light 'Mech. It gleamed the sort of hand-polished highly individualized look that adorned all JarnFolk slug-throwers.

"How did you get a 'Mech?" Star Commander Rangar asked in shock.

"We built it." Freyulfr beamed with pride, " For centuries we've been using our small arms and JumpShip manufacturing industry to maintain that stable of bandit 'mechs your ancestors brought with them. It was only a matter of time before we made our own 'Mech from all those parts."

Ragnar appraised the 'Mech that was clearly built using a Locust template, like two of the other 'Mechs in his Star. "But the Fusion Core?" .

Freyulfr grinned, "Yes, building an engine powerful and functional enough to run a 'Mech had been holding us up for decades..but with the help of your own engineers and our dedicated scientists... Well, human ingenuity triumphed."

Freyulfr walked over to the Locust and climbed into its cockpit, powering the machine up. Ragnar thought he could hear its engine hum with a sound slightly different from other 'Mechs he'd been around.

"Fitted with four specially crafted JarnFolk Machine guns, unlike anything anyone else has ever seen before, and one fusion flamer using a dropship design she should be more than up to task. "Freyulfr set the frequency so that all other MechWarriors in the Ex-Star could hear him, "I've been assigned to you as the Spear-Thegn for this mission. I'll be piloting my JarnFolk modified Locust, the Ratatosk and I'll take up the position that Exile 3 would have held. I'll leave all combat descions in the hands of Star Commander Ragnar McKenna-Furey. I've updated all your 'Mechs Nav Grids with the location of an unidentified dropship." Freyulfr's Locust scurried over to where the other 'Mechs waited, "Let's go pay them a visit.."



Star Commander Ragnar had his Star wait behind the cover of a near hill while he alone exposed himself as he watched the dropships bay doors finally open. Ragnar's heart sunk as ten 'Mechs nimbly stomped out of the hold.

Most of the 'Mechs were lights and mediums, but one heavy stood proudly at their front. The Orion scanned Ragnar's Hunchback and approached him until the distance between them was reduced to five hundred meters.

"I am Star Catapin Ian Van Houten of Clan Burrock. In conjunction with our efforts with Clan Star Adder we have come to this world to claim its resources in the form of material and personnel. We did not expect to find any 'Mechs on this backwater world, but we are prepared to fight whatever antiques you care to throw at us. We will not be denied this prize. What do you bid, freebirth?"

Star Commander Ragnar's throat caught in his chest. These were clan warriors! He never expected they'd risk to venture out this far from their Homeworlds. His ancestors, exiles made up from various clans forced to leave for various reasons, always warned the succeeding generation that this day might come. But Ragnar never believed it would.

"Star Captain, I am Star Commander Ragnar McKenna-Furey. I am the rightful Abtakha of Clan JarnFolk. I bid all this world has at its disposal which includes a Star of 'Mechs, a company of armored tanks, a regiment of infantry and a lance of aerofighters in the defense of this world."

"This was not what I expected at all. If only this mission were not to be a secret and I could boast to all the clans that a not-named descendant and one of their little bases died at the hands of Clan Burrock. Still my superiors will know what deeds I do here and that shall be enough. Against your bid I bid only one of my Stars." Star Captain Ian Van Houten's face cracked into a wide grin," even a single Star is more respect than your pathetic freebirth force deserves, but I cannot take that chance."

Sweat welled up on Ragnar's forehead, "Agreed, bargained well and done."

As Ragnar's last word transmitted, Star Captain Ian Van Houten fired off a PPC at Ragnar's old Hunchback. Ragnar barely had time to dodge the attack the PPC singed his right arm.

The four 'Mechs closest to Van Houten's Orion began marching in Ragnar's direction firing off errant PPC and Large lasers at Ragnar. Clearly they didn't believe Ragnar worthy of Zellbringen.

Thankfully, except for Van Houten, the rest of the 'Mechs were at a range Ragnar could easily dodge. Ragnar danced his ancient 'Mech around avoiding their lethal energy shots as he led them towards the hill where the rest of his star awaited.

