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A Pirate's Tale

fan fiction clan invasion

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#1 Connor Davion

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 07:49 PM

I wrote this story for an event on the community run events section (there are some other excellent stories on that thread - Thread is called El Contesto).

Since there is a fan fiction section I figured some of you guys/gals might (or might not) enjoy a story about the Clan invasion from the perspective of a pirate.

The story is fairly long so I only posted the intro in the thread. Follow the dropbox link for the rest of the story.

*Disclaimer - this is my 1st attempt at fan fiction


[color="#0f72da"]https://www.dropbox....0Story.doc?dl=0[/color]

A Pirate’s Tale


Introduction

Sisyphus’s Lament – The Periphery – August 17th 3049 0723 Local Time

Private Jocelyn Ramirez throttled down her Wasp WSP-1A as she reached the crest of the ridge line. The black and red humanoid BattleMech slowed and finally lurched to a stop, it’s fusion engine idling at a low hum. The hum was peaceful to her, even relaxing, yet deceptive, as a ‘Mech was 31st century man’s pinnacle war machine. She sat above a steed that was twenty tons of circuitry, steel and myomer. A million parts meshed together to be death and destruction incarnate.

As she looked towards the far horizon the view of the sunrise was spectacular, especially considering that otherwise this frozen rock known as Sisyphus’s Lament was so desolate it made her former home world of Pacida in The Oberon Confederation seem like a virtual paradise. There was an atmosphere here of sorts, just enough oxygen to rust all the iron heavy rocks and outcroppings, which only added another shade of brown to the dismal visage lying underneath the bright rising sun on the horizon.

She adjusted her neuro-helmet and brushed a stray strand of dirty blonde hair away from her eyes. A drop of sweat dripped from her nose onto her bare leg below. Her distinctive features clearly spoke of her mixed Anglo/Spanish heritage. Her build was athletic and she was attractive, however, outside a few in her own profession not many were beating down her door to get to know her. Most were intimidated by her chosen line of work.

As was usual for Mechwarriors she wore little more than shorts, t-shirt, and boots. Besides of course the potentially life saving cooling vest that was currently plugged into her Wasp’s cooling system. This system would help her body temperature stay regulated in the oven that the cockpit of a ‘Mech could become during battle. The only other piece of gear on her person was the ever present Hawk Eagle Auto-pistol strapped to her right thigh that she carried both inside and outside the cockpit at all times.

“Damn,” she thought to herself “this bucket is running hot today and I have barely put her through her paces.”

Needless to say out here in the Periphery equipment was not maintained to Inner Sphere standards, lack of parts, lack qualified techs, and just a general lack of everything surely contributed to the centuries old ‘Mech she rode running a little hot.

“Well old girl if that is the worst hiccup we have today I guess it’s not too bad a day.” she murmured to herself through a slight smile.

Not that there had been much to smile about since she had arrived on Sisyphus’s Lament about two months ago. Things with Ryan’s Rebels were not at all what she had expected. As she began her sensor and visual sweep of the valley below she thought back to the journey that had lead her to this time and place.



***For more please see the dropbox link earlier in the post***

Edited by Connor Davion, 09 June 2017 - 08:40 PM.


#2 King Harkinian

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 08:14 PM

Awesome intro!

Can you just post the rest here in chunks too? Please? Posted Image

#3 Connor Davion

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 08:07 AM

Sure will do.

Though it may mess with the formatting a bit so if it comes through a little sloppy looking bear with me...

#4 Connor Davion

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 08:13 AM

Part One – Opportunity Knocks

Oberon VI – The Periphery June 12th 3049

The recruiter at the hole in the wall she frequented in Pacida City had made it sound very glamorous almost like the stories of Robin Hood from old Terra her mother used to tell her as child before bedtime. Steal from the rich, give to poor, after taking their own cut of course, sort of thing. She had been down on her luck for awhile after being kicked out of the MechWarrior Academy on Oberon VI and prospects of decent employment were grim. Her dream had always been to pilot ‘Mechs. Without completing the academy her dreams of joining the Pacidia Guards and doing just that were no more.

“Who could have known that smart mouth little ******* she had flattened on the parade grounds was the academy Headmaster’s son?” She thought to herself with a smirk. “Served him right. No one touches me without my permission. Too bad his ‘daddy’ didn’t see it that way.”

She had sunk about as low as an aspiring MechWarrior could. The Ryan’s Rebels recruiter’s tales of swashbuckling adventure actually sounded pretty good and the pay wasn’t bad either. She figured, “Why not what have I got to lose?” The fact he was recruiting in a bar on a backwater world like Oberon VI and not through the licensed and bonded MRB (Mercenary’s Review Board) on Galatea should have clued her in.

She had told the recruiter of her almost two years at the MechWarrior Academy and he was quite impressed, excited even. Those almost two years of ‘Mech combat training, theory, and piloting the training Locust LCT-1V ‘Mech put her ahead of 99.9 percent of the other “warriors” in the Periphery. As a matter of fact the recruiter said they had an immediate need for a “qualified” ‘Mech pilot on some place called Sisyphus’s Lament. Of course she agreed. The opportunity to pilot a ‘Mech didn’t come along very often and if she turned this down the chances of her ever piloting a one again were slim to none.

So after some brief contract negotiations, her name was on the dotted line for an initial one year tour of duty. After closing out her affairs on Oberon VI, which basically consisted of paying her overdue bar tab, Jocelyn found herself on the Merchant class JumpShip Medusa on her way to Sisyphus’s Lament. The Medusa was an old junker of a JumpShip and her aging tech was apparent everywhere. Exposed electrical panels, dripping pipes, and flickering lights were around every turn. However, luckily, her captain seemed competent and the old ship held together for the most part. Jocelyn spent the majority of the trip in her cabin keeping to herself. This seemed to be the way the vast majority of the JumpShip’s passengers and crew preferred it.

Even though this was her second trip on a JumpShip she clearly remembered and was not looking forward to the feeling in her gut as the Kearny-Fuchida Faster-Than-Light drives spun down and the massive ship dropped out of FTL travel. As the huge ship shuttered and slowed she immediately felt sick to her stomach. After vomiting profusely in the her cabin’s trash can, she wiped her face, shouldered her duffel bag, and headed down the corridor to the DropShip docking ring.

When she arrived at the docking ring she was greeted by the Captain of the DropShip Ashigara.

“Hello there you must be Ramirez.” Said the gray bearded Captain of Ashigara. “A woman like you is hard not to recognize… Well that and the picture right here on my data pad helps a bit as well.” He said flashing a toothy grin and a wink in her direction. “I am Captain Rodger Christian and the Ashigara is my boat. Our trip from the nadir jump point to planet fall on Sisyphus’s Lament should take us about 7 days. So we should have a little time to get to know each other. Myself and the Ashigara are on retainer with Ryan’s Rebels so we will definitely being seeing a lot of each other. I truly hope we will be friends, as you know I am sure, friends can be scarce out here in the middle of nowhere.”

Jocelyn smiled despite herself unable to not be taken with the aging captain’s gregarious nature, “Thank you Captain. I would like that very much”.

“Captain smaptain please young lady call me Rodger.” He then lowered his voice conspiratorially and whispered while leaning towards her, “You know this isn’t really the military right?” He laughed and raised his voice back to a normal level. “Go on inside and see Ensign Francis. She will show you to your cabin.” He said gesturing to the open bay door leading to the interior of the Ashigara.

“Thank you Cap...err.. Rodger” Jocelyn said as she ducked through the hatch.

“Ramirez!” The captain called after her. “I will be sending a steward around 1830 local time to bring you to the Officer’s Mess. I just hate dining with only my dimwit officers”

“Uhh..”

“No arguments. My boat my rules. See you at 1830,” he laughed and turned down the passageway to great the other passengers.

Still smiling to herself as she boarded the vessel she couldn’t help but think “So far so good.”

Like all Star League era tech the Union class drop ship Ashigara was old, however, immediately upon entering the ship it was apparent to Jocelyn that unlike the Medusa this ship was well maintained and kept in good running order by Rodger’s “dimwit” crew. Jocelyn felt quite secure and even at bit at home aboard the vessel.

She introduced herself to the short steely eyed Ensign Francis and was escorted to her cabin on the Ashigara. She looked around the room which was standard fare for a DropShip, small and cramped. But at least was clean, which was more than she could say about some of the places she had crashed in lately. She dropped her duffel on the floor and immediately walked over to the nearby bunk and she flopped onto it. Her eyes wandered to the holo-clock on the nightstand. “1730, just enough time for a nap before dinner.” she thought closing her eyes.

The seven days aboard the DropShip was some of the most pleasant time she had spent since her abrupt departure from the academy. Each day she had free roam of the ship and found herself exploring the various compartments and facilities of the ship. The crew she encountered were always courteous, professional, and treated her with respect. Respect, she had been living on the streets since her court martial and respect was certainly something something she had grown unaccustomed to. It was definitely a breath fresh air. Her morale improved with each passing day. Maybe this was the right choice after all.

