Transcript for DC-GW-04-01 Guerrilla Warfare on Dieron

A forum for posting all Transcripts for the mercenary unit known as the Razan's Ronins.
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Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:51 pm
affiliations: Name: Kintaro Tanaka
Callsign: 'Iceman'
Rank: Sho-sa (Major)
Hardware: Kage BA (DEST)
Battalion: DEST
Company: Shadow
Platoon: PA(L) DEST Platoon Alpha
Assignment: Breach
Role: Executive Officer
Unit: Razan's Ronins
House: Draconis Combine

Transcript for DC-GW-04-01 Guerrilla Warfare on Dieron

Postby Iceman » Tue Feb 28, 2017 6:02 am

DC-GW-04-01 #01

Draconis Combine/ULTRA Contested
Dieron Prefecture
Dieron Military District
Al Na'ir Province
Tatsuyama Mountains
Southeast of Lake Stinson
13th December 1730pm 3093

Exactly one and a half hours after the first shots were fired Tai-sa (Colonel) Onishi ‘Rough Ryder’ Razan stood on the ground helping her men salvage a ULTRA Carronade. The armor was savaged all over the ‘Mech and several large holes bore testament to the previous pilot’s decision to punch out. Since Onishi had left her technicians behind at her main base of operations all the Ronins really had to work with was the few minor tools stored in the cockpits of their ‘Mechs and the ‘Mechs themselves. None of her ‘Mechs were badly hurt, but the after action reports were not a swan’s song either. Every ‘Mech had suffered at minimum 30% armor loss. Those with ammo-based weapons were down to less than half their reloads. Things looked pretty grim if they still had to fight, but Onishi had driven the enemy from the grounds and was currently salvaging those ‘Mechs they had left behind. Things were looking up for a change.

Once the last Marik ‘Mech had moved far enough away, she ordered the four ‘Mechs of Red Dragon Lance to haul the Penetrator back to the main base. They had a three-day march lugging the disabled ‘Mech back to the ‘Mech bays setup in the empty warehouses provided by Terada Yard Warship Components and Onishi instructed Sho-ko (Sergeant Major) Li and her lance to not stop for anything. Onishi wanted that ‘Mech back in working order as soon as possible and all the more better if her techs could begin working on it before she returned for her own repairs. Right now they were trying to determine if they could get the Carronade and maybe the Gallowglas back up on their feet and perhaps get techs flown in to pilot them back to base. They would make a wonderful addition to the Ronin’s TO&E. The Falconer and Orion were down for good unless they got a ‘Mech hauler out there but Onishi hadn’t written that possibility off yet.

Right now she had Shujin (Master Sergeant) Orvald ‘Doomguide’ Kress from Dragon’s Claw Lance nestled into the open head of the Carronade, trying to get some response from the controls. When the ULTRA pilot ejected it took out some of the sensor controls, communications, and most importantly, the command chair. Orvald found a sheet of armor blown off some ‘Mech and had it cut to form an ad hoc chair. It was at least something to lean against while the ‘Mech was still flat on its back. Shujin (Master Sergeant) Millie Biery was using the built-in hands of her Atlas Assault Class ‘Mech to slowly upright the Carronade and see if it could function enough to be walked off the field. Onishi had ordered Chu-i (Lieutenant) Natasha Winston to see about getting the Gallowglas up right and Sho-i (Captain) Sroyadin Tang was helping him with her Shiro. Sho-sa (Major) Owen ‘Kestrel’ Callaghan was out of his ‘Mech directing them so that both operations could go off together to save time. Just as a precaution Onishi detached Kashira (Talon Sergeant) Zach Oevans in his Komodo and Chu-i (Lieutenant) Akita ‘Kuma (The Bear)’ Fujinaka in his Banzai to scout the area the enemy retreated through to make sure there were no surprises awaiting them.

Tai-i (Captain) John ‘Shadeslayer’ Mendez and the other two members of Dragon’s Watch Lance were currently crawling all over the downed Orion. Onishi had given permission for the ‘Mech to be gone over for parts for Mendez’s ‘Mechs. If nothing else it would keep Mendez busy and out of her hair for a few minutes. Especially since she wanted to go over the cockpit recorders to find out why Mendez tried to pull back instead of grouping the firepower of his lance against the Penetrator in the very beginning. It could’ve been over much sooner had Mendez led his lance in a successful attack instead of crumbling under the first traded shots. But that would have to wait. She had salvage to recover.

Onishi lifted the hand-held comm device to her mouth and tried contacting Orvald in the cockpit of the Carronade. “Can you get the hip actuators to unlock any more Orvald? It looks like Millie is trying to stand a tall redwood back up. I don’t want the difference in weight to pull her down on top of you.”

Orvald sounded excited in his reply, but it was more than likely the strain of trying to maneuver the metal beast back to its feet. “Copy that Colonel. It’s a mess in here but I think I can get more slack in the legs. Stand by.” A few tense seconds passed before the legs pulled back some to center the weight directly under the body of the ‘Mech.

“Looking good Orvald! Now try to bring the right leg back under the ‘Mech to push up with. Millie? How are you doing up there?”

“Doin’ just fine Oni. Feels just like pickin’ up a large baby. Just get him to hurry up, it’s getting hot in here working the engine like this.”

Millie’s voice was filled with the strains of having to control two ‘Mechs at the same time. Chancing a quick glance over to where Owen was working on the other ULTRA ‘Mech, Onishi saw that they were both about dead even for getting the ‘Mechs up and moving again. She checked her chronometer and realized that Oevans and Fujinaka had been gone for about ten minutes now without so much as a call to say there was nothing else out here but the Ronins. Silence had proven nearly deadly once already today and she was not in the mood for any more surprises today. Pressing a few buttons on the handset she dialed up a specific frequency.

“Ronin Actual to Dragon’s Lair Lead. Head to the top of that hill and see if you can pick up Dragon’s Watch Four and get a sit-rep from him.”

Onishi received a hasty “Yes Ma’am” from Gunsho (Sergeant) Viva Thuen as she broke into a full run to the hilltop. Onishi was happy to see everyone working together and moving about to get things done. It looked like she had some good people working with her. And that thought actually stuck with her longer than she figured it would. She had good people working with her, not for her. This wasn’t your average military unit where she was the head honcho and barks orders to everyone and they just obey them. No this was actually becoming family-like. Everyone shared their ideas and interacted well with everyone else. No one had to tow the lines while others slacked off. The recent battle was proof enough of that. They were coming together as one, not just a bunch of Ronins when she first met them all. It was a warming feeling inside and Onishi liked that feeling. Smiling for reasons only known to her she turned back around to continue guiding Orvald to his feet.

No sooner did Orvald and Natasha get the Marik ‘Mechs on their feet did Onishi detect the faint sound of cannon fire echoing across the valley. She turned her head slightly as if trying to locate the sound that eluded her. What she assumed was cannon rounds was quickly replaced with the roar of jumpjets going full throttle out the back of Viva’s Venom as she cleared the hilltop in long, low-angle jump. She landed solidly on the ground; the tremor Onishi would later swear rattled her back molars. The comm unit barked to life with fast-paced speech from Viva who was still trying to move the ‘Mech as fast as she could get it to go.

“Enemy BattleMechs are on their way here. Looks like a whole ‘nother company and they’re moving quick. The fastest elements are tangling with Oevans and Fujinaka but they have the upper hand in firepower. They’re making best speed back here but we have maybe five minutes till they’re all in weapons range. Tai-sa (Colonel), we need to bug out and like now!”

Onishi spat on the ground and cursed her luck. She mentally scratched the ‘Mech haulers off her list of things to do today and dialed the hand held for the unit general frequency.

“Alright listen up. If you missed the report the Free Worlder’s are back and they’re brought a new company with them. Orvald and Natasha get down out of those ‘Mechs and back into yours as fast as you can. When they’re clear pull the arms off those ‘Mechs for salvage, then slag the rest with all your energy weapons. Let’s not leave anything useful behind. We’ve got three minutes to pack up and get lost and we’re going to need every second. Lets move people!”
Onishi stood near the bottom of the Carronade as Orvald tossed out the rope he brought with him in case the ‘Mech wouldn’t cooperate once it was on its feet. Orvald descended the rope rapidly and hit the ground with both feet firmly under him.

“Damn Mariks,“ he cursed. “Just a little while longer and we could’ve had a new pair of ‘Mechs all to our own.”

“That may be true Shujin (Master Sergeant), but lets hustle up so we can keep the ones we came here with first.”

“Roger that Tai-sa (Colonel)!” Orvald set off at a full sprint for the chain ladder of his ‘Mech and Onishi did the same. She’d only reached the bottom of the ladder when she heard the screeching sound of metal being torn apart and the sizzle of lasers burning through metal. As she climbed she saw Mendez dropping something through an open panel in the back of the Orion he’d been crawling over not more than ten minutes prior. Onishi reached the apex of her climb and swung inside the hatch and dogged it behind her. Since she’d not replaced any of her clothing she only had to toss on the cooling vest she’d left behind and strap back into the command chair. She glanced at her chronometer and saw they had just over a minute left to get underway. She plugged and snapped everything in place in rapid succession and flipped over the comms to the general unit frequency.

“Get the most damaged ‘Mechs out of here first. Head back the way we came and head for the rendezvous point. Make sure those ULTRA ‘Mechs are good and toasted.” Just then a massive explosion outside of her Naginata tore the Orion apart and sent bits and pieces scattered across the field. Ammo bin explosion, she mused. “Point taken. Get up, get moving. As soon as the scouts crest the hill, we’re all outta here.”

Just as if saying made it happen, Fujinaka hit the crest of the hill and turned around to face the unseen Free Worlders. A blast from his Clan grade, Large Pulse Laser tore across the hidden landscape, followed shortly by the Chu-i’s (Lieutenant) Komodo partner coming up and over the hill without stopping. The Banzai let loose with a salvo of pulse lasers from the weapons port in its right torso and then turned and ran down the hill at full speed with its MASC fully engaged.

“Report Chu-i (Lieutenant),‘’ Onishi called over the comms. She needed to know what was going on. So far only three ‘Mechs had departed the immediate area. Dragon’s Claw Lance was holding position a couple hundred meters behind Onishi and Owen was actually moving up in line with her. She needed to know in order to coordinate an organized withdraw.

“No time now Razan-san. We need to go. We really need to go.” To emphasize his point several missiles exploded right at the spot he’d been standing at on the hilltop sending dirt and rock flying.

“Well, no sense arguing with that. All units pull back now. Best speed to the rally point. Go go go!!”

Like a heard of spooked buffalo, the twelve remaining ‘Mechs of the Ronins turned in place and settled into the best speed possible as they headed for the south bend of the lake where they would turn north and move at full throttle to link up with the other lances left at the north bend. Onishi was practically bringing up the rear and had taken but a dozen steps when her threat indicators on the main board lit up like a Christmas tree. She looked up into the visual readout from the Heads Up Display that compressed 360 degrees around the ‘Mech into 160 degrees with lines denoting front, side and rear arcs of the ‘Mech. her eyes froze to the display as she watch four, six, seven ‘Mechs crest the hill with amazing speed and begin to pursue her departing ‘Mechs.

“We’ve got a couple of followers. Once we make it around the lake they should break off pursuit. We’re still out of their range so everyone keep going.” The excitement in her voice only spurred her to move faster. Her targeting computer was busy marking makes and models of the enemy ‘Mechs. The warbook was identifying the markings as Kappa Company, Charlie Battalion, 15th Luczenko Guards. The fastest ‘Mechs were apparently the ones in pursuit as she counted a pair of Centurions, a Commando, Vulcan, Maelstrom, Falconer and a Carronade not far behind and at the edge of the hill were the remaining heavy and assault ‘Mechs of the company. And they’re not slowing down!

The five remaining ‘Mechs poured down the hill as fast and as safe as possible. Three assaults and a pair of heavies made up the remaining firepower that was still out of range of the trailing units of the Ronins. Onishi suddenly realized that the lighter ‘Mechs were going to catch up and try to wound enough ‘Mechs to have them fall out of formation where the heavier ‘Mechs would pounce and destroy them. “Oh we’re not having any of that,“ she mumbled low enough to not activate the voice-triggered mic in her neurohelmet. She dialed up a tight beam signal and directed it at the lumbering Battlemaster just ahead of her.

“Now would be a good a time as any to call in our fighters.” Onishi said matter-of-factly.

“Yes Ma’am, ‘Rough Ryder’. They’re already up and inbound. ETA seven minutes and they’re packing heat.” Her Ronin Legion Battalion XO, Sho-sa (Major) Owen Callaghan, had seen the same thing Onishi had with the pursuing ‘Mechs and had called in fighter support to help expedite their hasty retreat.

“Seven minutes,“ she paused as a few shotgun-like rounds from an LBX cannon rattled off her back armor, “is going to be tight.” She flicked the comms back to a single channel. “Ronin Actual to Dragon’s Lair Lead. Push ahead and try to raise our boys at the north end. Let them know we’re coming home quick but have an enemy company in pursuit. Air support is inbound but the timing is going to be real close. Have them setup a defensive perimeter to keep the enemy off our backs as we head back up the mountain.”

“Roger that Tai-sa (Colonel).” The Venom edged out from the group and then increased to an absurd speed of 129 kph. Its long-legged strides widened the distance between itself and the group rather quickly. As soon as she could transmit to Dragon Eye and Blue Dragon Lance, she’d explain the situation and get them ready to repel the trailing ‘Mechs of the 15th.

Onishi glanced at her chronometer and saw that she still had four minutes before her air support arrived and about twelve minutes of her fast paced march to complete before she made it to the north bank. But ‘Mechs weren’t meant for long distance runs and she knew some of them were going to suffer disabling problems if they couldn’t slow down. More scatter shot across her legs and back made her disregard the slowing down part and she feverishly searched for something that would give them the edge they needed. It nearly seemed hopeless when a torrential blast of charged particles from a PPC slagged the remaining armor off the right arm of Sho-ko (Sergeant Major) Arai ‘Tokoyo’ Chickamoto’s Ha Otoko. The ‘Mech leaned dangerously to the left with the loss of armor, but Chickamoto quickly straightened it and kept right on running. It wouldn’t be long now before more enemy ‘Mechs could hit more damaging sections of her ‘Mechs. Onishi thought about stopping to fire back, but in the time it would take to slow and turn and get everyone lined up to fire the heavier enemy ‘Mechs would be in range to cause even more catastrophic damage than the few shots that were connecting now. A handful of missiles blasted into the hip socket of Gunsho (Sergeant) Sonja Tagert’s Uziel on Onishi’s left side throwing a hitch into its step. Things were quickly getting desperate.

“Ronin Actual this is Ice Dragon. Ice Dragon Alpha requesting fly-by.”

They’re early! Onishi was so happy to hear the voice of her pilots that she almost forgot to acknowledge their transmission. “Copy that Ice Dragon Alpha. Uploading our position to you now. Tangos are due south and are a feisty bunch. Concentrate on the seven Bravo Mikes closest our position. We need more time to get out of the soup.”

“Loud and clear Ronin Actual. We have your position locked in and will be in visual in two-zero seconds. Tell your boys to keep their arms and heads down. Ice Dragons have the ball. Alpha Out.”

Onishi quickly switched over to the main unit channel. “Keep going everyone. Air support is here.” A few cheers and yips over the comms gave Onishi the first relaxing thoughts since the whole thing started. A glint of light reflected off something up in the clouds in front of the fast moving ‘Mechs. She silently regarded it as her guardian angels.


Name: Onishi Razan
Callsign: ‘Rough Ryder'
Rank: Tai-sa, Commanding
Hardware: Naginata NG-RO1
Company: Ronin Legion
Lance: Fire Dragon
Assignment: MUCO
Unit: Razan's Ronins

DC-GW-04-01 #02

Draconis Combine/ULTRA Contested
Dieron Prefecture
Dieron Military District
Al Na'ir Province
Tatsuyama Mountains
Southeast of Lake Stinson
13th December 1745pm 3093

But in the biblical sense the fast approaching fighters were anything but angelic. All six were riding the maximum thrust possible and were bristling with weapons from nose to tail. Senior Airman Tai-i (Captain) Torii “Nemesis” Nashiro was leading the Ice Dragons in her 95-ton Koroshiya. Sets of razor sharp teeth were painted across the dark green nose to go with a pair of yellow-green eyes right below the start of the cockpit canopy. To her back left and right were the pair of 75-ton Suzaku and directly behind was her wingman in another Koroshiya, and bringing up the rear was a 85-ton Striga and a 75-ton Transgressor, all flying in a loose arrow head formation with the two rear aerospace fighters denoting the arrow’s shaft.

“Ice Dragon Alpha to Ice Dragon Squadron. Five thousand meters to the deck. Friendlies bearing one-eight-zero true, distance two thousand klicks. Seven Tangos are up five hundred. Alpha will lead the strike followed by Echo, Beta, Delta, Foxtrot, and Golf. Take separate targets and watch the crossfire. Good hunting. Good luck.”

“Ice Dragon Echo copies. I’ve got a hundred C-Bills says I get first kill.”

“Ice Dragon Beta copies. I’ve got a hundred that says you miss your first shots.”

