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The Universe, 3028

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"ARRRRGH!"

The frustrated scream echoed down the corridor as, en route to my quarters, I stopped over at the Med Bay, nearly colliding with a medic - Crissa Simard - as I did so.

"Captain!"

"Oh, hey, Crissa - sorry about that," I replied. Looking past her shoulder, I saw a red-faced and perspiring Steve Jenkins screaming unintelligibly at the medical robot we'd picked up during our reclamation mission to Castle Nautilus in the Periphery, following the Arano crisis. "Everything - okay?"

"Yes," Simard sighed, glancing in the direction of the exam booth. "He's coming down from the side effects of drinking nearly a liter of industrial alcohol."

"Holy shit," I replied. "Now I know who threw up on my elevator. Okay - thanks for looking after him. Give me a shout if you need any help."

"Will do, sir," Crissa replied. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Nope, I'm just here to grab some painkillers. My 'Mech took a couple tumbles today and I'm starting to feel the aftermath in my back. Just need something to take the edge off while nature does its thing," I smiled.

"Alright - well, if that changes, you know where to find us."

I nodded an affirmation, and, maneuvering into the Med Bay, I wandered past Jenkins and the robot, deliberately attempting to avoid eye contact as I did so.

"I AM MING AS YOU ARE MING AS WE ARE ALL MING TOGETHER! YOU HAVE SMOKE COMING OUT YOUR EARS!" Jenkins screamed at the robot. Legitimately concerned that the Med Bay might be on fire, I dared to glance toward the exam area. The robot was not, in fact, on fire.

"Captain Maxwell! Pull over the helicopter, please! I have to pee," Steve pleaded. Before I could formulate a reply, a large wet spot began forming at his feet.

"Uh...it's going to be all right. The doctor will make you all better," I fumbled, hastily grabbing an entire bottle of painkillers from the nearby medicine cabinet.

"This isn't a doctor!" Steve retorted, resentfully, chewing loudly on a handful of pills. "It's a robot!"

I couldn't resist. "You see a robot? Huh. That's weird," I replied. Steve glanced furtively between me and the robot before dissolving into hysterics. Hastily, I took my leave of the Med Bay before things could take a stranger turn.

###

In my quarters, I tapped out a brief message to Hauptmann Vogel and the Lyran Commonwealth's planetside MRB liaison, Alban Stieglitz-Bradford.

Gentlemen - 

Operation Zweihänder Metallarbeiten is successful. Objective is secured for LCAF handoff at your discretion. Debrief attached. Aegis Division remains at your disposal for further maneuvers.

Awaiting your reply,

CDR C. Maxwell

Attaching the BattleROMs and situation report of Operation Zweihänder Metallarbeiten, I uploaded the encrypted data to MercNet. Then, stashing my gear bag, I headed off in search of a shower and a hot meal.

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OOC: All - we're ready to jump the storyline forward about seven days. If you have any further plot exposition you'd like to include, please let me know or go ahead and post now. 🙂

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Meanwhile...

C.S.V. Half Moon
In transit to system jump point
Gan Singh IV - November 11, 3028
_____________________________

"Yeah, you've got my word that I won't talk." I said, drinking down the last remnants of my cocktail. Whatever the bartender had given me was strong and taking hold. "I definitely wouldn't want to screw things up for the entire Commonwealth."

"Good." Major Hayes answered me. "The long-term gains outweigh the short-term salaciousness of telling someone that you know a secret. It could even end up being lucrative for you, too."

I frowned at the Major. "I'm not in this business for personal enrichment."

"Is that a fact? What are you in it for?" 

The question surprised me.

"I'm an adrenaline junkie." I finally said. 

"Well, I guess as long as you like your work." Major Hayes added with a laugh. "Hey, I'm gonna call it a night. Nice chatting with you."

"Yeah, same." I said, a warm, relaxed feeling coming over me. I was going to sleep well tonight. 

I'll keep the computer put away...for now.

 

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Aboard the Leopard-class dropship "Mjolnir"
Nadir Jump point, Myrvoll System (Marik Space)
November 17, 3028
_________________________

It had been three days since we left Myrvoll and while all was not well among the members of BeoWulf's Knights everyone had calmed down enough to be more than civil with each other. This was usually how things went with this group, one or more people could go off on something but then, given some space and time, everyone would typically come around and within a few days things were back to normal. It was the sign of a group that had either worked extensively with each other or that just meshed really well when someone could blow off steam like that and it not affect the overall group's cohesion. That's not to say things were perfectly fine, it was still a tense three days and there was times where I swear you could feel tension when you walked into a room, unfortunately being stuck on a relatively small dropship meant there weren't many rooms you could avoid or separate into. Luke spent most of the time in the 'mech bay tinkering with his MechTech as they worked around the clock repairing his nearly destroyed Hatchetman. Jess on the otherhand spend almost all of her time on the command deck or in her quarters pouring over intel reports, dataROMs and whatever other limited info she could get in this uninhabited system, however the two still inevitably would run into each other but thankfully there were no more arguements between them. The rest of the crew was also somewhat subdued after the events on Myrvoll though that was quickly passing as the days went by, thankfully.

As the Mjolnir approached the star system's Nadir jump point the glint of sunlight could be seen reflecting off the Interstellar Expedition's Merchant-class jumpship "Star Cruiser" and her still deployed jump sail, though it did look like it was beginning to retract the sail in preparation for the upcoming jump. There was a gentle thunk as the crew of the Mjolnir expertly guided the aerodyne vessel into an empty berth alongside the jumpship and docked. A few hours later, after the jumpship had finished retracting it's sail and the other usual checks were complete, the warning klaxons signalling an imminent jump were sounded across both the jumpship and our dropship before the vessels were shunted through hyperspace away from the Myrvoll system and emerging at the Zenith jump point of the Kyrkbacken system nearly 22 light years away. Immediately after finishing the transition the crew of the Star Cruiser began unfurling the jump sail and started the recharging operation that would take the better part of the next week to complete. Meanwhile the computer and comm systems automatically connected with HPG network now that they were back within a habited system and began receiving updates and communications that were destined for either the Star Cruiser itself or the Mjolnir, as it was the only dropship currently attached.

____________________________________
11 days later...

Leopard-class dropship "Mjolnir"
In transit to Menkalinan from Zenith jump point
Menkalinan System, Marik/Liao border
November 28, 3028
____________________________________

Over the past week and a half things had returned to normal within BeoWulf's Knights and everyone was back on amicable terms as though nothing had transpired back on Myrvoll. During the week of patiently waiting for the jumpship drive to recharge we were able to also repair most of our 'mechs to 100% combat readiness, however Luke's Hatchetman needed an entirely new arm, his use of the detached arm as a makeshift bludgeon ensured that, and that would take some time to acquire. At the moment though we did not have any new work lined up after we finished with this IE job so it was not an immediate concern. Also during this time we were informed that our original rendevous with Interstellar Expedition's on the planet Styk after we finished on Myrvoll had been moved and rescheduled due to the progression of what was now being called the Fourth Succession War. House Davion was making massive gains into House Liao's territory, Styk had apparently been captured near the beginning of the war and IE felt the volatility of the newly captured planet was less than ideal for us to potentially arrive with recovered Star League tech. As such, they arranged for us to instead meet on Menkalinan, a planet on the border of Marik and Liao space and in fact under shared occupancy between the Free World's League and the Capellan Confederation. It was believed that this planet would be far enough away from the Davion/Liao border to avoid the worst of the conflict but that border was shifting much faster than anyone anticipated and it wasn't clear anymore if Menkalinan would be spared or not, but either way IE stated that barring an active invasion of the planet itself we would be debriefed on Menkalinan.

