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 Post subject: Forging the Sword
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2004 1:55 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
Posts: 1471
Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
1st Sword of Light Proving Grounds, February 7, 3052, 0745 Hours

Mohammed As`Zaman Bey removed the Tai-sa (Colonel) rank insignia from his uniform tunic and carefully placed them in a velvet-lined case. He took a new set of Sho-sa (Major) insignia and meticulously pinned them on the stiff collar.
“Master, a shuttle bus has arrived,” announced Ali, the Arkab officer’s personal servant, who also acted as the unit’s Senior Battlemech Technician.
Mohammed Bey buttoned his shirt and donned his tunic, “Ah, perhaps some orders at last, Ali.”
The servant bowed and proceeded to wrap his master’s dark green turban.

The morning fog had lifted and there was a lingering chill in the air. The 8th Arkab Legion was still billeted in tents, although several of the military-issue canvas tents had been replaced with spacious beit sha’ar -Bedouin goat-hair tents. Wisps of smoke rose from some of the tents, although most used electric heaters to keep the occupants comfortable.

A small formation of fourteen men and women in khaki Arkab Legion field uniforms stood at the position of attention as Sho-sa Elias Bahar silently read their orders.
“Good morning, Sho-sa Bahar.” said As`Zaman, in his deep rumbling voice, “What have we here?”
The officer turned and saluted, “Sir!” Elias paused for a second -he noted that the commander wore reduced rank insignia, “Headquarters has sent us our new recruits –taken from the reserve elements of the 2nd, 4th and 6th Legions.” He handed Mohammed Bey a large, brown packet.

Mohammed Bey tucked the packet under his belt took the clipboard from his adjutant. He reviewed the roster for a brief moment. The commander snapped to attention, “Firstly, I am pleased to welcome you to the 8th Arkab Legion, Advanced Tactical Training Unit. I am Sho-sa Mohammed As`Zaman Bey.” He noted how young they were –no doubt fresh from school and possessed but a few weeks of basic training. “Stand at ease.” He casually paced along the front rank and stopped before the first recruit, “Mechwarrior Yaman Aboud, I know your family on Camlann.”
“I’ve heard a lot about good things about you, sir,” replied the mechwarrior. “I can hardly wait to begin training.”
“That is good to hear, Aboud,” said As`Zaman, “We shall see if your opinion changes once your training begins.”

The Sho-sa faced the next man in the formation, “Mechwarrior Kateb, I see you have a Star League Flashman. Have you a tech accompanying you?”
“Yes sir, he’s supervising its delivery,” reported the recruit, who blinked nervously.

“Faruq and Yumiko Nisrin,” He addressed the couple, “You were married four months ago.” He smiled and bowed, “Congratulations.”
“Thank you sir.” said Faruq with a bow. Yumiko smiled and returned the bow.
“While in camp you will be living in separate billets.”
The couple looked at each other with silent shock.

The senior officer stepped back and addressed the entire formation. “The red tent is the processing office. You will be assigned temporary lodging.” Mohammed Bey straightened and clicked his heels. “We are expected to leave Luthien within the next week or so –I don’t know why headquarters sent you here instead of Dabih.” He handed Sho-sa Bahar the clipboard, “See that these mechwarriors are taken care of, fed and well rested. I shall be interviewing each of them in my pavilion.” He saluted, “Take the formation.”
“Sir!” replied the Sho-sa, who returned his salute. “Detail, atten-shun!” he took a step back, “You are to collect your paperwork and report to the red personnel tent for in-processing. Fall out!”

The formation broke up, several of the new mechwarriors scrambled to remove folders of paperwork from their duffle bags.
Sho-sa Bahar leaned over and whispered, “What do you think?”
As`Zaman chuckled, “I recall being a green recruit, sometime in the dim, dark past.”
Elias shook his head, “We weren’t ever like that, were we?

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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 Post subject: Comments
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2004 12:08 am 
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Colonel
Colonel

Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 9:20 pm
Posts: 430
Excellent - this is great

_________________
Former Sen. Auditor Capellan Tax Office
Confederation Audit Department (CAD)

Wu zuizhe bu yong pa!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2004 11:12 pm 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
Posts: 1471
Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
First Sword of Light Urban Maneuver Field Number 3, February 20, 3052 1300 Hours

A Stinger battlemech strode to the edge of the thick forest and peered at the cluster of abandoned buildings used for training exercises. The concrete structures suffered from decades of disuse and repeated exposure to various ordinance simulators. A Wasp trudged between the trees and stood beside the Stinger.

“Blade One-Three, this is Angel One-One.” transmitted Mechwarrior Zakariyya Harith, “We are in position.”
From his Wasp, Karl Saleh clicked his microphone in acknowledgement. His machine slowly pushed through the dense foliage to the edge of another portion of the same forest. A second Stinger followed thirty meters to the Wasp’s right and slightly behind it. In accordance to their plan, the lance had divided into pairs, one Stinger and one Wasp.

Their departure to their new station delayed indefinitely, their new commander decided to begin their training immediately to keep his unit’s fighting edge keen as well as preventing soldiers from seeking harmful diversities conjured from ample idle time. There were over two dozen salvaged battlemechs in need of repair, a half dozen vehicles too –Painting rocks and practicing drill and ceremony would be a waste of time when there was so much more to be done.
The new recruits spent a week helping a small army of techs scrub the rust and ravages of battle from machines left abandoned and exposed to the weather for over a year. They suddenly were anxious to get inside battlemechs and train for their real jobs.

The four recruits had all graduated from the Sun Tzu School of Combat in 3049. They were comfortable working together and briefed the night before. The lance of recruits had map of their objectives and were allowed time to formulate a plan.
The exercise was simple -the lance must capture the center of a small town, more of a village in size. The defenders were a pair of medium vehicles supported by two platoons of infantry.

Harith smiled, “This will be a piece of cake,” he muttered. He slid the throttle forward and his machine emerged from the cover of woods. “Angel One-Two, follow me.” The Wasp fell into line and maintained interval. The pair of battlemechs approached from the southern portion of the village.

Janet Rabab shivered slightly. Her palms were damp and cold as she waited. The recruit studied her scanner readings -there were a pair of faint images moving among the buildings to face Harith’s team. “Karl, the two vehicles are responding to Zakariyya and Ubayy’s approach.
“Let them commit themselves, Janet, after that, we head in,” replied Saleh, “And when the shooting starts, this mission will be as good as over.”

Ubayy Altair armed his weapon simulators, “Targets on my scanner, heading three zero five, three hundred fifty meters.” He turned his battlemech to keep the building between him and the vehicles. “-Closing to spitting range.”
Zakariyya smiled and remained alert as he covered his partner’s advance.
Wasp Angel One-Two stepped around the corner of a building and cautiously aimed its laser and missile launcher down the broad street. Altair’s heart skipped a beat when a pair of lasers fired. He immediately saw the pair of hovers and heard his lock-on alarm sound. He spun his machine awkwardly but avoided enemy fire. The Wasp fired wildly and its laser beam raked a building.
Just before the Stinger stepped into the street behind the Wasp, the infrared detectors used in training sounded, indicating missile strikes. Zakariyya turned his machine to face a scrambling SRM team. His laser lashed and one of the infantrymen stopped running, the man’s IR detector caused lights on his uniform to strobe. “Got you!”

Blade team moved forward from the east, approaching the village at a trot. “They’re pulling back to the center of town,” commented Rabab. She cranked her cooling system to its maximum setting. “We have to hurry, Karl!”
“Right.” answered Saleh in his usual, terse manner.

“Watch out for missile teams.” announced Harith, “I just greased one on the way in.” He chuckled. “They must be going easy on us.”
“They hovers are pulling back.” said Altair, “I am in pursuit.”

“Angel Team, this is Blade One-Three,” transmitted Saleh, “Blade Team is in town.” The Wasp stepped through the debris-strewn street, weapons sweeping over the buildings. This was their first live urban exercise –the simulators were very close but the excitement and apprehension was entirely different.
Simulated machinegun fire raked the side of Rabab’s Stinger from out of an alleyway, the IR detectors on her screens flashed. “Ambush!” she shouted. Her battlemech turned and sprayed the source of fire with her own weapons. The enemy’s guns fired blanks so she had little problem aiming at the flashes. She triggered her Stinger’s laser as fast as it could recharge.
Karl Saleh caught sight of one of the medium hovers. He grinned and stepped out into the cross street and unloaded all his weapons at it. The hover’s sensors responded with strobing lights, indicating the vehicle as knocked out. “One hover down!”

On the southern side of the village, Angel Team swiftly closed toward their goal, the open plaza at the center of the array of structures. “It looks like we celebrate this evening.”
The hovercraft backed into the plaza, firing its laser and missiles at the closing battlemechs.
“Ouch! This one has a very accurate missile launcher!” complained Saleh, the IR sensors indicating several strikes on his Stinger’s armor. “I swear, he’s hit me every time he’s fired!” He poured simulated weapons fire in the direction of the last hovercraft.

“What the…” exclaimed Harith, he saw damage indicator lights flashing on his battlemech’s legs and head, accompanied by muffled thuds.
“I’m hit!” shouted Altair, “I’m shutting down…” There was more than a hint of disgust in his voice.

Saleh and Rabab’s machines also shut down, their external damage indicators strobing brightly under the afternoon sun.
“Angel and Blade teams please return your machines to hangar number thirty four.” transmitted a detached female voice, “Be prepared for your debriefing.”
“There is no way I am going to be prepared for this,” grumbled Zakariyya Harith.


First Sword of Light Urban Maneuver Field Number 3, Hangar 34 Briefing Room 1500 Hours

The briefing room was a sparse and Spartan area with an offset wooden podium that stood before a wall-sized screen. The fourteen new recruits sat nervously in the first two rows of folding chairs. Several other 8th Arkab members sat in the room, including vehicle crews and infantrymen still in combat uniforms.

“The plan to divide the lance and use one team as a diversion was very sound,” said Sho-sa Elias Bahar, “at first glance.” The senior officer indicated the screen behind him, “From the satellite view, we see Angel Team making its run.” Bahar highlighted the pair of defending hovercraft, “The defending vehicles react.”

Chu-i Firyabi stood up, “Because the vehicles were hovercraft and capable of traversing the village in little time, we chose to confront the teams separately and maintain the attention of the battlemechs.” He nodded to the senior officer.
“Thank you, Chu-i.” said Sho-sa Bahar. “The vehicles did their job –their presence was primarily to distract the battlemechs.” The vehicle commander resumed his seat.

An infantry Tai-i rose to his feet, “Once the mechs were distracted from each other, they were unable to see the following –run camera five.”
The wall screen changed to the view from the top of a building. “Angel One-One turned the corner and advanced down the street in pursuit of the vehicles, two squads of antimech infantry attacked Angel One-Two.” Ubayy Altair covered his eyes. The screen switched to helmet camera views; first from the SRM team firing simulated missiles into the back of the Wasp. The Wasp turned and returned fire as the missile team tried to run for cover; the next helmet camera showed a team of men scaling the Wasp’s legs and implanting satchel charges. Another camera was from the view of a soldier rappelling down the side of the nearest building –he and two other infantrymen slapped satchel charges onto the Wasp’s head and swung into open windows. The whole maneuver lasted no more than ten seconds.

The same scenario repeated with each battlemech –there was a distraction, the battlemechs lost sight of each other and antimech infantrymen managed to emplace satchel charges without detection. As an added insult, the charges had their timers set to detonate seconds before the battlemechs reached their goal.

“Thank you, Tai-i Albertshofer.” said Bahar. He turned to the recruits, “To the credit of teams Angel and Blade, they followed the procedures as correctly taught by the Sun Tzu School of Combat.” He smiled, “The main problem was that most of us went through the same classes.” He looked at Zakariyya, “Go-cho Harith, when did you train against antimech infantry?”
The young recruit stood at attention, “Sir, this was our first time.”
Bahar nodded, “Exactly.” He faced the other recruits, “Antimech infantry was a rarity ten years ago but new technology and the Clan invasions has made every weapon that may be used against battlemechs all the more valuable.” He turned to the screen. “Urban areas and dense forests are the ideal domains of antimech infantry.” The screen showed images of soldiers using grappling hooks to scale the limbs and torsos of battlemechs, jumping from rooftops and leaping from the branches of trees to plant their satchel charges.
“When you know what infantrymen are capable of and how they attack, you shall be able to defend yourselves and your lancemates from them,” concluded the Sho-sa. He signaled for Chu-i Momtaz Kuyar.

“Attention!” announced the Chu-i. Bahar left the briefing room. “The shuttle will be boarding in ten minutes -Dismissed!”

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2004 3:39 am 
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The Last Boy Scout
The Last Boy Scout

Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 9172
Location: Innsifil, Ont., Canada
Good stuff. Keep it coming.

_________________
General Brett "Hitman" Coote S.L.M.H., P.H. w/9 Clusters, S.S.B.
S.L.A.F. (Retired)
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 2:04 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
Posts: 1471
Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Senior Sergeant Oleg Bratovich crouched among the brush and peered through his image enhancer. From his position, he could see a new concrete bunker overlooking the partially cleared field. Behind the bunker stood a pair of temporary shelters, most likely plasteel frames covered with sturdy synthetic sheeting. Beyond the shelters, a collection of troop tents formed a semicircular perimeter.
Bratovich looked to his right and nodded as the heavy armored squad crept into the woods. From the morning’s briefing, he knew that a reinforced shelter lay beyond the forest. There was a possibility that the footmen would face a concrete bunker. That shelter defended several storage silos as well as a large power plant, the purpose of which was yet unknown. The sergeant looked to his left and signaled his squad to be ready. The men adjusted their jump packs and knelt behind the clumps of brush. As one, the men slowly rose to a crouch their left hands gripped the control sticks held at waist-level, their right hands grasped the grips of their slung assault rifles.
The senior sergeant bellowed, “Launch!”

The roar from the jump packs was deafening. Senior Sergeant Bratovich gritted his teeth when his feet left the ground. Despite the thunder of his pack, he could feel his heart beating in his ears. His squad had taken a long time to sneak into position but now it should pay off –This bound would be just under a hundred meters.
As his arc carried him above treetop level, he was unable to see any movement within the enemy camp. The bunker was a dull gray disc when viewed from above, Bratovich bent his legs for impact. He was the first to land on the flat roof of the bunker, immediately falling prone facing the north. His left hand hit the pack release while his right brought his weapon to bear.

Before he fell prone, the senior sergeant felt the hot exhaust from the pair of squad members who joined him. As planned, Private Chernikov took position above the rear door and drew his flamer pistol. Private Rayevski fell prone and covered the south with his assault weapon. He could see Corporal Denikin take position at the far structure, his automatic grenade launcher ready. Private Volkonski watched Denikin’s back and covered one of the tents with his rifle.
At the closer shelter, Privates Katukov and Vaslienko dropped prone, each at a corner. Each of the men had shed their encumbering jump packs and ready to take and hold the position.

Bratovich could see the reinforced dugout very clearly from atop the bunker. There were two enemy infantrymen in standing in the pit, obviously looking around for the source of the noise. The sergeant took aim and fired a burst at the pit. One of the men turned and pointed at the three men on top of the bunker. The other soldier crumpled as bullets tore through his body armor.
“Sergeant, we have company!” shouted Rayevski. Sure enough, soldiers poured from the tents, each in body armor and carrying assault rifles.

Corporal Denikin grinned as a cluster of enemy soldiers flung aside a canvas flap and stepped from their tent. He angled the sight of his automatic grenade launcher and tugged at the trigger. The weapon shuddered as it sent a volley of three grenades arcing through the clear, morning sky. Denikin loved his weapon. He enjoyed its firm recoil and the deep “thump” it made when it fired. The grenades struck the pavement within a split second of each other, sending four enemy soldiers tumbling to the ground, two screaming in pain the other two lay silent. Although riddled with ragged holes, the tent still stood and men emerged from the tent, ready to fight.

Katukov watched a man emerge from a tent separate from the others –This man stood calmly and gazed about while he spoke into a handheld transmitter. The private took careful aim with his rifle and grunted when he saw the torso armor the man wore. He centered his sight on the man’s right knee and pulled the trigger. The man staggered and shouted into the communication unit. Katukov set his assault weapon on full automatic and sent a burst of bullets toward his target. He coughed at the smoke and nodded when he saw the prone body.

Bratovich fired at the other man in the pit, forcing him to drop and take cover. He heard Private Chernikov shout in pain and turned to look. Three of the enemy soldiers had rounded the corner and fired. Bullets flew past the men on top of the bunker like angry hornets. Concrete dust and chips flew as the copper-jacketed rounds struck the back of the structure. Lightly wounded, the private did not need any help –yet.

The sound of gunfire rose from the woods and a loud hum shook the bunker. The hair on the back of senior sergeant’s neck stood on end. A portable particle cannon had fired from inside the bunker. From the corner of his eye, Bratovich could see a man from the heavy squad fall to the ground. He kicked Private Rayevski’s leg and pointed to the bunker when he turned. The private slipped off the bunker and prepared a grenade.

There was more weapons fire from the wood. Bratovic could see the machinegun inside the pit firing. Two heavy armored soldiers ran up to the sides of the pit and tossed grenades into it. The muffled explosions marked the end of resistance on that portion of the field.

Chernikov ducked from the fusillade of enemy bullets. He cursed and leaned from his cover, flamer pistol spouting fire. One of the private’s tormenters fell to the pavement, screaming and flailing helplessly, his body engulfed in fire.
Rayevski pressed his body against the side of the bunker and the narrow opening spewed flame and gray smoke.

The sound of an autocannon’s fire made many of the soldiers drop flat. Senior Sergeant Bratovich saw a pair of enemy men suddenly flung to the ground, their bodies ripped by a steam of autocannon rounds. He turned to see the heavy infantryman wielding a portable autocannon on a gyrostabilized mount step from the forest.

Skirting the corner of one of the shelters, Private Vaslienko leaned around a piece of equipment and caught two men with his flamer pistol. The men dropped to the ground and screamed. The remaining soldiers near the enemy tents broke and ran. Grenades rained around the fleeing men.

“End the exercise.”

Senior Sergeant Bratovich slowly removed his simulator goggles and shook his head. The other men of his squad also removed their sim gear. Private Denikin grinned at the others.

Sho-sa Mohammed As`Zaman Bey stood in the technician’s booth and spoke to the men via microphone, “Good job, Senior Sergeant Bratovich –That was a flawless assault.”
The NCO snapped to attention, “Sposibo, sir!” he unplugged his equipment from the simulator, “The enemy was totally unaware –Were they programmed holosims?”
The Arkab officer laughed, “Regretfully, no. They were one of the planetary militia units.” He shook his head, “Sho-sa Hiromassu arranged this one. –We probably won him some money.”
The senior sergeant chuckled, “It looks like Private Katukov’s just got some young commander in trouble.”
The private blushed, “That stupid officer should not have been talking on a handcomm out in the open.”
As`Zaman nodded, “Perhaps he will not repeat that error. –Nor will he ever again gamble against Hiromassu. ”
The senior sergeant stuffed his gear into a large case, “Sir, there will be a time when people will learn not to bet against the Eight Arkab Legion.” He shut the case and locked it.

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 3:48 am 
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The Last Boy Scout
The Last Boy Scout

Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 9172
Location: Innsifil, Ont., Canada
Good write up. Keep this stuff coming.

_________________
General Brett "Hitman" Coote S.L.M.H., P.H. w/9 Clusters, S.S.B.
S.L.A.F. (Retired)
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 3:13 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
Posts: 1471
Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Correspondence, February 3052
Quote:
Sumigawa Incorporated
1134 South 54th Street
Luthien City, 997 342 007
Luthien

Sirs,

It has been recently brought to my attention that your company has produced a line of model vehicles and battlemechs representing those units participating in the recent action against the invaders on Luthien. In particular, the Arkab Legion Crab 27, Kit number 98-0017, portraying the battlemech piloted by the late Tai-i Sven Shamash (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), who happens to have been my cousin.
I have obtained a kit and forwarded it to Arkab Legion Headquarters on Arkab (See attached contact information) for evaluation. While I am certain your company sincerely wished to honor my late cousin’s sacrifice in the name of our allies, the use of Legion insignia without the expressed permission from Command is a possible violation of trade agreements between the Azami Worlds and the Draconis Combine. The Arkab Legions are very reasonable in these cases and you will find the fees and royalty requirements surprisingly low. Arkab Legion lawyers should contact you soon.

I would strongly suggest that you make an offer of generous royalties to my cousin’s widow and family (See attached contact information) as a sign of good faith.

In addition, you shall find images and diagrams of Tai-i Shamash’s (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) Crab CRB-27, Arkab variant with the correct placement of unit insignia. If you are going to represent the Eighth Arkab Legion’s equipment you may as well provide accurate information.

Sincerely,

Sho-sa Mohammed Hajj Ben Maruf As`Zaman Bey,
Defender of the Faith,
Lord of the Barheilabad Rif,
Commander, Eighth Arkab Legion Advanced Tactical Training Unit
Quote:
Raiko Productions
Phoenix Toy Division
Toyama Plaza, 985
Luhien City 052 115 443
Luthien

Sirs,

Allow me to commend you on the fine series of “Arkab Legion Action Figures” that you have released to the public. The series is exquisitely detailed and well worth the price per unit on the retail market.
You have adhered to all of the proper requirements as indicated in the published trade agreements, which is very commendable.

I have been prompted to call your attention to the “Heroes of Luthien” figures, specifically those portraying the Eighth Arkab:

1) While operating alongside DCMS units, all Arkab personnel wear khaki uniforms of similar cut and design to the standard DCMS field uniform. Our men have found the traditional Berber costumes quite amusing but it is obvious that these figures are of the Mujihadeen warriors who fought off the Von Rohrs centuries ago. Perhaps they are also based upon the historical holovid series which takes place during the Von Rohrs' Tyranny.

2) The unit patches worn on the Arkab figures are incorrect –In addition to being placed on the right shoulder instead of the left, those insignia are those of the Fourth Arkab Legion, not the Eighth. Attached are images and diagrams from the Arkab Legions’ Manual regarding proper uniforms and insignia.

3) Other details:
The flame pistol is a standard sidearm.
Our jump infantrymen wear the standard flak suit as well as a ballistic plate vest. The Draconis Combine Crest on the front of the helmet is just silly –You may as well paint a target.
Only children’s holomation characters are stupid enough to wear their Daisho strapped to their backs –We are soldiers, not conventioneers, thank you.

I have included several images taken at the front line by some of our troops as well as a few taken while in camp. I hope they will be of use to you in the accuracy of your usually fine products.

Sincerely,

Sho-sa Mohammed Hajj Ben Maruf As`Zaman Bey,
Defender of the Faith,
Lord of the Barheilabad Rif,
Commander, Eighth Arkab Legion Advanced Tactical Training Unit
Quote:
Mayor Ozawa
Okaya City Hall
Okaya, Basin Lake 103 952 291
Luthien

Your Excellency,

I would like to thank you once more for the invitation to your wonderful town’s dedication of the Crab Warrior Shrine in honor of my late cousin and fellow officer, Tai-i Sven Shamash (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam).
The memorial ceremony near Basin Lake was very pleasant and I know the recorded proceedings, which were elegant as well as moving to all who attended, shall please his wife and children. My return to Basin Lake brought back many memories of our recent struggle.
The magnificent bronze statue on the site where Tai-i Sven Shamash (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) finally fell shall ever stand as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made to preserve our freedom. I have sent a copy of the miniature rendition of that statue to my cousin’s family.

Once again, my family thanks you for your thoughtfulness in including officers of the Eighth Arkab Legion Advanced Tactical Training Unit an opportunity to see how much the people appreciate their service in behalf of our worthy allies.

Sincerely,

Sho-sa Mohammed Hajj Ben Maruf As`Zaman Bey,
Defender of the Faith,
Lord of the Barheilabad Rif,
Commander, Eighth Arkab Legion Advanced Tactical Training Unit
Quote:
Sherifah Safiyyah As`Zaman
Monte Paradiso 57
Barheilabad
Dabih

Beloved Safiyyah,

I hope you and the children are in good health. Please tell Ahmed that I shall miss his birthday –I have enclosed several interesting toys sent to me from a local factory. I shall leave it up to you to divide them between Ahmed and little Thaqid.

It has been over a month and Headquarters has yet to indicate on what delays our return to Dabih. I have been forced to borrow First Sword of Light facilities to carry out needed training for our new recruits, who have much to learn about real combat. I guess that is the same for everyone who attends the academies –There is no way the simulators can imitate the fear and apprehension one gets when facing a deadly opponent. In school, it all was a game, no matter how realistic the training was.

Do you remember the new couple I wrote about in my last letter? Faruq and Yumiko Nisrin are very nice kids and despite my usual misgivings about married couples fighting in the same unit, I shall try to help them the best I could. They were not too happy about their assignment to separate tents when they arrived –They probably hated my guts then. You should have seen their faces last Friday when I handed them the access card to my senior officer’s suite at the hotel. They were so eager to get to the shuttle I am surprised that nobody was trod underfoot.

I have asked Khalil Ahwaz about his letters to my sister Malaika –You should have seen how nervous he was. Khalil is a good pilot and shall make a fine officer one day. I told him that I shall give him a letter of introduction to my father so we could begin the formal procedures if he has serious interest in her. I am certain her twin, Kalila shall be very jealous but she will have to wait until we return home before I introduce her to somebody I might approve.

The nights here are very cold, beloved and I cannot possibly express the longing I have to hold you again. Perhaps when I was young and foolish I lived as if there was no tomorrow and my head filled with the foolish notions of youth. I pray to Allah each day so that I may return to those whom I love and treasure as you are all that I truly have and all that I shall ever desire.
It is late, please give mother my love and deliver my letters to the others.

Your loving husband,

Sho-sa Mohammed Hajj Ben Maruf As`Zaman Bey,
Defender of the Faith,
Lord of the Barheilabad Rif,
Commander, Eighth Arkab Legion Advanced Tactical Training Unit

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 3:53 am 
Offline
The Last Boy Scout
The Last Boy Scout

Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 9172
Location: Innsifil, Ont., Canada
An interesting series of letters. The last one was the best.

_________________
General Brett "Hitman" Coote S.L.M.H., P.H. w/9 Clusters, S.S.B.
S.L.A.F. (Retired)
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 12:35 am 
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Colonel
Colonel

Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 9:20 pm
Posts: 430
Absolutely excellent! Something different in the on going saga.

One day you are going to have to place all of them in single site as a PDF or a number of HTML pages.

Excellent writing

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Confederation Audit Department (CAD)

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 2:48 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
Posts: 1471
Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Notes
Quote:
Eighth Arkab Legion Advanced Tactical Training Unit

Memorandum

Subject: Sundry Disciplinary Issues

Date: 18 FEB 3052

From: Sho-sa Mohammed Hajj Ben Maruf As`Zaman Bey

To: Sergeant Major MacDoughal

1) Please remind our soldiers that on no condition is anyone permitted to possess, carry, or consume alcoholic beverages within the confines of the Eighth Arkab camp. There is an amnesty bin just outside of the gate for disposal of contraband. Once something is deposited into the amnesty bin, it stays there until the disposal truck empties it. Anyone caught trying to recover something from the bin had better produce a good reason to be doing so. Otherwise, they shall be referred to Substance Abuse Treatment as per regulations.

2) When Private Murphy asked me if we could have a unit mascot, I told him that keeping a live animal would be too much trouble as well as a health risk. I read that the Luthien police are looking for a stuffed musk ox stolen from Onagadori Mansion. The images on the news, by some odd coincidence, resemble the large stuffed bovine that is presently taking up so much room in his squad’s tent. Please inform Private Murphy of the Articles of War, Chapter 17; Pertaining to Looting. The Combine has little sense of humor about these things. I’m willing to forget about this episode as are other parties should said bovine somehow be delivered to The Shoji House of Taxidermy by Friday noon.

3) I have already thanked the nurses of our medical staff for the presentation on the fourteenth. 5.5 kilograms of chocolate crème in the shape of a heart is far too much for me to enjoy alone so I have allowed the other officers to partake of it. There is still plenty left if you would like some.

4) I have no problem with the men of Bravo Platoon forming a bagpipe band. Alpha Platoon does insist that bagpipe tuning and practice be limited to Firing Range 10, where weapons of war belong. Do remind the men that when the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer, there shall be proper respect and silence.

5) Did you actually call my latest recruits “you collection of colored articles”? I am shocked. Such race baiting may be the standard in the Federated Suns military but such treatment shall never be tolerated in the Arkab Legions. I am well aware that you meant no personal affront but in our culture, there are things that you just do not say –even in jest. No one is to insult another’s family or parentage nor do you compare anyone to unclean items or animals. Since nearly half of the mechwarriors in this unit are blood relations, it would pain me to have to avenge a slight to my family’s honor due to a cultural faux pas.

Sho-sa Mohammed Hajj Ben Maruf As`Zaman Bey, Commanding
Quote:
Eighth Arkab Legion Advanced Tactical Training Unit

Memorandum

Subject: Various Items of Interest

Date: 25 FEB 3052

From: Sho-sa Mohammed Hajj Ben Maruf As`Zaman Bey

To: Sergeant Major MacDoughal


1) Was that Private Murphy and his squad putting a new coat of paint on the Sword of Light’s battlemech hangar? That is not quite what I meant by keeping him and the other lads out of trouble. Please find another way of disciplining his mischievous crew that does not place them in proximity to temptation in the form of Sword of Light facilities and property.

2) Attached is the updated list of local establishments that are off limits to uniformed personnel. Please remind all personnel that they are to wear their duty uniforms while in public.

3) Alright, where did Private Dietz get the tuba? Please inform Tai-i Albertshofer that if Alpha Platoon wishes to have their own band they will have to practice at one of the gunnery fields, away from camp. Please refer to the previous memorandum concerning prayer times.

4) The post with the various signs with arrows and distances to the men’s home systems is acceptable. Make certain that the throughways are not blocked –I am certain every company shall want to put up their own version.

5) I would like to put to rest the requests by some of the men for breakfast sausage and bacon in the mess for their morning meal. “Impossible” would be an understatement. The trays, utensils, steamers and servers that touch unclean items themselves become unclean and discarded. The good news is that I have hired caterers who shall set up a mess tent beside the gate and serve alternate meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late shift. This mess shall be open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 0500 hours to 0700 hours, 1100 hours to 1300 hours, 1830 hours to 2030 hours and from 2200 hours to 0000 hours. Remind them that on no conditions shall “leftovers” or “takeout” meals be brought into camp proper.

6) Our troops may purchase various trinkets in town, including the SSOs (Sword Shaped Objects) in the form of numerous katana. That being said, playing with drawn SSOs is not allowed behavior in camp nor is it permitted on this Sword of Light base. Yes, I did view the holovid of the drinking party –which included the Iaido (quickdraw) competition featuring SSOs. While it is humorous that Private Wofford accidentally flung his sword into the pond adjacent to the teahouse, having drunken soldiers waving about a meter of razor-sharp metal is just irresponsible. Again, such misbehavior is not tolerated on this base and is a stupid way to get a scar.

7) Beer tent: No.

Sho-sa Mohammed Hajj Ben Maruf As`Zaman Bey, Commanding

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 3:14 am 
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General Loose Cannon
General Loose Cannon

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Location: Motown
This unit sounds only slightly less crazy than the Dropship Irregulars

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 3:32 am 
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Team Bansai Special Forces Commando
Team Bansai Special Forces Commando

Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2002 8:00 pm
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Location: Dunbar, West Virginia
Only differences is we allow beer and toddlers

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People like you are the reason People like me need medication.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 3:50 am 
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Highly Overrated
Highly Overrated

Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 1:45 am
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Location: Philadelphia, PA
I love it. Makes the unit seem very human and gives them some personality. The notes and correspondence are particularly good.

:claphands:

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First Federated Commonwealth Corps RCT

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 2:37 pm 
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The Last Boy Scout
The Last Boy Scout

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Quote:
I love it. Makes the unit seem very human and gives them some personality. The notes and correspondence are particularly good.

:claphands:
I agree.


Motown: These guys are no more crazy than any other unit that just came out of a major battle. There just blowing off steam.

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General Brett "Hitman" Coote S.L.M.H., P.H. w/9 Clusters, S.S.B.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 9:20 pm 
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General Loose Cannon
General Loose Cannon

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2003 11:37 pm
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Location: Motown
Quote:
Only differences is we allow beer and toddlers
Not in combination though :wink:

Hitman that was an observation not a critizism :wink:

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Having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have-Rush Limbaugh
For more from Rush go here: www.rushlimbaugh.com
Still crazy after all these years.
Force of nature : ;):
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 10:25 pm 
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Colonel
Colonel

Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 9:20 pm
Posts: 430
Love it - absolutely love it.

Is there a central repository besides the HMP boards for this stuff?

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 12:59 am 
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General Loose Cannon
General Loose Cannon

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2003 11:37 pm
Posts: 8411
Location: Motown
Quote:
Love it - absolutely love it.

Is there a central repository besides the HMP boards for this stuff?
Some of the stuiff is on other site Medrons P.R.I. is one of them ...Several of the Goldfish/Battlecarp stories are waiting for somebody to edit them.

_________________
Having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have-Rush Limbaugh
For more from Rush go here: www.rushlimbaugh.com
Still crazy after all these years.
Force of nature : ;):
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 3:37 am 
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The Last Boy Scout
The Last Boy Scout

Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 8:00 pm
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Location: Innsifil, Ont., Canada
Quote:
Quote:
Only differences is we allow beer and toddlers
Not in combination though :wink:

Hitman that was an observation not a critizism :wink:
I went back & reread the letters. The Azami need to grow thicker skins & stop marring their cousins. (Re:point #5 in the first letter.

As for the rest of it. The Sho-sa needs to back off & let the Sho-Ko do his job.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2005 8:19 pm 
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Colonel
Colonel

Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 9:20 pm
Posts: 430
Quote:
Quote:
Love it - absolutely love it.

Is there a central repository besides the HMP boards for this stuff?
Some of the stuiff is on other site Medrons P.R.I. is one of them ...Several of the Goldfish/Battlecarp stories are waiting for somebody to edit them.
There is more of this story line on these sites that isn't published here?

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:13 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
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Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
1st Sword of Light Proving Grounds, March 3, 3052, 0930 Hours

Sergeant Major MacDougal observed the troops in duty fatigues as they loaded cargo vehicles with pallets. A dozen industrial exoskeletons moved through what used to be the Arkab Legion’s temporary tent city like so many huge insects.
“No more livin’ in a crowded tent, boyo,” said Private Murphy, “I can’t believe we’re finally being allotted barracks space.”
Sergeant Tompkins’ exoskeleton eased the tines of its twin forks into place beneath a pallet and slowly raised the canvas-covered load, “Real beds, real showers… No more bumpy three-hour shuttle rides to town for entertainment…”
“I’d never thought I’d admit to missing a military mess hall,” said Murphy.
“I don’t know,” commented Private Wofford, shouting over the loud whirr of servos and the clumping of mechanical feet, “I hear these Combine mess halls serve weird food.”
“Weird?” asked Murphy, “How do you mean?” He paused with his exoskeleton to listen to the other private’s reply.
“Get back to work,” announced the Sergeant Major, his voice reached all parts of the camp, which sent troops scrambling, “You can talk and load at the same time, lads.”
Wofford shrugged and moved his machine to another pallet, “You know, like the stuff you see in town,” he said, “Fish heads and odd animal bits on rice.”
“You’re jokin’!” exclaimed Murphy, “For breakfast?”
“That’s what I’ve heard,” replied the other private, “That’s what I’ve heard.”

Otomo Barracks, Luthien Palace, 1345 Hours

“Fall out!” shouted Sergeant Major MacDougal. The Arkab Legion formations slowly dispersed, with soldiers assigned to unload the tons of equipment reporting to the respective transports. Most of the troops milled about the plaza, rapt in awe by the opulence of the surrounding high wall.
“Luthien Palace!” shouted Private Murphy, “can you believe it, Woffy?
“I hope you heard the sergeant major, Murph, me boy,” cautioned Private Wofford, “Those Otomo troops have no sense of humor –They have room here because of horrendous losses during the Battle.”
“I’m almost afraid to check out the mess,” commented Murphy, “Almost.”
“Gentlemen, don’t you have anything to do?” rumbled MacDougal as he peered over the men’s shoulders.
The two privates ran over to the shuttle, located their duffle bags and made their way to the barracks building.

Battlemech Hangar 6, Otomo Barracks, Luthien Palace, 1645 Hours

Sho-sa As`Zaman Bey stood on the scaffolding that surrounded one of the Arkab Legion captured Clan Omnimechs. He wore the loose, comfortable khaki duty fatigues issued to the unit’s members for routine work while in garrison. Flanked by several of the most recent arrivals, the commander briefed them on the operation of the battlemech.
“Mechwarrior Harith,” he ordered, “Go ahead and activate the satellite link.”
As one, the recruits gasped in awe.
“Like all Clan omnimechs, the Koshi is capable of more than just satellite navigation,” he instructed, “See these symbols? These are DCMS battlemechs training on the maneuver grounds.”
“Do you mean that during the Battle, the Clan omnimechs knew where the Combine’s units were located?” asked Mechwarrior Yumiko Nisrin.
“That is correct,” replied Mohammed Bey, “Unless our elements were concealed via electric countermeasures, our own satellite system betrayed us.” He leaned into the access hatch, “Note that this omnimech is ECM equipped.”
“That’s fantastic,” remarked Mechwarrior Yaman Aboud, “Do they all have ECM?”
“No, just the Koshi Charlie variant,” responded As`Zaman, “But all of the Mist Lynx omnis are equipped with active probes.”
The commanding officer noted that a single DCMS officer had entered the hangar, “We shall begin your omnimech training tomorrow,” He announced, “We don’t have adequate simulators now so we have to resort to on the job training –Look over your study material!” He gave the students a fast salute and made his way to the lift.

As`Zaman rolled his sleeves down and buttoned his cuffs before the lift cage opened. In the dim hangar light, he could see the female officer waiting near the enclosed technicians’ office. Satisfied that his uniform was presentable, Mohammed Bey strode toward the visitor.
The woman turned and smiled at him as he approached and the two bowed in accordance to Draconis Combine tradition.
“Captain Tanaka,” he said, “How pleasant it is to see you once again.”

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:17 pm 
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The Last Boy Scout
The Last Boy Scout

Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 8:00 pm
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Location: Innsifil, Ont., Canada
Short , but good installment. I'm getting curious to see where are you are going with this story As' Zaman.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2005 10:37 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
Posts: 1471
Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
The two officers embraced for a moment, “It has been many years since you stopped writing, Mohammed.” whispered Leila. As`Zaman looked at her and stepped back.
“I suddenly got very busy and traveled a lot,” he said, noting her uniform, “First Genyosha, eh? You’re doing very well for yourself.”
“You have your own command,” she replied, “I’m so happy you made it through the battle safely. By the way, my name is no longer Tanaka –It is now Asano. ”
“Congratulations!” smiled As`Zaman, “I received a minor wound in defense of our allies,” he said, tapping his chest, “I saw the battle reports, the Genyosha fought hard, I was impressed.”
“We fought smart,” replied Tanaka, “the way we all learned at Sun Tzu.”

“Listen,” said As`Zaman, “I’ve been training new recruits and should get cleaned up,” he thought for a while, “Do you know where Shimizu’s is located?”
“Are you kidding? This is my home town, remember?” laughed Tanaka, “When do you want me to meet you?”
“I’ll make reservations for nineteen-thirty hours,” announced As`Zaman. “Good?”
“Great!” she said, on her way out, “I’ll see you there!”

Luthien Militia Exercise Camp, 1645 Hours

Gunsho Matsui looked across the level field of low, swaying grass and scanned the distant line of hills through his binoculars. “There they are.” He muttered. Among the trees, he could make out a few militia soldiers creeping forward. He had received a transmission five minutes earlier from the adjacent sector –the Luthien Militia attempted an abortive push through the village and fell back after heavy losses. The veteran NCO motioned the other squad members to take cover in their respective foxholes.

Matsui spent a few moments to contemplate his fate –About a year before he was running for his life, barely escaping with the remnants of his employer’s unit. Shiro’s Orphans was one of many mercenary units swallowed by the Clan invasions. His platoon defended the landing zone until the last minute. None of the other ground elements made it. Abandoned on Satalice, Matsui kept his platoon together but they were running out of options –They would either enlist as regulars to defend against the coming invaders or face starvation. By chance, the gunsho received word that an allied unit supporting Rasalhague sought veteran infantry with antimech training. The commanding officers were foreign, as were their customs but he once again wore the uniform of the Combine and survival meant another shot at the Clans. Despite being in the Arkab Legion, Matsui was happy to be home.

The sun neared the horizon and the exercise was due to end in less than an hour –the militia’s officers would be desperate for some kind of victory today but they insisted on using long outmoded tactics. Matsui sat on an empty ammunition crate and patted Go-cho Yamada on the shoulder, “Let them commit themselves,” he said. The young soldier peered through the sights of his tripod-mounted machinegun.
“They’re massing,” whispered Gunjin Hiraki, who laid all four of his flash-grenades on a shelf in his pit, ready for throwing.
From the distant hills, the gunsho could hear the subdued popping sound of dozens of rifles firing blank ammunition. “Keep down!” he shouted. The blanks served to familiarize the training soldiers with the sounds of battle but each weapon was also fitted with an infrared lamp set to emit a pulse with each round fired. These pulses simulated weapons fire when the struck detectors mounted on an opposing soldier’s harness.

The barrage of rifle fire continued for about thirty seconds. Matsui imagined the hundreds of alloy shells littering the hill after two platoons of militia blasted away at his position. The thin whine of a casualty alarm sounded. Gunsho Matsui keyed his commlink, “Who’s out?”
“Me…” answered a glum voice, “Sasaki.”
“Idiot.” muttered the squad leader, “Stay in your pit, fool –Don’t let them know they’re fire had any effect.” He had two portable machine guns, three submachine guns and one automatic shotgun left. Sasaki was his other shotgunner and the position could not afford any losses. He sat up and peered at the enemy’s position. Sure enough, the squads flowed down the hill’s face and prepared to advance. He slapped Yamada’s shoulder, “See that clump of men? Blast them!”
The go-cho pulled the trigger and the weapon spit flame and smoke, consuming an arm’s length of blank-loaded belt. Some of the men on the hill hit the ground and others dove behind trees.
The squad leader served as a second pair of eyes for the machine gunner as well as the loader. Team Leader Go-cho Oshiro sat in a pit on the opposite end of their hill, acting as spotter and loader for the other portable weapon.

“It looks like they’re getting ready for a parade,” commented Yamada. At one hundred and twenty meters, the militia squads formed into neat skirmish lines and advanced at a walk.
The gunsho focused his binoculars on the closest squad. He frowned. “They have their bayonets fixed.”
“What?”
“Relax, it’s an old trick,” said the veteran, “it is a form of intimidation and serves to boost their own morale.”
At seventy-five meters, both machineguns poured simulated fire at both ends of the advancing line, slowing the advance and forcing some of the men to avoid areas raked by fire. Squads on the hill kept up their fire, wounding Yamada. While Matsui took Yamada’s place, the other machinegun paused to reload. The enemy broke into a jog.
The gunsho fired burst after burst at the advancing militia and wondered why the enemy continued to advance when they should have been ripped to shreds.
At fifty meters, he could see that the militia squads wore quality flack vests, which meant their detectors would be set to require much more fire to register hits. “Damn!” he muttered angrily, this was something he did not expect. “Grenadiers! Be ready at my command!”
At twenty-five meters, each machinegun forced a squad to halt. Three of the machinepistol grenadiers leapt to their feet and hurled flash grenades at the center squad. Before their grenades struck the ground, the three men fell to a crouch and readied another grenade.
Gunsho Matsui saw the flashes and felt the mild concussion from the grenades. The center squad hit the ground as one, their casualties and self-preservation preventing them from further advance.

Red flares sailed into the late afternoon sky. The judges signaled the end of the exercise. The veteran leaned back against the cool earth in his pit and fished a cigarette from his breast pocket.

Luthien City, 1915 Hours

Shimizu’s earned its five-star rating the old-fashioned way –By seeking out the finest ingredients and products, employing skilled artisans among their cooking staff and treating their customers like royalty.
Sho-sa Mohammed As`Zaman Bey sat in his dress uniform and calmly sipped his tea from a delicate ceramic cup.
“So,” began Sho-sa Elias Bahar, “what is this surprise you spoke about?”
Tai-i Dame Rachel Benhaddad nodded, “Yes, Mohammed, it’s nice to get out of the compound every once in a while,” she gestured to all those around the table, “but in our dress uniforms? Don’t tell me your father’s paying a visit.”
“Oh, no!” laughed As`Zaman, “I’d have you passing in review. It is a relative of sorts.”

Tai-i Momtaz Kuyar Bey rose to his feet, his jaw slack in surprise, “Look!”
“Here she is,” announced Mohammed Bey, saluting with a raised teacup. He saw the amazed expression on the faces of his friends. Kuyar was the first to hug the Combine officer, his bulky body almost smothering her. As`Zaman watched how Leila and Rachel tearfully embraced, as sisters long parted. “Has it really been fifteen years?” he asked himself. He smiled and invited his friends to take their seats.
“So, Tai-i Asano,” said Mohammed Bey, “I hope your husband is aware that this may be a long evening.”

“I can’t believe you are all wearing your Sun Tzu chords!” exclaimed Leila, “I’m going to have to wear mine from now on, even though it provokes the Sun Zhang graduates.”
“If any of them wants a duel,” warned Bahar, “tell them they have to fight me first.”
“Were we really that crazy?” mused Asano, “It’s like it was a hundred years ago.”
“I still prefer you with blue hair,” said Elias, chuckling.
Mohammed Bey leaned forward, “Did I tell you that I recognized Leila’s silhouette as soon as she stepped into the hangar?”
“Don’t be silly!” scolded Asano, “After three children, there is no way I’d fit in my academy uniform.” She smiled, “I’ll take that as a compliment, Mohammed.”
“You look fantastic, Leila,” said Momtaz Bey, “and don’t let anybody tell you any different.” The Tai-i smiled and kissed his cheek.