“Ice Dragon Foxtrot copies. I’ve got two hundred that says I get one shot one kill.”

“Ice Dragon Golf copies. I’ve got two hundred that says you both miss your first shots.”

“Ice Dragon Delta copies. I’ve got three hundred that says we all make it back alive.”

“Ice Dragon Alpha to Group. I’ll take that bet Delta. Tally Ho!!” With that shout ‘Nemesis’ executed a perfect barrel roll and nosed over towards the ground. Already flying at maximum thrust for level flight the digital air speed indicator started its race to keep reporting what the sensors outside the craft were telling it. 500…600…700…800, the numbers sped past with every second as the ground loomed in closer. The altimeter was going just as fast as the speed but in the opposite direction. ‘Nemesis’ was actually enjoying the dive pressed back in her seat by the force of 4Gs. Ever since signing on to the Ronins, her squadron had just been flying escort duty. This was first time she’d be allowed to push her aircraft to its limits and the thrill was exhilarating. At one hundred fifty meters off the ground she pulled up on the control stick and leveled out at just over ninety meters and going roughly seven hundred twenty kph. The ground rushed by in a blur of melted colors and shapes. So much that she actually needed the computer to tell her she just tore past a Ronin Venom headed in the opposite direction.

Tapping the air brakes to bleed some more speed off, she toggled the controls on her HOTAS throttle. The Hands On Throttle And Stick system allowed the pilot to perform a majority of all cockpit functions without removing their hands from either the throttle or the flight stick. Two taps of her left thumb switched over from air radar to ground target and tracking. Instantly the Heads Up Display refreshed the holographic view to report new data to the pilot. The Eagle Eye 430XX Targeting System began tracking all possible targets within range and labeling them friend or foe based on their IFF signatures. With a flicking of her left ring finger, she changed the view to only display enemy or unknown signatures. A pair of red squares appeared directly ahead indicating BattleMechs. Circles would have meant ground vehicles and triangles would have been Dropships. She selected the first square with her right thumb and the computer spit back the necessary data on the target. Her left index finger toggled through the Koroshiya’s weapons and selected the Shigunga class MRM40 Missile Launcher that was stuffed into the nose of the fighter. Immediately the HUD displayed a firing solution for the weapon and began to increase that value as she quickly approached the enemy ‘Mech.

A distance from the fast-moving fighter, ‘Nemesis’ spotted her target lumbering across an open expanse of land firing its weapons at the backs of her ‘Mech mates. A tall, gangly Centurion Medium Class ‘Mech was ripping away at the landscape with the right arm mounted LBX autocannon and trying desperately to lock on with the torso mounted LRM launcher. The firing solution hovered at 87% and ‘Nemesis’ grinned in perfect predatory fashion as she mashed down on the main trigger with her right index finger. A high-pitched banshee-like scream emanated from the launcher below her cockpit as the MRM burped to life belching fire and smoke from its ports. The force of the weapon firing was so powerful that for a split second ‘Nemesis’ saw the airspeed indicator go from 675 to 100 kph and then back. The ULTRA pilot never had a chance to defend himself. At the speed the Koroshiya was moving he never saw it coming. The warning lights only flashed to life a split second before the force of the 120mm warheads from the launcher rocked the ‘Mech. ‘Nemesis’s aim was true as she punched through the center torso armor chipping away at the gyroscope and engine shielding. The Free Worlder had no chance to keep the ‘Mech upright under that level of punishment and it twisted violently to the right before slamming into the ground digging a large furrow littered with armor plating before coming to a halt. By the time the ‘Mech had hit the ground ‘Nemesis’ had already flown over her target and was pulling up and left to circle around for another run.

Ice Dragon Echo in his own Koroshiya had followed close behind ‘Nemesis’ taking full advantage of the surprise the air raid would have on the Luczenko ‘Mechs. He passed up a fast moving Commando for a more targetable Falconer ‘Mech. Mirroring ‘Nemesis’s attack he blast away at the ‘Mech with his MRM40 catching it high on the right arm. Although he couldn’t physically see it the gun camera would record the arm falling limply to the side of the ‘Mech causing it to stumble and slow but not fall. Likewise, Ice Dragon Echo pulled up and out to the right.

Although the attacks were just two seconds apart, the Free Worlders were on alert for the next ones coming in at them. The pursuing ‘Mechs had slowed and turned their attention to the skies inviting any craft to come up on them and meet their doom. Unfortunately Ice Dragons Beta and Delta were not about to oblige them and came at them from the left and right sides, respectively. Beta hit a Maelstrom across the left, center and right torso with a mixture of ER PPC and MRM20 fire. Delta angled a bit further back in the ranks and caught a Carronade in the leg and arms. Both craft rolled out and disappeared behind the trees easily avoiding the return fire of the ‘Mechs. Ice Dragons Foxtrot and Golf were the mop up flight and caught the enemy ‘Mechs as they were turning to target Beta and Delta. Ice Dragon Foxtrot skewered the Maelstrom with twin Heavy PPC blast and Ice Dragon Golf impaled the second Centurion with three ER Large Lasers. The Vulcan and the Commando ‘Mech, not realizing that their larger brethren had slowed or stopped to deal with the fighters, had continued right on chasing the tails of the Ronins. It only took seconds for them to escape the protective umbrella of their comrades’ firepower. Onishi wanted nothing more than to turn on them and pound their puny ‘Mechs into sardine cans but she had the rest of the unit to worry about now. Besides, Ice Dragon Alpha had already called her unit off those ‘Mechs, claiming the ‘fly-boys had first dibs’.

Coming back over the lake ‘Nemesis’ spotted her prey catching up to her unit quickly. The Ice Dragons had a nasty surprise for the Mariks, but they really needed to hurry or they’d be shooting into their own ranks soon. She clicked over onto her paired Heavy PPCs mounted on either side of the nose and tracked down on the Vulcan. She fired a one-two shot, each a heartbeat apart. The first beam hit the ground in front of the ‘Mech while the second devoured the armor over the right torso. She passed over the ‘Mech in level flight and then quickly pulled up to allow Ice Dragon Echo to pass below her and inflict similar damage to the Commando ‘Mech. The Striga swooped in and added two more Heavy PPC and four extended range medium laser to the carnage while its wingmate, in the Transgressor, heaped on more damage with three ER Large lasers and four mediums. Caught way out front and without support the ‘Mechs made a futile attempt to return fire at the departing aerospace fighters. Had they been watching the horizon they would have seen the two Suzaku diving in on a strafing run from behind. White puffs of smoke belched from the wings of each plane as a total of forty MRMs corkscrewed through the air towards the unsuspecting Luczenko ‘Mechs. As soon as the missiles had fired the pair of Suzaku crisscrossed their paths and formed up side-by-side and headed back north. The missiles themselves never struck the ‘Mechs directly. At thirty meters off the ground the built-in altimeter circuitry triggered an electrical charge that surged into a small amount of explosive material that was woven into the casing of the missile tube. This explosion cracked the exterior of the tube and split apart the internal container that held a mixture of polystyrene, benzene, and petroleum. Buffeted by the high winds around the missile the liquid combination began to flow from the cracks and spread through the air. When the internal container split it trigger another explosion, this time a thermite charge detonated in the very center of the missile tube. The heat from the second explosion ignited the liquid that was housed in the internal container into a massive fireball. The fumes and the liquid caught fire as it spread through the air coating the ground and the ‘Mechs.

Now while the technical description of napalm, or inferno rounds as they are more commonly know, is intimidating enough the actual use of them against anything is down right terrifying. The path of the attacking fighters coordinated the inferno rounds into the shape of an ‘X’, pinning the pair of ULTRA ‘Mechs right at the cross point. The intense heat added to the existing heat level from their attempt to bring down one of the mercenary fighters and forced both ‘Mechs to shutdown without warning. Rather than be roasted alive in the burning machines, both Marik pilots ejected from their ‘Mechs and sailed backwards towards the remaining ‘Mechs that had halted before the wall of fire now burning freely and blocking their path.

The Ronins now with plenty of distance between themselves and the enemy moved off at a slower pace to head up and over the mountains to get repaired and prepped for the next encounter. Onishi marched along side her troops silently beaming with pride in overcoming the odds today, twice. First when she turned the tables on an ambush by a Luczenko Company, and the second time when her battered troops escaped the pursuit of a fresh Company with the help of her aerospace fighters. The “fire wall” had been an especially nice trick that she was going to have to find out whom to give the credit to on that one. Plus not only did every ‘Mech make it back on its own power, she was heavy one. The Penetrator she’d picked up as salvage would make a nice addition to the unit, or when (no longer if) she made it back to Vega, a depot world, would fetch a handsome price. As the rest of the unit moved off to head up and over the shortest route through the mountains, Onishi stopped her ‘Mech and turned back around to get one last look behind her. A soft orange glow in the distance pinpointed the fire that was set by her fighters to block the pursuit of the ULTRA‘Mechs. She knew by all means they could have gone right through it and kept on coming but they must have decided that enough was enough. She sighed in relief that the day was over and wiped her sweaty hands on the cooling vest before turning around to follow her Ronin home.

If she had waited a few more minutes she would have seen the flash of light from the Commando as the ammo cooked off shredding the ‘Mech into a thousand pieces.


Name: Torii Nashiro
Callsign: ‘Nemesis’
Rank: Tai-i (Captain)
Hardware: Koroshiya
Squadron: Ice Dragon
Flight: Dragon
Assignment: Escort
Unit: Razan's Ronins

DC-GW-04-01 #03

Draconis Combine/ULTRA Contested
Dieron Prefecture
Dieron Military District
Al Na'ir Province
Tatsuyama Mountains
Dieron Spaceport
15th Luczenko Guard Regiment HQ
14th December 1100am 3093

The communications tech at Monitoring Station Two was the closest in the room to Kutsonov’s main office. Although he had a headset on and was currently listening in on radio waves trying to locate some clues as to the whereabouts of the mercenaries, he could hear the bellowing voice of his CO clearly, even with the heavy wooden door closed. He had heard about the after action reports, the casualty list, the damaged ‘Mechs, the mercenaries that got away intact and with a captured ‘Mech. Kutsonov was none to happy about the turn of events and was currently chewing out his company commanders, even though one of them was just appointed to the position to replace the late Captain Jonnes. The tech silently thanked God he never wanted to aspire to the command level.

Inside the office Kutsonov was pacing back in forth behind his company commanders like a frustrated caged lion. He traded off screaming in each of their ears over the displeasure of the recent setbacks. Despite his volume the men held themselves ramrod straight at attention.

“You lost an ENTIRE lance in the first encounter Captain Kriston! Their incompetence reflects on your leadership! Their snafu derailed ANY faith I had in you as a commanding officer.”

“Captain Harris. You may have been promoted in rank, but that was only from the direct result of the inability of your men to keep your former commanding officer ALIVE! I don’t care that Jonnes ordered a charge that CONFLICTED with the initial battle plan. The men of Gamma should have held their ground and let the mercs come to them. Instead you ran right at them like a bunch of screaming teenage GIRLS and you lost two ‘Mechs because of it. The ONLY good thing to come of this is that fool Jonnes is dead. Screw up again and I’ll personally see that you follow him quickly.”

“And you Captain Gants. I dispatched you in a supporting role for Gamma Company, not to go chasing the mercenaries across the plains like a bunch of ‘cowboys and indians’. Not only did you fail to capture or destroy any of their ‘Mechs, but you lost a ‘Mech and had another badly damaged. How that justifies your actions, I CANNOT fathom.”

Kutsonov circled around the room and flopped heavily into his stuffed leather chair. He flipped open the lid to a small cherry wood box on his desk and pulled out a long black cigar. He chomped down on one end of it and tore it with his teeth rather than use the silver cutter that was next to the box. He lit the stogie and puffed it heavily several times before speaking again in a more civil tone.

“Gentleman we have an unacceptable situation here and I want to know how you are going to salvage it for us. Any ideas that you may have, I don’t care how trivial, I want to hear them now.”

Kriston was the first to speak up. “Force Commander Kutsonov, I met with the civilian that gave us the information to find the mercenaries. He’s obviously involved in some form of criminal activity, but I think he meant to deceive us. I went back over the planetary archives after meeting with him and found that he has been implemented to have connections to a dozen hijackings of industrial equipment including Lithium Fusion Batteries from Terada Yard. He could have misled us to prevent us from stopping his scam operation. I think we should look to him for our answers.”

Kutsonov blew out a plume of blue–gray smoke from his lips directly at Kriston, who tried to blink away the cloud that enveloped his head. Kutsonov stared at the Captain for a long silent moment as if he were contemplating whether to shoot the officer or not. Finally he placed the lit end of the cigar in an ashtray and folded his hands on the desktop.

“I want this man found and brought here for questioning,“ he said flatly.

“He’s actually coming here sir.” Kriston piped up. “He sold us the information to recover losses he incurred from the mercenaries. I didn’t trust him at the time and I remember you made part of the deal to pick up the balance of payment here, in case there was anything wrong with the information.”

“Captain if he was setting us up, do you really think that he’d be stupid enough to come here to collect his money knowing full well that we would looking to repay him for misleading us?”

A quick rap at the door interrupted Kriston’s response and then it opened. A young woman popped her head in the door and cleared her throat to speak.

“Sorry about disturbing you Force Commander, but there’s a rather posh looking gentleman out here looking for Captain Kriston. Something about money we owe him for the mercenaries. It sounded suspicious so I figured you’d want to know right away.”

The look of surprise was pasted across Kutsonov’s face at the announcement. “Thank you Jessica. Please tell our friend that we’ll be right with him. That’ll be all for now.”

Kriston let the corners of his mouth rise just slightly. “Stupid enough is fine by me, sir.” He quickly straightened up as Kutsonov shot him a venomous look. Rising from his desk like a cobra about to strike he snuffed out the cigar and placed it in the ashtray. He straightened his uniform and smoothed out any wrinkles, then turned and walked around the desk and headed out the door. Leaving the door open he told the company commanders to fall in behind him. The four men walked down a small corridor quickly to conference room where they were told the man was sent to wait. Kutsonov stopped for a brief second to change his composure before opening the door and entering the room.

Inside sitting on a tan couch was Reizei Degawa, the man who fed the information about the mercenaries to Captain Kriston three days prior. He rose to his feet as the four men entered the room. Kutsonov walked right up to Peter with a big grin on his face and extended his hand to welcome him.

“Mr. Degawa I’m Force Commander Johann Kutsonov. These are my company commanders, Captain Gants, Captain Harris and I believe you already know Captain Kriston?”

Reizei nodded his head at the men. “It’s good to met yous all. Nice seein’ you again Kriston. My wife says to tell you hello. She was going to send me here with some more wine for you, but I had to tell her today was just business.” He laughed heartily at his own joke and the officers chuckled mildly with him.

“Well Mr. Degawa,“ Kutsonov continued “I’d like to thank you for the help that you’ve given to us. The information you gave us on the mercenaries was accurate and we found them right where you said they’d be. I was skeptical at first, but you’re proving to be quite an asset to removing certain obstacles to our mission on Dieron.”

“I like to help yous guys out in any way I can. Those mercs are a bunch of no-good scum I think. When I learned of some information that could help yous I made sure to tell you right away.” Reizei straightened the suit he was wearing trying to make himself appear more important to these men. It was all part of her plan to milk them for more money.

Kutsonov crossed his arms over his chest and raised one eyebrow in interest. “Yes, how is it that you came upon this information? I have a dozen men tracking the mercenaries and yet you come up with their exact location and you appear to have no military ties.”

Reizei smiled in a very proud fashion and stepped closer to the four men. In a low voice he whispered, “Yous didn’t get this from me, but I found out from this guy at Terada Yard that don’t like those mercs either.” Another gut shacking laugh busted from Reizei and the others joined right in again.

Kutsonov stepped back and stopped laughing slowly. “So someone working for the company that hired the mercenaries, gave you information on their whereabouts so that you could get it to us, and then your source would remain discreetly hidden to keep giving you information to help us.” Kutsonov tapped his forefinger on his chin and smiled. “It all makes sense now.”

Reizei playfully slapped Kutsonov lightly on the shoulder. “It’s a beaut of a plan, dontcha think?”

Kutsonov nodded his head. “Oh that it is Mr. Degawa. We play hide and seek with them for almost two weeks and suddenly information to find them comes out and we follow up on the information and find the mercenaries right where we were told they’d be. I don’t suppose you’d want to share the name of your source with us so that we can thank him as well?”

Reizei shook his head. “I can’t do that Force Commander. But any money that you wish to give to him I can certainly pass along.”

Kutsonov raised her one eyebrow in surprise. “Money? What makes you think that you’re getting any money? My troops were shot up; I lost a man and didn’t get a single one of them. They had to have known where we were and when we would attack to have gotten away from our ambush. And Mr. Degawa that kind of information only comes from someone trying to play both ends against the middle. If you were expecting to get paid for misleading us, I’m afraid you made the trip for nothing.”

Reizei’s face flushed red in rage and he stabbed a finger in Kutsonov’s face. “I expect to get my money! I gave you information that was given to me. I had no way of verifying it, and you’re a fool if you didn’t! I made a deal with Kriston that day and I expect you to hold up your end of the deal. I want what I come for!”