The burn from the Menkalinan system's Zenith jump point towards the planet was uneventful to say the least, although news of the Federated Suns invasion of New Canton and Saiph, both of which were interstellar next door neighbours to Menkalinan, was disconcerting it appeared that the Davion forces did not currently have their sights set on Menkalinan itself. It wasn't until we reached planetary atmosphere that things got interesting. No sooner had we switched from the transit drive to the traditional aerodyne engines than Mikhala came over the comms instructing everyone to strap in as we had some unscheduled visitors and things might get a little rocky. Turns out that Interstellar Expeditions had failed to notify the proper militia authorities, a confusing enough jumble even before considering there were two active militias from different houses on the planet, before our arrival and given the current situation within the Capellan Confederation they wasted no time in scrambling a squadron of aerospace fighters to "escort" us to the spaceport.

"We've submitted our identification and our intentions already, we are here on legitimate business with Interstellar Expeditions to fulfill an outstanding exploration contract, I fail to see what the problem is," replied Mikhala over the open comm channel to Carosasha's spaceport.

"I repeat, please power down your dropship, transmit your ID and follow our escort in to the spaceport for inspection, your credentials will need to be verified and any cargo you have will be subject to search and seizure as necessary," came the spaceport's response.

Glancing over at the young lady on shift at the engineering console Mikhala gave an exasperated shrug before asking, "You're sure everything is powered down?"

"Yes," responded the junior engineer, "weapons are completely offline, sensors are passive only, the 'mech bays are even shutdown. If I turn off anything else we won't be flying anymore."

Turning back to the main viewscreen Mikhala once again addressed the spaceport comms officer, who was sounding more and more like a broken record, "Listen, we're following your escort, we'll land where you tell us, we have nothing powered up except the engines and systems we need to stay airborne. I don't know how I can comply any further with your demands. As for our cargo, you'll have to talk with Interstellar Expeditions before we can allow you access to our ship."

"Very well," came the suddenly tired sounding response, "but if you try anything, or we think you're trying anything, we won't hesitate to blow you out of the sky and pick through the scraps later to see if we were right or not."

"Okay," was Mikhala's slow response after the spaceport closed the channel, "well somebody is a little on edge. Helmsman, make sure to follow exactly where they tell you to go. As long as it isn't going to cause damage to our ship, I don't want to do anything that might give them a reason to itch those trigger fingers."

"Aye, ma'am."

As the Mjolnir landed gently on the designated landing pad, clearly stationed well away from any other dropships currently landed, an entire Assault lance of BattleMechs supported by at least 6 heavy tanks came into view with everyone of them having their weapons trained on the dropship. Despite our best efforts to be compliant apparently the local militia was taking zero chances that we might be here to attack them or something.

"Ma'am," came the gunnery officer's voice from across the dropship's bridge, "I'm reading multiple missile locks, rough guess would be at least 200 LRM missiles alone. They aren't bluffing and they aren't pulling any punches either."

"They are also hailing us again Ma'am," added the comms officer.

"Great, open a channel, let's see what they want now."

"Mjolnir you will power down your engines and prepare to be searched."

At a signal from Mikhala the dropship's fusion engines began winding down as the system safely shutdown, "Our engines are powering down as we speak, however, as I stated before, our cargo is destined exclusively for Interstellar Expeditions. I can assure you we are carrying nothing illegal or contraband, you can scan our holds yourself. I cannot permit access to the ship though until I speak with Interstellar Expeditions, as is our right within the MRC contract we have sent you for review."

"Mjolnir, I repeat you WILL submit to a thorough inspection or we will be forced to hand matters over to the militia. I do not believe that will go well for you," there was quite the commotion in the background at the end of their latest veiled threat before the Capellan officer came back on the channel briefly before cutting the channel, "One moment please."

A look of confusion and worry passed over almost everyone's face on the bridge of the Leopard while the few moments of silence seemed to stretch on into infinity. Finally, after what was merely a minute, the spaceport opened the comm channel again and continued, though it was a different officer's voice this time.

"Sorry for the confusion Mjolnir, it appears that Interstellar Expeditions landing request was filed with the wrong office. You, your crew, and your ship are all cleared for landing, disembarking and are not subject to any further searches, seizures, or any other unnecessary actions that may have been mentioned," by the tone of their voice it was clear this new officer was speaking to us but was admonishing the previous speaker as well.

"Glad to hear things are finally cleared up, does this mean we are allowed to unload our cargo? Including any BattleMechs or Combat Vehicles that need servicing?" replied Mikhala.

"Yes, provided any combat capable units have no armed weapons and do not leave the spaceport. The militia will remain in the vicinity and will not hesitate to enforce this, irregardless of your arrangement with Interstellar Expeditions. If anything requires facilities outside the spaceport's own facilities you will need to get special permission from the local garrison first."

"Understood, Mjolnir out."

With the confrontation over the miltia BattleMechs returned to their regular patrol of the spaceport while several of the tanks stayed on guard near the dropship as we began opening the cargo and mechbay doors in order to unload and move Luke's Hatchetman into a slightly better facility for replacing the lost arm. As the loading and unloading of regular cargo commenced the members of BeoWulf's Knights not directly involved with such operation disembarked from the dropship, thankful for some fresh air after nearly two weeks in the rather stuffy dropship. No sooner had we put boots on the ground than an armoured transport pulled up alongside the Mjolnir with the gold, slanted IE logo emblazoned on the side and as the side door slid open a tall, wiry man with spectacles stepped out and futilely tried to smooth out his ruffled and ill-fitting business suit. As the man finally gave up on fixing his suit he began to approach our group with his hand out heading directly for me, realizing the mistake he was about to make I purposely looked over to Mikhala in deference and hoping the man would pick up on the queue without having to make a more obvious motion. Thankfully, for his sake, he picked up the queue and easily redirected slightly to my right to greet Mikhala first.

"Welcome to Menkalinan commander, I apologize for the confusion with your arrival. Things are rather tense around here, already having two different house militias makes things complicated enough but then adding in the fact that the Davions are right in our backyard has everyone more than a little on edge lately. My name is George Victorovich, please call me George. I was sent by Interstellar Expeditions to collect you and your crew and bring you to their office here in Carosasha."