Ragnar immediately tight-beamed his entire Star. "We have five 'Mechs approaching us. One Orion, two Centurions and two Jenners. "Ragnar took a breath," They are better equipped, weigh a lot more than us, and their 'Mechs are in better shape than ours. But they are supremely over confident. That is our one real advantage. Any moment now their Orion will come over and down this hill after me. I believe he will do so alone. We'll set up a firing line here and hit his right leg with everything we've got. The moment his leg blows we all head back over that hill and engage the rest of his Star. He should be stuck down here and we wont need to worry about him again until we're ready. Questions?"

Freyulfr chimed in, "Why not just finish the Orion here before moving on to the rest of the lance?"

Although Freyulfr didn't see it, Ragnar shook his head,"The Orion's weapon load-out is too powerful. The only reason he will not kill or disable one of our 'Mechs the moment he comes over that hill is the surprise of what is we have waiting for him. When he gets over that surprise it is going to be very bad for us very fast and we need to be somewhere else. Once the rest of our defense force arrives we will have an easier time fighting him, especially with our armored company. Quiaff?"

"Aff" Freyulfr responded" makes sense."

"Alright good. We do not have time for any other questions so Exiled Star, get in crescent firing formation and wait for my mark."

The Star spread out in slightly curved firing line with all their targeting icons hanging just above where Star Commander Ragnar previously came back over the hill. They waited silently as the tension built up in all of them. Sweat gleamed, fingers hung expectantly, bodies struggled to keep from fidgeting, breathing stopped. Everything stopped. Nothing moved. Nothing happened.

Then suddenly an Orion roared over the hill at full speed. The Star Captain's voice blaring on their comms, "You cannot hide fro..". His voice cut off as five 'Mechs simultaneously let loose all their weapons fire on his right leg.

The Orion attempted to dodge the concentrated attack but his 'Mech was already inelegantly sliding down the cliff wall towards to ground where Exiled Star stood and fired from.

Exiled Star currently consisted of two Locusts, a Jenner, a Cicada, and Hunchback. All 'Mechs were primarily armed with JarnFolk designed machine guns and autocannon-2s. As maintaining the energy and missiles weapons was more difficult for JarnFolk's limited technological capacity. Still all of their ballistic weapons were built with the same caring personal touch and precision of all JarnFolk weapons. Each not only decorated in beautiful norse deigns, but also carefully calibrated to be more powerful, more accurate, and more rapid fire than their Inner Sphere and Clan counterparts. Not significantly more so, but the sort of improvements that can be made with the deft hands of a master-craftsman.

In twelve quick seconds these works of art carved from Star Captain Ian Van Houten his Orion's right leg. Wildly he fired at the enemy Star, but by the time his weapons had cooled from his first errant shots the Star was back over the hill leaving Van Houten to stew as he fixed his right arm against the cliff-face to keep his 'Mech upright.

Upon cresting the hill Ex-Star almost collided with the two Burrock Jenners who had almost closed the distance with their Star Captain.

Ragnar commanded his Star to focus on center Torso the first Jenner. Projectiles exploded off its armor as it tried to loop around the Star to dodge the Star's weapons-fire.

The other Burrock Jenner used the distraction of the first to successfully jump over Ex-Star onto their flanks. It then bored into Exile 4's Locust from behind. Exile 4's leg melted as multiple medium lasers converged on it's stick-like joint. Though the pilot fought valiantly to keep his 'Mech standing there was nothing he could do and it crashed cockpit first into the ground. Ex-Star's Cicada, Exile 2, turned to meet the flanking Jenner and dealt the Jenner's right side torso a furious blow. The Burrock Jenner's armor evaporated and the Jenner quickly abandoned the flank to protect its exposed innards.

