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 Post subject: Here Be Dragons
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:44 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Fri May 30, 2003 2:56 pm
Posts: 2144
Imperial Palace
Luthien, Pesht Military District
Draconis Combine
June 2, 3139



Yori Kurita smelled smoke.

For a dragon--the Dragon--it was a familiar scent. Every day since she ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne the odour drifted to her as she walked along the palace corridors. And every day she followed its trail.

Always, it took her to the door. In the room beyond two dragons died: Vincent and his son Ryuhiko. The previous and rightful Coordinator, and his remaining male heir. It had been more than two years since the explosion. More than two years since the room had been restored, their remains entombed. But still she had never made it past that door.

A breeze from an open window tasted of jasmine flowers. The stench of ashes choked her, her blue eyes watered slightly.

Nodding twice, slowly, she moved away from the door and entered an alcove. She waited a moment and a part of the wall disappeared and soft light shone on the polished black stairs.

She descended alone.

The obsidian stone set underneath the Imperial Palace was smoothed hundreds of years ago by slaves and servants long dead. All the Coordinators worthy of the title kept the lights low, each step a challenge, an effort, a reminder. The Black Dragons waited three hours before installing light fixtures.

Still, Yori admitted, the workers, who must certainly have joined the original architects by now, did a magnificent job. The blackness seemed as if it was carved by light. It's a pity she only saw it once; every meeting since the first she descended with her eyes closed.

Hushed footsteps was all the prompting her High Command needed to stand from their new circular table. Each had an aide behind and to their left who was allowed a seat while a trio of attendants a bit farther back were expected to remain on their feet. The room had been enlarged to accomodate them all.

They bowed. Some bows were held too long, others not long enough. The Coordinator of the Draconis Combine did not notice. But Yori Kurita did as she returned it.

Her position at the figurative head of the table had no room for attendants and only one seat. She took it, gracefully.

With her nod the meeting officially began.

----

Deep within the Imperial Palace

The deep, black wood of their table glistened with its own light. It shone as if distant ceiling lights blazed upon it, but the glow was from within. Outdated terminals set on reinforced wooden tables from a century ago had been replaced with holo-circuitry embedded into the table itself; the holodisplays angled only so the owner and his immediate staff behind him could see it.

It was a marvel. It was Republic technology.

Warlord Galedon began, as he always did, by outlining the recent successes his units have had against pirates. Above, and in the centre, the Galedon Military District pulsed into life. They had been found, easily enough, in the same region of space Outworlds Alliance refugees had fled to decades ago after Clan Snow Raven engulfed their former nation. Another pulse, and a smattering of stars near the Combine's border glowed red.

These unarmed bandits have been flooding the slave markets in the Galedon district worlds. All were pleased.

The Director of the ISF watched Yori Kurita closely as an aide tapped the air with his fingers. A concise stream of data flowed past her vision, aligned to follow her eyes so only she saw what the Director wanted to say. About everything.

Her reading of the data took her view to one of the two empty sections of the table: the previous gunji-no-kanrei did not survive his master's death for long. The bomb had been his idea, after all, and therefore his failure when his plot succeeded. The first "loyal" death. It remained vacant since.

Warlord Galedon's raids were making him personally wealthy, the information indicated. His harem had grown to over five hundred young women as well. His bribes to corrupt Alliance warriors continued to pay off and could still be exploited as per the director's plans if or when the time came to relieve the current Warlord of his duties. Some of the payments would be made by 'reallocating' his harem.

Warlord Dieron was absent, overseeing the continued reintegration of the former Republic worlds back into Dieron Military District. She hadn't returned to Luthien since the bombing. Still, even with the HPGs silent, the Combine's economy had experienced a boom from the materials produced by the Dieron district. And her successful raids on Quentin quieted most critics.

The Director had already authorized increased ISF activity into the porous borders to stem the tide of trade with outside markets. To secure the Combine's economic integrity, Yori was sure, glancing at the director's aides: two of whom were second or third sons of CEOs.