"Thank you George, I appreciate the welcome and I can understand the, complications, recent events have likely introduced here..." Mikhala proceeded to introduce the members of BeoWulf's Knights that were standing nearby while George and her exchanged the usual pleasantries required or expected in this part of the business. After a time Mikhala brought the conversation back around to an earlier point George had brought up, "You mentioned earlier that you were sent to collect me and my crew, what did you mean by that?"

"Just that, Interstellar Expeditions instructed me to collect you, the commander of BeoWulf's Knights, as well as any member that directly participated in the operation on Myrvoll," replied George.

"All of us? That is rather odd, any particular reason for this request?" asked Mikhala.

"Not that I'm aware of ma'am, I was just instructed to bring everyone to the office for debriefing. I believe the boss just likes to debrief everyone together at once or something. Hence why I was given this large armoured transport instead of the usual car," said George, gesturing at the large armoured transport that looked like it would be more at home delivering a squad of infantry into combat instead of on the city streets.

"Very well, I'll have to collect a few more people that took part in the operation and then we will accompany you to the IE office. I hope you have room for everyone in there. Anything else we need to know?"

"I was told it should comfortably fit 15 and was lead to believe that would be enough," stated George starting to look a bit worried.

"That should be plenty George," replied Mikhala with a smile.

"Ok, you also might want to bring a sidearm or something for personal defence. The spaceport here is peaceful enough, but the despite what the militia would have you believe the city streets are not exactly the safest right now. There are factions on both sides that are in constant conflict and you never know where the fighting will break out. You will have to relinquish any weapons before entering the IE offices but until we get there you'll probably be safer with at least something."

"Good to know, we'll grab some gear then before we depart. We'll meet you back in 10 minutes George if that works for you."

"Yes, of course. I'll be here waiting."

With that we quickly returned to the dropship to grab whatever gear we deemed necessary for our departure into the apparently volatile city and our meeting with the local Interstellar Expeditions representative. Today may end up being more interesting that we intially expected, even with our "speed bump" while landing. Going to my spartan quarters located in the 'mech bay stall housing my now repaired Merlin I grabbed my ballistic plate vest, a rather bulky piece of armour but the easiest and quickest piece I owned to slip on over other gear, and trusty sidearm, a Serrek 7875D Auto-pistol, along with the 5 magazines of ammo I always brought with it. After slipping on the armoured vest and securing it in place I also double checked that the 4 HC micro power packs stored in the armour were also in place before sliding the Serrek into a holster on my right thigh and securing the 4 magazines with standard ballistic ammo on my right hip and the 5th magazine loaded with incendiary ammo in a separate pouch behind the others. Making my way back outside I joined the others as we piled into the armoured transport unit noting that only Joel, Kevin, Luke and Jim had decided to wear any form of armour, with only Joel wearing his usual full suit of ballistic plate. The others, like me, were just wearing a combat vest of some kind, though Kevin also had his armoured pants but no helmet. Everyone also had some form of a sidearm with them, ranging from a simple holdout laser pistol to fully automatic submachinegun and Joel also decided to bring his StarKing Gyroslug carbine. We were getting some sidelong glances from the spaceport personnel that were attending our dropship as we loaded into the transport but that was typical even if we weren't looking like we were heading into an active combat zone instead of a business meeting.

Once everyone was settled into the surprisingly spacious interior the transport fired up and made its way out of the spaceport and began heading towards the city proper and our meeting with the local IE rep. Hopefully we didn't encounter anything that would actual need all our extra gear on the way there.

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Seven days after the conclusion of Operation: Zweihänder Metallarbeiten...

Ceres Metal Industries
Lorenzopolis, Triasha - Kimball II
Kimbal System, Lyran Commonwealth
November 18, 3028
_________________________

The comm unit at the workstation in my quarters chirped loudly, jolting me from a deep focus. Swinging my legs over the side of my bed, I rose to my feet, and quickly answered the call.

"Maxwell - go."

"Captain Maxwell, it's Walsh. Mercenary Liason Officer Alban Stieglitz-Bradford is calling."

"It's about goddamn time," I replied. "We've been sitting here for a week. I'm on my way."

###

I ran onto the Tana's bridge and threw myself into the seat at the Combat Information Center. Slipping on a headset, I took the waiting call off hold. The grainy image of a brawny, mustached Lyran flickered into existence on the station's display.

"Ahh, Herr Maxwell," the caller began, flashing a smile. "A pleasure to speak with you."

"The pleasure is mine, Alban. Truth be told, we'd begin to worry you'd forgotten about us. We've been garrisoning this BattleMech plant for a week with no LCAF relief in sight. I filed our debrief last Tuesday. Did you receive it?"

"It found its way to me two days ago; Kimball II's Class B HPG station is extremely backlogged. Not to worry; I'm currently in orbit aboard the LCS Tyr; hence my ability to communicate with you in real-time now," the officer replied.

"I was wondering about that," I mused.

"As to why you have not yet been relieved - I apologize, Captain, but the DCMS has recently reinforced the Third Dieron Regulars with the Seventeenth Benjamin Regulars, and the Fourth Skye Rangers are now only barely holding the line. I've managed to coordinate with Hauptmann Vogel to divert a scout lance to your location and relieve you as soon as this afternoon. However, before you take your leave, we must ask for your help regarding a matter of some urgency."

"I'm listening," I replied, gesturing off-camera for Mara Walsh and Marius Lennox to join the call. A few moments later, my first officer and MechCommander had taken up positions of observation next to me at the computer terminal.

"Captain Maxwell, twenty-four hours ago, our intelligence agents on Kimball II learned that the CEO of Ceres Metals, Duke Kingston Rivoli, was taken prisoner by DCMS forces during the Kuritan raid on the company's factory. According to our analysis of the situation, RIvoli is being held hostage in the PhoodCo Industries high-rise in downtown Lorenzopolis. We are concerned that the Draconis Combine may attempt to force Rivoli to turn over financial or industrial assets to the Kuritan government through means of - extreme coercion. The Lyran Commonwealth cannot allow the Draconis Combine to gain a foothold in this conflict; we need Kingston recovered alive so that critical industrial and corporate assets do not fall into the hands of our adversaries."

"Alright, sounds like a standard extraction raid," I replied. "We can handle that. What are the details?"

"The Gray Death Legion will be once again joining you for these maneuvers. They will provide an extraction team in the form of two APCs and a squad of infantry. Aegis Division's assignment consists of three primary tasks: escort the extraction team to the complex, defend the PhoodCo high-rise while the Legion enters it to recover Kingston, and then withdraw with the extraction team to the Aegis Division staging area."

"Cut-and-dry. I like it," I replied. "What are the terms?"

"PhoodCo has authorized me to pay you 1,901,391 C-Bills for this contract; I'm sending the rest of the details to your terminal now. I want to be clear about one thing, though, Captain - the Gray Death Legion is responsible for all recovery operations during this exercise. Aegis Division's concern is mitigating hostile presence and ensuring safe passage for the extraction team once secured."

I glanced toward Walsh and Lennox, who signaled their approval via thumbs-up gestures.