The first Burrock Jenner, now heavily damaged from the initial Ex-Star assault turned to face its pursuers. However before it could launch its own attack a large boom echoed through the canyon as a hybrid JarnFolk AC-9 fired from Star Commander Ragnar's Hunch and took out the entire Burrock Jenner cockpit.

Just as Ragnar turned his 'Mech around to engage the other Burrock Jenner he saw multiple large laser fire lance Ex-Star's Jenners center torso. He barely had time to blink as the ensuing fusion explosion swallowed whole his friend. He looked to where the fire had came from and saw the Burrock Centrions had arrived.

Spear-Thegn Freyulfr weaved back and forth as he charged the Centurions. The ground all around him exploded as SRMs and large lasers failed to hit him. He ran in between the first Centurions legs and dosed him with a heavy amount of fire. The Centurion, already very hot, immediately shut down. While keeping the flame on Freyulfr made tight circles around the Centurion peppering him with machine gun shots.

Freyulfr's entire cockpit shook and various warning lights flashed as elements of the 2nd Burrock Centurion's SRM crashed into Freyulfr's locust. Whatever paper-thin armor his locust previously had melted off on Freyulfr's left side. Another shot like that and Freyulfr would not survive.

He stopped his tight circle and put the shut down Centurion between him and the other Centurion. He had to keep his flame on the first, while keeping out of the others line of sight. It was game he would lose eventually.

Just then he heard a large boom and the 2nd Burrock Centurion recoiled somewhat. Star Commander Ragnar's Hunchback had arrived.

Edited by Mech The Dane, 08 November 2013 - 12:07 PM.


#4 Mech The Dane

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 05:43 PM

Deep Periphery, JarnFolk Cluster, Planet Hofn

August 3002



Star Commander Ragnar pounded the still functional Centurion's center torso with every weapon he had. Even as his shots bore into the Centurions rapidly thinning armor, so too did the Centurion return fire with everything he had.

Ragnar found himself twisting his torso, using his arms as shields, between his shots. The Centurion's barrage destroyed first Ragnar's left arm than his right, but Ragnar's hunch keep plowing away undaunted at the Centurion's center torso. The Centurion's torso exploded even as Ragnar's 'mech warned him that his ammo was at 25%.

Star Commander Ragnar turned to survey the darkening battlefield. Exile 2, the Cicada, had destroyed the remaining Burrock Jenner, Freyulfr's Locust had stopped firing on the other Centurion as the pilot had plainly been cooked alive. Ex-Star's Jenner had been heavily damaged looked incapacitated. That just left Star Captain Ian Van Houten on the otherside of the hill.

Ragnar watched as the lance of fighters he bid flew over head, he imagined Thegn Freyulfr had told them to engage the remaining Orion. They strafed towards Van Houten's obscured position and then suddenly they both exploded as PPC and large laser fire lanced them from the other-side of the hill.

"Damn" Ragnar turned on his comms, "form up Ex-Star! We need to finish the Star Captain. Our Tanks should be pounding him on the other side of that hill by now."

"Aff" Exile 2 reported.

"Got it" Freyulfr added, as the Exile 2 in his lightly damaged Cicada and Freyulfr in his half-armorless Locust formed up with Star Commander Ragnar.

The three of them crest the hill together and opened fire on the position the computer told them they had left Star Captain Ian Van Houten.

Their weapons exploded uselessly on ruined earth. Before they had a chance to respond PPC and Large Laser fire burrowed deep into Exile 2's Cicada. Exile 2 ejected only moments before his 'Mech exploded.

Ragnar and Freyulfr both swerved madly away from their previous positions. Peppering Van Houten with fire as they avoided his deadly blasts. Ragnar glanced out his cockpit towards where the tanks were supposed to be by now and saw only smoldering ruins. As he dodged another shot from Van Houten he comm'd Freyulfr, " our entire tank company is down! It's just me and you! Flame him, he should be cooking in that 'Mech!"

Desperately Freyulfr covered Van Houten's Orion in ultra-hot flames. But Van Houten kept on firing. Freyulfr checked his sensor readings, "His 'Mech isn't even hot! What kind of 'Mech can stay so cool!"

