New Ardenia Ruins
23 January 3063
The Arcadian mammoth’s trunk swung wildly, as though snuffling the air. The ears flapping at invisible mites—despite the subzero temperatures—while the meters-long tusks searched for a threat. The massive beast, not finding the danger its instincts warned of, continued on its path at the end of the shattered ferrocrete and tumbled buildings a kilometer distant.
Galaxy Commander Vanel Talasko stretched, jaw cracking as a yawn drew forth its usual physiological reaction that seemed to echo in every muscle and sinews of his body.
At least that creature is able to move. Great Father, how long have we been here? He almost broke comms silence to find out, then chided himself over the lapse. You would tear off the arm of one of your hotheads and beat them with it if they countermanded one of your orders in such a dangerous way. While he lauded the aggression in his command—or any of those that espoused his truths—allowing it to endanger a mission was unacceptable.
He tried to distract himself from the truth of this assignment. Bad enough he was away from his command on Albion. Or that it forced him to encroach on the domain of Epsilon Galaxy and Galaxy Commander Carlos Hutchinson. All that was bad enough. But this—this was punishment, plain and simple. Or as simple as the politics of any Clan’s high command can be considered.
Vanel glanced at the radar screen, noting the discrete blips that made up the Trinary of warriors spread throughout the ruins of New Ardenia. With each ’Mech almost completely shut down, they were practically invisible. With heat signatures banked so low in the freezing air, and the heavy presence of the metallic skeletons of this world’s long-lost first colonies, Vanel’s prey would need to be on top of one of his unit’s ’Mechs to discover their presence.
He stifled another yawn at the endless hours of inactivity and once again looked down both streets that diverged away from the corner building hiding Void, his similarly, nearly shut-down Hellfire. The snows of winter blanketed the ruins in wafting banks that attempted to hide the terrible scars. But the endless ticking of the ’Mech’s radiation sensors spoke of the residue of the nuclear fire which rained down centuries ago on the belligerent citizens of that once-thriving colony. As the Founder forged the Clans, the remnants of the Pentagon Worlds descended into a savagery that matched the worst of the wars to free the Terran Hegemony from the Usurper so long ago. The wars that shattered the hallowed Star League.
As he ruminated on the excesses of those times and the need to prevent their reoccurrence, a new thought blossomed. We are that bulwark. I am that bulwark. This notion illuminated the most demeaning aspect of this assignment. Hunting bandits. I am a Trueborn warrior of Clan Star Adder. My Bloodright descends directly from the warriors that followed the Founder to cleanse the Pentagon of the corruption that felled the Star League. And they have me fighting bandits!
And yet…bandits were where it all began. The devastation of the ruins all around him could be laid at the feet of bandits that refused to listen to the Great Father. Would not the Founder think such work the highest mark of a warrior? Have I been looking at this all wrong?
The radar pinged softly, drawing him from his reverie. A Star’s worth of five arrows probed at the edges of the ruins that served as the base of operations from which these bandits had raided far and wide across Arcadia. The Clans had tried to ignore these raids for the dishonor it would incur to fight them, especially as the bandits always fled at a moment’s notice. Even building this trap had felt wrong as Vanel had laid the plan and put it into action.
They have given up all honor. What care I the actions we use to eliminate them if it means we keep order? We keep our honor where it is required.
He keyed in the sequence that raced across landlines laid to sync communications with his Trinary, setting the stage for springing the trap. Then he cut the wire and slowly brought the fusion engine at the heart of his BattleMech up from its banked state. Joules trickled down Void’s extremities into the bevy of heavy lasers waiting for action.
Anticipatory sweat lined his face as almost half an hour passed, the bandits careful in their movements. At long last, the moment arrived: an ancient BattleMaster lumbered a mere hundred meters down the street. Vanel slammed the power full-on, bringing weapons to bear and unleashing hell on the unsuspecting bandit.
I am the bulwark.
After the costly Absorption of Clan Burrock, Clan Star Adder felt pressed to strengthen its weakened Touman. Adder scientists, working closely with the warrior caste, chose to reexamine the Lupus, an ancient second-line BattleMech. This coincided with the development of heavy lasers, and several retrofitted designs worked as a test bed for the new laser technology. While somewhat slow for a BattleMech of its tonnage, the newly rechristened Hellfire boasted a combination of heavy armor and firepower that impressed across the board. Khan Cassius N’Buta ordered the process scaled-up, and scores of Hellfires soon appeared in Star Adder Galaxies across Clan Space.
Galaxy Commander Vanel Talasko is the recognized leader of the hotheaded younger warriors within Clan Star Adder. In fact, some whisper that the rising dissatisfaction of this bloc of ristars pushed Clan Star Adder from secondary status into recent prominence within the Clan Homeworlds. This dissatisfaction only rose further after the Adder Khans’ conservative bidding cost the Clan a place in Operation REVIVAL. To assuage that pressure from an angry bloc of warriors—and seeing an opportunity with several of the most powerful Clans fully committed to the Inner Sphere invasion—the Adders flexed their muscles, which directly led to the Burrock Absorption.
Whether Galaxy Commander Vanel Talasko will exploit that perception to climb higher with Clan Star Adder is anyone’s guess. But his espousal of aggressive tactics are borne out in full view of allies and enemies alike, as his Hellfire, Void, savages any enemies that dare challenge him.
Written by Randall Neil Bills
Catalyst Game Labs