"Pride Before Destruction", Part 2

  • Date: February 10, 3032
  • Planet: White Reach, Orenn Continent
  • Location: Holfield Mining, Grid J14
  The facility was where the ultralight scout flight said it was, and Deadeye paused his Awesome to take a long look. It consisted of several concrete buildings arranged haphazardly inside a short wall, which had razor-wire around the top. Even if his 'Mech couldn't step over it, it seemed like an inadequate protection considering the events last year. A wide gravel road stretched from the compound into the hills, where the mines themselves were no doubt situated. He let himself smirk at signs reading "No Trespassing. Violators will be prosecuted" on the wall at various positions. At positions near to those signs, guard posts were constructed to look over the wall, many of them unmanned from the sight of it. The main entry point had a pair of watchmen with rifles out front, who had stopped arguing as the Assault 'Mech had approached and stopped a couple dozen meters away.

'These people couldn't stop a truck of rowdy teenagers, let alone anyone serious.' He began climbing down along the outside of the 'Mech, comm unit tucked into the front pocket of his vest. Spike, Sureshot, and the tanks were a couple minutes away if anything was going to happen. Of course, if something happened then there was a good chance there would need for the brothers to do what Capellans did best. At least nothing of value might be lost in the process.

Once on the ground, Deadeye noticed the guards enter a small shack near the gate, and he leaned against the leg of the Awesome with his eyes closed. The Commander really was looking for anything which could be useful - either as information, or as potential sources for material. A mining operation like this could potentially help supply the outfit, or even just help fund it. At the sound of an approaching vehicle, Deadeye opened his eyes. 'Ah, so they decide to finally send someone who thinks they're important.'

Not that he planned on it, but from the look of things the two watchmen holding rifles couldn't have stopped a truck of rowdy children let alone the excursion force the Commander had dispatched. Spike and Sureshot had stopped with the tanks just a couple minutes away, allowing the Awesome to simply be the focus of attention. And it had surely attracted the attention of important people here. The vehicle was pulling to a stop, as two people stepped out. One of them was a gentleman in a brown jumpsuit, while there was a woman in a simple grey suit who moved with more hesitation. 'Two guesses which of the two has the office job.'

As they reached within ten meters, the woman was the first to speak. She pointed up at the 'Mech, but her eyes were on Deadeye. "Are you the pilot?"

And that solved the question of who had the brains here. "I'm 'MechWarrior 'Deadeye', with the Harbingers-"

Her hands went up to interrupt, and she leveled the same finger at his chest. "And why are you here? Specifically."

Deadeye blinked slowly, and glanced to the man in the jumpsuit. "Waiting for you to identify yourself."

"Administrator Calista Stone. I oversee the work done at this facility."

"This facility was not marked on our maps. Could you please help me understand what this place is, and what you do here?" He paused slightly. "Other than administration work."

Her eyes narrowed, and her companion spoke up. "We're miners." She glanced at him, but stepped aside as he tipped an imaginary helmet. "I'm Foreman Jay Randall, this is the Holfield Mining Corporation's facility. Mine Number Three." A brief pause. "The other two mines are located along the hillside about twenty kilometers north and west from here. We mine ores from the ground and send 'em to the refinery south from here. You should mark those on your map."

Deadeye tilted his head and nodded. "We're just on patrol. Rumor has it there's been pirate activity-"

"More like unauthorized mercenary groups causing problems." Callista snapped.

"We're authorized."

"The last band of thugs said the same thing!"

Jay spoke up softly. "And it's not as though we have any real desire to start a fight over it. We're not able to do anything against 'Mechs and armor, you understand. So you're not the first folks to come here in force."

"Look." Deadeye folded his hands behind his back, and glanced between the two. This really wasn't something he needed - or even wanted - to deal with right now. "My commander would be absolutely thrilled to have a discussion with you about the legitimacy of our presence, and our contract's specific instructions about what to do about civilian businesses." Or, notably, the lack of such instructions. Of course, Major Sandoval would undoubtedly not be happy if they ruffled too many feathers and made a lot of nuisance.

However, the feathers seemed already sorely ruffled, from the look of the administrator's expression. She looked as though she'd bitten into a soap bar, listening to the suggestion. "I beg your pardon?"

"My commander. I'm sure he is willing to discuss this with you, and lay out what we plan on doing here." At least the foreman seemed amused by the prospect. "Perhaps he can put you more at ease, and speak with you in person? Face to face, not over a video call." As Calista folded her arms, and paced away with Jay to have a talk, Deadeye pulled out the comm from his vest pocket. "Yeah, Spike? Keep the Behemoth out of sight of the civilans, would you? This could blow up fast."