Ragnar gritted his teeth, "I don't know! Just focus on his other leg, it shows the most damage..I think some of the tanks managed to hit him there."

A PPC burnt deeply into Ragnar's center torso, his armor there was almost gone but he kept pounding away at the Orion's left leg. Freyulfr also let fly a constant hail of machine gun fire at every new hole Ragnar's AC-9 bore.

Star Captain Van Houten, realizing his leg wouldn't survive much longer. And already unable to maneuver well enough to protect it broadcast a message over general comms. "Bravo Star! This is your Star Captain. Engage all hostiles. Kill everything!"

Another PPC rammed into Ragnar's chest burning away the last shreds of his armor and exposing his fusion core to the light of day. Ragnar steadied his aim and fired his last two AC-9 shells directly at the Orion's nearly shattered left leg. Unfortunately the leg held.

Ragnar barely twisted away from the PPC as it missed his center torso and exploded his non-hunch side torso instead. He geared up his now weaponless Hunchback for one last reckless charge.

The Van Houton lined up his shot on the charging Hunchback's exposed center torso. He smiled as finger press down on the fire button. His 'Mech suddenly groaned and the next thing he knew he was looking at the dark grey sky. His PPC shot went wild and his Orion collapsed onto its back. In confused anger Star Captain Van Houten pounded on his useless control panels. All of a sudden it got very dark as the sky gave away to the giant image of a strange looking Locust staring down at Van Houten. Realization dawned on Van Houten, the Locust's worthless machine guns had finished off his leg. He cursed in anguish.



"Thanks for the save, Spear-Thegn." Ragnar's voice came across the com channel as slightly shaken, "Saved my *** big time."

"Nothing you wouldn't have done for me Star Commander,"Freyulfr replied, "unfortunately we have five completely healthy 'Mechs moving on our position."

Both pilots turned to watch as the regiment of promised infantry finally arrived on the battlefield.

"Five enemy 'Mechs, " Freyulfr repeated from his heavily smoking Locust" and a handful of ants with pee-shooters to stop them."

Edited by Mech The Dane, 08 November 2013 - 05:44 PM.


#5 Mech The Dane

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 02:37 PM

Deep Periphery, JarnFolk Cluster, Planet Hofn
August 3002



Star Commander Ragnar McKenna-Furey and Spear-Thegn Freyulfr huddled behind the cliff face with their infantry regiment as they quickly went over possible defense scenarios.

"No, even if you succeeded at charging one of their 'Mechs, tackling him and unleashing the full force of your fusion engine, you'd still only take out a single 'Mech. " Ragnar stared out the low grasslands that surrounded him as the wind seemed to pick up, "I am sorry Spear-Thegn but our situation is hopeless. Best case scenario is we take out two 'Mechs, and three is more than enough to take over the rest of our worlds. "

Freyulfr's sigh made him sound as old as he now looked, "Odin chooses the victor of battle. Perhaps he has need of us in Valhalla?"

"Aff" the Star Commander responded, "that is all there is left to..."

The Star Commander was interrupted as a their 'Mechs picked up a new frequency coming from the entrance of the Dropship, behind the advancing Burrock 'Mech Star.

"This is Star Captain Arnulf of the Hell's Horses 11th Mechanized Calvary Cluster. Because you, Clan Burrock Warriors, dishonorably break your own bid and commit another Star to the taking of this world, I insert myself into the bid for its defense."

The Burrock Star stopped in their tracks and turned to see what exactly the Star Captain was piloting. So too did the JarnFolk defenders attempt to ascertain what their protector was in.

"I recommend the remaining elements of Hofn's defenders retrieve their fallen and retire to a secure location. I will not need their assistance in destroying this motley crew of Burrock Stravarg scum." Star Captain Arnulf's smile was almost audible, " This battle is already well beneath the station of any freeborn Hell's Horseman."