Kutsonov kept restraint over his facial expressions but brought more authority into the tone of his voice. “MISTER Degawa whether you believe that your information helped us or not is all relative. Personally, with the loss of men and material I feel that it hurt us more than anything. AND because I hold the money that you feel you are entitled to, I don’t believe that you deserve any of it for the trouble you have caused me. Now if there is nothing more that we need to discuss here, I want you off my base before I have you jailed.”

“On what grounds?” screamed Reizei.

Kutsonov stepped closer to Reizei and crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Our mission here on Dieron came as a direct command from the Captain-General herself. That directive was to land here on Dieron, seize Terada Yard Industries and locate the rebel sources they are distributing their Lithium Fusion Batteries to and shut off the flow of those supplies. I get here only to find the company has hired mercenaries most likely at the behest of that bitch, Tomoe Katsuie. Now I not only have a company to seize but a mercenary unit I have to drive off first to do so. Then YOU come to us saying that you can help us find them only to dupe us into falling into their trap where I lose valuable men, materials and time. Time I don’t have Mr. Degawa, and I especially don’t have time for back-alley-dealing, double-crossing, manipulative scum like you.”

Reizei threw his arms up in disgust and stormed to the couch to retrieve his coat and fedora. He then marched right back over to Kutsonov and got right up in his face. “You picked the wrong person to screw over Force Commander. I have friends and influence all over this planet. I can make your life a bed of roses, or the nine gates of hell. It’s just too bad that you chose to do it the hard way. We could have had a cozy partnership but nooooo, you gotta be all by the book. I figured all Leaguers were in it for the profits, the money. You must’ve been one of those Fledgling Eaglets they sent over when that bastard Davion married our Omi Kurita.”

Kutsonov snapped when Reizei called him a Fledgling Eaglet, the slang term for denizens of the Free World’s League realm. He caught Reizei under the chin with a right-handed uppercut that snapped his head back. his body followed in motion and Reizei slammed down on the floor flat on his back. Before he could move to get back up Kutsonov was standing directly over him, pointing a Hawk Eagle Automatic slug-thrower pistol at Reizei’s face.

“Too bad you had to do it the hard way Mr. Degawa,“ and Kutsonov yanked on the trigger twice.

The company commanders were in total shock at witnessing the execution of a civilian at the hands of their commanding officer. Standing still behind him, nearly afraid to move for not knowing if they’d be next under the gun each man stared blankly at the blood slowly oozing across the floor. Kutsonov turned back around to face them and tossed the gun to Captain Gants.

“Clean that up. When you’re done, send a story to the press that we apprehended a local rebel conspiring with the mercenaries we’re tracking. He fed us false data that resulted in a failed mission to locate these mercenaries. We executed him for misleading us with false information.”

“Let’s see how the masses digest that one.”


Name: Johann Kutsonov
Rank: Force Commander
Hardware: Turkina
Battalion: Charlie
Lance: Command
Assignment: CO
Unit: ULTRA 15th Luczenko Regiment


DC-GW-04-01 #04

Draconis Combine/ULTRA Contested
Dieron Prefecture
Dieron Military District
Al Na'ir Province
Tatsuyama Mountains
Ronins Repair Base Indigo
15th December 0800am 3093

Senior Technician Chu-i (Lieutenant) Faraz “Squirrel” Sha had gotten word of the battle between the Ronins and the 15th right after the fighters had been launched to support the withdrawal. Expecting the worst he sent everyone and every supply part he could lay his hands on and headed over to the largest of four facilities Terada Yard converted over to repair bases for the duration of the Ronin’s contract. By the time they had loaded up everything to move over to the repair facility the fighters had returned with the good and the bad news.

Despite the damage taken, all the ‘Mechs were still operational enough to return home under their own power. In fact they were bringing home some salvage in the form of one full ‘Mech and several parts ripped from downed ‘Mechs on the field. Faraz sent out the Ronin’s Mobile Field Base and their Jifty 100 to bring back quickly the worst cases and take the extra ‘Mech in himself. Onishi’s Naginata, an Atlas, and a Tessen were the most damaged ‘Mechs, but each pilot refused to take a rest that couldn’t be given to the whole unit.

All the techs and support staff had turned out this morning to watch the mercenaries return home. Everyone was cheering and yelling as the ‘Mechs walked their battered hulks over to the Repair Bay. Indigo was the largest warehouse Terada Yard could spare for the mercenary unit. Faraz was able to construct seven repair bays in the building. One towards the back which was Bay One and Bays Two, Four, and Six on the left and Three, Five and Seven on the right side of a wide walkway for the ‘Mechs entering and leaving. When they arrived Onishi asked Faraz to deal with the simplest cases first and get them back online for sentry duty while the tougher cases got worked on afterwards. While the ‘Mechs were at the Bivouac, Faraz called in the Ronin’s Steel Dragon Battalion and had all the vehicles set up a perimeter around the ‘Mech bay to add to the firepower of the ‘Mechs.

Onishi was walking her Naginata into the hanger as she watched the techs reloading Gauss rifle rounds into the right leg of Chu-i (Lieutenant) Natasha’s Fafnir in Bay Two, and hammering on more armor to Gunsho (Sergeant) Viva’s Venom in Bay Five. The last SRM reloads were being lifted into Gunsho (Sergeant) Sonja Tagert’s Uziel in Bay Four, and Chu-i (Lieutenant) Fujinaka was helping his techs put the leg armor on his Banzai in Bay Seven. Onishi stopped in front of Bay One and turned the ‘Mech around 180 degrees to back it into the rack. As she turned she saw the salvaged ULTRA Penetrator in Bay Three as arch-wielder torches shot off white-hot sparks from the chest as tech worked to replace the armor on it. Onishi finished locking down the Naginata in the rack and powered everything down. She set the heavy neurohelmet on the rack above the command chair and shucked off the cooling vest that she stowed in a small locker at the back of the cockpit. She tossed a small red duffel bag out the open hatch and then levered herself through the same exit. As she reached the raised platform that jutted up against the ‘Mechs head, she spotted Faraz Sha leaning over the railing to get a better look at her damaged ‘Mech.

Onishi reached down and pulled a gray t-shirt from the bag on the landing to put on over her bare breast. The dry cotton felt good over her body as the heat from being stuffed inside the ‘Mech all this time was finally dissipating. She threaded her right arm through the handles of the bag and set it up on her shoulder. “So Faraz, what do you think?” she asked quietly.

Faraz straightened up over the railing, his face red from the forced flow of blood to his head. He pulled a greasy red rag from the back of his jumpsuit and wiped down his hands before stuffing it back in the pocket.

“Well, overall not too bad. The armor is pretty thin all over, but I think we can get that back up to par. Ammo doesn’t appear to be too much of a problem. Generally speaking I think it’ll hold together nicely.” Faraz crossed his arms and smiled at Onishi.

A puzzled look crossed Onishi’s face. “Uh Faraz, I was referring to the unit.”

Faraz aped the look Onishi had. “So was I.” The two Ronin started to chuckle.

“Oh don’t think you’re getting off that easy,” Faraz paused before adding “Ma’am. This ‘Mech of yours is a wreck. You got armor loss all over, dirt and rock ground into the joints, and what looks to be some other ‘Mechs armor mashed in with yours in two different spots. Were you even with your men or out beating down Free Worlders by yourself? I mean look at it for crying-out-loud!” Faraz thrust an accusatory finger at the Naginata.

Onishi shrugged her shoulders. “It’s here isn’t it? I walked it back with no problems.”

“That’s not the point, ma’am.” A tone of sincerity crept into Faraz’s voice. “BattleMechs are just like humans. They can be mortally wounded and die, just like we can. Mortal ‘Mech wounds I can fix.” Faraz walked up and put his hand on Onishi’s shoulder, “Human ones, I can’t. Try not to take unnecessary risks so soon in the fight. Don’t mistake bravado for stupidity.”

In any other military unit such remarks expressed to the unit commander would surely land the person in hot water. However in the Ronins, Onishi valued opinion greatly and she mentally realized that Faraz was right. She had taken several careless risks the other day. She made a mental note to try to work out of the head-of-the-charge battlefield thinking.

“Yeah, I know you’re right Faraz. But it was a great fight none-the-less. Let me stow my gear and I’ll be back up to give you a hand here.”

Faraz reached up above him and pulled down a retractable cable that he hooked on to a harness he had strapped around his legs and waist. “I’ll just hang around and see how much you messed her up then.” Onishi walked off the landing towards the stairs to take her down to the ground level and Faraz crawled over the railing and began to rappel across the ‘Mechs chest.

Onishi reached the ground floor and headed straight for the lead tech working on the Penetrator, Gunsho (Sergeant) Norie Siantos. After a brief run down of the prognosis, she found out that all the weapons were still viable, the armor wasn’t too bad but needed the most attention, and aside from needing an entire new cockpit it wasn’t going to take long to bring it up to operational level. Onishi made sure that Norie knew she wanted it back online, but not at the expense of the rest of the unit. As Onishi turned around to check the other bays the red strobe lights mounted around the hanger walls began to flash. A horn blared twice to warn the people of ‘Mech movement inside the hanger. Just as the last horn sounded a large shadow moved in front of the hanger doors from the right side.

A jutting armor baffle appeared first, followed quickly by a pair of weapons on the right arm of the ‘Mech and then feet as it walked slowly around the corner and down the main walkway. Even though Onishi knew the Tessen was heading for Bay Six closest to the doorway, the sight of it bearing down on her made her heart rate jump quickly. She nearly jumped out of her skin when Viva tapped her on the shoulder as she watched the 50-ton monster back in to the docking rack.
“Sorry ma’am. I really didn’t mean to startle you like that,” Viva apologized.
Onishi waved off her apology. “No need Gunsho (Sergeant). I tend to forget the lost perspective when ridding in these things. Ten meters high, surrounded by armor and weapons and you forget just how spooky it looks like from the outside. What can I do you for?”
“Whether or not the rest of the unit follows me, I just wanted to be the first the thank you for your quick thinking out there. You’re one helluva commander.”
A sheepish grin stretched across Onishi’s face. “I appreciate the kind words, but I’d have to owe the praise to the training in the DCMS Modern Tactics Unit.”
“Training doesn’t build confidence, Tai-sa (Colonel). I’ve known enough Alliance commanders that would’ve turned tail and run in that situation. Seeing you lead from the front like that was something else. You did good out there Oni. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
“I’m glad you approve Gunsho (Sergeant).”
Viva snapped a salute the Ronins’ adopted, palm down and fingers to her brow. “My pleasure, ma’am.”
Onishi returned the salute and the two parted silently. She started to head over to where Fujinaka was working on his Banzai, when she was almost run over by a young dirty red haired tech carrying an arm full of cans. The boy stumbled a bit trying to avoid a collision with Onishi and dropped pair of cans in the process. Onishi bent down to help retrieve the cans for the tech.
“Slow down a bit son. The repairs are necessary but unless no one told me of approaching enemy ‘Mechs you don’t have to rush the repairs.” Onishi handed back a can that turned out to be spray paint.
“Sorry sir. I mean, Tai-sa (Colonel)!” The boy almost dropped the entire set of cans trying to muster up a salute.
Onishi quickly caught his arms and a few cans before the whole thing turned into a big scene. “Ok, ok slow down. When you’ve got an arm full of supplies there’s no need to salute. I get the idea if you can’t. What’s your name?” Onishi saw the boy relax just a bit at her calm words.
“Joe. Joe Salzy. I was hired a few weeks before we lifted off Skondia. Squi…, err, Chu-i (Lieutenant) Sha assigned me to the team for Gunsho (Sergeant) Sonja Tagert’s Uziel.”
Onishi nodded just as a shrill whistle echoed from the direction of Bay Four catching both of their attentions.
Gunsho (Sergeant) Sonja Target was the source of the whistle, standing on a pair of machine guns that jutted from the front torso of her Uziel. A single safety line extended from her waist to a handhold just below the cockpit area.
“AsTech Salzy I don’t have all day to wait for you to return to your duties,“ she bellowed from her perch on the ‘Mech. Onishi tossed her head in the direction of the Bay and Joe set off running back toward the Uziel. Onishi casually walked over and stood almost directly underneath Sonja. Sonja watch Onishi walk in to the Bay the whole time the AsTech ran up the stairs to the top of the ‘Mech with the spray paint cans.
“What’cha doin’ Gunsho (Sergeant)?” Onishi had to practically shout to make her voice heard over the din.
“Since I’ve finished all the repairs and reloads I wanted to make a designation on my ‘Mech, ma’am. I didn’t mean to take away my tech from your conversation but the sooner I’m done the sooner I can free this Bay for someone else.”
Onishi threw up both her arms in mock surrender. “Understood Gunsho (Sergeant). So what are you calling it?” Onishi took a few steps back from under the nose of the ‘Mech where she could just make out a gray blob of sorts on the nose of the ‘Mech where Sonja stood.
“I’m painting a salivating canine here and will put the title of Mad Dog above it in gold lettering. I’m certain that after our recent scrap with the Luczenko Guard they will be more cautious when attacking us again. I would be remiss if I didn’t remind them who helped serve up their defeat.”
Onishi could see the wide, white-toothed grin Sonja had. “Mad Dog huh? Kind of ironic don’t you think since this ‘Mech was designed from the salvaged chassis of the Clan Mad Dog ‘Mech?” With the distance between them Onishi was unable to tell if the look Sonja shot her was confusion or annoyance.
“Yes, I see. I do suppose there is a certain level of irony in that. Thank you for pointing that out, ma’am.”
“Good luck with your art Gunsho (Sergeant).” Onishi shouted as he began to walk out of the bay.
“Thank you Tai-sa (Colonel).” Sonja shouted back, as she turned to accept the first can of paint from Salzy.
Onishi headed diagonally from Bay Four to Bay Seven to where Fujinaka was climbing down from his Banzai. After all the conversations she’d had with him since the engagement, she still hadn’t thanked the man in person for helping her pull the unit’s butt out of the fire.
“Hey Tai-sa (Colonel)!”
“Hey Tai-i (Captain)!” Onishi stopped just short of the entrance to the Bay as shouting at the hanger entrance caught her attention. Onishi turned to see Tai-i (Captain) Kevin Lendar and Sho-ko (Sergeant Major) Jing Li leading the men and women of their lances into the hanger area. She stopped and turned to face the group of people from the bankrupt merc unit she purchased on Skondia to add an additional company of ‘Mechs to the unit. She had yet to have any serious discussions with the men of that unit, but it looked like now was going to be as good a time as any to clear the air. The eight of them stopped and formed a semi-circle around Onishi in front of the Bay Seven.
“Tai-sa (Colonel), we just came by to lend a hand to the rest of the repairs, but we wanted to stop over first and thank you.” Jing Li spoke up for the group and the rest nodded their heads to her words. Her speech had a slight Chinese accent, as Onishi recalled her dossier revealed she served in the Capellan Confederation Armed Forces before turning merc.
“Thank me? For?” Onishi asked inquisitively.
“Y’know,” Kevin shrugged “for running the unit the way you do. We haven’t seen action like that in years, and aside from the dangers of attacking an elite line unit of the Free World’s League it was rather exciting to be back in combat.”
Chu-i (Lieutenant) Terri Sicoe spoke up next. “Yeah, I haven’t seen any one lead like you do, and I thought I’d seen everything from my days in the chair.”
Gunsho (Sergeant) Mike Rior lightly punched Li in the arm. “Yeah, I bet the Tai-sa (Colonel) would even give those Death Commandoes a run for their money!” The group including Onishi broke out in light laughter.
“Alright you turkeys, “Onishi started “I really appreciate the compliments. But I couldn’t have done it without you guys there, so don’t sell yourselves short on my account. You did the work too. You were the ones that took down the Mariks and forced them from the field. It doesn’t matter what anyone says about us now. We proved ourselves to a Luczenko Guard unit. The toughest bunch of nuts to crack in the Free World’s League military. And, “ Onishi pointed back at the Penetrator in Bay Seven “we even brought home a trophy to prove it.”
The men and women around Onishi let out a bunch of yells and cheers and clapped their hands together. Onishi hadn’t intended this to be a pep talk or even a morale-raising speech, but it just seemed to come out that way. She shook hands with all the ‘Mechwarriors around her and they all parted ways to help the techs repair the damaged ‘Mechs currently docked. As Onishi parted with Sho-ko (Sergeant Major) Jing Li, she turned around to see Fujinaka a few steps away. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted Mendez standing against the doorway to the hanger smoking a cigarette. Mendez shot Onishi a look of hatred and tossed the butt to the floor and walked out snuffing it under his heel.
Fujinaka walked up to Onishi, and in a voice he was sure only the two of them could hear, “He doesn’t appear to like your standings in the eyes of your troops Razan-san.”
“Yeah, I don’t know what his problem with me is, but it’s starting to look mighty personal. I’d better have a talk with him before it gets someone killed out in the field. Have you heard anyone mention anything about this or allude to what the deal with Tai-i (Captain) Mendez might be?”
“Regrettably, no ma’am. No one seems to talk about their feelings or the feelings of others. It seems to be a hands-off topic, or it just might be something I’m not picking up on.” Fujinaka dipped his head as if ashamed he could offer no help to Onishi.
“Oh well, no biggy. Just let me know if you do overhear something. I’d rather kill the rumor mill before it gets up to speed, if you know what I mean.” Onishi smiled trying to warm up the nature of their talk.
“Hai, I do Razan-san.” Fujinaka winked in silent understanding of Onishi’s words.
“Oh by the way, now that I’ve got you…” Onishi was interrupted as Owen rounded the corner of the hanger doors and raced over to where Onishi and Fujinaka stood. He thrust a sheet of yellow paper into the waiting hands of Onishi and bent over with his hands on his knees to catch his breath. He took a couple of deep breaths and stood back up as Onishi finished reading the sheet.
“Oh that’s just phukkin’ great,” hissed Onishi. She hand the sheet to Fujinaka and ran her hands through her long dark hair. Owen and Onishi waited in silence as Fujinaka read the sheet and handed it back to Owen. An ashen look washed over Fujinaka’s face that nearly aped that of Onishi’s.
“This is not a good thing Razan-san. We could be in for a whole new level of trouble.”
Owen jumped right in after Fujinaka. “I agree. This could get out of hand long before we have any chance to fix or use it to our advantage.”
“Advantage? How can you see this as a useable advantage?” spat Onishi.
“Well, I’m no PR man Onishi, but since the 15th took over the spaceport I’m sure there has been disruptions in commerce.” Owen tapped his index finger on his chin. “Now, if we play this up to the people we could use them to support us in forcing the 15th off Dieron.”
“Callaghan-san has a point. Military is military, but this is just evil,” Fujinaka commented.
Onishi folded her arms and started to pace a few steps. She couldn’t believe that the House Marik would stoop so low, especially for such a prestigious unit. And Owen was right about this getting out of hand quick. Onishi already had a dozen reasons the Ronins could be blamed for this, and none of it was pretty. If it were possible to somehow use this against the 15th, then it would increase the burden of being here on them and with any luck force them off planet. Owen caught Onishi’s attention when he cleared his throat.
“Onishi if we are going to anything about this it has to be done quickly,” he pleaded.
“Agreed. Call an emergency meeting. I want everyone, not just commanders. Techs as well. Have them all meet down by Bay One. Bring the patrols in, tell them to park outside the hanger and get in here. We’ll start once everyone is assembled.” She waved off the salute from Owen, who then ran off to find a comm unit to call in everyone. She then turned to Fujinaka.
“Organize the battalion. Make sure we’ve got everyone.” Fujinaka executed a quick bow and walked off to the mouth of the hanger to bring in all the members of the Ronins. Onishi turned around to walk back to her ‘Mech. As she got near the feet of her ‘Mech she called up to Faraz who was now crawling through the holes in the chest armor. Faraz rappelled the rest of the way to the ground and Onishi told him to get all his techs over here for an emergency meeting. Faraz walked two steps away and reached into his pockets and pulled out a small beverage-shaped can from one and a small plastic cone from the other. He attached the cone to the top of the can and held it up over his head. At the last second Onishi caught on to what Faraz was about to do and plugged her ears. Faraz depressed a button on the top of the can and the compressed air rushed out into the cone and produced an ear-splitting horn that echoed off every wall in the hanger for at least five seconds. When the sound faded and Faraz knew he had everyone’s attention he snapped his feet together and stood at attention.

