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"Good points, all of you," Colonel Wayne acknowledged, turning his attention first to his most senior Mechwarrior. "Family Man, you're correct in asserting that we're going to need outside assistance in order for this operation to be sustainable. After we get back on our feet and can effectively start shooting back, we'll need to start branching out to see if we can make contact with the forces opposing the NPDRE. Right now, we are technically still under orders from the Capellan Confederation to aid Governor Xiu's administration, so if the loyalists are still willing to honor our contract, they're our first option. If that falls through, or if Yuzhny Portveyn falls, then we'll start looking more closely at the FPA. In either case, however, that will be after we reestablish ourselves."

Turning to the tankers, the Colonel addressed their questions.

"The Free People's Army and the Heavenly Sword," he said, "Are destabilizing elements on-world, but as far as we have determined, neither force has significant anti-material firepower. Both appear to be equipped with the usual things you'll find among partisan forces: small arms, Molotov cocktails, IEDs, and the like. Nasty against personnel and uncovered vehicles, but effectively useless against heavy armor and Battlemechs. As long as you've got your hatches buttoned up, neither group is currently our problem. If they do make themselves our problem, however, then your instructions are to make them very rapidly not our problem again. There's a lot of propaganda being spread over the civilian channels about both groups being 'terrorists' at the moment, but as far as any reliable comms can determine, neither faction has actually violated the tenets of the Ares Conventions yet, so the standard rules of engagement apply. No firing unless fired upon, minimum necessary force when engaging in populated areas."

The Ares Conventions, a series of arms limitations and rules of engagement, had technically been suspended since the founding of the Star League. However, after the ravages of the Succession Wars, most major powers had come back around to at least offering lip-service to the Conventions as ways to rein in the ravages of unrestricted warfare. The rules, though, always grew murky when discussing asymmetrical fighting against partisan forces, especially those consisting of radicalized civilians. "One man's freedom fighter," the old saying went, "is another man's terrorist."

Given the level of scrutiny most mercenary commands found themselves under, since their reputation was tied so closely to the level of clients they could attract, often the safest bet was to simply play fair until the enemy gave you reason not to.

Finally, turning his attention to Mechwarrior Saarinen, he addressed her concerns.

"Back to the mission at hand," he said. "Giggles here brings up a salient point: what exactly is our plan B? If we are unable to commandeer the supply trucks, or if we have to intercept the convoy en route, then the mission will become a very literal smash-and-grab. Anyone whose 'Mechs are equipped with working hand actuators will grab what supplies we can off of the trucks, then we scuttle the rest to deny them to the enemy. Ammunition may be low, but in theory, we can rely on energy weapons to perform a second raid later, so long as we don't have to fight it out with the Crimson Fists. We cannot, however, survive without that water. Our reserves are already getting low, and as you already know, there is no freshwater on Espia. If we need to pick and choose what comes with us and what gets left behind, the water is the absolute first priority, followed by the ammo and armor."
Mission briefing is up, y'all. If you want to participate in this outing, make sure to sound off or you'll get left behind.
M I S S I O N B R I E F I N G


"All right, Green Knights, listen up!" the voice of Colonel Gaius Wayne echoed throughout the abandoned mine. The Mechwarriors, tankers, infantrymen, technicians, and other surviving personnel of Gawain's Green Knights had gathered in the large central chamber of the mine, which had been converted into their ad hoc 'Mech Bay. In the week since the coup, they had been pushed to the brink just to stay alive, and the Colonel knew they needed a purpose, an objective, in order to keep going.

Now he had that objective. And what's more, he had a plan.

"I don't need to tell you that the situation we face is a hard one," he began. "We've lost a lot of good people, and a lot more of them are currently in enemy hands. Make no mistake, we are currently down, but we are not out, not by a long damn sight. Before we're done here on Espia, we will get out people back, we will get our pay either from a new client or from the enemy's own stores, and we will get our revenge on the Crimson Fists. However, if we're going to do that, we need to look at our first steps."

Colonel Wayne gestured to Lieutenant Lyons, who switched on an overhead projector. The projector cast an image of a regional map, an abstract of the actual area divided up into hexagons, the standard representation used by 'Mech commanders since the days of the Star League.



"This is our effective area of operations," the Colonel began. "The New People's Democratic Republic of Espia has taken control of three of the four major cities on the continent: the primary population center of Geum Haebyon, the river ports of North and South Nui Awa, and the capital city of Balya Gora. They currently have control of the spaceport, the fusion reactors that provide power to the cities, and most if not all of the industrial centers of the planet. At least, in theory. In practice, the Espian Guard has spread themselves dangerously thin trying to hold down so many pressure points at once. Unless they concentrate their power in a coordinated attack, we can hit them in a number of places with relatively little risk."

Producing a laser pointer from his jacket, the Colonel indicated the one city in the south that was not sporting the banner of the NPDRE.