Van Houten's voice crackled from the his broken and lifeless 'Mech in response, "High on courage, low on wit! As always you Hell's Horses show up to a battle with too few 'Mechs to be little more than a joke. My own Star Commander reports to me that you are in nothing more than an Elemental suit of armor!" Van Houten's voice quieted with a quality of madness, "for your insults and trespass into our battle I will inform my men not to give you a warrior's death. Instead we will capture you and we will tear your limbs from you one at a time. We will make you regret ever coming here and opening up your freebirth mouth."

"Sir" Star Commander Ragnar comm'd Spear-Thegn Freyulfr, " take a look at this" Ragnar sent over an image of a toady looking grey mass with a vaguely human shape,"This Star Captain person, he is not in a 'Mech. He is in battle armor."

"Infantry?" Freyulfr balked, "he wants to fight them as infantry."

Ragnar nodded gravely, "He is to be swatted like a fly. He must have stowed away on their dropship and he must be completely unstable."

Freyulfr involuntarily shook his head, "No. He's one of mine. He's returned for a reason, probably this reason, we need to trust him." Freyulfr watched the debris being easily tossed around by the high winds," we definitely need to trust him."

Edited by Mech The Dane, 10 November 2013 - 02:44 PM.


#6 Mech The Dane

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 03:32 PM

Deep Periphery, Planet Hofn


Star Captain Arnulf felt relief flush through him as he watched the defenders of Hofn limp away from the battlefield with their wounded in tow. "Close it up" he beamed to the dropship, whose bay doors almost immediately began to slide closed.

Arnulf leapt from where he was standing down to the frantically swaying grasses. He watched the Star of 'Mechs rumble towards him. He felt their each step intimately through vibrations in the earth.

"You realize" his comm's beamed at them," that attacking these worlds so distant from clan space is in direct violation with the edicts of the clan council?"

The approaching MechWarriors only reply was quiet contempt.

"That you put our civilization at risk by being so close to the Inner Sphere. That if the clan council found out your genetic material would be destroyed and your children put to death. That you are putting the Great Founder's entire vision at risk."

That piqued the slightest interest as one Burrock MechWarrior responded, "we didn't plan on telling him."

Disgust washed over Star Captain Arnulf. He hopped someday there would be a reckoning for clans such as these. In the meantime he would make them pay as best he could.

Weapons fire exploded on the patch of grass where Arnulf had been crouching only moments before. His body whizzed through the air, only touching a spot of earth for the briefest moment before propelling himself forward again. With each nimble leap he left a deep smoldering crater in his wake.

"Stand still and die. We expected better from a Clansman, even a a Freebirth like you." A Burrock Mechwarrior stated angrily.

Between leaps Arnulf responded, "Today is the day where things do not happen the way you want."

Having closed the gap between them Arnulf landed on the nearest Burrock 'Mech's leg. The other 'Mechs in the star hesitated as Arnulf scurried up the giant metal frame towards the cockpit.

"What are you waiting for" the pilot shouted incredulously "he's just an elemental, his armor will give out before mine, FIRE!"

Steel melted and sparked as weapons ignited half the clan 'Mechs structure. Still Arnulf was able to stay just in front of the blasting and by not taking a direct route he prevented the other 'mechs from guessing where he'd move next.

With fire in his wake Arnulf finally made it to the cockpit. Using his massive claw he tore at one of its panels with all his strength while using his other hand to fire a small laser near the opening. He waited as long as he could them jumped away nanoseconds before the part of the cockpit where he had just been standing was washed in weapons fire from the other 'Mechs.

The 'Mech he had been on staggered a little from the onslaught but regained its footing almost immediately and clearly was okay.

The Pilot laughed into the comm, "You fool. You barely cracked my seal. It will take a lot more than that to hurt any of us. It is only a matter of time."

Arnulf grunted and worked his way up the next 'Mech where he inflicted the same sort of damage. Arnulf did this again and again and again until the entire Star's cockpit had all been slightly damage. It was now raining hard with a heavy fog and vicious winds, between his agility and the weather Arnulf had managed to remain almost completely untouched. He was surprisingly intact, but exhaustion began to gnaw at him.