As she had for several months, she favoured Warlord Pesht with a smile as he stood for the day's theatrics. He had only begun acknowledging the smile recently. He was Black Dragon, like the rest, to the bone and from birth. But he was handsome when he smiled, and a female Coordinator would need a father for her future baby Coordinator. The Society could not be more pleased with her apparent attraction.

His report was meaningless to her and the director both. But he smiled back.

Neither the Director nor the Abbess had anything to report. At least, not with her present.

Warlord Benjamin bowed formally to her once more before beginning his brief. It was low and quick enough to be perfunctory, and instead of being rude it was more of a sign to get to work. His was the agenda to be followed today.

The Coordinator nodded fractionally and held herself back. Yori Kurita strained to see and hear everything.

----

Deep within the Imperial Palace


Gavin Moore, Warlord of the Benjamin Military District, did not wear his weapons. On his left hip, two empty loops marked his missing daisho, on his right, a worn leather holster. He stood like the MechWarrior he still was. The others merely wore empty sheathes and holsters that never held a real weapon. Not one used in battle.

He would respect the office of the Coordinator, and all the traditions into entering the Coordinator's presence, even if they had to make do with a female Kurita for now. At least she knows her place.

Moore nodded once and a map of the Pesht Military District formed overhead. Confused, the Black Dragons cast furtive glances at each other. Warlord Pesht's eyes narrowed as the DCMS regiments under his control, at least the ones within his district, were marked on the various worlds they garrisoned. The worlds they really garrisoned, not just what he reported or agreed to.

Without preamble, Moore spoke. "I need these units," and four regiment tabs blinked red/gold. His blunt manner did not fool anyone, not when he outmaneuevered another Warlord's intelligence apparatus.

Warlord Pesht wisely, for once, held his tongue. The rest glowered at the map, at Moore, or at their aides.

A female voice broke the silence, creating a deep stillness in the chamber.

The question still resounded in the room. "Why?"

It was the first word uttered by Yori Kurita in two years of council sessions. No one was prepared. Gavin Moore, affronted, responded reflexively with due deference. "Tono, to act on intelligence secured by Warlord Dieron, who could not attend, and supplementary information from the ISF... and O5P."

The Abbess studied the holomap intently, the Director studied Moore.

The Warlord broke away from her blue gaze. The steel in her eyes...

He continued, "They are still reeling from the treachery two years ago." A few unwise gasps echoed through the room. He blinked, then added, "The Lyrans are still unbalanced in their rebuilding efforts from the Clan Wolf migration. Their economy is in poor shape, and their military is hard-pressed, mostly thanks to Warlord Dieron's raiding efforts."

He could feel her eyes on him. His aide tapped into the air. Two worlds side-by-side shone a deep blue on the map. Moore suppressed a shiver. "These two worlds are ours for the taking."

"You need four of my regiments to take two worlds?" Warlord Pesht mocked.

"No," Gavin said, "I'll need eight."

That stirred the council awake. High Command devolved into its customary bickering then. Insinuations, promises, and recriminations reverberated in the chamber. Yori Kurita was forgotten again, but Moore could not.

His eyes were pulled to her's. She nodded. Without thinking, he bowed and took his seat.

Dread froze the pit of his stomach. Anger burned his heart. But taishu Gavin Moore was mostly amused and impressed.

He gazed at the rest of the council which was still bickering and typed into the air as he waited. Minutes passed.

The eventual Black Dragon consensus was that he was to proceed with his plans, which had to undergo a final review. Right now. He thanked them solemnly and uploaded the plans. A lively, and unnecessary, debate began on its merits. And still Yori Kurita held Gavin Moore in her gaze.

In truth, Gavin had sent the authorization as soon as he sat down and made one tiny change: the orders now began with "By the order of the Coordinator" and its routing numbers now indicated that fact. It was the first command decreed by the Office of the Coordinator in two long years.