“Rachel took a shot with her gauss rifle and the Gargoyle’s head simply disappeared,” said As`Zaman, “I had to tell her to stop showing off, lest she scare the rest of the Clanners away. She pummeled a Mad Dog before we received the order to withdraw.”
“It was the Kanrei himself!” inserted Kuyar, “Mohammed wouldn’t pull back otherwise.”
“You guys haven’t changed a bit!” declared Leila, “I’ve seen the battle ROMs and read the reports. My sons collect the figures and models –I showed them the images we took while in school and out in the Periphery.”
“The Periphery?” asked Benhaddad.
“A very long story, Rachel,” answered As`Zaman, “I’ll save it for another evening.”

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 10:13 pm 
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Colonel
Colonel

Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 9:20 pm
Posts: 430
Glad to see this moving forward again...

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Confederation Audit Department (CAD)

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 1:22 am 
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The Last Boy Scout
The Last Boy Scout

Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 9172
Location: Innsifil, Ont., Canada
Its also good to see that he got over his little snit about Rachel.

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S.L.A.F. (Retired)
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 3:59 am 
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Colonel
Colonel

Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 9:20 pm
Posts: 430
Selflish as this may sound (given the excellent continuing story under TwUA), whats the schedule for renewal of this story line... IIRC it was delayed due to Real Life clashing with Campaign game time issues

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:18 pm 
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Commanding General
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Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
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Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
0415 Hours, Luthien Starport

“Dropship Al-Idada, on inbound track, two five kilometers northeast of Luthien beacon,” announced the controller.
“Approach, Al-Idada has spaceport in sight,” replied the pilot.
“Al-Idada cleared to land; Contact Ground Control, three-one-three point one-four.”
“Al-Idada changing frequencies.”

Amid the thunder of its engines, the aged Overlord settled slowly onto its landing pad. The predawn darkness swallowed the massive dropship for a moment before the pad’s lights gradually blazed to full power. Trucks carrying the ground crews cruised onto the pad, the men leaping clear of the vehicles and scrambling among the ponderous landing gear. Klaxon horns sounded and warning lights flashed amid the metallic rumbling of cargo doors.
Two kilometers away, a guard waved and cleared a line of black limousines to proceed to Landing Pad 24.

Otomo Barracks, 0630 Hours

Sergeant Major MacDougal adjusted his sash and eyed the men on guard duty, “I want you lads looking sharp, making all of your moves crisp and clean today.” He glanced at his watch, “They’ll be here at any minute.”
“Psst, Bosty,” whispered Murphy, “who’s it supposed to be, the bloody Coordinator?” He hated having to wear his dress uniform, especially the white gloves.
Private Botsford shrugged and whispered, “You got me,” he continued, “All I know is that Sho-sa Bahar…”
“Silence in the ranks,” warned MacDougal, he caught a glimpse of Sho-sa Bahar crossing the parade ground. “Attention!” He saluted the officer, “Honor guard ready sir!”
Bahar returned the salute, “Please have the men stand at ease, Sergeant Major.”
“Yes, sir,” nodded MacDougal, “Platoon, parade rest, stand at ease.”
“As usual,” explained Bahar, “our Commander has little appreciation for such ceremony and fuss over his family and has requested that we post the normal guards in duty uniform.”
“Thank God,” muttered Murphy.
“I see sir,” replied the Sergeant Major, “I’ll dismiss the excess men and assign the rest to special duty.”
“Very good,” said Bahar. He saluted, spun on his heel and returned to the officers’ billets.
MacDougal turned around and addressed the platoon of soldiers, “First squad, return to the barracks and change into your regular duty uniforms and return to stand guard.” He cleared his throat, “Second squad, stand guard at your assigned posts until properly relieved by first squad.” He paced to one side, “Third and fourth squads, return to the barracks and change into utility uniforms –Report back in fifteen minutes.”
“Utility uniforms?” groaned Murphy, he imagined all manners of menial duties in store for him that day.
“Attention!” shouted MacDougal, “You know your orders, dismissed!”


“Hey Botsford,” whispered Murphy, “That’s the Old Man.” The two soldiers wielded push brooms that morning, assigned to maintain the concrete walkways along the various buildings that enclosed the square. Their commanding officer calmly strode from the officers’ billets and stood at the top of the stairs, waiting. The two soldiers snapped to attention.
“Please carry on, gentlemen,” said As`Zaman in a gentle voice. He wore his casual duty uniform under a simple wool robe. Upon his head was the white-lined maroon tarboush of an Imam.
“Sir!” replied Murphy, who suddenly became very meticulous in his duties.

Four limousines cruised into the square and came to a halt before the officers’ billets. Sho-sa As`Zaman stood silently as the vehicles arrived. The drivers emerged and opened the passenger doors. From each of the limousines stepped women clad from head to toe in black robes –wearing the full purdah of the faithful, their faces covered, a cloth mesh over their eyes.
“Botsy, they’re his wives!” exclaimed Murphy in an amazed whisper, “There must be at least twenty of them!”
Each of the vehicles carried five or six women as well as two to four children. “Will you look at all of them,” commented Botsford, “I’m impressed.” As each of the groups of women approached the stairs, they halted and bowed to the Sho-sa before he greeted them with a slight nod.
“Impressed?” mused Murphy, “I’m amazed!” He watched the procession in silent awe, “Now there’s a Commander!” he said proudly as he observed the visitors entering the billets. “Do you think we’ll get a look at them without the veils?”
“What are you two malingerers gawking at?” rumbled a low voice that could only belong to the Sergeant Major, “Back to work with you!”
“Sir!” shouted Murphy as he resumed his sweeping. He saw that MacDougal led a squad of men tasked with carrying luggage from the limousines into the officers’ billets.
The private shook his head, “Now, there’s some luck, Botsy,” said Murphy, “they get to enter the Commander’s harem!”
“It’s just the of’cer’s quarters, Murf,” commented Botsford, “it’s not like they’re turning th’ place into a palace like we see in the holovids.”
“They’ll all be in scanty silks and the like,” whispered Murphy, “The Old Man’s a sooltan or such –I bet they're all young and pretty, too.”
Botsford shook his head, “Don’t get yourself worked up over the Commander’s women, Murph, and let’s sweep th’ square before MacDougal gets back.”


Mohammed Bey stood in the lobby area of the billets and addressed the group of visitors, “First, I would like to welcome you all to Luthien,” he bowed slightly, “We are guests in the Otomo barracks until the 8th Arkab Legion receives its next orders.” He motioned to small crowd, “Safiyyah, you and your ladies in waiting are assigned rooms two-one-two through two-one-six, north wing, second floor, and to the left.” He motioned to the lift, “Your luggage shall be delivered shortly.” He paused as five of the women, accompanied by three children boarded the lift, and the doors closed.
“Aliyyah, your rooms are two-one-seven through two-two-one, south wing, second floor, and to the right.”
“Zahrah, you are assigned two-zero-one through two-zero-five; Huriyyah, you and your ladies have two-zero-six through two-one-zero.” He concluded, “Shakira, Ali shall be arriving later to take you to his billets; there will be additional briefing materials in each of the rooms,” He smiled, “Dismissed.”

Mohammed Bey hefted his son Thaqid, “Have you been a good boy?”
The three-year-old nodded absently, his dark eyes distracted by his new surroundings. Ahmed, nine, walked silently behind his father. “My room is two-one-one, slightly larger with a private bath,” the officer told his son. “There is a day room with a wall-sized holovid player.” The boy’s eyes lit up and he smiled, hoping to have a look at the day room…
The halls were wide and soldiers carried luggage to the various rooms. As`Zaman paused to allow his men to pass. By the time he reached his room, Thaqid was falling asleep. “You must all be tired from your travel,” he whispered and gently placed the child on his bed. Ahmed sat at the desk and sighed. There was a light knock on the door.
“Enter,” said Mohammed Bey.
The door opened slowly and a cloth-covered head leaned in, “My Bey, please pardon my intrusion.”
As`Zaman recognized the voice and could see the eyes behind the cloth screen, “It is no intrusion, Sharah,” he brushed Thaqid’s hair, “what may I do for you?”
The servant bowed, “The Sheriffah is ready to see you, my Bey.”
Mohammed Bey nodded, “Very good, Sharah.” He gingerly lifted Thaqid from the bed and placed the child in her arms, “Ahmed, there is a day room at the far end of each hall –You may watch the holovid player as long as your nanny is present.”
“Yes, father,” replied the boy, who stood up and waited to depart.
As`Zaman nodded to the servant, “Sharah, you may summon my first wife.”

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


Last edited by Mohammed As `Zaman Bey on Wed Apr 27, 2005 3:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2005 11:45 pm 
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Colonel
Colonel

Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 9:20 pm
Posts: 430
Intriguing...

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Confederation Audit Department (CAD)

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 9:37 pm 
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The Last Boy Scout
The Last Boy Scout

Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2001 8:00 pm
Posts: 9172
Location: Innsifil, Ont., Canada
Yes, very intriguing.

_________________
General Brett "Hitman" Coote S.L.M.H., P.H. w/9 Clusters, S.S.B.
S.L.A.F. (Retired)
[img]http://www.heavymetalpro.com/countries/ ... da-red.gif[/img] [img]http://www.heavymetalpro.com/countries/can-ontario.gif[/img]


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2005 11:35 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
Posts: 1471
Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Otomo Officer’s Billets, March 12, 3052, 0700 Hours

Major As`Zaman closed the door to his room and embraced his wife, “Safiyyah, dearest Safiyyah,” he whispered, “say nothing, I just want to hold you.” They held each other for a moment, eyes closed. With a sigh, Mohammed Bey stepped back a pace, “You may remove your veil and uncover your hair.”
Safiyyah nodded and carefully took off the cloth covering her head and face, “As you command, my husband.” Before she finished, he stepped in to assist her, and pressed his lips to hers as soon as she lifted away the veil. The couple embraced once more, joined in a lingering kiss.
The officer smiled and held his wife close, “How was your travel? Do you need to rest?”
“Rest?” she asked. “All one does on a dropship, or while in jump, is rest, my husband.”
As`Zaman chuckled, “Did the boys behave? I figure they’d be a handful on such a long journey.”
The woman grinned, “Sharah usually gets the worst of them, although they had plenty to keep them busy.”
The officer loosened his collar and sat down, pulling his wife onto his lap. She laughed and put her arms about his shoulders, letting the cloth in her hand fall to the floor. He hugged her, “I’ve missed you so much.”
“As I have missed you, my Bey,” she whispered, “after you left Rasalhague, it was months before you sent me another message.”
“The misjump caused our detour to Luthien,” he said, “we landed hours before the Clans.”
She laid her head on his shoulder, “I know that it was your father who prevented you from being listed as missing –so long without any word.”
“We are at war, my wife,” he whispered, “and I am a soldier, I don’t put in my ten hours and come home.”
“You said you’d be in a garrison,” she said, “a training unit –Why are you fighting?”
He rolled his eyes, “Safiyyah, blame the Clans for invading –I didn’t know they’d be foolish enough to attack Luthien.”
“I know,” she sniffed, “but I hate it when you’re away.”
He kissed her, “Well, I’m still waiting on orders –Once we have a permanent location, we’ll be living on base.”


DCMS Training Grounds, Urban Maneuver Area 12, 0930 Hours

Captain Albertshofer waved his pistol and signaled for the men under his command to advance. The four seven-man squads dashed in a leapfrog sequence from house to house, moving confidently, each squad covering the advance of the others.
The mission was simple enough, cross the village, reconnoiter the remains of an earlier column, continue the advance and exit the opposite end of the village. Albertshofer was puzzled –Where was the enemy?
The answer was soon apparent when he felt the deep, peculiar pounding caused by one thing –A battlemech walking. The steps were fast and closed swiftly.

Hunkered down inside a ruined house with Third Squad, Sergeant Bratovich heard the cracking of tree branches and the rustling of leaves. Through the broken windowpane, he saw a lone Locust pick its way between a stand of trees across the street, about fifty meters away. “Vasilienko,” he called, “bring the LAW, I have a target for you.”

Gunjin Toshiaki Kagawa halted his Locust and studied his viewing screens, he adjusted the gains on his sensors and looked over the small column of abandoned vehicles he and his partner ambushed at dawn. The judges had sent the crews away as casualties and the Stinger in his team called to another portion of the field. Kagawa defended the small village alone because all of the major fighting was elsewhere and he was the newest pilot. As luck would have it, a small militia unit with light groundcars and lorries blundered into the village –it looked like the remainder of the exercise would be boring.
The Locust’s simulated damage alarm sounded and he practically jumped from his seat. A flashing yellow light indicated a strike to his machine’s body, dead center. He peered through his windscreen and noted the telltale swirl of smoke from a simulated launcher. The machineguns on either shoulder of his battlemech thundered in response, firing several kilograms of blank cartridges and peppering the ruined house across the street with infrared beams.

Vasilienko fell back, his harness flashing with a strobe light, indicating he was out of the exercise, “I’m hit!” He stumbled back, cursing.
“Everybody down!” shouted the sergeant.

Captain Albertshofer jumped at the sound of machinegun fire less than a hundred meters away. He peered around the corner of the building he stood beside and sighted the Locust. He signaled First Squad with which he moved to dash across the street while the battlemech was distracted. Second Squad, located on the far left flank made their way forward.

On the far right flank, Corporal Haffner led Fourth Squad between the maze of buildings and discovered an abandoned light car, upon which was mounted a recoilless rifle. He ordered three of his men to examine the weapon and discovering it in working order, bid them make ready as he led his other team forward.

Kagawa stalked around the ruins and moved his mech into the rubble, catching the squad of infantrymen as they tried to scramble for cover. He raked the loose formation and smiled as two of the men’s harness lights flashed. He held the triggers down, laughing as his twin guns thundered. He fired his laser for good measure and cackled, as another man became a casualty. The survivors dove through windows and doors to escape the carnage.

Alberthofer swore when he heard the nonstop rattle of enemy weapons fire. His platoon carried only two small anti-armor missiles and Third Squad had just expended theirs. Command’s idea was for the platoon to sneak through the area so they traveled very light, armed only with submachine guns and grenades. He shook his head, wondering how to deal with a battlemech –even this light machine.

Sergeant Kruger waved Second Squad around the left flank. His squad made the best time since it was farthest from the action. He moved one team at a time, dashing cautiously from one house to another. He was about to guide his squad along a high brick wall on the last stretch before the village gave way to forest when he caught sight of a trio of abandoned vehicles, two small cars and a lorry. The lorry towed a trailer that mounted some manner of autocannon…

The team from Fourth Squad managed to fire their recoilless before the Locust stepped up to them and arrogantly poured fire at the crew, taking out all three men.
Not ten meters away, Corporal Haffner roared and led his surviving men to attack the Locust’s left leg, emptying their clips of blank ammunition.

Kruger’s men released the light autocannon’s barrel from its travel mount and the gunner swung the weapon around to point down a narrow alleyway. He saw the back of the Locust as it blasted away at the recoilless crew.
“Ammunition!” yelled the sergeant. One of the soldiers hopped into the back of the lorry and tossed a small crate of training ammunition to the loader.

The Locust pilot’s jaw dropped as his mech registered hits on its rear armor and the combat computer determined that his mount’s gyroscope sustained damage. He immediately moved his battlemech through some trees and spun around.

Captain Albertshoffer flattened himself against the long brick wall and hoped that his squad remained unseen. He stood twenty meters from the enemy mech as it walked past him. The Locust’s weapons took down one of his men while others leaped over the wall and sprinted between the last rows of houses.

Corporal Haffner could not believe his good fortune –The Locust not only ignored his remaining team but also allowed that team to scramble over to the recoilless rifle and they slammed a training round into the breech.

Kagawa’s eyes grew wide and he slewed his aiming pipper over the men crouching around the recoilless. He pulled the trigger and fired a long burst. His sensor alarms screamed and he saw a vehicle almost a hundred meters away.

The Fourth Squad gunner at the recoilless placed his sights on the mech’s center of mass and fired as fast as his weapon reloaded. He jerked at the firing lever and the weapon roared. To their amazement, the Locust’s fire went wide.

There was a squealing of brakes as the lorry halted in an intersection and the crew from Second Squad swung the autocannon toward the Locust.

The Gunjin slumped in his seat, his battlemech shut down; the simulation computer indicated that his machine’s gyroscope ceased operating. He unfastened his bulky neural helmet and slipped it from his sweat-dripping head in time to receive the message from the judge who informed him that he just became a casualty. There was nothing left to do but remove his harness and pop the main hatch.


Yoshiwara District, Luthien, March 13, 3052 1345 Hours

It was another hot Saturday afternoon, the narrow streets clogged with delivery vehicles, buses and pedestrians making their way through the busy outlying district. The doors of the diner Smoking Dolphin creaked open and four men emerged.
“Shoot, that wasn’t too bad,” said Murphy. He adjusted his belt and rubbed his stomach, “I’m getting used to th’ local cuisine.”
The four soldiers wore their civilian clothes but still looked out of place, their bearing, haircuts and mannerisms unmistakable, they all shouted “military”. Of course, they all happened to be a little taller than the average Luthien native was and towered over most of the people that passed them in this part of the city.
“What do you guys want to do now?” asked Delle. He lit a cigarette and took a long drag.
“I don’t know,” commented Murphy, “what do you want to do?”
Mulrooney shook his head, “We always do this.” He perked up and watched as a young woman walked past them, “That’s more like it.” The woman blushed and walked faster.
“Oh, yes.” said Delle.
“Real fine.” added Murphy.
“Uh-huh.” grunted Botsford. The four stood and watched the woman walk along the concrete way.
A female voice from behind them spoke in admonition, “You boys might want to review your Luthien orientation briefing.”
The men practically jumped before turning around. “Oh, Major Benhaddad…Ma’m!” exclaimed Mulrooney as he snapped to attention. The men saluted nervously as the Arkab officer returned their salute. The major wore her snug-fitting, khaki day uniform, often worn by administrative personnel.
“The Combine has strict codes of behavior,” instructed Benhaddad, “hanging on a street corner and harassing the ladies is enough for the constables to haul you away.”
The men looked down at their boots like truant schoolboys caught in the act. “Sorry ma’m,” muttered Botsford. The other men mumbled similar apologies.
Benhaddad smiled, “Listen, there are a lot of places for soldiers to go where you are allowed to act as rowdy as you wish without getting into trouble.” She looked about, “There’s Kano’s custom tailor shop nearby, it has a golden crane on the window,” she hefted a suit bag, “Have you seen it? I need some work done.”
“Yes, ma’m,” answered Delle, “I think we passed the place about a block or so in that direction.” He motioned to a side street.
The officer saluted the men, “Thank you very much, private.” She waited for them to return her salute, “Have fun and carry on.” She turned sharply and made her way to the crosswalk, the soldiers eying her slim form as she walked. When she reached the corner, Benhaddad turned and winked before crossing the street.
“I bet the commander’s dipped from that well,” whispered Murphy, “she’s one fine woman.”
“Get outta here,” laughed Delle, “the old man’s got himself a harem full of women.”
Botsford tapped Murphy’s head with the back of his hand, “He’s got four wives and he’s a good guy –Benhaddad’s a good officer and you shouldn’t be talking that way.”
“Hey, I was just joking,” said Murphy, “you guys are too serious.”


DCMS Training Grounds, Range 27, March 20, 1600 Hours

Private Murphy felt nauseous. It was not just the sun, the uniform and standing guard since ten in the morning –Every time a friend passed by he subtly convinced him to go to the beer tent, get a large cup of cold beer, and leave it in portable latrine number seven. “Be a chum this once,” he would say, “I’m dying out here.”
Private Womack wondered why Murphy would have to use the latrine two or three times in an hour although he claimed to be feeling a bit under the weather. This late in the afternoon, Womack could notice his friend wavering a little. At least they would have the next day off and be able to hang in the beer tent, drinking cold brew and eating great food all day.

Much to everyone’s surprise, Commander As`Zaman chose to reward his unit’s performance with a grand feast. Since none of his infantry and just a few of his aerospace pilots shared the Azami faith, many of them voiced a common desire for a good bout of alcoholic beverages. While on Luthien, the soldiers had to wear their uniforms while in public and the proper behavior strictly enforced.
Major As`Zaman figured a large private party away from the public would make certain that they inflicted minimum damage upon the public.

Along the firing range, several 8th Arkab battlemechs stood on display, including a pair of newly refurbished and painted Clan machines.
“Father,” said Ahmed “isn’t that Uncle Elias’ Victor?” The youth tapped the flank of his horse with his whip to urge him forward, “I recognized the blue heart –Why does he have that?”
“Indeed it is, my son,” replied the commander, “The story behind the blue heart is a long one… I’ll tell you about it some other time.”
Both wore the comfortable riding clothes of the Rif, their heads covered with the green kefiyya denoting kinship with the Prophet. As`Zaman pointed at one of the Clan omnimechs, “What is that?”
Ahmed stood up in his stirrups and wrinkled his nose, “Adder, C variant, father,” he smiled and leaned forward to pat his mount’s neck.
“Very good, son,” The officer sat proudly in his saddle and drew his curved sword, “Tell me about my weapons.”
“You are holding a North Arabian shamshir, a war falchion hangs from your saddle –it has a two-handed grip,” responded Ahmed, “in your belt you wear an Omani jambiya and the standard Alhazred T2 flamer pistol.” He drew his own blade and galloped trailing his father.

Private Murphy did not feel well at all. His head swam and his vision was blurred. The automatic rifle on his shoulder seemed to weigh a ton.
“Pssst, Murph…” whispered Private Womack, “the old man is on his way –straighten up.” He snapped to attention and noted that the other soldier struggled clumsily with his weapon.
“Look out behind you sir!” shouted Private Murphy. He slammed a cartridge into the chamber, took aim and fired.

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2005 10:32 pm 
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Colonel
Colonel

Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 9:20 pm
Posts: 430
My sympathies for Mohammed...

Its a pity that the drunk one will die as well, and maybe even his fellow guard... I believe that drunk on duty on a Arkab base will be a death penalty offence.

_________________
Former Sen. Auditor Capellan Tax Office
Confederation Audit Department (CAD)

Wu zuizhe bu yong pa!


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 2:34 pm 
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Corporal
Corporal

Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:42 am
Posts: 32
Location: ohio
i believe you are correct-dereliction of duty.

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I refuse to have a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2005 1:01 am 
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Colonel
Colonel

Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 9:20 pm
Posts: 430
With 'Travels' finished, I hope I can find out what happened here...

What can I say? I'm addicted...

_________________
Former Sen. Auditor Capellan Tax Office
Confederation Audit Department (CAD)

Wu zuizhe bu yong pa!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2005 8:24 pm 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
Posts: 1471
Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Major As`Zaman saw the rifle leveled at his son and yanked his horse’s reins to spin around. He whipped his mount’s flank with the flat of his shamshir and flung his body forward to shield the boy.
From the corner of his eye, Private Womack saw Murphy raise his rifle and he threw himself across the entrance, tackling Murphy, knocking him to the ground. In despair, he saw the spent shell casing bounce upon the hot pavement.
As the single shot rang out, everything across the festive tent area seemed to stand still for a moment –Every soldier recognized the sound and stopped what they were doing at the moment. The band stopped playing.

Mohammed Bey felt the brief tug as the bullet passed through his robe and saw Ahmed topple from the saddle. “Medic!” He released the grip in his sword, letting it hang from the lanyard about his wrist, drew his mini-flamer and pulled the trigger three times. “Medic!”

Womack grabbed Murphy’s weapon, pulled the magazine, cleared the chamber, tossed it aside out of reach and drew himself up to his knees. He heard a shout for a medic and saw several people running toward the gate.
“Stand aside, Private.”
Womack looked up and his blood froze. He looked into the smoking barrel of Commander As`Zaman’s flame pistol. His eyes met the Major’s and he saw Death.
“I said, stand aside.”
The private closed his eyes, “Don’t shoot, sir!” he shouted, “Anything but a flamer!” He bowed his head and waited for the roar of the deadly hand weapon.
Sergeant Major McDougal arrived with a small group of armed soldiers, “Place those two under arrest,” he motioned to the gathering crowd, “make a clear path for the ambulance!”


Monday, March 22, 3052 0700 Hours

The guard unlocked the 10-ton storage container and pulled the door open, “Rise and shine, boys.”
Sergeant Major McDougal directed the guards, “Give them their breakfast and make sure they are both inspection ready.”


Conference Room, Otomo Enlisted Men’s Billets, 0900Z

“You have no idea how fortunate you are, Private,” said Sergeant Major McDougal, “the shot missed the Commander’s son and his only injury was a sprained wrist from the fall from his horse.”
Murphy nodded, “Thank God for that.”
The Sergeant Major frowned, “You are under Arkab Legion jurisdiction,” he began, “the Combine would merely have shot you and that would have been it.” He looked Murphy in the eye, “Had the boy died, you would have been handed over to the women.”
The soldier suddenly had trouble swallowing.
“I am here to make certain you fully understand the charges against you,” advised McDougal, “and that you are ready for the Tribunal.”
“Do I get a lawyer?”
The Sergeant Major shook his head, “You should know that once you ask for a lawyer, you are admitting that you are incompetent –It’s the same as with the civilians.”
“I can’t defend myself,” complained the private, “I need a lawyer.”
The old veteran slammed his fist upon the table, “Idiot!” He stood up and shook a finger in the private’s face, “A Tribunal means you are already guilty!” He backed off and looked out a window, “The Commander wants to keep this case as clean as possible and is willing to stop any investigation that might involve anyone else.”
“I don’t understand,” muttered the private.
“There were about a dozen empty half-liter beer cups in the latrine,” whispered McDougal, “if there is an inquiry, those cups are evidence and every cup with your finger prints will condemn the soldier whose prints are on that cup as well.”
“I see…” said Murphy, “What will happen to me?”
“If you are lucky,” replied McDougal, “you are out of the Legion.”
The private began to shiver, “What if I’m not lucky?
“You will be shot.”

Conference Room, Otomo Officer’s Billets, 1000 Hours

“The charges against Private Womack have been dropped,” announced Major As`Zaman, “Private Womack is dismissed.” The guard escorted the soldier from the room. To Mohammed Bey’s right sat Major Elias Bahar and to his left Major Rachel Benhaddad. The three wore their Arkab Legion dress uniforms, although Mohammed Bey wore a maroon tarboush (fez) with a white band indicating his position as an Imam. “If the next defendant is ready, please bring him in.”

A guard led Private Murphy into the room and Murphy stood at attention before the assembly.
Captain Naamah Arbas stood up from her seat, “Private Anthony Murphy, you are charged with being under the influence of alcohol during duty, failing to carry out your assigned duty properly, carelessly discharging a weapon, assault with a deadly weapon, and…failing to hit your intended target at ten paces.”
“Private Murphy, you have heard the charges,” said As`Zaman Bey, “do you have anything to say before we commence with this Tribunal?”
“Sir…” began the private, “In accordance to my counsel’s instructions, I take full responsibility for all of my actions and I hope this Tribunal will be lenient in its sentencing.”
The Commander nodded, “Have you anything else, Private?”
Murphy cleared his throat, “I…I’d like to apologize to the boy and his mother for causing them so much worry,” He wiped a tear that welled in his eye, “I don’t know where I’d be if the Legion didn’t pick me up in Satalice, I’d don’t know were I’d be.”
“Thank you, Private Murphy,” said Mohammed Bey, he looked to the other Tribunes, “If there is no other business, this tribunal shall reconvene on Thursday, March twenty-fifth.”


Infirmary, Dropship Al-Idada, 1200 Hours

Ahmed As`Zaman sat up in his cot and looked at the clock. He set aside his toy Crab CRB-27 in Arkab Legion colors and markings and pushed the button on the remote attached to the wall. He tugged at the bandage that encircled his left wrist.
The door slid open. “Do you need something?” asked the nurse.
“I’d like to go back to the billets,” responded the bored youth.
The nurse smiled, “Your father is on his way,” she knelt beside the bed, “I’m certain he’ll be taking you and your mother back to the Otomo barracks.

Safiyyah As`Zaman cradled the sleeping boy on her lap, “What will happen to the soldier?” She sat back on the comfortable limousine seat, “I am just grateful that no permanent harm has been done.”
“As am I,” replied Mohammed Bey, “but Private Murphy broke too many rules this time –It was simply good luck that nobody was injured or killed.”
“There is no luck,” the boy stirred, “only the will of Allah, father,” murmured the child, his eyes fluttered open, “but whoso repenteth after his wrongdoing and amendeth, Allah will relent toward him. Allah is forgiving, merciful.”
The officer leaned forth and brushed his fingers though his son’s hair, “The man is repentant…” he whispered, “but I must judge, not Allah.”
“Yes, father,” whispered the boy, “I am willing to forgive him as well.”


DCMS Maneuver Field #11, March 23, 1315 Hours

Major Bahar followed the two lances of battlemechs as they patrolled their assigned path, moving from one navigation point to the next. From his Victor, he had a good view of both formations as they walked through the course.
“Major,” announced Faruq Nisrin, “I have a body of hostile targets up ahead.”
Elias smiled, “Is that so, Sergeant Nisrin,” he began, “could you be kind enough to use your sensors to ascertain the weight and composition of the hostiles?” He chuckled to himself, he knew the trainee was still struggling to learn the nuances of piloting a Crab –a battlemech with a cockpit totally enclosed and linked to the outside world via it cameras and sensor systems.
Yumiko Nisrin chimed in, “I have a star of Clan omnimechs behind Hill 385, bearing three three five at four kilometers,” she reported, “they should crest the hill at any moment as they are moving, heading one five zero at almost fifty.”
“Very good Sergeant,” responded Bahar, “anything else?”
“Oh, mixed weights,” added Yumiko.
“Chocolate Lance, Chocolate One, tighten up the formation,” commanded Khalil Kateb from his Flashman, he shook his head and made a silent promise that he would not let the women name the training units ever again.
“Caramel Three,” reported Aboud, “I have the enemy in sight…two Pumas…one Ryoken…one Koshi and…a Vulture!”
The Vulture stalked forward, its loudspeakers blaring, “I am Star Colonel Funguy Morgan –I challenge the Flashman to individual combat, letting no others interfere.” Everyone recognized the Commander’s voice.
Kateb moved his machine forward, “I, Sergeant Khalil Kateb accept your challenge!” Elias shook his head and looked on as the Vulture danced around the field, its twin gauss weapons scoring simulated hits on the Flashman with negligible return damage. In a minute, the Flashman was crippled and out of the exercise.
One of the Pumas stepped forward and challenged Yumiko’s Crab. The voice was that of a female pilot with which the trainees were unfamiliar.
“Please forgive me if I decline,” replied Nisrin, “I am commanded to refuse individual combat.” She keyed her comm., “All units concentrate fire on the Puma!”
The Puma tried to pull back as the remaining seven battlemechs rushed forward. The fight was chaotic and tangled but of the Clan machines, only the Vulture scored any serious hits. Eventually, the trainees managed to destroy the star, exchanging three mechs in the effort.
“The exercise is ended,” announced Major Bahar, “Today’s enemy force was made up of Major As`Zaman Bey and his wives.” He paused, “Comments Commander?”
“Allow me to congratulate you all on your teamwork,” began the officer, “but it will not be so easy next time, as Kateb discovered.” He became very serious, “You must always be respectful of Clan pilots –individually they are the best trained and equipped mechwarriors you will meet.”

“Sergeant Kateb,” asked Mohammed Bey, “what was your reasoning behind accepting the challenge?”
“Sir,” replied the trainee, “I had the heaviest machine so I took the chance in forcing the Vulture to expend his ammunition in a fight.”
The officer nodded, “That was a sound plan,” he commented, “but you have to keep moving –You tried to fight as well and managed to score only one hit.”
“I had to stay in the fight, sir,” answered the sergeant, “to avoid being called Dezgra.”
“Quite true,” admitted As`Zaman, “I actually ran out of ammunition before the battle ended –Good work.”


Conference Room, Otomo Officer’s Billets, Thursday, March 25, 3052, 1000 Hours

“The Tribunal dressing the case of the Arkab Legion versus Private Anthony Murphy is hereby reconvened for the purpose of sentencing;” announced Major As`Zaman Bey, “Please show Private Murphy into the room.”
The guard led Murphy into the room and he took his place before his judges.
“Private Anthony Murphy,” asked Mohammed Bey, “are you prepared to receive your sentence?”
The soldier nodded, “Yes sir.”


Otomo Mess Hall, 1730 Hours

“Botsford,” whispered Private Womack, “did you hear? They came and collected Murph’s personal items.”
The solder looked down at his tray, “That’s bad.” Private Botsford looked at the others at the table, “Has anyone heard of a special detail yet?”
O’Donnell shook his head, “They don’t expect us to shoot Murphy too, do they?”
“This is the Combine,” shrugged Botsford, “and the Arkab Legion –I’ve heard stories.”
“Well, you didn’t see the look in the Old Man’s eyes when the kid fell from the saddle,” whispered Womack, “I thought for sure we both were done for right there.”
“Poor Murph,” muttered O’Donnell, “it won’t be the same without him around.”


Luthien Starport, Dropship Al-Idada, 2130 Hours

Major As`Zaman stood beside his son Ahmed in the cool night. The bright light from the dropship’s interior cast stark shadows on the ferrocrete pads. The shuttle stopped at the foot of the ramp and two men emerged from the vehicle, one shouldered a well-used duffle bag.
Sergeant Major McDougal saluted, “We are ready, sir.”
Mohammed Bey nodded, “Private Murphy, this is your last chance,” he warned, “Do you wish to continue?”
“I have made up my mind, sir,” replied Murphy, who stood in civilian garb. He placed his duffle bag on the ground.
“Very well,” said the Commander. “Private Anthony Murphy has officially been stricken from the rolls of the Eighth Arkab Legion.” He looked to McDougal, “Have you his papers?”
“Yes sir.”
The Major handed Murphy a new set of papers, “Here is your new identity –Anton al-Murfiyyah, and in accordance to Azami law you are obligated to guard Ahmed Maruf ben Mohammed Bey with your life until you are relieved from your obligation, you perish or the universe end –Do you affirm your obligation?”
“I do, my Bey,” recited the ex-soldier.
The officer knelt beside his son, “Ahmed Maruf ben Mohammed Bey, you are obligated to teach this penitent the ways of Allah and of your people,” he closed his eyes and bowed his head, “May Allah ever show you the path of the righteous.”
Ahmed bowed and presented al-Murfiyyah with a leather bound book, “This is a faithful translation, I will help you study and understand the word of Allah.”
The man took the book form the youth, “Thank you, Ahmed Bey.”
As`Zaman announced, “Al-Murfiyyah, you are to remain aboard the Al-Idada until further notice –You no longer exist in the Combine.”
“Yes, my Bey.”

Otomo Officer’s Billets, Friday, March 26, 3052, 0100 Hours

“‘Consider, therefore, O Sindbad, O Landsman,’ continued Sindbad the Seaman, ‘what sufferings I have undergone and what perils and hardships I have endured before coming to my present state.’ ‘Allah upon thee, O my Lord!’ answered Sindbad the Landsman. ‘Pardon me the wrong I did thee.’ And they ceased not from friendship and fellowship, abiding in all cheer and pleasures and solace of life till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of Societies, and the Shatterer of palaces and the Caterer for Cemeteries; to wit, the Cup of Death, and glory be to the Living One who dieth not!”
Safiyyah As`Zaman closed the book and whispered to her son, “Ahmed, it is late and you have to sleep.”
The child nodded and hugged his pillow, “Yes, mother,” he pulled the sheet up to his shoulder, “I’ll try.” He closed his eyes.
She kissed his forehead and dimmed the light, looking at Ahmed and Thaqid, who was already fast asleep, “Sleep well, my falcons bright.”

“I had to read three tales tonight,” sighed the Sherifah, she sat down on the bed and unlaced her veil.
“Too much activity,” nodded As`Zaman, “everything will return to normal in a few days,” He assured his wife, “you’ll see.”
She nodded, “You are right, my husband, it is just that the past few days have caused me great anxiety.”
Mohammed Bey pulled the cloth covering from her head and touched the tafzint mark on her forehead that indicated her as the mother of his heir, “You have a right to worry, treasured wife,” he took her hand to comfort her, “but even our Ahmed knows enough to put his trust in Allah.” His lips touched hers and he pulled her close.
She gently pushed him away, “Is it not Huriyyah’s turn for your attention?”
He frowned, “I give you my attention as you are troubled, my first wife,” he cleared his throat, “instead, you send me to my fourth wife.” He made to rise, “As you wish…”
The sherifah grasped his hand, “Forgive my rashness, husband,” she held his hand to her cheek, “of course I want you here.”
He unbuttoned his tunic with is free hand, “No more games, wife,” he whispered, “You are worried about our son’s bodyguard.”
She nodded, “I know him not…”
“The crew of the Al-Idada already call him al-Murfiyyah the Penitent,” spoke Mohammed Bey with a tone of assurance, “a soldier seeking redemption will gladly give his life to protect our son.” He kissed her cheek, “We must be patient and show him the path.”


Luthien Starport, Dropship Al-Idada, 0615 Hours

Among the two-dozen crewmen at Morning Prayer there was a new man who knelt among the faithful, a man whose cheeks were washed with tears of a soul newborn in the morning sun -For what is purer than a sleeping soul awakened to a life of noble purpose? Allah is indeed Compassionate and Merciful…

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2006 8:58 am 
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Luthien Starport, Saturday, April 2, 3052, 1830 Hours

Like most of the officers of the Arkab Legion, Sho-sa Sir Johann Al-Dabab was not comfortable in his dress uniform. Unfortunately, officers traveling in the Draconis Combine under orders do so in their dress uniforms.
“Come on,” called Tai-i Leila Asano, “I want another picture of all the Sun Tzu graduates.” She wore her dress uniform including her academy cords.
“Isn’t that all of us?” asked Tai-i Donna Mu`awiya. She adjusted the braided khaki cords attached to her left shoulder epaulette, “Will that be with or without veils?”
Mohammed Bey handed the camera and tripod to Ali, “The women may remove their veils for pictures.” He did his best to appear happy but he was there to send off a dozen of his unit’s officers. “Stand in the middle, Leila.”
Sho-sa Dame Rachel Benhaddad took her place next to As`Zaman, “I’m happy to see so many of my friends go on to their own commands but saying goodbye always makes me sad.” She linked arms with the commander.
“How are your new recruits?” asked Asano. She smiled and linked arms with Mohammed Bey before the first flash.
“I’ll take a couple more,” said Ali. He adjusted the camera settings.
Chu-i Marcus Tengri Bey smiled for the next shot, “Make sure we all get copies.”
“Our recruits are fast learners,” said Sho-sa Elias Bahar. “They’ll be more than ready to meet the Clans when I’m done with them.”

1900 Hours

The line of limousines pulled from the Star Port parking structure and followed the long, raised concrete highway back to the city. The streets of Luthien were unusually clear and the repair crews gradually repairing and covering over the scars of battle.
“So, you haven’t received any orders yet?” asked Leila.
Mohammed Bey shook his head and ran his fingers over his shaved scalp, “No, not yet, I’m certain it’s because the Legion can’t find a suitable base for us.” He gave her a mischievous look, “I requested Wolcott –I know we’d get plenty of training there.”
Rachel laughed, “You know the Combine, most units would dread an assignment on the Clan front –they must look at such a request with extreme suspicion.”
“Well, I guess you have to be patient,” Asano sighed. “There’s been so much chaos since the invasion started.” She paused and thought for a moment. “Mohammed, have you heard anything from Morrigan?”
Benhaddad and Bahar looked at each other for a second then to their commander.
“Funny you should ask,” replied As`Zaman. “Darya turned up on Galatea some time after the War of 3039 –she commanded a unit of aerospace fighters.”
“So, Morrigan turned mercenary,” reasoned Leila. “She didn’t seem to be the DCMS type.” The officer nodded, “Is that what she’s doing now?”
Bahar motioned to his commander and answered, “Darya’s unit took a contract somewhere in Rasalhague attached to the Black Omen mercenaries just before the invasion began.” He continued, “The last we heard was that her aerospace unit fought to the last against Clan Wolf on Memmingen, covering the retreat of the defenders’ dropships.”
“Oh, my…” whispered Leila.
“We were recruiting on Satalice before the invasion resumed,” added Mohammed Bey. “Morrigan’s unit was one of many mercenary commands unaccounted for.”
The rest of the ride into the center of Luthien was somewhat subdued.


Sukiya Tea House, 2000 Hours

Sho-sa Morikazu Asano executed a low bow, “Such an honor.” He straightened and eyes swept from one face to another, “So, these are the Sun Tzu academy classmates my wife always tells me about.”
Leila took Asano’s hand, “Let me introduce them; Sho-sa As`Zaman, Sho-sa Bahar, Sho-sa Benhaddad, Tai-i Kuyar, Tai-i Maliq…” The mechwarriors filled the room and took their seats around the table while the servers brought trays of tea and appetizers.
“Allow me to compliment on the 1st Genyosha’s brilliant performance during the recent battle,” commented Mohammed Bey.
The Combine officer smiled and bowed, “The Arkab commander is most generous.” He returned, “I have made a point to do a thorough study of the 8th’s participation –it was a terrible error for the Combine higher command to dismiss your role in the battle and classify the 8th as a militia training unit.”
Leila shook her head, “They’ll learn, eventually.”
“I have met many good Combine officers,” said As`Zaman. “From those I’m met from the Legion of Vega, the Genyosha and the Sword of Light, I see a lot of promise for the Combine’s military in the future.” He raised his teacup in toast, “To our allies, the Draconis Combine!”


DCMS Training Grounds, Urban Maneuver Area 12, April 5, 3052, 0930 Hours

The Karnov paused over the rooftop, Gunsho Matsui’s boots hit the worn tarpaper rooftop and he brought his machine pistol to his hip. He signaled Gunjin Matsuda to get his team in place at the radio room. Two men used the portable ram to smash the door in while Matsuda and another team member leaped though the door.
Matsui could see the momentary struggle in the radio room as the Matsuda’s team used their fixed bayonets to dispatch the three enemy soldiers. The gunsho signaled to Gunjin Kato to move his team down the stairs, followed by three riflemen led by Gunjin Nagamori. Muffled gunfire rang out and Matsui led his three riflemen down the stairs as well.
Kato’s team had cut down a pair of defenders too occupied with shooting at the departing Karnov to notice the soldiers descending the stairs. Nagamori’s team walked into an ambush when they entered a room with alerted militiamen. With two casualties, the gunjin pinned the three enemy soldiers who hid behind piled desks and other furniture.
Matsui cursed under his breath and led his own men through adjoining rooms to flank the ambushers. The gunsho’s team surprised a pair of militiamen as they stood looking out of windows and shot them where they stood.
Gunjin Kato had two of his men set up the portable machinegun that one of the men they surprised was using and prepare it for mobile use.
The gunsho readied his men and they poured through a door, cutting down a man with a shotgun and another with a rifle. Matsui poured bullets across the room and killed the last of the ambushers. When one of the riflemen passed the door to examine one of the fallen militiamen, a man who had hidden behind the door attempted to strike him from behind with a bayonet fixed on the end of his automatic rifle. There was a brief scuffle and the hidden militiaman finally died at bayonet point.
“Nagamori, tend to your wounded and get them up on the roof,” ordered the gunsho. He sighed with relief when Mastuda’s team trundled down the steps, “We have one more floor to clear but I can guarantee that they know that we’re coming.”
“What do we do?” asked the gunjin.
The gunsho studied the large room and looked at the beaded curtain that decorated the top of the stairs that led to the ground floor. “Where would you set up an ambush for someone coming down that set of stairs?”
Matsuda thought for a while then pointed at the corners of the room, “There and there, depending on the layout.” He pulled the vibroaxe from his belt sheath and had his engineer team prepare a pair of satchel charges.

The pair of blasts shook the building and Matsui led his men forward to the first collapsed floor. Matsuda had done his job well. He used the vibroaxe to weaken portions of the floor then placed the charges with furniture heaped upon them to direct the energy downward. The dust and smoke obscured their vision for a moment but the teams could see that the floor yawned open and through the haze, the defenders below who writhed under a layer of debris.
“Building secured,” reported Gunsho Matsui.


Battlemech Hangar 6, Otomo Barracks, 1100 Hours

“After the battle, the Luthien Defense Command sent us the Clan battlemechs you see here,” said As`Zaman.
Sho-sa Asano nodded, “Very impressive, commander, have your technicians had any training in Clan technology? They seem to be adapting amazingly well.”
Mohammed Bey shook his head, “Only my personal technician has had experience with samples of Clan technology but most of our unit’s techs are trained in Star League technology so the transition is not as great.”
“Is that so?” Leila inquired. She and her husband enjoyed this exclusive tour of the 8th Arkab Legion’s temporary station. “How did you get twelve of them operational in so little time?”
As`Zaman smiled, “Fortunately for us, half of them were operational to begin with.” He pointed at one of the heavy machines, “This one is called a Mad Dog by the Clans, the Charlie variant.” He raised his hand to indicate the barrels mounted on each of the battlemech’s arms, “It only has two weapons –this pair of Gauss Rifles.”
The sho-sa shook his head, “Amazing.”
Mohammed Bey nodded in agreement, “This machine was captured intact.” He continued, “We also had a lot of cooperation with the 2nd Sword of Light.”
“That’s Tai-sa Hiromassu’s command,” commented Sho-sa Asano. “I hear the 2nd got assigned to Baldur.”
Leila wandered ahead when the men began to talk about their experiences on the battlefield. She suddenly smiled and called back to her guide, “Mohammed, is this your old Mongoose?” She walked into the bay and touched one of its angular feet.
The Azami commander strode over to the battlemech bay, “Yes, it is.”
“The memories this brings back,” mused the Combine woman. “I can’t believe you still pilot it.”
“Of course,” said Mohammed Bey proudly, “this battlemech has been passed down through my family for five generations.”
“You fight in this?” asked the sho-sa.
“Fight? Only if I have to,” replied As`Zaman. “I find the Mongoose an ideal command platform.” He stepped into the lift, “Come with me and I’ll show you.”
Leila looked at her watch, “Hey, I have to get ready to leave –I’m taking Safiyyah and Shakira shopping.”
“Now there’s a terrifying thought,” said Mohammed Bey. “I’ll have Ali make sure the limousine is on time.”