Energy weapons fired all around him as he pounded on a 'Mech's cockpit for the 3rd or 4th time. He was losing count. The cockpit's reinforced see-through plastic began to crack. Arnulf once more leapt away as energy weapons washed over the cockpit.

Arnulf suddenly felt himself lurch. He had intended to land in the low grass about 40 meters to his left, but instead he appeared suspended in the air.

The trebuchet's fist began to tighten. "Finally you little bug. I admit your skills as an elemental are impressive but this fight could only ever end one way."

Arnulf felt his armor fighting against the crushing force of the Trebuchet's steel grasp. He knew it was a fight his armor could not win. By now the storm had grown so strong he couldn't even see the offending 'Mech. Just the hand itself and the wrist that seemed to jut out from quickly rolling fog.

Arnulf's teeth clamped down and he prepared to meet his end. He hoped he had done enough. Just then he heard the low wailing noise he had been waiting for. Part of his mind, the old part from his nearly forgotten youth awakened with sure panic and alarm. This was wrong! He shouldn't be here! He KNEW that sound. But then his adult brain reasserted control. This was right.

The Trebechut's hand suddenly went slack as the steel beast swayed in the savage wind. Parts of it that had been blown loose from the fighting now bent at impossible angles and broke off to join the storm. The Pilot was obviously struggling to keep control his 'Mech.

Arnulf slowly, carefully, climbed to the Trebechut's cockpit and began hammering on it once more. This time, with the power of the storm at his back, the cockpit finally broke.

Arnulf was already on his way to one of the other 'Mechs before the pilot was dead. Arnulf had seen a man ripped apart by one of these storms before and had no interest in seeing it happen again.

He had done enough damage to three of 'Mechs previously that he didn't need to return to them once the Dragon-Winds had arrived. The other two, including the Trebuchet he started with, only needed a little bit of work before their cockpits broke too.

Arnulf now clawed his way towards the hill where the Star Captain had been left, legless and toppled over, in his Orion. Arnulf hoped he would reach it in time.

***



Star Captain Van Houten grumbled. "What sort of fools live on a world with such ridiculous storms." The storm had completely blacked out all communication and he no longer knew how the battle or conquest was going.

He shook his bleeding head, "it was supposed to be so easy. These periphery backwaters were not supposed to have weapons, let alone 'Mechs. We should have been fighting fools with sticks and plows. "

Just then Van Houten heard a crashing noise against his cockpit that sounded very different from the storm. He peered up and at first he didn't see anything at all. But then horror overtook him as a fuzzy object briefly took form. There smashing against his cockpit was the claw of an elemental.

Edited by Mech The Dane, 12 November 2013 - 03:33 PM.


#7 Mech The Dane

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 03:38 AM

Exhausted Arnulf sat on top of the Orion's prone torso. The Orion's shattered and lifeless cockpit sat behind him, mostly obscured by the storm. The storm was not done yet though. The wind continued to gain strength. It wore away at Arnulf's armor and each gust hit Arnulf so hard that his armor barely deadened the blow. Arnulf hadn't really expected to survive the fight and now that he had was worried he wouldn't survive the storm. He needed to find some shelter in the broken 'mechs that littered the field. It might not be enough for a man unarmored, but in his elemental suit he had a chance.

Arnulf released his claw from its hold on the Orion's chest and tried to crawl forward. Before his claw could get a new handle the wind surged and picked him up. Flying through the air he was tossed into the twisted steel of a destroyed Cicada. He hit with a force that knocked him out.

His eyes fluttered open, probably only seconds later, as his armor began pumping him with drugs. He tried to move but found that he was somehow stuck. When the wind slacked enough for him to see a few feet around him he realized why.

He had been impaled by the steel structure of the former Cicada's twisted legs. It jutted through his back and out his shoulder. Struggle as he might he was completely pinned.