Each day ended with dinner with the Captain and officers in the mess hall. The “Band of Dimwits” as Rodger liked to call them were actually well trained, disciplined, and actually quite competent. Evidently the “Dimwits” part was just Rodger’s inside joke with the crew. It was clear from the interactions between the Captain and crew that he cared for each as if they were his family. The Captain entertained them each night with stories of adventure from his forty odd years as a spacer. Fact and fiction were impossible to distinguish but the stories were enjoyable non the less. Jocelyn found herself quickly growing close to the Captain in a fatherly sort of way. She also made fast friends with several members of the crew. In particular she found she had a lot in common with Ensign Francis.

Ensign Jasmine “Jazz” Francis was originally from Sigurd in The Periphery. At 21 standard years old she was a short, barely topping 142cm in height, with short cropped chestnut hair, and was often mistaken from a distance for a child. When this mistake was made her steely blue eyes and fiery attitude quickly straighten out the mistake.

The closeness in age and shared origins in the Periphery almost ensured that there would be a fast friendship between Jocelyn and Jasmine. “Joss and Jazz”, as they were called by the “Dimwits”, often found themselves staying after the Captains dinner each night, talking, laughing, and enjoying a few glasses of the Captain’s best often into the wee hours of the morning. In a few short days these late night drinking sessions became almost legendary among the crew. A pool was even started, winner take all, to see who could guess which one, Joss or Jazz (or both), would be found sleeping it off in the morning and where on the ship they would be found.

The week passed quickly, and as much as she was ready for her new adventure Joss was sad to see it coming to an end. It was her last day on board the Ashigara and Jocelyn awoke to a splitting headache and the message light flashing on her holo-terminal. Grabbing a cup of black coffee and a stim-pack she sat down at the terminal. Squinting slightly at the glaring artificial light in her cabin she fumbled for the play button.

“Does Rodger turn the light intensity up every morning in my cabin just spite me for drinking his good stuff with Jazz every night?” she wondered. “Surely not, though I wouldn’t put it past the old man”.

The holo-terminal flickered to life and the smiling image of the Captain focused into the viewing field.

“My dear I have had a wonderful time getting to know you better over the past week. As has my Ensign, or at least so I hear. Though I do worry that my private reserve will never recover.”

His face took on a more serious tone as he continued. “We will be making planet fall today around 1420 and unfortunately I will be busy most of the day being the Captain and all that, so we will not be able to have our nightly dinner. However, I feel I would have been remiss if I didn’t tell you a little more about Ryan’s Rebels before we land.”

He paused for a minute as if looking for the words, “I am old fool might as well just be out with it.” He paused taking a deep breath and continued, “I have learned since our meeting a few short days ago is that you are not the sort normally in the Rebel’s employ. In truth I knew from the moment I met you. Quite frankly, I have been shuttling psychopaths, criminals, and general scum to the Rebels for several months now and the crew and I are looking for a way to break our contract, so we can exit from this unsavory situation as soon as possible. I would suggest you do the same. I think you will find the Rebels to be quite different from what the recruiter sold you back on Pacida.”

“Could it really be that bad with the Rebels?” she wondered.

The Captain’s infectious grin returned and he continued, “I also want you to know there is always a place for you on my crew. It may not be as glamorous as piloting a Battlemech and I imagine you would be the most dim of the “Dimwits” at least until we can train you up on a useful skill. Even should you decide not to stay with us we can at least get you a ride from this hellhole to another better hellhole.” Once again he paused briefly before continuing, “Anyway I will not hold you with an old man’s ramblings. It will probably be a least a few weeks or more before we are able to permanently leave the Rebel’s employ, so please see what there is to see with the Rebels and I will be in contact before we leave for good. For God’s sake dear be careful down there and keep your head down.”

The Captains image faded from view will on last glimpse of his toothy grin leaving Joss alone in her cabin to contemplate his words.

“Well damn that’s just great,” she thought. “What have a gotten myself into?”

Before she could sink too deeply into her own thoughts there was a loud knock at the door.

“Open” she said and the hatch slid open to reveal the small frame of Jazz carrying something in her hands wrapped in a cloth.

“Joss, glad I caught up with you before I get caught up in landing preparations.” she said with a smile.

“Me too, Jazz.” Jocelyn replied glancing at the cloth wrapped object in Jazz’s hands.

“I can’t stay long or the Captain will have my *** for dereliction of duty. But I have something I wanted to give to you before you mixed with those pirates planet-side.” she said carefully unwrapping the bundle in her small hands.

Pulling the cloth back she revealed an auto-pistol in a brown leather holster. Based on what Jocelyn had learned at the Academy this was Hawk Eagle Auto-Pistol and a mint one at that.

“Jazz where did you get that. It must have cost you a couple of month’s pay?”

“Naw nothing of the sort. This was part of the loot from a raid we were on with some of the Rebel’s on a month or so back. I guess it must of fallen out of one their crates and into my duffel somehow.” Jazz replied trying her best to look innocent.

“I can’t accept a gift as valuable as this...”

“Sure you can,” relied Jazz cutting off her before she could say more. “I am a terrible shot anyway so this would just be wasted on me. So just take it and watch your *** planet side. Those ******** can be quite a handful from what I have seen the few times I tried out that crap hole they call a bar. Keep a sharp blade or a loaded pistol with you all the time, or even better both.”

Joss accepted the weapon and hugged Jazz, “Thank you so much I will be careful.”

“You better be” Jasmine said turning for the door. “I don’t make friends all that easily and I am in no mood to make any new ones anytime soon.”

Just then the ships klaxon sounded and the 1MC blared out, “Landing preparations begin in five mikes. All ships personnel report to your duty stations all passengers please remain in your assigned berthing and strap in until landing.”

“Well I gotta go. I will look you up the next time I pull port call down there.” Jazz said as she exited the cabin.

“You better, I hate to drink alone.” Joss called after her.

With that the hatch slid shut. Joss carefully placed the pistol in her bag and turned to the jump seat located on the bulkhead of her cabin. She sat down down and strapped herself in. Even a vessel as large as a Union Class DropShip can have a rough entry into atmospheric conditions. Since there was at least several hours before actually entering the atmosphere she dozed off in her seat.

Edited by Connor Davion, 11 June 2017 - 08:17 AM.


#5 Connor Davion

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 08:19 AM

Part Two – You Always Remember Your First

Sisyphus’s Lament – The Periphery, June 20th 3049 1135 Local Time

Joss awoke with slight start to the klaxon once again blaring and 1MC announcing atmospheric entry was upcoming in 5 minutes. She snugged up the restraining harness and prepared for the chop. Atmospheric entry was no long the terror inducing crap shoot of 20th century early space flights, but it still wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences. After the five minutes passed the ship began vibrate and shake as the massive DropShip’s hull made contact with the thin atmosphere of the planetoid. After several minutes of bouncing in her seat the Ashigara broke through the Mesosphere into the relative calmness of the Stratosphere and she was able to peel her fingers from the arm rests of the chair.

Once again the 1MC barked to life, “We’ll be arriving at the Ryan’s Rebels HQ in approximate 15 mikes. As soon as the all clear is given all passengers please report to your assigned disembarkation points by group as called.”

She pulled her data pad from pocket and checked it to find where she was to go. “Cargo bay 3, Disembarkation Group 4” was all it said. There were no other detail such as who to meet, where to go after leaving the DropShip, etc. “Guess I will just have to wing it,” she thought to herself.

After around fifteen minutes had passed she felt the inertia of the great ship slowed and could hear the added thrust of the landing boosters as they were fired. She felt the ship bump as the hull made contact and came to a stop with a dull thud as a nearly perfect landing was completed by the Ashigara and her crew.

The tinny sound of the 1MC made the official announcement, “Welcome to sunny Sisyphus’s Lament the local time is 1206, temperature is a balmy -5 C. Please wait for you Disembarkation Group to be called and then report to your point of disembarkation. At this time Groups 1 and 2 may report.”

“Great,” she thought as she unlocked her harness. “Hurry up and wait.”

Despite or perhaps in a morbid way because of the Captains words, as much as she hated to admit it, she was excited to get on solid ground again and see what was what with her new “unit”. Excited or not she was no fool. She immediately went to her duffel and withdrew the shiny new auto-pistol and strapped the holstered weapon to her thigh. She quickly checked to make sure one of the case-less rounds was chambered and the pistol was ready to fire. She had come too far now to not be cautious and watchful in a backwater place like this.

She snapped out of her thoughts as the Operations Officer announced, “Group 3 report to Disembarkation. I repeat Group 3 to Disembarkation.”

