4 Km away from Nui Awa Hydroelectric Dam
24km East of North and South Nui Awa
March 26th, 3030"What do you mean Gonggong has been boarded?!"
The Sword-Bearer shouted into his comms. "That train was reinforced with tank armor and its hatches were welded shut!"
One of the few remaining attendants in the Sword-Bearer's camp heard their leader's composure begin to falter for the first time he could remember. It was disturbing to see such frustration and anger on his face, given his unwavering conviction and unflagging confidence at all other times."Sword-Bearer,"
the attendant hazarded getting his leader's attention, "If the wisdom of Heaven has decreed we should not see victory this day, perhaps it is time we regroup to--""They're shooting its wheels off?!"
he ignored his attendant. "But their own men are on board! Are they insane?!""Perhaps we have underestimated the convictions of--"
The attendant's vision went white for a moment as pain exploded across his face, the back of the Sword-Bearer's hand connecting with his cheekbone at blinding speed."They are mercenaries!"
he hissed. "Capitalist prostitute scum! They know nothing of conviction! And yet they have slowed Gonggong to a crawl!""A thousand apologies, Sword-Bearer,"
the attendant cowered. Part of him was regretting having ever gotten roped into this group of political radicals at university. If he had only majored in electronics like his father wanted instead of political science..."Well, line up some of the rocket buggies and focus fire on--....all dead?"
The Sword-Bearer swore under his breath. "What about the bikes? Some of them were carrying Inferno launchers, and-- no, of course, all dead too. What do we have left in the vehicle bays?"".....ahh, nothing, Sword-Bearer?"
He looked at the attendant with accusatory disbelief. "Nothing?!""Well...err....there is a small two-stroke dirtbike, but it is hardly--""It will have to do,"
the Sword-Bearer said with renewed purpose. "You. Command of this station is yours for the time being. I will see to these matters myself.""....sir?""You heard me!"
he barked with contemptuous impatience. The attendant watched with awe as the Sword-Bearer, brimming with confidence, strode away from the comms station towards the vehicle bay.
A minute later, the attendant heard the sound of a small two-stroke engine sputtering to life...
...and quickly after that, he saw the dirtbike and its rider speeding off, away
from the battle, as fast as it could go...
Nui Awa Hydroelectric Dam
20km East of North and South Nui Awa
March 26th, 3030"Jesus shit!"
Corporal Jean Francis cursed as the entire land-train rattled and shuddered. Defusing a bomb was delicate work even under the best conditions, much less when she was getting shot at by a lance of her own side's 'Mechs."There goes another wheel,"
Corporal Ortega called out over comms. "ride's about to get a lot bumpier!""Oh good,"
Francis sighed to herself, before turning her attention back to the tangle of wires, power packs, and circuit boards, an unholy jumble that looked like it was cobbled together out of everything from military noteputers to civilian video game consoles. At the center of it all was a large metal case, about the size of a 'Mech ammunition crate, inside of which was a warhead that would vaporize them, wipe out most of the Green Knights, and flood two cities if she screwed this up."Right...right,"
Francis said as she worked, a screwdriver in one hand, a pair of clippers in the other, and the name of every god she'd ever heard of running through the back of her head. "This has to be the proximity sensor, which means that these wires should connect to....yeah, that one's the power source, and that one's the warhead, but what the hell are the other three--FUCK!
Another impact threw Francis and the jumble of electronics hard to one side. Panic began to set in on the Corporal as she desperately tried to untangle herself from the mess of wires. "I don't wanna die, Christ, I don't wanna die.""'Want,' hell, Corporal!"
Sergeant Dalton bellowed. "You don't have permission to die til I say so!"
Once again, the fear of being converted to radioactive vapor was somehow less than the fear of the Sarge's wrath."Yes, sir!"
Corporal Francis responded, a fresh new motivation running through her. "Right. Undo this coupling here....right, now this keypad has a passcode to access the warhead's triggering mechanism. If I crack it open, though...yes, I can cross these wires and bypass it altogether..."
Francis walked herself through the process, panic giving way to purpose, following the electronic clutter and making her way towards the heart. Conventional wisdom said to double- and triple-check every step in the case of something this important. This wasn't the time for conventional wisdom; the only thing for it was to just get everything right in one go.
Everything lurched hard to the other side."Everyone grab onto something!"
Ortega shouted over the comms. "We're augering in hard!"
As the Green Knights outside pounded the lead car into scrap, the land-train veered off-course and plowed into a ditch.
For several seconds, everything was noise and confusion.Focus, Francis!
the Corporal ordered herself, bracing against the wall of the car and holding on for dear life to a circuit board connected to five wires.Hang on,
she realized. This is the master board! One of these wires will disarm the warhead...but the rest will blow us all to hell! Okay, think, Francis, think...
The side of the train car impressed in with a horrible screeching noise as the car ground against a large boulder.Five wires....the black one goes to the initiator...and that's the thermal switchgear...but those two aren't supposed to lead over---.....okay. Blue or green. One of these works, the other we're all dead.