"Alright, Alban - I think we can do business. We've had extra downtime to prep our hardware, so we can deploy at your discretion. When do you need us to roll out?"

"As soon as possible - in this case, once  the LCAF relief force arrives. I estimate them to be on station three hours from now," Stieglitz-Bradford replied. "Every passing minute puts Mister Rivoli at increased risk. Do not delay once you are relieved."

"Understood," I nodded. "Three hours it is."

""Excellent. I'll notify the Gray Death Legion. Good hunting, Captain." With that, the call ended. I turned toward Commander Walsh.

"Mara, if you'd be so kind, please assemble the troops for an emergency briefing in thirty minutes. Marius, it looks like the contract is coming across now; let's put our heads together and figure out some attack vectors."

###

____________________________

- Incoming Coded Message -- Command Instruction Follows -
- Decode Trinity Protocol - BravoTango92cyan: 1st -

- Disseminate by need only -
____________________________

Operation Codename: Rote Wahrheit
Planet: Kimball II (contested)
Terrain: Grasslands / Urban
Time: Day
Payment: 1,901,391 C-Bills
Salvage Rights: 40%
Support Rights: Battle/80%
Command Rights: House

OVERVIEW:

MechWarriors, the Lyran Commonwealth appreciates your timely and effective re-capture of the Ceres Metals factory. With the LCAF fully engaged with additional incursions by the Third Dieron Regulars across Kimball II, we must call on your services once again. The CEO of Ceres Metals has been captured by the DCMS. We need you to recover him alive to prevent critical resources from being turned over to the Kuritans.

MISSION BRIEFING:

Our intelligence agents on Kimball II have discovered that the CEO of Ceres Metals, Duke Kingston Rivoli, has been taken prisoner and is being held by the Kuritans in the PhoodCo Industries high-rise in downtown Lorenzopolis. The Lyran Commonwealth needs Kingston recovered alive so that critical industrial and corporate assets do not fall into the hands of the Kuritans.

Aegis Division's assignment is three-fold: escort a team of Gray Death Legion infantry to the complex, defend the corporate tower while the Legion enters it to extract Kingston alive, and then withdraw with the CEO to the Aegis Division staging area. The Gray Death Legion is responsible for all infantry maneuvers. Aegis Division's concern is mitigating hostile presence and transporting Duke Kingston Rivoli out of the area once secured. Good hunting.

OBJECTIVES:

Primary

I. Escort Gray Death Legion insertion team to the PhoodCo Industries high-rise
II. Defend the building while the Legion extracts Kingston alive
III. Transport the CEO safely to the Aegis Division staging area

Secondary

IV. Eliminate all hostiles in the operational theater to permit salvage operations

FRIENDLY FORCE COMPOSITION:

HAMMER DETACHMENT: 

  • Hammer-1: Captain Charles Maxwell (KGC-0000 King Crab)
  • Hammer-2: First Lieutenant Mara Walsh (MAD-3D Marauder)
  • Hammer-3: MechWarrior Steve Jenkins  (DRG-1N Dragon)

SABRE DETACHMENT:

  • Sabre-1: Lieutenant Dutch McKenzie (AWS-8Q-OB1 Awesome)
  • Sabre-3: Warrant Officer Dexter Friedman (LGB-6Q Longbow)
  • Sabre-2: Lieutenant Alexander Blackwood (CPLT-C1 Catapult)

ANVIL SQUAD:

  • Mothership-1: Armored Personnel Carrier (Hover - Standard)
  • Mothership-2: Armored Personnel Carrier (Hover - SRM)
  • Anvil-1: Sergeant Imran Amin (Foot Laser)
  • Anvil-2: Corporal Samantha Dale (Foot Laser)
  • Anvil-3: Specialist Robert Harmon (Compact Grenade Launcher)
  • Anvil-4: Specialist Orlando Welch (Medic, Foot Rifle)
  • Anvil-5: Private First Class Ethan Hayden (Foot Laser)
  • Anvil-6: Private Ameera Drummond (Foot Rifle)
  • Anvil-7: Private Frederico Paine (Foot Rifle)

HOSTILE FORCE COMPOSITION:

ARMOR LANCE 1 (Projected)

  • Sturmfeur Heavy Tank (Standard)
  • Bulldog Medium Tank (Standard)
  • Bulldog Medium Tank (LRM)
  • Scorpion Light Tank (Standard)

ARMOR LANCE 2 (Projected)

  • Sturmfeur Heavy Tank (SRM)
  • Bulldog Medium Tank (Standard)
  • Bulldog Medium Tank (Standard)
  • Scorpion Light Tank (Standard)

BATTLEMECH SUPPORT (Projected)

  • JR7-D Jenner
  • COM-2D Commando
  • ASN-21 Assassin
  • CDA-2A Cicada

Planet Details: Kimball II

kimball2.jpg.e738976c728a04e4121ecfbc4137704c.jpg

Star Type: G1V
Position in System: 2 (of 7) 
Number of Moons: None 
Days to Jump Point: 10 
Surface Gravity: 1.10
Atmospheric Pressure: Standard (Breathable)
Equatorial Temperature: 57°C
Surface Water: 74%
Highest Native Life: Birds
Capital: Lorenzopolis
Population: 2,510,000,000

OVERVIEW:

Kimball II is the more marginally-habitable world of the Kimball system. First settled by colonists supported by a wealthy twenty-first century industrial magnate interested in the mineral resources available on the world and in its asteroid belt, Kimball II offered an ecosystem with abundant free water and support for Terran crops. These advantages made it the primary colonization target, as the friendly atmosphere made colonization efforts both cheaper and more likely to succeed.

Kimball II quickly developed into an industrial powerhouse, converting the ores and minerals from Kimball IV into parts for agricultural vehicles, IndustrialMechs, BattleMechs, and other combat vehicles. This trade and industrial capability quickly made the Kimball family an economic power in the region. This high profile led to the Kimball family allying with the Ignota family based on Thorin; this alliance would later give birth to Ceres Metals.

Kimball II was one of the worlds invaded by the Lyran Commonwealth during Operation GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG, the major Lyran Commonwealth offensive of the Fourth Succession War. Attacked by the Fourth Skye Rangers during the exploitation phase of GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG following the order by Archon Katrina Steiner on the 21st of October 3028 to launch a second wave of attacks, Kimball II was one of two worlds to be attacked simultaneously by the Rangers. The Rangers' First and Third Battalions were still busily subduing Kimball II when the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery launched a wave of counter-attacks that included dropping the Third Dieron Regulars on Kimball II. The Rangers' Second Battalion and Lightning Company were on Komephoros at the time, and were also hit by a counter-attack in the form of the Seventeenth Benjamin Regulars.