“Wait some more I guess,” she said aloud as she sat down on the edge of the bunk. Luckily her wait was short and a few minutes later the 1MC rang out a last time.

“Disembarkation Group 4, I say again Disembarkation Group 4 please move your assigned areas,” the hollow voice called out.

“Finally,” she thought shouldering her bag and exiting the cabin. Outside her cabin door she found a bag on the deck with the “R/R” logo hastily stitched on the side, and the name “Ramirez” stenciled on it in black ink. Inside the bag were some necessities for survival on The Lament. She found an extreme cold weather parka, cold weather boots, and gloves. The final piece of kit was an oxygen mask. Luckily she had read up a bit on her new home and was aware that a person could breathe the atmosphere for few minutes, but any exposure of more than a few minutes would lead to dizziness, fainting, and eventual asphyxiation. She donned the parka and attached the mask to her belt before proceeding to cargo bay 3.

The normally busy hallways were mostly deserted as most of the crew were at their stations busily attending to their landing duties. She saw neither the Captain or Jazz on her way to cargo bay 3. When she arrived at the cargo bay it was deserted and it appeared most of the cargo had already been removed. Since no one was working in the bay at this time only the emergency lighting was active illuminating the area in a red glow. It was a rather eerie feeling almost like she had been forgotten about on a deserted ship. She felt a presence nearby and a large figure stepped out of the shadows to her right. Her hand dropped to the holster on her thigh brushing lightly against the reassuring metal and plastic grip of the auto-pistol as she faced the figure.

It was a large man every bit of 190 cm and 100 kilos or more of what looked to be solid muscle. His hair was shaggy and sandy blonde, as was his beard. He was quite striking like a Norse god of old that strode with mortals, but what Joss noticed most were his eyes. They were bright blue, but flat and dead, like a man who had seen too much violence and had no qualms about visiting the same on her or anyone else in his way. He spoke to her in a thick Nordic accent that was borderline theatrical, which only added to the viking persona he so carefully cultivated.

“You must be Rammer-*** or whatever.” he stated with no emotion.

“Ramirez...the name is Ramirez,” Joss quickly corrected him.

“Really? Ramirez you say? I don’t care, you are just another FNG. As a matter of fact I think I’ll just call you that”.

By this time the stranger was starting to annoy her greatly, “So just who the hell are you?”

“I am Sargent Alrik Gustafsson your lance commander and you do best to pick up your shite and follow me without another word FNG. And get your hand off that weapon unless you intend to use it. If you do you best not miss...”

“But...” she started.

“Not another damn word!” he bellowed. “or you will be picking your teeth off the deck.” He then turned and entered the airlock beside the main cargo door.

Joss briefly considered her options and eyed him up as he turned. Discretion being the better part of valor her hand slid from the grip of the holstered weapon. Keeping her mouth shut she followed him into the airlock.

The airlock closed behind then and cycled open to the outside. Immediately she realized her mistake. The cold oxygen starved air hit her like a kick in the chest. She bent over and found herself gasping, struggling to breathe.

“Hurts like hell don’t it?” Alrik laughed. Although he was unmasked as well the cold, harsh, oxygen starved air didn’t seem to phase him a bit. “Git your damn mask on I don’t want to carry your sorry *** all the way to the main gate.”

Joss fumble for her mask and finally was able to get her mask on and sealed. Her eyes stopped watering and her breathing quickly returned to normal. She look up and Alrik was gone. He was striding in the distance towards the personnel entry airlock to the base. Holding back the urge to shoot him in the back she quickly picked up her bags and hurried to catch up before he reached the airlock leading into the base.

She barely had time to take in the local scenery as she rushed forward along the ferrocrete path leading from the landing pad to the gate. The little she was able to see was less than impressive. The Lament was a boring collage of browns and rocky outcroppings streaked with rust colored iron veins. The Rebel’s Headquarters was just as uninspiring from the outside as most of it lay underground and there was little of it to see from the outside other than the landing pad, main gate, and several antennae protruding from the ground. There were also several larger covered openings that looked to possibly be pop up auto cannon or laser turrets.

Hurrying she was able to catch up to Alrik as he entered the airlock. He glanced at her with disdain and flicked the switch to cycle the airlock. With a hiss the airlock vented the outside air and cycled in the air from the inside of the base. Joss removed her mask and took in a deep breathe of ‘clean’ air. Immediately she detected a plethora of odors, stale tobacco, sweat, piss, puke, and something less savory she couldn’t quite place. All smells not at all uncommon in the dives she had frequented back on Pacida, maybe just not in this particular unique combination.

The doors to the base swung open and Alrik walked into the entrance not even bothering to look and see if Joss was following. Unwilling to show more weakness than she already had she matched him stride for stride. Taking in the sights of the base as they walked in silence.

Base was term typically used to describe military installations of any significance. So maybe base wasn’t the best term to describe the sight she saw. Circus or asylum might have been more suited. There were vendor stalls with scruffy merchants hawking their wares, drunks passed out in the corridors, illegal stim dealers, and what appeared to be prostitutes plying their trade. Definitely not military in the least. There was even a large neon sign above one doorway marking the location of the bar Jazz had mentioned. “Red Jack’s Roost” it was called in honor of the founder of the Rebels, Red Jack Ryan.

Gustafsson hurried them by the motley scene not appearing to give it a second thought. They passed a large open hanger door and Joss was greeted with different familiar smell that brought much better memories to mind. The smell of grease, ozone, and acetylene torches. She peered into the huge hanger and saw about a company’s worth of BattleMechs in various states of dis-assembly, refit and rearming as techs swarmed over them like ants on massive carcasses. They had all seen better days for sure but for the most part they appeared to be serviceable.

She felt mesmerized by the sight of so many ‘Mechs in one place. She almost didn’t notice that Alrik had walked up behind her and was peering in the bay as well.

“You see that Wasp over there FNG? The black and red one.” He asked gesturing vaguely.

She scanned the hanger and saw many different ‘Mechs, a Griffin, 2 Locusts, a Commando, a Vindicator… ah there she was, the black and red Wasp.

Joss nodded and replied, “Yes Sargent I see it.”

“That will be your ride,” he said simply. “I hope you know enough about it to pilot it as I don’t have the time or inclination to teach you your job.”

“Yes Sargent I know enough about her to do my job,” she said her eyes still lingering on the humanoid chassis of the ‘Mech.

Even though her primary training in school was on the Locust, any ‘Mech pilot worth her paycheck, even one who never completed their schooling, was intimately familiar with the venerable Wasp BattleMech design and her control schemes. She looked to be the older WSP-1A model which means she would be out fitted with a Diverse Optics Type 2 hand held medium laser in the 'Mech's right hand and a Bical SRM-2 near the hip actuator. To top it off she carried 6 Rawlings model 52 jump jets which would enable her to jump up to 180 meters at a time.

Joss noticed the ‘Mech had a name written on it in blood red letters on the left chest panel “Voodoo Queen” it read.

“Yeah, that what her old pilot called her. ‘Voodoo Queen’. Kinda stupid if you ask me. You can call it whatever you want” Alrik snorted as he turned to leave.

] Joss was momentarily taken aback as she hadn’t realized that she had spoken the name out loud. “Voodoo Queen” she whispered again to herself. “Kinda like it. I think I keep it for now.” She realized at that moment it was the first time in her life she had a ‘Mech to call her own, even if it was technically property of Ryan’s Rebels.

She spun and once again raced to catch up to the giant of a man glancing one more time over her shoulder at the sleek killing machine she would soon be piloting. In her distracted stated she almost ran into Alrik as he had stopped just ahead of her. He spun and faced her, dead eyes glaring.

“I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.,” he began. “We didn’t just have a bonding moment back there. I am not your buddy, your friend, your mate, or your pal. I am your boss and if you screw up out there in the field I will drop your *** naked and mask-less in the barrens just like was done to Sylvia, ‘Voodoo’s’ last pilot. Is that clear FNG?

“Crystal Sargent,” she relied with an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach.

“Also stop calling me Sargent we ain’t real big on pomp around here. My call-sign is Swede and most just call me that.

With that they continued down the corridor in silence until they reached the one of the Mechwarrior barracks rooms. The scrawled sign above the door read 2nd Recon Lance. The mag lock doors opened at their approach and they entered a small three man room that consisted of two sets bunk beds, a table, and four chairs.

Two of the four chairs were occupied, one by a Kuritan woman, easily placed by her Asian features, who appeared to be in her early thirties and the other by a young man probably in his late teens who’s dressed more like a farmer than a warrior.

“These are your other lance mates.” Swede said gesturing to towards the table. “This is Jocelyn Ramirez our FNG.

“The one on the right is Corporal Kazumi Fukunaga call-sign Princess. She seems to think she is some kind of noble from some Kuritan family or another, that’s how she got her call-sign since she’s royalty and such. Not sure why she is way out here in the sticks, but out here that noble blood means about as much as steaming pile of crap. I personally just think she is just hiding from the ISF. She pilot’s the lance’s Commando and is my second.”