“I have noticed that you have a large percentage of women under your command, Sho-sa As`Zaman,” commented Asano. “I thought the Azami were even more restrictive on women than the Combine when it came to combat forces.”
“You are correct,” replied the Arkab officer. “But when a family with a military tradition has an only daughter or sole female heir, that family is given a slot to compete against the men.” He continued, “This is a training command, make no mistake about it, our participation in the recent battle was a coincidence –under normal conditions, most of these women would serve as instructors and never see battle but the 8th Arkab Legion’s women have proven that they could fight as well as anyone else when given the opportunity.”


Otomo Barracks Square, 1300 Hours

Sho-sa Elias Bahar looked over his clipboard then to the formations of soldiers on the square, “The next formation shall be at sixteen hundred hours.” He snapped to attention, “Commanders, see to your companies.”

Mohammed Bey sealed another envelope and placed it in a tray filled with outgoing communications. He paused to draw a puff from the mouthpiece from the hookah beside his desk. He continued with his work when he heard a knock at the door.
“Enter.”
Bahar stepped into the office, “Sir, I have packet from Arkab.”

Otomo Officer’s Billets, 1700 Hours

Mohammed Bey winced when he saw Safiyyah and her ladies in waiting march into the billets with their arms filled with packages and boxes. Yes, they went on a major shopping spree at several of Luthien’s high-end stores. Leila was a veteran shopper and had no problem training eager students.
“Hello dear,” greeted Safiyyah. “You should see some of the fabric I’ve picked up.”
The commander leaned over to kiss his wife’s cloth-shrouded cheek, “I’m glad you had a good time, love.” He pulled a folded sheet of paper from his breast pocket. “Please have a seat; I have a message that concerns you.”
Safiyyah found an empty portion of couch and sat down, surrounded by fancy boxes, “This sounds serious, what is it?”
As`Zaman unfolded the paper and read it aloud, “The 8th Arkab Legion has been permanently assigned to the vacant Algedi Military Reservation. Make all preparations to relocate immediately.”
The Azami woman’s eyes grew wide, “Algedi? We are going to Algedi?” She sprang to her feet and hugged her husband, tears in her eyes, “I could not have heard better news! I’ll start packing immediately!”
Mohammed Bey held onto his wife, “No need to hurry, I want our quarters to be ready before you get there –you could stay with my parents on Dabih and I’ll send for you.”
“I could stay with my family on Algedi,” she countered. “Anyway, I’ll take care of preparing our home –that’s a woman’s work. You make sure the 8th Legion gets there in one piece.”


Conference Room, Otomo Officer’s Billets, 1900 Hours

“I am sorry for the short notice given for this meeting,” began As`Zaman. “We have much to do in the next week and I want everything done as smoothly as possible.”
“I have taken the liberty to make arrangements for travel for all dependents,” announced Bahar. “We can send them via commercial lines without ant problems.”
“Very good, Elias, thank you,” replied the commander.
“My Bey,” said Ali, the 8th Legion’s Master Technician. “All of our Inner Sphere design battlemechs are ready for transport,” he reported. “Although we don’t have enough pilots, we do have more than enough technicians to move them.”
“Good,” commented As`Zaman. “What about the Clan machines?”
“They will be placed in moving containers as per your order, my Bey,” responded the technician. “They shall not be removed from those containers until they are inside a secure facility on Algedi.”
Captain Albertshoffer stood up, “There are a few of us who have requested leave time, sir…”
The commander nodded, “Yes, I am looking for volunteers to go straight to Algedi to help prepare the facilities.” He motioned for Tai-i Momtaz Kuyar Bey to hand out the briefing materials. “All those who volunteer shall receive a cash bonus as well as an extra month of leave –the volunteer slots are limited and are first-come, first served.”
Albertshoffer nodded, “What about the mobile infantry project?”
“I have done some research,” reported Tai-i Benhaddad. “There were some interesting examples of civilian sports vehicles that fit most of our criteria, I have judged that Luthien did not have what we are looking for.”
“That is too bad,” commented As`Zaman. “Have you more?”
“Yes I do, my Bey,” answered Rachel. “Making use of the Luthien industrial directory, I have sent inquiries to companies in Benjamin, Shitara and Ascella.” She tapped the controls on her compad and images of small, all terrain vehicles appeared on the briefing screen. “So far, all of our proposed designs can be mass produced for a reasonable cost or the components manufactured and they can be assembled on site for even less.”
“Good work,” complimented Mohammed Bey.


Otomo Barracks Square, Friday, April 9, 3052, 0900 Hours

Four limousines waited before the officer’s billets while the soldiers assigned to load the luggage dashed up and down the marble stairs and the passengers stood in line to bid farewell to the commander.
Private Botsford took a few seconds to lean on his push broom to observe the scene. “Hey, Wofford,” he whispered to the other soldier assigned to sweep the walk. “It looks like th’ whole lot of them is headin’ out.”
“Yeah, I can see that, Botsy,” replied the other private.
“Did you ever get a look at any o’ them?” asked Botsford.
“What?”
“You know,” whispered the private. “Did you ever get to see what’s inside that harem?”
“After what happened to Murph,” hissed Wofford, “I wouldn’t even think about such things.”
“Huh, me neither…”
“What’s all this?” inquired Sergeant Major MacDougal. “Let’s have more cleanin’ and less conversin’.”
“Sir!”

Sho-sa Mohammed As`Zaman Bey remained impassive as he hugged each of his wives and kissed his children. He did his best to comfort them and promised that they would be back together so soon that they would not even notice the passing of time. The commander was successful for the most part, although nine-year-old Ahmed Maruf seemed annoyed at the whole ordeal.
“I am having Elias travel with you –he’ll be able to get you anything you require,” whispered As`Zaman. “Let him know if you have any problems.” He hugged his first wife one last time, “Keep the other women in line.” He winked, closed the limousine’s door, and stepped back. The line of gleaming black vehicles slowly made their way to the palace entrance and out of sight.

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2006 12:06 pm 
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Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
DCMS Training Grounds, Urban Maneuver Area 12, April 9, 3052, 1030 Hours

Three squads of Arkab Legion infantrymen leap-frogged down the debris-strewn streets of the ruined town. Sporadic gunfire followed them as they retreated to the building they had captured in the previous exercise, a few days earlier.
Gunsho Matsui flattened himself against the wall of the two-storey building and motioned for each of the squads to enter. Simulated artillery rounds impacted upon the pavement and the explosions echoed between the abandoned structures.
“Second squad, up on the roof,” ordered the gunsho. “Third squad, secure the second floor!” Matsui followed his squad into the building and helped them pile furniture at the door.
Gunjin Kato stuck his head out of the rooftop stairwell. “Nagamori!” he called.
“What do you want?” asked the other gunjin. Nagamori and the remainder of his crew busied themselves setting up the portable heavy machinegun they had found on the roof.
Kato cursed under his breath, his squad had recovered a smaller squad automatic weapon and he wished he could find more firepower. “Nags, we spotted a huge number of hostiles on their way here,” he informed the other squad leader, “Cover the streets to the East and North.”
Nagamori swiveled the weapon toward the northeast and peered over the sights, “I don’t see anything yet.”
“They are coming, trust me,” said Kato. He turned to his own men, “Set up that squad weapon on the corner!”

Gunjin Matsuda squinted as he tried to make out troop movement among the ruins to the south. He keyed his communicator, “Matsui, this is Matsuda –I’m heading to the roof for a better view.”
Matsui followed his men up the stairs and cut a handful of the beaded curtain away. He stripped away the plastic beads and tied a bundled length of the synthetic string across the dark stairway at ankle level. “That should slow them down a little.”
One of the men of first squad knelt in a far corner of the room where the stairwell emerged, “Gunsho, I found a rocket launcher and several warheads –it appears to be functional.”
The steady drumbeat of a heavy machinegun sounded from the roof. Gunsho Matsui looked out of one of the windows facing north and saw movement in the dark alleyways. An artillery simulator flashed in the street to the east.

On the edge of panic, Gunjin Nagamori pressed the thumb triggers and sprayed into the shadows across the street. “Enemy on this side!”
Kato rolled his eyes, “Relax, Nags, this is only an exercise.” He scanned the south for movement and ducked his head when an artillery simulator shook the building. “That was close!” An artillery simulator was not deadly but it still tossed out small, metal fragments and stiff paper shards. A near miss could deafen a solder for a few minutes and even stun him. The flash could also cause a training vest to register someone close as a casualty.

Matsuda and his team clambered up the stairs to the roof and continued up to the roof of the radio room. Armed with bolt-action rifles, the men took up their positions. From his location, the gunjin could make out a trio of officers –the trio stood beside a radio set, the senior of the three obviously giving the subordinates a severe chewing out. Matsuda tapped the shoulders of his team members and pointed out the targets.
Signal flares rose into the air and the sound of at least three bugles echoed through the smoky sky. Matsuda saw a company’s worth of men burst from the ruins to the south.

Gunjin Kato tossed himself to the worn tarpaper when he heard the thump of a falling artillery simulator as it struck the roof. The fist-sized projectile exploded with a flash and shower of shredded paper, the noise causing the solders’ ears to ring. Two of Kato’s men rolled away from the low wall that surrounded the roof, their training vests flashing and emitting a low buzz. “Dammit!”

Matsui felt the air pressure increase when the rocket launcher in the next room fired. He dashed to a north-facing window and saw a company’s worth of enemy soldiers advancing up the street at a jog. He stepped back, raised his submachine gun and pulled the trigger.


Sukiya Tea House, 1100 Hours

“How nice of you to take time off from your hectic schedule,” commented Sho-sa Asano. He observed as his wife carefully filled their teacups.
As`Zaman bowed, “Thank you for the invitation.” He lifted his teacup and sipped the hot liquid. He looked to Leila, “I thought you joined the military to avoid doing this sort of thing.”
The Tai-i stiffened, “Just shut up.” She wielded the ceramic teapot as if to throw it, “I’m still a soldier, you know.”
The sho-sa chuckled, “I am glad you are friends.” He lowered his voice, “Did you notice the equipment Comstar moved from its HPG facility last month?”
Mohammed Bey nodded, “Yes, I saw the vids –Ali identified all of the battlemechs and most of their vehicles.” He looked to the officer, “So, do you have any idea what Comstar is doing?”
Asano shook his head, “I have no clue, although Comstar has been pulling equipment away from their HPG facilities across the Combine –equipment nobody’s ever seen before.”
As`Zaman sipped his tea, sat back and thought for a while, “If Comstar is doing this throughout the Inner Sphere, they could accumulate a sizable force.”
Asano scowled, “What of it? They couldn’t be any good in a real fight.”


Luthien Starport, April 10, 0900 Hours

A line of heavy transport vehicles waited for the traffic director to clear them to advance to the waiting dropships.
Private Wofford stifled a yawn and revved the engine of his vehicle. Private Botsford opened one eye for a brief moment then went back to sleep.
“Hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait –that’s all we bloody do…” Wofford shifted gears when the sergeant waved him on. “Hurry up and wait…”


Commander’s Office, Otomo Barracks, 1000 Hours

“Chu-i Fatima Najib, reporting, sir!”
Mohammed Bey stood up and walked around his desk, “Stand at ease, Najib.” He shook her hand and noticed that she still wore gloves. “It is good to see that you are once again on active duty.”
“Thank you sir,” replied the young officer. She touched her face with a gloved hand, “I would like to thank you for paying for my surgery –you didn’t have to.”
As`Zaman could barely see the traces of the scars –the surgeons had done an impressive job. “That may be so but all of the people in this unit are my responsibility.” He looked out the window that opened over the barracks square and saw the soldiers under his command cleaning out the buildings. “Are you ready for the move?”
“Yes, sir,” she replied. “It was interesting to be stationed in Luthien but Algedi is home.”
The commander turned, “That’s right; Algedi is your home, isn’t it?” He shook his head, “Are you taking some time off to visit your relatives?”
The Chu-i nodded, “Yes sir, I am very excited about it.”
“That is good,” he commented. He returned to his side of the desk, “Please give your parents my best. You are dismissed, Najib.”


Conference Room, Otomo Officer’s Billets, 1200 Hours

The 8th Arkab Legion’s senior officers sat around the long table and took turns giving their reports.
Sho-sa Elias Bahar conducted the meeting while As`Zaman observed. “It appears that we are ahead of schedule, even conducting training with the local militia, although our troops have to use militia equipment.”
Tai-i Momtaz Kuyar raised a hand, “What is the status of the Algedi Military Reservation?”
Bahar nodded and sorted through his notes, “At the moment, the Algedi Military Reservation is unused –the previous unit stationed there was the 25th Dieron Regulars, who have been relocated to the Clan front.” He thumbed through the remainder of his papers, “Unfortunately, I have no specific information at the moment.”
“It looks like we have to go there to see what we have to work with,” commented Sho-sa Rachel Benhaddad.



Shimizu’s, 1900 Hours

Sho-sa As`Zaman stood at the table where Leila Asano sat, “Good evening, you look wonderful.” He noticed that she was alone, “Shall Morikazu be joining us later?”
Leila shook her head, “No, he was called away on sudden, important business.” She decided to wear a deep blue evening gown instead of her uniform. She thought about wearing her seal fur wrap but the evening had been warm lately.
“That sounds serious,” remarked As`Zaman. “What do you think it might be?”
“The Luthien Defense Staff often calls upon him for his input,” she said. “This is almost a routine occurrence, really.”
Mohammed Bey nodded and opened his menu, “Listen, if your husband isn’t joining us, let’s go somewhere different.” He dug his compad from his pocket and tapped a button, “I need a couple of limousines.”
Asano placed her menu down, “What do you have in mind?”
“This is my last week in Luthien,” said As`Zaman. “Let me see who else has plans.”

Two limousines glided silently into the spacious parking lot, several senior DCMS officers emerged, causing the civilians to respectfully step aside as the uniformed men and women approached the doorway.
“This is great!” exclaimed Kuyar. “I haven’t been to a Daimyo Burger in years!”
Bahar held out his arm and Rachel Benhaddad took it, “This is almost like old times.”
“What made you think of this place, Mohammed?” asked Rachel. She too had decided to leave her uniform behind. The shimmering dress of green silk she wore made her long, auburn hair stand out all the more.
The commander pulled the door open and bowed, “We only have a few days left in Luthien –only a few days to share with our fellow Sun Tzu Academy sister.” He let his officers enter first, “What better way to measure our friendship?”
Benhaddad looked at the menu, “You could have taken her to someplace fancy, like Shimizu’s.”
“That isn’t the point,” inserted Elias, in As`Zaman’s defense. “We never went to Shimizu’s while we attended the academy.”
Momtaz Bey shook his head, “The prices sure have changed since we were in school.” He looked up at the waitress, “Chicago Burger, fried potatoes and a chocolate shake.”
“Chicago, rare with steamed rice and a Thai iced coffee,” ordered Mohammed. “Leila, whatever you want…”
“…I’ll half it with you,” broke in Rachel. “I couldn’t finish one of these meals fifteen years ago, either.”
“It’s a deal!” said Asano. “Do you want to split dessert as well?”
Ma`ire Ahwaz laughed, “School was no way near as much fun after you guys graduated.” She pointed at her menu, “Number four special, please.”
Rachel nodded, “She’s right, after you left, the new students were more interested in fitting in with the others.”
“The only time we heard from Mohammed was the occasional card he’d send to Morrigan,” added Ma`ire. She looked about and suddenly realized what she had just said, “I’m sorry…”
As`Zaman smiled, “You don’t have to apologize.” He took his iced coffee from the tray and tasted it. “We are all soldiers and we all know that we shall lose friends and relatives –it is the nature of our profession.”
Leila cleared her throat, “Yes, let’s enjoy the time we have together.” She lifted her sparkling drink, “It isn’t sake but it will do –a toast to the Sun Tzu School of Combat!”

“So you when you get to Algedi, you’ll have both wives living with you?” asked Leila.
Momtaz Bey nodded, the folds of his chin jiggling, “Yes, they’ve been with my parents on Algedi for years, so this will good news for them.”
Asano turned to Bahar, “What about you, Elias?”
The senior officer shook his head, “I am not a noble, so I am more than happy with my one wife.” He finished his shake and waved for the waitress, “Thai iced coffee, please.”
Benhaddad’s eyes met Leila’s for a brief moment then Mohammed’s, “Don’t ask.”
As`Zaman shrugged and let the subject drop.


Luthien Starport, April 13, 3052, 1900 Hours

“I wish you could stay a few more days,” said Leila. She and had been reliving her academy days with the contingent of Azami graduates of the Sun Tzu School of Combat currently serving with the 8th Arkab Legion.
Mohammed Bey hugged the Genyosha officer, “The next time you feel like taking a vacation, let me know.” He kissed her cheek, “I’ll make sure we all meet on Dabih and have a real vacation, without invading Clans.”
“I’ll discuss the matter with Morikazu,” she promised. “How about six months from now?”
“A year might be better,” injected As`Zaman. He turned to Bahar. “Elias, how does a reunion a year from now sound?”
The officer thought for a moment, “Great idea, Mohammed. Where?”
“Dabih.”
Bahar’s face brightened, “At a tropical resort? I’ll be there!”
Mohammed Bey grinned, “That was easy.”
“My turn to hug Leila,” said Kuyar. He wrapped his beefy arms around the smaller Japanese woman. “It was so wonderful to see you again!”
Asano brushed a tear from her eye, “I’m going to miss all of you again.” She turned to As`Zaman, “Are you traveling together?”
The Arkab commander shook his head, “I’ll be taking a shuttle and traveling with a priority orders.” He continued, “I’ll be the first to get there, the vehicles and infantry will be right behind me and we should all be settled before the end of June.”
“Priority orders –must be nice,” commented Momtaz Bey.
“Oh, it is,” replied Mohammed Bey. “My dropship literally hitches a ride with whoever’s passing through each system until I reach my destination.”
“Come on, everybody, one more picture,” called Leila.


Algedi Military Reservation, May 10, 3052, 1530 Hours

The limousine halted in front of the administration building. Mohammed Bey slipped on a pair of extra-dark sunglasses and stepped from the gleaming black vehicle. The sun was brilliant, despite how far north on the continent the base was located. The air was very dry but the temperature was bearable at that latitude. A dozen or so degrees south, the environment suddenly turned fiercely hostile while only the most hardy of the Berbers dared live near the equator and only the Azami faithful were permitted on the southern hemisphere.
Like most of the buildings on Algedi, the administration building resembled a bunker with few windows and oversized environmental controls. As`Zaman passed through the large doors, from the dry heat outside to the dry cold of your average office building.
A militia soldier peered from a cubicle, “May I help you sir?”
“Where can I find Sho-sa Bartlett?” inquired As`Zaman. “I am expected.”
“Yes, sir!”

Sho-sa Shiro Bartlett was a gray-haired officer with many years in the DCMS under his belt. One of the first things Mohammed Bey realized was Bartlett didn’t wear a daisho, the paired katana and shorter wakizashi normally awarded to mechwarriors.
The moment As`Zaman walked into Bartlett’s office he knew that both officers took a moment to size each other up.
“Sho-sa Mohammed As`Zaman Bey,” announced the Arkab officer.
Bartlett stood up and returned the sho-sa’s bow. “You are much younger than I thought.”
Mohammed Bey smiled, “This is my first command, Sho-sa Bartlett.” He noted that the other officer had been looking over facility maps and made notes. “When can I have a tour of this base?”
Bartlett looked up at the clock on the wall and grabbed his hat and sunglasses, “I guess we could take a brief look at what you’ve inherited.”

The Algedi Military Reservation was a sprawling facility, with an older core surrounded by a fifteen-meter high wall and obvious additions, with only a chain link fence and razor wire serving as security.
Mohammed Bey shook his head; there would be a long list of items to take care of when the remainder of the 8th arrived.
“I guess you’d like to inspect the Commandant’s Quarters,” volunteered Bartlett.
As`Zaman nodded, “I suppose that would be as good a starting point as any.” He opened the limousine’s bar, “Sho-sa, some tea?”
“Why, thank you,” replied the DCMS officer. “I think you’ll find your accommodations fairly comfortable –shall your family be joining you soon?”
“Fortunately, my first wife’s family lives among the Azami in the south,” answered Mohammed Bey. “I’ll have to see if there is adequate room for my three other wives and six children.”
As usual, Bartlett was stunned into momentary silence. He eventually recovered enough to continue the tour. “Driver, take this road to the left.” The elder officer pointed out the collection of structures, “This is the family housing area.”
As`Zaman noted that the structures were in good condition, despite being somewhat behind in architecture. “Pull over.”
The officers exited the limousine and strode through the deserted street. “This will be a welcome change to the Otomo barracks on Luthien.” Satisfied, As`Zaman returned to his vehicle, “The previous tenant, the 25th Dieron Regulars, was a far larger unit. The 8th Arkab Legion is a training unit and won’t need as much living space.”
“Really? There are developers interested in using some of this base’s…” began Bartlett.
“Out of the question,” snapped Mohammed Bey. “Any extra living space will be reserved to visiting units and individuals assigned here for training.”
Bartlett nodded.

1645 Hours

Mohammed Bey checked over his long laundry list of items, “Set up temporary infantry facilities for visiting units; establish adequate supplies through Arkab; aerospace facilities require expansion; the battlemech bays need total replacement within the next two years; billeting is adequate; communications infrastructure needs updating; all facets of security need upgrading; the base requires a bus or shuttle service…” The Azami officer stuffed tobacco into his pipe and lit it, “Not more than I can deal with.”

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2006 10:46 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

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Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Algedi Military Reservation, May 12, 3052, 0900 Hours

“Sharah, please take Ahmed and Thaqid,” ordered Safiyyah. “I want our house ready before the Bey returns.” She adjusted her veil and motioned for the movers to place a large cedar chest in the master bedroom, “In the north corner for now.”
The slim woman strode down the hall to a room where a servant worked at a sewing machine. “Tajeddigt, how are the drapes coming?”
The veiled servant paused for a moment to bow her head, “Perhaps another fifteen minutes, Mistress.” Her foot pressed the treadle and she continued her work.
“Very good,” replied Safiyyah. “When you are done, have Ultafa assist you and put them up in the living room.”
“Yes Mistress.”

The limousine stopped in front of the reserve’s primary mess facility and two officers emerged from the vehicle. Sho-sa As`Zaman and Sho-sa Bartlett walked along the concrete path to the building’s main entrance.
“They’re closed,” commented Mohammed Bey with some surprise.
Bartlett nodded, “I believe the crew of this facility is between shifts –breakfast is over.”
As`Zaman peered through the tinted glass door, “I don’t see anyone at all, shouldn’t there be a crew in there preparing for lunch?”
“Actually, they are probably taking a break,” suggested the DCMS officer. “This mess should be open at noon.”
The Arkab officer frowned, “We shall see.” He turned and strode back down the walk.
“It could be far worse,” said Bartlett. “Over a month ago I got a call from the planetary defense headquarters.”
“Oh?”
“Yes,” the sho-sa chuckled. “Some chu-i was on the verge of panic because a mass of Comstar jumpships had appeared in system.”
“Comstar?” asked As`Zaman. “How many jumpships are we talking about?”
Bartlett shook his head, “The chu-i reported seventeen, and they were part of a division, with a precentor in charge.”
“Seventeen jumpships,” mused Mohammed Bey. “A division? That is not possible –I have heard that Comstar facilities have been moving equipment from all over the Combine but could they assemble a division’s worth?”
“That doesn’t mean much until you realize that the flotilla of jumpships came from Capellan space,” commented the DCMS officer. “Something is going on.”
“I know Comstar has small contingents defending their communications compounds,” said As`Zaman. He nodded to the driver, who held the door to the passenger section of the limousine open, “Take us to the Command Center.” Bartlett climbed into the vehicle and sat down.
As`Zaman looked out of the window as the limousine, “How often is the trash collected on this base?”
“The trash?” asked Bartlett. “The refuse collectors come through on Monday and Thursday mornings.”
Mohammed Bey tapped the intercom button, “Driver, turn left here.”

“Empty,” announced the Azami commander. He let the lid to the garbage container slam shut. “Does this facility serve anyone at all?”
“Well, I must admit,” said Bartlett, “the food here leaves a lot to be desired.”
“It looks like they don’t prepare food at all,” the younger officer pointed out. “They’d have some form of garbage.”
“Listen, Sho-sa As`Zaman,” began Bartlett. “Nobody eats here because the food is terrible. The previous unit left tons of rations behind, some very close to the end of their shelf life.”
“That’s absurd,” said Mohammed Bey, “I have over two battalions’ worth of soldiers on the way here and this mess isn’t ready for them.” He looked Bartlett in the eye, “Contact the mess staff immediately and tell them to get their worthless carcasses back to work at once or I’ll have them whipped in the barracks square and left for the ants –the DCMS pays them to operate this mess hall, not go somewhere else to eat.”
The DCMS officer shivered despite the heat, “I shall have them back on the job at once.”


Algedi Starport, May 17, 0500 Hours

One heavy cargo vehicle after another rumbled down the dropships’ ramps. Hundreds of soldiers in Arkab Legion uniform assembled, many assisting in moving large containers of supplies to other waiting vehicles.
Hauptman Nowotny’s company of Antimech infantry stood in formation while their commander shouted orders to them, his voice partially drowned out by the roar of four nearby idling Maxim hovercraft.

“Make sure the troops get settled in their assigned billets,” ordered Sho-sa As`Zaman. “The shift schedules have already been posted –we shall be at twenty-four operations until further notice.” He looked out the massive window as he stood on the bridge of the dropship Omar Mukhtar and observed the activity below and at the other landing pads. “Inform the senior officers that there shall be a meeting, zero eight hundred, at the Command Center.”
“Yes, my Bey,” replied Sho-sa Bahar. He bowed and left the bridge.


Command Center, 0830 Hours

“Benhaddad is the head of the Officers’ Billeting Committee; Zaghlul, Family Housing; Kuyar, Mess Halls; Murom, Medical Facilities; Sardan, Medical Facilities; Rezin, Transportation; Essarhad, Off-base Services,” announced Mohammed Bey. “I have given each of you my own assessment; you have a week to conduct your own inspection and research.” He referred to the large calendar display; “I expect your reports with recommendations on the twenty-fourth.”
“Master Technician Iften,” said As`Zaman, “please begin your presentation.”
Ali, who had served as Mohammed Bey’s servant and battlemech technician since childhood, rose from his seat and bowed to the assembly. “Officers of the 8th Arkab Legion, I have good news…” He used a hand held remote to project several columns of numbers. “As you can see, we have more than enough battlemech hangars for our entire compliment of machines as well as hangar space and maintenance bays for two more battalions’ worth.” Another graph appeared, “One problem we have is the extra battlemechs that we have in our inventory –We have twelve extra battlemechs from those salvaged from Courchevel and the twelve Clan omnimechs from Luthien. At this time, we are able to provide adequate maintenance for all of our equipment if pilots assist on their assigned machines.”

Mohammed Bey gently massaged his eyes with his fingertips, “I’ve never liked these briefings.”
Elias Bahar chuckled under his breath, “Then why are we having them?” He looked about the room and saw the bored faces of the other officers. “I mean, we’re all friends here –I’m sure we could come up with a better way of getting this information out to your officers without boring everyone to death.”
“Are you volunteering to handle these briefings?” As`Zaman asked. “I’ll be fair and allow you to pick your own team from among the recruits.”
“It’s a deal.” The senior officers shook hands.


Primary Mess Facility, May 26, 3052, 1130 Hours

The officers proceeded along the mess line, each choosing a selection of entrees the facility had available for that day’s menu.
“I’ll have the beef stir-fry, please,” said Sho-sa Benhaddad. She leaned over to Kuyar, “Where did you get all of this fresh food?”
The portly officer grinned, “The meat products are from Ashio, the vegetables from Albalii, Shitara and Dabih, and the seafood from Tsukude.” He motioned for a server to add a helping of breaded fish to his plate, “I’ve make arrangements for the local suppliers to cover out requirements until we can get direct shipments.”
“Ashio, Albalii, Shitara and Dabih are just one jump away,” added Bahar. “Tsukude is two jumps.”
“Ashio –Isn’t that where the cattle are huge, like elephants?” asked Benhaddad.
“Yes,” answered Momtaz Bey.
Mohammed Bey sat down at one of the long dining tables and looked across to Sho-sa Bahar, “As far as briefings go, this is more like it.”
“I knew you’d prefer this,” replied Elias. “It takes a little more time to travel from site to site but the change of scenery helps keep peoples’ interest.”
“Hauptman Albertshofer,” inquired As`Zaman, “have there been many complaints about the food, lately?”
The infantry officer set down his eating utensils and paused for a brief moment. “I realize the need for the food served here to suit your faith’s dietary requirements,” he began. “Yet the products Chu-i Kuyar managed to ship in, such as the breakfast sausages, are not distinguishable from the products that I am familiar with.” He chuckled, “As far as complaints go, the men appear to be happy for now, although I am looking forward to the selections proposed for future menu items.”


Training Hall 6

Gunsho Matsui reached into the shipping carton and hefted the pristine weapon for his platoon to see. “This is the Laser Rifle, Type 50…” He looked down from the stage to the soldiers who sat at in the audience, each with an identical weapon resting on their tables.
With a remote, the gunsho projected an enlarged image of the rifle. “Open your maintenance kits and lay the contents out on the diagrams printed on the sheet in front of you…”


Family Housing Area, Wednesday, June 2, 3052, 0930 Hours

Sho-sa Draco Zaghlul Bey waited for the touring officers to take their seats on the waiting shuttle. The vehicle’s environmental controls quickly returned the passenger compartment’s temperature to a comfortable level as it glided quietly away from the collection of houses.
“The last two houses were very lovely,” remarked Benhaddad. “There are more than twice as many units as the 8th requires, is there any chance of us single officers getting one?”
Zaghlul looked over to Mohammed Bey, “Commander?”
The officer sighed and stood up; he gripped the gleaming steel support bar to steady himself. “Unfortunately, these present units are for married couples only –we have more than enough high-quality apartments for our officers as well as visiting officers.”


Firing Range 3

Private Botsford lay prone in his sand-lined firing pit, braced and aimed. The Type 50 laser rifle made a muffled crackle when he pulled the trigger and the soldier let out a breath as the target silhouette fell over. The power indicator on his weapon blinked and he released the spent power pack. “I’m done.” Botsford rolled into a crouch and then rose to his feet, leaving his weapon upon the piled sandbags.
Several soldiers finished their allocated loads and retired to sit behind the firing line at the shelters.
“Hey Bots,” called Private Wofford. He took a drag from his cigarette and let out a cloud of smoke. “Who do you think is over there?”
The other private looked over to the far left of the firing line. A metal frame covered with desert-pattern screens shielded the shelters and firing pits from view. Had Wofford not pointed it out to him, Botsford would not have noticed the screens at all.
“Who do you suppose that is?” he wondered.
“I’ve seen that lorry driving around the base,” commented Sergeant Tompkins. “I think it belongs to his lordship’s staff.”

Ahmed As`Zaman Bey peered through the sights of his laser rifle and held his breath. The 700-meter target fell.
“Good,” muttered Al-Murfiyyah, the child’s bodyguard. “Keep watching your lane.” He monitored the young man’s progress with a pair of range-finding binoculars. “Once you have spotted your target, take aim and fire once your sights are lined up –the Type 50 is heavier than most weapons so it is more stable.” He then chuckled, “That is, if you don’t get fatigued just trying to carry it.”
“I am resting the weapon as best I can, Anton,” replied Ahmed Bey. “I shall admit the barrel is rather heavy.” He pulled the trigger and another target dropped.
“If you time yourself,” instructed the bodyguard, “you could get two shots at a target before the time runs out and the target drops.”
“Yes, sir.”


Siriwan McAllister-Kurita Auditorium, 1400 Hours

Gunsho Matsui stood at attention, his high collar chafed a bit –he never could get used to wearing the Combine’s dress uniform. He was not expecting to have to wear his dress uniform this afternoon, more so, he was definitely surprised when Hauptman Nowotny told him that the middle-aged gunsho was to receive a presentation.

Sho-sa As`Zaman stood at the podium, resplendent in his formal white tunic. “This ceremony is long overdue. As we all know, we have a number of officers who are from outside the Draconis Combine. These officers came to us at a time when we needed trained, skilled and experienced men to fill our ranks so that we all may fulfill our duties to the Azami people and our obligations to our allies.
“To show solidarity with our esteemed allies, we of the Arkab Legions have adopted some of the military traditions of our allies. One of these venerable traditions is the presentation of the daisho, the paired swords.” The commander stepped to the right of the podium and knelt on a large silk cushion.
Sho-sa Bahar took his place at the podium, “The daisho, the paired swords, is not merely the symbol of the samurai, it is an eternal reminder of the warriors’ obligations to his superiors as well as his obligations to those who cannot defend themselves –for the very meaning of samurai is protector.”

One by one, the twenty-seven officers Mohammed Bey recruited from outside the Draconis Combine stepped forward, knelt before their commander, and bowed. As`Zaman returned each bow then reverently presented the long katana and shorter wakizashi to the recipient.

Matsui frowned as he stood in formation. He watched as one soldier after another received some manner of commendation, and a dozen or so of the young troops received promotions. “All this hassle just to get the paper version of a pat on the back…”

Sho-sa Bahar paused as he turned the next page and held it before Mohammed Bey to read, “To all who shall see these presents, greeting: Know ye that reposing special trust and confidence in the honor, fidelity, and abilities of Gunsho Sadao Matsui, I do appoint this officer a Chu-i in the Arkab Legion to rank as such from the 2nd day of June 3052.”
The gray-haired Matsui held still as Mohammed Bey removed the lavender enamel gunsho insignia from his collar then replaced them with a set of blue officer’s markings.
As`Zaman shook Matsui’s hand and motioned for him to kneel. The two exchanged very deep bows as they knelt facing each other. Chu-i Yumiko Nisrin passed a pair of silk-wrapped swords to the commander. With a bow of respect, Mohammed Bey held the daisho up. Matsui bowed his head and lifted the set of blades.
“You are ronin no longer,” whispered As`Zaman. “Welcome home.”
Chu-i Matsui bowed once more and returned to his position in the formation on the stage, he blinked at the tears that flowed from his eyes.


Algedi Military Reservation, June 10, 3052, 0700 Hours

“Enter.”
Chu-i Kuyar opened the door and stuck his head into the office, “Sir, a message from 6th Arkab headquarters, through Comstar.”
The commander waved him in, “Bring it here, Momtaz Bey.”
The portly officer walked over to Mohammed Bey’s desk and placed the packet in front of As`Zaman. “What do you think it is?”
Mohammed Bey frowned, “It’s a message from the 6th Arkab…” He broke the seal and scanned over the cover letter. His brow furled even more. “Due to a disagreement with the DCMS with the 8th Arkab Legion’s status, it has been decided that the 8th can no longer be referred to as the 8th Arkab Legion.”
Kuyar’s jaw dropped, “What?”
As`Zaman held up a hand and continued reading, “Your unit is now the 8th Arkab Training Cadre. You may keep all of your sub-designations and current insignia. Good luck and thank you for your service.”
“Is that it?” asked Momtaz Bey. “They bust us down to a training cadre and expect us to fill in as a front-line unit as well?”
“We are a training cadre,” said Mohammed Bey. “We have always been a training cadre.” He thumbed through the rest of the packet, “Our appearance on Luthien was not planned…” He pulled out several pages, “What is this?”
Kuyar watched as the commander placed two stacks of paper on the desk, still pouting over the missive from Arkab headquarters. “Now what?”
As`Zaman rubbed his chin and held up a sheet of paper, “Let the words of our holy book be your guide.” He placed a hand on the pile of paper on his left, “These are passages from the Holy Q’uran.”
His interest suddenly piqued, Momtaz Bey stood up and leaned over the desk, “It’s all in Amazigh!”
“This pile of papers,” the senior officer touched the pile of papers on his right, “contains commentaries on the scriptures from a variety of scholars.”
“It’s a codebook!” exclaimed the chu-i.
As`Zaman nodded and powered up his noteputer, “Arabic would have been too easy for Comstar or the ISF to translate.” He called up his own digital copy of the Q'uran. “Amazigh is one of the oldest human languages, its alphabet virtually unknown outside of the Azami people.”
Kuyar retreated to his desk and powered up his own machine, “I’ll take a portion of those commentaries.”


Tachibana Mall, 1100 Hours

Chu-i Sabah Essarhad smiled as she led her fellow officers on her briefing tour, “With over a hundred retailers and quality restaurants in air-conditioned comfort, the Tachibana Mall has just about everything to suit your needs.”
“Too bad Momtaz Bey isn’t with us,” commented Sho-sa Bahar. “I can see a Daimyo Burger from here.” There was some laughter from among the senor officers.
“The commander and his staff were unable to attend this briefing,” Essarhad announced. “They did give their apologies.”

“Yes sir?” Chu-i Nuri Pietersen stepped into the office and bowed.
Mohammed Bey studied a holographic projection of several lines of Amazigh characters. He chomped on a smoldering cigar butt and user a laser stylus to cross off several words. “We need more tea, Pietersen –and have Qadiri fetch some lunch for us.”
The young woman bowed, “I’ll make the tea now, sir.” She turned, about to leave, “I’ll have Chu-i Qadiri take your orders for lunch.”
Chu-i Kuyar leaned back in his chair and rubbed the back of his neck, “I’ll call the mess and the chu-i can pick up our orders.” He picked up another sheet of printed scripture and held it up to the light, “Next chapter…”

Pietersen shut the door behind her, “Now I can breathe!”
Quadiri laughed, “Did the old men smoke you out again?” He pulled a clipboard from a desk drawer and grabbed a pen, “I guess I’m on lunch detail again.” He stood up and adjusted his uniform, “What are they working on in there, anyway?”
“I’m not certain,” replied the young woman. “It looks like the stuff my parents read.”


1400 Hours

“…yes, very busy,” said As`Zaman. He put a finger to his earpiece, “No, I don’t think so –I’ll call you if anything changes.” Mohammed Bey switched his phone off and removed another group of symbols from his holographic display.
“This doesn’t make any sense,” muttered Kuyar. “We must have missed something.”
The senior officer stood up, “I agree that it doesn’t make sense but I believe we decoded the message correctly.”
Momtaz Bey leaned back in his chair and covered his eyes, “Read it back once more.”
“Alright,” As`Zaman said. He tapped a key and the display covered the wall. “The Emir is to lead the faithful and take possession of the temple of the white-robed fire worshippers, for the safety of all, to protect the faithful and those who stand with us. Arkab Command…and the verification.”
“It makes no sense –how do you get attacking the Comstar HPG station out of this?” asked Kuyar.
“Fire worshippers is another term for pagan or unbeliever,” replied As`Zaman. “Who else wears white robes? The verification is more than enough for me. Anyway, taking possession of the HPG station doesn’t mean attacking it.”
Momtaz Bey made a face, “Do you honestly believe that those pagans from Comstar will just allow you to occupy their HPG station?”
“Just in case, I want Pietersen and Qadiri to invite my commanders to an officers’ meeting this afternoon,” announced Mohammed Bey. He stopped to think, “Legion headquarters stripped us of our dropship assets –I need intelligence of that area.”
“The HPG station is over five hundred kilometers away, Mohammed,” Kuyar reminded him. “Do you even have a plan?”
“What kind of question is that?”
“I-I’m sorry sir,” replied Momtaz Bey. “I’m worried about this message.”
“The verification is more than enough for me,” stated As`Zaman. “Taking action may not make sense, but failing to take action is unacceptable.”
“What’s with the verification? Headquarters could be mistaken,” reasoned the chu-i.
“See these symbols? Read them phonetically and add the next word,” instructed Mohammed Bey.
“Ray…Khan?” wondered Kuyar. “Lord Ray?”
“Yes, you read it correctly,” said the commander. “But don’t translate it.”
“Khan Ray…” muttered the chu-i. “The Kanrei sent these orders?”
“The Sultan of New Samarkand himself!” proclaimed Mohammed Bey. “I want my officers ready to meet in one hour!”

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


Last edited by Mohammed As `Zaman Bey on Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:23 am 
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Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Conference Room, 1515 Hours

“Are you certain, sir?” Sho-sa Bahar echoed the sentiments of several officers in the room, who nodded in assent.
As`Zaman sighed and pointed at the two stacks of paper, “Since you will not take my word for it, I invite you to translate and interpret the message for yourselves.” He buttoned up his tunic and headed toward the door, “I suggest you prepare your units for action –I’ll give you five hours to translate the message and convince me otherwise.” He left the room and slowed as he passed Chu-i Pietersen’s desk and shot out, “Have my staff car waiting in front of the entrance immediately!”

“I can’t believe you people,” said Momtaz Bey. “Any other commander in the DCMS would never allow his subordinates to question him –he trusts you as his friends yet you don’t return that trust.”
Benhaddad stood up, “I’m going to get my lance ready.” The other officers stepped aside as she made her way to the door.
“It isn’t because we don’t trust our commander,” reasoned Zaghlul, “Indeed, he has shown a great amount of trust and respect for our opinions but this is different –taking over a ComStar facility is unheard of.”
“Yes, I agree that the order is unusual but its origin is clear to me,” said Kuyar. “We have worked for hours making certain the message is accurate.” He pushed the noteputer over to Zaghlul, “I suggest you find out what the message is supposed to be, since our Bey will be held responsible, no matter what happens.”


Algedi Starport, 1645 Hours

“There are no other dropships available?” Mohammed Bey stood at the travel desk and waited for the attendant to pull up information at his terminal.
“I am sorry, sir,” replied the attendant. “We are not expecting anything for the next three days.”
The officer made a mental note. “You said the Mule was departing sometime this evening?”
“Yes, sir,” answered the attendant. He scribbled a line on a sheet of paper, “This is their contact number.”
“Thank you.” As`Zaman strode out of the terminal building, stepped into his limousine and thought for a moment. “Daimyo Burger.”
“Sir?” The driver looked at the officer through the rear view mirror.
“The nearest Daimyo Burger.” Mohammed Bey pulled the slip of paper from his pocket and activated the vehicle’s communications unit. He looked at the duty driver, “What is your name again?”
“Gunjin Matayoshi, sir,” replied the driver. Matayoshi was one of many militia members serving on the Military Reservation, due to the shortage of personnel.
“If you are hungry, gunjin,” said As`Zaman, “I am buying today.”


1700 Hours

“You delivered them today?” As`Zaman spoke with the captain of the Mule-class dropship while he waited in his staff car as it sat in the Daimyo Burger parking lot. He had sent the driver into the restaurant with his order since the line at drive-through literally crowded into the street.
The Mule captain said that he had just delivered a company’s strength mercenary unit to the ComStar HPG station. This revelation bothered As`Zaman as there was too much information that he lacked. The mercenary company called Zia’s Commandoes, a light to medium weight unit, was another complication –would he have to fight them?
Mohammed Bey still needed more intelligence. “Are you certain that you cannot delay for a day or two? I really need a dropship for some survey work.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” replied the captain. “The Combine is forking over premium pay for delivering a unit from Benjamin to…Wolcom…er…Wolcon…”
“Wolcott,” said As`Zaman. “What a coincidence, I requested to be stationed there.”
The dropship captain’s voice brightened, “Really? Is there good business there?”
“I’ll just say that Wolcott has become quite a popular system,” said Mohammed Bey, his voice calm and reassuring. “Everybody wants to go there.”

“Where to now, sir?”
As`Zaman took a sip of his chocolate shake, “Algedi Militia Headquarters.” He took a bite from his sandwich as the staff car pulled out of the parking lot.


Militia Headquarters, 1730 Hours

“The Sho-sho is waiting for you,” said the guard. He waved As`Zaman’s staff car through the main gate.
The limousine cruised along the vacant streets. Mohammed Bey noted the pale, whitewashed buildings of simple, blocky design so common in Draconis Combine military bases. These austere, bunker-like structures seemed to fit this arid world as well.

Lavishly decorated with paneling of teak and rosewood, the inside of the headquarters building was most likely over a century old and reflected the skill of artisans whose names were lost to time.
Mohammed Bey chose to ascend the ornate staircase instead of using the lift. His appearance in the wide corridor caught the waiting Tai-i by surprise.
The militia officer snapped to attention, “Sho-sa Mohammed As`Zaman Bey!” He quickly recovered his composure, “Sir, the commandant expects you.”
As`Zaman nodded and followed the officer through the door to the Sho-sho’s office.

“Sho-sho Hiranuma,” Mohammed Bey bowed deeply.
The militia commander returned the bow, “Er, Sho-sa Bey…”
As`Zaman smiled, “The ‘bey’ in my name is a hereditary title, sir. Please call me Sho-sa As`Zaman or Mohammed Bey.”
“You are rather young to have such a command,” noted the senior officer. “Please, have a seat.”
Mohammed Bey sat down; the tai-i left the office and closed the door.
The sho-sho took his chair at his desk and looked As`Zaman in the eye, “Early this morning, I received a hand-delivered message instructing me to place all the assets and resources under my command at your disposal.”
“Very good,” replied the Azami officer, trying his best not to look surprised. “What do you have in the way of engineering troops?”
“Uh, we have civil engineers,” the sho-sho responded. “We don’t have anything like Sappers or Pioneers.” He shifted uncomfortably, “Listen, I’m not used to having the head of the local ISF delivering orders that amount to me handing three regiments’ worth of militia assets over to a…a…”
As`Zaman frowned, “An Arkab officer?” He was growing tired of this. “Are you questioning your orders, Sho-sho?”
The older officer’s face paled, “Not at all…” He almost jumped when somebody rapped at the heavy door.
Mohammed Bey stood up and turned to face the door, “Enter.” Hiranuma shot a disapproving glare at the younger officer but remained silent.
The door opened and a balding, middle-aged man in a business suit stepped into the office. At first, As`Zaman would have guessed the man to be a banker but he had a slight smile on his lips and strode with the confidence and air of an imam –a true believer. Sho-sho Hiranuma paled and bowed deeply at the sight of the man. The Azami officer gave a polite bow as well.
“Ah, you have saved me a long drive, Lord Sho-sa As`Zaman.” The man returned Mohammed Bey’s bow, obviously ignoring the senior officer at his desk. “I am Mister Caruthers.” He hefted a leather-bound portfolio and placed it upon the sho-sho’s desk. “You will find the contents of this somewhat helpful, although I apologize for the material being so out of date.” His alert eyes shifted to Hiranuma, “You may be seated, sho-sho.”