- TRANSMISSION ENDS -

____________________________

Sender: Hauptmann N. Vogel
Encryption Priority:
 HIGH
HPG Relay 37XA01-EPSILON-2237
Received: OP Comp. 1957 Standard Terran Time
____________________________

 

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WOOP WOOP WOOP 

"...the Shit?" I assumed I was the first to hear it, the alert sirens started going off across the whole TANA, changing through lots of different sirens like an ancient 'car alarm' invention I had heard of from 20th century Earth. I tried to get up from my bunk but the sheet twisted around my ankles and I fell over as soon as I got up, I landed with a splat on the bunk room floor with my pillow in my mouth. 

"RED ALERT RED ALERT MAN YOUR BATTLESTATIONS AND REPORT TO THE BRIEFING ROOM, WE HAVE A NEW JOB" blared the intercom. Long lines of army guys ran by me out of the bunk room to go to their battle stations, I watched from the floor. Then Sargeant Spivey came over and looked down at me. "WHY ARE YOU IN YOUR UNDERWEAR AND STILL IN BED WHY AREN'T YOU IN UNIFORM HELPING OUT WITH YOUR KITCHEN DUTIES OR IN THE EMERGENCY BRIEFING ROOM FOR THE JOB CONTRACT" He hollered.

"I'm sorry! " I yelled. "I overslept, and..." 

"NO EXCUSES!" he screamed, "get to the briefing on the double! Now!" 

"but I'm in my underwear!" I yelled 

"That is not my fault, now go!" 

The next thing I knew I was hobbling toward the bridge in my stained Fruit of the Looms, hiding my shame with my hands and crying softly at my dishonor. I hoped that the job would pay us lots of money. 

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Elsewhere...

A grainy, occasionally-ghosted video feed flickers to life on @Joker 4-1's comm station's monitor. The image slowly resolves into the portrait of a smiling, charismatic-looking executive with piercing blue eyes, coiffed blond hair, and a pale complexion.

____________________________

- Incoming Coded Message -- Personal Message Follows -
- Decode Omega Protocol - SabreEpsilonTango17green: 1st -
- Disseminate by need only -
____________________________

Greetings, Mr. Weyland. I'm delighted that you're interested in the Crayven Corporation. New blood and new ideas are what keep our company strong!

I'm William Kauffman, CEO. I re-founded the company in 3015 after the original outfit was literally liquidated during the Amaris Coup. Have you read our dossier? We're a large interstellar courier company that's currently specializing in armored transport services throughout the Inner Sphere. Our willingness to operate in even the most active of conflict zones has given us a competitive edge against those...other guys.

I've read your brief, and your background in archaeology, coupled with the organizations you've previously worked with, fill a very specific niche that we're looking to fill.

We're getting ready to do our initial public offering on the Terran Stock Exchange. Our bean counters project it to be one for the record books. We're looking at a potential infusion of cash that will allow us to diversify, and I've got a very specific strategy up my sleeve about where to take the company next. As I understand it, you've had some dealings with Interstellar Expeditions, so I'll spare you the long pitch and cut right to the chase.  We're hoping to convince them to let the Crayven Corporation provide pro bono transport services to sites of discovery in exchange for a percentage of salvage rights to any technologies discovered. Holding exclusive partner salvage rights to Star League-era technologies could prove itself to be a seriously worthwhile investment. Your expertise could open - certain doors - for us that might otherwise be hard to navigate. We've just run a successful proof-of-concept with a young man on Gan Singh who was chasing some LosTech, and we're en route back to Sheratan to drop the technology off with the client. Our next stop after that is a skunkworks site out in the Lyran Commonwealth to examine something that will further hone our prospects with IE - and then, from there, it's time to make the pitch. I'd love to pick your brain further about your background, and how our mutual objectives might compliment each other.

You also bring insights from the Free Worlds League, an area we're not well-versed in; that's an additional bonus.

If you're interested in my proposal, let me know. I can have a transport pick you up from anywhere in the Inner Sphere.

Until then,

William

- TRANSMISSION ENDS -

____________________________

Sender: W. Kauffman
Encryption Priority: ULTRA
HPG Relay 46LR96-DELTA-2720
Received: MSG Comp. 2053 Standard Terran Time
____________________________

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Meanwhile...

Ceres Metal Industries
Lorenzopolis, Triasha - Kimball II
Kimbal System, Lyran Commonwealth
November 18, 3028
_________________________

As the last of the cadre filed into the cramped briefing room aboard the Tana, I hit a button on the small briefing podium which stood before an oversized display. The room's lights dimmed, and a mission overview appeared, complete with a strategic map and intelligence photos of our objectives.

"Alright, folks, I apologize for pulling you away from your activities, but we have an emergency contract.

"Seven days ago, we liberated this industrial complex, which, as you all know, belongs to Ceres Metals. What we didn't know at the time was that the Ceres CEO, Duke Kingston Rivoli, had been on site just prior to the Kuritan occupation of the facility - and that he was taken hostage by them when they raided the factory. When we hit the complex to take it back, they must have pulled him out and relocated him to this corporate tower in downtown Lorenzopolis."

I clicked my presentation remote, and the video display zoomed in on a series of photographs depicting a large, glass corporate tower with the PhoodCo brand plastered across its roofline.

"The Lyran Intelligence Corps have been able to confirm that the Kuritans who evac'd from the factory are holed up on the 27th floor of PhoodCo's local offices with Rivoli as their unwitting guest. Our employer wants us to go in with an extraction team and get him back - alive - to prevent the Draconis Combine from extorting Rivoli for resources that could turn the local war effort in their favor."

"Our mission objectives are simple. The Gray Death Legion will be sending us two APCs and a squad of infantry. We are to escort the APCs to the PhoodCo tower and defend the objective while the Legion enters the building and recovers Kingston. Once the hostage extraction is complete, we're to provide cover for the APC while it withdraws to our staging area here at the factory. If we want salvage rights, our secondary objective is to clear the operational area of hostiles. Cut-and-dry. Are there any questions?"

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Bishop laid in his sweat soaked sheets staring up at the ceiling.  Sleep had escaped him this night. Every few nights she visited him in his dreams.  She called him, like a mother calling a child in a soothing tone. Beckoning him to come home... back to her litter of killers. He had been blessed and cursed to have been chosen to be one of her pups.  Mother....that was what she’d always wanted to be called. That’s how they all referred to her as, at all times, in person and during operations. She was a ghost yet real as the sun.  Always skulking on the fringes of reality and madness. The indigenous people of North America from old Terra had a name for her kind, Yee Naaldlooshii, or Skinwalker.  Bishop wouldn’t let his mind creep back into the memories of Dig Site 46, the madness.... the horror. 

 

Bishop sat up right and took a few moments to stretch his back. His massive frame cracked and popped at every movement. He was always in pain, the synthetic spinal column that allowed him to function and live also caused an annoying discomfort. Sure, he could get some sort of powerful narcotic to ease the pain but those were addictive. They also effected his mental clarity, which  could prove to be lethal to someone like him or his team. 

 

He’s chosen poison would be....unusual.... synthetic steroids.  They had been issued to him after his injury in the FWLM for recovery and rehabilitation.  Another moment of horror for Bishop. He could still taste and smell the dust and concrete covering his broken body. The image of his Spotter and friend smashed in to a pile of flesh and bone flashed through his mind. Then came the shadow.... of the blood red Thunderbolt battlemech towering over him.  Bishop could still make out the fanged black dragon painted on the machine’s chest. 