Kazumi’s eyes flashed dangerously at Swede when he mentioned the names Princess and ISF. She then turned her gaze on Joss clearly evaluating her either as friend or foe. Kazumi was lithe and petite. She had shoulder length straight jet black hair and the deep brown almond shaped eyes common in the Combine. Her every move seemed calculated, smooth as a cat, and advertized danger.

She took a drag from her cigarette and exhaled slowly towards the ceiling. She nodded her head in Joss’ direction in some form a quasi-bow, “Konnichiwa Ramirez-san. I hope you fare better than your predecessor.”

“Thanks...” Joss replied but then trailed off when she saw Kazumi’s attention had already returned to the data pad on the table in front of her.

Swede began again, “The hayseed on the left is Private 1st Class Bart Bryson. Call-sign BeeBee. I’m not really not sure what backwater inbred planet they found him on, and really I don’t care. He pilots the lance’s Locust and was our previous FNG before your arrival. So I am quite sure he is relieved you are here.”

“Butte Hold, Swede, the planet’s name is Butte Hold. You know Red Jack’s home world?” Bart replied sarcastically.

“Butte Hold or Butt Hole I really don’t care. Shut your trap.” Swede snapped back.

Rolling his gray eyes and smoothing his wavy brown hair Bart looked to Joss, stood and extended his hand, “Please to meet you Ramirez” he said as he shook her hand firmly and then returned to his seat.

Swede turned to Joss once again, “That’s it enough BS for today. The top bunk on the left is yours it was Sylvia’s, so just like her ‘Mech it is yours now. As I said before I am not your friend and I sure as hell am not your tour guide either. If you need anything else ask someone other than me and they can tell you where it is. Either that or find it yourself.”

He turned to the door and started to walk out. He turned one last time and said “FNG you have one week to acclimate yourself to your ‘Mech and operating on this rock. You signed on as a ‘competent’ pilot so after your week you will begin regular patrols with the rest of the lance. If you need anything ‘Mech related see the crew chief in the hanger. Welcome to the 2nd Recon Lance of Ryan’s Rebels,” he said with no hint of warmth as he exited the room.

Joss began working on piloting her Wasp the very next morning bright and early 0600. Training everyday between for the better part of a month she progressed quickly and became quite proficient piloting ‘Voodoo’. Often Kazumi would join her giving pointers where needed. She was clearly an experienced proficient MechWarrior. Joss enjoyed learning from her and actually found she preferred ‘Voodoo’s’ sleek humanoid form to the insect-like bipedal form of the Locust she had trained in at the academy. Although slower than the Locust she found the powerful Rawlings jump-jets more than made up for the reduced speed.

Over that month Joss had also gotten a chance to know her lance mates a little more as well. Of the three of the only Kazumi seemed out of place among the pirates. Kazumi was a professional - calm, cool, controlled, and when she piloted her ‘Mech it moved almost like a dancer in a deadly ballet. Kazumi kept to herself for the most part, but always treated Jocelyn with respect when they spoke and trained. Usually calling her ‘Ramirez-san’ as was common in the Combine. Her respect, skill, and no nonsense nature had earned Joss’s respect as well.

Bart on the other hand seemed friendly and outgoing during their initial meeting and he was definitely easy on the eyes, dark brown wavy hair and dark deep set eyes. Joss had initially thought they may be friends based on their first meeting. However, his true nature became very apparent soon and especially anytime he was in Swede’s proximity. Bart had fully bought into Swede’s faux viking persona. In Bart’s eyes Swede could do no wrong. Joss thought his hero worship and imitation of Alrik’s mannerisms was sickening. At first he often tried to berate her in front of Swede just to be like his hero. A vibro-knife held to his throat late one night and a few whispers in the dark quickly corrected any thoughts he had of continuing in this manner. Joss figured most of his sucking up to Swede was to make up for his inferior piloting skills and lackluster scores on the combat range.

Then of course there was Sargent Alrik Gustafsson “Swede”. Swede was just as he presented himself. He was in it for Swede and Swede only. As long as it benefited and kept the credits flowing into his ComStar account he would do it. Luckily for the lance keeping his them alive benefited him. He was a good pilot clearly Inner Sphere trained, and most of the other Rebels guessed he was from The Free Rasalhague Republic. Maybe a deserter from the Kungsarme. No one knew for sure and he never spoke of his past. One thing Joss knew for sure is that he had a volcanic temper. Once she was having a drink in Red Jack’s Roost and she witnessed Swede break a man’s neck in a fight over a spilled drink. Mechwarriors and justice were in short supply with the Rebels, so nothing ever came of it.

Joss worried a bit about having these pirates at her back in combat. Of the three of them she was only really confident that Kazumi wouldn’t shoot her in the back or at least she hoped.

Edited by Connor Davion, 11 June 2017 - 08:22 AM.


#6 Connor Davion

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 08:29 AM

Part Three – Sometimes You Wish You Could Forget Your First

Blackstone – The Periphery, July 10th 3049 0215 Local Time

The trip to Blackstone had been uneventful. She was disappointed that the Ashigara wasn’t their DropShip this time and that she wouldn’t be able to catch up with Jazz and Rodger, but at least in the month since her arrival at the Rebels’ HQ she had managed to catch up with Jazz once while the Ashigara was on planet. Needless to say the hangover from that night had been legendary.

Joss waited impatiently in the cockpit of her Wasp staring at the closed bay door in front of her 'Mech. This would be a hot drop, possibly even under fire. Being her 1st op she wanted to get in the action and prove herself, anxious to shake off the FNG moniker. The brief before the mission had suggested that any resistance would be light and at best the local militia may be able to field a forestry ‘Mech or two. Nothing that would offer much of a threat to a real BattleMech. The mission was simple. This was a raid pure and simple. Subdue any resistance and take what was needed and any valuables that could be found. No need for excess violence or casualties against the locals.

The lance’s ride into battle was a Leopard class DropShip dubbed the Arris which was just big enough to carry the entire lance together. There was a second Leopard following that was carrying 50 or so of what passed for infantry in Ryan’s Rebels and three empty haulers to bring back whatever they could find. Fifty infantry and four light BattleMechs, hopefully the intel they had was right. They definitely were not outfitted for a prolonged engagement.

She felt the landing thrusters of the DropShip fire and the massive bay door in front of her begin to roll up even before the Arris touched down. A flashing red light in the bay unnecessarily tried to alert her of impending action.

Her com-link crackled and the Swede voice piped in, “Comm check!”

“Princess check.”

“BeeBee here. I have you loud and clear boss.”

“Good God doesn’t the sucking up ever cease?” she thought and then Joss keyed her mic and replied “FNG check.” The name still annoyed her to no end but she had since learned to deal with it for the most part.

“Alright, everyone here except FNG has made a least one combat drop before so make sure you act like it. FNG stick with Princess and do what she does,” Alrik instructed. “When we hit the deck everyone will go two by two stagger formation Princess and FNG in the lead. The objective town is two klicks Northeast.”

With a loud thump and sudden stop the Leopard hit the ground. By this time the bay doors were fully raised, though little could be see through the swirling dust kicked up by the Leopard’s landing thrusters. Trusting to her training she flexed the mighty myomer bundles in Voodoo’s legs and jumped from the DropShip feathering her jump-jets slightly to cushion the landing She then immediate moved to the right bringing her Diverse Optics medium laser to the ready. As the dust cleared a bit she switched to night optics and scanned for hostiles. The powerful optics of her Wasp cut through the darkness, turning everything in sight to an eerie green hue, and a barren plain came quickly into focus. With no place for enemies to hide and her sensors showing no threats she relaxed a little.

“Looks like the LZ is clear. I want 100 meter dispersion. Princess has the point,” Swede’s voice crackled over the tac-comm.

“Hai, Swede-san. FNG on me,” Kazumi replied in her business like tone.

Dis spite herself Joss cringed slightly at the FNG call-sign she was still saddled with.

Kazumi quickly pointed her Commando to the Northeast and smoothly ramped up to cruising speed. Joss pulled her Wasp into formation 100 meters to the rear and left of the Commando matching Kazumi’s pace perfectly. It would be mere minutes before they arrived at the nearby town.

After a few minutes their objective the town of Rockport appeared on their sensors and soon there after the small buildings that made up the town appeared on their visuals as well. Scans showed no defenses of any significance and no heat signatures of powered up ‘Mechs.

“Looks like we caught them napping,” Bart voice broke the silence.

“Shut yer yap,” Swede snapped. “We’ll hold up here and want for the troops and the transports.”

After a few minutes Joss noticed three blue dots appear on her radar as the transports drew near. The beat up old haulers rumbled to a stop near the ‘Mechs feet and fifty scruffy looking troopers clambered out of them, rifles, pistol, knives, clubs, whatever they could find at the ready.