He coughed out a little blood and whispered to himself beneath the whirring storm, "Today Hofn defends itself."

The ormhithr continued to pick up strength and Arnulf watched with detached curiosity as his armor fought a losing battle with the storm. Debris slammed into him and armor was shredded from him, even as the suit fought to heal, seal off, and protect.

He was slowly being ripped apart piece by piece. He felt thankful for the suit's drugs, even though it was losing its effectiveness as new pieces of it were stripped from him, he knew without it he would have lost consciousness to the pain long ago. Instead it was still a pain he could manage.

More and more of his armor gave way to the storm. Fingers and toes were stripped away with little fanfare. Pain and horror welled within him, but they were subsumed by a deep and wise calm. Arnulf stared out into the storm and waited for what he knew must come.

And it came.


In the shifting winds, on the very borders of the limited space he could see, he saw them. Sturdy but not solid. Standing around him they had come to claim him. The Frost Giants who lived at the heart of the ormhithr took stock of the flayed mortal before them. Humans foolish enough to get themselves lost out in storms were the Giants by right. Arnulf was their salvage now, he belonged to them.

The giants smiled to one another. This man would make a fine prize. Their huge grotesque hands reached out to claim his nearly lifeless body for their own when suddenly lightning struck at their feet and thunder rumbled at their hearts and they were forced back from the dying man.

Arnulf looked up and saw the red fiery eyes of a giant horse approaching him. The Horse burned like Hell itself and Arnulf swelled with pride to see his clan totem burst into view. Riding aloft the massive beast was the One-Eyed God himself. His beard, cloak and long brimmed hat were completely immune to the storm exploding all around him.

He road up to where Arnulf was hanging and dismounted his horse to carefully inspect Arnulf. He nodded back to his horse where Arnulf recognized another rider sitting upon its beautiful fiery back. He recognized the rider as his father. Arnulf wondered if he had missed the man earlier, or if the man had only appeared on the horse now.

The One-Eyed God shifted his burning gaze from mortal, to giants, to father to horse and pointed one powerful finger at Arnulf.

"This One Is Mine."

Edited by Mech The Dane, 15 November 2013 - 03:38 AM.


#8 Mech The Dane

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 03:53 PM

Deep Periphery, Planet Hofn,
Isorla Dropship, August 30th 3002


Spear-Thegn Freyulfr and Star Commander Ragnar eyed the boy who stood ramrod straight at the entrance to the Clan Burrock Dropship.

"I do see the resemblance. "Freyulfr nodded slowly, "in both his father and grandfather."

The boy held out the weapon that Freyulfr had given Arnulf all those years ago when he had sent him on his covert mission. The weapon had since been bent at broken angles and clearly wouldn't function anymore. But beyond that it looked well and carefully kept.

"As I said in my message. I am Grim, freeborn offspring of Arnulf. Had my.. father "the boy struggled with the taboo word," not taken me away from my Freeborn sibko I would be testing as a warrior next month."

The boy was clearly upset to be missing that appointment.

Grim sighed,"Instead I am to use my father's slug-thrower to bargain my way into your Clan. I cannot return home now, not ever."

Freyulfr delicately took the old weapon from the boy’s hands as Star Commander Ragnar McKenna-Furey spoke,

"Bargained well and done."

Freyulfr motioned Grim to follow him out of the Dropship, but Grim stood firm. "There is another thing. The matter of why Star Captain Arnulf felt compelled to return to your space."

Freyulfr gestured, "Of course, we've pieced that together by now. He knew the Burrocks were coming to invade us and he came to stop them."

Grim shock his head, "No. Although their attack here was useful, as it allowed us a straight shot to your worlds. It was not our purpose for being here."