“Troooops! FALL IN!!” his deep baritone voice carried all the way to the hanger doors and even appeared to reach the few people that were coming in from the outside. Everyone in the hanger dropped what they were doing and hotfooted it over to where Faraz stood. Techs, DropShip crews, Tankers, Infantry and ‘Mechwarriors alike were running in from all directions across the hanger. Onishi shuffled over to Faraz. “You sound like that drill instructor I hate,” she said sarcastically. Faraz just flashed a quick smile at Onishi’s comment.
Fujinaka was the last one to move around the crowd and stood off to the left side and nodded at Onishi to confirm that everyone was present. Onishi looked around at the three hundred men and woman that made up the fighting element of the Ronins and the equal number of techs and support staff that huddled before her in a large clump. Only once before had this many people been present before her and that was the day they loaded up into the waiting Dropships on Skondia. She had been so proud that day, and so very nervous to have to speak to all these unfamiliar faces. She could feel the anxiety creepy through her veins as the murmuring died down to let her speak. She cleared her throat and decided to plunge in with both feet.
“Sho-sa (Major) Callaghan has brought something to my attention that needs to be shared with every member of this unit. This morning the local news stations broadcasted a report of an execution of a local by the 15th Luczenko Guard.” She continued on regardless of the concerned looks and quiet murmurs that rippled through the crowd. “The report reads as follows: Yesterday afternoon the 15th Luczenko Guard Regiment apprehended a local man they claim was operating as an insurgent for the mercenary band Razan’s Ronins hired by Terada Yard Industries. A spokesperson for the 15th was reported as stating they were called here by Captain-General Agatha Rousset-Marik to arrest the situation of Kurita rebels conspiring with Terada Yard for its JumpShip level Lithium Fusion Batteries. It has been said that these JumpShip supplies are being smuggled to resistance fighters throughout the Draconis Combine. Acting upon information provided by Reizei Degawa, a well-known local Yakuza Shingiin (counselor), the 15th were sent into an ambush by the illusive mercenaries. Only one loss was reported, the 15th claiming their excellent training and preparation that turned an ambush into a rout. When they confronted Mr. Degawa about the information he provided them, they reported he became fanatical and violent and guards protecting Force Commander Kutsonov had to use lethal force to stop Mr. Degawa. Force Commander Kutsonov was quoted that he regrets the loss of life of a non-combatant but he stressed that if the mercenaries wanted to manipulate and abuse the populace for their own meager gain, more innocent lives may be lost. Spokesmen for Terada Yard had no comment on the incident and said that they would forward the claims to the mercenaries to get their side of the issue. When asked if they knew when that would be, they simply said ‘they call us, we can’t call them’. Reizei Degawa is survived by his wife and seventeen-year-old son.” Onishi folded the paper up and stuffed it into her back pocket before crossing her arms in front of her.
“Now, this report paints us in a pretty negative light. First it claims we’re Kurita rebels supporting Hohiro’s push to remove the Captain-General from the FWL throne. Currently on a House Marik world, that’s not a good thing. Second, it states that we’re conspiring with civilians to conduct a disinformation campaign against troops sent here by the Captain-General herself. Third we’re letting these civilians we supposed coerce, get killed. We need to get a handle on this situation before it blows out of proportion leaving us to deal with a rioting mob AND fight against other ‘Mechs. The only way we can do that is by figuring out what actually happened and get that information out to the people. Sho-sa (Major) Callaghan and I are just a pair of old war horses. We have zilch in the way of counter intelligence training. Does anyone here have any level of training in that area?”
(Sho-sa) Major Tanaka Kintaro stepped forward out of the throng. “The DEST specialize in Counter Intelligence and Propaganda at the Luthien Military Academy. I’m sure I could help out with something.” Onishi read the hunger in his eyes and saw that he really wanted to do this. Whether it was for himself or for the unit that remained to be seen. “Ok, anyone else? No? Well, one was more than I expected. Ok, then the rest of DEST unit will be (Sho-sa) Major Kintaro bloodhounds. They’re going to start talking to people and find out what they know. They have got to get on the air and let the people know we didn’t know this guy and we certainly aren’t trying to kill civvies. We…” Onishi stopped abruptly as one of the ‘Mechwarriors from Second Company elbowed her way to the front.
“Um, that’s not exactly accurate ma’am,” replied Terri Sicoe. Terri shifted uncomfortably as all the eyes fell on her. Go-Cho (Corporal) Jules Chattan joined her up front and Onishi stepped back as if the pair were a dangerous explosive rather than women under her command.
“Well, don’t make me beg Chu-i (Lieutenant), out with it!” Onishi was trying to control her anger but it was just a bit beyond her reach.
Well, it’s not as bad as you think,” stammered Terri ”I first met this Degawa guy at the casino back in November. We played some hands of Poker and I beat him for a tidy sum with a four-of-a-kind. He didn’t take kindly to loosing, especially to a woman, and tried to have me skewered. He failed and I grabbed the guys from Second that were with me and left. I didn’t go back cause I didn’t want there to be a scene. Then the 15th came down and I forgot all about it. I would’ve said something earlier if I had any idea this would’ve happened.”
“So you only know of this guy from a couple hands of Poker, is that right?” asked Onishi. Terri stood there silently and just nodded her head. Onishi stepped forward and grabbed her by both shoulders.
“Just poker? Here I am thinking you’re some Marik mole and you’re turn out to just be a hustler. Dammit don’t do that to me, I’m too old for that.” The group laughed at the light ribbing Terri got from Onishi. Onishi playfully stuffed Terri and Jules back into the group and walked back to her spot.
“Ok, but this gives us motive. He lost some money and as Terri said forcefully tried to get it back and that gives us motive against us. He must’ve tried to fool the 15th and sell them bad information.”
“But was it bad, or just misread?” asked Tanaka. “The reports says that the data he gave the 15th led them into our ambush. We were scouting the day we took down that Lance, but the report says they turned it into a rout of our troops. We were forced from the field by the 15th’s Kappa Company, but certainly not routed by them. The only ambush I can think of is that poorly executed one by their Gamma Company that cost them two ‘Mechs. I think they got information on us and tried to ambush us and it failed badly.”
Onishi started to think through the process out loud. “So Degawa feeds the 15th information on us, but leaves out some details or doesn’t have them. Kutsonov plans an ambush but that fails and so he blames Degawa instead of his own men.”
“So Kutsonov kills Degawa, blames us and stirs the populace against us because he can’t get us.” Reece Kimura shook his head in bewilderment. “He’s more politician than military that Kutsonov. It’s gonna take more than brawn to beat him down. We’re gonna have to strike back using his own medicine.” The group nodded in collective agreement. Onishi paced back and forth and tapped her chin with her index finger.
“But there’s still something missing from all this. The 15th landed and we scattered so they couldn’t find us. It wasn’t until we marched to their back door, that we fought and it was a rigged ambush. Ambush would have meant prior knowledge of our movements. Where did Degawa get information on our whereabouts and how did he know to give it to the 15th? That’s the piece that’s missing. No one outside the four Ronin Battalions knew where we were going.”
Mendez stepped up to the edge of the crowd. “And that knowledge was kept to the command staff. There was strict radio silence so it couldn’t have been anyone on the inside. It had to have come from without.”

Tanaka turned to face Onishi. “But who outside the Ronins would have the resources to track us like that?”
Onishi threw up her hands and shrugged. “Whoever it is, they’ve got connections to us somehow.” Then she stopped. A look of deep thought stretched across her face along with the silence. No one dared move, and it seemed most stopped breathing lest the sound disrupt their commander’s train of thought. “I might not know who ratted us out,“ Onishi said in a low voice “but I know someone that might have a clue. Tanaka, I want you to prepare a statement to the press based on everything that we’ve figured out to this point. Stress that we didn’t know this guy or condone anything he did. Also, point out that we are investigating his murder by the 15th. That’ll get the glory hounds back on them instead of us. I want it on the noon news. Terri?”
Terri jumped back up front at the call. “Yes Ma’am.”
“What kind of person was Degawa? What was your take on him?”
“He was dirty, ma’am. The kind of guy that has his hands in everything illegal. When he came back for my money he brought two big friends with him. He’s connected, and I’m guessing it’s not small ones either.”
Onishi visibly cringed. “Organized crime type then?”
Terri nodded.
”Yakuza. Damn! I was afraid of that. Owen take over here. I want everything back online and the entire unit back up to 98%, minimum. If this guy is connected we can expect reprisals and I don’t want to be here for them. I want double security on everything.”
“Where are you going?” asked Owen.
“Its time I had a talk with the man that got us here. Dismissed.”

Name: Onishi Razan
Callsign: ‘Rough Ryder'
Rank: Tai-sa, Commanding
Hardware: Naginata NG-RO1
Company: Ronin Legion
Lance: Fire Dragon
Assignment: MUCO
Unit: Razan's Ronins

DC-GW-04-01 #05

Draconis Combine/ULTRA Contested
Dieron Prefecture
Dieron Military District
Al Na'ir Province
Terada Yard Warship Components
Executive Branch Level
Chief Managing Officer’s Office
15th December 1200pm 3093

Onishi stood in the center lobby of Terada Yard WarShip Components clad in a pair of blue jeans and a white t-shirt bearing the logo of a ‘MechWarrior Stable on Solaris VII. She realized that until the Ronins cleared the air about their alleged involvement in Degawa’s death, appearing in unit gear out in public might not be the best thing. She issued an order that anyone going off the base must change into civilian attire and carry nothing to tie them to the Ronins until after Tanaka got his report on the news. Tanaka and Onishi changed out of their uniforms and took an unmarked civilian hovercar from the base to drive into town. Tanaka dropped Onishi off at Terada Yard around eleven o’clock and headed directly to the news station to get his report on the noon news.

While waiting for the elevator Onishi replayed the drive over here in her head. Tanaka had talked about his report to the media where he implicated Johann Kutsonov as the one behind Degawa’s death, and the battle ROMs from the fight south of the lake so that they would see there was no rout, but a failed anbush of the 15th. Tanaka also included some bold assumptions that if the 15th challenged their validity might give the Ronins a clue as to who their mole was. The report laid the groundwork of conspiracy at the feet of the 15th, and dared them to pick it up and unravel it.

Onishi was impressed with the effort Tanaka put to the piece and was surprised at the level of duplicity it had for someone with DEST training in that field. His cheeks turned red at her compliments and his voice tended to waver when he thanked her. She tried to focus on her upcoming meeting at Terada Yard but her eyes tended to drift back to Tanaka while he drove the car. He chose a more fashionable approach to his attire and had on a simple white t-shirt and blue jeans with a matching denim vest. He pulled his black hair into a ponytail that he fed through the back of a baseball cap bearing the same logo as Onishi’s shirt. This way we’ll look the part, he had explained.

Halfway through the drive Onishi’s attention diverted to wondering if the fragrant cologne she could smell was part of the ruse as well, or done on purpose. Many of the items that military units considered luxury were common in everyday civilian life. Certain types of clothing were one of them and cologne was also certainly on that list. She took deep, slow breaths through her nose and let his fantastic scent distract her for the remainder of the ride. They arrived much sooner than she hoped at Terada Yard.

Onishi stepped into the elevator and hit the button for the executive branch level. As the car rode up through the building she recalled the feel of Tanaka hand on her arm as she got out of the car. He told her good luck and that he’d be back after the news station to pick her up. Then he touched her arm. Not like a playful slap from a long time friend, but a gentle touch that sent out warmth from his fingertips and caused her heart to skip a beat. She thought about it so much that she could recall exactly how it felt when he touched her. The doors opening to the floor she requested startled her and brought her back to the task at hand. I’ll save those thoughts for another time and she quickly put the situation at hand before her.

She walked into the main lobby and turned right at the main receptionist desk. Down the hallway of closed doors about five meters she turned left and headed for a large office surrounded by glass walls. She walked right passed another receptionist without acknowledging her requests that she wait to be announced and burst right through the door to the office and closed it behind her right in the face of the squawking lady. And just to make her point she leaned back against the door and crossed her arms so that all she could do was jiggle the handle to the door. The owner of the office had to finally wave her off to let her know the intruder was unexpected but not unwelcome. She pitted Onishi with a venomous glance before returning to her desk.

The man motioned for Onishi to have a seat in one of the three stuffed black leather chairs before the desk. “Please Tai-sa (Colonel) Razan, have a seat.”

“Oh, are we formally greeting each other now? Am I going to have to pull rank to get some answer Shujin (Master Sergeant)?”

“What did you expect Onishi? You barge in here, scare Ms Tsumoto to death by locking her out and then expect me to be nice?”

“I wasn’t looking for nice, Sakuragi. I’m looking for an explanation, and you’re the only friend I’ve got in this place. You were the only friend I had in the DCMS, so I’m turning to you now for help.”

Sakuragi Beppu, CMO of Terada Yard Industries, sat back in his high-backed light brown chair and silently stared back at Onishi. The pair had been friends for a few years when they served in the same Draconis Combine unit. Sakuragi was retired out two years before the 5th Succession War came and Onishi had decided to be a “lifer” the day after Sakuragi left the unit. The hell that was the 5th Succession War changed everything and they lost touch. Sakuragi went on to get some schooling and got hired at Terada Yard in the accounting department. He had worked his way up the corporate ladder and was actually nominated by the outgoing CMO to handle the job given the background in the DCMS Sakuragi had.

Sakuragi handled all the military-grade contracts that Terada Yard held for the past few years and using his job he was able to track down Onishi and get off a letter to her so that they might catch up on the years they’d missed out on. Onishi filled Sakuragi in on the nightmares of the War and Sakuragi bored Onishi with the daily life of corporate work. When Onishi had mentioned retiring Sakuragi was the first to voice against it, sighting his depression after leaving the military. After some joint-planning for Onishi’s future she settled on the idea of going merc and Sakuragi would see if he could get Terada Yard to hire her for a small contract to add to her resume.