Before they could advance on the town a pair of headlights appeared on the edge of town and began moving towards their position. Joss pinged the vehicle with her scanner and the Identify Friend or Foe (IFF) marked it as a simple tracked APC, marked it red and designated it target Alpha. Armed only with a single machine gun the small troop carrier was no threat to her ‘Mech but wary of tricks she watched it’s approach carefully as did the others.

The APC came to a halt about about 150 meters from the pirate force. The troop ramp lowered causing Joss to tense slightly. However instead of squads of fully loaded combat troops exiting the vehicle ready for battle only three men walked down the ramp. Two appeared to be part of the local militia dressed in military fatigues but not armed for combat other than their standard sidearms. The third member of their welcoming party appeared to be a fat man in a bathrobe carrying a bullhorn. One of the militia members also carried a white flag on a stick

“How strange is this?” Joss thought to herself. “Not a shot fired and they are already prepared to make terms, maybe even surrender outright.”

The three men advanced to about 50 meters from the hastily formed pirate battle line. The balding man in the bathrobe put the bull horn to his lips and activated the device.

“I am mayor Garfield Rothschild of Rockport,” he began.

Immediately several of the pirates started snickering and laughing at the mayor. He was now sweating profusely and looking rather nervous.

Mayor Rothschild cleared his throat and continued, “We know why you are here and we want to negotiate a peaceful resolution. Rockport is a mining community we have no standing militia other than what you see before you and a dozen or so lads in the reserves. We are no threat to you or your forces.” More laughter ensued from the gathered pirates. He cleared his throat once more clearly more agitated than before and continued, “We are clearly out matched and are willing to discuss terms for our immediate capitulation.” He paused waiting for some sort of reply.

Swede shifted his 'Mech slightly in a threatening manner just to make the three men below ever so much more uncomfortable. The he spoke through the external speakers of his Javelin-10N.

“Mr. Mayor I am Sargent Gustafsson of Ryan’s Rebels and I am in charge of this fine fighting force you see before you. We thank you for your kind offer of surrender. Please return to your vehicle and we will follow you into town. There you and I will meet and discuss the terms.”

Mayor Rothschild leaned to the militia man to his right and whispered something. The man nodded his head in return. The mayor returned his gaze to the Javelin towering above him. “Very well Sargent we accept your invitation to parlay please follow us. Welcome to Rockport.”

Swede’s voice came over the comm-link, “Alright form up. BeeBee and I will lead, infantry and haulers in the middle. Princess and FNG on rear guard. Once we enter the town I want you two to stay back and keep an eye on the perimeter, while the rest of us conduct business. Our sources say that any response from the main militia base will take at least 8 hours to arrive due to the lack on DropShips on this **** hole. But still stay frosty anything can happen.”

The MechWarriors and infantry commander each acknowledged Swede’s instructions and the pirates formed into a raggedy column, and followed the militia APC towards the town. Once they got closer to the town Joss got a better feel for just how small this town was. It probably had less then 500 inhabitants based on the amount of housing structures in view. She did note several warehouses that probably contained what was mined in the hills around the town. There was also a lot in the back of one of the warehouses that contained two powered down unarmed mining ‘Mechs and a couple of heavy haulers. Other than that nothing of importance showed on her scanners or visuals.

At the edge of town Kazumi halted her Commando and faced it out from the city turning on her long range sensors. Joss followed her lead and did the same as the rest of the pirate column continued on the short distance to the town square. Joss watched them as well on her 360 view screen.

Once in the square the BeeBee and Swede halted their ‘Mechs as well. Bart remained in his Locust at the ready, but Swede, being the lead on this raid, deployed the chain latter from the cockpit of his ‘Mech and descended to the ground. From their position on the edge of town Joss couldn’t make out many details, but it appeared the mayor waved Swede towards what appeared to be a ferrocrete administrative building bordering the square. Swede and a few of the pirate infantry walked with the mayor into what must be the town hall. The APC they had followed was also parked in the square and a couple of militia men loitered around it. She couldn’t tell for sure, but assumed it was the same men who initially accompanied the mayor.

A few minutes passed and Kazumi’s voice came over the com-link, “Switch to private channel 2, but keep monitor on the all tac-comms and sensors.”

Joss adjusted the dial on her com-link and reported “I’m here.”

“Good Ramirez-san, you can pop the hatch and relax a for awhile long range signals are all clear. Just keep your ‘Mech idled in case we are needed.”

Joss opened the top hatch on the head of her Wasp and stood up allowing the cool predawn breeze to blow over her. If felt to good to stretch and get some fresh air, as even under noncombat conditions a ‘Mech cockpit could be uncomfortably hot. She looked over to the dim outline of the Commando just a few meters beside her and noticed Kazumi had climbed all the way out and was sitting on her ‘Mech’s head. The brief spark and flame of a lighter briefly outlined her face as she lit a cigarette. They sat in silence listening only to the static of the otherwise quiet tac-comms.

Joss continued to monitor the situation in the square looking down into the cockpit at her view screen. The Rebel’s troopers were busy gathering all the locals into the square. It was understandable and made them much easier to manage. Most of the folks still wore their night garments just as the mayor had been. The infantry with Bart’s Locust backing them up quickly and efficiently corralled the civilians and the few militia members and kept them surrounded.

A few moments past and Swede emerged from the building walking with the mayor. Swede escorted him to the holding area and push him into the gathered crowd. The mayor still looked nervous, but seemed composed for the most part. Swede returned to the chain ladder and climbed back into his ‘Mech’s cockpit.

After a moment Swede’s voice came over the external speakers of his 'Mech, “His grace your mayor,” he said addressing the townsfolk, “has graciously provided me with the lockout codes for your mining ‘Mechs, as well as agreeing to provide us with half your stock of ores and of course all your weapons. We thank you and him for the cooperation of the people of Rockport.” The disdain in his voice was evident as he finished his little speech.

The people seemed to relax just a little as it seemed their ordeal would shortly be drawing to a close. The loss of the valuable mining ‘Mechs and half their hard earned ore would hurt, but these were sturdy people and who knew how to bounce back from adversity.

Suddenly there was a loud whoosh and twin tails of smoke erupted from a window on the third floor of the town hall. The two missiles impacted on the back of Swede’s Javelin. Instead of exploding as most conventional munitions would these instead burst open and coated the back of Swede’s ‘Mech with superheated burning chemical compounds that stuck to everything it touched.

A pair of inferno rounds alone were little threat to a ‘Mech. Instead they were designed to cause a ‘Mechs internal heat to rise quickly and hopefully and cause an automatic shutdown of the fusion reactor. Although the temperature in Swede’s cockpit was surly sweltering there was little chance of his otherwise unexerted ‘Mech shutting down.

Everything was frozen in time for a moment. Everyone seemed too stunned for a brief moment to react.

The mayor moved first stepping forward and beginning to plead, “Sir, please this is not...” His voice was then cut off by the swirl of events around the square.

Swede spun his Javelin zeroing in on the third floor of the building. He triggered both of his SRM-6 launchers and since he was so close to the structure all twelve missiles hit almost instantly, showering the Javelin in ferrocrete shards as the detonated. The third floor exploded in fire and shrapnel. With the structure so heavily damaged the rest of the building instantly collapsed on itself in a cloud of smoke and dust. Whoever had defied the Rebels had clearly paid with their life.

As this transpired both Joss and Kazumi had dropped back into the command chairs of their Mech’s scanning for any incoming threats. The screens were still clear. This obviously wasn’t a coordinated attack, probably just a disgruntled civilian or solitary member of the militia.

Still on the private channel Kazumi spoke, “Ramirez-san, hold your position we need to maintain the perimeter.”

At the same time the sound of small arms fire and 'Mech class machine guns erupted from the square. Joss looked to her screen and saw a horrifying sight. The Rebel’s had opened fire on the unarmed civilians in the square. Small arms fire riddled bodies as the people tried to flee. Above the din the distinct sound of the Locust driven by Bart firing it’s heavy machine guns into the crowd below could be heard. Screams sounded through the village.

“No!” she yelled. “Kazumi we must help the civilians!”

“Iie imoto-san, (no little sister – Japanese) there is nothing we can do they are already dead.” Kazumi said with a sadness in her voice.

The weapons fire had already stopped.

“They are animals, barbarians we must...” Joss began as a fury rose in her voice.

Kazumi’s stern voice cut her off, “There is nothing we can do. If you attack and I join you we may win, but what then? We would have just lost our transport from this place. We would be pirates stuck on a foreign world. A world where our unit just massacred a village. Joss-san this would not end well for us no matter what.” Her voice trailed off in a softer tone. “There is no honor to be had here.”