Grim pulled a notepad out his pocket, " Star Ca..my father Arnulf saw a very sensitive Data Core in one of his anti-bandit caste operations for the Hell's Horses. What he found was much more than a small unsanctioned clan operation into the Deep Periphery." Grim held the notepad out to Freyulfr, "What he found was the beginnings of a plan to invade and conquer the entire Inner Sphere. To reform the Star League in the Clan's image. "

Freyulfr's eyes went wide and he felt an involuntary shudder. All denizens of the Periphery had strong reason to fear and hate the Star League. The whispered memory of Reunification wars was their boggy man for countless generations.

"No one will be safe."Freyulfr said in a hushed tone, "No one will be safe not even us. Our Iron isn't that strong."

Star Commander Ragnar put a strong hand on Freyulf's shoulder, "No, kinsman, it is not. But we have time and we can strengthen it."Ragnar nodded to Grim, "It is time we tempered that Iron."

Edited by Mech The Dane, 18 November 2013 - 03:53 PM.


#9 Mech The Dane

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 07:00 PM

Spear-Thegn Freyulfr took a break from the various ceremonies to look at the jutting mountain walls that surrounded him. "The Still" as this location was called on Hofn, was one of the only places in the entire world protected from the deadly ormhithr or Dragon-storms. Within these Mountain walls there was always calm peace. Because of that it was one of the few places on the world where trees could grow tall and unrestricted. He turned his gaze to the giant oak tree at the center of field. It was a perfect place for assemblies and state functions.

The All-Thegn Torstein of the Great Torvald family was speaking.

"..which is why we cannot afford to ignore the warnings of our Seers!" Torstein gestured wildly, "We might be small but Spear-Thegn Freyulf has proven we are not weak! He has proven that our Iron can stand up against Clan Steel! "Torvald paused and looked the crowd over," An Iron we cannot afford to hoard in these dire days. I submit a vote of the All-thing that we prepare a special force to be sent back to the Inner Sphere when Clans invasion is eminent."Hands flew up from all assembled representatives of the Great Houses passing his vote even as he spoke," That we shall embed ourselves in the forces of our Rasalhaugian cousins to ensure that never again are they forced to bare a tyrant’s yoke, " again hands flashed up to confirm by vote what he had just suggested. "And finally," Thorstein's speech slowed as he looked across the crowd once more, " we do that which we have done only once before. That in order to reduce the in-fighting and bickering between Great Families for this endeavor we elect Freyulfr as Jarl of this force."

That caught the crowd by surprise. An Jarl, a person of nobility in a land without nobles was almost taboo. However it would also give him insulation from Family Politics and preserve the integrity of the mission. Slowly hands began to rise in acceptance of this request.

Torstein nodded as his latest measure was affirmed, "and that since he has no heirs or family of note that the title be passed down the almost extinct line of family Dane."

This was even more a shock to the representatives one that they clearly had no intention of endorsing. To make an old war-hero an Jarl was one thing. But to create a hereditary title of nobility within the JarnFolk worlds was too much to ask.

Torstein held is arms up to quiet their angry whispers,"Wait. Wait. The title is only hereditary as long as this special task force is away from from our cluster of worlds. While they train here he will be Jarl and it will be passed down, but once they leave, should they return, they will do so only as freeholders."

This time the gathered host gave their slow cautious approval.

"In that case, we'll continue to train and wait for when we are needed. The Ragnarok is soon and we, as the Iron-Born children of the Yggdrasil, must stand ready to defend it."

The crowd gave one last hearty cheer and that broke into numerous detached conversations. Freyulfr had been proclaimed Jarl, but he hardly noticed. His eyes had settled on the sitting figure of Grim Arnulfson of Family Dane. Freyulfr moved his hand to his pocket where the expensive and beautifully inlaid slug-thrower sat wrapped in velvet. It had been difficult to repair but when it came to slug-throwers, all things were possible for the JarnFolk.

Freyulfr walked over to where Grim sat, his white hair blowing in the gentle wind and sat the gun in front of Grim, just as he did Grim's father and grandfather.

"I have a job for you."





THE END

Edited by Mech The Dane, 06 December 2013 - 07:00 PM.






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