 

Bishop stood and looked around his quarters. They were nice yet spartan. He had paid extra for officers quarters, they were always bigger had had more amenities. Galatea had been his home since leaving FWLM five years ago. There he could keep up on training, pick up single order contracts and unit contracts whenever he needed. Bishop felt at ease there, less tortured by his past. He felt ready to work again....he needed the money too. The Mercenary Review Board had slowly drained his account. It had taken months to be fully reinstated as a legitimate mercenary and clear to be hired again. The investigation into several incidents concerning his last unit, the Skinwalkers and Irain Corporation’s indiscretions with prisoner’s treatment had been cleared. The Corporate Lawyers did there job, but his license had been pulled till the investigation was done.  

 

After pouring a hot cup of coffee Bishop picked up his data pad and rewatched Mr. Kaufman video message. He was surprised to be contacted so soon after being reinstated. Most employers would be a little timid about hiring someone so quickly after an investigation like that. Bishop paused the video on Kauffman’s face..... Mother told him once, look into their eyes, it’s there you can see who they really are. Bishop looked into the man predatory blue eyes, he saw hunger, ambition and intelligence for......something. Bishop had seen this look in a few battlefield commanders, he knew this could only go one of two ways. Disaster or a shit ton of C-Bills. 

 

Bishop knew he would have to ask some of his corporate acquaintances to check out this Crayven Corporation. That could be done later, he need to get back out on operations. 

 

Bishop taped the record key, 

“Hello, Mr. Kauffman. I want to say thank you for contacting me. Yes, I’m interested in working for you and your people. I’ve attached my service and training records from the FLWM. You will also see all my licenses and the MRB’s Operations Record of my work over the past five years. 

 

I know you are a busy man, so I’ll keep it short. I’m a fifteen year combat veteran. Ten with the FWLM, most of that time was spent as infantrymen and sniper. I was injured on duty and was unable to work in those fields. The FWLM command transferred me to a light armored recon unit.  While serving there I went to basic and advanced armor school. I specialized in hovers, light and heavy tracked armor units. I can assure I can command any vehicle. I can still do reconnaissance and sniper work if required. 

 

I spent the last five years with the Skinwalkers, again the MRB has that record. While on assignment with them we were contracted to Irain Corporation with a subcontract to Interstellar Expeditions. We specialized in SERP missions: security for corporate executives, extraction of corporate personnel and assets, recon and anti pirate operations. I’ve also attached my accounting information and contract rate.... negotiable of course. I have some personal equipment in storage that I would like to bring. I currently have no privately owned armor assets. I can be ready to go at any moment so long as the administration paperwork clears. 

 

Again thank you for your time and consideration sir. I look forward to meeting you and your people.”

 

Bishop tapped the send key. “Well here we go” he thought. Looking into the screen he saw his reflection.... his weathered and scared face looking back at him. His green eyes, showed a man who was haunted by memories passed. Bishop ran his hand through his silver gray hair.... he need to get buzzed short again. 

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MEANWHILE...... 

I stuck my hand in the air to ask a question. Everybody stared at me, first because I was asking a question, then because they were all seeing that I was in my Froot of the Looms and a t-shirt in the briefing room. 

"Yes, Steve Jenkins, what is your question?" Captain Maxwell asked. 

"I don't have a Mech and I don't want to die again in another tank, what will happen to me?" 

Captain Maxwell looked thoughtful about it for A minute. While somebody in the back laughed at my stained underwear. 

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Ceres Metal Industries
Lorenzopolis, Triasha - Kimball II
Kimbal System, Lyran Commonwealth
November 18, 3028
_________________________

"Nice underwear, Steve!" a voice called out.

"As you were!" I grumbled in the general direction of the offending individual. Glancing toward Steve, I fought to hold back the stress-induced twitch in my eye I felt coming on as I realized that the MechWarrior was, indeed, seated in the briefing room in nothing other than a ragged t-shirt and a pair of underwear that looked like they should have been replaced months ago.

"Excellent question, Mister Jenkins. The neurohelmet calibrations that the 'Mech techs have been obtaining from you over the last few days haven't been for 'just in case' purposes. Our intent is for you to pilot the DRG-1N Dragon alongside Commander Walsh and me as the elements of Hammer Detachment. Once we hit the city perimeter, you'll break off to the North," I replied, the animated attack vector map zooming in to a close-up of a winding avenue which crossed a river flowing into the city, "and escort one of the two APCs along this roadway into town. While you do that, Mara and I will assault the city head-on to draw the attention of the Kuritans toward us. When you've reached the city, you'll switch from an escort role to fire support; the drivers of the APC intend to use the chaos they expect we'll cause when we show up with Sabre Detachment to their advantage as a smokescreen. They'll continue on to the corporate tower, where Lieutenant Blackwood will meet them with his APC. Which segues nicely into the next part of the briefing. Dutch McKenzie will command Sabre Detachment for this mission - would you care to discuss the attack strategy for Anvil Lance with the cadre here?"

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"Yes, Thank you Captain Maxwell." I spoke, as I brought up the holovids overlooking the dropzone.

"As you can see gentlemen, we have a viable points of ingress along these two roads over here." as I pointed to the holovid map with my

multi function laser cutter / laser pointer.  "We should have the ability to close to the City detention building from these points here",  I said as I pointed,

"and here." I said as I cleared my throat. "along these main arteries inbound to the city center". I said with a confident air. "Just like

the pincher claws of a Crab we should squeeze our enemies with surprise before our defending enemies the Dieron Regulars know what's hit them."

"We will assault at 0530, yes, yes, I know, its ohhh dark thirty, but their slow responses will lead to a much easier victory for us."

"Are there any questions?" I said hoping Steve Jenkens wouldn't ask me where to go to get some new Fruit of the Looms, sigh.

 

Concluding I spoke,  "So unless Captain Maxwell wishes to add any instructions, you gentlemen should get your rest and we can begin our assault in the morning."

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Meanwhile...

C.S.V. Half Moon
System jump point
Gan Singh IV - November 22, 3028

_____________________________

I sat in the darkened confines of my office aboard the Half Moon, feet on my desk, watching the outline of the JumpShip Riptide once again begin to coalesce into view as we drew near to it. The Invader-class vessel gleamed in the perpetual twilight of interstellar space, its glowing hydroponics pods giving the vessel the appearance of an ethereal, bio-luminescent creature suspended in the void. Although I couldn't see them with my organic vision, the Half Moon's sensor downlink illustrated to my mind's eye a bevy of support craft and passenger vessels swarming the larger ship, some coming, some going, all appearing as a mass of fuzzy, ill-defined phantasms to our Union-class vessel's electronics suite.