The ‘battle’ of Rockport was over in just a few seconds. There were no survivors. Joss felt sick to her stomach and kept here eyes off the square as much as possible. The pirates began to strip the town of anything of value loading it up on the haulers they had brought. As the sun finally rose over the horizon the devastation was clear. Buildings were demolished and those that still stood were burning. Worst of all were the bodies still laying where they fell torn apart some unrecognizable. Men, women, and children, the images were burned into her memory, it was like a scene from the Seventh Circle of Dante’s Inferno.

She hated them for what they did. She hated herself for doing nothing.

Edited by Connor Davion, 11 June 2017 - 08:30 AM.


#7 Connor Davion

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 08:35 AM

Part Four – Alas, Babylon

Sisyphus’s Lament – The Periphery – August 17th 3049 0746 Local Time

Joss had vowed that her first op with the Rebel’s would be her last. Immediately upon their return to The Lament Joss and Kazumi had agreed secretly that they would leave the Rebel’s at the first opportunity. However, their plan relied on the Rodger, Jazz, and the Ashigara. As they were their only way off this rock without out getting killed for attempting desertion. With recent events the Ashigara had not been to the base in a few weeks, and Joss was getting anxious to get off world quickly. But luckily, it just so happened the Ashigara was in port today.

The pirates recent activities has angered quite a few people both in the Sphere and in the Periphery. Rumor had it that the famed Kell Hound’s had been hired to find and eliminate Ryan’s Rebels. The patrol rotation had increased for Joss and her lance-mates as the pirate’s paranoia grew, but they had seen no sign of the Hounds.

Joss and Kazumi had formulated a simple plan in secret along with with Rodger and Jazz. When they returned from patrol they would tell Swede that they were going to train as they often did each day. At this point they would wait for Swede and Bart the enter the base and then simply walk their ‘Mechs on to the Ashigara as if they belonged there. The pirate’s we not meticulous about their book keeping or observation of the comings and goings at the port and most likely no one would even notice they were missing until they were long gone. They definitely increased their risks by taking the ‘Mechs, but Joss thought at least she could take one last jab at Swede and the rest by stealing ‘Mechs right out from under their noses. Once they were in space they would be in the clear since they pirates had no aerospace assets in system. Rodger had also arranged for an independent JumpShip whose captain he had know for twenty years or more to meet them at the Zenith jump point.

After their escape they planned on possibly starting their own mercenary unit. With the Ashigara, a JumpShip and two 'Mechs they did have a core, albeit a small core, of a unit in the making. Their first stop would be Outreach home of Wolf’s Dragoons and a who’s who of mercs in the Inner Sphere. Having a JumpShip and a DropShip they should be able to recruit fairly easily there even with limited resources. Worse case they should be able to sign on with a legitimate merc unit on Outreach so they could make an honest living.

All those plans seemed far away out here on a ridge at the end of known space. She completed her scans and noticed that there was quite a bit of interference and her long range comms were down.

“Swede this is Ramirez,” she neglected her ‘assigned’ call-sign purposely.

“Go ahead,” he replied tersely as usual.

“I have some interference are you able to contact HQ?” she asked.

After a short pause he replied, “Negative I am unable to contact the base either. I don’t like this crap.” His voice was getting more broken through the static. “Everyone form up on my position. We are going to regroup and return to base. Probably nothing but with the Hounds out for blood we can never be too careful.”

A few minutes later the Joss joined the other three ‘Mechs of the 2nd Recon Lance. Repeated attempts to contact HQ met with failure and static. The entire lance was getting nervous unsure of what was going on.

Suddenly the tac-comm hissed and crackled, “..fpffffzzz...der atta...immedi….zzfftt...shigara…sssssffpt...lifting off...” the harried voice faded into static as once again contact with lost.

They all turned in the general direction of base. Even though the HQ was at least twenty klicks away they could clearly see the small shape of what appeared to be the Ashigara lifting off on a plume of smoke heading for space at maximum thrust. The gazed at the ship in the distance as it continued to rise until it was only a pin ***** in the sky.

Bart’s voice broke the silence, “I don’t know what the hell is going on, but there goes our ride. If we need to get out of here in a hurry we’re screwed.”

“Stow that crap BeeBee. We need to get back to base. If we are evacuating there are still two Leopards on station. Move it now and keep sensors at max and watch your dispersion. We don’t know what we will be walking into from here on,” Swede said trying to get control of the situation.

“Lot of good the sensor will do,” Bart replied sullenly even as the lance turned from the ridge and set a course towards the base.

“Bryson I am going to beat the ever living...” Swede began, but was quickly cut off by a loud boom in the distance followed by a flash far up in the sky.

Everyone in the lance focused their attention in the general area of the sky where the commotion had been. A few moments later Joss spotted something hurtling from the sky it appeared to be a flaming meteor entering the atmosphere.

“Swede,” she begin keeping her eyes on the falling object, “I see what appears to be a meteor entering the atmosphere around 11 o’clock high to the Northeast.”

“I see it on visual,” said Swede as they watched it’s descent.

A minute or more passed and the trajectory of the object made it appear that it would pass directly over their position and impact the valley she had been looking at from the ridge just a few minutes prior. The object continued to get closer and closer, but had not veered from its original trajectory, so it appeared they were safe for the moment. At about a kilometer out it was still too far away for the reduced functionality of their sensors to get a clear reading on it, but visual details were starting to be able to be distinguishable.

Joss gasped as she and the others came to the same realization. It wasn’t a meteor at all, that flaming mass was the Ashigara. The ship clearly had multiple large hull breaches and was coming in way to hot for any sort of a controlled landing. The fiery ship shrieked as it pass overhead at about a thousand meters, the pressure wave of its passing caused ‘Voodoo’ to vibrate and rattle. It crossed just above the ridge line and dropped over the lip of the ridge and out of sight. A second later there was a huge explosion in the valley. The crash was out of their line of sight, but the sound was unlike anything Joss had ever heard and the concussion shook her ‘Mech even thought the impact must have been at least a couple of kilometers away.

“No...,” she said through clenched teeth as she ramped her Wasp up to full speed heading for the ridge. A ship that big maybe there was a chance of survivors. She had to see.

“Did you see that?” Bart said to no one in particular. “The damage done to it? That wasn’t just your everyday holes that a ‘Mech or another DropShip can punch in you. Something ripped it clean open like a tin can. What could have done that and who destroys something as valuable a DropShip rather than boarding and capturing it?” his voice was rising now clearly he was loosing the little bit of self control he normally had.

Swede’s Nordic accent cut in again, “Bart shut that damn hole between your ears and get your **** together before I end you. FNG get your *** back here now!” he bellowed. “That ship and everyone on it is dead don’t waste your time.” Clearly Swede was rattled as well, but he was holding it together much better than Bart.

Joss ignored his instructions and continued on at speed to the ridge line. When she arrived and could finally see the destruction below her. She felt as if someone had punched her in the gut and her breath caught in her throat.

The ship was smashed, broken into pieces from the uncontrolled impact and the parts were strewn about the valley in a trail of destruction. The small amount of oxygen in the air only allowed the wreckage to smolder which was somehow worse than the purifying heat and flame of a true fire. Clearly anyone who might have still be alive when the ship crashed would have died instantly from the velocity of the impact. A tear rolled down her cheek mixing with the already present sweat as she scanned against all hope for any sign of movement below.

She noticed movement on her left and quickly snapped our of her daze and spun the Wasp to face the new threat, raising the Diverse Optics laser to the ready.

“Thank God,” she thought, lowering the ‘Mech’s main weapon, it was Kazumi’s Commando.

“Imoto-san, I am sorry, but they are gone. There is nothing we can do here. You must return with me to the others. There is strength in numbers and time is short,” she said her normally stern professional tone cracking ever so slightly.

“They will pay... Whoever, did this will pay.”

“Hai that is honorable and I will help you when the time is right, but that time is not right now. We must return to Swede-san and secure passage on one of the Leopards or we will die here. Anything that can destroy a DropShip of that size so quickly is more than we can handle.”

Joss glanced once more into the valley below and thought of Jazz, Rodger, and the others that would forever be entombed on this rock. Another tear rolled down her cheek and she angrily brushed it away. “No time for that now,” she thought as she turned her ‘Mech to return to Swede and BeeBee. Grieving and revenge would have to wait. It had now become about survival and their only chance surviving seemed to be to get to HQ, get on one of the Leopards, and hope it could avoid the same fate as the Ashigara.

Joss and Kazumi returned and joined up with their lance mates. Swede didn’t say a word. But his silence spoke volumes. The MechWarriors turned their machines towards home and set off.

Sisyphus’s Lament – The Periphery – August 17th 3049 0833 Local Time

As usual Joss and Kazumi were paired in the point positions in their Wasp and Commando, followed up by Swede and Beebee in their Javelin and Locust respectively. There was still no further contact from the base, but the static had cleared, it was as of they were alone on this rock. Joss hoped there was still someone back at HQ that could get them off this rock. Stranded or dead was no way to get payback on whoever attacked the Ashigara.