That’s about the time the hijackings started and the members of the board were getting nowhere with the local authorities. Terada Yard forced the local law enforcement to signoff on the situation so that they could handle it themselves as they saw fit. After much debate, Sakuragi convinced the other members of the board to hire the mercenaries to garrison and guard the plant. If nothing else they would intimidate anyone looking to cause trouble for the company. Then the 15th showed up and everything just went to hell since then.

“Well, if you’re coming to me for help you’ve got to be desperate or things are worse than the news reports are saying.” Sakuragi twisted in his chair and unbuttoned the suit coat he wore. “What can I do to help an old friend?”

“I need to find out who’s selling out my unit,” Onishi asked bluntly.

Sakuragi whistled softly. “That’s a mighty tall order there. Care to shed some light on the matter?”

Sakuragi listened intently as Onishi broke down everything up to this point. The hyperpulse messages Terada Yard helped the Ronins send out. The days of hide-and-seek against the 15ths patrols, including the ambush on the one Luczenko Guard lance. The trip over the Strawberry Mountains and around the lake to scout the spaceport and maybe raid it. The 15th’s ill-fated ambush, then the forced withdraw from the fresh Luczenko Guard Company and the battle with her aerospace units. She included all the details up to and including the units dissection of the news report of Degawa’s death. Then she explained her theory about why she figured it was someone in Terada Yard that was trying to hang her unit out to dry.

Onishi knew that they had no satellites of their own in orbit and the Black Ronin, a Union Class Dropship to serve as a mobile command post for the Ronins. Everything they needed was carried with them at any given time on their three DropShips. The only external help they had was the communications satellite that belonged to Terada Yard that they used to send encrypted messages over a wireless network to the men and women back in the hangers. It was precisely how they scrambled their fighters to support their withdrawal that day. Onishi knew she’d only used it on two other occasions. The first being when they ambushed that lance and brought the techs out to salvage what they could, and the second when she reported she was going to scout the south end of the space port by going over the mountains to the west side of the lake.

“So, there has to be someone with access to the wireless network your company is running that monitored my reports to our main base. That person is the one who had to have given the information to Degawa to give to the 15th. I need to find out who that was and why he felt compelled to write us off.”

Sakuragi pressed his hands together fingertip to fingertip and gnawed on his lower lip. The facts Onishi had presented were by no means rock-solid proof of a mole in Terada Yard, but the conclusion to which she arrived made too much sense logically to simply dismiss it. If there indeed was a mole in Terada Yard, they needed to silence that person or else this would rob Onishi of her only device to communicate with forces not out in the field.

“I’d like to plant some bait to catch the mole,“ Onishi said while getting up to pace in the office space “but that would mean the 15th had more than Degawa working for them, and in killing him, I don’t think they do. I could broadcast some false locations of my troops and if the 15th respond in kind that’ll prove they do.”

“Nobody blunders twice in war.” Sakuragi stated an old Latin proverb they’d learned in their days in the military academy.

“Ah, true. So, if I can’t bait out the mole, how do we catch him?” Onishi flopped back into the chair and rubbed her temples to ward off the headache she was expecting.

“Well, the only people that can gain access to the comm network are the board members, myself included. You can scratch me off the list of suspects. The CIO that runs and maintains the network is my second cousin on my mother’s side. I trust him as much as I do you, so I can say he’s not a suspect. That leaves the CFO, CEO, and COO as possibilities. Our CEO argued against needing a whole merc unit. The Operations Officer explicitly wanted no part in re-organizing the warehouses for you. And the Chief Financial Officer, really balked when the Captain-General sent her demands because they choked our profits with having to pay you now for possible combat time. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on one of those three being the culprit. The trick is figuring out which one.” Sakuragi let a smile grace his lips as he stared out the plastisteel picture window in his office.

“I take it by your smile you have a plan?”

“I learned a few tricks as a Shujin (Master Sergeant) that might net us a mole. I’ll need to make a few calls to set up some traps and then run some backlog checks. We just might get the person if he thinks we know that he knows we think we know who he is.”

Onishi’s expression went blank. “Huh? Wouldn’t it be simpler if he just thinks we know it’s him?”

Sakuragi shook his head. “Nope. If you thought I suspected you ratted me out to the enemy, you’d just deny it. If you think I know that you know I might suspect you ratted me out, that gives you enough reason to try to cover it up. And people are always caught trying to clean up a mess they left behind.”

Onishi just nodded in bewilderment at Sakuragi’s logic. “Uh, sure. If you think it’ll catch this guy, then I leave it in your capable hands. Just don’t say that line again. It’s hurts my head.” She got up from the chair and moved towards the door.

Sakuragi sighed. “Life was so much easier when I was a non-com in the DCMS. Things were simpler then. You knew who your enemies were.”

“Yeah, today you have Capellan’s fighting Capellan’s, a civil war brewing in the Draconis Combine, rogue Lyrans attacking the Clans, and Free Worlders corrupting the Inner Sphere and the Chaos March. Humanity is taking a dump on itself, and none of us have any shovels.” Onishi closed the door behind her and walked back to the elevators.


Name: Onishi Razan
Callsign: ‘Rough Ryder'
Rank: Tai-sa, Commanding
Hardware: Naginata NG-RO1
Company: Ronin Legion
Lance: Fire Dragon
Assignment: MUCO
Unit: Razan's Ronins

DC-GW-04-01 #06

Draconis Combine/ULTRA Contested
Dieron Prefecture
Dieron Military District
Al Na'ir Province
Tatsuyama Mountains
Dieron Spaceport
15th Luczenko Guard Regiment HQ
17th December 0600am 3093

The sun was just starting to come up over the east side of the spaceport. The golden rays of sunshine stretched across the tarmac blasting everything they touched with a warm glow. The light chased the shadows out of the corners and warmed the cold night air to a light mist hanging over the ground. Kutsonov zipped up the light jacket to his jogging suit as his sneakers squeaked on the linoleum floor of the barracks hallway. The situation at the spaceport was turning into a diplomatic nightmare. Only hours after the broadcast of the 15th’s spin on the Degawa incident, the mercenaries got their version on the news. Every anti-Marik and sympathizer for the Degawa’s seemed to descend on the spaceport. The phone lines were flooded with angry threats, and the gates had to be shut when a group of protesters made their way onto the barrack’s parade grounds.

Kutsonov called all the MPs they had and even converted some of the staff over to guards to keep the civilians out. The protests were peacefully, yet annoying for now but he knew that things could easily get out of hand. The Eradani Light Horse’s experience on Milos was proof enough of that. They landed under Star league orders to prevent the forces of Sun-Tzu Liao from gaining control of the planet, and the people turned on their would-be saviors. Kutsonov swore that nothing would happen to his troops at the hands of the civilians, no matter what the costs would bear. The stressful past twenty-four hours had given him such a headache that he decided early this morning to take a run around the grounds to clear his head. As he passed the front desk to the barracks the guard caught sight of him and jumped to his feet and saluted.

“At easy soldier. I’m just going out to run and clear my head,” he said plainly.

“Understood sir. Shall I summon an escort for you sir?” Kutsonov recognized him as one of his comm staff that normally would be listening through dozens of radio transmissions room a terminal high in the Dropship’s control room. Now he stood there in full fatigues, flak vest and sidearm. The vest itself looked abnormally large on his scrawny frame, almost like it was the only size they had available for him. Even the shoulder straps were a good three and a half centimeters above his actual shoulders.

“No, that’s not necessary. It’s early enough I think. If I’m needed I’ll be around.”

The boy snapped a crisp salute. “Very well sir. Enjoy the run.” Kutsonov thrust his hands in the jacket pockets and grunted something in the affirmative to the boy and headed out the doors. As he reached the top of the stairs he saw the sun rising up over the buildings to the east. The light was coming up over a small storage bunker and the edges of it were twinkling like it was peering over the edge to spy on Kutsonov. A light shiver raced down his spine as the thoughts of spies and infiltrators raced through his brain. He shook off the wild fantasy and walked down the stairs. He turned his back to the grounds in front of the building and placed his right foot on the third step and began to stretch out his legs.

Shrouded in the darkness of shadow and wrapped in a dark blanket a large mass moved up a small wall. A single eye peered from under the blanket over the top of that wall and focused at the scene before it. That concrete wall surrounded the rooftop of an office building that stood across the open grounds that spanned in front of a barracks building. The same building Kutsonov stood on front of stretching. The dark object shifted to face the wall and shed the blanket from its left side. A hand reached down in to the folds beneath the blanket and pulled out a rifle. The large bore rifle was an old manual feed, bolt-operated weapon that currently mounted a telescopic lens over the center.

As more blanket fell away from the figure the image of a young man came into view of the rooftop, shielded by the wall from prying eyes below. In a smooth fashion, he lifted the lever on the bolt and pulled the slide back. The exposed magazine compartment revealed a pair of silver tipped high-velocity rounds. He pulled the slide all the way back and the first round raised up level with the chamber before it. Quietly he pushed the bolt forward and locked the lever down loading the first round. He cradled the loaded weapon against his chest as he placed a small piece of wood on the top edge of the wall. The piece was flat against the wall and was rounded at the top just slightly more than the barrel diameter. In a slow fluid motion he swung the gun up to the level of the wall and rested the barrel in the notched of the wood. He uncapped the scope with his left hand while his right steadied the gun around the trigger guard. He put his right eye up to the sight and used his left to bring the gun in line with Kutsonov’s body. The distance was enough that small inconspicuous shape of Kutsonov was brought to full life by the scope’s high-powered lenses. He turned the dials of the scope to make the image crisper and was able to distinguish most of the details of Kutsonov in the early twilight.

He pulled his eye back from the lens and looked to the direction of the rising sun. The sun had yet to climb high enough in the sky to reach over the building rooftop wall and expose him to the world. He was far enough down the length of the building that the sun would need to be level with the roof to bath him in its light. Still have time. The man turned back to his target and thumbed the safety off the rifle. Whispering to himself as if Kutsonov might accidentally hear him, “I wonder just how close you were to my father when you killed him.”

Akeda, Reizei Degawa’s only son, adjusted the sights through the scope to allow for the distance the rounds would have to travel and then refocused on his target. He placed the crosshairs over Kutsonov’s form and watched as he stretched over in a toe-touching exercise. Although he could not hear the man he imaged the heavy breathing as Kutsonov warmed up his muscles for a run. It’s a shame that he’s doing all that for nothing. No, I think not. Suddenly the form stood upright and looked at the top of the stairs. Akeda moved the scope slightly and focused on a pair of figures descending the stairs toward Kutsonov. Great flashes of light bounced off their bodies as the sunlight was finally high enough to reach the doors of the barracks.

The pair of men stepped up to and around Kutsonov and began to talk to him. Fearing they knew of his presence Akeda held absolutely still. The three men moved as a clump of shadows and reflections in the scope and before he could do anything the light broke free of a rooftop on the other side of the compound and bathed the men in its massive burst of backlight. All that Akeda could see now was the silhouettes of the men.

Kutsonov was startled when the same guard he’d passed early came bursting out the door calling his name. Hot on his heels came a half dressed Captain Gants, his dress coat completely unbuttoned and an unmatching set of pant fatigues. The guard saluted Kutsonov motioned toward the Captain.

“This had better be important Captain, to interrupt my quiet time.” Kutsonov’s voice took on a familiar threatening tone that all the men of the 15th knew all too well.

“It is Force Commander. We have some disturbing news that just came in. I sent the guard here to find you. I’m glad you hadn’t gone far yet.” Gants tried to sound apologetic in his explanation, but it only came out patronizing. That made Kutsonov even more irritated. “We received word that at oh-seven hundred hours this morning the local governor is coming here at the request of the planetary Duke to discuss the matter of our involvement with Degawa.”

Kutsonov’s face turned a shade of red that matched an embroidered pattern in the jacket he wore. “Why is there a politician coming to talk to me about military matters?” his jaw was clenched in raw fury at the audacity of the Duke to send a slithering yes-man to question his military authority.

“I don’t know sir. The message said that we’re to receive him this morning and to work with him to resolve the matter over Degawa’s death. The Duke provided no further reason or explanation. I came to get you as soon as I got the Duke’s ‘command’. I’m terribly sorry to interrupt your recreation time with this news.” Gants had shuffled from foot to foot, but not so much as side to side but added a few more inches between himself and Kutsonov. This way if he lashed out the closest target was actually the guard, giving Gants enough time to protect himself. Kutsonov simply clasped his hands behind his back and dropped his head as he paced in front of the other two men.

Akeda was having a rather large problem with the situation at this point. With the sunlight backlighting the men the dark blobs merged whenever they crossed in his line of sight. It had been over a minute since he could no longer distinguish which one was Kutsonov. He had two rounds, both intended for the man that slain his father and now he had three targets. There was a two-thirds chance at getting him on the first round, but a whopping half and half chance if he dropped his first victim was not Kutsonov. The odds were not in his favor, but his father was a gambler and taught Akeda that you take the odds and your turn them into your favor. He needed an inside track to find out which one was Kutsonov.

He blinked away the drop of sweat that had latched on to his eyelashes. The three silhouettes failed to move from the base of the steps. At eighty yards the men looked the same through the high-powered scope. He traced the cross hairs from body to body hoping to catch a glimpse of something – anything – that would identify the man he came to kill. He would avenge his father this morning if he had to take all three men with him. The edge of the sunshine crept closer to him across the roof, threatening to reveal his position to the onlookers on the ground below. Once he was spotted his chance would be lost for good. The men of the 15th would catch him for sure under the command of that filth Kutsonov. He knew he could make good his escape plan if they were more concerned over their fallen leader.

Cut off the head and the body will wither.

The sunlight was now just a meter or two from bathing him in brilliant radiance. He checked the range once more and refocused on the three shadows. Suddenly a lump caught in his throat. One of the men looked like he had epaulets on his shoulders! It had to be Kutsonov in his uniform. He centered the crosshairs over the sterna notch of the man in uniform. He took a deep breath and tightened the stock of the rifle against his shoulder. Then he exhaled slowly. The world around him melted away and silence followed in its wake. All that he could see was the shadow of Kutsonov, speared by the cross hairs. Justice was about to be served up to Kutsonov, Degawa-family style. Akeda smiled at the thought of how proud his papa would be of him for what he was about to accomplish. Then he cleared his mind.

And squeezed the trigger.


Name: Johann Kutsonov
Rank: Force Commander
Hardware: Turkina
Battalion: Charlie
Lance: Command
Assignment: CO
Unit: ULTRA 15th Luczenko Regiment


DC-GW-04-01 #07

Draconis Combine/ULTRA Contested
Dieron Prefecture
Dieron Military District
Al Na'ir Province
Tatsuyama Mountains
Dieron Spaceport
15th Luczenko Guard Regiment HQ
17th December 0600 am 3093

“I want this situation with the governor dealt with quickly and quietly. I cannot have a politician tripping me up while I’m hunting those bastard mercenaries down. Our sources reported they had returned to the city two days ago to repair and refit from their fight with us. I want our troops ready to move out today to box them into the city. This Morrison character fought in the Clan Wars, so I’m hoping that he’ll forego a city battle and surrender his forces to us. If he digs in then, well, we’ll just have to dig him out.”

Kutsonov continued to pace as he work out the situation out loud. Neither Captain Gants nor the guard moved to interject their opinions. They knew better than to interrupt their Commanding Officer.

“Now, I’m going to have to deal with the Governor, and lord knows that he’ll baulk if he learns about our plans against the city. Then he’ll going running off to the Duke and then he’ll start whining in my ear about civilian casualties, property damage and blah, blah, blah. I’d turn my troops on him in heartbeat if I figured we’d be able to take on the mercs AND the Dieron Military District Regular Forces. Damn my luck, I knew I should’ve passed this on to the Thirty-Second Guard. After Solaris they deserve another kick in the teeth, like this assignment.” Kutsonov sighed heavily and turned back to face Captain Gants.

“Alright then. Gants call up the rest of the command staff and tell them to meet us in Conference Room Three to receive the Governor.”

“Aye sir,” replied Gants.

“Guard, alert the front gate to expect the Governor and let’s try to have everyone look professional for the short time I expect him to be here. I want this to be as painless as possible.”

The guard raised his hand in salute and his chest exploded in a red mist splattering Kutsonov and Gants in fragments of bone and bloody meat. The guard pitched backwards, arms flailing wildly in the air grasping for purchase that would never come. He slammed heavily into the concrete stairs, head smacking against the edge with a sickening sound. Gants and Kutsonov simultaneously watched him fall then turned back around as the report of the rifle shot echoed across the open parade grounds.

“SNIPER!” they screamed in unison.

Akeda wasted no time after his first shot, yanking back on the ramrod chambering his second and last round. One of the two left standing would survive, but they’d have the death of their comrades burned into their brain for life. He skipped the pleasure of deciding which one was going to live, took aim and fired again. As soon as he’d fired both men dove for the ground, the man under his sights pitched sideways in the process. Down, but not out. Oh well. Akeda placed the gun on the rooftop over a pressure switch on a bomb he’d prepared earlier. The weight of the gun tripped the switch, arming the bomb. When some fool picked up the gun the bomb would detonate. It was the last thing he’d need to cover his tracks. He placed the blanket over the gun carefully so as to not move it from its fatal resting place and bolted to the other side of the roof were a ladder to the ground awaited him. Taking the rungs two at a time he descended rapidly and jumped the last three meters to the ground.