"The one holdout through the coup so far is the port city of Yuzhny Portveyn, on the southern end of the continent. Several holdouts from Governor Xiu's administration still hold power there, and guerilla fighters from the Espian Free People's Movement have made it increasingly difficult for the Guard to take hold of the city. Premier Federov has ordered that a column of tanks move south from Geum Haebyon to Yuzhny Portveyn, in order to reinforce the Guard forces already fighting there, which will crush the Xiu loyalists and the Free People's Movement guerillas if successful."

Moving the dot of the laser pointer north on the map, the Colonel indicated Hex F-10, which was marked with an icon of a warehouse, and highlighted with a yellow crosshair.

"The column of tanks has already moved south of us, but are expecting support from a series of supply depots the Guard has set up along the way," Gaius continued. "According to second-line transmissions our comms team intercepted, at 0600 hours tomorrow morning, a supply convoy will head out from this depot, consisting of three J-27 Ordnance Trucks, carrying over seventy-five tons of long- and short-range missiles, autocannon shells, and machine gun ammunition. The ammo convoy will be joined by three flatbeds containing spare plates of military-grade armor, two flatbeds each containing 5,000 gallons of drinkable fresh water, two more containing pre-packaged rations, and one carrying medical supplies including equipment to set up a MASH unit. Everything a fighting force would need to keep up sustained combat for months."

"The convoy is expected to reach Yuzhny Portveyn within 24 hours of departure,"
the Colonel said, before an eager grin turned up the corners of his mouth. "We are going to make sure those trucks come to us instead."

With a few murmurs from the crowd, the Colonel began to lay out the plan.

"This will be a straightforward smash-and-grab operation," he stated. "At 0500 hours, our 'Mech lance will descend upon the supply depot, under the cover of the ECM bubble from Alleycat's Raven. This will effectively cut off the depot's ability to call for reinforcements. Because the bulk of the Espian Guard is currently diverted to the south, we expect the objective to be lightly defended. A few laser turrets, and no more than a handful of light armored vehicles: primarily Scorpion and Striker light tanks. However, civilian comms traffic indicates sightings of at least some elements of the Crimson Fists operating not too far from the target area, so keep your heads on a swivel."

The mention of the Crimson Fists drew a few angered rumbles from the crew, to which the Colonel put up a hand.

"I know we're all itching for some payback against the Fists," he acknowledged, "but we can only effectively engage them after we have enough armor and ammo to take them in a stand-up fight. As it is, the window of opportunity here is going to be very tight, so you will have to stay focused and on-task, understood?"

After a few "sir, yes sirs," he nodded.

"Now, once the base has been breached, the second part of the attack will commence," he said. "We have three functional APCs, which will enter the depot after the 'Mech force has disabled its primary defenses. Two of those APCs will contain Master Sergeant Dalton's infantry platoons, who will secure the convoy trucks and neutralize any hostile forces nearby. The third APC....will consist of volunteers. Anyone capable of hotwiring and driving a large vehicle will commandeer the supply trucks. Once the convoy has been secured, they will proceed north back to our headquarters, using the Raven's ECM to keep them from being detected or tracked by long-range sensors."

Colonel Wayne took a breath, to begin the bad news of the operation.

"As I mentioned, the window to get this done is going to be very tight," he said. "While most of the Espian Guard are concentrating on the fighting to the south, their air force is still very much active in the area, as well as elements of the Crimson Fists, who we know are actively searching for us in order to finish us off. While the Raven's ECM will keep the depot personnel from calling for reinforcements, as soon as we move out, we won't have that protection. What's more, the ECM field will prevent even mundane communications and check-ins, so the Espian Guard will eventually notice a blank spot in their network, and will likely send elements to investigate. By my estimate, we will have no more than fifteen minutes between the beginning of the attack and the arrival of enemy reinforcements, so we'll have to act quickly."

"What's more,"
he went on, "While under the cover of the ECM field, you will not be able to receive communications from outside. Meaning I will not be able to direct you from the Mobile Headquarters. That said, you're all professionals. Come what may, I'm putting my trust in you to make the correct decisions in the field."

Colonel Wayne gestured again to Lyons, who turned the projector off.

"If you've got questions, now's the time."
"That's enough, both of you," Colonel Wayne interrupted as he approached the group of Mechwarriors. "Mechwarrior Daschke, since you seem to want to get physical, I'll be happy to provide you with a workout. Two hundred push-ups, and I want them done before briefing."

Before the snickering could begin, Gaius turned his attention to Alleycat. "Mechwarrior Ziska, I want two hundred from you too, for instigating. Next person who causes friction in the ranks gets a Level 1 Disciplinary Action. We may not have a brig at the moment, but trust me, I'll find the time and the equipment to make one. Briefing is in fifteen; both of you get to it. The rest of you are dismissed."

Ziska was a born troublemaker, and usually Gaius let her attitude slide; playful banter and a little mischief here and there was harmless, and usually good for morale. Right now, though, tensions were high and nerves were on edge; the Green Knights needed to be reminded that they were professionals, and client or no client, there was work to be done.

