Aboard derelict Pentagon-class Dropship
In orbit around GJ 3634c dwarf planet
Pokhara System, Kurita space near Davion border
February 18, 3029
The faint whine of a high energy electrical discharge could almost be heard a moment before the heavy blast door began to glow, faintly at first, but then slowly getting brighter in short pulses as though being heated intermittently from the other side. A short number of pulses later and the center of the door was glowing white hot and rivulets of molten ferrosteel were running down the inside, a final pulse of white hot heat and a large section of the middle of the door seemed to heave inward as the metal began to flow like a liquid and separated from the cooler edges of the blast door. As the molten ferrosteel cooled rapidly it created a pile of slag the obscured close to half of the 1.5m (5') diameter hole that now existed in the blast door, although it did not actually block the hole itself. Through the inky blackness now visible on the other side the glowing barrel of a support laser could be seen as it slowly radiated heat into the cold vacuum of space that permeated almost the entire ship. Several beams of light from various flashlights danced across the still cooling edges of the hole, the now red hot glow of the metal almost obscured under the intensity of the lights. The thudding of footsteps could be felt, if not heard, through the vibrations of the deck indicating that whatever had just melted through the blast door was of a formidable size, had anyone alive been on the inside of the room they very likely would have been fearing for the lives at this moment. As it was, there was nothing but another pair of skeletons in this room, yet more victims of what was most likely the rapid decompression of the ship and subsequent failure of the life support systems after it suffered catastrophic damage in what appeared to be a single blow. The once formidable 4,000 tonne dropship was laid low by a singular unlucky strike from what had to be Capital-class weaponry which had pierced it's port side and ripped a gash through the entire vessel from bow to stern.
I manouevered the Golem exoskeleton up to the hole blasted into the armoury door and bent over to look inside, the close proximity blocking most of the light from my shoulder mounted spotlight and prevented me from seeing anything useful inside. I had gotten pretty good at melting through the blast doors using the Support Laser underslung on the right arm of the exoskeleton, the doors were actually designed to withstand some serious firepower and through a bit of trial and error I had worked out that with proper timing I could melt through the door with around 5 shots without completely destroying the door, and whatever happened to lay beyond it. I got a fair amount of flak when the first door they had me try shooting through melted like butter and the final shot went straight through it and destroyed anything worth salvaging in the room behind it. After a few more mishaps I could now reliably melt the door enough to force their way in, if not outright enter through the hole, and it was much faster than trying to cut through the door with a cutting torch. With the power still out throughout 80% of the ship this was the easiest way to get through the myriad of blast doors that were all closed on the derelict vessel.
"Well you got through this one nicely Orlex," said Vincent as he slid up next to me, his own light splashing across the opening, "Let's see what we've got."
I reached out and grabbed his shoulder with my left hand as he began to try and move into the open hole, "What gives Orlex?"
"Take your light off the hole and look again," I replied, "didn't think you'd want to roast yourself just yet."
He moved his light away from the hole he was about to enter and took in a deep breath as he saw the metal was still glowing red hot without the bright flashlight on it, "Umm, yeah. Thanks. I'll just take a peak through the hole then."
"He's always in a rush this one," said Bill as he glided up behind Vincent and planted the magnetic boots of his Engineering spacesuit firmly on the deck, "someone always has to look out for him it seems."
The two engineers were like brothers and over the past week had grown accustomed to working with me and the Golem exoskeleton that we were prototyping, with me being the guinea pig pilot. Despite the Grail Lords being a highly trained DMI special forces squad that I was unwillingly assigned to, with the sole purpose of testing a prototype combat exoskeleton, and my initial misgivings of the unit as whole, there was a few individuals on the team that I actually got along with and that even seemed to appreciate my presence. The only reason I was the test pilot was because my younger brother was a relatively high ranking DMI operative with MI4 and was in joint command of the team that was assigned to test the prototype in the field, well that and the fact that none of the actual DMI operatives on the team had any interest in piloting what they referred to as the Iron Coffin. It had been just over a week since we initially boarded the derelict Pentagon-class dropship that was discovered on the border of Davion and Kurita space and in that time we had managed to setup a fully functioning base in one of the still intact engineering stations and began the rather arduous task of salvaging Star League era tech and equipment. We had found a cache of Mauser 960 pulse lasers in one of the armouries we had previously breached, thankfully without destroying the door or the rooms contents, and while most had succumbed to the centuries of neglect floating derelict in space there were several that were salvageable and even a few that were still functional, once powered with a proper battery. We had even managed to retrieve a pair of Gauss rifles and a few dozen rounds of ammunition from an unsecured cargo hold and there were at least 3 more Gauss rifles installed in salvageable weapons bays on the ship, those would have to wait for the salvage team though, we weren't about to mess with them and risk breaking such valuable equipment. The salvage team themselves had arrived a couple days earlier and were still getting themselves situated and preparing to start full scale salvage operations on the vessel itself. They planned on stripping everything they could from the vessel, right down the double heat sinks and even the reactor if they could manage it. The ship would never be operational again though so the hope of flying it away from the moon and back into Davion space was nothing but a dream now.
"Should be cool enough now Vincent," said Bill as he indicated the metal had cooled off enough to safely touch, "still pretty hot, but at least it won't melt our suits now."
"Very funny Bill, I seem to recall you almost tore open your own suit trying to squeeze into the breach where we found the Mausers," responded Vincent as he moved to slide through the ample opening.