As`Zaman wasted no time opening the portfolio. It contained detailed aerial images of the ComStar HPG station, some with handwritten commentaries by intelligence analysts. “The latest is over ten years old,” he muttered. He looked up, “What do you know about Zia’s Commandoes?”
Caruthers nodded to Hiranuma.
“They are a mercenary company hired by ComStar to guard their HPG facility for about a month,” answered the sho-sho. “They are a mercenary company of good repute. They were accompanied by about a hundred ComStar personnel.”
“Are they Com Guard?” Mohammed Bey did not like what he was hearing.
Hiranuma shrugged helplessly, “The Mule’s manifest was not very revealing –I am sorry.”
“Mister Caruthers, I came here personally because I did not trust the security of the current means of communications,” stated As`Zaman. “Do you have an alternate, secure way for me to contact you?”
“Of course, Lord Sho-sa,” replied Caruthers. He deftly plucked a business card from his waistcoat pocket and handed it to the Arkab officer. “My job is finished for now.” He looked directly at Sho-sho Hiranuma and said in a firm, cold voice, “Deny this man nothing.” He bowed very low and held it for a moment, the slight smile once again on his thin lips. “Good day, gentlemen.”
After Caruthers left the room, Mohammed Bey cleared his throat, “Send three liaison officers to my headquarters.”

Mohammed Bey stifled a yawn as he slumped on the passenger seat of his staff car and carefully placed the leather portfolio on the floor beside his feet. “Back to 8th Arkab headquarters –wake me when we get there.”

A woman’s voice, smooth and friendly, answered the call, “ComStar communications office; May the blessings of Blake be with you.”
“Yes, I would like to send a message out –have you been experiencing any delays?” As`Zaman rubbed his neck, he was still tired, despite his short nap.
“We do seem to be having connection problems,” replied the woman. “Algedi Telecomm has assured us that the problem will be repaired soon.”
Mohammed Bey was hoping for better news. “I’ll try again later, thank you.”


2000 Hours

A pair of Lucifers cruised through the clear skies over the twilit desert. “We can see the plateau –there are lights, possibly fires,” reported Chu-i Nuihaus. He accelerated his aerospace fighter, “I’ll be making a high-speed gun camera run.”
While the other Lucifer circled overhead, Nuihaus rolled his fighter over, stood it on its right wing and looked over the expansive ComStar compound for movement. “I see fires, burning mechbays…” The Lucifer screamed over the buildings on a low pass then stood on its tail and pulled up into the purple sky.

In the Command Center, the collection of 8th Arkab Training Cadre officers studied the images Sho-sa As`Zaman brought back in the leather portfolio.
“Where did you get these?” inquired Tai-i Sardan.
Mohammed Bey looked up from his noteputer, “The local library.” He looked up to the display screen on the far wall and observed the moving gun-camera images. The other officers looked up from the table and their jaws dropped. “We are too late,” growled the commander.
Sho-sa Bartlett helped brief the officers on the HPG station; he had visited the station about a month earlier and oriented the still images to match the path of the Lucifer’s pass.
Bahar frowned, “Go back to about ten seconds into the recording.” He stepped up to the screen. “That’s a Highlander!” In the slowed-down image, the officers could see sporadic missile fire from one building to another.
“It looks like its trying to kick its way into that building,” commented Momtaz Bey. “If that’s the administration building then that’s the barracks area beyond it –I see bodies by the entrance.” He shook his head, “Who is doing this? They attacked the mercenary unit hired to defend the facility.” He referred to the aerial images, “The barracks are on fire.”

“Where are you going sir?” Tai-i Suleiman Maliq turned when he saw As`Zaman head for the door.
“I want all battlemechs with a walking speed of seventy-five kilometers per hour or faster prepared for battle, immediately,” said Mohammed Bey. “Have Matsui’s Antimech Company loaded onto the Maxims –I want the Cyranos, the Lightnings, the Rotunda and the Gabriel prepared for action as well.”
“The liaison officers from the militia haven’t arrived yet,” reported Bahar. “What should I tell them?”
“I now need a field hospital, emergency vehicles, at least a company of infantry for security and transport for at least three of our infantry companies,” ordered As`Zaman. “And be sure all personnel have respirators,” he said. “That plateau is over eight thousand kilometers high.”
Sho-sa Bahar and a handful of the other officers ran after Mohammed Bey as he pounded down the hallway. “Sir, we’ve had most of the 8th Arkab on alert status since you left –I am certain that we could all be ready and move as a group to the ComStar station.”
“That would take too long, Elias, you know that,” commented the commander. “I have already allowed too many innocent people to be killed through hesitation.”
“Sir, there’s a Highlander there,” Bahar reminded him.
As`Zaman did not break a step, “I am aware of that, sho-sa.” He stepped into the lift to the surface, “I have a Mongoose.” The handful of officers followed.
“Mohammed, what is your hurry anyway?” Elias’ voice was insistent.
The 8th Arkab’s commander chuckled, he was almost cavalier, “That Highlander was trying to kick its way into the administration building –the attackers are trying to capture its contents, not destroy it.” He continued, “That means there are ComStar people holed up in there waiting for some kind of relief.”
“Is that all?” Bahar could not believe his ears.
The lift doors opened and Mohammed Bey strode quickly out the building’s front doors. “I have orders from the Kanrei,” As`Zaman said. “More important, it would be very bad form for the cavalry to arrive late –in the nick of time would do just fine.” He slid into his staff car, “Hangar complex five.”

“I want you to remain here and render Elias your wise counsel,” instructed Mohammed Bey. “Your Atlas would not get there in time.”
“Why didn’t you just commandeer that dropship?” asked Dame Rachel, again, her battlemech’s lack of speed relegated her to a defensive role.
“In retrospect, I could have done so,” admitted As`Zaman. “I didn’t want alert anyone that the local defense forces were reacting.”
Benhaddad sighed, “I don’t know what’s worse, you overestimating your opponent or your opponent overestimating you.”
The senior officer hugged her, “Make sure the relief and support elements are sent immediately after us –I hope we won’t need them but I want them there anyway.”
“Please, be careful,” whispered Dame Rachel.
Mohammed Bey gave her a reassuring smile, “My fate in Allah’s hands I lay –fear is a stranger to me and should be the same to you.”


0200 Hours

Thirteen light battlemechs bounded swiftly over the dusty gravel, up the gradual slope to the plateau’s top, followed by seven hovercraft and a fast reconnaissance car. Spearheading the formation on the ground, the pair of Cyranos and an Algedi Park Service VTOL sped through the purple twilight of Algedi night.
“Chu-i Matsui, have you any suggestions?” Sho-sa As`Zaman slowed his battlemech as they closed upon the station, still over ten kilometers away.
The infantry officer looked over the images given to him, “I suggest sending a VTOL or two to get an update on the facility’s current status.”
As`Zaman keyed his communicator, “Gafla flight, go in and reconnoiter the target.”

The pair of Cyranos sped off from the formation and circled around the high outer wall. “Gafla One, going in,” reported Chu-i Bashani. The officer activated his sensors and headed for the ComStar administration building.
An explosion rocked the compound and a flaming mushroom cloud rose into the sky. “Gafla One, whatever was underground to the north of the administration building has exploded,” said the chu-i. “Gafla One closing, taking laser and missile fire.” There was a short pause. “Gafla One hit, going down…”

As`Zaman watched the icon fade from his screen and keyed his communicator, “Gafla Two, pull back.” He saw that there was no emergency location transmitter at the Cyrano’s crash area –the crew most likely killed and the vehicle destroyed.
He switched frequencies, “Chu-i Matsui, move your company in with all haste –I desire prisoners.”
“What shall we do now, sir?” asked Chu-i Kolhass. His Ostscout’s arms waved languidly as it scanned the terrain ahead of the line of battlemechs.
The 8th Arkab’s commander looked over the shortened horizon. He could clearly see the column of smoke and flame as the darkening mushroom cloud climbed into the cold night air. He watched as his infantry deployed in thin lines, Chu-i Matsui directing them with katana drawn, like an ancient warlord before his retainers. In the dim light, a hundred bayonets twinkled like stars as Matsui ordered the blades fixed.
“By Allah, how I wish I was down there, among those warriors,” mused As`Zaman. He adjusted his environmental settings and removed his neural helmet. He was tired but could not sleep. A glance at his med scanner showed his heart rate rising and he cut the power to the monitor. “Not again…” He closed his eyes and waited for the sudden increase of heartbeats and the slight pain in his chest. He bent his left arm across his harness and took slow, deep breaths. “Not now…”
“Sho-sa As`Zaman?” Kolhaas waited for his commander’s response.
Despite the intense pain, Mohammed Bey keyed the radio, “We wait until Matsui reports, As`Zaman out.” He clenched his jaw and rubbed it, the pain made him feel nauseous and he did his best to relax. Just as soon as it began, the pain left him. He looked at the clock and wiped the cold sweat from his brow, “Just under five minutes this time.” He turned the med scanner back on and saw that all of his readings had returned to normal.
“Have the Maxims return to base,” transmitted Mohammed Bey. “Have them bring in another company.”
“Yes sir!” Kolhaas switched frequencies and relayed the order.

In the cockpit of his Hussar, Chu-i Koloman Abbud monitored radio transmissions with some difficulty. “My Bey, this is Abbud.”
As`Zaman replied, “Go ahead, Abbud.”
“My Bey, I am picking up radio messages in battlespeak but they seem to be scrambled or mechanically encoded,” reported the chu-i.
The sho-sa closed his eyes for a moment, “Do your best to jam them.”
“I shall try, sir,” replied the mechwarrior. “Abbud out.”


0300 Hours

“Those forces approaching the ComStar HPG station,” crackled a voice over the emergency frequency, “Who are you?”
As`Zaman tuned in the frequency and keyed his comm., “This is Sho-sa As`Zaman Bey, commander of the 8th Arkab Training Cadre, Imam of Algedi –all those in the ComStar HPG station are to lay down their arms and surrender to my authority.”
The voice responded, “I shall remind you of the treaty between ComStar and the Draconis Combine –this is an internal matter that concerns ComStar alone.”
“Save your bluster, pirate,” snapped Mohammed Bey. “You attacked one of my vehicles investigating a disturbance and you will be held responsible for your crimes. You are commanded to surrender immediately, pirate.”
“We shall protest to the Draconis Combine! Your superiors shall hear of this!” The voice shouted in anger. “We are not pirates!”
As`Zaman responded, “The Azami have no such treaty with ComStar and do not answer to the Combine, pirate.” He continued, “The Imam of Algedi has no superiors save for Allah!”

Mohammed Bey switched to a coded frequency, “Mister Caruthers?”
“Yes, Sho-sa As`Zaman, it is good to hear your voice,” replied the senior ISF agent in a calm tone.
“Please forgive me for contacting you at this early hour but I must ask you something,” said As`Zaman.
“Think nothing of it, my friend,” said Caruthers. “What may I do for you?”
“Have you a staff? My infantry is about to assault the compound and those who have attacked have attempted to scare us off,” reported the officer. “I found their tone of voice offensive so I shall suggest that your people appear in militia uniforms with an ambulance and a prisoner transport –you may have the first pick from among the captured and I shall remove them from our records.”
“How generous you are!” Caruthers seemed elated at the offer.
“I also have collected some of the sensor equipment scattered for about fifty kilometers in every direction from the base of the plateau,” added Mohammed Bey. “I’ll make certain that you get a few intact units.”
“Thank you, thank you very much, Sho-sa As`Zaman!”
As`Zaman sighed, “You have your duties, I have mine, Mr. Caruthers –I don’t mind helping you do yours.”
“Do not worry, my friend,” answered Caruthers. “Just let me know what I may do for you.”

Chu-i Sadao Matsui personally led the first platoon of his company toward the entrance of the ComStar station. Like any other ComStar Alpha-class facility, this station had high anti-battlemech barriers encircling its perimeter. Matsui sheathed his katana, adjusted the sling of his submachine gun and used hand motions to signal the other platoons to head to their assigned positions. He looked at his copy of the compound’s diagram, reduced to fit his clipboard. The infantrymen had managed to close within fifty meters of the partially open gate and the closest security tower clearly showed damage from a variety of weapons. A second tower, standing opposite the first, on the other side of the administration building, fired upon the first tower from time to time with occasional return fire. Thick, dark smoke rose from the closer tower.
He nodded to the men around him, “There is a two-meter high wall surrounding a large garden to the southwest of the main gate.” He peeked over the rise; the garden wall was a little over twenty meters away. “If it is clear, we go over that wall and try to get to the battlemech barrier. The closer tower appears to be held by the people we’re trying to rescue.” He looked to the north and saw the other half of First Platoon waiting to move up to the barrier on their side.
Matsui stood up, advanced several paces and motioned for the two squads on either side to move forward at a run.

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2006 10:41 am 
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Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
ComStar HPG Station, 0315 Hours

Chu-i Matsui dashed forward across the bare pavement, he took cover beside the guard shack and peeked into the small structure. Inside the shack, the guard in bloodstained white robes slumped over the small desk, his throat cut. He picked up the communicator handset and tested the connection –it was operating. With a shrug he looked at the comm. unit and to his consternation, none of the buttons had labels.
“I guess I’ll press one at a time until I get an answer.”

Sho-sa Ahmed Q’arandar Bey steered his Mongoose carefully up the gravel slope toward the ComStar station. Despite the semidarkness, he could see movement over three kilometers away. His scanners called up a file from his computer’s memory. “There’s that Highlander.” Ahmed Bey slowed his approach to observe the assault battlemech’s movement. Q’arandar’s lance consisted of his Mongoose, a pair of Hussars and the unit’s single Rotunda scout car so he was not about to charge at the Highlander now but he was confident enough to take the Highlander on if ordered.
“He’s taking position at the last ridge, on the single roadway,” commented the Sho-sa.
“He can’t possibly hold it against us,” said Sho-sa Draco Zaghlul Bey, the pilot of one of the Hussars. “We can go in and take that heap out.”
Ahmed Bey sighed, “Just keep in formation –hey, the Highlander just fell over.” He studied the enlarged image, “No, the pilot intentionally lay his battlemech down –he’s blocking the road.”
Draco Bey rolled his eyes, “Great, we can go around him.”
“The hovers won’t be able to get up the ridge,” said Q’arandar. “But we have more than enough to move that Highlander, in one or more pieces.”

Gunjin Kato cursed and dropped into a crouch. He had made his way to the wall that surrounded the compound’s outer garden and peeked over the brick barrier, standing on his toes. Several lasers snapped and tore small craters in the upper wall. Kato flattened himself against the brick wall, pulled a grenade from his utility vest and held it up, “Team Charlie, antipersonnel; Team Delta, two smoke.” Three men held up the gray metal spheres with black markings while two men prepared gray cylinders with white markings.

Matsui instinctively ducked when the booth’s walls rattled, grenades exploded on the other side of the garden wall and he watched as men of his platoon’s Second Squad helped each other over the wall.
“Hello? Hello? This is Adept Williams… We are under attack…”
Matsui remembered that he still held the comm. unit, “This is Chu-i Matsui, of the 8th Arkab Legion Training Cadre.” He continued, “We are entering the outer garden –what is your status?”
“We are in the administration building, the entrances have been sealed and the attackers are trying to get in…” His voice strained, “They killed the Precentor.”
“What is their strength? Their weapons?” demanded the officer.
“Uh…uh… they are about a hundred, they stole the Highlander and used it to attack the barracks…” responded the Adept.
Go-cho Matsuda maneuvered his squad to the high antimech barrier and directed them toward the open main gate. In the dim light, he could see the massive administration building, its broad front shattered in areas where the Highlander assault battlemech tried to smash an opening. In the distance, the munitions storage bunker burned furiously. The Legionnaires spread out and warily approached the massive portal.
“I see movement!” called one of the men. He dropped to one knee and shouldered his VLAW. A handful of white-hooded figures scrambled from the front of the administration building to its northern face. The VLAW roared across the bare pavement and struck one of the figures, killing him instantly. Another one of the hooded men fell while the others ran along the side of the building and found cover.
Moments after the VLAW fired, the soldier dropped to the ground, unconscious. “Sniper!” The surrounding soldiers dropped prone and glanced about, searching for the unseen enemy.

As Legion soldiers rolled over the garden wall, they dropped to the ground and held position as more men joined them. Despite the dense smoke, they took accurate laser fire. “They’re using IR or thermal sights!” declared one of the men. He patted the ballistic plate vest that protected his torso and rose to his feet. “Forward!”

“You aren’t telling me anything useful,” growled Matsui. “I am far too busy for this.” He switched off the communicator and left the guard shack. One of the men from First Squad slumped to the ground as Matsui ran to the open gate near the compound’s massive portal.
Through the gate, the chu-i saw a fierce exchange, Legionnaires firing their laser rifles and ComStar members shooting pulse laser rifles. Gunsho Kato sprayed at a section of the enemy with his submachine gun and drove them back. Men fell on either side.
Matsui drew his flamer pistol and charged through the gate.
Five ComStar men, their backs to the antimech barrier fired their pulse lasers as First Squad charged them with fixed bayonets.
Once clear of the dense smoke, the Legionnaires of Second Squad charged across the garden.

“Team Foxtrot, go after those men north of the admin building,” ordered Matsuda. “The rest, follow me.”
One of the men paused, “I think I saw something by those trees to the right.” He suddenly fell to the ground, wounded. “I’m being attacked!”
Matsuda drew his flamer pistol. In the semidarkness, he could barely make out blurry movement in front of his team.
Another member of Team Echo thrust his bayonet-tipped rifle at an unseen attacker, the point disappearing for a moment. Another man spun as if sledge hammered and he hit the ground, unconscious.
The flamer spit fire with a muffled roar and another attacker was outlined for a brief moment, a silhouette of flame. Matsuda fired at another target, marking it with burning gel. “There are four of them!”

The melee in the garden was brief and savage. Chu-i Matsui hit two of the ComStar intruders with his flamer pistol and both crumpled to the ground from their injuries. The Legionnaires attacked; their sharp steel against the enemy’s fixed vibroblades. One of the vibroblades sliced through plate vest and protective suit, killing the Legionnaire immediately. No quarter was asked for and none given as the men of the Arkab Legion swarmed over the last ComStar intruders and drove off another enemy squad.
“Let them go,” commanded Matsui. “Tend the wounded and reorganize.”

Fourth Squad rushed in to support Go-cho Matsuda; one of the charging Legionnaires thrust his bayonet into the near-invisible foe and forced the armored intruder to the ground. In the dim light, the remainder of the stealth intruders broke away.
“Stand fast!” shouted the go-cho. “Regroup and wait until our backup arrives.”


0700 Hours

“The leader of the security force, accompanied by two of his men, asked to speak with Precentor Baylor,” said Adept Williams. He winced as an acolyte adjusted his bandage. “That was over twenty-four hours ago.”
As`Zaman nodded, “Please continue.” He flexed his fingers and sat back in the soft office chair. He held his compad and used it to record statements by the various witnesses.
“They kept asking the Precentor for his decision on whether he would comply with the order that the Primus had sent,” said Williams. “The Precentor invited them into his office but they refused, they wanted an immediate answer.”
“What authority did these men have?” asked Mohammed Bey.
The Adept averted his eyes and muttered, “They were ROM.”
“What did you say?” asked As`Zaman.
“They were ROM,” repeated Williams. “They were members of what you would consider ComStar’s secret police.”
The officer frowned, “Continue, Adept Williams.”
“Two members of Zia’s Commandos happened to be strolling outside and walked in on the Precentor arguing with Adept Johnson –he was the leader of the ROM unit.” Williams shook his head, “Precentor Baylor stated that the orders from the Primus made no sense and he would not comply –Johnson drew his weapon and shot him.” He leaned forward and covered his face with his hands for a moment. “The two Commandos, true to their contract, stepped in to defend the Precentor and dragged him to the lift, even though Adept Johnson wounded both of them in the process.”

Mohammed Bey sipped his coffee, “Adept Williams, you have been very helpful. Please get some rest. My men will be here until all the intruders are apprehended –it is obvious that they are determined in interrupting the operation of this facility, no matter what the means.” He stood up, “Until we have rounded the remainder of them, you and your staff here are in mortal danger –we shall be present until the threat is removed.” He bowed, “Please get some rest, Adept, I shall instruct my men to avoid getting in your way.”
The adept nodded, his injuries still giving him discomfort. “Thank you.” One of the acolytes in attendance helped the Adept to his feet. Before he left the office, Williams turned to As`Zaman, “Tell me, Sho-sa, what prompted you to send a force all the way out here?”
Mohammed Bey stood up and patted the middle-aged man on the shoulder, “A long time ago I served with a mercenary unit out in the Periphery –if you lost communication with a ComStar HPG station it usually meant pirates.”
“You thought pirates had attacked us?”
“In recent times, pirate attacks against ComStar stations in the Periphery included the Clans,” said the Arkab officer. “As remote as the possibility may be, the sudden loss of all communications with this HPG station aroused my suspicion so I sent a pair of aerospace fighters to investigate.”
“So, it all was a hunch based upon your past experience?” the Adept asked.
As`Zaman nodded, “The situation had all the indications of a pirate or insurgent attack –as this station is within my jurisdiction, it was my duty to investigate and react.”
Williams bowed, “We are in your debt, Lord Mohammed.”


0800 Hours

“According to the security cameras, the administration building went into lockdown mode about twenty seconds after the shooting started,” reported Sho-sa Zaghlul. “That sealed the intruder leader inside while half his team was stuck outside.”
“Talk about poor timing,” commented As`Zaman. He stifled a yawn. “The ROM, as the adept called them, was tasked with taking over this facility if the precentor did not comply with orders from the primus on Terra.”
Draco Bey nodded and leaned over the diagram of the HPG facility laid out on the large desk, “There were crews in battlemech bays, including three intruders,” reported the officer. “When the alarm sounded, two of the intruders were caught attempting to commandeer a pair of the mercenary machines –a firefight ensued and several technicians were killed. One intruder managed to start the Highlander which only had a small load of range ammunition.” He looked up from the map, “That ammunition was used to attack the barracks, killing most of the occupants.” He pointed at a line from the barracks to the administration building, “Out of ammunition, the Highlander crossed to the administration building and attempted to breach the sealed entrance.” Zaghlul smiled, “It was the appearance of our Cyranos that prompted the assault battlemech to attempt to slow our approach.”
“Yes, he then attempted to block the roadway with the Highlander –the intruder escaped,” concluded As`Zaman. He looked over to Sho-sa Q’arandar, “What are the casualties like?”
Ahmed Bey nodded, “So far, we have recovered thirty-two ComStar bodies, identified as facility crew.” He made a notation on his compad, “From Zia’s Commandos, we found nine battlemech pilots killed, Zia himself was critically injured and may not make it, two of the pilots in the admin building injured and all of their techs killed.”
As`Zaman held a hand up, “Enough. ComStar may have a treaty with the Combine but they do not have a license to murder within my jurisdiction. We have more than enough justification to hang all these ROM agents once they are rounded up.”

Cho-sa Kohlhass announced, “My Bey, the militia battalion has arrived.”
Mohammed Bey looked out of the office window and watched the line of heavy lorries drive into the compound under the direction of Arkab Legionnaires. “Very good,” he sighed. “Send the commanding officer in here for briefing.”

“No, you hold on to the prisoners for now,” decided Caruthers. “The less involvement my office has with this matter, the better.”
As`Zaman frowned at this odd turn, “I see, this conversation never happened.” He switched his communicator off and turned to Zaghlul, “It appears the ISF no longer has any interest in this operation.”
“What do we do now?”
“I shall declare martial law over a two hundred kilometer radius of this facility,” said Mohammed Bey. “Nobody in or out without verification of their identity and if somebody named Caruthers tries to get in without my personal approval, shoot him.”
“As you command, my Bey.”


1200 Hours

Sho-sa As`Zaman rolled off the couch onto his feet. He rubbed his eyes, disoriented for a moment until he remembered that he chose to catch a brief nap in the late Precentor’s office. He straightened his socks and pulled his boots onto his feet. “Comm One.” he said. His pocket-sized compad switched itself on. “Command Center.” He stood up and walked to a window.
“Arkab Training Cadre Command Center, Sho-sa Bahar.”
“Elias, this is Mohammed,” said As`Zaman. “Have you received the reports?” He could see the militia squads patrolling the grounds.
“I have,” replied Bahar. “The medical unit and recovery vehicles are already there, the prisoners are shackled and separated in the remains of the barracks.”
“Of course, they aren’t talking,” predicted As`Zaman.
“Yes, sir,” Elias agreed, “From the reports, they appear to be a fanatical lot –one of the teams we thought were missing was in the barracks when the Highlander attacked. They were all killed in the first few seconds. It looks like they were brought along just as camouflage.”
Mohammed Bey thought about the men his unit had lost, “Somebody will answer for all these unnecessary deaths.”


1300 Hours

“The intruders used this weapon to kill most of the people exiting the barracks when the alarm first sounded,” said Tai-i Mu`awiya. She patted the Support Pulse Laser that the intruders had set up near the battlemech hangar in order to prevent Zia’s Commandos from reaching their machines. Several militia liaison officers followed the Arkab woman as she briefed them on the compound and the cost of its occupation.
Along the walls, militia troops stood watch, casually scanning the barren surroundings for movement.
One of the officers, a Chu-i, raised his hand, “Tai-i, have any of the intruders surrendered yet?”
Mu`awiya shook her head, “Not yet.” She motioned for the officers to follow, “This way, please.” She led the six men to the battlemech hangar. Recovery crews still pulled partially damaged battlemechs from the vast structure. “Since the intruders could not steal two of the mercenaries’ battlemechs, the Highlander simply pulled the battlemechs from their bays –two were damaged by the fire caused by the fighting.” She motioned toward an area damaged by fire, “One of the ComStar technicians, lacking any other means of self-defense, sprayed an intruder with solvent and ignited it.” She smiled and led the team into a bay where a bulky, partially disassembled suit lay on a metal table.
“What is this supposed to be?”
“The intruders included a team of men in powered armor,” said Mu`awiya. “Each suit has the ability to make it practically invisible.”
“Impossible! Is this from the Clans?”
The tai-i shook her head, “This is a previously unknown Inner Sphere design.” She chuckled, “I have seen Clan battle armor and this is nothing like them.” She continued, “The man inside this suit was captured wounded and unconscious –a technician welded bars and chains around the limbs of this suit and attached it all to this metal slab, just in case the guy woke up before the batteries ran out.”
“What happened?”
The Azami woman grinned, “We peeled it off of him after the batteries quit, four hours later.”

The liaison team entered the administration building and they removed their breather masks. “Here we are,” announced the tai-i guide. She paused next to a large table covered with a sheet. She pulled the sheet away to reveal a display. “This is the average equipment load of one of the so-called ROM intruders.”
“That suit looks like an identical copy of a Star League combat uniform,” commented one of the officers.
“You are correct,” said Mu`awiya. “Except for the color, this armored suit is a direct copy of the Star League pattern.” She took up the rifle, “This is a recent manufacture Mauser 960 –dedicated vibrobayonet, survival compartment, under barrel grenade launcher…”
“Incredible!” exclaimed one officer, “An operational Mauser 960 is almost impossible to find today and you say that there are almost thirty on this plateau, all manufactured recently?”
The woman nodded, “That is true.” She handed the weapon to the nearest officer for examination. “Now you understand why we suggested that the men travel in three-man teams at a minimum, just in case they encounter one or more of the fugitives.” She picked up a helmet, “In addition to a powered oxygen collector for breathing and scrambled communicator, this helmet’s optics includes binoculars, passive infrared and thermal sights.” She held up two pairs of handcuffs and a small bundle of synthetic lock-ties. “Other than the standard Star League load, the intruders carried these restraints and neural whips –obviously their planned takeover went terribly wrong.”
“How long before they run out of supplies?” asked one of the militia officers.
Mu`awiya held up a small backpack, “Each of the intruders carried a week’s worth of concentrated rations and two liters of water.” She chuckled, “None of them carry sufficient cold weather gear and the night temperature at this altitude is well below freezing.” She continued, “There is trace water available in some of the fissures but they may have difficulty collecting the amounts necessary to sustain a human for even a few days.”
“What about food?”
“At this altitude, they will be lucky to find insects and small rodents,” replied the Azami woman. “We have already secured any other water sources around this compound so their only option is surrender or face dehydration.”


1600 Hours

A pair of Lucifers screamed over the plateau, afterburners blazing. Sho-sa Rachel Benhaddad watched the pair shrink to tiny dots in the sky as they returned to space.
“Enjoying the sunset?”
Benhaddad turned to see As`Zaman approaching along the wide walk that lined the thick barrier that surrounded the compound. She smiled, although everyone had to wear the breather masks while outside, the air being thin at that altitude. “Yes I am, actually.”
She bowed, “Have you come here to brief me on the situation or is this a social visit?”
Mohammed Bey returned her bow, “A little of both, of course, Dame Rachel.” He never noticed the foreshortened horizon. The top of the plateau was over fifty kilometers across, with the ComStar station near the center. “There is only one road to the nearest town, over five hundred kilometers away.”
“We are over eight kilometers high,” said Dame Rachel. “There are few natural sources of water and animal life is just as rare.” She sighed, “You must really want these guys.”
“Bashani was wounded,” replied As`Zaman. “His co-pilot was killed.”
Rachel closed her eyes and bowed her head, “Yes, I’ve heard –Youssuf will be missed.” Despite the breather mask he wore, she could tell As`Zaman was in a foul mood. “You shouldn’t blame yourself –it was the intruders who fired the missiles that destroyed the Cyrano.”
“I tell myself that,” said Mohammed Bey. “Nothing eases the pain of the losses we’ve taken, despite the fact that they have been relatively light.”
The commander nodded, “Things could have been far worse.” He mused, “The ROM adept could have coordinated his actions better –he could have assassinated the precentor in his office and taken command.” He turned to Benhaddad; “We might have had to fight our way into the compound against a company of battlemechs supported by these elite ROM soldiers.”
“You look tired, Mohammed,” she told him. “You should get some rest and let your subordinates do their jobs.”
“I promise that I’ll get a full sleep,” he replied. “Come, I have convinced ComStar to keep their cafeteria open around the clock so the men on duty can get a warm meal whenever they want it. I could use some tea.”
Rachel offered her arm, “Tea? That sounds like a good idea.”
As`Zaman took her arm and they walked along the barrier to the lift, “Is it true the men cheered when your Atlas strode through the main portal?”
Benhaddad smiled.


2100 Hours

The limousine glided through the housing area and halted in front of the large walled residence. Sho-sa As`Zaman stepped out of the passenger compartment and turned, “I shall expect you at zero six-thirty, Gunjin Matayoshi.”
“Yes sir.”
The commander waited for the staff vehicle to drive away before passing his identity chip over the sensor pad. The cast iron gate swung open and he entered the secure entrance, closing the gate behind him.

“Welcome home, Master,” greeted the veiled servant with a low bow. His first wife’s other servants stood in line and bowed as well.
Mohammed Bey nodded, “Good evening, Sharah, Tajeddigt, Ultafa...” He stepped through the door, “Is the Sherifah awake?”
“Yes, Master,” replied Sharah. “Your sons are already asleep.” She turned and led him to her mistress’ room and bowed, “Rest well, Master.”

Safiyyah closed her eyes as she brushed the long, wavy tresses of her dark, brown hair. The wisps of smoke from the incense hung languidly in the calm air and the large room smelled of jasmine and cinnabar. She tried to relax but the last twenty-four hours had been a strain on her nerves –anyone who lived on the military reserve knew something was going on but there wasn’t the slightest hint of what. She tried to rationalize everything from the perspective of a soldier’s wife –certainly such things were to be expected but that rationalization didn’t calm any of her fears.
When the door opened, she fought the urge to leap from her seat before the mirror. She held her breath.
As`Zaman stepped though the door and calmly unbuttoned his tunic, as if it were any other day, “Good evening, dear wife –I hope you were not worried over my delay.”
She fought back the tears of relief, “Delay? You have been gone for almost two days –what happened?”
“Really?” He strode over to the closet and carefully placed his tunic on a hanger and hung it among his uniforms. “You know how I am at times, I get lost in my work.” He turned to face her as he unbuttoned his uniform shirt, “How are the boys?”
“They are fine, my husband,” she replied, realizing that if he has anything to tell her, it will be what he chooses at a time of his choosing. She stood up, “Would you like me to start your bath?”
He sat down in the chair next to the closet and pulled off his boots, “You should rest –I can take care of that.” He rubbed his sore feet and stripped the socks off, sighing to himself as his feet touched the soft, thick carpet. “I have to get up early to take care of some business.”
Safiyyah shook her head, “No, dear husband, I insist.” She lifted the hem of her robe and practically skipped into the adjoining bath.
Mohammed Bey heard the rush of water and shrugged. He took his robe from its peg and slid the soft garment over his broad shoulders.

He lay with his head propped up with pillows and his wife rested her head on his chest. “I assure you, at no time was I in danger,” whispered As`Zaman. He closed his eyes and brushed Safiyyah’s hair with his fingers.
“You always say that,” she replied, her voice barely audible.
Mohammed Bey chuckled, “That is true, dearest wife.” He dipped his head to kiss her brow, “Allah watches over me, what better protection could any officer ask for?”
“You always say that, as well,” she sighed.
As`Zaman smiled, “I am looking forward to sitting at breakfast with my first wife and our sons.”
Safiyyah closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep, content for the moment that her family was safe.

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 8:28 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
Posts: 1471
Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Siriwan McAllister-Kurita Auditorium, 22 June 3052, 0900 Hours

The Lyran troops rushed through the woods and took up hastily prepared positions. The Company Commander used hand motions to coordinate the movement of the platoons under his command.
Heavy machineguns, portable missile launchers and an assortment of infantry support weapons pointed toward the expected enemy approach route. A pair of light tanks rumbled forward, shielding a small, single-storey building.

Fire erupted in the dark sky. Countless ribbons of tracers rose from the trees, interspersed with fiery streaks of missiles. The evening haze exploded in dazzling brilliance and an object trailing flame crashed to the ground, spewing billowing smoke. Four other objects struck the ground amid thunder and spreading clouds. Twice the height of a man, these bipedal machines stood for a moment before they strode mechanically toward the woods. Loosely humanoid in form, one would consider these machines squat if they did not tower over the average human. A pair of projections extended over each of the machines’ shoulders –according to intelligence, these projections carried missile launchers. The left arm of each of the machines terminated in some manner of mechanical claw. The right arms of the machines differed slightly –these terminated in some type of weapon.
From a half dozen launchers, missiles roared and struck the foremost invader. The first hulking machine halted its advance and pointed its right arm at the nearest missile team. Bullets spouted from the arm mounted weapon in a blazing stream. The men scrambled for cover behind a nearby tree trunk as the swarm of projectiles tore away chunks of bark and wood.

From behind a hill, a pair of missiles slammed into another one of the enemy machines. This machine staggered at the strike and turned to face its attacker. Thundering jets lifted the machine into the air and it landed beside the wheeled vehicle from where the missiles originated. The machine reached forth with a metal claw and heaved the vehicle over, sent it rolling down the small hill as the crewmen leapt clear of the wreckage and ran to the cover of the woods.

The image changed to a vehicle’s targeting reticle. The magnified image of a third machine appeared, the range readout indicating eighty-seven meters. The image blurred for a moment as the main armament fired a volley of shells. The display’s imaging system dimmed, adjusting for the light caused by multiple warhead impacts. The exploding rounds staggered the machine, caused it to halt for a moment. Flame seemed to engulf the enemy target and its bulk lifted off the ground. The aiming device attempted to follow the rising machine but could not match its speed.
The vehicle shook with a sudden impact then the confused shouts of the crew.

From the commander’s helmet camera, several shoulder-launched missiles slapped into the machine that stood on the small hill. The men around the commander cheered confidently until the machine fired its arm-mounted weapon. Screams of pain, shouts and commands added to the confusion of dozens of firing rifles. The commander and the remnants of his team retreated a few paces, illuminated by the burning vehicle.

The fire of a platoon’s worth of sidearms formed an arch of tracers that converged on the enemy machine than stood atop a burning tank. The brilliant red streams of fire bounced off the machine’s armor and disappeared into the darkness.

The commander’s helmet camera panned from left to right. All around him, soldiers backed away from the approaching machines, firing their ineffective weapons as they gave ground. One by one, the support weapons teams either fell back or died where they stood. A medium recoilless rifle team fired at one of the machines at twenty meters as it strode into its sights. The crew managed to fire one more round before the enemy turned to rake the gunner and loader with a shower of bullets.
Arms thrown up to protect his face, the commander staggered back as one of the machines landed less than ten meters away. Weapons roared and the commander fell, his men attempted to bear him off and fell around his body. Among the shadows, soldiers ran from the battle.


“That is all of it,” announced Sho-sa As`Zaman. The lights in the auditorium flickered to life and the assembled soldiers shifted in their seats, some disturbed by the battle ROM they had just viewed, others silent in thought.
“It should be obvious to you that the Lyran forces forced that you have just viewed faced a small force of Clan infantry in mechanical battle armor.” He used the remote to project a still image of one of the attacking machines on the large screen. “These suits of battle armor have been labeled ‘Toads’ and ‘Trolls’ but are called ‘Elementals’ by the Clans.”
The image changed to the suit of armor his men faced while storming the ComStar HPG station. “This is the suit we captured in use by the pirates who attempted to commandeer the ComStar facility. As you can see, it is far lighter –each suit is custom fit to the wearer while the Elemental suit is mass produced.”
Tai-i Albertshofer raised his hand, “Sir, where did you obtain this footage?”
“As many of you know,” replied As`Zaman, “I was once a mercenary pilot.” He stepped in front of the screen. “The unit I worked for was hired to participate in a raiding mission on Clan-occupied Ridderkerk, over a year ago –that is all you need to know.”
“Ridderkerk!” Several of the men, all ex-Lyrans, whispered among themselves.
“Two Federated Commonwealth Regimental Combat Teams held Clan Wolf forces at bay while a mercenary special team recovered a comatose senior officer from a local hospital,” said Mohammed Bey. “The mission was successful, despite severe losses.”
The Azami commander noted the time. “Tai-i Albertshofer, please take over the briefing.” He handed the infantry officer a book with notes. “Just follow the outline.”
“Yes, my Bey,” replied Albertshofer. “Anything else?”
As`Zaman nodded, “Get together with our techs and figure out a way for our Jump Infantry to simulate Elementals.”
“Yes, sir!”


1000 Hours

As`Zaman looked through the stack of communiqués, “The usual garbage…what’s this?” He unfolded a message, “This one’s from Arkab Legion HQ; ‘Command unable to approve promotions…request additional information…’ What is this about?”
“It appears that somebody above the Headquarters level has been questioning your ability to promote personnel,” commented Chu-i Pietersen. “Inquiries have come from Dieron –some people consider it a serious violation of DCMS protocol.”
“What?” exclaimed Mohammed Bey. “All I did was issue a few blades and fill open slots.” He growled, “I paid for the damn blades too…”
Pietersen shook her head, “It all seems like a waste of energy to me, sir.”
The office door opened and Chu-i Quadiri stepped in, “Sir, I have just received some priority messages for you.”

Sho-sa Elias Bahar stopped Mohammed Bey in the office corridor, “My Bey, are you leaving?”
“Yes, I have orders directly from the Kanrei,” replied As`Zaman. He turned, “How far has the committee gotten with the lesson plan?”
“We should be done by August,” reported Bahar.
“August?” As`Zaman shook his head. “Yes, yes, we are doing the best we can without direct support –no printing facilities, no secretarial staff…”
“Face it, we’re a fighting unit, not a publishing house,” said Elias with a shrug. “We aren’t really set up as a school yet.”
“What about those two veteran trainers we found?” the commander asked.
Bahar nodded, “I think we shall do well with them.” He looked at his clipboard, both were battlemech pilots, the first was a tactics officer for various units; the second was a non-commissioned officer for the 1st Amphigean Light Assault.”
“I want them both,” stated As`Zaman. “I’ll make appointments to interview both of them.”
“Oh, the architects will have their plans ready in a month,” reported Elias. “As you ordered, we will see how HQ wants to handle the bids.”
“The local companies are familiar with this world’s peculiarities,” Mohammed Bey pointed out. “As long as we make the designs simple, we won’t have to worry about the cost of bringing people in.”
“Yes, my Bey.”


Algedi Municipal Hospital, 1200 Hours

Commander Zia sat up in his hospital bed, “Sho-sa As`Zaman, how good it is to see you!”
The Azami officer shook the mercenary commander’s hand, “I am happy you are on your way to recovery, sir.” He placed a box of cigars on the table beside the bed.
“What’s with the ‘sir?’ call me Carlos, my Bey!” He looked at the cigars, “Thanks, I’ve been dying for a smoke.”
As`Zaman smiled, “Very well, Carlos, I hope the ComStar people have been in.”
“Oh, yes!” said Zia with a laugh. “Their reputation is at stake.” He suddenly became quiet, “All those men I lost…”
“You and two others survived,” commented Mohammed Bey. “Sometimes that’s a good deal for a merc.” He looked at the clock on the wall, “I’m on my way to the HPG station.”
“Ah, is that why there are Maxims blocking the side street?” The mercenary opened the box and took out a cigar. “Orders from up top, eh?”
As`Zaman nodded, “Business as usual.”
“My Bey, do you think your unit will have a place for a crippled ex-mercenary?” asked Zia, half-joking as he lit his cigar.
The Azami officer took a cigar from the box, cut off the tip and lit it, “The way it looks, I might be coming to you for a job.”


ComStar HPG Station, 1600 Hours

Sho-sa As`Zaman personally saw to the delivery of all the prisoners and equipment his men had captured in securing the HPG station weeks earlier. He looked over the message from the Office of the Kanrei once more and nodded to the 8th Arkab infantrymen he personally picked for this detail.
ComStar sent out a recall signal and the remaining ComGuards who had taken part in the attack meekly returned to the station and turned themselves in. Mohammed Bey noted the haggard appearance of the defeated soldiers; they looked dispirited, in shock –elite troops robbed of certain victory.
“We have accounted for all of them, sir, as you ordered,” reported Chu-i Matsui. The grizzled veteran frowned, “I don’t like this either, sir.”
“If it were up to me, I’d hang the lot of them,” announced the commander. “That would send a clear message to the bastards who sent them here.”
“Make them think twice before pulling this kind of stunt again, eh?” The veteran smiled at the thought of white-uniformed bodies hanging from nooses and twisting in the wind.
“According to reports, ComStar has managed to cripple communications across the Inner Sphere,” said As`Zaman. “The Combine managed to avoid the worst of this conspiracy, likely due to actions as the one we held here.”
“Sir, I have heard that my promotion has caused some controversy,” whispered the old soldier. “I will resign my commission rather than cause you any problems.”
“Somebody in Dieron has too much time on his or her hands,” said the Sho-sa with a chuckle. “I am being accused of overstepping my authority.” He watched as the last of the prisoners marched from the Maxim under guard. “I stand by my decisions as commander of this unit –any one of my men has put in more combat time in two days on Luthien than any of those desk-bound office monkeys. I’ll stand behind my men.”
“It is good to hear that sir but your career is more important,” advised Matsui.
Mohammed Bey turned to face Matsui, “My personal integrity is more important than my career.” His hands moved to his collar and he removed the clips that held his rank insignia. He cast the enamel and metal tabs out into the barren waste of the plateau, “This is my answer.”


1700 Hours

As`Zaman sat at a desk in one of HPG station’s the vacant offices and answered each communiqué he had received. The inquiry from his father, a Tai-sho in the Dieron DCMS command, bothered him the most since it contained little more than a demand for answers to questions raised by other officers. He had to respond before the troublemakers got out of hand. Adept Williams, the acting Precentor of the HPG facility, had no problem allowing the Azami officer use of the office to compose messages that needed to immediately dispatching.

DCMS Command Center, Dieron Military District
General Staff Offices
Attention: Sho-sho Maruf As`Zaman

Sho-sho As`Zaman,

Thank you for your thoughtful inquiry on the status of the 8th Arkab Training Cadre. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen delays, the 8th Arkab Training Cadre is still in the process of organizing and establishing its training program.
Due to security requirements, your office is not entitled to further information. Further inquiries from our Draconis Combine Allies in the DCMS should be sent through the proper channels in the 6th Arkab Legion HQ on Arkab.

Signed,

Mohammed As`Zaman Bey
Director, 8th Arkab Training Cadre


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

6th Arkab Legion Headquarters, Arkab

Sirs,

There seems to be some confusion as to the official status of the 8th Arkab Training Cadre (previously known as the 8th Arkab Legion). When requested over a year ago to assemble a training unit by the Azami Worlds Council, I was employed as a mercenary battlemech pilot for over ten years. The first personnel I recruited were fellow mercenary pilots and techs who coincidentally served in the same unit. Given a free hand in equipment purchase and hiring, I managed to gather a sizable force prior to entering Draconis Combine space.
Upon entering DC space, the 8th Arkab Legion was immediately commandeered to support the 2nd Sword of Light. Fortunately, the 8th Arkab managed to recover and scavenge more than enough equipment to repay the Azami Confederation for its initial investment in the unit.
Once again, the 8th Arkab Legion found itself directed to the aid of our Draconis Combine allies. On Luthien, the 8th Arkab, tiny as it was, managed to meet the invaders and inflict far greater casualties that it received. Sadly, there are 8th Arkab graves on Luthien.
Not long ago, I exercised my right as a commander to promote and fill needed command slots in the 8th Arkab with ceremonies similar to those of our allies.
Some have questioned my right to enact such promotions at all. If I made a mistake, it was to use the term “Arkab Legion” instead of “Arkab Training Cadre”. I received the current official name of the unit days later in a message I received from Arkab HQ.
It is unfortunate if the ceremonies offended anyone –we shall establish our own ceremonies.