Spike's voice came back quickly. "Did you say you need things blown up? We can make it happen."

It was really hard to tell if he was kidding, with that Capellan sense of humor. "No, thank you."

"No, really, we can. Nobody will know it was us." Sureshot chimed in.

"Everyone will know it was us. Stand the hell down before you get us in trouble." As the administrator glanced back at him, Deadeye clicked the comm to the long-range channel. "C, I need to talk to Adamant."

There wasn't much of a hesitation in the response. "He's busy right now. What can I tell him when he's available?"

"Yeah, right, get him on the line before I volunteer him for something he's gonna hate."

"I'm serious, he's not available. He's having an argument on one of the other lines about bureaucratic crap from a senator. You want me to grab him while he's in a bad mood?"

Deadeye let out a slow breath, holding the comm away from his face while he counted to four. "Okay, C. I know this outfit tends to run by the seat of the pants, but we've run into some civilians who aren't happy about us being here."

"Screw them, then. We don't have to do anything for them. Not in our contract. I know it's not."

"They run a mining operation, and probably a refinery. Could be useful if they liked us."

A longer pause than before. "We're mercs, Deadeye, it's not like we get invited for tea and cookies. Or even beer and burgers." The executive officer muttered something away from the microphone before speaking up again. "So they want to talk to the command?"

"Face to face." Deadeye looked over his shoulder, then smiled as he thought of how to make this more interesting. "Hey. Tell him to bring his ride."

There was a pause, then a brief laugh out of C. "Oh. I get it. Yeah, he could use the time out of the building. I'll pass it over to him soon as he's done. You just sit tight."

"Of course." Deadeye clicked off the comm before tucking it back in his pocket. The administrator noticed, and walked back over. Before she could speak up, he held up his hand politely. "We'll be going now, and while my Lance will be in the area we won't interfere with your operations. However." He held up a finger. "Our commander will have a word with you, once we can clear up matters about our orders in regards to civilian installations in our operating area."

"Orders in-" Her lips tightened. "What are you saying?"

Deadeye turned around to start climbing up the leg of the Awesome. "I'm saying it's now my commander's problem, ma'am. Have a nice day." He ignored her calling to him as he continued climbing up. Once he had gotten situated again, and the 'Mech was running its startup cycles, he clicked open a comm channel. "Spike, Sureshot, we're going to stand off about twenty kilometers to the west. Out of sight, out of mind."

"What exactly's going on?"

Deadeye shrugged as he settled his neurohelmet back into place. "Not our problem anymore, boys. That's all I care about."  
  • Date: February 11, 3032; 14:33 Local Time
  • Planet: White Reach, Orenn Continent
  • Location: Holfield Mining, Management Offices
  It was almost everything Adamant expected to find in a field office, complete with thin walls and wires stapled to the ceiling to stay out of the way. Wooden panels were set up to define distinct office spaces, while a sheet of thin wood was bolted to metal legs to dominate a meeting area. Of the chairs in the whole office, no two matched as a part of a set and looked like they'd been used roughly. A few charts were tacked to the walls, with nails, and had red markings on them in various places. Adamant almost let himself study them, until realizing he was getting distracted and turning his attention to the reason for his visit.

The two people sitting at the conference table gave two distinctly different impressions, with the woman in a suit being tensed and focused on him and the man in a jumpsuit was relaxed and actually had a bottle of water open in his hand. Adamant thought for a moment, then walked to the table and set his neurohelmet down with a loud thump of metal on wood. "So. You requested my presence, and I am here. Commander Dupree, Harbingers."

"Calista Stone, administrator of this facility. This is Foreman Randall" Her hand motioned to the neurohelmet on the table. Her eyes were drawn briefly to the Atlas-head painted on the side. With the words 'Ride the Storm' faded underneath it. Robert's sense of humor, and handiwork, to personalize his 'Mech. "Did you have to, Commander-"

"Yes." He sat down slowly, keeping his gaze on her. "Because you seemed to misunderstand our purpose here." The chair creaked as he settled in, and he used it to keep their attention on him. "Ever since we dropped on this planet, everyone seems to expect us to start demanding things at gunpoint. That's not our aim, Administrator."

"What is your aim?"

"Right now, we're scouting."

The foreman raised an eyebrow. "Is that what you call bringing an Atlas to the front gate?"

Adamant smirked. "You're Lyran, I would have thought it's normal." The foreman let out a short laugh, then lowered his head. "No, Foreman Randall. I brought it because I wanted to make a statement." He placed both arms on the table as he leaned in. "I am not here to be your enemy, because if I was then I wouldn't have sent just my comrade Deadeye and a couple scouts. I'd have shown up with the Atlas and made demands."