Gavin Moore, Warlord of the Benjamin Military District, stood alone as the Coordinator of the Draconis Combine rose and withdrew.


Coordinator's Quarters, Imperial Palace


Yori stripped off the ceremonial robes and dashed to her sink. She heaved as the cold water ruined her makeup, coughed as her knees finally gave out.

Her servants were just outside, and she couldn't afford to be seen like this. Not after the risk she just took.

Slowly, carefully, Yori cleaned her face and dressed herself in the plainest kimono she could find. The ceremonial robes she left crumpled on the floor as she sat by a window and waited.

Not long after, a wall slid away and a shadow beckoned.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:45 am 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Fri May 30, 2003 2:56 pm
Posts: 2144
PART I

Chapter One


All that remains of
those brave warriors' dreamings -
these summer grasses

- Matsuo Bashō


Outside New Austin
Corridan IV, Prefecture IX
The Republic of the Sphere
June 10, 3139


Chu-i Jackson Lewis, Third Pesht Regulars, Third Battalion, Second Company, roared in delight as his 30-ton Wisp darted through enemy fire. Well, mostly in delight. The OmniMech's aggressive arrow-shaped torso carried nearly the maximum amount of armour the frame could take--which still wasn't a lot considering the firepower hurtling towards him at any given second.

But it certainly could move.

The ability to "duck" was certainly welcome as well, giving the omni a slightly lower movement profile for a few steps even while at a run. It was actually an unintended feature, but it didn't cause any damage and became one of LAW's selling points. Which is why a painfully beautiful tree shattered into fiery splinters from a gauss rifle round instead of Ghostfang and Jackson along with it.

Luthien Armor Works I could kiss you in the mouth! Jackson exulted, partly in fright as fire blossomed in his wake from another wave of long range missiles.

Overhead, aerospace fighters continued their mad dance, sending their partners to burning graves.

Chu-i Lewis glanced up at each falling fighter, their pieces littering his path. There was no need to slow down as he weaved and bobbed through the grassy terrain, straying just close enough to give his lance and company more accurate C3 telemetry. Based on the classic, and still in-service, Jenner, the Wisp kept its odd profile but could walk almost as fast as the older JR7s could run. Jackson loved it, cherishing even the exposed feeling of the forward cockpit.

Arrow icons, not just arrows in his HUD but designating incoming Arrow IV ordnance, blinked with a countdown underneath. His TAG unit was still perfectly gyro-locked as the Arrow IVs arced above: he kept the targets lit up even after the Arrow IVs signalled it had achieved terminal lock.

A Republic assault tank vanished, replaced by a bubble of flame and sound. Burning debris rained on its remaining comrades, and somehow the intensity of weapons fire against him increased.

Deftly, he sidestepped the outgrown root of another giant tree before running behind it. It would be sturdy enough to absorb a few seconds of fire, and that was all he needed. The 30-ton OmniMech's pace slowed as it leaned to its left, finishing a nearly perfect U-turn while trampling overgrown grass and undergrown trees into chlorophyll mush.

The line of fire anticipated him bursting through the shrubbery on the other side of the now scarred tree. Not enough weapons fire chased him as he crested over a chain of hills, back the way he came, breaking their line of sight. With a final look behind, Jackson saw the tree's leaves were ablaze.

It looks like the sky's raining embers on it.

He darted in between the gaps just long enough for his Matabushi Citizen C3 Slave to update its readings before bursting it to the rest of the C3 network. At the same time, he received in turn incoming vectors of enemy fighters, and adjusted his advance to maximize his cover.

One thundered overhead, clearly gunning for him, but missed wildly. The burning tree shattered under a spray stray of autocannon shells, he heard it even over the hellish din of war.