As far as the 8th Arkab Training Cadre’s status is concerned, we are still mercenaries. Requested to raise a unit to do a specific job, I gave each member their present rank and there is nobody in the unit considered excess –many are overqualified. My battlemech pilots are no different from my infantrymen –we are all mercenaries and entered the unit to train other units and given the opportunity, to fight the Clans.
Personnel offered Arkab Legion officer positions are free to leave. It is my opinion that the 8th Arkab Training Cadre would best serve its purpose as a neutral body, outside of the Legions and our DCMS allies, insulated from any possible political pressure that may compromise its ability to train objectively.

If there is criticism of the 8th Arkab and how I operate from Dieron or any other DCMS hole, tell them that members of the 8th Arkab don’t have the luxury of desks to hide behind while real warriors are called to fight. The average 8th Arkab member has done more for our Combine allies in two days on Luthien than any of those desk jockeys. If anyone feels offended by my sentiments, have them feel free to come to Algedi and challenge any one of our instructors to a duel. Challengers will be buried with full military honors.

I am fulfilling my terms as requested by the Azami Worlds. As a courtesy to our allies, the 8th Arkab has delayed its mission but I am ready to see it through to completion. If I am not performing as expected, let me know.

Sincerely,

Mohammed As`Zaman Bey
Director, 8th Arkab Training Cadre

PS: In order to avoid future confusion with the DCMS, I shall gradually dispense with our current DCMS-style uniforms and adopt another design, suitable for the 8th Arkab, along with rank insignia appropriate for our purposes.


The Arkab officer saved copies of his messages and switched the terminal off. He stretched and rose from his chair, feeling much better. He left the office and handed the memory chip to Adept Williams, “Please send these out as soon as possible, good Adept.”
Williams took the chip and bowed, “We here owe you so much. I shall personally send this out as soon as possible.”
“Please have the responses taken care of as well,” said Mohammed Bey. He stopped for a moment, “If you require anything of me, all you need do is ask.”
“Yes, my friend –the peace of Blake go with you,” replied the Adept.


2000 Hours

The trip from the HPG station was long and most of the soldiers slept in the passenger compartments of the cruising Maxims, despite the monotonous roar of their engines.
In the lead vehicle, Mohammed Bey sat across from Sadao Matsui, who had also removed his rank insignia and cast them away.
“I want you to assemble a platoon of hand-picked men, four squads,” said As`Zaman. “I want each squad capable of doing a little bit of everything: Demolitions, infiltration, sniper operations…”
“You want commando-style operations, sir?” queried the soldier.
As`Zaman nodded, “Yes, they have to be the best of our best, just in case somebody tries to make trouble.”
“ISF sir?”
Mohammed Bey frowned but nodded, “Anybody.” He pounded his fist into the palm of his hand, “I can take care of myself but my family may be at risk –I am making enemies in the DCMS by just existing. I succeed doing things my way and some people cannot tolerate it.”
“You need bodyguards, sir?” Matsui asked.
As`Zaman shook his head, “I could just send my family to live among the Azami, where no ISF agent could ever gain access.” He looked up, “But my family wouldn’t go willingly.”
“I will do as you ask, my Bey,” said the soldier. “The men know you and would do anything for you. You’ll have your commando platoon in a month.”

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


Last edited by Mohammed As `Zaman Bey on Sun Mar 04, 2007 8:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2007 7:21 am 
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Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Algedi Military Reservation, 29 June 3052, 0900 Hours

Tai-i Josef “Sepp” Albertshofer motioned the exoskeleton crews forward as the container vehicles halted in the supply warehouse, “The pallets go to the area marked in green –make it fast.” He smiled as he pulled the silver cigarette case from his chest pocket and opened it.
Heishi Franz Dietz maneuvered his heavy exoskeleton across the smooth warehouse floor and placed the large corrugated plastic container in the area where the floor was neatly marked with green paint. “I recognize these markings…”
“Lyran military,” commented Gunjin Heinl Niedermeyer. “It looks like our Sooltan has been pulling strings and collecting favors.” He raised the cargo forks on his lifting suit and hefted another crate, “I wish we were unloading kegs.”
“Ach, the local stuff isn’t too bad,” said Dietz. “You just have to drink more of it.” The other Lyrans laughed at the remark, it was a common joke that declared all non-Lyran brews as watered down or worse.

The first container opened with a soft hiss as Albertshofer broke the seal. The two squads of infantrymen looked on with great interest as their commander pulled away the sheet of insulation. The Tai-i smelled the scent of factory-fresh synthetic molding and lifted a section of foam padding. The men breathed a collective “Ah” of appreciation as well as admiration when Albertshofer held aloft a modified House Steiner-issue jump infantry helmet.
“Meyerhofer, I want all of these helmets tested and calibrated before fourteen hundred,” ordered the commander. He replaced the foam padding and stood up.
“Yes, sir,” replied Meyerhofer, “I’ll have the armory team on it right away.”
Albertshofer moved to another stack of crates, “I have a good idea what these are.” He looked at the inventory list on the screen of his compad and nodded, “Ja, this is going to be fun.” Again, the soldiers stopped to observe the opening of another crate. This time, the Lyran officer hefted a pristine Zeus Heavy Rifle, pulled and released the bolt, “I see His Excellency has plans.”


Officers’ Mess, 1215 Hours

Sho-sa Mohammed As`Zaman Bey sipped his tea, “I am glad you are satisfied with the new equipment, Tai-i Albertshofer.” Several officers sat at the long dining table while a kimono-clad female attendant stood by to refill their teacups.
“I have seen the jump infantry uniforms you designed,” commented Sho-sa Dame Rachel Benhaddad. “I think they are very fashionable as well as functional.”
Albertshofer nodded humbly, “Thank you, Dame Rachel –I just took successful designs and adapted them for our use.”
“That’s always a rational process,” added Sho-sa Elias Bahar. “There is nothing wrong with adopting proven designs.” He glanced up at the clock, “My Bey, I heard that our new uniforms arrived this morning.”

The Azami commander finished his tea, “Yes, the local manufacturer had no problem in producing the numbers we needed –the quartermasters should be distributing them over the next few days.”
The Lyran officer addressed Mohammed Bey, “We received the new equipment for the jump squads –new helmets, heavy rifles, mortars and heavy missiles, the men are impressed!” He pondered, “I thought it was difficult to transport equipment through Rasalhague territory due to the invasion.”
“That is true,” said the Azami commander. “It is difficult unless ComStar transports the equipment over other borders for us.” His face brightened, “I’m looking forward to the new uniform as well –I don’t want anyone mistaking us for a DCMS unit during exercises.”
Benhaddad smiled shook her head, “The administrators in Deiron aren’t going to like this.”
“I have already agreed to keep the standard uniform for everyday duties,” replied As`Zaman. “Our Headquarters on Arkab has made it clear that they will not tolerate me challenging anyone to duels nor will they allow any outsider to interfere with our operation. I have to run this training school so our DCMS allies can fight their newest enemy –I shall use what methods I see best and if anybody wants to quibble over what we wear when on maneuvers, that is their problem.”

Bahar stood up, “The muezzin will be calling the midday prayer soon, my Bey.” He draped the white cloth kefiyyah over his head and carefully placed the black agal over it to hold the material in place.
When Mohammed Bey rose, the other officers stood up as well, “Please, please, be at ease, my friends, I shall be at prayer.” He too placed the large triangle of cloth over his head and fixed the black loop of cord to hold the kefiyyah in place –he took one corner of the cloth, tucked it under the agal then crossed the other under his chin and draped it over his shoulder. “Good day to all of you.”


Urizen Barracks, 1330 Hours

“Alright, no talking while in line,” instructed Shujin Emilian Bratovich. “You will turn in your DCMS uniforms for alterations and new patches. The supply sergeants will issue your new training cadre uniforms –you will do it all quickly, efficiently and quietly.” The Third Jump Platoon waited in the hall leading to the supply room, the men wearing their utility coveralls and socks.
Heishi Fedor Volkonsnky dropped his pile of neatly folded DCMS uniforms on the supply counter and signed the inventory sheet next to his name, “We’ve been issued new rank insignia as well, I see.”
“Gaah, what did I just say?” Bratovich waved the man off, “Get going before I give you one more boot!”
Volkonsky hurried off to his room, “Yes Sarge!” He fell into step with Heishi Danilo Chernikov and whispered, “I like the cut of these outfits –new boots too.”


Parsipanny Spaceport, Algedi, 1600 Hours

Chu-i Thomas Fergusson checked his compad one last time as the last of his platoon claimed his kit bag from the luggage carousel. The Marine Infantrymen were the last of the Eighth Arkab’s soldiers allowed to go on extended leave. Although many of the mercenaries hired by the then Eighth Arkab Legion originated from Houses other than the Draconis Combine, Sho-sa Mohammed As`Zaman Bey permitted the groups soldiers to return home to gather their belongings or straighten out their personal affairs with pledges that they would return to Algedi to fulfill their contracts. Surprisingly, of over a hundred soldiers who accepted the terms, only a dozen failed to return on time due to the Inner Sphere-wide HPG blackout.
The Chu-i marched his formation of men to the waiting Maxim hovercraft, looked up into the pale sky, almost too bright for his eyes and looked forward to returning to the routine military life. As his men stood in line to board the Maxim, the young officer gazed drearily into the clear skies.
“What’s all this? Get a move on –you are not on a bloody vacation!”
Fergusson almost jumped out of his boots at the bellow –it was Sho-ko MacDougal, the unit’s Sergeant Major. Even though Ferguson was an officer, he knew better than to give the gray-haired senior NCO a hard time. He did notice that the men boarded the hovercraft eagerly, as if to escape from the grizzled veteran.


Siriwan McAllister-Kurita Auditorium, 30 June, 0900 Hours

The trio of soldiers who made up the color guard marched across the stage bearing the green banner of the Eighth Arkab Training Cadre with its stylized Kufic script in gold, a single, white streamer with “Luthien” in red letters.
Sho-sa As`Zaman strode to center stage, dressed in the Eighth’s new uniform in khaki, a visored kepi, high-collared tunic and loose trousers. His brown leather belt featured a holster that carried his flame pistol and an extra ammunition cartridge and his brown boots gleamed from a careful polish. The green rectangles on his high collar bore four vertical bars of polished silver.
The Commandant looked over the assembled ranks of infantry. The jump infantry wore blue-gray trousers and black boots –they deserved the distinction, the same way the anti-battlemech rated troops wore a black diamond on their right sleeves and the sappers carried vibro-axes.

These elite and crack troops faced the Clans as mercenaries, some of them barely escaping with their lives. All of these professional soldiers ended up on the Rasalhague world of Satalice, their units broken and in retreat, some stranded by the panicked chaos in the face of the invincible Clan invasion. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the invasion halted for about a year. During that time, Mohammed As`Zaman Bey resigned from mercenary unit he had served in for over a decade and returned home to the Fourth Arkab Legion, where he received his present assignment –raise a training unit.

When As`Zaman arrived on Satalice, he found hundreds of mercenaries, battlemech pilots, vehicle crews and soldiers, looking for a way off the Rasalhague world and away from the path of danger, should the invasion start again. The Azami commander was not looking for soldiers looking for a way out of Rasalhague space or merely a new job –he wanted people who faced the Clans and were not afraid of facing them again. In fact, Mohammed Bey made certain that his new recruits, if you would call these battle-hardened veterans recruits, were anxious for another crack at the mysterious invaders who called themselves the Clans.
The Eighth Arkab Legion got their crack at the Clans over seven months earlier, on Luthien. Although battlemechs fought most of the battle, the Eighth’s infantry assets dug in to defend the capitol city and many of the jump infantrymen acted as scouts or as pilot recovery teams. Despite its losses, the Eighth Arkab Legion managed to inflict more than its weight in enemy casualties, fighting in its element and fully utilizing air and artillery assets, the Legion proved that it was not only willing to face the Clans but eager to do so.

Commandant As`Zaman looked out over the men and women who made up Eighth Arkab Training Cadre. Most of the battlemech pilots were classmates at the Sun Tzu School of Combat, many of them veterans of the three Arkab Legions and ex-mercenaries as well. Almost half the pilots were women, as were a third of the vehicle crews and support personnel. He looked at the young faces of the battlemech pilots that Arkab Legion Headquarters had recently assigned to the unit –these young men and women were the future defenders of the Azami people and had much to learn.

“Please stand at ease,” said the Mohammed Bey, his deep voice relaxed as he calmly gestured. “How do we like our new uniforms?” Applause and cheering erupted from the assembly as well as shouts of agreement. The commander held up a hand, “At ease, at ease –we have all contributed to the design and cut of our new uniforms, taken months in field testing the various proposed patterns and materials, these are the final products of our work.” He nodded to the resulting applause.
“For those of you who have returned from extended leave outside of the Combine, I commend you on respecting your contracts,” announced As`Zaman. “I realize that the recent communication shutdown has thrown many systems into confusion and the handful of men who have not yet returned may still be on their way.” The large screen behind the Sho-sa illuminated with the image of the unit’s green banner waving in the wind.
“For those of you who are here, now that you have chosen to return, those of you who haven’t the sense to shoot your officers and go home,” he paused as the chuckles subsided, “we still have a lot of work to do before we get another shot at the Clan invaders.” There were several exultant cheers from the assembly and loud applause. The commander stepped to the right of the stage and the screen displayed images of mortars and larger artillery pieces set up and loaded by Eighth Arkab crews.
“We have new equipment, new delivery systems to fight a new war,” announced As`Zaman. “We shall examine every tactic humanity has learned in warfare for over the past seven millennia and seeing what we can apply to train units from the Azami, the DCMS and elsewhere.”

Satalice, Rasalhague, April 12, 3050, 1000 Hours

“Hauptmann Albertshofer,” announced the receptionist. “Hauptmann Albertshofer, the Oberst will see you now.”
The Lyran mercenary took one swift glance at the mirror in the waiting room to make sure the Rasalhague militia uniform appeared acceptable, tucked is saucer cap under his left arm and smartly marched into the commander’s office.
“Thank you for responding to our notice,” said the short man in the Draconis Combine uniform. He had skin the color of dark honey, his eyes were brown and calm and despite his shaved head and close-cropped beard, he was in his late twenties or early thirties. “Please have a seat, Hauptmann.”
Josef Albertshofer stood just less than two meters tall, he towered over this Azami officer with swarthy skin. “Thank you,” replied the Lyran, he sat down in the well-padded leather chair and looked over the desk at the man who sought to hire him.
“Would you like a drink of water? Cigarette? A cigar perhaps?”
Albertshofer raised an eyebrow, “Cigar? Certainly!” The Lyran watched the young commander clip the dark cylinder of quality tobacco and eagerly took it, closing his eyes while he inhaled its familiar odor. The Combine officer even lit the cigar with a sliver of cedar. “Thank you.”
“I am Colonel Mohammed As`Zaman Bey –Bey is a title of nobility among my people so I may be addressed as ‘Mohammed Bey’ or ‘Lord Mohammed’ or ‘My Bey’ and so forth.” His voice was a deep, bass-baritone, educated and used to giving orders. “It has fallen unto me to assemble a training unit to fight these strange invaders.”
“Yes, yes,” answered the Lyran. “The notices you posted were very succinct on the required qualifications.”
“Indeed.” said As`Zaman. “I have reviewed your records and the company of veteran jump infantrymen you bring with you will be a welcome addition to the unit.”
Albertshofer took a puff of his cigar and leaned forward in his chair, “Is it true what you said in your notice, my Bey?”
“Everything I post is true, Hauptmann,” replied the Azami officer. “What part of the notice are you referring to?”
“The Clans,” said Albertshofer. “We’ve been chased for months, I had to buy this militia uniform to be presentable” he said. “We lost plenty of friends and we want blood.” His voice became a raspy growl, “You promised that those who signed a four-year contract would get a shot for revenge –is it true?”
Mohammed Bey nodded gravely. “Yes, that portion is something I guarantee, Hauptmann –you aren’t the only one to lose friends to the invaders.”


Restaurant Uppsala, 1830 Hours

The customers on the dance floor and at the dining tables applauded as the orchestra finished playing a waltz.
A tuxedo-clad announcer stepped up to the microphone, “Ladies and gentlemen, we shall have a brief intermission followed by more live music. Once again, Maestro Philip Larsen and the Uppsala Orchestra.” The conductor and musicians took another bow as the crowd showed its appreciation for the evening’s entertainment.
Dame Rachel Benhaddad decided not to wear her uniform that evening, opting instead to dazzle the usually conservative Rasalhague citizenry with her jewel-studded evening gown that enhanced the curves of her body and scarlet sash decorated with DCMS medals, including her Order of New Samarkand award. A diamond-studded tiara rested on her brow and her long, auburn hair cascaded over her smooth, honey-hued shoulders. She applauded along with the other guests as she sat at the large, round dining table that she shared with Tai-i Mohammed As`Zaman Bey, her current commander and long-time friend.
“You know, Mohammed,” she told her senior officer. “Somebody is going to take notice on how a married man like you is constantly seen in public with a woman on your arm who isn’t one of your wives.”
As`Zaman chuckled and shook his head, “Let he who thinks evil be ashamed, Rachel. My friends are still my friends.” He rose to his feet when he caught sight of a familiar face. He motioned with his fingers. “Ah, let me introduce some of the new additions to the Eighth.”
Three men in somewhat generic Rasalhague militia uniforms stood near the dining room’s entrance. Hauptmann Albertshofer noticed Tai-i As`Zaman’s gesture, “Gentlemen, follow me, there is somebody here I want you to meet.” The Lyran and his two fellow officers made their way around the dance floor to the table where the the pair of Arkab Legion officers sat.
“Herr Hauptmann,” announced As`Zaman as he rose to his feet, “please allow me to introduce Sho-sa Dame Rachel Benhaddad, one of the premier battlemech pilots of the Eighth Arkab Legion.”
As one, the Lyran officers clicked their heels and bowed.
Benhaddad found such formality amusing and quaint. She smiled and tilted her head slightly, “It is a pleasure to meet you gentlemen –you are welcome additions to our growing unit.”
“It is an honor, my Lady,” said the Hauptmann. He nodded and bowed again, “These are my associates, Hauptmann Stettin and Leutnant Schoenhauser.”
“Waiter, more chairs for my guests,” requested As`Zaman. “Of course, you will join us –what would you like to drink?”

When the orchestra finished playing the waltz, Albertshofer and Benhaddad returned to the table where the other officers sat, puffing on cigars and sipping their drinks.
“Thank you for the dance, Herr Hauptmann,” said Rachel. She smiled as he politely pushed her chair in.
The Lyran officer took his seat, “Lady Rachel, it was an honor that I shall long remember.” He raised his glass of wine and nodded in tribute.
On the stage, the conductor announced that the orchestra would be taking another short break, much to the disappointment of the officers waiting for their turn to dance with Benhaddad. As the stage lights dimmed, the room filled with the strains of recorded music.

“Vor der Kaserne
Vor dem großen Tor
Stand eine Laterne
Und steht sie noch davor
So woll'n wir uns da wieder seh'n
Bei der Laterne wollen wir steh'n
Wie einst Lili Marleen
Wie einst Lili Marleen…”

Mohammed Bey stiffened in his seat when he heard the voice singing. The song was an ancient ballad in marching tempo and the singer was a throaty contralto whose deep, velvet tone was a contrast to the usual, squeaky sopranos so prevalent in popular music.
Schoenhauser noticed As`Zaman’s reaction and commented, “Are you familiar with this artist? She’s been a favorite among Steiner troops for years.”
“I have all of her recordings,” announced Stettin with more than a hint of pride. “It’s amazing that such a talented singer also commands a unit of aerospace fighters.”
Rachel touched Mohammed Bey’s hand and his eyes met hers, “I’m alright,” he whispered.
Albertshofer noted the Azami officers’ reaction. “Is there something wrong?”
“No, Herr Hauptmann,” replied Benhaddad softly. “The singer you Lyrans know as Zaria Morgen was a friend of ours.”
“Really?” Albertshofer looked very surprised. “What an odd coincidence –that still doesn’t explain your reaction.”
Rachel clasped Mohammed Bey’s hand in hers, “Commander Morgen took a contract with Rasalhague over a year ago.” She sadly gazed down at the white tablecloth, “She has been reported missing in action.”
Stettin’s jaw dropped. “No…” Schoenhauser looked away to hide the tear that welled in his eye.

“Aus dem stillen Raume,
Aus der Erde Grund
Hebt mich wie im Traume
Dein verliebter Mund
Wenn sich die späten Nebel drehn
Werd' ich bei der Laterne steh'n
Wie einst Lili Marleen
Wie einst Lili Marleen...”



Urban Combat Maneuver Centre Number 4, 2 July 3052, 0930 Hours

Gunsho Marvin Saito of the Algedi Militia took a drag from his cigarette as he looked over the gun shield of his team’s light autocannon and peered across the bridge. The unit to the South reported a line of light vehicles heading in the direction of the collection of buildings his platoon was defending but so far, they were nowhere to be seen.
The gully the bridge spanned was almost a hundred meters across –a suicide dash for the unarmored vehicles the militiamen expected. Saito looked over to the quad AA machinegun fifty meters away, on the same side of the gully but on the other side of the bridge’s entrance. The gunner game him the “thumb’s up” signal, indicating that they too, were prepared.
Loud roars shook the air and the gunsho ducked behind their sandbags. “Jump infantry!” he shouted. “A platoon at least!”
The thick, white clouds and the bounding silhouettes sent a shiver along the gunsho’s spine as he alerted his crew. Saito watched as an enemy squad bounded among the ruined structures on the other side of the gully. The smoke and dust behind the buildings swirled oddly, as he looked on. Suddenly, a dark shape rose up from behind the ruins across the gully.
“Gunship!”

In the cockpit of his brand-new Warrior, Chu-i Menzu Bashani touched the screen in front of him with the index finger of his left hand. The image of the autocannon glowed red as the automatic targeting system for his light autocannon locked on. He squeezed the trigger on the control column in his right hand. He sighted the quad anti-aircraft trailer a split second after his damage indicators glowed, the alarm drowned out by the roar of the light gunship’s main weapon firing a volley of rounds.

Despite the threat, the militia crew’s nerve held and they managed to fire a ready-loaded clip of rounds at the attacking craft that hovered over the distant ruins across the bridge. Gunsho Saito ordered the gunner to fire as fast as the loader could feed their weapon but the infrared detectors on the weapon and on their uniforms set off small blinking lights and annoying buzzers –the enemy gunship had destroyed their weapon and killed the crew.
The Gunsho cursed under his breath, sat down, pulled a cigarette from his breast pocket and lit it. “At least we can go home,” he grumbled.

Bashani was about to target the quad heavy machineguns but one of the squads of jump infantry rose into the air and sailed over the bridge, the clouds of exhaust smoke obscured his target image for a few seconds.
Sho-sa As`Zaman stood on the second floor of a ruined building closest to the bridge. He had just landed and dumped his jump pack. This was the commander’s first exercise out of his battlemech and he had intensively trained the past week to qualify as a jump infantryman.
“Josef,” commented Mohammed Bey, “didn’t you plan for the two squads to advance together?”
Tai-i Albertshofer nodded, “I am afraid so, sir.” He ducked instinctively when the four-barrelled anti-aircraft turret blasted away at the men sailing over the bridge. The officer pounded the wall with a fist when one of the solders dropped slowly to the ground, his casualty indicator lights flashing. “Second Squad, forward!”
The plan was that the three jump infantry squads would advance as close to the bridge as possible, the heavy-weapons squad would deploy and scan for enemy targets, calling in the gunship once there were targets to engage. The heavy weapons squad would add their firepower if needed.
“Missile Team,” commanded As`Zaman, “Target, communications tower, bearing two four three, range one two zero, one round on my command.”
“Sighted and ready, sir,” replied the gunner. The Heavy Missile launcher rested on his shoulder while the sighting and targetting assembly stood braced upon a simple stand.
“Los!” shouted Mohammed Bey; his left hand pressed over one ear while he watched the missile sail across the dried streambed through his vision enhancer. “On target.” The head of the missile was inert but the damage strobe indicated that the tower was no longer functioning. The next squad of jump infantrymen rose over the bridge, their backpack turbines screamed as they flew the full distance to the next bank to join First Squad.
As`Zaman directed his missile team to engage another tower while Albertshofer peered though his own vision enhancer, searching for targets.
A soldier in one of the craters behind the building on which Mohammed Bey stood, shouted, “Light mortar ready, sir!” The commander gave the team a “thumb’s up” and resumed his search for targets.
“Resistance is light,” commented the Tai-i. “One platoon at most.”
The Azami officer nodded, “We will be holding onto this town with our bare fingertips –the force we have is barely larger than the current defenders. Once the motorized platoon arrives, they will be all we have to hold onto place when the enemy reacts.”
“Then we dig in and hope we hold on until our relief shows,” added the Lyran officer.
The Warrior’s autocannon fired off two more bursts, silencing the heavy quad and taking out one of the several communications towers.

Gunsho Berthold Niedermeyer crouched on a sloping rooftop and sprayed at a militiaman with his machine pistol. Below him, Gunjin Paul Bauer hugged a cylinder that he thought was some kind of garbage receptical. Instead, the squat, meter-diameter metal drum was a street defense turret with a laser. Fortunately, for Bauer, the laser could not depress its short barrel enough to shoot at him but the automatic defense would eventually target another one of his fellows. There was a distant popping sound and several damage strobes lit up on the turret. Bauer cursed aloud when he realized that from across the dry river, Gunjin Michael Hofstedt had placed three simulated rounds into the side of the turret with a brand new Zeus Heavy Rifle.

“Here come the ground-pounders,” announced Albertshofer. He pointed to the half-dozen wheeled vehicles that sped up the debris-strewn road toward the bridge.
As the line of vehicles crossed the bridge, a turreted machinegun fired at the small column, causing the light vehicles to veer around obstacles and seek cover.
“Missile Team,” commanded As`Zaman, “Target, defense turret, bearing two three zero, range one two eight, one round on my command.”
“Sighted and ready, sir,” replied the gunner.
The Azami officer nodded, “Los!”
A loud explosion followed by the roar of the ignited rocket engine accompanied the missile’s launching. The gunner held the crosshairs of his sights on the man-sized defense turret and grinned as the training round impacted the turret with a brief flash and shower of paper particles. The turret fell silent and flashing lights indicated that it no longer functional.
“Good shooting, soldier,” commented Chu-i Khalil Ahwaz. Today the young mechwarrior wore a bright green armband and served as a neutral judge for the exercise.
Mohammed Bey looked across the dry riverbed and saw the leader of First Squad motion for the remaining jumptroops to advance. “Now that the bridge taken, its time to move up.” He retrieved his jump pack and secured his harness, “Sepp, are you ready?”
“In a few seconds,” replied the Tai-i. The turbine engine on his back whined to life and rumbled when he pumped fuel into the motor. He flashed the “thumb’s up” to his commander and grinned as they rose into the air.

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 7:00 am 
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Posts: 1471
Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Urban Combat Maneuver Centre Number 4, 4 July, 0300 Hours

Sho-sa As`Zaman stood on the roof of a hollowed out residential building and surveyed the carnage of the last armored push attempted by the militia. A pair of Demolishers had forced their way into the center of the town constructed of prefabricated concrete buildings. A dozen judges strode among the ruins and abandoned vehicles, escorting crewmen and other “casualties” from the site. The Arkab commander counted over a dozen enemy vehicles lost crossing the bridge on the east of the town and half that to the north.
“This was a tough fight, sir,” said Tai-i Albertshofer. “We lost about a squad’s worth of men this time.”
“How are we doing on supplies?”
Albertshofer ran the numbers in his head, “We used up almost all of our heavy anti-armor missiles and have one or two LAWs or antitank bombs per squad.”
“I hope this was the last of their heavy armor,” mused Mohammed Bey. “I have serious doubts that we could stop another armored assault like this last one.” He looked down on one of the sandbagged gun positions, “That weapon, set up to fire down the alleyway, managed to kill half the vehicles that crossed the bridge –how is it doing for ammunition?”
“That one is fine,” reported the Lyran officer, “although the fifteen centimeter cannon we captured has but a handful of mixed rounds remaining.”

Kashira Oleg Bratovich rubbed the three days’ stubble on his cheek. He crouched next to the recoilless rifle in his sandbagged pit. The last few hours had been tense –his crew lay in silence and allowed the pair of Demolishers to pass their camouflaged position before they opened fire at spitting range while other squads rained antitank bombs from the surrounding rooftops.
Heishi Emilian Chernikov carefully picked his way over the rubble and hefted a thermal container. “Volkonski made some coffee –you want some?”
“Sure,” grunted Bratovich. He reached for his empty cup, flicked out the dirty water and held it up for the soldier to fill. “Denikin and Rayevski were taken out, the lucky bastards.”
Chernikov laughed, “Sure, they get to go back to the barracks but if we survive the exercise, we get a one-week pass.”
Bratovich made a face after taking a sip of the hot liquid, “Ukh! Volkonski made this horse urine?” He muttered “Nichevo…”
“Some of the guys are planning to go see that new holovid that’s playing,” mentioned the Heishi. “You should come with us.”
The non-commissioned officer spat, “I’m not interested in that science fiction crap –I’ve seen the previews –all those vids are the same.”
“Hey, you should take a break from the boring day-to-day reality,” said Chernikov. “After the weeklong enjoyment of maneuvers even a jump infantryman needs to unwind.”
Bratovich shook his head, “I remember this scenario –it’s from the Second Succession War.” He fished a half-smoked cigar butt from a pocket and lit it. “The Lyran infantry trapped in town faced wave after wave of Marik infantry and tanks while they waited for a heavy relief column that could not break through –the Lyran infantry eventually ran out of supplies and surrendered.”


0430:00 Hours

East…
Heishi Uta Zorn was one of the few women who served along with the Eighth Arkab’s infantry. A hair over 1.75 meters tall, she wasn’t the tallest Lyran Rakettenjäger and her lean form fooled the common eye –she was an outstanding markswoman and unusually aggressive with a blade.
Zorn had been catching what little rest the enemy allowed the Arkab Cadre defenders when the last attack began. Perched atop one of the smaller buildings, she survived the barrage of heavy autocannon fire that the militia Demolishers used to collapse the Command Center –that blast removed the Jäger’s best sniper team, taking the Zeus Heavy Rifle with them.
Her steely blue eyes peered out from a lock of red hair, as she lay prone, her rooftop position overlooking the dry riverbed to the east. There was still fighting two or more kilometers to the south –battlemechs and vehicles clashing in the growing light.
Zorn had already reported the sound of armored units moving to the north. Despite the darkness and occasional stands of trees, sound carried very far in the desert night. A tracked vehicle on a road could be heard up to four kilometers away, one traveling across terrain made enough noise to be heard almost a kilometer and a half distant. It was for the brass to make plans –most likely the militia had lost their stomach for night fighting and would make their big push at first light –something that approached very quickly on this desert world.
In the predawn shadows, she saw a line of movement but even more so, she heard the high-pitched squeaks and metallic rattle of tracked vehicles, dozens of them, moving in from the north.
The Heishi activated her commlink, “Dietz, this is Zorn.”

Center…
Mohammed As`Zaman opened one eye and looked up from where he lay, “I am awake…” He shrugged off the field jacket he used for a blanket and grasped Albertshofer’s offered hand, “Thank you, Tai-i, now tell me what is happening.”

Northeast…
Algedi Militia Chu-i Hirono sat in the turret of his platoon command tank –an odd, locally made machine designed primarily for crowd control. Today the militia officer led his men against what his commander called “determined irregulars” who had holed up in a makeshift town in the center of the desert. Hirano shook his head when he head about the failure of the first assault force –they attempted a night attack with no infantry support. The junior officer smiled, his platoon of light tanks had the easy job –get to the bridge, unload the squads of infantry that clung to the hastily welded hand holds and cover their advance. The First Platoon, a force of equal strength, would be assaulting the town from the north while he swept in from the northeast and overwhelm the handful of “irregulars”.

North…
Gunsho Artur Kruger kicked at the sleeping solders’ feet, “Time to wake up!” The burly NCO had been monitoring a portable scanner when the unmistakable din of armored vehicles shook the air. The small one-story dwelling that Kruger’s squad snoozed in was on the far northeast corner of the town.
The Gunsho used his powered vision enhancer, “Here they come –at least a platoon of twenty to thirty tonners –I don’t recognize the silhouettes yet.”
Heishi Haffner shouldered his last missile, “I’ll let them get real close this time.” He knelt beside a window; its shutter damaged enough to give the soldier a clear shot.
The other men of Kruger’s squad took positions behind overturned furniture while a pair of men dashed out the back door and crossed the rubble-filled street. The two Jäger troops assembled their portable machinegun and trained it over the footbridge that led to the town –a two-meter wide concrete bridge not indicated on their map.

Heishi Robert Womack urged his crew to move the 15cm field howitzer they commandeered from it prepared position to where they could engage the approaching tanks. They barely knew how to aim the howitzer but once in rhythm, they could fire the artillery piece at a surprising rate.
“The red ring means AP, the Orange HE, and the white is smoke…” Womack recited aloud, “We don’t need the smoke and we don’t know what the gray marked shells are for.” He positioned the gun at the corner of a building, almost half-hidden.
“I want, red, orange, gray, as fast as you can load and fire once we pick a target.”

Looking upon the feverish preparations was Tai-i Matthew Kuroda, a member of the Algedi Militia assigned as a judge. He impassively described what activity he could see into a small microphone so his compad would include the observations in his report.

Town Center…
Chu-i Naravas Aws monitored the rise in communications and patiently waited for orders. His Fury was damaged while fighting on Luthien but now his centuries-old machine purred as if it were freshly off the production line and ready for battle. Much to the Azami officer’s disappointment, his fighting machine had been rigged with an array of computerized combat simulation equipment and his Star League-grade Fury would be playing the role of a Patton MBT for the duration of this exercise.
Aws found the night’s fighting exhilarating. Ordered to support the Arkab forces in town, his “Patton” and a Goblin IFV cut their way through a very much surprised militia infantry unit in lorries only to find a line of militia armored vehicles trying to retreat across the main bridge. Attacking in darkness and from behind, these enemy vehicles didn’t last very long. To the Chu-i’s relief, the soldiers in the city recognized his vehicle through the darkness, smoke and confusion. He knew what militia vehicles that got past his were soon greeted with panicked, friendly fire.
Aws shook his head as he looked over the flat crystal surfaces of the control equipment that he wasn’t allowed to use, their screens dark instead of feeding the turret commander with live satellite data, including images of the surrounding area.
Finally, his comm. unit sounded.


0430:10 Hours

North…
Gunsho Bratovich roared at his men to keep loading as he called out targets to their gunner. “Keep bringing the AP… No, not the glacis! The side!” He shouldered his autorifle and fired a stream of bullets at the tank he wanted the gunner to shoot at. “That one, right where I hit him!”
The recoilless fired and the gun crew crouched behind the weapon’s shield and sandbags as three tanks raked their position with machineguns. For some reason, the line of tanks halted almost sixty meters outside of the town.
“We have to find a new position,” shouted Bratovich. He yanked a smoke bomb from his utility belt and hurled it towards the line of tanks.

Northeast…
Haffner shouted, “Clear backblast!” He held his sights on the side hull of the closest approaching tank and squeezed the trigger. The brief explosion and tug of the simulated missile leaving its launcher forced the soldier to correct his aim but he saw the tank suddenly light up and grind to a halt. “What the…?” At under a hundred meters, his last missile destroyed the enemy vehicle with ease, causing casualties among the squad of militia troops riding on the rear deck as well.
“These guys have paper for armor on their sides!” shouted the Heishi.
“Confirmed!” replied Kruger. “All their standard armor is up front –they only have steel sheeting on the sides!” He laughed as he studied the scanner, “Tell Uta to start engaging them as well!”
Haffner slung a pouch stuffed with grenade simulators and tank bombs over his shoulder, “I’m going up to the roof.”
Kruger nodded, himself busy with preparing the last of his grenade simulators for the coming assault.

East…
Heishi Zorn was already in action, picking off crouching tank-riders with her Type 50 Laser Rifle. After she received Haffner’s report, she began shooting the side turret of the closest tank as fast as her weapon could recharge with little visible effect.
“This is crap!” she shouted in frustration. The next two militiamen she shot rolled off the moving tank’s deck, casualty alarms blinking.

Hirono peered through his vision blocks, he saw what had to be the main bridge over a hundred fifty meters to the south but another bridge suddenly appeared to his right. He slowed his line formation to give himself time to think. “No, we have to cross the main bridge!” He commanded his driver, “To the far bridge at full speed!”

From the rooftops facing the east, autorifles and a machinegun team opened up on the tanks that paraded past them on the other side of the river. Enfilade fire swept the men from one tank after another while a LAW stopped one tank dead.

Seeing that the defenders had found out the vulnerability of his armor, Hirono ordered his vehicles to unload their infantry at the closer bridge…


0430:20 Hours

North…
Gunsho Kruger shouted every profanity he knew in as many languages he had learned over fifteen years of soldiering. The sudden all-enveloping white cloud totally blinded his position. Had a normal grenade generated the smoke, he would not have blinked an eye. A smoke bomb sends out a huge cloud that also interferes with infrared and thermal sights –such as the sights mounted their new helmets.
As one, the Lyran Jägers took off their helmets and relied on the carefully laid tripwires upon which bits of metal hung to alert them of approaching infantry. Any noise would be greeted with a shower of grenade simulators and generous machine pistol fire from their covered position.

The recoilless rifle crew easily pulled their carriage-mounted weapon out of its sandbagged position to behind a low concrete wall. Gunsho Bratovich forgot the bomb he tossed generated so much smoke –the dense, white cloud easily covered an area sixty meters across, if not more. The calm morning air would prevent the cloud from moving or dissipating for a long time.

Heishi Chernikov acted as ground guide for the Arkab Fury as he picked a way clear of the smoke through the rubble-strewn streets to a position where the Chu-i Aws could gain a clear shot at the stalled line of tanks.
Aws sprang into action immediately when he saw the militiamen on the enemy tank’s deck furiously pounding on the turret. He directed his machinegun to the panicked squad, silencing them before his medium autocannon simulator dispatched the tank as well.

Womack yanked at the lanyard that fired his team’s 15cm howitzer. His team had gotten off seven rounds without hitting the tank at which they aimed. He saw the tank suddenly turn around and accompanied by a handful of other tanks, retreated at flank speed. “Last two!”
The howitzer thundered as soon as the last pair of simulated rounds were loaded.
“The HE hit.” declared Tai-i Kuroda. He tapped a set of icons on his compad. “From behind, it would have ripped the turret off and wiped out the squad on its deck. Good fight.” The militia office spoke a few words into his headpiece. “This exercise is about over.”

East…
From their sandbagged machinegun position, Gunjin Thomas Heinrich and Heishi Ernst Bauer sprayed their weapon down the long pedestrian bridge where a platoon and a half of militia soldiers attempted to cross. Nobody could dash along that fifty-meter span and survive. The tanks that might have supported the infantry could not cross the narrow bridge without collapsing it and at the far bank; they could not threaten the well-covered machinegun nest.

In frustration, Chu-i Hirono ordered the remaining squads to remount and pulled his tanks away from the town.

Heishi Zorn took a last few shots at the helpless militiamen who clung onto their retreating tanks. She peered at the rising sun and sat down, her laser rifle across her knees and peeled her leather finger gloves off. From one of her side pouches she removed a bottle of skin lotion and began to rub the flower-scented liquid over her smooth, freckled skin, paying attention to her chapped knuckles. “Damned dry air.”

Center…
Tai-i Albertshofer monitored the comm. traffic over his headset. “It appears the exercise is over.”
Sho-sa As`Zaman nodded, “Good job, Tai-i. I hope I haven’t been in your way.” He took a sip from his canteen and saw the reaction of the soldiers under his command as they in turn, heard the news. “Send for the Maxims, I want the people here to know that they earned special treatment.”
“Yes, sir,” replied the Lyran officer. “Is there anything else?”
“Anything else?” the Arkab commander shrugged. “Nothing else I could think of –Debriefing this afternoon.”
“Of course.”


Parsippany Entertainment Multiplex, 1830 Hours

Several Arkab Cadre members strolled down the aisle on their way to their seats in the darkened holotheatre.
“This way…” whispered Chernikov, his arms laden with containers of cold beer, steaming sausages and popcorn.
Bratovich squinted at the surrounding rows, “There are plenty of seats –I told you nobody wants to see this crappy vid.”
Volkonski motioned with his head, “I like plenty of room to stretch out so I need an empty seat on either side.” He took a few steps, “I like this row.”
“Fine, fine…” growled Bratovich. The latest preview of a Minakuchi musical holovid blared on the screen with impossible formations of smiling dancers, chirping singers and meaningless joy enough to thoroughly irritate the gunsho. He just wanted to sit down and drink his overpriced beer.


“What do you think Professor Kagawa? Were the Lyrans testing biological warfare on this planet?” Tai-i Toshiayaki Hamada looked around him; the ground was covered with a strange, purple-hued carpet of unknown biomass.
The aged professor took a puff from his pipe, “I don’t have all the required data to make any conclusions –the Lyran scientific observation facilities might have been merely established here to study this curious planet and its flora.”
“My men have found remains of Lyran solders, most of them torn to pieces by some sort of creatures,” reported the Tai-i. “Do you think these things escaped from the laboratory and multiplied?”
“Again I must tell you, Tai-i,” stated the professor, “I don’t really know.”


“Could the action move any slower?” asked Bratovich. He stuffed a handful of popcorn into his mouth and washed it down with cold beer.
The holovid had the usual doddering scientist, intuition-driven officer, perky female journalist (scientist’s niece) and wisecracking kid (journalist’s younger brother) and plenty of posturing, fearless Kurita troops…

Tai-i Hamada stepped into the abandoned supply tent and could see that there had been a struggle. Yukio Kagawa peered carefully around the officer, trying to get her camera into position to take some images.
The floor at the far end of the temporary structure seemed to pulsate and a pair of shark-like heads rose from the ground, they had quadruped bodies with long, maroon fur.
“Keep back, Miss Kagawa!” Hamada raised his auto rifle and slowly backed out of the tent.
“Let me get some vid first!” the female reporter raised her camera over her head and its lights began blinking. The creatures growled lowly and seemed to rock from one side to the other.
The ground shook as outside the tent, the accompanying Stinger battlemech marched forward to support the advancing infantry. Three more of what the professor called “xenobioforms” crawled from beneath the ground about thirty meters from the Stinger. Gunsho Henry Fukawa centered his targeting pipper over the three creatures and tapped his communicator, “I have three in my sights –what are our orders?”


“About damn time…” growled the NCO.

Heavy machineguns thudded and flew over the heads of the three creatures as they dashed forward as a pack, sharp teeth tearing at the Stinger’s feet and legs.
Inside the tent, the two alien creatures turned their attention to the wall between them and the Stinger as Hamada backed out of the tent, dragging the reporter along.
“We have to pull back!” he muttered.
Kagawa struggled to break from his grasp, “I have to get more vid!” She screamed when she saw the three creatures savagely attacking the Stinger, tearing away chunks of the strongest armor known.

From the safety of the dropship, Professor Kagawa practically jumped for joy. He keyed the comm., “Tai-i, see if you could order your men to capture some of them alive.”
“Are you joking?” Hamada was incredulous, “I’m sorry, we forgot to bring a bag of zip-ties with us. Perhaps one of us remembered the duct tape.” He made a face and cut off the transmission.

The Stinger rose into the air, its jumpjets roared, as did its heavy machineguns, tearing the pony-sized monsters apart. More of the creatures emerged from the ground and scattered squads of DCMS soldiers raked them with concentrated gunfire.

One platoon, covered by a pair of armored vehicles, made it to the safety of a two-story concrete building. They peered over the eerie terrain from atop the roof and could see large, floating creatures, bulbous and definitely alien.

The platoon sent to investigate what appeared to be an abandoned farm, slowly backed away when a dozen of the creatures emerged from the ground behind one of the smashed buildings. Grenades and bullets flew freely as the fanged monsters charged…

Tai-i Hamada hit the accelerator of his modified motorcycle and maneuvered through trees as a pair of the alien creatures loped after him. Of course, Yukio Kagawa, the journalist, shrieked as she felt the flashing claws and snapping teeth mere meters behind them as she clung to the officer as he pushed his motorcycle to its limits.
Fortunately for the couple, the crew of one of the machinegun-armed sidecar motorcycles was alert and at point-blank range, killed both of the ravenous monsters before they could overtake their commander.

One of the armored vehicles blew one of the drifting creatures out of the sky. Four of them descended near where the motorcycle scout team spotted a large pit earlier.
“The floating things just disgorged more monsters!” reported one of the scouts. He spun his motorcycle around and sped away. There were scores of the shark-headed pony-sized creatures roving what was once a Lyran Research Station.

A squad of soldiers managed to defeat the charge of five of the monsters while a machinegun team shot down four of them as they charged, the last one finally dying mere centimeters from the gunner.

Several of the shark-headed alien creatures fell as the heroic, determined DCMC soldiers reluctantly gave ground.

“Pull back to the two-story structure!” commanded Hamada. “It will be easier to make a stand there.”
“We have to escape!” insisted Kagawa.
The Kurita officer drew his vibro-sword, “I’m not leaving any of my men behind!”


Bratovich rolled his eyes at the cliché-filled dialogue and nearly jumped out his seat when he heard a loud yet feminine belch echo from a distant part of the theater.
“Uta!”