"What do you call this?" Calista glowered across the table.

"I'm not making demands, Administrator. I'm making a point." As he heard a chirp from the helmet, Adamant stood up. "I am being polite, even if I'm being blunt. We're not concerned with shaking down civilians, we're more focused on merely knowing where you all are before we start any battles."

"Yeah?" The foreman took another drink and eyed Adamant before speaking up again. "So what is it you really want?"

"For now, we want to prove we're here to make this place better." Adamant glanced at the comms inside the helmet as he replied, keeping his tone pleasant. "We'll set up a monitoring station, and we're close enough we should be able to intercept anyone trying to play pirate for your supply of metal. As a show of good faith-" He looked to the Administrator. "My people just spotted some unidentified contacts moving in from the west. We're going to have a chat and see what they're doing here. And I'm not asking for anything in return." He started to move to the door. "You people deserve some stability around here, and if I have to leave 'Mechs here to keep would-be-extortionists from bothering you? I'll do it."

Once outside, he put the helmet on and sighed at the weight which settled into place. "This is Adamant. Go ahead."

"Boss." Deadeye's voice had come up. "We've got a problem to the west. I sent you the text-only to get your attention. I'd picked a Lance of unidentified 'Mechs, but they spotted us first and dispersed into the hills. I think they're going to try to ambush us."

"Good thing I brought the big boy. Fade back to rendezvous with me and we'll take them apart." He began to jog towards where he had left the Atlas stand idle. "I should be able to meet you in an hour."

"If you can get here faster? That'd be good."

"My ride's not built for speed, Tristan, it's built for firepower."

"Preaching to the brick wall, Adamant. But if these idiots push an attack I'm not sure we could handle them as easily without you."  
  • 13:08 Local Time
  • Location: Grid G12
  Just south of the planet's equator, the continent of Orenn turned from a dry expanse to a hazy and humid marsh. Most plantlife could be found in shallow valleys where water gathered during the rainy seasons, with a few dry-topped hills rising above it all. Without much mineral wealth located in the area, the residents of White Reach had little reason to do anything with the region. Which was why Kommandant Valdane expected there to be mercenaries hiding here, and had dispatched Lance Commander Holland to 'smoke them out'. While the 'Mechs and the two hovercraft assigned as support had little trouble handling the unstable ground, the Rommel tank bogged down more than once.

"Brand new, heavily armored, and utterly useless." Holland muttered to himself as he waited for the tank to catch up. He was about to reach for his comms before a signal came from his sensors. There were other 'Mechs out here, their identifications not registered as Lyrans. He flicked the comms to reach the unit. "We've got contact. Look alive."

A few seconds later, the open channel crackled. A woman's voice spoke slowly and distinctly. "Unidentified 'Mech, identify yourself and state your intent."

Holland turned the channel selection to the open channel, and cleared his throat. "This is Lance Commander Holland, with the Sanglamore Academy. You are advised to power down and wait for our arrival. If you do not comply, we are authorized to use force."

There was a long pause before a reply came. "We do not recognize your authority to demand our surrender."

"I am not demanding your surrender, 'MechWarrior. I am requesting you stand down until we identify who you are, and your business on this planet."

"You can call me 'Sassy', I work for Commander Dupree of the Harbingers. We are authorized mercenaries on a contract."

"No mercenaries are authorized to be on this planet any longer."

Her voice sounded more irritated. "Take that up with the holder of the contract. It's on file with ComStar and the Mercenary Review Board. Now move along, Lance Commander."

Holland sat back slightly and scowled. "'MechWarrior, patch me through to your commanding officer." Maybe he could get someone more reasonable who understood the way things were supposed to work.

"Excuse me?"

"Your commanding officer."

Sassy now sounded angry, her voice dropping in tone. "I'm in command here. Clear off."

He inhaled, and his own voice came out coldly. "If you do not power down and await our arrival, I am authorized to use force. If you really are here legitimately, it would be wise to avoid unnecessary damage to your 'Mechs."

He caught her voice faintly, and it sounded like she was counting backwards from ten. And then gave up. "I'll show you 'unnecessary damage', you Lyran prick. Harbingers, weapons free." The channel crackled and went quiet.

"Lance Commander?" The Griffin pilot spoke up. "What are your orders?"