My eyes wandered back to the data pad propped up against my knee; back to the photograph of Bishop Weyland that was attached to his curriculum vitae. There was an ancient adage, attributed to William Shakespeare, that eyes are the windows to the soul. In my years in the corporate world, I'd come to find that observation quite true. You could tell volumes about a person from their eyes, and from those things that lurked behind them. Bishop's eyes held something...haunting. Something almost...tormented. I couldn't put my finger on what it was, but I suspected that, whatever the source, it weighed heavy.

My eyes traced down to the 'Employment History' section of the CV. The erratic, on-and-off smattering of odd jobs, milk runs, and garrison stints which followed five years of employment with an organization eerily branded as the 'Skinwalkers.'

Irian Technologies...

The name seemed to be the punctuation at the end of the man's career, and made the hairs on the back of my neck bristle.

What were they doing doing with Interstellar Expeditions?

Though Weyland's MRB background check had come up clear, and in fact, carried with it a corporate excellence rating, there remained many murky areas of the man's life journey. Ironically, it was these unanswered questions and the bevy of names and circumstances in the man's background that had drawn me to his dossier in the application pool. Grey more often than not turned out to be a lovely color, and this man was bathed in it. I looked forward to our eventual meeting.

Pulling my feet off the desk, I sat up, and punched a button on my desktop comm unit.

"Kauffman to bridge."

"Bridge; Watch Officer Cheswick - go ahead."

"Which of our vessels is closest to Galatea?"

There came a pause, accompanied by the tapping of fingers on a keyboard.

"That would be the C.S.V. Mendacius, sir. They're currently running corporate intelligence in-system masquerading as a passenger liner," Cheswick confirmed.

"Brilliant. I assume we have a tender in the system as well?" I replied.

"Yes, sir - the C.S.V. Nomadic is running tender duty to the Mendacius," the bridge officer answered.

"Wonderful. I want you to have the Mendacius pick up a Mr. Bishop Weyland from Galatea. I'm sending you his file. Have the Mendacius meet us at Sheratan once he's aboard."

Another pause followed my instruction.

"Sir - with respect - are you certain that you want this subject to know that we have an operational Bug-Eye?"

"He's not a 'subject,' Mr. Cheswick. He's one of us," I answered. With that, I terminated the comm link.

Turning toward my computer terminal, I dashed off a note to Bishop before heading to the bridge to oversee the docking operation...

____________________________

- Incoming Coded Message -- Personal Message Follows -
- Decode Omega Protocol - SabreEpsilonTango17green: 1st -
- DO NOT DISSEMINATE -
____________________________

Mr. Weyland -

I greatly appreciate your gracious reply. I've reviewed your C.V. and everything appears to align with the type of candidate we're seeking. As you can imagine, I have many questions, as I'm sure you do also.

I'd like to arrange pro bono transport for you and your gear to Sheratan, where your vessel will rendezvous with our executive DropShip. What is your availability for departure? Please send me your current location so that we can ensure our courier is dispatched to the nearest spaceport.

Best,

William

- TRANSMISSION ENDS -

____________________________

Sender: W. Kauffman
Encryption Priority: ULTRA
HPG Relay 46LR96-DELTA-2720
Received: MSG Comp. 2122 Standard Terran Time
____________________________

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Bishop stepped out of the shower at the sound of the chimes of his data pad. His workout at the local gym had been a grueling trudge. After a few moments of drying off with a tattered towel he lumbered over to his data pad. 

 

It only took a minute for a smile to creep over his face. Mr. Kauffman had responded....transport was in route. 

 

 Bishop took a few seconds for the thrill and joy to wash over him. A new contact, new opportunities and new adventures splashed before him. A fresh start most importantly. Bishop wanted to start his response but stopped... he need a shirt... at least. He wanted to cover up his tattooed body. Primary the upside down red triangle with a part-human- part wolf emblem on his left pec. He wanted to cover the mark of the Skinwalkers. 

 

After a few minutes Bishop had put himself together and sat at his table staring into his data pad. After a quick glance around the top. Bishop touches the respond icon. 

 

“Good evening  sir,

I’m currently staying at the Red Moon Residence Inn. Approximately fifteen minutes from the main spaceport in Galaltea  City. If I may suggest, Terminal 17 is good landing pad for any dropship looking to be discrete. As Im sure you are aware, Galatea has many eyes and people looking to ask question about the comings and goings of new DropShips. I am currently ready to deploy. I have my equipment and personal effects here in my room.  All that need is a transport big enough to transport myself plus 230 kilos of gear.

 

Again sir, thank you for your time and consideration” 

 

Bishop hit transmit, then waited for the confirmation receipt..Two minutes later a confirmation was received. 

 

The bottle of Galatea Blue bourbon was siting on s shelf a few feet away. Bishop got up and poured a small glass with a few cubs of ice cold granite blocks in the glass. Bishop couldn’t help but smirk at the four cases of the bourbon sitting in the corner of the room. Truth be told, the alcohol was extremely expensive, really only consumed by the upper middle class of Galatea. His stockpile was payment of work he had done for the local distillery that produced it.  Each case represent three graves at the sector cemetery. Bishop took a sip and savored the flavor...a woody smoke burn on his mouth.  “Well, that’s one shit head street gang that will never grow up” thought Bishop. The owners could make and transport their goods in the sector unmolested, for a short time at least, till the next small street gang took over. By then he would be gone and long forgotten. 

 

After a few drinks bishop walked over to the pile of weapons cases sitting near the door.  It was time to clean and function check his gear. 

Edited by Joker 4-1

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Meanwhile...

C.S.V. Half Moon
System jump point
Gan Singh IV - November 22, 3028
_____________________________

The Half Moon gave a lurch as its docking collar sealed against the JumpShip and weightlessness took over aboard our vessel. From my cramped quarters, I couldn't see outside, but I had to imagine that the sight was impressive. I'd been aboard many JumpShips in my life, but I never got tired of seeing them. I hoped that someone on board with a better view than me would get a picture. 

The PA chimed with an anouncement:

"Now hear this...now hear this...we're not spending a lot of time hanging around here. We have a rendezvous to make with the Mendacius at Sheratan, so we're going to be hoofing it at the jump points. Keep your movements within the ship to a minimum while we're readying for Interstellar jump. We're making the first of those transits in ten minutes."

"A rendezvous with a other ship? That wasn't in the plan!" I wondered aloud, with no one around to hear it. 

I flipped my communicator open. 

"Schmidt to Albrecht," I called. 

"Ja, Herr Schmidt, go ahead."

"What's this about a rendezvous? I thought we were making planetfall on Sheratan proper, not meeting someone in orbit."

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ELSEWHERE

I couldn't believe my luck. I was getting a Dragon! It was the symbol of my people and excreted my culture. I had already picked out a name for my Mech when I got it, I would call it Hagakure which referred to the warrior's handbook which I had studied back on Archimedes. 

"Captain Maxwell, you won't be disappointed!" I yelled, jumping up from my chair and knocking it backwards in a dramatic way to show how serious I was. "I will paint the hills in the blood of my mutilated enemies with this Mech!" 

I stood there in pride waiting for my assignment to begin! 