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 9:13 am 
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Commanding General
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Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
Posts: 1471
Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Combat Maneuver Field Number 12, July 20, 3052, 0700 Hours

Tai-i Elias Murom fired his main lasers at his opponent’s Crab. He glanced at the Damage Indicator screen and pushed his own Crab into a run. Satisfied that his weapons found their mark, the Azami pilot circled, his battlemech’s torso facing ninety degrees to the right.
Piloting his Crab, Chu-i Ibn Assan coolly locked his speed settings on maximum and concentrated his weapons on the opposing battlemech’s legs. He did not always hit but Murom, his opponent, chose not to aim, relying on more hits wearing away armor. Assan smiled when his sensors showed a breach in his opponent’s leg armor.
The Tai-i swore under his breath as the right leg on the diagram of his battlemech on the Damage Indicator screen flashed red. Instinctively, he steered his Crab over a low rise and held his breath as the mound blocked weapons fire aimed at his `mechs legs.
Assan reversed directions, his Crab scrambled up the rise behind his opponent and he felt the heat in his cockpit spike as he blasted at Murom’s Crab with all of his weapons.
The controls shuddered as the computer simulated one of his leg actuators failing. Murom easily pushed his machine to its limits and kept it on its feet, despite the threat of its right leg being shot away completely. In an act of sheer desperation, the Arkab officer steered the stricken Crab behind a low hill, out of sight of his pursuer.
“Stop the exercise,” announced Sho-sa As`Zaman. “Congratulations, Chu-i Assan, you have succeeded in this round.” The commander switched to a closed channel, “Good fight, Elias, but in a Clan trial, you cannot leave combat for even a moment.”
“My apologies, sir, I forgot,” replied the Tai-i.
Mohammed Bey’s tone became conciliatory, “You should be proud –you earned the command of Gamma Trinary.”
“That may be, sir, but I really wanted to pilot one of the Clan machines,” said Murom.


Headquarters, Eighth Arkab Training Cadre, 1400 Hours

The Eighth Arkab’s officers sat in the darkened briefing room and listened to Bahar’s lengthy briefing on the status of the unit’s training program. Mohammed Bey was not happy with the compromises he had to make but the Draconis Combine’s military needed to train its units to fight the Clans.
The Eighth Arkab, originally raised by the Azami Confederation to train the Arkab Legions, had gained the interest of their Combine allies. The Clan invasion had changed of lot of things and now the DCMS stepped in. The Eighth Arkab’s new mission would be to train DCMS units, utilizing Combine standards with the benefits and drawbacks of Combine support.

“Under directions from Command in Dieron, we have assembled three Trinaries and two Command Stars,” said Sho-sa Elias Bahar. “The two Command Stars are composed of the operational Clan battlemechs allocated to our unit while on Luthien while the Trinaries are composed of battlemechs from our normal inventory.” The officer indicated the chart displayed on the large screen.
“Over the last two weeks our unit has held a series of Clan-style Trials of Position to determine ranking and placement in the Stars and Trinaries,” instructed Bahar. “While victory in each trial was important, we also scored each pilot by how they followed what we have learned about Clan protocols –in order to train our allies; we have to know how the Clans fight and behave accordingly.”
The screen displayed another diagram. “This is the armored jump infantry contingent –Some call them Toads or Trolls, the Clan term is Elemental,” the Arkab officer pressed a button on his remote. The screen exploded with a dazzling array of holographic images of the unit’s jump infantry testing the Elemental simulator harnesses. “We have assembled a total of ten Points of infantry in Elemental simulator harnesses for training and once we are certified we shall receive additional data and intelligence concerning Clan Armored Infantry as well as other Clan cultural and military information.”


1500 Hours

“Once again, I would like to congratulate the fine pilots who did so well in our first Trials of Position,” announced Sho-sa As`Zaman. “Now that we have established the Arkab Training Cluster, Sho-sa Bahar and Dame Sho-sa Benhaddad shall travel to Dieron and present the training plan that we all have worked so hard upon to DCMS Training Command.” The senior officer checked his notes, “I believe that is all for now, let’s break for tea.” He suddenly glanced at the clock on the wall, “Oh, look at the time.”
“Are you leaving us?” asked Benhaddad, she gathered up her briefing materials and placed them in an alloy case. “This is a surprise.”
“I am spending the afternoon with my family,” replied the commander. As`Zaman then secured his briefcase and handed it to his adjutant, Chu-i Fatima Najib.
The young woman nodded as her gloved hand grasped the briefcase’s carrying handle and she stood aside as her commander turned toward the exit.
“We can handle any possible loose strings, my Bey,” added Bahar. “Please give Safiyyah and the boys my greetings.”
As`Zaman smiled, “Of course.”
“I should stop by before I leave for Dieron,” said Dame Rachel, “say good-bye to my nieces and nephews –are you heading home?”
“Just to change,” answered Mohammed Bey. “We have a pavilion at Firing Range One.”


Firing Range 1, 1730 Hours

Several colorful beit sha’ar –Berber tents, stood adjacent to the automated firing range. Occasional bursts of small arms fire split the afternoon quiet and from one of the tents, the smell of food cooking scented the dry desert air.
In the main pavilion, two young girls faced one another, each in a defensive stance, a blunt dagger gripped in their right hands.
A veiled woman observed their movements intently as the children made tentative passes at their opponents. “Anya, if you attack, you must commit yourself.”
“Yes, honored mother.”
“Mellila, when you feint, follow up with a strike to the opening you have created,” instructed the woman.
“Yes, mother.” The child lunged for her sister’s face and dropped own to slash at her leg when the other raised her blade to parry the lunge.
“Much better!” commented the woman. “Anya, have a seat.” She turned to a smaller girl who sat and watched the training, “Leila, it is your turn.”
The girl, no older than five years, drew the training dagger from her wide belt and stepped onto the padded mat, her stance low and wide.
Mellila smiled and being almost three years older, assumed a more aggressive posture, almost standing straight to use her height to intimidate the younger girl.
Her brow furled in concentration, Leila sprang forward with a sudden leap, her blade attacking Mellila’s for a split second before gliding free and cutting along the older girl’s right wrist.
“Hold!” announced the instructor. “Very good, Leila.”
“Thank you, mother,” replied the child, her voice almost a whisper.
Mellila, turned to face her mother in protest, “Mother, I could have switched hands and kept on fighting.”
“Indeed, daughter,” stated her mother, “but you would have dropped the blade when you were first injured –you may sit down.”

“Blessings upon you, Master!” The three girls sprang to their feet and stood at attention, facing the pavilion’s entrance upon hearing the servant’s greeting.
The cloth partition drew to one side and Mohammed Bey stepped into the pavilion. He wore the loose and comfortable Arkab Legion desert uniform that the Azami had worn for centuries. “Sherifah Aliyyah, how goes the training?” He seated himself upon a large cushion. One of the servants offered him a tray of dried figs. Mohammed Bey picked up a dried fruit and tasted it, “Thank you, Tadla.”
The Sherifah bowed, “Your daughters show much promise as warriors, my husband.” The three girls beamed at the comment.
“Is that so?” As`Zaman looked to his daughters, “Mellila, report.”
The eight-year old stiffened, her eyes straight ahead. “Father, Anya requires more practice; Leila is very fast and aggressive.”
“As for yourself?”
The girl looked down, “I require more practice, father. I’m sorry.”
“There is no need for apology,” said Mohammed Bey. “I am very proud of all of you and I know my daughters will learn their required lessons.” He faced Aliyyah, “I shall leave it up to you on which of my daughters trains with the Sisterhood of Lemta this year.”
The Sherifah bowed, “I thank you for your confidence in my judgment, my husband.” One of the servants whispered into her ear. She motioned for the three girls, “Come, children, father has brought guests –Aunt Rachel is here.” The Azami woman covered the girls’ hair and adjusted their veils, “Greet her for me, I shall be out to see her in a moment.” Her kohl-lined eyes watched as the trio gracefully strode from the pavilion.
The officer waited for the children to leave then motioned for the servants to leave as well. Once the two were alone, he finished the dried fig he was nibbling upon and spoke, “Mellila should be prepared to attend the Sun Tzu School –if she starts now, she could graduate before she turns seventeen.”
The Sherifah tilted her head, “We have already discussed this, my husband.”
“Nothing was resolved, wife –that is why I want you to think on it,” he looked over the silver tray the servant placed beside his cushion and plucked another fig from it. “I know the Sisterhood has their own plans but I am still Master here.” He leaned forward to touch her forehead with his, “I shall take my leave.”
Sherifah Aliyyah bowed and watched as her husband left the pavilion made his way to the firing range.

“Breath normally, line up the front and rear sights as we reviewed in class,” instructed Al-Murfiyyah. He stood behind a line of three young boys armed with standard-issue assault rifles as they practiced engaging targets from a prone, supported firing position. The trainer wore the traditional robes of a Berber, his face partially covered by a portion of his cloth headgear. Despite the Berber robes, the pale skin, blue eyes and hint of Gaelic accent marked the tall servant as an outsider. Al-Murfiyyah’s charges included As`Zaman’s sons Ahmed and Taqid from his first wife, Safiyya, and his son Sven from his third wife, Zahrah. “Firers, watch your lanes… Safeties off… You may commence firing.”
Mohammed Bey motioned for the instructor to carry on as he stood back and observed his sons firing their weapons. Al-Murfiyyah handed his master a set of vision enhancers. As`Zaman powered up the viewing device and peered through the sights. The boys were engaging pop-up targets at twenty-five, fifty and one hundred meters. Through the sighting device, he could clearly see the bullets as they struck the targets, causing them to fall backwards. Of course, not all of the bullets struck their mark.
“Aim for the center of mass,” the trainer reminded the boys, “five seconds is plenty of time to acquire your target and shoot.” He smiled as the firing increased and targets fell.
Mohammed Bey returned the viewing device to Al-Murfiyyah and nodded in approval. The servant bowed, making sure to keep one eye on his line of students as his master departed.

“Goodness, all of you are growing so quickly,” exclaimed Benhaddad. She sat down upon a large cushion and pulled five-year-old Leila onto her lap. “What have you been studying?”
“Blade combat this morning, Aunt Rachel,” replied the child. “I am fast and aggressive.”
The woman raised an eyebrow, “Fast and aggressive are we?” She hugged the child, “You’re going to be a light battlemech pilot just like your father, I see.”
“Uhhummm,” whispered Leila.
“Well, don’t be in such a hurry, my little angel,” said Benhaddad. She waved when Mohammed Bey returned from the range, “Here’s your father.”
Mellila and Anya skipped over to their father and each clasped a hand.
“Keeping Aunt Rachel company?” As`Zaman smiled as he led his daughters to the tent. “I smell curry!”
Tadla, the servant, emerged from the pavilion carrying a tray with tall glasses of iced green tea, “Refreshments, Master.”
Mohammed Bey took two glasses and handed one to Benhaddad, “Thank you, Tadla.” He raised his glass in salute, “Dame Rachel.” The officers drank a toast in unison and laughed for no reason other than the enjoyment of each other’s company.


1900 Hours

“I can’t eat another bite,” sighed Sho-sa Elias Bahar. He set his bowl aside and leaned back on the pile of cushions. “That was the best lamb curry I’ve had in years.”
Benhaddad sipped her mint tea and nodded in agreement, “If I could cook like that I’m certain I would have remarried years ago.”
“If you could cook like that, I’d marry you myself,” said Mohammed Bey. “But I have many more reasons, my dear.”
“Hey, you already have four wives,” added Elias. “Rachel, we have a lot of good bachelors in our unit –you should really think about getting married again.”
The officer shook her head, “I know you both are looking at my personal happiness and I appreciate it but I’m not ready just yet.” She looked to the distant pavilion where As`Zaman’s wives and children dined. “Anyway, if you are worried about who might inherit my Atlas, I have stated in my will that it would go to the first of my nieces to graduate from the Sun Tzu School of Combat.”
Mohammed Bey bowed, “That is very generous, dear Rachel, but I’d rather see you passing your battlemech on to one of your own children.”
Benhaddad rolled her eyes, “We’ve had this talk before.” She changed the subject, “Do you want us to bring you anything from Dieron?”
As`Zaman blinked, obviously not expecting the question, “Me? Don’t get anything for me –find something for the children instead.”
Elias nodded, “That sounds like a good idea to me –do you have anything to take to your father?”
“Yes,” replied the Azami officer. “I have completed my study of the Courchevel mission and the analysis of the Tenth Alshain equipment recovered from the battlefield.”
“I remember you working on that report,” commented Bahar. “It offers some interesting insights into Clan culture and warfare.”
Benhaddad nodded in agreement, “If there are similar patterns of behavior by Clan units, there will be hundreds of battlemechs and vehicles throughout the occupied systems, waiting for recovery.”
“Precisely,” added Mohammed Bey. “On Courchevel, we recovered a company’s worth of battlemechs alone in less than a week’s time.” He pulled a memory chip from his tunic pocket, “I’m certain we could have recovered another company’s worth had we a month.” He handed the chip to Bahar, “Make certain they don’t just file this away.”


Piotr Radulovič Maneuver Range, August 14, 3052, 0500 Hours

Ubayy Altair rechecked the controls of the Stinger assigned for his training. A native of Algedi, the young mechwarrior graduated from the Sun Tzu School of Combat the previous year and had undergone rudimentary training with reserve elements of the Fourth Arkab Legion. The past few months included constant training in maneuvers and at the firing ranges. Today, Ubayy gazed across the five hundred meter-deep chasm that marked the start of the jump-training course. Altair’s finger touched one of the flat crystal screens of his instrument panel and he pulled up a display of the course that though which he had to steer his battlemech. Trainers, graders and other observers monitored the course from a distant tower as well as through dozens of cameras placed throughout the maneuver range.
“This is Tai-i Kuyar,” communicated the Lead Trainer over the radio, “be ready to negotiate the course according to the classroom briefing. Allow me to reiterate the main portions: The first section of the range is to be covered via bounding. Once you reach the firing platform, your weapons shall be activated and you shall engage targets. After you have successfully hit the targets, you are to fly your battlemechs to the top of the building on your return route and from there, return to your starting point.”
Altair peered to his left and right. To his Stinger’s left, Zakariyya Harith piloted a Wasp. On his right, Yaman Aboud piloted another Stinger. The Azami pilot checked his rear cameras and noted the three jump infantry teams preparing to follow the battlemechs along the course. He adjusted his harness one last time.
“Proceed!”
Ubayy’s feet pressed down on the jump jet controls and he felt his Stinger rise slightly as it moved forward. Despite the armor, insulation, and his heavy neural helmet, the roar of the Stinger’s jump jets seemed deafening. The young mechwarrior made a point not to look down until after his Stinger cleared the deep chasm. Once his Stinger ended its bound, he activated his jump jets and made another bound.

Go-cho Edward Hollings observed as his team checked their Elemental Simulator Harnesses. These were a combination of jump pack and lift exoskeleton, loaded with extra avionics and other electronic devices in order to simulate the powered armor suits employed by the invaders who called themselves the Clans. There were three teams of four on the training course this morning, with Hollings in charge.
The jump infantry waited for the battlemechs to commence their run then took up positions on the platform overlooking the chasm, which looked far wider than the map’s thirty meters indicated.
Hollings waited for the radio message from the observation tower and raised his hand, “Team One, go!” He pressed his palms over his ears as the team’s jets screamed loudly, lifting the first team up and away, across the wide gulf.

Altair marched his Stinger up to the firing platform, quickly placed the battlemech’s aiming reticle over the target four hundred meters away and fired his main laser. The target registered a clean hit and he gunned his jump jets for the last stretch of the course.

Gunjin Alex Botsford laughed as his first shot at the target registered a hit, “Ha! We’ll be finishing this course in no time at all!”
“Hush! You’re spoilin’ my aim!” scolded Heishi Robert Womack. He waited for his laser rifle to recharge before taking another shot.

Aboud’s Stinger was the first to land atop the four-storey tower complex –a pair of buildings joined by a thirty-meter bridge. Ubayy’s battlemech landed upon the metal and concrete span amid the thunder of his jump jets. The Azami recruit took a few seconds to gaze out over the course, easily spotting the bounding teams of jump infantry as they followed. He activated his jump jets and felt exhilaration as his Stinger headed over the chasm to return to the starting platform.


Common Mess, 1200 Hours

“I can’t believe you guys choked on the last jump!” Go-cho Hollings ribbed that morning’s first jump team.
“Hey, don’t look at me;” replied Botsford, “I made it on my first try.”
Womack scowled, he and his friends would be razzed for weeks over their hesitation on the maneuver field, “I’ll take the responsibility –I held back instead of committing myself. The others were behind me and my stopping caused them to stop as well.”
“Don’t worry about it,” said Hollings. “That chasm makes everybody think twice –that includes me.”


Headquarters, Eighth Arkab Training Cadre, September 12, 3052, 0830 Hours

Chu-i Nuri Peterson peeked through the open door into Sho-sa As`Zaman’s office, “Sir? I have some communications for you.”
The senior officer looked away from his terminal, “Yes, come in and place them on my desk, Peterson.”
“One of them is from Dieron, sir,” said the Chu-i.
“From Bahar?” asked Mohammed Bey. He rose from his seat, “Bring it here, young lady!” He took the message chip from his secretary and inserted it into a slot in his computer.
Peterson leaned over the desk, “Is it news concerning our training program?” Nuri was also a battlemech pilot. She only worked in the administration staff because the cadre did not receive the funds for the kind of staff they required.
“It should be…” answered As`Zaman.
An image of Bahar and Benhaddad sitting in an office appeared on the terminal, “This is Sho-sa Bahar, reporting on the status of the Eighth Arkab Training Cadre’s submitted training program.”
“This is Sho-sa Benhaddad –good news! The program has been accepted by Command in Dieron –with some modifications, and has been sent to Luthien for final approval!”
Bahar smiled, “I personally submitted your Courchevel Study to your father’s office –it shall be reviewed.”
As`Zaman chuckled.
“Our job is almost done here,” said Rachel. “This communication is Reply Prepaid so if you want to submit a wish list, this would be a good time since funding will be certainly approved.” She rolled her eyes, “Attached are some files and forms that have to be signed, submitted in triplicate, and sent to the listed administrative offices.”
“This is Sho-sa Bahar…”
“…and Sho-sa Benhaddad signing out.”
“Chu-i Peterson, get me the file on the Training Program,” ordered Mohammed Bey.
“Sir!”

“Begin recording…” As`Zaman sat at his desk and addressed the camera Peterson had set up on a tripod. “This is Sho-sa Mohammed As`Zaman Bey and I would like congratulate both of you, Sho-sa Benhaddad and Sho-sa Bahar, for a job well done.”
He held up a data chip, “Included with this Reply Prepaid message are several files, most of which are pertaining to the Eighth Arkab Training Cadre’s mission requirements.” He smiled, “Both of you have earned some relaxation time so why don’t you stop in Dabih for some vacation time –Elias, I’ll have your wife waiting for you at a five-star hotel, just make sure you are back on Algedi by November.” He paused, “Rachel, have a good vacation and say hello to your mother for me.”
“The Eighth shall continue its training under the plan as modified and shall be ready to begin training by late October –this is Sho-sa Mohammed As`Zaman Bey, out.”
“End recording.”
Peterson peered through the open door, “Shall I send the message to the ComStar office?”
“I’ll transmit this message directly to the HPG station,” replied Mohammed Bey. “The current Precentor is a good friend.”
“Yes, he’s the one you saved from those assassins,” said the young woman. “Are you including the observations of ComStar jumpship traffic through our system?”
“Of course,” responded the commander. “I have to include the report that the Com Guard contingent at the HPG station shall be at thirty percent strength until further notice.”
“So the rumor is true, sir?”
“ComStar engaged in a very big battle against the Clans,” said As`Zaman. “That is a fact –we haven’t received any details but we know a big fight occurred and the Com Guard forces took severe losses.”
“Do you think it will affect us?”
“I would not even try to guess,” said Mohammed Bey. “Right now, our task is to train units that haven’t faced the Clans so that they can fight and defeat the Clans on our terms.”

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 3:51 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
Posts: 1471
Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Eighth Arkab Training Cadre, September 12, 3052, 0900 Hours

“Sir, here are the inventories from the latest equipment deliveries,” Chu-i Najib placed a stack of folders on the small wooden table next to Mohammed Bey’s desk.
The Sho-sa looked up from his terminals for a moment, “Yes, yes, is there any word regarding my personnel request?” He returned his attention to the three screens of data.
“I saw a reply to your requests among the latest packets, sir,” replied the young woman. “The first of them should be arriving at the end of this month.”
The commander held up the sheet on top of the stack and read it. “Eleven Peregrines!” As`Zaman exclaimed. He tapped a button on the communication console, “Have Master Technician Iften personally tend to the latest shipment of vehicles –he will know what to do.”
Najib frowned; the commander’s desk looked more like a battlemech cockpit every time she looked at it. Between constant maneuvers in her battlemech and making up for the unit’s shortage of office personnel, the young Azami woman had little time for anything else –she started her work day at 0500 and was lucky to return to her quarters by 1700. She wasn’t surprised that the commander configured his workplace like the interior of a battlemech –he trained harder than any of the soldiers under his command. He tirelessly worked and fought from both cockpit and desk to insure the success of his new training command.
“Sir…” the young woman fidgeted after checking her wristwatch.
Mohammed Bey looked up from the closest terminal display, “Yes Fatimah?”
“Trinary Gamma is training today,” Najib said. “I know we have much to do but…”
The commander interrupted, his fingers touched the screen of one of the half dozen that surrounded his chair, “Yes, you are to be at Maneuver Field Eight before eleven hundred hours.” He rubbed his eyes, “If you need the time to rest and ready your equipment, you may leave right away.”
The young woman’s face broke into a smile, “Thank you sir, I didn’t want to fall behind in my training.”
As`Zaman chuckled, “In that I must agree,” he motioned to the growing piles of administration paperwork, reports, requisition forms and study materials. “I have to balance all this with my own field training.”
“How will you accomplish that?” The Chu-i retrieved her purse from her work desk and carefully placed the soft barracks cap on her head. She looked around the office, “You really should have a mirror in here.”
“There is a mirror in the hall,” replied Mohammed Bey. “Soldiers are required to look their best before they report to me.” He smiled and held up a bundle of papers, “Training Command on Luthien has approved our budget for administrative personnel –I’m afraid I shall be losing you before the month ends.” He shrugged, “We’re getting everything we have asked for so all the officers serving both administrative and training roles shall be able to concentrate on their primary mission.”
Najib was impressed, “That’s wonderful, sir! How did you manage all that?”
The commander sat back in his chair and thought about her question. “Ah, you might find a full analysis of the processes and compromises with our DCMS allies or their Training Command rather prosy and dull so I’ll summarize it by saying that this unit has impressed some key people who have been able to set aside the usual Draconis Combine prejudices where non-Combine units are concerned.” He stood up and powered down his battery of terminals, “Everybody in the Eighth Arkab has contributed to our present status and shall be tasked with imparting our knowledge of the Clans to other units so they may face the invaders on better footing.” He plucked his green fez from its holder and placed it over his brow, “Why don’t we go to brunch, I’ll have my driver drop you off at your billets for a brief rest, then pick you up at half past ten so we can both travel to the hangars to sign out our battlemechs?”
“That sounds like a plan, sir,” Fatimah remarked as she followed the Sho-sa out the door.


Combat Maneuver Field 8, 1230 Hours

The dust stirred as languid winds passed over the sun-bleached ground. A Crab battlemech crested the low dune, raising a cloud of dust as it stepped over the mound of sand.
“Fatimah, keep moving!” ordered Chu-i Leah Zamarah Bey, the training officer for Dragon Star. Zemarah’s Grand Dragon strode over the dunes with purpose. “Time to Gamma Point, four-seven seconds,” the Chu-i announced. “Point Theta next, heading two-seven-eight, on my mark…now!” The formation of two Crabs and three Grand Dragons pounded over the soft ground toward their next goal.
Following the star of Inner Sphere machines, a Clan Myst Lynx used the uneven terrain and drifting dust clouds to obscure its approach. Confident of his battlemech’s abilities, Sho-sa As`Zaman grinned to himself and monitored Dragon Star’s transmissions as he shadowed their movements.
“Our training fields are our back yards,” instructed Zamarah, “We must know every hill and gully; we must know the time needed to cover the ground from one navigation point to another.”
Star Captain Elias Murom casually set his navigation equipment while listening to Zamarah. The veteran mechwarrior sat in the cool, dark, windowless cockpit of his Star League era Crab, his padded command couch surrounded by a smooth crystal bubble. External cameras linked to the crystal projected a seamless image of the outside world so clearly that Murom felt as if he floated several meters above the ground. Out of habit, the Star Captain glanced at the dark-outlined portion of the crystal globe linked to his rear-facing cameras. The on board computer filtered out the Crab’s arms and legs, the use of multiple cameras eliminated blind spots and distracting movement. Murom adjusted the filters and the rolling dust cloud raised behind his Crab faded away, revealing the Grand Dragons piloted by Tammuz Hafiz and new recruit Imram Giyath. He squinted at the projected image for a moment. “Huh, I thought I saw something.” Murom cursed under his breath, “Blast, it shall be months before we get the proper satellites in place…” He directed his sensors rearward and powered them up.
Mohammed Bey suddenly sat up in his command couch, “Somebody’s scanning for me.” He halted his battlemech and set the leg controls to crouch behind a row of dunes. “This will be tough to do once we position milsats.” He cut his own sensors and waited for half a minute. He scolded himself, “It serves me right for tailing them –from their heading they are traveling from navigation point Gamma to Theta.” He drew his Myst Lynx, known as a Koshi to the DCMS, up from its crouch and he turned his battlemech a few degrees to the right. “I have to make up for lost time.” Although the Clan machine handled far better than his Star League grade Mongoose, it wasn’t as fleet of foot. Of course, his Mongoose didn’t have a battery of jump jets. In the absence of navigational satellites, the Algedi government placed several powerful transmission towers called Omega Stations on high points so aircraft and surface travelers could navigate the vast wastelands of the desert planet. By tuning a battlemech’s navigational equipment to one or more of the Omega Station frequencies the navigational computer determines the bearing, distance and radial to show the battlemech’s location on the navigation map overlay. Navigation points are either intersecting Omega signals or specific radials with a fixed distance from the transmitter. Each Maneuver field used up to a half dozen navigation points that marked significant geographic locations as well as embarkation zones.
Murom checked his scanners for the third time and shrugged, “Perhaps I was mistaken.” He tapped an icon on his command screen, “Giyath, keep an eye on your six.”
“Yes, sir!” the young mechwarrior enlarged his rear camera image. “I’ve got nothing, sir –do you think that it might be one of the other stars?”
“Great,” muttered the Star Captain. “If it’s Fox Star, they’ve been monitoring our transmissions.” He keyed his microphone, “Stay in formation and continue with our training run –we’ll see if it’s another star playing games.”
Sho-sa As`Zaman pushed his Myst Lynx into a run, paralleling the course taken by Dragon Star. “If they stick to the navigation points, they should reach several rolling hills in about twenty seconds then take a zero-three-three heading.” He eyed the overlay and plotted his own course. “I shall intercept them just before they exit the hills.”

Trinary Commander Ahmed Q’arandar Bey stood at the briefing room podium and looked over the training reports. As the pilot of the other Star League grade Mongoose in the Eighth Arkab, Ahmed Bey was one of the first of the Azami Sun Tzu School graduates to follow Mohammed As`Zaman Bey. “Very good… I know this sort of training is routine to most of you but we all have to maintain our proficiency –especially now that we are on the training end.” He looked up at the mechwarriors seated in the room, “Do the Star Captains have any comments?” Murom and Nebuzardan shook their heads. Q’arandar looked at his notes and continued, “Er… does Sho-sa As`Zaman have any comments?”
The commander nodded, “I must commend the Star Captains in maintaining discipline and following their training courses despite my unannounced presence on the field.” He gestured to the Trinary Commander, “Normally, my mount should be clearly marked with an observer series beacon code.” He rose to his feet, “Don’t get up…” Mohammed Bey paused, “Miss Najib, I’ll still need your help two hours in the morning before you join your Trinary in training –just for another week or so.” He smiled at Q’arandar, “You don’t mind, do you Ahmed Bey?”
Q’arandar bowed, “I’ve heard that she’s doing so well, my Bey –if Miss Najib doesn’t mind, I don’t mind either.”


Commander’s Quarters, 1930 Hours

Sergeant Major Ian MacDougal folded his linen napkin and set it beside the ornate porcelain platter. “Sherifah, allow me to compliment you on the absolutely splendid meal.”
Safiyyah As`Zaman bowed her head slightly, “Thank you, Sergeant Major; I am glad you found the dinner to your liking.” She motioned for her servants to remove the platters and bring the next course. The veiled women moved swiftly with unusual silence.
“Once again, I must thank you for the invitation,” MacDougal said. “I must admit, it is a rare occasion that I sit at a meal with an officer and his family.”
“My dear wife has been planning this dinner for some time,” commented Mohammed Bey. He sat at the head of the table with the Sergeant Major on his right and his first wife to his left. At the far end of the table sat a middle-aged Azami gentleman dressed in traditional Berber robes with the distinctive pattern and embroidery of Beni M’Touga. This man was simply introduced as “Uncle Ziri”.
The Sergeant Major and As`Zaman wore their khaki duty uniforms while the Sherifah and their guest dressed in subdued Amazighen clothing. Safiyyah wore the traditional veil in the presence of a stranger.
“Is that so?” MacDougal’s curiosity was piqued. Occasionally a Sergeant Major might share his mess with officers but rarely did officers invite non-commissioned personnel to share a meal in their home. “Sherifah, you made earlier mention about something you had to share with me.”
The servants placed delicate silver cups filled with chilled custard before the diners.
“Pray, let us first enjoy the dessert, Sergeant Major,” replied the Azami woman. She dipped her spoon into the soft dessert and raised the portion behind her veil, closing her eyes as she tasted the custard. After a moment of silence, she continued, “I assure you, we shall answer as many of your questions as possible.”

After the table was cleared and the servants dismissed, Sherifah Safiyyah As`Zaman invited the men at the table to join her in the sheltered courtyard of their quarters, under twilit sky and gleaming stars.
Sheik Ziri M’Touga presented a thick, leather bound book to the Sherifah, who opened the ancient tome to a section marked with an embroidered silk ribbon.
“This book is from the library that holds the knowledge and history of the Beni M’Touga, compiled over the millennia.” She ran her slim, tapered fingers over the leaves of yellowed vellum and began to read. “Sometime at the end of the fourteenth, or early fifteenth century, a foreign ship was wrecked on a spit of sand jutting out from the Moroccan Atlantic coast. The sole survivor scrambled ashore and fell into the hands of the Amazighen whose clan name was the Beni M’Touga, who inhabited that part of the country. The tribesmen spared his life, which was unusual clemency on their part as they had a deep hatred for and suspicion of all strangers.
The shipwrecked man was a Scot whose name was MacDougal. He was an expert in metalwork and he settled down among the Amazigh and taught them many useful arts, including working in metals. He lived for many years with this tribe, who venerated his superior knowledge to such an extent that on his death they raised a monument over his tomb, which is known and worshiped to this day as the shrine of ‘Sidi Magdool’.
During the course of the years, a seaport was built on the spit of sand where the shipwreck occurred, and this was named after him, but the name was gradually corrupted by Europeans into ‘Mogador’.”

The gray-haired Sergeant Major’s jaw dropped as the Azami woman related her tale, “Unbelievable!” He shook his head, “I have never heard such a story.”
The Sherifah continued to read, “As he was an expert in metalwork, MacDougal was most likely a passenger on the shipwrecked vessel and not one of the crew, as his calling was not of very much use for employment on a sailing ship ; therefore it was unlikely that he gained a knowledge of the Amazigh language by previous contact with them as a sailor. Besides, the language of the sea-ports in that part of the world was Arabic, which is entirely different to Amazighen.
The Beni M’Tir, the Beni M’Touga and the Beni M’Ghill is simply the Arabic for 'children of' and was tacked on by the Arabs to the M’ of the Amazighen which means 'sons of', and is exactly the same as the Gaelic Mac or Mc. Hence the M’Tir, M’Touga and M’Ghill are the Amazigh equivalents of the MacTiers, MacDougalls and MacGills.
The shipwrecked MacDougal was probably a Gaelic speaker. The fact that he and our tribesmen understood each other may explain why he was not killed by them, and also that his name has similar to their clan name.
The Amazigh language is a Gaelic dialect and the majority of Amazighen are tall, white-skinned, fair haired race with blue or gray eyes.
The Amazighen or Free People live a clan life and are known by their clan names just as the Highlanders of Scotland once lived: They have feuds among themselves and unite against a common enemy. They are essentially mountaineers, and that is probably the main reason why our language has been preserved, and why we are so independent.
The ancestors of the Beni M’Ghill furnished the contingents with which the Moors conquered Spain, and the Beni M’Touga was one of the clans who controlled the Atlas passes and levied toll upon all who passed.
The Amazigh tribes have a high reputation for valor, and at one time were at war with all outsiders; yet it is said, and has been proved, that if you gain our confidence and friendship, we are as kind and hospitable as our own kith and kin.”

“Amazing,” commented MacDougal. He nodded his head thoughtfully, “Does your book explain how the Scots and Amazigh are related?”
The Sherifah smiled and her fingers glided over the smooth parchment, stopping at a passage. “Some scholars guess that the Amazigh are the descendants of the races known to the Greeks and Phoenicians under the generic name of Libyans. The Kabyles of the hills between Algiers and Bougie, and the Shawia of the Aures Mountains are very similar to one another and may be taken as typical Amazigh. They are distinctly white-skinned, even when sunburned. Usually they have black hair and brown or hazel eyes, some have yellow hair and blue eyes. In the royal necropolis of Thebes of about 1300 years before the Common Era, certain Libyans are depicted as having a white skin, blue eyes and fair beards. Blonds are represented on Egyptian monuments half a millennia before then and were noted by the Greeks in the time of Alexander the Great. In the east the blonds have quite died out, but there are patches of this race in the west of North Africa.” She turned the page and continued reading, “According to Irish traditions, the Formorians who invaded Ireland in prehistoric times were African pirates. These pirates exacted an annual tribute, both of children and produce from the Numidians who were progenitors of the Firbolgs and the Tuatha de Danaan. We may identify the Fomorians with the Phoenicians, or a race akin to Amazigh as it seems certain that the center of dispersion of the Dolmen people was Northwest Africa.”
“Ah, I see your scholars have also done their research,” MacDougal said. “I have heard similar legends, some mention ships fleeing Troy.”
“Yes, let me find the reference,” responded the Azami woman. She carefully turned the page and translated the cryptic symbols to herself. “Here we are: Traditional British Chronicles state that the Briton colonists began with the arrival of King Brutus-the-Trojan with their wives and families in a great fleet from the Mediterranean about 1103 B.C.E. and his occupation of Albion. These Phoenicians were Aryan in race, speech and script and were of vast antiquity dating back from their testimony in their own still existing inscribed monuments to about 3100 B.C.E. These peoples traveled overland along the north coast of Africa and settled for a time in Barbary before crossing the Straits of Gibraltar to Spain where they embarked for Britain. Some of them may have preferred to stay in Barbary, and the present day Amazigh, are their descendants. This would account for their Gaelic which is Aryan in origin, and also for their fair complexion.
“According to the ancient Books of Balloter and Lecan, the Scots in about 400 B.C.E. under the leadership of Partolan, arrived from Spain, colonized and civilized Ireland. Their tribal name was ‘Gioln’ which is not far removed from ‘Ghill’. If we add the Amazigh prefix it becomes M’Ghill. Spain is but across the Straits of Gibraltar from Barbary and would shorten the sea voyage to Ireland. They would have the prevailing western wind to help them on their way to join their kindred who had preceded them in previous centuries.”

The Highlander stroked the tips of his mustache in contemplation, “Och, such information is quite a lot to wrap my brains around…does that mean that I may be related to the Sherifah?” He took a quick glance at his commander but Mohammed Bey sat impassive and remained a neutral observer to the discussion.
“My husband permitted me to invite you for dinner for the purpose of presenting this information to you,” the Sherifah replied. “I first heard about you when I traveled to Luthien and I begged my husband for a chance to speak with you.” She turned to face the Azami officer and bowed, “Thank you, my husband.”
“Please continue,” said As`Zaman with a slight gesture of dismissal. “The Sergeant Major is your guest, wife.” He motioned for a servant, “Kave, wahid!” There was movement in the shadows and a door slid open. From the adjoining kitchen, a servant bearing a brass tray and silver coffee service emerged. Clad from head to toe in blue-gray cotton robes, the servant glided quietly over the flagstones of the courtyard and poured hot coffee for master, mistress and guests.
“No cream or sugar for me, thank you,” MacDougal said. He closed his eyes and took in the scent of the freshly brewed coffee. “It smells heavenly!”
“Do you like it? It is from the As`Zaman mountain plantation on Dabih,” Safiyyah told him. “We grind it fresh here.” She saw Mohammed Bey dumping several heaping teaspoons of sugar into his cup and she gave him a look of disapproval –at least, her husband could read it in her eyes. Fortunately, her guest was paying more attention to his own cup of coffee. The Bey stifled a laugh.
Sheik Ziri sipped from his ceramic cup and spoke, “Honored Sergeant Major, the Sherifah and her clan would like to extend to you the welcome our clan would offer to anyone recognized as a member.”
The noncommissioned officer started, “Och! This was unexpected.” He looked to the Sho-sa. “I really don’t know what to say.”
The Azami commander shrugged, “To be invited to join an Algedi clan is no small honor –I would suggest you accept this offer as a blessing from Allah.” He looked at Safiyyah and smiled before taking a sip of his sweet coffee.
“Och aye,” MacDougal said. “One can nae refuse sich an offer!” He faced the Sherifah and bowed, “Milady, I would be greatly honored to be counted among your kinsmen.”
Mohammed Bey chuckled to himself.
The Sherifah motioned to the servant and once their eyes met, she communicated her orders via a subtle sign language. The servant bowed and gracefully made her way back into the house.
“Welcome, distant cousin of Bani M’Touga,” said Sheik Ziri with a bow. He opened a small compad and tapped its screen, “I shall send the news so that our clan may rejoice.”
From another portion of the house a pair of young boys marched out into the courtyard under the watchful eye of a man armed with an automatic carbine. The boys wore miniature versions of the Eighth Legion’s uniform and when they stopped a few paces from the group of adults, they snapped to attention and saluted smartly. Mohammed Bey had risen to his feet as his sons approached and while they held their salute he straightened and saluted back. MacDougal rose to his feet and put his cup and saucer on the table.
“Detachment, parade rest!” As`Zaman commanded his sons as if they were on the parade field. “Legionnaires Ahmed and Thaqid,” he motioned to their guest. “This is Sergeant Major MacDougal; he is also a member of Bani M’Touga and therefore your blood relative.” He stepped back and faced MacDougal. “Have you any words for the men?”
The Sergeant Major snapped to attention, “Och aye, sir!”
As`Zaman faced his sons. “Detachment, attention!”He turned to his guest. “Sergeant Major MacDougal, the formation is yours to address –you may dismiss them when you are done.” He saluted.
“Very good, sir!” MacDougal returned the salute and turned to face the two boys. “Alright then, let us review th’ troops.”


Headquarters, Eighth Arkab Training Cadre, September 14, 0830 Hours

“Fatimah, you aren’t going to believe this…” The Azami commander stuck his head through the office door.
The young Amazigh woman left her desk. “What is it my Bey?”
“A month ago, the DCMS Training Command was looking for recommendations for alternate training sites with various terrain types,” Mohammed Bey reminded her. “I sent a list of nearby systems with geographic studies and the people on Luthien selected Dabih.”
“Your home world, sir?” she couldn’t hide her reaction. “That is wonderful news, sir!”
“I suppose it is,” Mohammed Bey commented. “Although, I’d be stuck here running the administrative office while other unit members will be enjoying my paradise home world.” He chuckled, “Of course, I would have to personally inspect the operations there from time to time.”
Najib smiled, “I’d love to be detailed there, sir.”
“What I’ll most likely do is rotate the trinaries to run training on Dabih,” As`Zaman said. “That way, each unit will also get in some vacation time –I’ll make certain that the hotels have quality rooms available.” He returned to his desk and pulled up the ComStar page on one of the terminals. “I’ll send out a short message right now.”
Her interest piqued, Fatimah left her desk and followed her commander into his office, “I remember you telling me about your father’s mansion and plantation there.” She thought about the turquoise ocean and golden beaches, “Ooh, I can hardly wait!”
“Message sent!” The officer looked up at his secretary, “Perhaps as a reward for your service in my office, I’ll send Gamma Trinary to Dabih first.”
“Sir, you’d do that for me?”
Mohammed Bey raised an eyebrow, “No, I’m making my mind up now for my own sake –I know Benhaddad and all my other friends in this unit will try to pressure me to send them to Dabih.”
Najib dipped her head in sudden realization, “You don’t change your mind once you’ve made your mind up.”
“Exactly.”
There was a knock at the door, “May I come in?” Tai-i Albertshofer opened the door. “Oh, good morning, Miss Najib,” He bowed politely.
“Good morning, Tai-i!” Even the infantry officer’s surprise visit couldn’t dampen her spirits. “Would you like some tea?”
The Lyran ex-mercenary nodded, “Thank you very much, Miss Najib.” He stepped into the commander’s office, “Who’s going to Dabih?” After bowing to the Sho-sa, Albertshofer pulled up a chair and awaited the commander’s nod before sitting. “I hear we received another container through ComStar.”
“Gamma Trinary will be the first portion of the Eighth to conduct training on Dabih,” Mohammed Bey replied. “And yes, the containers arrived as Precentor Williams promised –ahead of schedule.”
“And?”
“You are the expert, Josef,” the Azami officer replied. He handed Albertshofer several sheets of paper, “Here are the inventories –one of the containers is chilled, self-contained.”
Fatima could not resist any longer, she had to find out what the senior officers discussed. “Did some more requisitioned supplies arrive, sir?”
As`Zaman motioned for the young woman to enter the office, “Come in, dear and close the door.” He winked at the Tai-i, who was still looking through the multi page inventory. “Miss Najib, have you ever heard of Oktoberfest?”
The secretary looked puzzled, “No… not really… Obviously it’s some sort of festival in October.”
Josef chuckled.
“The Lyrans have an annual celebration,” the commander replied, “and because most of our infantry are Lyrans, I have agreed to allow our Lyran soldiers time off to hold their celebration.”
“I see. That’s really nice of you, sir,” Fatima commented. “I’d like to see it –when is it?”
“We plan to hold it from the last week of September to just after mid-October,” the Lyran announced, “and everyone is invited.”
“So why do you call it Oktoberfest when it begins in September?” asked Najib. “And what is the festival about?”
“Ah, Oktoberfest is an ancient celebration,” instructed Albertshofer. “It originated in Germany to celebrate a wedding between noble families. It was so popular that they decided to hold the festival every year.”
“That sounds very romantic,” Najib said. “So it’s a month-long wedding party?”
“Not quite,” said the Lyran. “It eventually became a big harvest fair with music, dancing, rides, food and plenty of beer.” He noted that Mohammed Bey winced at the mention of beer. “I am aware of your opposition to alcohol, sir.”
“You should know better,” As`Zaman said. “Despite adopting Islam, the Amazigh still drink wine and eat pork –the two are far too ingrained in our ancient culture. I am simply not partial to fermented drinks.”
Josef nodded, “Of course, my Bey.” He continued, “Anyway, Miss Najib, we, meaning the Lyrans of the unit, with our gracious commander's blessing and incredible connections have rented the indoor fussball stadium to hold the first Oktoberfest event on Algedi.”
“You mean the soccer stadium next to Hachiman Mall?” Fatimah nodded, “I know exactly where that is -plenty of parking.”
“Yes there is,” he acknowledged. “We're making it a community event, inviting all manners of vendors, entertainers, as well as rides and games -a regular carnival for people to have fun...and make a little money.”
“Heh, now he's talking like a Lyran,” As`Zaman added. “This planet lacks quality entertainment and diversities -this will also give Jean-Michel, my chef, a chance to show off.” He paused for a moment, “And I'm dying for a grilled bratwurst and hard bread -the local bread is just too soft and our processed meat supplier on Ashio hasn't gotten the sausage seasoning right yet.”
Albertshofer laughed, “Admit it, a bratwurst is just a vehicle for delicious, Lyran mustard.”
Mohammed Bey nodded gravely, “Oh, the mustard is definitely required -I hope they have a lot of it in the containers.”
“My Bey,” Fatimah ventured, “sometimes I never know when you're serious about things.”

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 11:39 am 
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Eighth Arkab Training Cadre, October 25, 3052, 1500 Hours

Sho-sa As`Zaman’s fingers touched the glowing screens that surrounded his workstation, he processed and approved data, supply requisitions, and other usually mundane administrative functions with amazing speed –he had to, his clerical staff was in the field and training intensively before the first unit arrived in November. The Eighth Arkab’s training program was approved by the DCMS Training Command, all of the unit’s requests for supplies and funding had been approved as well. All Mohammed Bey needed now was the full administrative staffing that his cadre required. He realized that a call for volunteers had gone out in the previous month and the bureaucracy between the Sixth Arkab Legion on Arkab, Training Command on Deiron and DCMS Command on Luthien would take time. At the moment, the Sho-sa had released all of his temporary office workers to do their real jobs –prepare to act as Clan forces to train Draconis Combine units to face the invader.
There was a knock on the heavy, wood-paneled door and the sho-sa commanded, “Enter.”
He didn’t slow his work or divert his attention to the woman in the Arkab Legion uniform marched in, stood at attention in front of the officer’s desk and saluted, “Gunsho Yasmina Ruza, reporting, sir!”
“Why are you reporting to me, Gunsho Ruza?” As`Zaman seemed slightly annoyed. He returned the woman’s salute. “All new personnel are required to process through the offices in building one-five-three.”
“I am aware of that, sir,” replied Ruza, “but if you pardon this soldier’s boldness, I would like to greet somebody with whom I went through basic training.”
Mohammed Bey’s eyes finally looked up from his collection of consoles and he stood up, “Yasmina, of course! It’s been over ten years.” He maneuvered around his paperwork-covered desk and firmly shook the gunsho’s hand. He smiled and the handshake turned into a hug, “So, what made you leave Dabih to work on this dustball?”
Ruza stepped back after the hug and bowed, “I never forgot all you did for us on Dabih, my Bey.”
“What? All I did was take charge when the people who were supposed to train us were either too lazy or inexperienced to do their jobs.” As`Zaman collected his thoughts, “Come, Yasmina, and you can call me Mohammed when we are in this office.” He motioned to the door, “Let’s go have some tea and relax in the conference room.”