Kutsonov and Gants had both dove for the safety of the bushes in front of the building when Gants was hit by a second shot in the shoulder. Kutsonov had hit the ground and rolled into the line of bushes obscuring him from view but Gants was nearly stopped in mid jump by the impact of the bullet. He lay only a meter from where he stood now clutching his arm. Kutsonov peeked out from his hiding spot waiting for the fateful round to find him and snuff him out. It was a sad reality that after all the years in mechwarrior training, the Academy, all the battles fought in his ‘Mech, all it took was one bullet to end everything he’d worked so hard for. The thought of his imminent death made him more angry by the second. He reached over to his wrist chronometer and hit a special button that activated a signal to his main comm center. He was relieved when someone answered his call in seconds.

“This is Force Commander Kutsonov. Sniper on the grounds. Repeat. Sniper on the grounds. One man down, one injured in front of the main barracks. Sound the full alert and get a medic and ground squad over here now!”

Akeda had run past two more buildings before stopping at a stack of crates and supplies near a service door of one of the warehouses. He went behind one crate and pulled the tarp off of it. Then he wheeled out his escape plan from its hiding place. He took out the key from his pocket and shoved it into the starter of his Mitsu-Saki Demon 3000 motorcycle. He preferred standard street bikes to the more expensive hoverbikes that were the popular style on Dieron. Besides, his was the fastest one on the market topping out at nearly 200kph. He turned the key to the ‘On’ position and primed the starter. Just as he was about to hit the ignition switch a loud, piercing siren echoed against the walls of the buildings and spread across the spaceport. It startled him at first but then he shook it off knowing he was expecting that to happen anyway. He thumbed the “Start” and the bike roared to life. He throttled it twice, released the clutch and sped off down the narrow alley as fast as he could go without colliding with any equipment.

Reveille was only a half hour away for the troops of the 15th so anyone not required to be on duty was still sound asleep in their bunks when the Full Alert sounded. Ripped from their sleep and thrown into a panic the troops scrambled for clothes and gear as fast as they could. Officers were calling for transports over the radio net with one hand and opening doors to the barracks with the other screaming at their troops to hurry up. The sniper had been near the parade grounds and hopefully was still nearby so that they would be able to nab them. Just as the men were loading up into their carriers to move out the call came over the net that someone riding a cycle at high speeds had been spotted.

Kutsonov was resting against the side of an armored personnel carrier as a medic tended to Gants. The guard was pronounced dead by the time the team got there. The medic had been ordered by Kutsonov to help the Captain leaving Kutsonov to coordinate the search efforts. The medic simply accepted that he was fine and began to patch up the gaping wound in Gants’ shoulder. Kutsonov had a portable radio in his hand listening to the “chatter” from his troops. He also got the report about the sniper trying to escape by vehicle and called out his ‘Mechs to cordon off the gates. “Lock him in and run him down,” was the command given. He continued to listen in as he sent a squad over to find out where the shots came from.

Akeda was a good distance away by this time, moving in a zigzag pattern between the rows and rows of warehouses. Up one, over one. Moving slowly toward the perimeter where he’d make his final dash for freedom. Nothing in the Marik’s arsenal could catch him and once he was outside the spaceport grounds, he’d be free. As he moved past the last warehouse he could see the open grounds just over one kilometer away that lined the main road at the edge of the port. He crept up slowly to the opening between the buildings and looked out where he could see anyone moving around. There were people running about and trucks moving far away where he had positioned himself on the roof top, so it looked like he had successfully ditched his pursuers for now. He kicked the gear shifter into first and got set for his final dash. He felt an odd tremor in the bike motor and placed his hand on the frame to see if he was going to have a problem with his high-speed run. Nothing seemed out of place, just an odd piston tremor every few seconds, nothing to be alarmed about. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his black sunglasses. Once they were set on his face, he grabbed the throttle, gunned it and shot out between the buildings and headed right for the fencing.

“I’VE GOT HIM!! I need support, North-West corner!!”

Kutsonov near fell over when the call came in that the sniper had been found. “All units converge on that location. I want him alive!” he screamed into the radio set.

Akeda was moving quickly now, passing through third gear. The wind and the engine screamed in his ears. He chanced a look in his rear view mirrors and caught sight of something he really wished he hadn’t. A giant metal foot. He turned his head to look behind him and saw the ominous sight of several tons of BattleMech bearing down on him. The scarecrow-looking ‘Mech had both arms ended in barrels with two more mounted on the body. The blackened view screen had an evil look to it and the ‘Mech stomped furiously closer by each step. Akeda turned his head back around and hugged the bike as tight as he could with his entire body, kicked the gear shifter to fourth and gunned the accelerator to the physical stops. Smoke erupted from the squealing tires as they fought for grip on the ferrocrete surface, the bike wobbling slightly as he struggled to maintain control of it.

MechWarrior Rickels had spotted the fleeing sniper on the motorcycle as it shot out from between a pair of warehouses. He called in the pursuit and requested backup knowing that no matter how hard he tried he could never outrun the bike in his 40-ton Vulcan. He saw the rider turn back to look at him and then accelerate quickly. He must not have been expecting ‘Mech support so soon, Rickels thought to himself. Acting quickly he adjusted the targeting hairs on his main display and brought up the left arm machine guns and ripped off a series of shots trying to break up the ground ahead of the bike to force the rider to slow it down. The shots stitched long jagged lines in the ferrocrete breaking off small chucks and sending shrapnel in all directions behind the speeding bike. In a matter of seconds the bike was out of the effective range of his machine guns.

Rickels swore under his breath and stepped up his speed. His only saving grace was that the bike was moving in a straight line and not making wild turns to throw off his pursuer. ‘Mechs had no real problems running on smooth paved surfaces but to make turns one had to slow down considerably or else the ‘Mech’s feet would almost always slide out from underneath and the crash would severally damage the ‘Mech and anything else nearby. He toggled out the machine guns and flamer from his Targeting Interlink Control and locked in his left torso mounted medium laser. He floated the reticule in front of the bike trying to lead the target instead of locking onto the small fast-moving object. It’s like trying to hit a Savannah Master, he mused. And just to be on the safe side…

“Command, this is Rickels. In pursuit of target, he is not heeding my warning shots. Target is exceeding the top speed of my ‘Mech. Requesting more support, or permission to switch to lasers.”

“Rickels, this is Kutsonov. I want that scum taken alive.”

Rickels rolled his eyes as the Force Commander’s voice came over the comms. “Copy that Force Commander. I can try and clip the front or rear tires, but I have to do it soon or he’ll only be in range of my autocannon. I can’t pinpoint any shots with that thing.”

“Is there anything you can shoot down in his path? Something to slow him down for more support to get there?”

“Negative Force Commander. He’s in the open making for the edge of the spaceport grounds. I estimate he’ll be off the grounds in less than a minute at present speeds.”

There was a pregnant pause before Kutsonov responded. “Only. Hit. The tires.”

Rickels did not like the tone of that order and he said a silent prayer as he pulled on the trigger for his only laser. Brilliant red light burst from the left side of the Vulcan and gouged a burnt black line across the path of the speeding bike. The rip was large enough that the bike’s front tire snagged as it tried to go over it. The bike shed its rider and flipped end over end several times across the open ground. The rider slid and rolled to a stop after several meters. Rickels threw his ‘Mech into a full stop and called in the report.

“Target is down. Requesting medic my location. Disembarking to provide aid.”

“Stand down Rickels. You will wait for a ground support team at your loc-“ Rickels shut off his comms system and locked down his ‘Mech’s systems. He pulled off the bulky neurohelmet and unbuckled the harness holding him in the seat. He grabbed a first aid bag behind the command chair and then tossed out the chain ladder kept in the cockpit out the hatch he just opened. “I’ll not be remembered as the man that shot at civilians when all this is over with,” he muttered to himself as he descended the ladder. He ran over to where the man lay still since the crash.

Rickels thought about drawing his sidearm, but he mental nixed that idea. Nobody can fight after going through a spill like that. He just hoped the poor bugger was still breathing. He set his bag down and gently rolled the man over to his back. He paused when he saw the young boy’s face through all the cuts and blood. Skipping the time needed to try to understand any of this he reached out his hand and found a pulse in his carotid artery. Slow, but there. Rickels proceeded to check his neck for any out of place bones, then his arms, ribs and finally legs. As far as he could tell the boy survived the crash remarkably intact. He reached over to get some tools from his bag and a shot to alleviate any pain. “You’re only lucky son of a gun, “ he mumbled.

“Mmm… not lucky enough,” whispered the boy.

Rickels continued getting his things while talking to the boy. “Well, that depends on how you look at it. You survived a motorcycle crash with no helmet going a good hundred and fifty kilometers an hour. I’d call that lucky any day.”

“Not….not what I meant.” He coughed lightly.

“What do you mean then?” Rickels tested the syringe and moved to administer the shot.

“Did I get him? Did I kill my father’s murderer?” Then he passed out.


Name: Johann Kutsonov
Rank: Force Commander
Hardware: Turkina
Battalion: Charlie
Lance: Command
Assignment: CO
Unit: ULTRA 15th Luczenko Regiment


DC-GW-04-01 #07

Draconis Combine/ULTRA Contested
Dieron Prefecture
Dieron Military District
Al Na'ir Province
Tatsuyama Mountains
Dieron Spaceport
15th Luczenko Guard Regiment HQ
17th December 0600 am 3093

On the direct opposite side of the Spaceport, in the South-East, the Razan’s Ronins DEST team was stationed and awaiting the outcome of Akeda Degawa’s little swaree. Their four Firestorm hovercrafts were set up just beyond the Spaceport proper in a loose diamond formation with their stealth armor fully engaged to avoid unwanted attention. They sat idling loudly on cushions of air. Three of the four Firestorms were idling upon a rise with the fire support unit, the T-20, up on the apex of the hillock, with the two T-11s a little farther down the slope. Each of their drivers holding them steady in a cloud of dust as they swayed back and forth. The MASH unit, the T-14, was down on ground level , its fans were shut down and it sat flush on the ground fully deployed in Recon mode. Its Recon Camera providing high-resolution holographic data being used to map the terrain and to keep track of enemy units.

The DEST team was supported by their Dragonfly Flight Trireme VTOL Infantry Transports. Chu-i (Lieutenant) Fumi Gazdik’s Trireme hovered two hundred meters away from the MASH unit covering the northern approach and Kashira (Talon Sergeant) Michael Afrane’s bird was two hundred meters away facing the south. Both Triremes hovered at just above tree level with the sunlight glinting off their armored hulls as their four rotors buffeted the ground with a flotsam of dust and debris. Both Choppers had their ECMs on full gain to avoid detection. Afrane said to his two gunners, from the cockpit as he looked left and then swiveled his flight helmet adorned head to look to the right, “Look alive guys. I have an eerie feeling about this.”

“Roger that Talon Sergeant.”

“Aye. Aye Kashira (Talon Sergeant).”

The squads of battle armor and DEST unarmored troopers were spread out from slowest to fastest radiating out from their MASH unit. With the fastest units being the farthest out and the slower units stationed within visual range. The MASH was designated as their hub. It was intentionally stationed just over a hundred meters from a large lake. A lake that the DEST Team would utilize in the event they had to make good their escape. They were set up thusly just in case Murphy’s Law reared its ugly head. It was a few minutes past 6:00 am when the Full Alert reverberated across the Spaceport.

Murphy was a bitch.

The sensor operator, aboard the T-14 Firestorm MASH unit, eyes nearly popped out of his head at what he detected on his dopplar radar screen. Gunsho (Sergeant) Aldon Kichida anxiously cleared his throat and said, “Uhm, Kashira (Talon Sergeant)! You need to see this.” He removed his headset handing it to Kashira (Talon Sergeant) Chasity McEntire, the ranking non-comm of the hovercraft, and scramble up from the operator’s station.

The loud piercing siren was irritating enough without the added burden of reviewing Kichida’s radar display. But she crossed the cramp quarters inside the 50 ton Firestorm and accepted the headset and the proffered seat. She knew it was not about to be good news but had no idea of just how bad it really was. A small gasp escape her throat as her eyes sent the data to her frontal lobe. From there, she was a blur of motion. She quickly got Chu-i (Lieutenant) Maximilian Akamatsu, the Firestorm Platoon Leader, on the line and relayed the information to him. He was up on the rise in a T-11 Firestorm. After her rapid fire delivery to the Chu-i (Lieutenant), she fell on her crew and rushed them to start retracting the sides of the T-14 to get it ready to roll.

Chu-i (Lieutenant) Akamatsu used his right hand to push a button that tight beamed a transmission to Sho-sa (Major) Tanaka ‘Iceman’ Kintaro. Perspiration beaded up on his forehead as he gave his report. “ ‘Iceman’, Black Dragon Actual. We’ve just picked up a full battalion of motorized infantry vectoring in on our position. Six platoons to the north and another six from the south. With a platoon of battle armor split between the two of them. This gig is up. We got to get out of here ‘Now’ before they get us surrounded!” Maximilian put emphasis on the word now to express the direness of the situation. “Our stealth is only good at range. Once they get in close their rounds will overwhelm our Nimakachi Stealth Armor.”

Kintaro had station his command squad the farthest away from the Ronin’s hub unit, the Firestorm MASH, inside an emergency equipment storage complex. It was dank and dusty inside the building and permeated by the smell of diesel fuel and hydraulic oil. Kintaro had Chu-i (Lieutenant) Hulda Stjern keeping watch out the eastern window and Sho-i (Captain) Chano Fuqua peering out through the one that faced the north. He had been kneeling beside Fuqua when he received the squelch in his headset but had gotten up and walked to the door as Akamatsu filled him in. “Acknowledged Black Dragon. How long before we’re overrun?” he asked as he pressed the headset closer to his ear.

There was a long pregnant pause as Akamatsu tried to give the DEST Commander a no bullshit assessment. The enemy battalion was motorized. He had to figure that they could achieve speeds of up to forty kilometers per hour. He didn’t want to cut his own throat. He shook his head before he replied with, “One minute. Two minutes tops.”

“Roger that Black Dragon. Get the vehicles ready to move.” Covering his throat mic with his hand he ordered his command staff aloud, “Let’s scoot people! We have less than two minutes to make it back to the hub.” Uncovering his throat mic he dialed up the unit wide frequency and spoke into the mic. “All DEST members, ‘Iceman’. FALL BACK to the rally point! Double time! Bounding Overwatch! Black Dragon, lay down suppression fire. Load up with fragmentation missiles and flechette rounds. Dragonfly, we’re going to needs some ‘Load and Lifts’ for our slower units!”

“ ‘Iceman’, Dragonfly Leader. Roger that. Vectoring in on the Kanazuchi and Heavy Response Jump platoon.” Chu-i (Lieutenant) Fumi’s palms were sweating and her hair was matted to her head beneath her flight helmet. She removed first one hand off the flight stick and replaced it before removing the other one to wipe them both on the leg of her flight suit. The sixty ton VTOL’s nose dipped down as it throttled up and went skimming across the tree tops in search of its cargo. “Gunner One; load inferno rounds. Gunner Two; load fragmentation.”

Her commands were echoed back to her by the Trireme’s two gunners Shujin (Master Sergeant) Charlene Leconte and Kashira (Talon Sergeant) Obinna Edeh; respectively. Both women dressed like Punk Rockers when out of uniform. Obinna was forty years old with waifish dirty dishwater blonde hair and Charlene was 27 with raven colored long tresses. Each woman was a crack shot with the Trireme SRM launchers.

“Firestorms! You heard the man. Switch to Fragmentation and Flechette and lets lay down some covering fire for our PBI’s!” echoed Maximillian. Inside each Firestorm there was a flurry of movement as the loaders and gunners moved about in a choreograph dance to comply with their orders. Inside Maximilian’s own Firestorm his loader, Go-cho (Corporal) Faith Yaeger, became frantic as the fragmentation missile jammed in the Holly-3 Tube Multi Missile Launcher’s breech. The MML3’s gunner, Gunsho (Sergeant) Derrich Osaka, had to unstrap himself from the missile launcher’s cupola, and climbed down to help her. Together they ejected the fouled missile and got another one loaded before he climbed back into his gunner’s chair.

Continuing to bark orders Maximillian dialed up the M.A.S.H. unit’s private frequency, “Chasity, light those fans and get that recon and surveillance gear stowed. The lance will follow your hover out on our escape vector across the lake. Over.”

“I’m way ahead of you bossman and already on it. McEntire over and out.”