Holland glanced to his displays, starting to warm up the Marauder's PPCs. "Arm weapons. We're authorized to use force, and you've all been well-trained. They're mercenaries, just hit them hard enough and they'll realize the paycheck isn't worth their life. Move in and I'll cover you with my guns." Another voice cut in, the pilot who'd been assigned to the slow UrbanMech currently taking up the rear. "What about me, Lance Commander? I can't close too-"

Holland slapped the transmit button for the comms, and his temper slipped. "Braun, if you want to be a coward, you get rear guard duty. No more complaints out of you," Trainees who didn't understand their place, mercenaries who didn't understand their place, and an unimportant planet which couldn't be expected to save itself. Why couldn't everyone just understand it was idiocy to try to fight against the Commonwealth? He'd just have to teach them a lesson in humility, then.  
  • 13:11 Local Time
  • Location: Grid I15
  Lance Commander Trenton flexed his fingers, reading the sensors for the Archer and silently pushing down nervousness. Here he was engaging a mercenary Lance of an unknown composition, with just fresh Academy graduates. Or rather, they should be graduates if not for the situation requiring it. Each of the people handpicked by Kommandant Valdane for this were capable, just not spectacular. Certainly, mercenaries were likely to be no problem at all once they started taking losses, but Trenton didn't feel as confident as everyone thought he should feel.

The Lance comm channel crackled to life. It was the advance scout vehicle, keeping an eye ahead for the approaching mercenaries. "Contact. One kilometer out, I have a number of signatures converging." There was a pause. "Target types are unknown for now."

"Do we have a clear number of signatures?"

The Packrat patrol vehicle's crew were talking in the background, until the first voice came back firmly. "Six contacts, two are possible slow-moving vehicles." There was a pause. "The other four appear to be 'Mechs, and I think two of the 'Mechs might be Assault-class. Orders, Lance Commander?"

"Get back here, we don't need you out front anymore." Trenton flicked fingers over the comm controls. "Saladin, join me, I want you prepared to make gun run on those vehicles. Should be able to take them out of the action fast." The Locust was fast but lightly-armed, maybe good to flank behind to threaten the rear. The Javelin and Phoenix Hawk had decent enough mobility and firepower to be more of a threat, but the key would wind up seeing if the hovercraft with the heavy autocannon could get a chance to really use it. Trenton began to let his mind work out potential strategies, and then began to whittle them down based on what he knew the students would recognize.

"Sir. Confirmed contacts. Two Assault-class BattleMechs, two Light-class BattleMechs, and two vehicles of at least Heavy-class tanks."

'Okay, no need to panic. Just focus.' Trenton inhaled slowly. "All units, remember your training. We're going to try to engage the targets with a flanking maneuver. Don't show them your back, and don't be stingy with the ammo." He began silently running through the pre-battle checklist in his head, getting himself in the proper frame of mind before the shooting started.  
  Adamant glanced down to his sensors as there was a series of tones. "Harbingers, contact. We're in it now, get your weapons armed." He looked out the cockpit, squinting and thinking about the terrain. The signal locations weren't completely accurate, but if they were right then there was an ambush out there waiting. With a scowl, he clicked his comms open - he hated waiting. "We can see you out there, fellas, how about you identify yourselves?"

There was a moment, then the comms crackled. "Mercenary Lance, you're not authorized for action in this system. On behalf of the Federated Commonwealth, you are ordered to stand down and depart."

"Negative, contact."

"Excuse me?"

Adamant rolled his eyes. "Negative, contact. We will not stand down, and we will not excuse you. Get in our way and eat projected particles."

"Promises, promises." Deadeye's voice broke in on the squad channel.

There was a brief silence, then the voice came back. "This is Lance Commander Trenton, and I say again. On behalf-"

There was a crackle, Deadeye's voice now on the open channel. "Look, kid? I'm just going to stop wasting your time. Either get out of the way, or we're going to go through you."

The squad channel clicked alive again as Spike spoke up. "Do we have to go through? We can take 'em. They're just Lyrans. Or FedRats."

Adamant switched the comm over. "And if I take offense to that?"

"Um... you're welcome to? Still true."

"You should be glad I don't have time to send you out for actuator lubricant." Adamant clicked back to the open channel. "Your call, contact, but we're not pulling our punches if you choose to engage."

Trenton was silent for a while, then his voice came back. "If you engage us, mercenaries, you are going to become a priority. We have orders."

"And so do we. Actually, we have a contract. If I were to look it over, I'd wager a couple thousand C-Bills it doesn't say anything about answering to your authority. Last warning, or I have my partner here get the guns hot."

Deadeye chuckled, back on the squad channel. "Boss, you wound me if you think they weren't already warming up."

Adamant glanced to his left at the Awesome and snorted before speaking up again. "We're the Harbingers. We complete our contracts. If you want to stop us, I'll at least make the promise to let you walk with whatever's left of your gear. The first time."

Deadeye chuckled. "Getting soft, boss?"

A click, switching over. "Second time, we play for keeps. You got a problem with that?"

"Hell no, I can use the target practice."


Please Login in order to comment!