Francis placed the blades of her wire cutters on the green wire, closed her eyes, gritted her teeth....Here goes...
...then quickly moved to the blue wire and cut.
Then everything was dark.
Everything was silent.
Everything was still."Whooooo!!!!! Holy fuck, we're alive!"
Corporal Francis realized she still had her eyes closed, and that the land-train had finally ground to a halt."Wait....I was right?!"
Francis looked up at the bomb, and saw all the electronics around it had gone dead."Hell of a call, Corporal,"
Sergeant Dalton said, with a smirk that was the closest thing she'd ever seen to him smiling. "You just got us our very own nuke."
The Corporal finally allowed herself to breathe, and shook her head. "I, ah...thank you, sir."
New People's Democratic Republic of Espia Spaceport
12km West of Balya Gora
March 26th, 3030"Unbelievable,"
the Fire Witch snarled as the deck chief sputtered and cowered before her. "These assets are going to help us flush out and annihilate the Green Knights, and you cannot even be bothered with basic security detail! Who knows what those intruders managed to do while they were sneaking about unnoticed!""W-w-we have guards stationed all through the spaceport, M-Ma'am!"
the chief pleaded. "I d-d-don't know how two p-people who aren't on the p-p-personnel roll were able to g-g-get into--AAAAAIIIIEEEE!"
The deck chief screamed in agony as the Witch's neural lash came down across his back."I want the names of every security guard on duty tonight,"
she demanded. "And I will see to it myself that they are punished for this--""Fire Witch Actual,"
a voice came over her personal comm. This is Witch Lance Three. We just picked up some unusual seismic activity heading away from your area. The signal was spotty, but there were a few tremors that match the signature of Battlemech footsteps."
The Fire Witch gripped her neural lash so tightly the leather of the handle began to creak."The Green Knights..."
she growled."B-b-but that's i-impossible!"
The deck chief sputtered. "The s-spaceport has a p-p-powerful sensor dome! We would've d-d-detected 'Mechs in the area if they--AAAAAAAH!!!!""They have a Raven in their ranks,"
the Crimson Fist Mechwarrior told him. "That 'Mech has a state-of-the-art electronic warfare suite that can override even the most powerful sensors, let alone the pathetic civilian models at this port."
The Fire Witch's blood boiled. She had nearly destroyed that damned Raven
during their battle earlier. If she had finished the job then, they would have never been able to sneak into this spaceport and cause trouble.
The Crimson King would have her head for this."Witch Lance, prepare to move out,"
she called to her fellow Mechwarriors. "We won't likely catch up with them, but we're going to find their trail and start tracking where they went. I'll take that Raven and its pilot if I have to burn every inch of ground on this miserable planet!"
Rooftop of the 'Diamond in the Rough' Bar
North Nui Awa
March 26th, 3030"No, I'm not being followed,"
Stiletto said into her personal communicator, checking the one door to the roof for the twelfth time to make sure no one was up here with her. "All due respect, this is not my first outing."
Her rendezvous with the two visitors in the bar earlier had proven far more fruitful than she could have hoped for. Still, her superiors would want a full debriefing and assess the situation before deciding on the next course of action."I can confirm much of what we've already suspected,"
she said. "The propaganda reports from Malenkov are completely false. Gawain's Green Knights are still alive, and are still a combat capable unit. They still have access to their Battlemechs, and they are actively working against the NPDRE."
Stiletto's superiors had been working with Governor Xiu on long-term plans that had far-reaching implications for Espia, and the coup that had deposed him couldn't have come at a worse time. Not only was Premier Federov unfamiliar with any long-term plans for Espia beyond his own, but he had no interest in sharing the planet's future with anyone but himself and his inner circle."I believe they will prove a most valuable asset,"
Stiletto continued. "By introducing them to elements of the Free People's Army, the combined force can prove to be a powerful destabilizing factor. They must be made to see that they need to cooperate in order to survive. Without the firepower of the Green Knights, the FPA will be ground to dust. And without the FPA's connections and logistics, the Knights' power will wither and dry up long before their fight is over."
Stiletto had to admit, she had taken a liking to the two that had come to the Diamond in the Rough. The one who had wandered in a few days before, she could talk the talk, but had no ability to keep it cool. She had no future playing the great game. But those two, if they ever tired of the mercenary life, had potential..."Yes, sir, I will see to it,"
she responded to her orders. "No sir, they don't suspect a thing. My cover remains intact. The plan remains intact as well."
Regardless of who won the overall battle between the FPA and the Espian Guard, and the titanic 'Mech struggles between the Green Knights and the Crimson Fists, the survivor would be too severely weakened to maintain any effective grip on Espia. Bloodied and spent, the supposed winner would have to either play by their rules, or be easily replaced."I will continue to work with the Green Knights and the FPA,"
she said, "and I will lead them to their inevitable fate."
This was a game that Stiletto had only recently learned to play, but she had taken to playing it well. Perhaps, though, that was just because it was a game her superiors had rigged to always win."Expect my next communication after they have made contact,"
Looking around once more to see the coast was clear, she ended her call,"And may the Peace of Blake be with you."