A final dash, at maximum speed, with his Beagle at its widest gain gave the C3 Network the clearest picture yet. He held it for just a few seconds, worried about burning out his ECM in its countermeasure mode and how easier he was making it to get shot.

In unison, the rest of the company poured over the hills well away from the Republic forces. The arrival was well-drilled by the Third Pesht, it maximized C3 telemetry with a walk-run-walk advance in twos. The company commander designated priorities for each lance, the lance commander and XO divided the rest.

Soon, what remained of the Republic armour battalion was ripped apart and retreating. The Republic force, harried constantly since their combat drop, bludgeoned with artillery, lasted 22 seconds against the full might of one of the Third Pesht Regulars' advanced recon companies.

Configured in the old-style, with fast 'Mechs, mostly OmniMechs, and a demi-company of armed transports for battle armour squads, the advanced recon companies were the tips of the Dragon's fangs and claws.

Tai-i Jonas designated a route for him to follow as the militia broke, taking him through clear ground but far enough that the militia wouldn't be tempted to take shots at him. Two squads in their transports would follow in his wake. He took the time to cycle an air-flush in his cockpit as he slowed to 104 kph, even without firing weapons, 'Mechs still ran hot.

He was providing flank support for two Drakes that rushed forward to hound the survivors. Both were armed with plasma rifles, medium ranged weapons, but enough to scatter infantry platoons from their prepared positions.

A battered SM-1 Destroyer fell away from the lead formation and faced the encroaching pair. Chu-i Lewis kept an eye on it even though it was some 600 metres already to his left, focusing his attention on the Beagle Active Probe to map the valley route he was ordered to take.

So far, no mines... Jackson shook his head, his light samurai-styled neurohelmet banged against his seat. Ghostfang mimicked the movement with its torso. The valley was gorgeous, pools of water dripped and flowed into each other forming chains of ponds with, if it was even possible, a greener grass. Bright wildflowers grew everwhere else. Dragonflies. Lilies. He trampled it all under Ghostfang's pumping feet.

The Drakes didn't slow down but each made a salute with their left arms as they encircled the Destroyer. Resembling the Dragon DRG- series made infamous by the DCMS, only smaller and slimmer, the Drake OmniMech was only two-thirds its mass but carried nearly the same firepower at mostly the same footspeed of the Grand Dragons of the last century. Concessions to Omnitechnology were made: the right arm lacked any other actuators but the shoulder and upper arm ones while the left arm had full articulation.

Heavy firepower would only be concentrated on the right arm. It was a weakness the Procurement Department had apparently felt was acceptable in an OmniMech meant to be easily reconfigured.

Jackson couldn't hate Procurement too much; the tightly packed Wisp he piloted was too fun to drive.

For the Drake pilots, the honourable thing was to engage it in single combat. But it was their duty to obey orders, and they had been ordered to push the survivors into unprepared ground. Duty above honour. Always.

The Drakes split apart, darting to either side of the tank, respectful of the Luthien Armor Works design and its Class 20 Ultra Autocannon. The SM1 Tank Destroyer's flanks were already torn open, and two pulses of plasma burrowed in.

It didn't explode, it slowed, slewed, then crashed to the ground. Rents in the armour showed the fire raging inside. The autocannon's massive bore melted with an inner light. It died quietly, with dignity.

To the Kuritans, the crew's sacrifice was honoured: they used their heaviest weapons and stayed out of range of its massive cannon in respect of their skill and firepower. Tonight, if either MechWarrior lived, they would drink to that crew.

To the Republic militiamen, citizens really, it was another execution. Not the first or last today.

Jackson saw all this while he shutdown his ECM to cool it off and readjust the transmission bands for the C3 Network, based on what the Beagle measured of the enemy's own ECM. Every bit helps, Jackson thought as he watched the Drakes continue at full speed, undelayed by the heroics. Unmoved. Well, it cost each one shot of ammo and some heat... there's that, at least.

He shook his head again, and lead the Snakes through paradise.