"I never said I was perfect, but at least that would have been easily fixed. Can't really unmelt a spacesuit now can you?"
A grumble was Vincent's only reply as he disappeared into the darkness of the armoury, Bill followed him into the void a moment later. Unable to fit into the current hole due the bulk of the Golem I tried to position myself so I could both shine my shoulder mounted spotlight through the hole and see into it as well, after a few moments of shifting around I found a good spot and was able to watch as Bill and Vincent took an inventory of the armoury and found a few useful items.
"Nice, is that a working MCES (Marine Combat Environment Suit) Vincent?"
"I think so, hard to tell for sure but it was sealed in the locker and everything looks intact. Look there's more of them here too."
"Wow, I've got another two over here, they're missing pieces though, I think the weapons cabinet has some pulse lasers in it."
"Find some good stuff in there guys?" I queried over the comms, the vacuum made regular communication useless.
"Looks like it Orlex, at least a few working Marine Combat suits and some pulse lasers. We'll catalog it and come back later to collect them, we still have two more rooms to clear this shift," replied Vincent.
"Sounds good, I'm going to get started on opening this corridor door, according to the map our next target room is a storage compartment down that hallway."
I moved away from the breached armoury door and set about using the cutting torch mounted on the Golem's left arm to begin cutting through the standard door that was blocking our path, no need to use the support laser on this door as a few well placed cuts would allow me to brute force the doors open with relative ease.
11 days later...
Aboard Black OPs DMI DroST IVc-class Dropship Gorgon
Zenith Jump Point, rendezvous with Lithe Fox jumpship
Addicks System, Davion Space
March 1, 3029
The Gorgon deftly spun around and drifted slowly towards the Scout-class jumpship's singular docking collar, the dull thunk of the vessel's mating and securing their connection reverberating through the hull, before the Lithe Fox's KF-drive started to spin up. A few short minutes later and there was nothing but the momentary afterglow as the paired vessels disappeared in a wink as the KF field coalesced. Nearly 20 light years away, in the Errai system, the same paired vessels emerged from nothingness in a brilliant flash of EM and IR interference that could be mistaken for nothing except a jumpship emergence. Wasting no time the 2,500 tonne Gorgon disconnected from the docking collar on the jumpship and broke away at a steady 1G burn towards the third planet in the seven planet system, not unusual for a cargo hauler which the Gorgon was currently masquerading as. The local government had no idea that the ship was actually carrying a team of highly trained DMI operatives with the sole mission of targeting and disrupting or eliminating Maskirovka elements known to exist on the Davion controlled world.
The Grail Lords had finished their part in the salvage operation of what was supposed to have been a Star League era warship, but instead was a Rim Worlds Alliance Pentagon-class assault dropship, nearly two weeks ago. They had secured the vessel within Kurita space and had started the salvage operation, ensuring everything was safe before the actual salvage team was brought in for the heavy lifting. Afterwards the Grail Lords had returned to Addicks for their debrief and were reassigned to assist in the Errai system. The recent turmoil caused by the ongoing Fourth Succession War had allowed House Liao to get a foothold in the Errai system in the form of several Maskirovka teams, the DMI knew of their actions and had confirmed their presence but didn't know just how many, or few, actual Maskirovka teams there were. The enemy intelligence teams were promoting terrorist actions across the planet and appeared to be trying to upset the somewhat delicate balance of power that the current mob bosses had. The planet, Errai II, was in Davion ruled space and had a Davion approved government but it was so deeply embedded with corruption that it was really the criminal underworld that ruled most of the planet, at least as far as the locals were concerned. The system itself still provided goods and services the rest of Davion space and complied with all the necessary laws on paper so outwardly it seemed like just another industrial hub in the great Federated Suns machine, but anyone who visited one of the major cities could see the influence of the planet's seedy underworld.
"...our part will consist of rooting out these undesirable elements when they are discovered and eliminating them as deemed fit. Most of the team will not be involved with the undercover work and will instead form one of the quick response strike teams. Orlex, that includes you, you'll be pleased to learn that while you are still primarily our Golem pilot for the foreseeable future, you've been granted permission to use your Merlin BattleMech on this mission should the situation warrant it, we've taken the liberty of painting it in the local militia colours already. We also have access to a small selection of 'mechs from the local garrison should we have need of them. We'll be based on Errai III, posing as a cargo hauler on temporary hire while one of the regulars is in dry dock for some maintenance, that means we'll be making regular runs to Errai II to keep up appearances so don't expect alot of down time on this one. Finally, there's been hints that it might not just be Maskirovka down there, undoubtedly there's the local organized crime groups but they'll mostly play ball with us, at least until we get rid of the other troublemakers. There's nothing concrete but some individuals believe the ISF or another Kurita unit may also be involved, as always keep your heads on a swivel, it's not the first time we've been in the viper's den."
Captain Leena finished the mission brief without pausing for questions, her and her team had been working together so long she knew they didn't have any. It was a straight-forward mission, as far as intelligence operations go, and everyone had already gone through the full mission brief we received the night before. The few questions I might have had probably wouldn't have gotten a straight answer anyways and since I was low man on the totem pole I already had all the information I was privy to. As it was, I was glad to be given a chance to pilot Bastion, my 60-ton Merlin, again, even if it was just a remote chance, I was much more comfortable piloting it over the comparatively miniscule half ton Golem exoskeleton. Although the time spent with the Golem aboard the derelict Pentagon dropship during the salvage operation had caused me develop a certain appreciation for it.