Even as Kintaro stepped out of the equipment storage complex’s doors, off to his left he heard the quiet roar of 168 hoverbike engines. From behind and in front of Kintaro, as if on que, Fuqua and Sho-ko (Sergeant Major) Cinderella Krall both shouted at the same time, “CONTACT!” As one, all four members of Kintaro’s command squad trigger their jump jets in flat trajectories born from years of experience. They each knew better than to arc skyward, silhouetting themselves against the morning sun. They landed in standard two by two formation behind some industrial crates, facing the enemy, with the two closest to the Marik troops, kneeling; sighting down the barrels of their KA-23 Subguns and the other two with their weapons at ready, crouched just enough that their shots would not hit the two friendlies in front of them. The miniature computer inside Kintaro’s DEST faceplate had already begun tagging the threats. It tagged each enemy platoon with a phonetic tag starting backwards from Zulu all the way up to Oscar. It labeled the squads of infantry battle armor Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta. However, he did not need to use his faceplate to see the six motorize platoons bearing down on his command. They were close enough that he could see them as they burst from a nearby patch of trees. In the distance he saw enemy KAGE armor vault into the air on jumpjets. The morning sun light glinting off of their Partial Wing.

It was a target rich environment. Over 175 credible threats. The enemy platoon tagged Quebec was pulling out in front, out distancing the others, their hoverbike throttles set to wide open. Kintaro could hear the scream of their hoverbike’s engines over the others. He had to shout to be heard, “Command! Hold your fire and fallback!” Keying his mic, “Support and Raiden, cover us! Black Dragon, ‘Iceman’. I want you to drop ordnance on Quebec and Sierra Platoons NOW! ”

The Fire Support Firestorm T20 dropped its fragmentations warheads directly on target with catastrophic results. The fragments tore through muscle and soft tissue leaving blood and bone splinters in their wake. Of the twenty eight man platoon it took out twenty; either incapacitated, dead, or dying. The cries and screams from the dying men of Quebec platoon were filled with agony and pain. Riderless hoverbikes crashed one into the other, causing explosions and starting fires among the fallen soldiers. Maximillian’s Firestorm dropped its missile too far behind Sierra Platoon’s massed targets to have any major effect. It was in part due to the jammed ordnance. They simply tore through the trees that the six platoons and come through but it did make Sierra platoon scatter and pull up short. Shujin (Master Sergeant) Jimmy Pane’s Support Squad added insult to injury when they picked off two enemy officers from Quebec platoon with their Support PPCs. One minute they were withering on the ground with shrapnel injuries from Shujin (Master Sergeant) Benjamin Canton T20’s devastating attack, the next they were crisped to a pile of human ash. Despite the massacre of the enemy Quebec platoon, Kintaro’s DEST company was still out number 12:1.

His command squad fell back another 120 meters landing much like they did on their first jump; albeit they landed in a triangle formation with Kintaro at the center, Fuqua kneeling on point, and Cinderella and Hulda, the anchors, crouching with their weapons drawn and trained on the survivors of Quebec platoon. They detected movement as two soldiers hobbled to nearby hoverbikes. Quick stucco BRRRAPTS from their KA 23 Submachine guns and both soldiers tumbled back to the tarmac never to move again. Kintaro was hunched over out of the line of fire as he sought to coordinate the organized retreat. He had the north side under control. He needed to appoint an officer to look out for the southern sector. He cursed himself for not considering the chain of command earlier when he had set up their hub. Because he had both the Tai-i (Senior Captain) and the Sho-i (Junior Captain) to the north under his command. The ranking officer to the south was Chu-i (Lieutenant) Mya Vu. Well it was nigh time she earned a pair of bars.

“ ‘Barbie’, ‘Iceman’.” He called her by her handle on her Kanazuchi’s Unit frequency. She got her handle from her physical physique. She was a buxom blonde that had a vague resemblance to a terran doll named ‘Barbie’. “I need you to take command of our forces to the south and perform an organized retreat, over.”

Her response was labored as she attempted to get as much speed as she could from the 2,000kg Kanazuchi assault battle armor. “No can do ‘Iceman’. We’re out of position, no visual on incoming forces.”

“Pop smoke. I have a bird incoming to pick you up. Do you copy that Dragonfly Two?” Kintaro asked the flight crew of the Trireme designated as number Two.

“That’s an affirmative ‘Iceman’. Dragonfly Two copies. Looking for green smoke,” came Afrane’s voice in a deadpan timbre that survived the tinny radio transmission. He took the VTOL into a climb and leveled it off at 120 meters. The Jump Master, Gunsho (Sergeant) Mohsan Farid, was up at the forward portside bay door of the chopper. It had three bay doors on each side. He had it thrown wide open as he hung out the door looking for smoke.

“Roger that ‘Iceman’. ‘Barbie’ popping smoke.”

“I see them over there to the right!” Shouted Mohsan to be heard above the rotors blast. “Between those two warehouses up about 400 meters!” While the Gunsho (Sergeant) wasn’t required to wear a full pilot’s helmet, regulations required that, the bearded giant; at six foot four inches, at least wear a combat helmet and googles. The advanced tactical combat helmet that Mohsan wore featured external microphones for talk-thru capability so the Trireme VTOL could maintain situational awareness while wearing reliable hearing protection. Currently, Mohsan had his night vision goggles retracted up on the brow of his ACH as he pointed with his right pointer finger at the slow moving Kanazuchi squad.

Kashira (Talon Sergeant) Abrienne Antonucci, the pilot of the 60 ton VTOL shouted. “You gotta be phukkin kidding me!?” she answered the Gunsho (Sergeant) emphatically. “I can’t land this bird between those two warehouses. There’s not enough clearance. I’d collide with a wall and break the nacelles off the chopper. Tell Chu-i (Lieutenant) Vu her squad is gonna have to hump it farther north to the roadway.”

Vu’s Kanazuchi squad moved to the roadway up ahead in standard two-by-two formation. Their Mech-grade medium laser constantly trained on every angle as they approached the waiting Trireme. Without farther incident the Trireme ‘Loaded and Lifted’ the Kanazuchi armored troopers aboard the Transport and continued on farther south. Mya Vu quickly trigger the latches on her battle armor took off her Kanazuchi battle suit and made her way up to the cockpit. Afrane gave up his seat and provided the Chu-i (Lieutenant) with a crash course on the Trireme’s comm equipment. Reasonably assured that she had a handle on the situation, Mya immediately began coordinating a tactical retreat from the southern side of the Dieron SpacePort.

Over the unit wide frequency she called out, “Black Dragon, ‘Barbie’ here. I need you to put a few frags into platoon Victor. Over.”

“Having trouble getting a target lock on ‘em at this range,” ‘Barbie’ recognize the voice as belonging to Sho-ko (Sergeant Major) Karen Macvey, “those dayum little hoverbikes are moving too fast. Over.”

Damn It! Mya Vu swore mentally as she punched the console. “Standby.” Here her brother-in-arms were about to be overran by almost 200 motorized infantry against their 20 battle armor soldiers, and she sat up in the relative safety of a VTOL with the Ronin’s heaviest battle armor watching. She had to do something. She surveyed the field a little longer. Then it hit her.

“Hey Shujin (Master Sergeant) Chun Li, ‘Barbie’,” she switch channels to the Zou battle armor lead, “I need you to trust me girl. When your squad makes the next corner on your right, I need ya’ll to stop, turn, and fire into that crowd of hostiles pursuing you.”

“Yeah, but . . .”

“No ‘if ands’ or ‘yeah, buts’. I need you do follow orders soldier!” Mya hated to pull rank on Chun but right now she did not have the luxury of time to explain her plan and or her reasoning to Chun. Mya just needed Chun to follow orders.

“Sir, Yes Sir.” Chun Li relay the commands to her squad via hand signals. The next corner they made, she pulled a 180 degree turn and went down to one knee; Recoilless Rifle at ready. Gunjin (Lance Corporal) Pebbles Flint, spun, crouched and rested her weapon’s arm elbow on Chun’s armored head to steady her aim. Gunsho (Sergeant) Karl Klondyke turned around, standing directly behind Pebbles and had his Recoilless Rifle resting on top of her armored head. Gunsho (Sergeant) Claude Boston, the Zou armor XO, stopped but continued facing the direction they had been originally traveling in to keep their six covered. The squad heard the rabble closing in on them before they ever saw them and opened up with their Recoilless Rifles. The front ranking pursuers pulled up short causing the other five platoons to bog down in a domino effect.

Back on the rise, from within the Firestorm, the gunner achieved a hard target lock and let loose with two salvos of fragmentation missiles. The recoil caused the Firestorm rear hover skirts to ground out. The craft’s driver, Go-chu (Corporal) Ryobe Pettersen had to swing the vehicle around to keep it from slipping off the hill. The hovercraft commander, Karen Macvey, reported, “We have lock! Missiles away!” One salvo landed on the corner where the friendlies had fired Recoilless Rifle from but the fragments merely ping off the Zou’s heavy armor. The second salvo was a few meters short but close enough that it wreaked havoc in the front ranks. It tore six enemy troopers and their hoverbikes into bloody, bleeding stumps and smoking wrecks.

“Karen! Hit’em again!” the Chu-i (Lieutenant) shouted “Chun Li HAUL ASS!” Then Mya turned to Afrane and said, “They’re gonna need air support.”


Name: Tanaka Kintaro
Callsign: ‘Iceman
Rank: Sho-so, CO
Hardware: DEST Suit
Company: DEST
Platoon: Shadow
Assignment: Infiltration
Unit: Razan's Ronins

DC-GW-04-01 #08

Draconis Combine/ULTRA Contested
Dieron Prefecture
Dieron Military District
Al Na'ir Province
Tatsuyama Mountains
Dieron Spaceport
15th Luczenko Guard Regiment HQ
17th December 0603 am 3093

Chun Li didn’t wait to be told twice. She immediately got her squad up and falling back. The four 1,500kg heavy class suits pock marked the pavement beneath their feet as the got up to best speed of 22kph. Even with their Battle Claw and more than half a ton of reflective armor, successful against extending the life of the suit against beam weapons, but four armored Troopers against the enemy’s 168 unarmored ones. . . Let’s just say that Chun Li didn’t like those odds. The four troopers fell back at a dead run, not even pausing to fire some shots to discouraging pursuit.

“No can do, Chu-i (Lieutenant)!” Mya heard Karen’s tinny voice from inside her headset refusing her orders back aboard the Firestorm. “Have no LOS. We can take down the building but we’re currently loaded with anti-personnel ordinance. Gonna cost a few precious seconds and time is something we simply do not have at this time. Requesting permission to engage targets of opportunity.”

Mya silently seethed at having her orders countermanded by a non-comm in the midst of battle. She checked the incoming transmission and discovered it was sent to her private battle comm. She visible relaxed. There was no dishonor intended by Karen. “Permission granted!”

Kashira (Talon Sergeant) Afrane, the birds CO, promptly followed the orders of the ranking officer Chu-i (Lieutenant) Mya Vu. “You heard the lady! Let’s give’em some air support!” Grabbing an overhead support strap with his left hand he continued to work the command console with his right. The pilot, Kashira (Talon Sergeant) Abrienne, took the Trireme into a gut dropping plummet. She level the 60 ton chopper off just before it hit the ground and skimmed along at NOE, Nap-of-the-Earth, at well over 100 kilometers per hour. At this speed even the best gunners in the Inner Sphere would have trouble acquiring a hard target lock. After turning up the gain on the Trireme’s ECM jamming, Afrane engaged the Trireme’s Advance Fire Control System to assist his two gunners in coming up with a favorable firing solution. The large bird came in burping fire and death. Both gunners found a viable target on their advance wire frame displays on Whiskey Platoon. Firing their inferno payloads down range at Whiskey Platoon it took less than a second for the gelatinous conflagration to coat half of Marik platoon, for them to drop their weapons, stop doing the ‘I’m-on-Fire’ dance and fall to the ground in burning funeral pyres.

The vehicle gunners aboard Sho-ka (Sergeant Major) Karen Macvey’s APC Firestorm launched two streams of ‘light’, 57mm, anti-personnel, flechette auto cannon shells and two salvo’s of three fragmentation missiles each at the previously unscathed Marik infantry platoon tagged as Uniform. With their high pitched yammering, one stream of 57mm shells flew high, hitting a nearby building, taking out windows, office furniture, and chipping off bits of brick. The rest hit true. The leading troopers were fragged beyond recognition. More wore mowed down by the flechette rounds. Of the initial starting 28 man platoon, they were only six men still left combat able amidst the stench of blood, sweat, and releasing of bowels.

“Chu-i (Lieutenant) Vu, requesting permission to halt retreat and provide covering fire for Zou squad.”

Mya Vu took a fraction of a second to place the voice. It belonged to Kashira (Talon Sergeant) Taneja Scott. Lead trooper of the Ronin’s Oni Battle Armor Squad. The Oni was considered an ugly and generally unimpressive battle suit by the majority of the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery, thus making it a perfect addition to Razan’s Ronins. Onishi used the Modular Weapon Mount to enable the Oni to be fitted with weapons that suited the predicted mission profile. Today’s mission required the Medium Recoilless Rifle be mounted. Taneja had agreed. Mya looked at her radar screen and barely made out the dimmed out, dotted lines markers, O1 through O4 that the IFF transponders had designated the Battle Armor squad as. They were dim in an indication that the units were operating under their own ECM shields. She did note that the Oni units were already not retreating along the exfil path. They were the only unit close enough to provide any assistance to their heavy sister unit. And without help she realized that Zou would not make it. Zou had just turned up the far end of the street that Oni now occupied but they were still more than a half a click distant.

Wiping the perspiration from her forehead with the back of her left hand, she made a decision. She like the idea of 8 armored troopers against 168 a whole hell of a lot better than just 4. Hell two or three of them might just live to tell about it. They were Ronin. “You do understand what you are asking me for Kashira (Talon Sergeant) Taneja Scott?” Mya used her full name to underscore the gravity of the request.

“Sir, Yes Sir!” In anticipation of an affirmation of her request, Taneja starting issuing orders to her team via hand signals. She ordered two team members to take up positions at the corner on opposite sides of the street and find cover and order the third to jump jet to a three story roof top to dig in.

“You realize that there will be no ‘Load and Lifts’ and I do not know when we will be able to reinforce your position?” queried the Chu-i (Lieutenant).


“Kashira (Talon Sergeant), I need you to spell it out for me? We need to be clear on your request.”

“Kashira (Talon Sergeant) Taneja Scott, Oni Lead, request permission to abandon the general Fallback Order and to exfil along side of Zou Squad, Ma’am.”

“Permission Granted. Give’em Hell and do what you do. ‘Barbie’ out.”

Each Oni Battle Armored Trooper reached their ambush point with several seconds to spare. This gave them ample time to get into position and to train their 25mm recoilless rifles at the Kill Zone. The primary purpose of these munitions was vehicle and ‘Mech armor penetration. These HEAP munitions use high explosives to "blast a path" for the penetrator. The special effect was developed when the round strikes the target. The initial collision ignites the incendiary material in the tip, triggering the detonation of the HE charge. The second (zirconium powder) incendiary charge will also ignite. This burns at a very high temperature, is not easily extinguished, and can last up to 15 minutes.

The remaining element of the round is the tungsten carbide penetrator. This has a large amount of kinetic energy and will penetrate the armor as a solid-cored armor-piercing shot would. This will take some of the incendiary material through the armor. The Thunderstroke L25 is claimed to penetrate up to 50 mm or 2.0 in of standard armor.

The triggering of the explosive charge is dependent upon the resistance of the target. If the target offers little resistance then the lack of frictional heating will prevent the incendiary from igniting and the high explosive from detonating as with the soft targets that the Oni Squad was about to ambush.

The Ronins’ Zou Squad was relieved that they had help. They were alerted to the ambush by Taneja. Passing by the corner, Zou Squad sought cover for just a moment to slow down and to catch their breath. The six pursuing platoons were beginning to get disorganized and strung out. With the more athletics troopers outdistancing the others. At first it didn’t register on the lead platoon, Victor, when four of their brethren rounded the corner leading into the ambush and suddenly were violently expelled 50 meters backwards up the street from the direction whence they had come. But as two more Victor soldiers followed the first four’s unceremonious tumbling act, it startled the Victor Platoon Sergeant into action, “AMBUSH!” But the cry of an enemy Ambush came too late. The last two HEAP rounds pass through a building walls after taking out Victor’s troopers providing the necessary friction required to ignite the incendiary. Victor Platoon was wiped out to the last man.

Back to the North of the Dieron spaceport, under Sho-sa (Major) Tanaka ‘Iceman’ Kintaro, his Black Dragon Lance was still attempting to neutralize an ever encroaching Sierra Platoon. The Firestorm Fire Support tank leader, Shujin (Master Sergeant) Benjamin Canton’s gunners divided the fire between Sierra Platoon and Romeo Platoon. Romeo Platoon, alerted to the incoming warheads from their shrill piercing overhead whistling, scattered their hoverbikes before the fragmentation warheads could land amongst them, averting most of the damage. The T-11’s two 57mm flechette streams targeted for Sierra, both went wide and made a clearing of foliage about a city block wide.

The Firestorm Lance leader, Tai-i (Captain) Maximilian Akamatsu’s, gunner’s Flechette rounds tore down field into the soft tissue of Sierra platoon with a voracious appetite. Ten Soldiers instantly dropped to the ground like they were marionettes and the wires had been severed. Others were thrown back, crippled and bleeding from the lethal rounds. Twelve more were shredded to bits no bigger the beef stew when two full loads of Fragmentation MML landed amongst them. It was a gruesome sight.