Last edited by Marwynn on Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Here Be Dragons
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:32 pm 
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Supreme Mugwump
Supreme Mugwump

Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2006 3:42 pm
Posts: 3183
Quote:
The honourable thing was to engage it in single combat. It was also the honourable thing to obey orders, and they had been ordered to push the survivors into unprepared ground.


actually that is a theme in a lot of japanese literature, the conflict between ninju and giri, honor and duty, i think it should read:



The honourable thing was to engage it in single combat.And it was his duty to obey orders, and they had been ordered to push the survivors into unprepared ground.

_________________
typos and spelling-mistakes are property of the finder. english is not my mother-tongue.


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 Post subject: Re: Here Be Dragons
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:07 pm 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Fri May 30, 2003 2:56 pm
Posts: 2144
Great point, modifying it now. Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Here Be Dragons
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:13 pm 
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Commanding General
Commanding General

Joined: Fri May 30, 2003 2:56 pm
Posts: 2144

New Austin
Corridan IV, Prefecture IX
The Republic of the Sphere
June 10, 3139



The Jupiter batted a tree branch out of its way as it swung its torso, hungry to hurl lightning at its persecutors. Chu-i Lewis kept his TAG oriented on the Clan Assault 'Mech--too wary of the amount of firepower it wielded to get in any closer--as his 'Mech's muddied legs pumped hard. The incoming Arrow IV was still half-a-dozen seconds away, and he was running out of things to hide behind in the valley's delta.

Finally, the fatal-lock tone sounded and he dived right back into the valley that lead him to this ambush. Just at the dip into the valley, the APCs waited hull-down to cover his retreat with their glowing Snub-Nose PPCs. The Jupiter was mottled with molten wounds inflicted by the transports, punishment for thinking that the Light OmniMech was the only true threat. The crews worked in concert with their deadly cargo of troopers, blasting at the 'Mech's upper areas to cover a squad's advance or retreat. They worked seamlessly, the result of months of combined-arms drilling. Only Jackson felt out of sync; his initial shock and fear forced him to spit out the "chicken adobo" ration bar he was enjoying, and now it was cooking on his floor, flooding his cockpit with its sweet-sour smell. Calling in the Arrow-strike was all he could think to do.

The troopers were still tearing at the Jupiter with their small arms when the Arrow IV crashed down on the 100 tonner. Immediately, they bounded away as fiery bits of metal began raining down, several making parting shots. When the roar died down and the smoke fell away the Jupiter had simply staggered at the assault, but still stood. Its left arm and torso was blackened, patches of fire fed on paint and any spare liquids, but it was whole.

I just pissed it off, didn't I? Jackson mused. I rang his bell hard, and he's still ready for another... Silently, Jackson saluted the Steiner MechWarrior as he gave the signal to retreat. The APCs began rolling downhill, still blasting away every time their weapons cycled.

Fresh wounds woke the stunned giant an d it took three massive steps then glared. Chu-i Lewis began moving his 'Mech as the Lyran fired.

Two streaks of searing white flashed by the [Wisp's flanks, each boring into an APC. The twin explosions rocked Jackson in his command couch, flinging him against his harness as he fought to remain standing. Outside the canopy, a sudden storm of flames and shrapnel whirled by. A corner of his mind focused on the damage readout, suddenly smothered in blinking yellow, while he worked to steady and move the vastly outclassed Light 'Mech.

"Gunsho! Get your boys to ground and stay hidden. I'll be back," Jackson promised as he pushed his OmniMech to speed. The sergeant, senior of the two squads, replied with a coded squawk; they'd respond only on that frequency and were going radio silent, standard procedure. Chu-i Lewis nodded to himself, aware of the bruising he felt on his neck and across his chest.

The Steiner 'Mech, checkered in traditional white and blue, gave chase half-heartedly and didn't fire again. As Ghostfang sped away it raised an armored first that glinted in the dwindling sunlight.


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