The were only a few kilometers from the valley where the Ashigara had crashed when Voodoo’s sensors lit up like a Christmas tree with multiple contacts.

“Swede I have multiple tangos inbound about 750 meters closing fast. They are coming from the general direction of our base. IFF does not paint these as ours.” She reported the tension in her voice clear.

“I have them too,” Kazumi replied seemingly unmoved by their latest predicament. “Five Mechs inbound clearly fixed on our position.”

Joss worked on the settings on her sensors trying to get a clear reading and see what they were up against. The IFF system struggled to make positive identification. Either there was a glitch in her system or their opponents were piloting BattleMechs of an unknown type.

“I can’t getting a clear reading on them IFF will not identify those ‘Mechs. Only reading I can get is a mass estimate they are definitely light ‘Mechs which means we probably can’t out run them.” Joss replied. Her training from the academy was kicking in aiding her in remaining calm and focused on the task at hand.

Swede’s voice began to speak, but was cut off in mid sentence, “OK we need to set up defensive positions here in the rocky grou...”

Am unknown voice interrupted him over the general comm-channel. The voice sounded like no Periphery or Sphere accent they had heard before, “This is Star Captain Kade Torc, Clan Wolf, Alpha Galaxy, 2nd Assault Cluster, 3rd Reconnaissance Binary. I challenge the last free-birth unit on this planetoid for possession of Sisyphus’s Lament. Hopefully you will be more honorable in your deaths than your brethren were. With what forces do you defend?”

“What the hell is he talking about?” Bart asked in a shaky voice on their closed comm channel.

“Hell if I know.” Swede replied clearly worried.

By this time the hostile unit had reached the top of the hill in from of their position. The two forces stood face to face with scarcely 350 meters separating them. Joss was finally able to get clear visuals on the ‘Mechs. They were of a make and manufacture unknown to her, quite unlike anything she had seen before. There were two different types of bipedal ‘Mechs similar only in a very loose sense to Bart’s Locust, but much more menacing and dangerous looking. There were also three various humanoid ‘Mechs each looking sleek, deadly, and utterly alien in design.

Than she noticed there were small objects, armored infantry or tiny ‘Mechs, clinging to each the five BattleMechs. As she watched mesmerized they ignited small jumpjets, descended from their perches, and formed up in some sort of battle formation on the ground below the foreign ‘Mechs. They looked almost toad-like as they hopped to their positions. There were approximately twenty-five of these powered battle armored infantry though due to their small size their sensors were having trouble tracking them and confirming how many there truly were.

Before she could continue her inspection Star Captain Kade Torc’s clearly irritated voice was on the general comm again.

“Once more stravags with what do you defend? If you do not answer I will bring my full binary to bear on your meager forces.”

There was silence for a moment and then thinking it was better to say something than nothing Joss blurted out, “We will defend with our lance.” She had no idea if that is what she was supposed to say or not or even if she should have spoken at all.

There was another pause and then Torc’s voice echoed from the comms again, “Very well free-birth even though you do not deserve the honor we accept your bid. Clan Wolf will attack with two BattleMech points and one Elemental point. Bargained well and done free-birth.”

With that the two bipedal ‘Mechs and five of the armored infantry stepped forward separating themselves from the others. With no further communication they moved forward to engage Swede’s lance. The ‘Mechs were quick and agile, and the infantry bounded forward in huge leaps their jumpjets covering large distances as they advanced. Clearly the infantry would engage first.

“OK Joss, this is it. The real thing,” she thought to herself as she brought her medium laser to bear on the advancing armored infantry. Her targeting computer was having trouble tracking the small nimble infantry. She would have to eyeball this and shoot on reflexes alone.

Before she could depress the firing stud Bart triggered a wild shot with his Locust’s medium laser and carved a furrow in the dirt just in front of the advancing infantry. The infantry instantly changed direction veering away from their original target, Joss’s Wasp, and bounded towards the Locust.

“Concentrate on the ‘Mechs first. The infantry isn’t a major threat to our ‘Mechs.” Swede instructed in a strained voice following common Inner Sphere wisdom that infantry was little threat to armored BattleMechs.

Joss swung her Diverse Optics Medium Laser up and snapped off a shot a the nearest advancing ‘Mech. The beam of coherent light stitched across the oncoming ‘Mech’s torso. Armor melted and ran in glowing rivers flowed from the wound. The bipedal ‘Mech had low slung arms and evidently sufficient armor for a brawl. It shrugged off the damage and returned fire.

The Auto Cannon in it’s right arm barked and spat flame. Joss instantly felt the impact as the shotgun like spray from the invader’s cannon peppered the Wasp’s left torso and arm with a forceful impact, luckily not breaching her light armor. Internal gyros spun, aided by her own sense of balance which was fed directly into the war machine via the neuro-helmet, she kept ‘Voodoo’ upright and in the fight.

Unfortunately things elsewhere on the battlefield were going even worse for the others in her lance. The armored infantry had reached Bart’s ‘Mech and were swarming over the surface of the Locust. They fired small arm mounted laser and tore at the small ‘Mech’s armor with mechanical claws attached to the arms opposite of the lasers. Clearly Bart was in trouble.

Due to the Locust’s lack of arms he was unable to clear the infantry from the surface of his ‘Mech. “They are all over me!” he screamed clearly in a panic. “Multiple armor breaches. Someone help!”

Kazumi’s Commando shifted it’s stance and sprung to life trying to quickly close the distance between her position and that of the Locust. She struggled to lock in on the small forms swarming Bart’s ‘Mech. She couldn’t risk a shot with her SRM packs or medium laser, as they would surly damage, and maybe even destroy the Locust as well as the enemy. Opting instead to hopefully close the distance in time to use the hands of her machine to physically clear and crush the armored troops.

Before she could close the distance one of the Toad-like infantrymen attached itself to the cockpit of Bart’s Locust. Tearing armor with it’s claw and firing it’s arm mounted laser directly into the breached cockpit Bart had little time to do anything but scream before he was vaporized.

The ‘Mech crumpled to the ground. Kazumi cried out, “Omae o korosu! (Japanese – I will kill you)” as she charged ahead firing her medium laser and SRMs at the infantry. The laser scored a direct hit on the Battlesuited soldier that had just killed Bart. The chest clearly breached it fell to the ground unmoving. Amid the multiple explosions from the SRMs impacting around them the others scattered momentarily retreating stunned by the ferocity of her attack, but otherwise appearing operational.

At the same time Swede had his hands full with his opponent as well. He maneuvered his Javelin trying to bring his two SRM-6 batteries into firing range. But his opponent, a squat ‘Mech with two low slung arms each carrying some sort of high caliber weapon, had other ideas. From beyond Swede’s SRM’s range the squat ‘Mech fired these weapons, charging ahead as twin arcs of man-made lightning illuminated the battlefield briefly. One struck the Javelin in it’s right torso and the other missing just right of the cockpit.

One PPC much less two on a ‘Mech that small was unheard of in the Inner Sphere. The Javelin twisted to the right under the impact as the man-made lightning crackled and melted armor from the machine’s torso. The impact caused Swede to prematurely fire both his SRM-6s at the menacing foe. All but one impacted harmlessly in front of the quickly advancing monstrosity. The one hit barely scratched it’s leg armor and did nothing to phase the piloting MechWarrior in the least. It continued to close in on the damaged Javelin.

Swede’s voice, losing much of it’s Nordic accent, could be heard over the tac-comm, “Damn it what the hell is that thing?” He was clearly confused and losing his composure. With barely a moments hesitation Swede swung his Javelin 180 degrees and pushed it to full speed attempting to retreat from the battlefield.

“Dezgra, stravag! You will not rob me of my honor!” Star Captain Torc’s furious voice bellowed over the open channel.

Twin bolts of lightning once again erupted from the arms of the Clan ‘Mech. This time both stuck with full force in the back of the retreating Javelin. Armor melted and internal structure twisted as the twin PPCs did their work. The Javelin’s heat signature blossomed in what was a MechWarrior’s worst nightmare, the fusion engine shielding had been breached. The engine’s immediate thermal expansion left no time for the automatic safeguards to shut the engine down or for Swede to even think of ejecting from the machine’s fiery death. The fireball grew and devoured everything within nearly a hundred meters of the ‘Mech leaving no evidence other than the smoldering crater and small bits of scrap that the Javelin ever existed.

Joss glanced at her sensors, only moments into the fight they were down two ‘Mechs at a loss of only one powered infantryman for their foes. Only Kazumi’s Commando and her Wasp remained on the field. It was clear their opponents would neither ask or offer quarter.