1630 Hours

“So your husband will be working in the main mess hall while you and Susaa are my Administrative Assistants,” commented Mohammed Bey.
Yasmina nodded, “That is correct, too bad Susaa had to supervise the movers at her housing unit –her husband’s transfer orders are still being processed.” The woman appeared concerned.
The commander shrugged, “That’s the military for you. Of course, we could devote a few minutes in speeding up the process.” He finished his tea and placed the cup and saucer on the counter beside his seat.
“Can we do that?” Yasmina stood up, a look of surprise on her face.
As`Zaman chuckled, “Come on, let me show you how a training command contends with a soulless bureaucracy.”


Visiting Unit Billets, November 2, 3052, 0930 Hours

“It is good to see you again,” announced Sho-sa As`Zaman. He greeted Sho-sa Sir Johann Al-Dabab with a bow. “Welcome home.”
The commander of the Second Arkab Legion training contingent bowed in return, “I am happy to be here, my Bey.” He then hugged his former commander then stepped back, “Thank you for giving us time to settle in –my people are anxious to begin.” Al-Dabab stepped back a pace and gave As`Zaman a good looking over. “What is that uniform you are wearing?”
Mohammed Bey laughed, “Do you like it?” He spread his arms and spun on his heel, “This is the training cadre uniform –it is modeled after captured Clan examples.”
Sir Johann shook his head and chuckled, “You and your uniforms –I’m surprised Training Command permitted it.”
“They balked at first,” As`Zaman said. “After I used examples of the various academies and schools that have their own uniforms, as well as our own unique position as representing hostile opposition forces, they relented.”
Two companies of the Second Legion had landed and while their battlemechs were being transported to their hangars and maintenance bays, the Arkab personnel quickly made themselves at home in the environmentally controlled building.
“Each bunk has a basic orientation folder,” Mohammed Bey said. “Have everyone go over them carefully, especially where outdoor operations are concerned –we are just entering this hemisphere’s summer and I don’t want any unnecessary casualties.”
“Don’t worry, my Bey,” Sir Johann assured him. “This is my home world and I’ll make certain all under my command respects the potential dangers of the environment.”
“That’s good, Johann,” As`Zaman replied. “My people are anxious to get things running as well.” The two officers walked down the long corridor of the billets and Mohammed Bey opened a door. “This is your briefing room –each floor has one that doubles as a classroom.”
“That’s very convenient, I guess,” Al-Dabab commented. “I was hoping we’d get plenty of field exercise time.” He looked the room over, noting the state-of-the-art display equipment. “Impressive.”
“Trust me, you shall get your fill of maneuvers,” Mohammed Bey told him. “Much of your classroom time shall be in reviewing exercises and previous battles.”
Sir Johann nodded and saw that this initial briefing had come to a close, “Very good. When do we have the officers’ call?”
“As usual, at your leisure,” As`Zaman responded. “You have the training schedule, pick an evening and we shall be ready.”


Headquarters, Eighth Arkab Training Cadre, November 4, 3052, 1800 Hours

Heishi Sondra Lewis carried an ornate tray of sushi down the passageway to the hall where the Eighth Arkab’s officers hosted the traditional pre-exercise meeting with their counterparts in the Second Arkab Legion. Several other volunteers from the cadre’s infantry elements scurried to and from the meeting hall where the officers assembled, carrying trays heaped with food or returning with trays covered with empty dishes. Lewis approached the double doors that opened into the hall. Before she reached the doors, she had to stop so Sergeant Major MacDougal, who stood in her path tapping his left palm with his hinged pace stick, could give every volunteer a final inspection before entering the hall. The heishi stood calmly as the stocky, senior NCO checked every seam of her cadre uniform, the polish on her boots and how properly the sushi servings were aligned on the lacquered wood tray.
“You may proceed,” the Sergeant Major announced, with a gesture of his stick. Lewis took in a breath and marched through the double doors, the sensors causing them to swing wide as she entered the hall.
Sondra stepped into the center of two long tables that formed a large, inverted “U” from her point of view. At the head of the table sat her commander and to his right, the commander of the visiting unit. Officers of both units sat across from each other and engaged in friendly discussion, mostly concerning past military actions. She placed her tray at the designated table section and removed a pair of empty trays. Like all of the volunteer servers, Lewis’ duties were strictly to bring in full trays and return them when empty. She wasn’t there to listen or watch the officers as they socialized –there were attendants with communication units whose task was to inform the kitchen that more food or drink was needed and at what table section.
Lewis breathed a sigh of relief after the double doors at the other end of the hall closed behind her. Now that she was no longer subject to scrutiny, she could slouch and carry the empty trays at her side.

Mohammed Bey sat at the head of the table and cordially saluted his Second Arkab Legion guests with a raised cup of hot tea. The Sho-sa was thankful that the guest unit was made up of fellow Azami mechwarriors –the real test would come when the Eighth Arkab Training Cadre had to host a unit of DCMS regulars. This officers’ meeting was just as much a training exercise as any field maneuver –adherence to protocol was just as important to the DCMS as performance on the battlefield. The commander maintained a bland face as the visiting unit opened a huge, self-heating container of sake. As`Zaman never liked the taste of fermented beverages –the fact that sake was often served warm just made the flavor worse. Fortunately, he had a servant fill an identical ceramic cup with hot green tea which he would deftly swap with the cup of sake when he had to make a toast. The servant would then take the cup filled with sake, dispose of it and put another tea-filled cup in its place.
The discussion that evening was very friendly, the purpose of the meeting was for the host and guest units to become acquainted with their counterparts, voice opinions, settle any disputes with the training schedule or material and discuss other professional matters. Among the two Arkab units, their experiences facing Clan forces dominated conversations.
“Our material losses on Luthien were about thirty percent,” Mohammed Bey said. “Of course, you were there, Sir Johann –we had the luxury of the ability to pull back to the city to repair and rearm. I have read about the Second’s action on Hyner against Clan Smoke Jaguar –I was impressed at how much damage my fellow Azami inflicted upon the enemy despite the conditions and unfavorable odds.”
“Thank you for your generous compliments, my Bey,” Al-Dabab said in return. “Unfortunately, the majority of this battalion is now made up of new recruits –only a handful of us fought on Hyner.”
“I have been studying the training material and the volumes of reports published over the past two years and what we shall teaching your people will be the based upon latest analysis of these invaders, their equipment, tactics, culture and characteristics,” As`Zaman told his guests. “Pay attention during the classroom portion of your training –you have to look at all the available options when you have to confront and defeat a Clan unit.”


2100 Hours

The trio of lithe belly dancers twirled gracefully to the intricate rhythm of the doumbek drums and the silvery tinkle of the zills on their fingers. The gathered officers were far more relaxed as they enjoyed the show; they sipped strong coffee, nibbled on dried fruit and delicate pastries, and talked less of war or training and more of their friends and families.
Sho-sa As`Zaman stood up and bowed to the guest commander, “I have an early schedule, Sir Johann –please remain and enjoy the meeting.”
“Thank you for a fine evening,” Al-Dabab replied. He bowed to his former commander, “Please take care –I hope to see you while on maneuvers. Good night.”
“Good night…” Mohammed Bey noticed the gathering of Azami officers had all risen to their feet and respectfully bowed. He raised his hands, “Thank you very much –I have to rest as tomorrow is another work day and I have piles of forms to sift through. Please feel free to carry on.”
The Sho-sa nodded to the mechwarriors as he passed them on the way to the main doorway. The assembly stood at attention as the Cadre’s Commandant left the hall.
Once the doors closed behind him, As`Zaman rubbed his eyes, yawned and muttered, “Finally.” He slowed his pace when he heard the doors behind him open once more.
“A word with you, my Bey.”
Mohammed Bey turned to see one of his senior training officers, Trinary Commander Anwar Sardan Bey. He wore the stylized uniform based on Clan samples, somewhat more subdued in gray-blue tones.
“Anwar Bey,” the Sho-sa tilted his head, “what may I do for you?” Sardan rarely said much unless it was something he considered important.
The officer stood at attention, “Sir, you don’t mean to greet every training unit with a useless party –especially one where the officers exchange pleasantries and guzzle alcohol.”
As`Zaman sighed and shook his head, “What is your point, Sardan? The Azami don’t follow strict Islamic law as dictated by the Arabs centuries ago.” He looked the man in the eye, “What is it really?”
Anwar Bey growled, “Are we going to be just as friendly with the Snakes as we are with our own people?” He balled his fists.
“Our allies shall be treated as honored guests,” Mohammed Bey replied. “The same as any other guest invited into our home, in accordance to our ancient and sacred customs.” His deep voice was firm yet gentle; Sardan was a longtime friend and academy classmate. Like many Arkab officers, Sardan was honor-bound to serve their Draconis Combine allies but believed that the Azami deserved better allies.
“What of the ISF? There will be sure to be inserted among the pilots of any Combine unit,” Anwar Bey warned.
“It is my job to worry about the ISF, my friend,” As`Zaman said in a calm voice. “We shall be training the Arkab Legions in succession, the Second, Fourth and the Sixth, before receiving DCMS units so we shall have practice as hosts. I expect that we may have occasional baiting from officers among our allies but that’s normal –and if they intentionally violate protocol, I could always let the Training Magistrate assigned to evaluate the program handle it.”
“I’m just apprehensive, my Bey,” Sardan replied. “The Eighth was supposed to train only Arkab units.”
“Yes, that was our original mission,” Mohammed Bey admitted. “The invasion changed our status –as did the unique interest on the part of the DCMS. As it is now, we are receiving far more funding, personnel and training materials due to the current emergency. I had planned for three to five years before being fully operational, not months. While we have had to make some compromises in our program, it is essentially what we had envisioned.”
The Trinary Commander stood in silent thought for a moment before he responded. “Since you put it that way, my Bey, I apologize for my misgivings on the matter.”
As`Zaman slowly walked toward the exit with Sardan falling in step beside him, “There is no need to apologize. I know we may have trouble among hardliners in visiting DCMS units –we just have to make it clear to all that this is our Dojo and I am the Sensei.” He opened the door and they stepped out into the bright sunlight. Both officers paused to don their tinted lenses. “As a foreign school training DCMS units, we have to work that much harder to gain their respect –that is why I have applied for a slot at Kensai Kami.”
Sardan’s jaw dropped, “Kensai Kami? The mechwarrior master’s school?”
“Yes, although I don’t like dabbling in Combine politics, I have to do what I can to increase this training cadre’s reputation,” Mohammed Bey stated. “I’ll be asking all of my most skilled officers if they wish to request subsequent slots as well.”


Sven Shammash Maneuver Field #1, November 15, 3052, 0430 Hours

The relentless sun baked the loose sand expanse that seemed to stretch from horizon to horizon. The Algedi sky was pale blue over land burned bone-white from millennia of almost constant exposure to the system’s massive sun. These harsh conditions warded all but the hardiest settlers who limited their communities to the polar extremities. When the wave of Azami immigrants traveled from Terra, many of them found the hostile wilderness that covered this new world little different from drought-plagued North Africa. Willing to live where previous settlers would never think of venturing, the desert-faring descendents of North Africa’s nomads declared Algedi’s deep deserts as their sacred enclave.
The pair of modified battlemechs, a Hermes and an Ostscout, loped over the bone-white sand, leaving deep, discolored footprints as they exposed deeper layers of sand to the blazing sun for the first time in centuries. Thin wisps of dust lingered in the hot, dry air as the two war machines maneuvered around small rock outcroppings that jutted through the layer of sand here and there.
In his Hermes, Trinary Commander Anwar Sardan Bey studied his scanners for a moment and satisfied there was nothing within a couple of kilometers, relaxed in his command couch as he looked at the distant horizon.
Today’s exercise was simple, one company of Second Arkab Legion battlemechs defended a small supply depot while two stars of Eighth Arkab Training Cadre OmniMechs or simulated OmniMechs were tasked on raiding that same depot. The Eighth dropped their force twenty kilometers from the depot and the defenders knew from which direction the attackers traveled so an ambush somewhere along the route was expected.
“I see movement ahead… and at our nine, sir,” Mechwarrior Ubayy Altair reported. “They are out of sensor range.”
Anwar Bey adjusted his windscreen filters and marveled at the distance his eyes could make out battlemechs. He and Kuyar were a kilometer ahead of the rest of his star with the second, heavier star half a kilometer behind them. For this exercise, the two lead battlemechs simulated a pair of Clan Fire Moths, both armed with pulse lasers and light machine cannon, a design meant to hunt infantry. The Ostscout that Altair piloted carried five infantrymen wearing Elemental simulator harnesses clinging to special mounts attached to the battlemech’s frame and protruding through the armor.
The Trinary Commander called up a map on his communication screen and moved a set of enemy unit symbols to their estimated positions in relation to his battlemech. His fingers glided over the keyboard and he transmitted the map to the other battlemechs in his star as well as to the star that followed.

Following a kilometer behind the two scouts, Star Lieutenant Momtaz Kuyar Bey tapped his communications screen to acknowledge the message and searched the forward flank for movement. In the Wasp he inherited from his father, Momtaz Bey enjoyed the cabin and couch modified for his plump body. For training purposes, his battlemech was modified with laser simulators and other adjustments for his machine to perform as a Clan Kit Fox Prime. He envied the officers who did better in the Trials of Position –they got to use the units Clan OmniMechs.
Kuyar noted the distant lance of battlemechs as they sped along, their goal clearly to attack the second star. The portly battlemech pilot chuckled, their opponents will attempt a hit-and-run attack on a star they might not be able to escape from.

Sardan was glad that his battlemech’s environmental system was modified using the latest available technology. He could boil water on the outer armor of his machine while inside his cockpit, he sat in cool comfort. Over the minutes, he watched the tiny dots in the distance grow larger. At five kilometers he could make them out to be a lance of battlemechs, two Hussars and a pair of Thorns. He smiled. The Hermes and Ostscout had been up-engined to achieve greater speeds than normal –they had to match the performance of the incredibly fleet Fire Moth, aptly named by Inner Sphere units as the Dasher.
Closing with the enemy at over a hundred kilometers per hour, the Trinary Commander set his target tracking sensors on one of the Hussars and one of the Thorns. He set his communications screen to broadcast on an open frequency. “I, Trinary Commander Anwar Sardan Bey challenge Hussar two-one-one and Thorn two-one-three to combat, allowing none to interfere.” He grinned as the Second Arkab battlemechs paused once he issued his challenge. Thorn 213 scrambled behind a low rock outcropping while Hussar 211 broke into a run, its laser flaring.
Altair was unsure about challenging two battlemechs at the same time but he transmitted a similar message of challenge to the other Thorn and Hussar. Both Hussars missed with their first shots and in seconds, the pair of Fire Moths closed with their targets. The two Thorns hung back, their tiny missiles arched over the battlefield, flying wide of their targets.
Anwar Bey held the trigger that energized his pulse laser simulators. To his amazement, both weapons struck Hussar 211’s center torso. Seconds later, the battlemech halted and shut down. The Star Commander keyed his comm., “There is no shame in surrender.” Again, the Legion battlemechs refused to answer.
The Ostscout/Fire Moth piloted by Altair danced over the sand, trading laser fire with Hussar 214. The mechwarrior realized that one hit from the Hussar’s only weapon would be disastrous. He rushed in close enough to rake his opponent with all of his weapons –both pulse lasers and both machine cannon. The second firing pass caused the Hussar to shut down as well. Altair slewed his targeting reticle over Thorn 212 in time to see his opponent running away at full speed, which was not fast enough… He saw Sardan’s Hermes break into a blinding run, topping a hundred and sixty kilometers an hour as his lasers set off sensors on Thorn 213’s rear torso armor.

Momtaz Bey’s Wasp was trotting along without worry until he caught a shape out of the corner of his left eye. He swung his battlemech to the left just as a lance of Second Arkab legion battlemechs broke out of their camouflaged position. Cursing under his breath, he didn’t have time to warn the other two battlemechs that traveled with him. Instead, he blasted away with his weapons, raking the closest enemy battlemech, a Sentinel, with a volley. The Sentinel’s wild return fire startled Kuyar but missed its mark. Much to the Star Lieutenant’s surprise, the Sentinel froze in position. Kuyar managed to duck his Wasp behind a small rise and, unnoticed by his Legion opponents, allowed his Elemental infantry to disembark.
“Take that!” Heishi Sondra Lewis leaned back in her modified exoskeleton harness to fire her twin missile rack. Her arm-mounted laser simulator blasted away at the Wolverine that seemed totally confused by all the attention it was getting. She let out an exultant whoop that was drowned out by weapons fire as well as the shouts of her fellow Point members.
In his Clan Adder, Bravo variant, Mechwarrior Petro Avenzoar wheeled about and challenged the Wolverine that marched up beside the stricken Sentinel. He let loose with all the weapons able to reach his target and his jaw dropped as he lost sight of the Wolverine as a cloud of missiles rose from the ground between the two combatants.
Kuyar’s Wasp leapt up from its cover, taking fire from the Sentinel, Wolverine, Dragon and Trebuchet. His weapons stabbed at the stationary Sentinel and his computer registered several strikes and as his own sensor alarms shrieked, he saw that the judges had ruled that the Sentinel’s ammunition had exploded. Kuyar shut down his own battlemech after the judges informed him that his engine ceased operation due to damage.
The Wolverine backed away from the defiant Elementals; Avenzoar’s Adder mercilessly raked it with its large pulse laser and medium autocannon.
Mechwarrior Lester Nitta, in his Jenner modified to simulate a Viper, Charlie variant, charged after the retreating Legion battlemechs.
The retreating Legion pilots saw the two Fire Moths approaching; the Clan OmniMechs had chased down the Thorns and destroyed them. The Second Arkab had gambled in intercepting the Clan machines and wiping out the light OmniMechs in their ambush. The electronic countermeasures carried by the Fire Moths prevented coordination between the light lance and the hidden lance. Unable to spring a coordinated ambush, the hidden lance gambled by attacking the trio of light OmniMechs and traded a Sentinel for a Kit Fox, then retreated with a badly damaged Wolverine.
Half a kilometer away, the Second Legion’s strike lance attempted to draw away the second star. They were battered by a Hellbringer Prime and Mad Dog, Bravo variant supported by a trio of Vipers –they could not defeat the star and had no hope of breaking away.


Visiting Unit Billets, Debriefing Room, 1000 Hours

“It was a good plan,” Anwar Bey told the class. “What was the problem?” He pointed to the heavy lance commander.
“We had no lost comm. contingency plan,” admitted the officer. “By the time we sprung our ambush, it was too late. We should have dropped the Kit Fox with our first attack.”
“You always have options,” Sardan explained. “You could have ambushed the first pair of fast OmniMechs –they were the ones with ECM.” He pointed to the icons placed on the map projected on the wall. “Those two Fire Moths managed to destroy a lance of Star League light battlemechs yet only one of them was damaged enough to pull from the battlefield.” The icons moved across the map with amazing speed.
“Sir, many of our pilots are inexperienced recruits…”
The Trinary Commander pointed at the mechwarrior who made the comment, “Exactly! You have to adjust your tactics accordingly –massed attacks, hit and run, fight only on your terms.” He turned to the company commander, “Think about what you might do to improve your plan –we try again, same scenario, tomorrow at zero-two-hundred.” He powered down the tri-vid projector and watched as the Second Arkab Legion pilots gathered their notes and study materials before they filed out the door.

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 11:19 pm 
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Eighth Arkab Training Cadre, Wednesday, November 24, 3052, 1300 Hours

Tai-sho Kodama looked sat at the long table and looked over the evaluation reports on his display, “Were your supplies adequate for training?” The middle-aged Draconis Combine officer absently rubbed the back of his neck as he waited for the reply.
Sho-sa Mohammed As`Zaman Bey looked at his own holographic display and after a series of keystrokes, scanned over a logistics report. “According to my supply officer, our regular ammunition, food and other sundry supplies were sufficient for training a company-sized unit and projections indicate we could probably train up to a battalion –but that would come close to straining our budget.” He looked up, “Anything larger and we would need more than a month’s warning –I have included minimal logistic requirements based upon visiting unit weights and composition.”
“I see,” Kodama replied dryly. “Do you have any other comments on the Second Arkab’s performance?”
The Azami officer sat back in his chair to formulate his reply. “All of my people are trained in the Arkab Legion fighting style –that alone may have given us an advantage.” He added, “The real surprise was how effective the Clan light battlemechs were against twice their numbers.”
“Yes,” the Combine Training Magistrate said. “Some people may find that disturbing.”
“Exactly! It confirms actual battlefield reports that ‘some people’ have found so difficult to believe,” Mohammed Bey replied.
Kodama nodded. “Have you any other comments?”
“The only way any unit will be prepared to meet a Clan force is by constant and intensive training,” As`Zaman said. “Going through a training course is simply not enough.”
The Tai-sho added the comment to his report, shut down his compad and slipped it and the tri-vid into its carrying case. “In June you were directed by Arkab Headquarters to operate strictly under regulations.”
“Yes?”
“I have received reports of you and your trainers in non-regulation uniforms –is that true?” The senior officer sealed his carrying case and looked at As`Zaman.
Mohammed Bey shook his head and fought the urge to roll his eyes, “If that is the only criticism anyone could dredge up about my training program, DCMS Training Command should be ecstatic!”
“So you don’t deny these reports?”
“What is there to deny?” The Azami officer could not believe how petty some of the desk pilots in the DCMS could be over such trivial matters. “The use of distinctive uniforms for opposing force training is not new.” He decided to go on the offensive, “Every dojo has its own traditions, distinctive colors and patterns.”
“That may be,” Kodama replied. “This is the DCMS and we have our regulations.”
“Headquarters on Arkab did not specify uniforms, only operations,” Mohammed Bey said. “I shall take full responsibility if the communiqué from the Sixth Arkab Legion may have been misinterpreted.” He made clear that his message was no apology on his part.
The Training Magistrate gave an uncertain nod, “Ah, very good. You shall instruct your people to cease using your non-regulation uniforms on Algedi and Dabih immediately.”
“I am not finished,” the Sho-sa added. “The only way to make DCMS look at what we do here as more than just another month of ordinary combat training is to force them to realize that the Clans are not merely a slightly better than average Inner Sphere force.” He continued, “If a Combine unit comes here to train we have to make them believe that we are a Clan unit, not just Inner Sphere pilots in Clan machines.”
Kodama asked, “Can’t you just have a class that shows a Clan uniform the same way you instruct on recognizing Clan battlemechs?”
“That isn’t it,” Mohammed Bey said. “If any unit leaves this training program with the idea that a Clan unit thinks and fights like an Inner Sphere force then we have failed. Wearing the same DCMS uniform only enforces the visiting unit’s comfort and self-delusion –they think that they are among friends.”
Kodama shook his head, “A Combine unit will learn what you teach them -it is their duty.”
“Something occurred to me while writing up my evaluation,” As`Zaman said. “On Luthien, I saw too many good pilots die because their damaged machines could not escape and they wanted to take down one more Clan battlemech.” He shut down his own compad. “I want every unit that comes through here to know that there will be no prisoner exchange when this war ends –pilots must live to pilot another battlemech. Many may die, but there is no surrender.”
“Can’t you just settle on a distinctive patch?” The Tai-sho thought about what compromise could be made concerning the Cadre’s uniform. “Is this issue so important to you?”
“This is more than just about uniforms. I have given in to all the demands of those malingering desk jockeys on Deiron,” Mohammed Bey told the Magistrate. “I’m sticking to my guns on this issue –we can wear regulation uniforms when we greet incoming units but once training begins, the Eighth Arkab Training Cadre becomes a Clan unit and we will show no mercy.”
“Are you sure about this?” Kodama was concerned.
“I’m ready to take the issue up all the way to the Kanrei,” the Azami commander announced. “I shall submit my proposals by this afternoon.”
“You won’t be making many friends,” Kodama warned.
“Friends? The DCMS units that resent nontraditional training won’t like us, there are some who hate us simply because most of us are Azami Confederation, the units who don’t consider the Clans any different than any other Inner Sphere House won’t respect us, the units who we thrash shall definitely hate us and units who consider themselves above training shall detest us most of all.” He slipped his compad and trivid into a carrying case and stood up. “I’m not doing this to be popular.”
The Tai-sho paused for a moment, “I see that you are adamant on this issue and I have to agree with your points –you have my support.”


November 26, 0930 Hours

“My Bey, the new officers are here for your briefing,” Gunsho Ruza reported.
Sho-sa As`Zaman looked up from his battery of monitors and nodded, “I shall be there in about five minutes, Jasmina.” He stood up and reached for his tunic, which hung on a rack in the corner of the office. Mohammed Bey was happy that the support staff he had requested was finally at full strength so the unit no longer required using any of the Eighth Arkab Cadre’s battlemech pilots in filling vacant slots.
Ruza noted the trace of irritation in her commander’s voice “Is something wrong, my Bey?”
“When you looked in on the new officers, how many of them were Azami?” He paused beside the door and waited for his secretary’s reply.
“Come to think of it, sir, I’d say none of them.” She wasn’t totally sure of his point.
He shrugged, “Combine officers who need their administrative time.” He stepped to the wall that displayed his certificates, awards and other articles displayed in plain, black frames. Below a copy of his Sun Tzu School of Combat diploma, resting on a black lacquered holder, lay his daisho. “Gunsho, please give me a hand with these.” He drew the sheathed katana and wakizashi, “My sash is in the upper left drawer of my desk.”
“You're wearing your daisho today?” Ruza opened the drawer and pulled the length of embroidered red silk from its cedarwood box. “The new officers might find that somewhat old-fashioned.” She wrapped the sash around the commander's waist and fastened the ends with a snug knot. “There.”
The Sho-sa slid the sheathed swords into the sash and placed his right hand on the katana's hilt, as if ready to draw, “How do I look?”
Ruza bowed, “You look like you are ready to lead our warriors into battle, sir.”
As`Zaman shook his head, “Hopefully, only a couple of them are here because they have no future as leaders.” The two walked along the long hall toward the auditorium.
Jasmina nodded, “I’ll be happy if only half of them are here to spy on you, my Bey.”
The commander chuckled, “Fortunately, we have plenty of lovely, open desert to dump the bodies, eh?” He gave her an informal salute before opening the auditorium door.
“Attention!” The two dozen or so junior DCMS officers in the audience sprang to their feet, eyes forward.
Sho-sa As`Zaman put on his serious “war face” before entering the large room. He marched up the stairs and crossed the low stage to the dimly lit podium. Before speaking, his gaze swept from one side of the formation to the other. These officers were young, many probably fresh from training. That was a good sign, he didn't want anyone assigned to his command because they were useless.
“You may take your seats,” Mohammed Bey ordered. He paused for a moment until the soldiers ceased stirring and devoted their full attention to him. “On behalf of the Eighth Arkab Training Cadre, I welcome you to your new assignment.” As`Zaman continued, “I know there are some of you who may be disappointed with this assignment –you have probably never heard of this unit and since we are a training cadre you may believe that you are not contributing to the Draconis Combine’s war against the invaders.” He tapped the podium’s control screen and a montage of moving images of Eighth Arkab battlemechs in combat appeared via tri-vid projection behind the commander. “Less than a year ago, the Eighth Arkab found itself on Luthien, fighting alongside the First and Second Sword of Light Regiments against the invaders. Those of us who fought on Luthien display unit insignia with a black border on our uniforms, vehicles and personal battlemechs.” He leaned forward over the podium to emphasize his point, “You shall give these soldiers the proper respect due them.”


1430 Hours

Sho-sa As`Zaman Bey sat at his desk surrounded by data feed monitors and sifted through the latest intelligence reports, collected technical data and trade journals delivered via courier that morning. He glanced at the time on the nearest display.
A confident knock on the teak door heralded a prompt, expected arrival.
Mohammed Bey stood up, “Enter.” He watched as the young Draconis Combine officer smartly walk through the door, march across the office to face the heavy mahogany desk, snap to attention and render a crisp, regulation salute.
“Tai-i Akiyama reporting, sir!”
The commander returned with his own parade-perfect salute and waited for the young officer to return to the position of attention and motioned to the chair beside the desk. “You may relax and have a seat, Tai-i.” The senior officer took his place among his monitors and took a quick evaluation of his visitor. Akiyama was typical, Eurasian in his early twenties, immaculate in his uniform and sharp in appearance and bearing. “I have looked over your records, do you really want this assignment?”
Akiyama looked surprised for a moment, “Sir?”
“You are trained as a combat vehicle commander, am I correct?” As`Zaman observed the officer's reactions.
“Yes, sir.”
Mohammed Bey confirmed the information on one of his monitors, “The DCMS has you assigned here as a Quartermaster, eh?” He looked over Akiyama's acedemic scores, “You must be very disappointed.”
“The Combine sent me here, sir.” The young soldier sat at attention, his face serious.
As`Zaman nodded, “Yes, you have a very good attitude but that isn't enough.” He raised a hand to prevent Akiyama from responding. “I require a good, instinctive Quartermaster to keep this unit supplied -it isn't a complicated or difficult job but it isn't what most young officers imagine when they enter the DCMS.” He continued, “Some people lose interest and just go through the motions, you know, do what the job requires, nothing more but that's all.” He sat back on his soft, padded seat and looked at the Tai-i, “If you are that kind of worker, I shall make sure you never leave this place and you will hate every minute of it, do you understand?”
Akiyama forced himself to swallow and nodded.
Seeing that his point got through, Mohammed Bey proceeded, “What I like to see is an officer who takes initiative and goes the extra distance in accomplishing his assigned duties so we all could serve our mission -that kind of officer could receive all manners of recognition and recommendations should he desire a timely transfer.”
The Tai-i blinked, “You would do that, sir?”
As`Zaman made a face, “A good officer should always be encouraged.” He tapped one of his screens, “If you take care of your job and do your best to train your replacement, I'll make certain you get some range and maneuver time -we have a lovely selection of combat vehicles, you know. I could assign you a crew.”
“That...that would be wonderful, Sho-sa As`Zaman,” replied Akiyama. The young man seemed quite energized.
Mohammed Bey stood up, “I do believe this interview was satisfactory, Tai-i Akiyama. Gunsho Ruza shall give you the briefing materials for the Quartermaster section meeting tomorrow morning. I shall see you then.” He saluted and waited for Akiyama to salute.
“Thank you, sir.”
The Sho-sa extended his arm and shook hands with the new officer, “Welcome to the Eighth Legion.”
“Thank you very much, sir!” The Tai-i again returned to parade mode. He snapped to attention, turned about sharply, marched to the door and exited the office in a manner that made As`Zaman laugh to himself. He looked at the time, sat at his desk once more, and waited for the next officer's appointment. “Ugh, just a dozen or so interviews to go.”


Urizen Barracks, 1930 Hours

A group of soldiers assembled in the stairwell between the ground and second floor in the timeless exercise of chatting while polishing their boots.
“I’ve heard the sooltan is going to fight it,” commented Heishi Uta Zorn. She squinted at the boot she rubbed with earth-toned wax polish. “If that’s their only thing to whine about at snake training command, we must be bloody walking on water.”
Gunsho Tompkins chuckled, “No doubt somebody was angry at the ease we had at spankin’ the last unit we had to train.” He dipped the soft cotton ball into a cup of icy water and rubbed the glass-smooth waxed surface of the boot he held. “This sort of thing happens in every House –all units compete for limited available funds.”
Heishi Botsford snorted, “Ha! Training, training, training! We have it so easy now, thanks to the Old Man.”
“I don’t know,” growled Tompkins. “I think we’d have an easier time of it if we were still mercenaries instead of having to tread on eggshells with the damn snakes.”
“How many people get paid to slap around DCMS units every month?” Zorn asked. She gave her head a quick twist and flicked her waist-long braid of red hair over her shoulder. “I could get used to it –even though we don’t really kill anybody.”
“Yeah, I miss the killing part,” mumbled Heishi Womack. He heard somebody approaching and leaned over to look down the stairs.
Botsford sat up straight and tilted his head, “Well, I’ll tell you, thanks to our commander, we are employed as contract trainers, getting more pay and benefits than ever and we can quit and be on our way at any time.” He raised his hands, “Tell me that isn’t the sweetest deal ever?”
Womack was the first to see the figure dressed in brown robes, features concealed under a hood. “Hey you, how’d you get past the CQ?” He stood up and descended the steps to confront the stranger. “I said, where d’you think you’re going?”
The figure paused, “Now, what manner of greeting is that for an old friend?” He pushed the hood back to uncover his head.
Botsford leaped to his feet, the boot he was polishing dropped to the ground. “Well I’ll be! It’s Murphy!” The other soldiers abandoned their unfinished footgear, stormed down the stairs and greeted their fellow comrade-in-arms.


Commander’s Quarters

The limousine waited by the curb in front of the commander’s quarters, its engine idling and internal environmental controls working hard to keep the vehicle’s cabin comfortable under the fierce Algedi sun.
The commander’s home was actually a small compound, a collection of small dwellings surrounded by a high wall. The compound was afforded the extravagance of natural grass and several trees and bushes, all requiring daily watering and care. Due to the length of sunlight during the average day on Algedi, the houses all possessed environmental controls and windows that filtered out the light, effectively creating artificial night for the inhabitants. Over the years, successive Draconis Combine officers had modified the living quarters to suit the Combine’s Feudal Japanese influence, using facades to give the image of wooden frames and paper walls. The rock garden with its handful of carefully manicured bonsai trees could survive exposure to Algedi’s weather but the pond and fountain required an expensive enclosure rarely found in a normal military base.
“Please accept my apologies for not inviting you sooner,” Sho-sa As`Zaman told his guest. “I can’t believe how busy I’ve been these past few months.”
Precentor Williams smiled politely and raised a hand, “No need for apologies, good friend.” He shook his head, “The last few months have been hectic for the both of us.”
A veiled servant presented a tray of tall glasses to the men, “Mint tea my lords?”
“Thank you,” the Precentor replied as he picked up a chilled glass and took a sip. “Delicious!”
As`Zaman sipped his tea and nodded, “Very good, Sharah.” He motioned for her to leave and addressed the Precentor. “I have heard that you’ve lost a number of personnel at your HPG facility.”
Williams seemed a little uncomfortable but he shrugged and replied, “Yes, we have lost a few of our guards and some of our operations people but I expect a few to come in and replace them.” He was more hopeful than the communiqués he had received would normally allow. “The truth is, we're operating at bare bones at the moment.”
“Listen,” Mohammed Bey told him. “If you need any kind of help at all, don’t hesitate to contact me.”
“Thank you, Sho-sa,” Williams whispered. “You have no idea how relieved I am to hear that from you.” He seemed more at ease, as if a ponderous weight had been removed from his shoulders. “My Lord, I see that your reputation for honor and wisdom is well founded.”
The commander placed a hand on the Precentor's shoulder, “I have my reputation because I am always true to myself. Despite what elements of the Draconis Combine may assume, I happen to be my harshest critic.”
The shoji door slid open and the servant emerged from the house and bowed, “My Bey, dinner is served.”
As`Zaman nodded, “Thank you, Sharah. Tell the Sherifah that we shall be in shortly.”
Sharah bowed once more, “As you command, my Bey.”

2015 Hours

Mohammed Bey held the flaming length of cedar to the tip of his cigar and puffed. Satisfied that his cigar was sufficiently alight, he sat back in the well-padded chair and smiled to Precentor Williams. “There's nothing like a fine smoke after a good meal.”
“I cannot begin to thank you for this pleasant evening, Lord Sho-sa.” Williams said. He closed his eyes as he tasted the aromatic tobacco smoke. “Please relay my praise to the Sherifah and your kitchen staff.”


Dabih, Arkab Reservation, Temporary Billets, December 12, 3052, 0130 Local Time

Three soldiers strode down the long, corridor to where the members of the Fourth Arkab Legion slept. Their boots rapped against highly polished floor as they purposefully marched in unison to their destination.
Tai-i Qalaf Nebuzardan deftly turned the double doors' lever and kicked the portals open. The other two officers stepped into the partitioned barracks, grasped the metal lids of the nearby trash receptacles and beat them with gloved fists, raising enough noise to cause many of the visiting mechwarriors to roll from their bunks and look for cover.
“Time to get up!” the Tai-i shouted. He kicked both trash cans and sent them tumbling between the lines of partitions. “This is an alert! Enemy units are inbound and all of you are to get to your hangars and mount up!”
Gunsho Emil Ahmad shook his head to clear it, “What? Our field training isn't scheduled for another two days!” He rubbed his eyes and squinted at the digital readout on his night stand. “Look at the time!”
Nebuzardan leaned over the mechwarrior, “Too bad the Clans don't run on DCMS schedule -they don't take time off for Ramadan or Golden Week, now get out of bed!” He glanced at the clock, “You've just wasted thirty seconds.”
Ahmad struggled into his cooling vest, “Man, somebody's going to pay for this!”
The Training Officer smiled, “This we gotta see.”


The Muli Firaz Bashani Maneuver Field, 1145 Local Time

Sho-sa Elias Bahar watched the satellite view of the various ground units as they maneuvered on their assigned paths. He turned to Chu-i Kimiko Yoshino, “Had they deployed sooner, the Fourth Arkab elements would be defending on advantageous terrain.” He magnified the image on the large screen, “Instead, this Legion company will collide with a single star of Clan omnimechs, with another star appearing about a minute later.”
“That company should sweep that star aside, right?” Yoshino served in the Administrative section and her presence in the Command Center was part of her familiarization training.
Bahar shook his head, “Don't let the numbers fool you.” He used his stylus and drew a circle around the Fourth Arkab's leading lance. “This group is pulling too far ahead of the others. In twenty seconds, they will arrive at this point.” He drew circle around a terrain feature, “The first Clan star will take this bridge and dominate the field.”
“What about the hill?” the Chu-i was certain that this dominant feature was most important.
The Sho-sa nodded, “It would be if the forces could reach the hill in a timely manner. The forces are approaching from here and here.” He drew arrows indicating the advancing units. “The slowest moving Clan omnimech would still get to the bridge before anyone from the Legion.”
“It's going to be a slaughter!” Yoshino exclaimed.
Bahar sat back back in his console seat, “We shall see just how much they've paid attention to the briefing materials.”

Chu-i Ma`ire Ahwaz marched her Clan Stormcrow onto the wide stone bridge and smirked when she slewed her sighting pipper over the pristine Trebuchet that trudged between the stands of trees. Dabih was a tropical paradise world, covered with lush rain forests, golden beaches and bays of turquoise-hued water.
“I, mechwarrior Ma`ire of Clan Ghost Bear challenge the lone Trebuchet -let none interfere!” Her Prime variant, armed with a pair of long-ranged heavy lasers and a trio of extended range mediums, loped over the stone bridge, able to loose the incredible barrage of energy weapons without even straining the copious amount of improved heat sinks. The Trebuchet's computer resolved that the battlemech had staggered and fell, armor damaged and rent in several places, due to the merciless battery of Clan energy weapons. The pilot indicated that his machine was down and prone by kneeling in place.
The lance of Arkab battlemechs was made up of the Trebuchet, a Jagermech, a Phoenix Hawk and a Sentinel. What made these machines unusual was the technological upgrades that should have given this lance a fighting chance against Clan omnimechs. The lance chose to concentrate their weapons on the Viper Prime that sped across the bridge.
Tai-i Koloman Medeiros of the Fourth Arkab Legion gasped as he fought to return his Trebuchet to a standing position. He failed when he attempted to get his ride to stand and watched his information screens helplessly as the Clan machines tore gaping holes in the armor of the other battlemechs with impunity.
“I, Star Commander Rachel Benhaddad challenge the Jagermech,” announced the pilot of the Hellbringer Prime. Pulsating bolts of energy streaked across the verdant field of waving grass, striking the Jagermech causing the battlemech's damage indicators to flash furiously. The Arkab battlemech's response was feeble, its simulated return fire barely effective.
“Time for a lesson, Inner Sphere surat!” Benhaddad exclaimed. She activated her omnimech's targeting computer and concentrated her paired particle weapons on the center of the Jagermech's torso.
Chu-i Serse Al-Selim cried out in astonishment when his sensors indicated that his Jagermech would collapse if another weapon struck its centerline. His damage indicators flashed red, his torso armor gone and his internal structure held together by mere scraps.
Ahwaz raked the kneeling Trebuchet with laser fire and nodded with satisfaction when her sensors indicated that her target's ammunition had detonated and destroyed the side of the new battlemech, damaging its engine enough to cause a shutdown.
Al-Selim's mind raced as he now commanded the lance. “Pull back, this is a trap.”
Benhaddad keyed her microphone, “There is no shame in surrender -and you cannot escape.”
The Chu-i fought the urge to fling the offer back into Sho-sa Benhaddad's face as he reversed his course and tried to withdraw, he peered at the screens linked to his rear cameras and steered for the trees, his heart despairing when he determined that his wounded machine could not make it before the next volley ripped it apart. He took a quick glance at the remaining battlemechs in his lance. The Pheonix Hawk had retreated to a stand of trees, missing its left torso and arm. The Sentinel was in similar condition and their pilots confused at the sudden loss of their commander.
“Two more lances approaching,” Benhaddad announced to her command. She switched frequencies and in a haughty voice proclaimed, “You have fought well and with what honor we could expect from barbarians. In that light, we shall allow your damaged remains to leave our field.”
Al-Selim thought he was about to faint and stuttered, “We humbly accept your generous offer of Hejira, Star Commander Rachel.” He and his surviving lancemates cautiously backed away, eying the Clan machines and thanking their lucky stars the Star Commander chose not to finish his lance off. “Alpha Lance, return to the assembly point.”
Two fresh Arkab Legion lances deployed to cover the retreat of Alpha Lance. The first of the two had a mix, a Trebuchet, a Griffin, an Assassin and a Jenner. The second lance had a more traditional DCMS combination of a pair of Panthers and a pair of Jenners.
Ma`ire Ahwaz wasted no time at all as she directed a terse challenge and weapons fire at the Trebuchet in the nearest approaching lance. Seconds later, her sensors readout indicated that her latest target was destroyed in the identical fashion as the other Trebuchet -a strike had found its ammunition stores and the resulting explosion blew the compartment lids from the battlemech's rear torso. If the Trebuchet did not have the latest light version power plant, it may have been able to leave the field despite the damage.
From the western edge of the battlefield, a star of light, fast Clan omnimechs sped onto the battlefield, weapons blazing as challenges flew.
There was no hope in a stand up battle, the surviving Arkab commanders issued orders to withdraw and their battlemechs retreated in good order.
Ahwaz marched her Stormcrow over the bridge, passing Benhaddad's Hellbringer and commented, “This is better than sex.”

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:57 pm 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 10:05 pm
Posts: 1471
Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Algedi Military Reservation, December 20, 3052, 0900 Hours

“Shakira, make sure Thakid’s sandals are properly fastened,” Sherifah Safiyyah told her servant. The Sherifah was busy preparing her eldest son, Ahmed, for the short trip to the quarters next door.
“Yes, Sherifah,” answered the servant. Shakira Iften was the wife of the Eighth Arkab’s Chief Technician and didn’t need to work but the honor of serving the Commander’s First Wife was a prestigious duty with numerous benefits. The Commander was a humble servant of Allah, a brave leader of warriors and a generous man –even his servants could afford servants.
Ahmed’s dark eyes peered out from under the dark green headdress. The soft cloth covered his head and face. “Mother, why must we dress in our best clothes?”
Safiyyah smiled under her veil. “Your half-brother Yusuf was born a week ago. Today we are bringing Sherifah Huriyyah some gifts –it is a sign of respect.”
“Like when Rachel was born?” The boy glanced at the wrapped packages that sat on a table and wondered what kind of toys they contained.
“Yes, that was two years ago.” The boy’s mother stood up. “Ahmed, take your brother to the living room and wait.”
The boy nodded, “Yes, mother.” He took Thakid’s hand in his and led him from the room.
Shakira watched the two children as they headed down the hallway. “They are such little angels.”
The Sherifah adjusted her robes and hugged herself, “If they could only remain little angels.” She looked at Shakira. “My Bey wants to prepare him for the academy.”
“So soon?” Shakira’s eyes showed her surprise. “That means Yaqut will be sent to Dabih Polytechnic as well.” The thought of her son going away sent a shiver down the Azami woman’s spine.
“Ali has Yaqut carry tools and assist him at work,” Safiyyah whispered. “He is almost twelve, isn’t he?”
The servant nodded, “In two months, Sherifah.”

“Sit down here,” Ahmed instructed. His little brother climbed onto the thick cushions on the couch, curled up and closed his eyes.
The door opened and a tall man in Riffian robes stepped into the room. “Good morning, young lord, are you ready?” He absently adjusted the weapon sling on his shoulder.
Ahmed stood at attention then bowed, “Good morning, Master Al-Murfiyyah.” He leaned over to look at the weapon that hung from his bodyguard’s shoulder. “It that a Mauser 960?”
“Aye, young lord,” Al-Murfiyyah replied. “If you’ve already finished this week’s study in classical literature, perhaps I shall train you to fire one.”
The boy slipped his hand into the folds of his robe and drew out a compad, deftly switching it on. “I’ve done this week’s lesson.”
Silently kicking himself, the bodyguard saw the compad’s screen glow as the young Azami opened a file. Rows of long, triangular marks in various angles and combinations filled the screen. “Alright, lesson five, would you be so kind as to read and translate the first four lines, my young lord?”
“Yes, Master Al-Murfiyyah.” The boy’s finger tapped a series of icons and called up another page of arcane glyphs. He traced the symbols from right to left with his index finger and haltingly read the verses,

“Lu-ulu nam-mah dijir-ra-na zid-de-ec-ce he-em-me
Juruc-e inim dijir-ra-na kug-ge-ec he-em-i-i
Kalam zid-de-a uj dur-ru-na-bi gu-gin ha-ba-si-il-e
Balaj-di usar gu-li-ni ur hu-mu-un-na-bur-e.”