A sniper from the Ronin’s Urban Ronin Squad’s laser rifle crisped the Sierra Platoon sergeant into a pile of ash and its unspent silenced their radio operator, permanently. Off to the right flank, the Ronin’s Raiden Battle Armor Squad continued their kill ratio of one hit ‘two’ kills against Oscar Platoon with their Tsunami Heavy Gauss Rifle. ‘Iceman’s command squad popped up from behind cover, subguns on full auto. They took out four troopers from Romeo Platoon before falling back to their next position.

The remnants of Sierra platoon performed ‘drive-by’s on the hovering VTOL. Whatever men were still alive from Sierra platoon never had a chance as they were bathed in fire from the Trireme’s inferno warheads. The Ronin’s continued to have their way with the Marik troops as they proved to be no more than cannon fodder buying time for their KAGE Light Battle Armor to wade into the fray. The command squad targeted some aviation fuel drums that wiped out Romeo Platoon. The Black Dragons summarily dispatch Uniform and Whiskey Platoons with well placed fragmentation payloads. The Trireme tirelessly raked the enemy formation with inferno rounds and still the came, relentless in their pursuit.

The command squad was less than a hundred meters from the base and so that meant all the other units were closing in too. Either they were boarding one of the hover APC’s or already onboard, buckled in and ready to roll out. ‘Iceman’ checked in to see what the hold up was. “Karen, Shadow Battalion Actual. I hope you are ready to move out. We are about to be overrun and in the knife fight inside of a phone booth.”

“Roger that Actual. I’m spinning the fans up now. I’ll leave a door open for ya.”

“Negative on that. EXFIL! EXFIL! EXFIL! Firestorms, follow the T-14 outta here across the lake. I’ll hope on a bird.”


Someone shouted a warning but it was much too late for the Ronins. During ‘Iceman’s brief exchange four more platoons had went down, Oscar, Poppa, Xray, and Yankee and the Kage armor had drawn in close enough to start firing their ‘Mech grade weaponry. And with their Harden Armor the Ronin’s anti-personnel ordinance would have little to no effect against them. They could survive a direct hit from a fragmentation warhead with nothing more than a scratch to their hardened armor plating. And on top of losing the advantage of his Firestorms ‘Iceman’ also lost his air support. There was no way he’d have the Trireme’s firing infernos into this melee.

Then things went from bad to worse when Karen announced, “Firestorm down. Firestorm down. I repeat, we have a Firestorm down hard. I am immobilized. I’m a sittin’ duck!”

“Karen, Scuttle the T14! Tai-i (Captain) Akamatsu’s, make arrangements to pick up your T14 crew. All Battle Armor, prepare for hand to hand combat!” A devilish smile crept onto ‘Iceman’ face. He still had one Ace in the hole. All his battle armor units had Battle Claws or Heavy Battle Claws or Vibro Battle Claws. He would show the Marik Kage units what it meant to be ‘Drawn and Quartered’.



Name: Tanaka Kintaro
Callsign: ‘Iceman
Rank: Sho-so, CO
Hardware: DEST Suit
Company: DEST
Platoon: Shadow
Assignment: Infiltration
Unit: Razan's Ronins

DC-GW-04-01 #09

Draconis Combine/ULTRA Contested
Dieron Prefecture
Dieron Military District
Al Na'ir Province
Tatsuyama Mountains
Troper Plains
West of Salamanca
21st December 0600 am 3093

The new morning sun was stretching its rays of warmth through the scattered treetops. The night’s light frost had begun to evaporate and left a light fog that clung to the ground. To the common observer that fog extended far above the ground and covered most of the Troper Plains this morning. To Onishi Razan, commander of Razan’s Ronins, the fog was a result of the dramatic battle taking place between her unit and the 15th ULTRA Luczenko Lambda Battalion.
The lead elements of the 15th Luczenko Guard battalion halted their advance at roughly five hundred meters from the Ronins makeshift encampment. And for the better part of the past half hour seemed content to trade long-range fire with any mercenary that came within range. As the Ronins tried to maneuver to flanking positions, concentrated fire would reign them back in and the same thing when the Free Worlder’s ventured too close. Neither side seemed ready or willing to commit to full-scale, in-your-face combat.
The patrols Onishi had stationed south of their rest stop had picked up the entire ULTRA Battalion heading right for them in the pre-dawn hours. The early warning was enough to get her troops back into their 'Mechs and get powered up to keep from being overrun. Onishi wasn’t sure if she was relieved or not that the first contact was made with 'Mechs from the 15th’s Gamma Company. The mercenaries had defeated them over a week ago south of Lake Stinson but the new commander had his troops on a very short leash this time.
Onishi watched from the cockpit of her Naginata as a Gauss Rifle slug from a Marik Falconer fell short of Chu-i (Lieutenant) Tushio Sakai’s Raven, digging a long furrow in the ground. “Ronin Legion Actual to Recon Lead. Talk to me, what’s going on?” she radioed to the Raven.
“I don’t know Ronin Legion Actual. The rest of the 15th is skirting my sensor range. Every time I move up to find them, I’m driven back. They don’t want us to know something and I’m guessing it’s big.”
Onishi cursed silently and fired back at the Falconer with her ERPPC and missed. “Alright. Then hold back for now.” She flipped the comms to the command channel. “I want everyone to pull back by lances. Leapfrog and cover fire. Let’s sucker them in and try to keep from getting surrounded.”
Onishi watched the men from Blue Dragon Lance anchor themselves on the front lines to begin the organized withdraw. Tai-i (Captain) Kevin Lendar traded shots with his Warhammer against an Awesome Assault-Class 'Mech. The severe range caused all the shots to miss but a Marik Gallowglas tagged his right torso with it’s own ER PPC. Jules answered back with her Caeser’s Gauss Rifle, missing the Gallowglas and striking a Cyclops moving in the backfield. Dragon’s Claw Lance had moved to the Ronins’ rear already, their LRMs not having the desired effect at maximum range on the moving targets. Dragon’s Lair Lance began to reverse their movements along side of Dragon Eye Lance, offering the lighter 'Mechs added protection incase the Free Worlder’s rushed in. Onishi anchored behind Blue Dragon Lance with Tai-i (Captain) John Mendez’s Dragon’s Watch Lance ready to form the next front when Tai-i (Captain) Lendar pulled his men back. Sho-ko (Sergeant Major) Jing Li had split her lance in half to cover the left and right flanks with their jump-capable 'Mechs.
While Captain Harris engaged the Ronins with his Gamma Company, Captain Gants was forming up Kappa Company behind him. He wanted to push hard against the mercenaries and decided some last minute organization would be key to solid victory. Or at the very least would get Kutsonov off his back when he handed the mercenary leader’s head to him. He began ordering his troops to move the slowest, heaviest 'Mechs to the frontline of their advance.
"Captain why are you slowing down? I thought I gave the attack order." Gants didn’t expect to hear from Kutsonov so quickly. He must be monitoring the entire thing like a hawk.
"I understand that sir. I'm forming my troops for the attack now," Gants replied.
"Damn your formations Gants. Our vanguard has reported the mercenaries are trying to disengage and fall back. I want you to press forward. Attack now!" The electronic filters reduced the volume of his voice but certainly not the tone of it. Gants hated Kutsonov’s obsessive micromanagement. The mark of a good leader was that you could trust your troops to do their jobs.
"But sir –" He began but Kutsonov overrode the channel and cut him off as if he knew Gants would protest again.
"I said ATTACK!"
Onishi keyed in the command channel. “Ronin Legion Actual to Blue Dragon Lead. Pull back on my mark. 3…2…” She didn’t make it to the count of one.
“Oh my god, here they come!” screamed Tai-i (Captain) Lendar over a wideband burst.
Onishi looked to her scanners and her eyes confirmed her worst fears. Ten 'Mechs initially showed on her screen, then a new pair showed up at the edge of detection range. Then three more, then another five. Erratic bands of blue lightning streaked between her 'Mechs. The 15th was rushing in for the kill.
“Form ranks!” Onishi called over the command channel. “Line up and reverse march. Concentrate fire on anyone stupid enough to get close!” Jules backpedaled her Caeser as Mike and Terri both lit their jump-jets and sailed their Guillotine and Grasshopper to land right next to Fujinaka’s Banzai. Kevin started to back up, firing his ER PPCs at the closest FWL Carronade missing both shots. He stopped in mid-stride and turned around so he could run back to the new battle line.
Tai-i (Captain) Mendez saw the error in the Warhammer’s move to turn in place. “Kevin what the hell are you doing? Get outta there!” he signaled.
By turning around Kevin exposed his vulnerable back armor to the Free Worlders. A pair of Centurions from the 15th’s Kappa Company were more than happy to accept the welcome target and both launched their LRMs while their right arms vomited fire and smoke from the LBX-10 cannons. The missiles homed in and devoured armor all along his right side and back. The scatter shot rounds sought and found holes left by the missiles. A burst of green mist exploded from the back of the Warhammer and coolant bled from the rents in the armor. The force of the attack knocked the big machine to its knees.
Mendez wasn’t about to let one of his boys get butchered all alone. “Dragon’s Watch Lead to Command. I’m going in to get my man!”
“Hold your position Dragon’s Watch Lead and provide cover fire. They’re just itching to pound us one at a time.” Onishi brought up the channel for Tai-i (Captain) Lendar. “C’mon Blue Dragon Lead, they’re almost on top of you. Get your ass moving!”
Mike was watching the entire scene unfold before him, knowing he was the only one that knew why Kevin was having so much difficulty. He tracked one of the fast moving Centurions and buried a shot from his Extended-Range Large Laser in its upper torso. The Free Worlder just kept coming. Suddenly a wave of fear washed over him. He felt torn between his duty to his commander and his duty to his friend. If they kept pulling back, Kevin would be killed. Mike knew that Kevin was in no condition for combat now and he had to do something. He dialed in the lance frequency just as he lit his jump jets.
“Cover me fellas, I’m goin’ in to get him!” He screamed as the force of the thrusters pushed him further down into the command chair. All 70-tons of the Grasshopper sailed into the air on plumes of heated gas. Mike coaxed the 'Mech into landed between the advancing Free Worlders and the Warhammer just getting to its feet. Mike targeted the same Centurion he’d hit earlier and tied a pair of Medium Lasers into the main trigger. He floated the crosshairs over the boxy torso and mashed the trigger when they burned a bright gold. The ruby and emerald beams cut swaths in the armor along the left and center torso. The 'Mech turned its attention to Mike ripping a burst from its LBX cannon. The scatter shot peppered the 'Mech all over, doing little more than scratching the paint. The other Centurion added in another LBX burst, catching the odd-shaped head of the Grasshopper with two rounds. The ringing in the cockpit made Mike wince. Before he could hit the same Centurion again, his missile launch klaxon began to blare as a Cyclops bearing markings of Gamma Company had now stepped up and was intent on making this Ronin an example.
The Grasshopper’s anti-missile system roared to life and cut down a third of the incoming missiles. Mike rode out the remaining impacts as they pockmarked the armor plating. The damage schematics switched to yellow and orange in some places as more LBX rounds rattled the 'Mech. Mike held his ground locking on to the same Centurion again. One Medium missed completely but the other hit the right arm while the ER Large Laser sliced the remaining armor from the center torso. The 50-ton Free Worlder 'Mech dipped wildly and collapsed in mid stride indicating that Mike’s Large Laser must have damaged the gyroscope. He threw the 'Mech into reverse and began to walk backwards while the other standing Centurion kept pounding away with its LBX cannon. The missile launch warning blared again as the Centurion and Cyclops attacked with a flight of ten missiles each. Mike stepped to the left and twisted right breaking the targeting lock on some as the AMS system swatted a pair down as well. The remaining missiles battered his left side and arm knocking off armor plates and blackening the paint job. Mike had just steadied the 'Mech when a violent jolt rattled every inch of his body. The Cyclops had turned its Gauss Rifle against the mercenary ‘Mech shattering armor plates off the center torso.
Mike glanced down at the damage schematic monitor and watched his center torso change from bright yellow to bright red. To make matters worse, the ready light on his ER Large Laser winked out.
“Oh, that can’t be good,” he muttered while wrestling the controls. “Why do I get the feeling this was a bad idea?”
Not wanting to close the distance with the Cyclops, Mike stomped down on the foot pedals activating the jump jets. He twisted in mid-flight to angle back towards his own troops. From the air he could see Kevin’s Warhammer walking through the Ronin’s front line heading for the rear area. He landed not far from Onishi’s position. His movement threw off the aim of the Cyclops as another slug rippled through the air in a silvery blur.
“Blue Dragon Three, if you’d like to move I can probably hit that guy back, y’know?” Onishi said over a tightbeam to Mike.
Not wanting to be caught in the cross fire Mike hit the jets again, aiming to land behind the battle line. The combat and the strain of the fusion engine to meet the energy demand released a wave of heat through the cockpit of the Grasshopper. Nervous sweat flash-dried on Mike’s arms and legs; his lungs burned within his chest. The 'Mech started to lift off the ground and then pitched wildly backwards. Warnings blared in his ears as over half the protection of his right leg peeled away under the vicious assault from the Cyclops’ Gauss Rifle. His right rear torso was savaged by a full spread of LRMs, stripping that location bare of all armor and exposing the foamed titanium bones and myomer musculature beneath. With the flight path thrown askew the 'Mech lurched violently towards the ground. Mike abandoned all hope of controlling the fall and braced himself for impact. Riding 70-tons of metal to the ground from a standing position was bad enough. This was going to be worse.
The left shoulder hit first, followed by the right arm. Mike was slammed back and forth between the seat and the restraints as the 'Mech performed a rather ungraceful belly flop into the ground. Armor plates buckled and gave under the strain as the 'Mech ground to a halt only meters from Jules’ Caeser. The Caeser started to press forward to help Mike but was driven back by a hail of Gauss Rifle shots. Three Carronades, two Cyclops and a Falconer, all from Gamma Company were protecting their kill and wanted revenge on the stomping the mercenaries gave them the last time they met. Jules and Terri returned fire along with Onishi and Fujinaka but the combined ferocity of the Free Worlders was too much to hold position. A Gallowglas lashed out at the fallen Grasshopper with its ER PPC, the electric blue energy devouring the armor like a rabid dog. Onishi blinked away the spots in her eyes from the intense light and that’s when she saw it.
Stepping out from the massed metal machines before her in the classic parade colors of solid green and red was a deadly 65-ton Axman. Clenched in its right hand was the namesake melee weapon it carried and it was heading right for Mike’s Grasshopper. Onishi dialed up the command channel again.
“Dragon’s Watch Two and Four target the Axman. Blue Dragon Three you’re gonna have to punch out. We can’t get to you without being overrun.”
Onishi looked out from her view port at the scene before her. Nearly two full companies of Free Worlder 'Mechs where crossing the grounds headed right at the Ronins. Gamma Company was running up the west side of the 15th’s line of advance. Kappa Company, down only a single ‘Mech, was anchored in the center and pushing hard to close the distance for the assault 'Mechs in their ranks.
“Damn, it looks like they’re throwing everything at us.” She chanced an ER PPC shot at the Gallowglas catching it in the right hip.
“Ronin Legion Actual this is Red Dragon Lead. They’ve thrown in the kitchen sink sir. I’ve got ‘Mechs, two lances from Lambda Company coming in hard from the left flank!” Onishi saw Red Dragon Three and Four rushing to the left flank to support the rest of their lancemates. Dragon Eye Lance moved with them in support. With Free Worlder 'Mechs on three sides, Onishi knew it was only a matter of time before they completed their encirclement. Onishi cut in on the command channel, “Everyone slide right, let’s make a hole here people! Punch through their 'Mechs and head for safety.” She hung on to the controls tightly as another nickel-ferrous slug from a Carronade crushed armor plates over his left leg. Missiles streaked overhead from behind him to bath his attacker in a massive fireball, but the Free Worlders continued to press forward. Damage readouts from all his 'Mechs were showing an even amount of punishment for everyone holding the line, but he knew they couldn’t hold out forever. There were just too many Free Worlder ‘'Mechs and Onishi needed to get his people out to safety. Just then he realized that Mike Rior had yet to indicate he’d even received the order to eject.
“Blue Dragon Three, do you copy? Dammit, punch out Mike!” he screamed over the comms. Dragon’s Watch Two and Four, a Marauder and Black Knight respectively lashed out at the Free Worlder Axman only to hit screening ‘Mechs instead. The Free Worlder raised the right arm holding the hatchet up over the ‘Mech’s head and like a medieval executioner brought it down swiftly on the cockpit module of the prone Grasshopper, cleaving it in two pieces. Onishi glanced at his secondary monitors and the IFF transponder signal winked out for Blue Dragon Three.
NO!! Onishi had no time to morn the loss of Mike as missiles launched from a Free Worlder Stalker battered her ‘Mech.
Name: Kintaro Tanaka
Rank: Colonel
Callsign: 'Iceman'
MH: Steele Dagger Spec Ops BA
Role: DEST
Assignment: CO Battle Armor Regiment
Platoon: Black Ops
Company: SWAT
Battalion: HQ Battalion
Regiment: Smilodon

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