"Can you give me the keys to the Mech soon?" I asked, because I needed them to go start its engine and things. 

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C.S.V. Half Moon
System jump point
Gan Singh IV - November 22, 3028

_____________________________

"What's this about a rendezvous? I thought we were making planetfall on Sheratan proper, not meeting someone in orbit."

Overhearing the conversation, I raised an eyebrow in Hauptmann Albrecht's general direction.

"JaHerr Schmidt," Albrecht replied, nodding a silent acknowledgement at me that seemed to convey a message of 'I've got this covered.' "We are meeting a Crayven Corporation vessel in orbit of Sheratan to take on a passenger, then landing on Sheratan to deliver the package. Two unrelated things. Verstanden?"

"Danke, verstanden," Schmidt replied.

"Have you got your seatbelt on?" Albrecht inquired.

"I'm getting strapped in now," Schmidt answered.

"Good," the Hauptmann acknowledged. "I would not want you to emerge from the jump looking like a dropped sauerbraten. Albrecht out."

The Lyran snapped his comm unit shut, and cast me a smile. "He is an inquisitive young man. It will serve him well."

"Fortune does favor the bold," I chuckled, pivoting back toward the bridge's sweeping main display and glancing at the JumpShip's status as a warning klaxon sounded. "Looks like it's time."

I toggled open a comm channel to the entire ship. "All decks, prepare for FTL jump. All decks, prepare for FTL jump."

As I closed the channel, three distinct chimes sounded across the Half Moon's public address system. A low rumble soon followed, and the bow of the bridge began to warp and distort, the effect of the Kearny-Fuchida field cascading aft as it rushed toward me like a wave breaking on the shore. A blinding white flash overtook my field of view, and in an instant, Gan Singh and all its problems were over 25 light-years behind us.

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Ceres Metal Industries
Lorenzopolis, Triasha - Kimball II
Kimbal System, Lyran Commonwealth
November 18, 3028
_________________________

"Captain Maxwell, you won't be disappointed!" Steve Jenkins screamed excitedly, his chair, having been inexplicably hurled across the briefing room, slamming into the far bulkhead with a spectacular crash. "I will paint the hills in the blood of my mutilated enemies with this 'Mech!"

The room fell into a stupefied silence, all eyes on the underwear-clad MechWarrior as he stood, hand outstretched toward the podium, apparently waiting for...something. Several uncomfortable seconds passed as I attempted to process what was happening. Finally, apparently at the behest of someone in the audience clearing their throat angrily, Steve spoke again.

"Can you give me the keys to the 'Mech soon?" Jenkins eventually asked.

"Uh...sure...go see the Quartermaster after the briefing," I replied. "And for the love of Blake, please - sit down."

Jenkins immediately and obligingly sat down directly on the grated metal floor, letting out a yell as the poor protection his underwear afforded him produced a predictable result. I rested my forehead in the palm of my hand momentarily before moving forward with the briefing. I'd given up trying to rationalize the guy's behavior.

"Are there any other questions? No. Very well. We roll out at 0530 tomorrow morning. Get your gear together and a good night's rest. Dismissed!"

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The Lazy Lighthorseman
Galatea Starport (Galport)
Galatea City, Galatea VI
November 23, 3028
_________________________

"Alright, man, I've gotta go do a milkrun. Go ahead and cash me out." I passed my corporate CredTube to the bartender, a guy I knew only by the name of 'Isaac.'

"Where are you off to this time?" Isaac asked, running my drink tab through and handing the credit unit and a payment slip back to me. I stashed it away in a pocket of my jacket and began to put on my sunglasses. A loud boom of thunder outside the bar interrupted the motion.

"Just off to fetch a new hire," I replied with a sigh. "I hate flying in this shit."

"Say, does your company have any openings for a guy who can make a martini?" Isaac asked, wryly, the roar of some ultra-violent video game starting up in the background.

"None that I know of. But if you're friends with any ex-cons, psychopaths, or mad scientists who are out of work, send them our way," I laughed.

The bartender raised an eyebrow. "Wait. I thought you guys were couriers?"

"Uh huh," I chuckled. "See ya later."

"Seeya, Lieutenant."

As I wandered out of the bar into the gloom of day, the sky overhead opened with a fury, dumping torrents of rain on and around me. I scrambled into the dry confines of the Norman utility truck, brushing the rain off the leather of my coat and running a hand through my now-sodden hair to push it back into place.

"Destination, please," the truck's computer prompted, detecting my arrival.

Using my StarPOC - its name a messy Crayven Corporation acronym for 'Starship Personal Onboard Computer,' I pulled up the name and address of my passenger.

"Red Moon Residence Inn, 83 Bethke Street," I replied. A map flickered into existence, overlaid as a HUD on the truck's windshield. I glanced at the route.

"Shit...that's up near the Hiring Hall. This drive is going to take forever," I muttered to the computer.

"Please re-state command," the unit answered.

"Forget about it. Send a message to the Red Moon Residence Inn. Tell them that Bishop...Weyland's ride is on the way."

I shifted the truck into drive with a lurch. Moments later, I was underway.

Edited by Colin Trask

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The Red Moon Residents Inn 
Galatea Starport (Galport)
Galatea City, Galatea VI
November 23, 3028 

 

It was late afternoon but to Bishop, it might as well have been night. The black clouds that had rolled in had sucked up any ambient light about an hour prior. Now they had opened up, dumping waves of rain throughout the city. Bishop had found some concealment  in an small alcove near the front door of the Inn. It provided him with some shelter from the rain but most importantly, it provide a dark shadow that blanketed him completely. His long dark brown trench coat helped breakup his outline in the shadow. From the sidewalk or street he was practically invisible, which is what he wanted.  Passerby’s would need night vision or thermal goggles to see him. The few that did pass by, never knew he was feet away. 

 

Bishop watched the two bellhops standing next to his many hard sided cases stacked near the door. They had all but forgotten he had coiled himself up in the alcove. Actually they had never seen him sep way. They were more concerned with talk about their last night’s exploits and sports betting. He was pleased that they had at least done what he paid them to do....which was just stand there next to he’s belongings.  

 

Without even thinking about it Bishop dropped his right hand to his hip and gently felt the outline of his Gunther MP-20 sub machine gun. Subconsciously the weight of weapon was reassuring to him, it was calming. The 11mm caliber compact weapon was perfect for close in work, the city environment. It was perfectly concealed under the heavy trench coat hanging around his neck on a single point web sling. Bishop kept two spare 30rd magazines on his left hip in holster that attached to his belt. The area the Inn was nestled in was near the space port.. a place that was heavily controlled by low level street gangs and crime syndicates.  The weapon would end any street encounter rapidly and violently, Bishop’s style. The combat veteran would leave nothing to chance.  His years of stalking humans and mechs taught him two things, patiences and attention to detail. 

 

Motionless, the predator waited in the shadows. He waited not for a prey but for his transport to new beginnings, money and a escape from the past. He waited for a man named Colin Trask. 

Edited by Joker 4-1

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