When he finished the passage, Ahmed looked up at his bodyguard and smiled, “Yes?”
“Not bad, young lord,” commented the Irishman, whose eyes shone with pride in his ward. “What about the translation, if you please?”
Ahmed bit his lip and wrinkled his nose and looked down at the screen,

“A person should…steadfastly proclaim the exaltedness of his god.
A young man should…devoutly praise the words of his god;
The people living in the…righteous Land should unravel them like a thread.
May the balaj singer…assuage the…spirit of his neighbor and friend.”


Safiyyah and her lady-in-waiting entered the room. “Good morning, Master Al-Murfiyyah.” She nodded her head, “How is our young Bey with his studies?”
The bodyguard bowed low, “May Allah smile upon you and yours, Sherifah!” He placed a hand on the top of Ahmed’s head, “Reads cuneiform like a Babylonian prince, he does!”
“He promised to train me to shoot a Mauser 960!” Ahmed smiled up at his mother and took a defiant stance that he obviously learned from his father, fists on his hips, feet apart, chin held high.
The boy’s mother looked at the bodyguard out of the corner of one eye, “Oh? Is that so?”
Al-Murfiyyah shrugged, “My mistake, Sherifah, I shouldn’t entice the young Bey with rewards –not without consulting with you or the Commander.”
“He’s just like his father,” Shakira commented. The servant woman bowed to the guard, “Master Al-Murfiyyah.”
“Safiyyah,” returned the Irishman, also with a bow.
The Sharifah gently tugged at the other child’s robe, “Come, dear, it is time to go.” She took Thakid’s tiny hand and turned to address Al-Murfiyyah. “My son expects a man of honor to keep his word –be sure to reserve a firing range and a vehicle to get there.”
The guard snapped to attention, “As you command, Sherifah!”


Eighth Arkab Training Cadre, Administrative Offices, 0900 Hours

Sho-sa As`Zaman placed a packet on Chu-i Harumi Miyamoto’s desk. “Have this delivered to the Training Magistrate’s office.” He looked at the miniature Chrissumassu tree in the corner of the office next to the copy machine. “Oh, that's very pretty.”
The young DCMS officer looked up from her terminal, “Thank you, my Bey -I'll take care of this immediately.” She kept her eyes on her desk until the Commander left the room before she leaned over to whisper to Chu-i Kimiko Arimaki at the next desk. “So, the one just born is his eighth child?”
“Yes, I hear one of his other wives is expecting, too.” Arimaki replied, also in a whisper. “When I first arrived I found it very strange but I’ve seen senior DCMS officers who have mistresses and a child born to a mistress is rarely acknowledged.”
“Hey, ladies!” The two DCMS secretaries jumped when Tai-i Akiyama peeked through the doorway. The Eighth Arkab Training Cadre’s Quartermaster was cheerful today, he had finished his weekly inventory and managed to get a few hours of training time logged in one of the unit’s Demolishers.
Chu-i Miyamoto recovered first and scolded the young officer. “Don’t you know you’re supposed to knock first?” Even though Akiyama outranked her, they had attended the same Officers’ Training Academy so they occasionally addressed each other informally.
The Tai-i stepped into the office and bowed, “Accept my humble apology for the rude intrusion, Chu-i Miyamoto, Chu-i Arimaki.”
Miyamoto sniffed and pretended to be busy at her terminal, “Your apology is accepted, Tai-i Akiyama. Pray tell us, why do you bless us with your presence this fine morning?”
The DCMS officer frowned, “I bet you learned to talk that way from our commander, didn't you?” He paused to take a swift glance into the hallway, just in case. “Why are you all so infatuated with him?”
“Infatuated?” Chu-i Arimaki looked over the lenses of her wire-framed spectacles at the Tai-i. “That means we are being made foolish, doesn't it?” She flicked her delicate hand in a graceful but contemptuous gesture of dismissal. “No commanding officer in the DCMS has gone out of his way to make each and every one of us as comfortable in this new and remote assignment as our Bey has.”
Akiyama bit his lip and nodded, “Of course, I was merely joking.” He remembered how welcome Sho-sa As`Zaman made all the DCMS personnel assigned to the Eighth Arkab Legion Cadre. Although assigned as a Quartermaster, the commander allowed the Draconis Combine officer to maintain his combat skills.
The other Chu-i motioned to the cheerful decorations on the walls and desks. “He let us put up the Chrissumassu trees in our offices and decorate the officers' billets as well -name a station that would allow such things without having to beg or jump through bureaucratic hoops?” She sighed, “With our Bey all we had to do was ask.”
The Tai-i's shoulders sagged, “Alright, I have to admit, I am a little jealous. At least I'm single.” He could see both the secretaries smiling as they always do when he finally gets to the point. “So, do you ladies have any plans for lunch?”


Officers’ Mess, 1135 Hours

“I'll have the rib roast, as rare as possible, baked potato with sour cream, green salad with oil and vinegar, hot tea and a cola.” Sho-sa As`Zaman handed his menu to the servant who bowed and departed without a word.
“My Bey, may I join you?” Chu-i Ali Bey of Beni-Mzab asked the Sho-sa. He was one of the lance commanders from the Second Arkab Legion and a member of one of Algedi's prominent Amazigen tribes.
The Azami officer stood up and bowed, “You needn't ask to join me at my table, dear cousin.” He motioned to the seat across from his own. “Please honor me with your company.”
The junior officer bowed in turn, “Allah's blessings upon the Sword of the Faith, the brave chieftain and beloved kinsman!” He caught the sight of one of the middle-aged Japanese women employed as servants in the mess. She wore the traditional colorful kimono worn by serving women of commercial eateries throughout the Draconis Combine and dutifully approached the table, menu in hand. The Chu-i waved her off, “Just some hot tea, please.” He took his seat and leaned forward over the table. “Have any among the Kahman family contacted you yet?”
Mohammed Bey shook his head. “Other than my mother, no.” His interest was piqued. “Why do you ask?”
“Then you haven't heard,” whispered Ali Bey. “Uncle Ahmed has recently been officially listed as missing.”
“Uncle Ahmed!” As`Zaman started. “What has happened, tell me!”
Beni-Mzab knew of the Sho-sa's relationship with his uncle and held up his hands. “Relax; I must start from the beginning.” Confident that he would not be interrupted, the junior officer began his tale. “Almost three years ago our uncle, Ahmed Kahman, received a message from the Deep Periphery. It is assumed that one of his many connections had located a very large salvage site, as many preparations were made with minimal information released -all I know is that he planned a long journey, took a pair of battlemechs and a small infantry force, along with recovery vehicles and crews.”
The Sho-sa pulled his compad from a tunic pocket and set the machine to record the discussion. “Ahmed Kahman departed to the Deep Periphery with two battlemechs with pilots, a contingent of infantry, recovery vehicles and crew -have you a date on the last position?”
The Chu-i nodded, “Yes, Uncle Ahmed was scheduled to depart from Bjarred or Sawyer after resupply.”
“Wait,” Mohammed Bey said. “Those systems are well within Combine borders.”
“Indeed, we lost contact with him after he departed for those systems.” Beni-Mzab continued. “Uncle Ahmed may have continued on with his journey but we have no contact at all with any of the known plotted systems along his way.” A serving woman brought a tray with a ceramic teapot and a pair of matching cups. The Chu-i waited for her to fill their cups. “Arigato.” The woman bowed and left the two officers.
“ComStar did little to assist us with our inquiries and six months ago, there was no way to contact any of the stations in the occupied zones,” said the Chu-i.
“Six months ago?” As`Zaman thought about the attack on the Algedi station. “The HPG facility here was attacked then –were all the other ComStar stations attacked as well?”
Beni-Mzab shrugged. “I’ve heard some reports of such attacks, as well as other, stranger things occurring in the other Houses.” He handed a fingernail-sized data chip to the Sho-sa. “This is the complete data that I’ve been able to gather so far.”
Another servant approached the table carrying a tray. “Who has the salad?”
“Here.” Mohammed Bey motioned with his hand. He pocked the data chip and looked at the junior officer, “Would you like to order something?” He pointed at Beni-Mzab. “Mama-san, bring a menu for my guest.”
The Second Arkab Legion officer frowned, “My Bey, this isn’t necessary…”
“Nonsense!” As`Zaman replied. He tore open a steaming roll and smeared butter over it. “I personally picked the chef and his staff –try one of the steaks.”
The Chu-i took a menu from a serving woman. “Alright… Hey, I’ve never seen a selection like this at any Legion facility!”
The Sho-sa smiled, “This isn’t just any Legion facility.”


Administrative Offices, 1400 Hours

“My Bey, elements of the Sixth Arkab Legion have arrived in-system and are on their way here,” Chu-i Miyamoto reported. The young woman seemed excited about something. “We have received a special communiqué for you, my Bey!”
Chu-i Arimaki leapt up from her seat and literally hopped with joy. “It’s from the Bicester –the Kensai Kami training program!”
Miyamoto gave the other junior officer an annoyed look. “I wanted to tell Sensei the news!”
“You always look for reasons to flirt our commander!” Arimaki accused. She stuck her tongue out at her fellow secretary. “Kensai Kami! I am so proud of Sensei!”
The Sho-sa rolled his eyes, stepped between the two young women and deftly took the envelope from Miyamoto. “Now, now, ladies, I am a married man.”
Miyamoto stepped back and bowed, “Forgive us, my Bey, we just want to show you our support.”
“Please accept our apology, Sensei!” Arimaki also stepped away and took a deep bow as well.
“I cannot possibly fault my industrious staff,” As`Zaman told them. “I consider myself blessed.”
Arimaki hugged herself, “Sensei always says the nicest things!”
“Oh! What does the letter say?” Miyamoto was the first of the two to return to reality.
“A moment…” Mohammed Bey took a letter opener from Miyamoto’s desk and broke the seal. The two secretaries leaned against each of his shoulders with the hope of reading the communiqué at the same time. He unfolded the two-page missive and scanned the first page. “It appears that my list of candidates has been accepted.”
As expected, the two secretaries jumped and cheered as if they had both won an expensive token at a pachinko parlor. The Sho-sa smiled and waited for his junior officers to calm down before he continued. “Below are the listed deadlines to send in selected candidates’ names for each quarterly training session.” He looked over the list. “It’s too late to submit a name for the first quarter –I’ll submit Bahar’s name for the next quarter.”
Sensei, shouldn’t you go there first?” Arimaki looked disappointed.
As`Zaman shook his head, “This training cadre is my primary concern.” He folded the letter and returned it to the envelope. “I’ll go in the second or third quarter –I realize that it will give our school a lot more prestige if I complete the Kensai Kami course with a good score.”


Algedi Military Reservation, December 21, 0700 Hours

The modified Peregrine VTOL waited on the ferrocrete pad. In the cockpit, Tai-i Jean-Michel Ammad diligently commenced the Peregrine’s startup sequence. He waved at the ground crew as they stood back from the flight line and noted Sho-sa As`Zaman’s staff car as it pulled into the parking area beyond the chain link fence. Ammad revved the engine for a minute while he monitored the smooth crystal surface of his control panel –all of his sensors read positive. Satisfied, the VTOL pilot reduced the power to the rotors and waited for his passengers.
The ground crew escorted Sho-sa As`Zaman to the side of the Peregrine and opened the door to the passenger compartment. Chu-i Miyamoto followed the senior officer like an obedient puppy, clutching Mohammed Bey’s briefcase tightly as they boarded the craft.
Once the passengers were seated, the crewmen secured the door and scrambled back to the hangar. The Tai-i applied the throttle and paused while the passengers donned their headsets.
“We are buckled in,” As`Zaman reported. “You may proceed. Jean-Michel, nothing fancy today.”
The pilot nodded in disappointment, “As you wish, my Bey.” The Peregrine gently lifted from the landing pad and, shooting over the long runway, climbed into the pale sky.
Mohammed Bey looked over to Miyamoto, who clutched the armrests of her seat. He placed his hand on hers to reassure the young woman. “Go ahead and draw the shade, avoid looking out the other windows and try to relax.” He turned to his left and lowered the shade over his own window. “There we are.”
“T-Thank you, my Bey!” Miyamoto stuttered. She was not used to flying in such a small aircraft and was simply uncomfortable with flying. Nevertheless, she always begged to accompany the Sho-sa when he had to leave the base.
“I’ll need my compad.” The Sho-sa powered up the console in front of his seat and waited for Miyamoto to take the miniaturized computer from the briefcase. She handed the palm-sized device to him and he switched the power on. The console’s screen indicated that the two computers were linked and the Azami officer quickly sorted through dozens of files.
“The latest training packet from Dieron contained numerous reports.” He glanced over to his secretary, who was already busy at her own console, sorting the various files as well.
The Combine woman smiled, “I see your request for additional pilots and support crews for the other Peregrines have been approved.” She looked over the Quartermaster’s requisitions. “The request for conventional aircraft has been approved, pending shipping space.”
“That’s great!” He shook his head. “It looks like the invaders aren’t issuing individual challenges any more.” He shrugged, “I figured they’d get spanked one time too many and finally learn something.” As`Zaman received these intelligence reports on a weekly basis and he’d need the entire week to sift through the volumes of information, catalogue all the data that may some day be needed and mark the sections that may be added to the course. “I don’t believe it!”
Miyamoto looked up from her screen, “What is it my Bey?” Her commander rarely made a remark over trivial matters.
“It says here that a few Clan battlemech pilots have been identified as DCMS members,” As`Zaman said. “Traitors! How is that possible?”
“I cannot believe it!” The Combine woman’s jaw dropped. She could not even imagine such a thing happening.
Mohammed Bey continued reading, “The orders are to hand any DCMS personnel serving the invaders over to the ISF.” He frowned. “It says that members of other Houses have turned up among the invaders’ ranks but a warrior betraying the Draconis Combine?”
The Chu-i shivered as if a sudden chill engulfed her. “I’m scared.” The very thought was alien to the Combine woman.
As`Zaman opened another file. “Here’s something –another Clan. Clan Diamond Shark.” He scanned over the document. “DCMS units are instructed to use restraint if members of this Clan are present. Do not take any offensive action until their intentions are ascertained.” He turned to speak to Miyamoto, “Isn’t that remarkable?”
The Chu-i nodded in agreement, “I have never heard such a thing -is it possible that the Clans themselves are made up of factions?”
“From what I have seen so far, it would appear so,” As`Zaman responded.

0830 Hours

As`Zaman unbuttoned his tunic and adjusted his dark glasses. “It will be about two more hours –I’m going to get some rest.” He moved the slim microphone away from his mouth, switched the audio channel to orchestral selections by Claude Debussy and closed his eyes. The Chu-i nodded, shut down the data consoles and sat back in her soft, cushioned seat.

“My Bey, ETA in three-zero minutes,” Ammad’s voice overrode the soft music.
Sho-sa As`Zaman opened his eyes and chuckled. Chu-i Miyamoto’s head rested on his shoulder and she was fast asleep. He opened a compartment under the console and pulled out a pair of steaming face towels. He wiped his own face and hands then gently shook his secretary to wake her. He handed the other hot towel to the Chu-i as she dazedly blinked. The senior officer stuffed his own used towel into a cloth bag next to a trash disposal chute.
“Oh, thank you.” Miyamoto whispered.
He buttoned his tunic. “We’ll be landing in about half an hour, Harumi.” He opened the refrigerator door under the console and pulled out a bottle of cold water. “Would you like one?” He loosened the cap for her.
Miyamoto nodded, “Yes, please.” She extended her delicate hand and took the offered refreshment. “Thank you.” She took the cap off and daintily sipped from the container.

1045 Hours

The Peregrine flared out and landed on a helipad within the thick, high walls of the compound. Sho-sa As`Zaman looked at the pockmarked walls with nostalgia -month before, he led an assault on the HPG station to rescue the facility from attackers from within ComStar. They had infiltrated the station, murdered most of the mercenary defenders while in their barracks and almost broke into the main administration building. Had swift deployment forces from the Eighth Arkab not appeared in time, the station would have been taken over and perhaps destroyed -the ultimate goal of the people called ROM was not revealed and the prisoners handed over to ComStar as soon as the situation was stabilized.
Tai-i Ammad shut down the power and the rotors slowed. “All clear to disembark, my Bey.” He continued with his shutdown sequence as the two passengers unfastened their safety harnesses and removed their headsets.
Mohammed Bey stood up and opened the compartment door. The altitude was near fifteen kilometers so he and his secretary wore small breathing devices that fit over their mouths and noses.
Adept Williams approached the landing pad, flanked by a pair of ComStar guards armed with pulse laser weapons. The three men wore the white robes associated with ComStar but the guards wore a more practical cut version that would not interfere with their movement should they have to engage in combat.
“My good brother Mohammed!” The Adept spread his arms and embraced the shorter Azami officer, who returned the hug.
“How wonderful it is to see you well, my friend!” As`Zaman stepped back after Williams released him. “You appear to be back in good health and in wonderful spirits as well.” He stepped aside and motioned to his aide, “Allow me to introduce my valued assistant, Chu-i Harumi Miyamoto- Miss Miyamoto, the Honorable Adept Williams.”
The Chu-i extended a dainty hand and Williams gently clasped it, “I am pleased to meet you, Adept Williams.” She bowed as they shook hands.
“It is an honor, Chu-i Miyamoto,” Williams replied. He stood a full head taller than the slim Combine woman but he had a friendly smile and a warm, welcoming voice despite his imposing height and the breather he wore. The ComStar Adept returned the woman's bow and turned to his guards, “These are my bodyguards, Lang and Davis -I hope they don't make you uncomfortable, they've been assigned to me so I don't end up like my predecessor.”
Mohammed Bey nodded, “It is a neccessity -I am pleased to meet you gentlemen, do your best in protecting my friend.”
The Adept chuckled, “It is a sad state indeed that I need men to protect my life, although I do owe you for saving mine.” He stooped slightly and faced Miyamoto, “Did he tell you about that?”
The Chu-i's eyes grew wide, “Sensei, is that true?”
“I was just doing my job,” As`Zaman said, with a dismissive shrug.
The Adept tugged at the Sho-sa's sleeve, “Goodness! Let's go inside -I've got some tea on the boil and some fresh scones if you're hungry.” The party headed toward the administration building -a huge, bulky structure dating back to the Star League era. It looked rather stark and plain from a distance but there were delicate details, fluting and architectural lines that softened the effect of so much ferrocrete when viewing from a closer perspective.

The three sat around a sturdy table of polished teak and sipped hot tea as they talked.
“What else is there?” Williams asked. He held a case containing data chips with files that needed to be sent the next time the HPG transmitted.
As`Zaman looked at the noted on his compad display. “When I attended the Sun Tzu School of Combat, one of the things mentioned in military history class was the Battalion Training Program implemented by the Federated Commonwealth over twenty years ago -are you at all familiar with it?”
The Adept tilted his head in thought. “Come to think of it, I do remember some little.” He powered up his own compad, “Access, data, Federated Commonwealth, Battalion Training Program.” He sighed as the screen flickered and displayed the results. “Ah, yes, I have some information -mostly a description of what the program was supposed to accomplish, the particular units involved and some details.”
“I'll take whatever you have so far, Adept,” Mohammed Bey said.
Williams held up a hand, “Not yet.” His fingers fluttered over his flat keyboard. “There is far more comprehensive data on the subject available from our archives on Terra -shall I send in a request?”
“On Terra?” Mohammed Bey wasn't certain he heard the reply correctly. “Did you say Terra?” He nearly spilled his tea.
Williams nodded, “Yes, I did say Terra -it seems ComStar has decided to open up its archives to anyone who requests information on any subject.”
The Sho-sa turned to his aide, “Do you know what that means?”
Chu-i Miyamoto had just bitten into buttered scone and shyly covered her mouth with her fingertips as she shook her head.
“For centuries, ComStar never released information -they own Terra, the cradle of Mankind, have access to volumes of data lost since the fall of the Star League.” As`Zaman was suddenly on his feet. “They'll have technical manuals, schematics, field manuals on equipment in combat use, training materials, technical specifications for manufacture!”
“Really? Is that true?” Miyamoto suddenly realized the value of the sudden revelation.
“It is true,” Williams answered. He smiled and a blank data request form appeared on his screen. “Should I include the Star League Defense Force Catalogue of Publications, SLDF-4589-02-334-0010?”
The Sho-sa leaned over the adept’s shoulder. “By all means, then I could have my technicians look through what you have available.” He looked over to Miyamoto and winked. “I’ll have to give my assistant a commendation for all her contributions in this effort.”
“Sir?” The Chu-i dropped what was left of the scone onto her small platter. “But I didn’t do anything!” Her cheeks flushed with a rosy tinge. Williams chuckled and shook his head.
“Oh, you are far too modest, Chu-i Miyamoto!” The senior office shook his finger at her in mock scolding. “Anyway, how dare you question your commander’s judgment?”
“Oh, no sir!” The Draconis Combine woman sprang to her feet and bowed. “Please forgive my impertinence!”
Adept Williams nudged the Azami officer with his elbow. “You are terrible!” He sent the request form to the HPG transmission center. He looked up at the man he considered his friend. “Is there anything else?”
Mohammed Bey bowed slightly, “Is there anything I may do for you?”

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


Last edited by Mohammed As `Zaman Bey on Sat Jan 12, 2008 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 6:56 am 
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Captain
Captain

Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 3:44 am
Posts: 246
Excellent, excellent stuff; wish I had noticed it before now, since it took a while to read through it all.

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[color=red][i]Chu-sa[/i] Masuyo Goto[/color]
[color=purple][b][i]Musei Yuuchi[/i] Special Ops Company[/b][/color]


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 6:28 am 
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Antisocial General
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Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2003 8:35 am
Posts: 7883
Location: MLC, Lyran Alliance.
People praise my writing, but MZB has a genuine gift. My writing looks terrible beside his. As I read his continued work, it brings a quote to mind...

"Read, and your Lord is Most Generous, He who taught use of the pen, taught man what he knew not..." - The Qur'an, Sura 96:3-5

Allah has been most generous to teach MZB to write, indeed...

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Be careful what you wish for. I might let you have it. :evil:


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 6:55 am 
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Commanding General
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Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2002 8:00 pm
Posts: 2387
Location: Bristol, West of England, Sol III
I think you're both good, in your own ways (i just keep the raging fanboyism to myself, and find the short waits good for the soul :lol: )

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"You know what the chain of command is? It's the chain I go get and beat you with 'til you understand who's in ruttin' command here."


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 3:38 am 
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Location: Kingdom of Hawaii
Algedi Military Reservation, Nafud Desert Training District, December 22, 3052, 0700 Hours

The harsh Algedi sun beat down on the assembled vehicles. Engines rumbled, environmental control fans whined and occasional servo motors buzzed as communications dishes made slight adjustments.
Inside the large command trailer, a handful of Eighth Arkab Training Cadre officers observed the movement of icons projected on a two by two meter map of the training district.

“The Clan Smoke Jaguar lead elements are closing in on the Sixth Arkab positions,” Sho-sa Bahar announced.
“A pair of Mist Lynxes,” Chu-i Miyamoto said. “Do you think the ambush will work?”

A large cloud of smoke billowed from a corner of the command center. Sho-sa As`Zaman, who had been observing the camera feeds sent by the searching Eighth Arkab pilots in captured Clan omnimechs, stood up from his chair and used his lighter to apply some flame to his ceramic pipe and took a long draw. He released another dense cloud. “Kaminski is a veteran scout –he’ll recognize terrain ideal for an ambush and take the proper measures.” He turned up the volume on one of the feeds.

“Mechwarrior Abbud, this is Kaminski. My magnetic anomaly scanner has detected a pair of battlemechs hidden among the trees ahead.” Icons appeared on the screen, approximating the enemy machines’ positions. “I am one hundred percent certain that from left to right, we face a Kintaro and a Crab. Kaminski, out.”
“Acknowledged,” Abbud replied.

Miyamoto’s jaw dropped, “He is very good.” The young Draconis Combine woman normally worked in the Eighth Arkab Training Cadre’s administrative office. Today, she accompanied the unit commander as he observed the exercise in progress.
Mohammed Bey lowered the volume and smiled, “Good is not enough for the Arkab Legions. Our ability to locate and identify enemy units must be superior to that of the opponent.” He placed the pipe’s mouthpiece between his lips and drew in some smoke. He puffed out a dense cloud that drifted over the map and revealed several thin, vibrating laser beams that projected moving icons onto the table from the emitters mounted in the ceiling.
“Oh,” Miyamoto whispered. She became thoughtful at the revelation.

“The Clanners are shooting at the trees,” Bahar said. “So much for the ambush.” The other officers gathered around the illuminated map. “The hiding places were too obvious.”
“Chu-i, I suggest you go view the monitors,” As`Zaman said. “It is much too easy to interpret the battlefield from an overhead perspective. See how it looks from a mechwarrior’s point of view.”
“Abbud and Marcus Bey are fighting,” Bahar commented.

“Marcus is in the Kintaro- He fought on Luthien with us,” Mohammed Bey added. “Ah, he’s stuck a NARC beacon on Abbud’s omnimech.” He smiled at a sudden recollection, “On Luthien, Marcus stuck a beacon on a Clan Nova Cat Timberwolf and our Archers and Catapults hit it with almost two hundred missiles in a single barrage.”
The young Combine officer’s jaw dropped, “Amazing.”
“What was truly amazing was that Timberwolf managing to limp away,” As`Zaman commented.

Three more icons appeared on the map. Bahar adjusted the map controls. “Maliq, Hafiz and Henricksen are moving up to support the lead scout omnimechs.” The servos whined softly and scale holographic images of the battlemechs replaced the color coded icons.
“That Crab should support Tengri as he pulls his Kintaro away,” As`Zaman said. He shook his head, “He’s letting that Kintaro get shot to pieces.”

Miyamoto chimed in, “Abbud’s Mist Lynx is getting the worst of it.”
“That may be,” Bahar acknowledged, “but Maliq’s Mad Dog is covering the lighter omnimech’s retreat.” He used a pad linked to the computer system to mark Abbud’s path, “He will pull away for repairs.” He added another pair of battlemech images to the map. “Two Wyverns just entered the fight, firing their missiles at distance.”

Chu-i Iosef Kaminski raced his Mist Lynx between Maliq’s advancing Mad Dog and Abbud’s retreating omnimech. He ignored the fierce exchange between the Mad Dog and the pair of Sixth Arkab Wyverns and fired his jump jets. The Mist Lynx rose into the dusty air and Kaminski picked a spot on the ridge to the north of the battle to set his mount down. Once the veteran pilot cleared the top of the ridge, he spotted a lance of light battlemechs carefully picking their way along the opposite side of the ridge, obviously attempting to flank the formation of Clan machines. The mechwarrior from the Free Worlds League fired lasers and missiles before his omnimech’s feet touched the ground. The pair of Thorns and Mongoose scout battlemechs returned a storm of missile and energy fire before they scrambled away, taking cover among the massive boulder formations and rough terrain beyond the ridge. Kaminski again used his Mist Lynx’s jump jets to take cover below the south face of the long stretch of terrain.

The Chu-i shook his head. Despite all the firing in the last few seconds, none of his damage indicators showed any hits scored against his omnimech. He had doubts that his own panicked firing struck any targets as well. Kaminski glanced at a data panel –it indicated that one of the opposing Wyverns had lost a leg and was out of combat. Maliq’s Mad Dog had lost an arm but managed to chase off the remaining Inner Sphere machines.

“This battle is over,” Bahar concluded. “Both sides will pull back for repairs with a slight advantage to Clan Smoke Jaguar.”
“Agreed,” Mohammed Bey said. “Let them play for a day or two more then send out the recall.” He stood up and took a few seconds to straighten out his tunic. “The next exercise shall be on Dabih.” He strode toward the exit. “Miyamoto, have a shuttle ready.”
The Chu-i snapped to attention, “Yes my Bey!”


Administrative Offices, December 23, 1700 Hours

“You are so lucky!” Chu-i Arimaki exclaimed. She sat working at her terminal while chatting with Chu-i Miyamoto. “I wish I was going to the exclusive resort on Dabih with the commander- I’d even like going alone.” She stopped her work and kicked her desk so her wheeled chair rolled closer to the other woman’s work station. “You’ve been accompanying Sho-sa As`Zaman on a lot of his rounds…So, what is he like?”
“When we travel, the commander is very quiet,” Miyamoto replied in a casual voice. “He usually listens to music.”
“That’s not what I meant,” Arimaki scolded. She wrinkled her nose and adjusted her glasses, “I’ve heard that he rarely talks but does he ever flirt with you?”
Miyamoto blushed, “Oh, not at all! In fact, when he speaks with me, it’s like he’s teaching me something.”
“Ho, ho, ho… Just like Sensei Abe at the academy –eh, Harumi?” Arimaki looked over the top of her lenses.
“Don’t be ridiculous! I had a lot of respect for the sensei, that’s all –it isn’t the same.” The young officer stomped over to her own desk and pretended to ignore her fellow administrative aide.

After a brief stretch of silence, Arimaki changed the subject. “Ah, Chu-i Akiyama stopped by this morning and asked for you.”
“So?” Miyamoto sorted out files on her holographic display. It was well known that Akiyama had an interest in all the single DCMS women.
“Everybody’s talking about the new personal vehicle he bought last week,” Arimaki told her. “It is very large and he needs a stepladder to board it.”
The young Combine woman rolled her eyes, “Why am I not surprised? I swear, Kimiko, everything Akiyama does is some childish form of compensation.”
The other woman stifled a laugh, “Do you really think so?” She tapped at her keyboard and saved the file she was working on. “Oh, the chu-i did say that he’d be by this afternoon to offer you a ride to the mess.”
Miyamoto closed her eyes and sagged a bit, “Darn it.” She resumed her data entry for a few minutes then paused, “About the Sho-sa… He lets all of his officers speak freely around him.”
The other chu-i stopped her work, “I’ve heard about that from the others. That is unusual- and they still respect him?”
“I have asked the commander about it,” Miyamoto said. “How do you think he replied?”
Arimaki wrinkled her nose and shook her head, “I can’t even guess.”

Chu-i Miyamoto stood up from her seat, leaned over to her friend’s work station and pointed an accusing finger at her, “No, you would never have guessed because you still expect Sho-sa As`Zaman to behave as your average, traditional DCMS commander.” Satisfied that she shocked Arimaki into silence, Miyamoto continued, “We were flying back from the Nafud Desert when I asked him about his informal rapport with his officers and he told me that most of them had attended the Sun Tzu School of Combat and graduated with him.”
“That makes sense,” Arimaki replied. “But that doesn’t explain why he even allows his foreign officers to speak their minds in his presence.”
“Ah, I was about to get to that part,” Miyamoto added. “I asked the Sho-sa about that as well and he said this:” The female officer struck a swaggering pose, fists on her hips and spoke in an attempt at a masculine voice, “Let me tell you, young chu-i, too many DCMS officers run their units like so many little dictators and their subordinates are often not merely polite but too afraid to freely speak their minds. I can’t always think of every detail of an operation- imagine what may happen if my fellow officers are uncomfortable with correcting me or pointing out something I may have missed?”
Arimaki nodded thoughtfully, “I guess that makes some sense but he usually allows just anyone to speak their minds in his presence.”
“He addressed that as well,” Miyamoto said. She again performed her imitation of their commander, “Why do I allow everyone to speak their minds?” The chu-i pretended to lean forward and whisper, “I see them as they really are.” She suddenly stood up straight, “Oh, and you should have seen the look in his eye! A dolt like Chu-i Akiyama would have withered.”

The base shuttle turned into the parking area near the administration building and halted next to a covered shelter. Several officers of the Second Arkab Legion disembarked and in small handfuls, chatted with each other as they headed toward the building’s entrance. After the electric-powered shuttle quietly rolled out of the parking area to continue on its scheduled rounds, the loud rumbling of a powerful, piston-driven engine caused a few of the Arkab officers to pause and turn.

Tai-i Abbud, one of the visiting officers, shook his head when he saw the large, gleaming silver vehicle trundle into the stone-paved lot and pull into a marked stall. He halted and watched the young DCMS Chu-i step down from the high cabin and close the door.
“Small…jambiya,” Abbud commented under his breath. The other officers laughed as they turned as a group and entered the building.

Chu-i Miyamoto caught a glimpse of Sho-sa As`Zaman as he walked past the door, “Oh, my Bey!” She leapt to her feet and ran out into the hallway, where the Azami commander halted and turned.
“Yes, Chu-i, what may I do for you?” He stood in the hall and waited calmly.
The secretary stood at attention and bowed, “Sir, I didn’t know you were leaving so early –Is there anything else you need?”
As`Zaman stood back and stroked his trimmed beard, “Oh, no, I’m not leaving just yet- I’ll be in the conference room.” He stopped himself before he continued on his way, “I have decided that we could suspend training over Chrissumassu and the Standard New Year observance but we leave for Dabih on January third –please be prepared for the trip.”
“Yes sir!” Miyamoto replied. “Thank you, sir!”
“If that is all, I have to meet with some of the officers of the Sixth Legion,” Mohammed Bey told her. He looked through the door and waved to Chu-i Arimaki. “I’ll probably see you two in the mess an hour from now.”
“I’ll be there, my Bey!” The two officers bowed and the secretary happily returned to her desk.

Arimaki waited for a few seconds before she leaned over to her friend and whispered, “You should have kissed him goodbye.”
“Jealous!” Miyamoto snapped. She jumped up, “I should make some coffee for the meeting!”
The other secretary laughed as Miyamoto scrambled out of the office. “Infatuation.”
“I heard that!”

“Thank you, my brothers, for your kind patience,” Sho-sa As`Zaman announced to the officers seated around the long, mahogany table. “The second phase of your training shall take place on Dabih but since we are so close to the year’s end, I hope a week’s delay won’t be too difficult on you.”
Chu-i Beni-Mzab nodded, “They are Draconis Combine soldiers- can’t you just order them to work over the holidays?”
Mohammed Bey smiled, “Of course I could but I know I can get much more out of my subordinates if I show them the same respect for their holiday observances as they show for mine.” He stepped aside to give the officers a clear view of the briefing screen. “As you know, we have already begun loading your equipment onto your dropships.” A map of the Fourth Arkab Legion Reserve Training Camp appeared on the screen. “The Cadre units on Dabih shall be engaged in a routine field exercise when you arrive and they are not expecting you.”

“Hey there!”
Chu-i Miyamoto winced, “Ah, hello Chu-i Akiyama.” Her eyes didn’t leave the screen of her monitor.
“Hi there!” Chu-i Arimaki waved to the DCMS officer. She adjusted her glasses, looked up and smiled at him. “I told her you’d be back.”
Akiyama stepped into the office, “Miyamoto-san, are you ready to go?”
The chu-i’s fingers sped over her keyboard, “I have thirteen minutes left on the clock, Chu-i Akiyama.” She continued her work, “You don’t expect me to leave before the Commander does, do you?”
Akiyama dipped his head and gave a dismissive gesture, “Well, well, alright.” He slipped his hands into his trouser pockets and peeked down the hall. “The gaijin officers from the Second Legion arrived just before I did. They must be in the conference room.” He looked about the office and noticed the tiny decorated tree on display atop a filing cabinet. “The old sooltan sure spoils you here.”
“Don’t let him hear you say that,” Miyamoto warned. “You’ll be a chu-i until you retire.”
“That’s all talk,” Akiyama replied. “I remember the briefings but if the old man were any good, he’d be in a front-line assignment instead of wasting his time in this training cadre.” He shook his head. “We all know how rich he is, with the executive chef team in the mess, his limousines and personal VTOLs to get around- I’ll bet this is his way of avoiding combat.”
Miyamoto stood up, “That isn’t true!” She was furious but lowered her voice so nobody in the other administrative offices could hear. “He fought on Luthien! He was wounded and still returned to battle! His command was given a commendation from the Kanrei himself!” The young woman scolded the DCMS officer as if he were a child, “Don’t you dare talk like that about our commander ever again!”

Surprised by Miyamoto’s sudden outburst and thoroughly chastised, Akiyama held up both hands to ward off her verbal attack. “Alright, alright, I give up!” He sheepishly backed into a corner, where he found a chair and sat down. Without thinking he pulled something to read from the table next to him and thumbed through it. It was a fashion publication filled with articles about the latest women’s clothes, glossy images and cosmetic advertisements. He let out a stifled groan.


Officer’s Mess, 1815 Hours

Tai-i Albertshofer and Chu-i Fergusson stood in front of the entrance of the mess hall; the older Lyran placed a cigarette between his lips. “That was a delicious meal today, Fergusson.” He touched the glowing stud of his lighter to the tip of his cigarette and inhaled.
“Indeed, it was,” Fergusson replied. “I haven’t enjoyed Cordon Bleu in ages.” The ex-mercenary’s attention was drawn to the low, rumbling sound of an approaching engine. “Say, that must be Chu-i Akiyama’s new personal vehicle.” He watched the silver shape glide into the parking area, dwarfing the other, smaller groundcars.
Albertshofer exhaled a cloud of smoke, “Poor man.” With a shrug, he turned to find his own, more compact speeder. “It must be tough, having such a small…self esteem.”


Parsippany Spaceport, Algedi, January 3, 3053, 0900 Hours

Chu-i Akiyama helped his two female passengers disembark from his massive personally-owned vehicle. After he replaced the small step-ladders, the chu-i hefted Miyamoto’s luggage from the spacious flatbed. “Lead the way, Miyamoto-san.”
The two female DCMS officers looked at their reflections in the highly-polished side of Akiyama’s vehicle, adjusted the lines of their uniforms and straightened their service caps. “A moment, Akiyama-san,” Chu-i Miyamoto said. Satisfied with her appearance, she spun on her heel, “Thank you very much for taking your time and driving me to make my flight.” She bowed to her fellow officer.
“Yes, right, you’re very welcome,” Akiyama gasped. He looked at the distance to the terminal, “Maybe I should get a cart for these.” He set the pair of suitcases and satchel down on the pavement, looked at his reflection in his vehicle’s passenger window then adjusted his tinted glasses.

Chu-i Arimaki grinned, “Okay, we’ll go ahead and check in, Harumi already has her boarding pass.” She waved just before he turned to search for a cart station.

“Oh, inside the terminal is so much cooler than outside!” Arimaki folder a handkerchief and dabbed the perspiration from her brow. “I have to get some water.” She looked around for a fountain.
Miyamoto dipped her head, “Me too- at least the line to check in luggage is short.” She caught a glimpse of Arimaki entering the terminal through a distant set of automatic doors, “Oh, here comes our porter with a cart!” She waved so the struggling chu-i could see her. He nodded and struggled with the baggage-laden cart. It wasn’t because the cart had a particularly heavy load- one of its wheels didn’t function properly, which not only didn’t turn as it should but caused the cart to veer off its intended course, which only made Akiyama perspire all the more.
“Women.”

With a sigh of relief, Chu-i Miyamoto met Sho-sa As`Zaman in the long corridor that led to the security gate to their shuttle. They exchanged polite bows. “Sir, I am surprised that you haven’t boarded yet.”
“I’ve already been aboard the shuttle and came here after the others got settled,” the commander replied. “Let me carry your travel bag.”
“How thoughtful of you, sho-sa.” Miyamoto momentarily pondered what her commander said but dismissed it as she lifted the padded strap from her slim shoulder and strained her arms as she held the heavy article.
Mohammed Bey grasped the bag and slung it over his back, “We still have plenty of time so you should go to your cabin and change your clothes to something more comfortable to wear while you travel.”

The young Draconis Combine woman suddenly felt a sudden thrill. She had heard about senior officers, nobles and high corporate officers taking on mistresses who lived lives of comfort and privilege. Her admiration on Sho-sa As`Zaman was obvious- she managed to do extensive research on his military career as an Arkab officer and his years as a mercenary. Now they were on their way to Dabih, an Azami tropical paradise world known for its vast wealth from petrochemical industries, lush rain forests, countless idyllic beaches and hotel-casinos that catered to the wealthy few. Although they would be observing the Eighth Arkab Training Cadre at work, she knew that the sho-sa had booked reservations at the highest rated hotel in Barheilabad. He was discreet enough to make sure that they occupied separate suites.

A smiling attendant in a smartly-cut uniform stood near the gate and motioned to the scanner beside the portal. Beyond that lay the boarding tube that linked the terminal to the waiting aerodyne. The two officers slid their boarding passes over the sensors and the device indicated that their passes were valid.

Uniformed attendants welcomed them as they entered the waiting shuttle. The combined sounds of atmospheric controls, the public address speakers, restless passengers, and idling maneuver engines became far louder once they left the insulation of the spaceport's main terminal and was almost deafening as they passed through the portion of the air lock that led into the shuttle's main corridor.

One of the flight attendants bowed, “If you wish to take your luggage to your stateroom, turn right at the intersection and follow the blue line.” She looked at the digital readout on a nearby status screen, “We have about three-zero minutes until departure.”
“Thank you,” As`Zaman replied. “You have been most helpful.” He saw four or five passengers in the intersection ahead of him and could see the color coded lines on the floor. A flat crystal display on the wall showed a detailed map of the aerodyne's interior accessable to passengers and explained the various colors used to navigate within the spacious craft. “Chu-i Miyamoto, will you be relaxing in your stateroom or in the passengers' seating area when we lift off?”
The young woman's face flushed, “Uh...I'll be happy to accompany you, sir.”
Mohammed Bey nodded as he marched down the hallway, “That would be nice- we'll be in the Executive Class seating area, fourth row.”

Miyamoto found her stateroom simple but more spacious than she had expected. With an eye on the time, she opened her travel bag and found a loose, cotton dress that she had purchased for the trip. “I know he'll like this one.” She quickly changed out of her uniform, let down her long, raven hair and slipped a pair of comfortable sandals onto her delicate feet before she stowed her travel bag in the locker under the bed. After a quick glance in the mirror to retouch her makeup, the young woman secured her room and made her way toward their seating area.

The passenger seating area was divided into three sections. The first section that Chu-i Miyamoto strode through was rather cramped and the fifty-odd seats filled with passengers returning to Dabih after visiting the various Azami holy sites located on Algedi. Many of the men wore the loose, white gambas of a devotee on pilgrimage. The Azami on pilgrimage paid very low fares but their accommodations were very basic -a cylinder with minimal climate controls, access to public restrooms and two simple meals each day. Depending on the priority, a shuttle from Algedi to one of the recharge stations could take as long as four weeks. Occasional chartered jumpships waited at the system's Lagrange points, they reduced the travel time from the planet's surface significantly. The Draconis Combine officer became very conscious of the many Azami sect members that packed the seating area -all the mature women wore the traditional body-covering clothing, with little more that their eyes visible. Some of the women even wore fabric mesh over their eyes to fully conceal their features.

Feeling very self-conscious and imagining the disdain the passengers in the section had for non-believers, Miyamoto kept her eyes straight ahead and pushed aside the linen curtain that separated the basic compartment from the spacious and less cramped Tourist Class seating area. Here, the twenty seats were occupied by wealthier pilgrims and families on vacation, either heading to Dabih to vacation or workers returning from vacation to the many industrial plants or tourist-oriented businesses.
Again, Miyamoto could see the older Azami women in full body covering clothing while the younger women wore veils and hoods to cover their hair. The children with dark eyes and bronze skin looked like children from anywhere in the Combine- many traveled in school uniforms, the girls wore modest, pleated skirts and navy-styled white blouses adopted from schools throughout the Draconis Combine. The boys wore the simple, military styled jacket with Mandarin collar and single row of buttons over a pair of straight trousers. Instead of the traditional black or dark blue, the boy's uniform used in Azami schools were khaki. Unlike the Combine students, the boys in Azami schools also wore the cylindrical tarboush or the cloth kefiyyah held in place with a black agal. In addition to the more comfortable seating, the travelers in this area enjoyed better, private passenger berths and three regular meals a day. Large holovid screens provided the passengers with the standard safety briefing and later, regular feature entertaimnent from the latest tri-vid releases.
A rather burly male attendant stood before the access door that led to the area called Executive Class. The Chu-i presented her seating pass and waited for the attendant to tap his earcomm unit and inform the attendant on the other side of the security door that another passenger was cleared to enter. After the door opened, the external guard stepped aside, bowed and allowed the young woman to pass.

Sho-sa As`Zaman heaved an unwieldy, leather travel bag into an overhead compartment and secured the hatch, “There you go- Is there anything else you need help with?
“Oh, I don't believe so,” the young attendant replied. “I'm sure that was the last article that needed to be stored before we depart.” She bowed, “My Bey, once again, thank you!”
The officer, still in his field uniform, returned the bow, “Think nothing of it, miss.” He noticed that the male cabin attendant assigned to guard the secure entrance turned to open the door. He waved when he saw the Chu-i enter the seating area. “Miyamoto-san, welcome!”

Chu-i Miyamoto's mouth opened when she first glimpsed the Executive Class cabin. There were only ten seats, all of them larger than any she'd seen in the shuttle and they took up an area similar to Tourist Class. Three attendants maneuvered along the wide aisle and made certain that their passengers were comfortable. She had never traveled in anything better than the cabin she just left and most often, she endured military transports where she shared a claustrophobia-inducing berth with two or three other women.

A young boy in what appeared to be a miniature version of the Arkab Legion's field uniform stood up from his seat, stepped into the aisle, snapped to the position of “attention” then executed a crisp and impressive salute. Motionless even after a few seconds of utter surprise, Miyamoto blinked in disbelief.
“Gunsho Ahmed As`Zaman Bey, the chu-i is not in uniform,” As`Zaman told the child. He turned to Miyamoto, “I have reserved this entire section.”

It was then the young woman noticed that a few of the seats were taken by Azami women covered from head to toe in black burqa. Among the women sat small children- four of them if you counted the boy with gunsho tabs on his collar. “Y-your family…”
Mohammed Bey nodded and swept his out to the seats on either side of the aisle, “Yes, two of my wives, Safiyyah and Aliyyah with their attending women, my sons Ahmed and Thaqid, and my daughters Mellila and Leila.”
One of the veiled women tipped her head slightly in acknowledgement.
Miyamoto wanted to run back to her room and cry. Instead, she clasped her hands and bowed humbly, “It is an honor to meet you, Sherifah!”

_________________
[i]And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.[/i] from The Koran, 33rd Sura- The Clans


Last edited by Mohammed As `Zaman Bey on Fri Aug 29, 2008 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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