She continued her dance of death with the second ‘Mech nimbly dodging incoming laser fire from the opposing warrior. Only ‘VooDoo’s’ mighty Rawlings jumpjets were keeping her in the fight. But jumping multiple time to avoid the incoming fire was quickly raising the operating temperature of her ‘Mech.

“I won’t be able to keep this up for long” she though as she triggered her Bical SRM-2 pack, causing the internal temperature of her ‘Mech to spike again and sweat to cloud her vision. The twin missiles spiraled and made a clean hit impacting the advancing ‘Mech at the left knee. The hit clearly affected the ‘Mech and she noticed it slow with a noticeable limp. “Not invincible after all are you?” she thought with a brief glimmer of hope.

That hope was short lived as the damaged ‘Mech returned fire with all it’s weapons in unison in a maneuver known as an alpha strike. Evidently her opponent wanted this fight over quickly. This was a risky move that could potentially over heat and shut down a ‘Mech in combat leaving it essentially helpless on the battlefield. Missiles, beams of coherent light, and the invisible supersonic shotgun like round from the arm mounted AC all flashed towards her at once as she triggered her jumpjets in a desperate attempt to avoid the salvo.

Her attempt was only partially successful as the four SRMs flew past her ‘Mech exploding harmlessly on the ground where ‘Voodoo’ had just stood. However, the AC tore once again into her already damage torso and the lasers converged on right arm at the shoulder, tearing the Wasps right arm off at the shoulder actuator taking her medium laser with it. Warning lights lit up all over her control panel as she fought to gain control of the seriously damaged BattleMech while still in mid jump. Somehow she managed to land the savaged ‘Mech upright. The machine pushed to it’s limits stumbled slightly going to one knee in the process. She worked the controls getting ‘Voodoo’ back in a full standing position. Her opponent did not immediately finish her off as she expected. Instead it seemed to be venting heat while closing in and perhaps waiting on it’s weapons to cycle before completing the kill.

Simultaneously across the battlefield Kazumi watched as the Armored Infantry reorganized quickly and began to advance towards her ‘Mech. A familiar voice came over the open channel once more.

“Neg, I will engage this free-birth in personal combat, retire your point. Quiaff?” Star Captain Torc commanded.

“Aff Star Captain,” came the deep voiced response.

The remaining four battle-suited infantrymen, stopped their advance on Kazumi immediately and headed back towards the unengaged units to their rear. The squat ‘Mech with the two PPCs turned quickly and faced Kazumi’s position.

“I hope you bring more honor than the first stravag I faced this day. His attempted retreat from the battlefield has made him and his dirty free-birth kin dezgra. My honor has not yet increased today,”

“Star Captain Torc-san there will be no disgrace in this moment on this field. Not at least until I stand over your burning carcass,” came Kazumi’s steely reply.

“Aaarggh! How dare a free-birth address me in such a manner!” Torc yelled as he advanced yet again.

Both Mech’s accelerated. The metal behemoths raced towards each other as the dance began again. Kazumi knew inside of 90 meters that Torc’s PPCs would not be effective and his ‘Mech didn’t appear to be carrying much if any other weaponry. Getting inside that radius was going to be difficult, but it was her only chance of surviving this encounter.

Torc triggered his PPCs again this time in chain fire mode to lessen the chance of overheating, The first shot sizzled as it missed to the right of the evading Commando. The follow up shot from the second PPC found it’s mark hitting the right arm of the fast moving Commando in a shower of sparks and molten armor. Metal twisted and the arm fell useless hanging at the side of the war machine, taking out the Coventry four shot SRM mounted there along with it.

Kazumi expertly compensated for the weight of the lost armor and the now useless appendage dragging alongside her wounded machine and continued her advance firing her Defiance B3M Medium laser striking Torc’s Mech in the right arm as she could tell by the glowing wound just above the elbow actuator.

“Stravag!” Torc cursed in his open mic as he patiently waited for his PPC capacitors to fill once more.

Kazumi counted the seconds and the meters as she closed the gap praying that the PPCs would not complete their charge before she was inside their effective range, “175...150..125..100,” she counted as the rangefinder ticked down. She was now basically at point blank range. She depressed the firing stud and activated her Shannon Six Shooter SRM pack and watched with satisfaction as five of the six missiles spiraled in and found their mark. Four impacted on Torc’s already damaged right arm sending the barrel of the PPC flying and spinning away from the impact. The other hit the squat ‘Mech’s center torso causing little damage other than to the ‘Mech’s armor.

She had effectively halved the Star Captain’s fire power and was now inside the remaining PPC’s effective firing range. The fight had turned decidedly in her favor as her Commando was much better suited to infighting than her opponent. Or at least so she thought.

The Star Captain’s ‘Mech slowed swiveling it’s undamaged side towards the Commando and fired it’s remaining PPC. Lightning arced towards Kazumi, who was much too close to avoid it, striking the already damaged ‘Mech’s torso. Kazumi could hear the grinding gyros and lost complete control of the Commando as it crumpled and fell to the ground. She tasted blood and sweat and her eyesight was fading.

“I guess the invaders tech doesn’t play by our rules,” was her last thought before the blackness engulfed her.

Glancing at her screen Joss saw Kazumi’s last moments and felt a hollow pit in her stomach. She was the last. No one to save her, no way out.

“So be it," she thought. "If this is end, let’s make it one to remember,” she said aloud to no one as she steeled herself for what was to come.

She fired her only remaining weapon, the SRM-2, at the recovering ‘Mech in front of her. Nothing happened. Frantically she depressed the firing switch to the SRMs again and again still nothing. The weapon was either jammed or destroyed. She felt a panic for a second and as the metal giant in front of her moved forward sensing victory.

Then a peace, a calmness even, surrounded her this was the end she would join her friends that had gone before her. Almost unconsciously she fired ‘VooDoo’s’ Rawlings jumpjets once more, even though the heat in the cockpit was unbearable at this point. The twisted hulk that remained of the Wasp rose quickly into the air hurtling towards the enemy ‘Mech as it moved in to finish the job once and for all.

The unsuspecting MechWarrior had no time to react as twenty tons of steel and myomer careened towards his ‘Mech. The was no time to dodge or even throw his machines arms up in despair. There was no time to contemplate what insanity would cause another warrior to use their Battlemech as a projectile.

The heat generated by the ‘Mech had finally taken it’s toll on Joss. At some point during the short flight she had blacked out. But, as if taking on a life of it’s own ‘VooDoo’ continued her course straight and true. The Wasp’s foot crashed into the opposing ‘Mech’s cockpit smashing reinforced steel, armor, flesh, and bone, crushing the life from the MechWarrior inside.

With no one at either controls the two ‘Mechs fell in a crumpled heap on the battlefield, smoking ruins of once proud machines.






Epilogue

Dire Wolf – Clan Wolf Flagship – Sisyphus’s Lament Nadir Jump Point – The Periphery – August 18th 3049 2103 Local Time

Voices, she heard voices. Though her eyes remained shut and she was still unable to open them the voices were clear to her. One voice she recognized from her nightmare, no not a nightmare...

“She appears to be stable Aff?,” Kade Torc’s distinctive voice echoed in her head. “How long before she awakes?”

“Aff Star Captain she is stable,” a gentler female voice replied. “But there is no way to tell when she will have full consciousness. She is wounded and was without proper oxygen levels for sometime before recovery, add to that the heat stroke she suffered...” the woman was cut off by a third deep masculine voice.

“Bah, Star Captain, we should just end this free-birth now. This stravag is weak and of no use to us!”

“Neg Star Commander, I have claimed Isorla. I am her bondholder she is now my bondsman under my protection. You will not lay a hand on her without my permission. In our victory over the free-births yesterday she fought like the Clans, ruthless and unyielding, defeating ristar Warrior Edward with no functioning weapons of her own remaining. Just a low born free-birth, yet she beat my best Warrior in one on one combat, while piloting an inferior Battlemech. We must know if this is typical of the warriors of the Inner Sphere or just an anomaly. Quiaff?” Torc paused for a moment.

“Aff Star Commander,” the baritone voice sullenly replied.

“She may yet be of some use to Clan Wolf,” Torc concluded thoughtfully.

The voices were fading and she was no longer able to keep even the semblance of consciousness she had so briefly achieved. Once again the sweet soothing darkness enveloped her. Torc’s voice echoing one last time in her mind, his last words lingering like a warning. “Clan Wolf...”

– The End –


Edited by Connor Davion, 10 February 2018 - 07:00 PM.


#8 CptSarjgon

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Posted 29 December 2017 - 06:17 PM

Dude, you need to get this published as a short story. This is amazing.

#9 Connor Davion

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 06:22 PM

View PostCptSarjgon, on 29 December 2017 - 06:17 PM, said:

Dude, you need to get this published as a short story. This is amazing.


Sorry been on a bit of a break. Thank you for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed it.

I am thinking of continuing Jocelyn's story one day and maybe someone else who might or might not have survived.





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