What exactly that work was, however, was still formulating in the Colonel's head. He needed a few details before the actual plan could be finalized.

Making his way to the large open cavern in the mine that had become their makeshift motor pool, Gaius's nostrils stung with the smell of petrochem as fuel lines snaked across the stone floor between the handful of fuel tanks the Green Knights had managed to escape with, and a trio of mostly-intact APCs. He caught the occasional whiff of ozone and made sure to avert his eyes from the blindingly bright flashes as arc-welders fixed new (or new-ish) plates of armor onto one of the tracked vehicles.

Standing on top of a crate and calling out orders, a wiry dark-skinned man with a prosthetic arm and leg directed the flow of activity. Gaius looked at Chief Aadil's artificial arm, and subconsciously rubbed at his own, a brief jolt of phantom pain causing the fingers of his cybernetic left hand to flex open and closed.

Deep down, Gaius felt a pang of envy as he watched the Deck Chief work. Solomon Aadil was a brilliant technician before being maimed by enemy fire, and his injuries didn't hinder his ability to do his job in the slightest. Colonel Wayne, though was a born Mechwarrior, and his own injury meant that he would never again be able to do the thing he was born to do.

Chief Aadil turned to the Colonel and stepped down from his perch. "Colonel Wayne," he said with a casual salute, "work is on schedule, we should be ready to deploy on time."

"'Should be?'" The Colonel asked with a raised eyebrow. "Something slowing you down, Sol?"

The Chief shrugged. "No one major thing, just a thousand small ones. One of the APCs had to be assembled together out of the wreckage of two other ones, and there's no end of minor hiccups that come with that. But more than the technical issues, there's the issue of morale, sir. The techs and astechs are tired, and angry, and everyone's got their blood up. I can't push them too much harder without something or someone breaking."

The Colonel glanced around, and saw the fatigue on the men's faces as plain as day. Most had sunken cheeks and baggy eyes, from lack of sleep and barely rationed food. Many had been wearing the same clothes for nearly a week. Everyone was covered in a sheen of sweat and grime. They needed to keep pushing forward in order to survive, but days of living in squalor with no release was wearing them down.

Gaius nodded slowly, considering his options, then made up his mind.

"I want that area cordoned off this evening," he pointed to a relatively empty corner of the cavern. "A couple of barricades to keep people from spilling over it. I'll make sure Master Sergeant Dalton has an accidental lapse in the security watch and that the patrols don't come through the vehicle bay for a good two hours tonight."

Chief Aadil perked up. "You're letting me open up the Scrap Yard, sir?"

"I'm saying I plan on having a nice, quiet evening to myself before we deploy, Sol," he said, not making eye contact, "And that I'm not going to be bothered by reports of the crew getting rowdy."

Sol nodded, an understanding smile nearly splitting his face in two.

The Scrap Yard was, by design, the worst-kept secret among the Green Knights' ranks. It was an unsanctioned, 'underground' fighting ring meant to settle grudges and let off steam. Everyone from the lowest astech to the lance-commanding Mechwarrior could challenge- or be challenged by- anyone else in the Scrap Yard. Fighters were encouraged to hold nothing back, fights only stopped by knockout or tap-out. And it was an understanding among the Knights that any issues, no matter how personal, that were brought to the Yard were considered dropped when the fight was over.

This sort of behavior was considered wildly unprofessional, so officially, Colonel Wayne and Captain Roth didn't know about it. Unofficially, they always made sure the quartermaster requisitioned a few extra empty storage crates, barricades, rolls of athletic tape, and bandages.

"While I'm at it, Sol," he mentioned in a low tone, "I couldn't help but notice that Pops hasn't set up one of his ethanol stills. I want you impress on him that he is absolutely not allowed to siphon off ethanol fuel from the decommissioned vehicles and start making moonshine."

The Chief glanced over his shoulder at the leathery old man who slouched against a cavern wall, mirrored shades covering his eyes and a hat pulled down so that no one could tell if he was even awake, and laughed.

Pops was a cantankerous old tech who had joined up along with Wrathchild; nobody knew what his real name was, and every time someone asked about where he came from, he had a different story. While he looked after Lena's younger sister Sunny as if she were his own, he had taken Lena's death hard, and was prone to sulking. Getting him up to his old antics-- or rather, telling him he couldn't get up to his old antics and then conveniently moving out of the way-- would hopefully go a long way.

"I'll make sure the boys are all operating at peak efficiency, sir," Sol saluted.

"See to it, Chief," the Colonel said, before continuing his walk across the vehicle bay, toward the thick tangle of cables and wires that led from various points in and outside of the abandoned mine, and all converged on the Mobile Headquarters.

"...just like the time you said you saw a 'Highlander Burial' in person," Gaius heard Lieutenant Stephanie Lyons arguing as he stepped through the hatch of the Mobile HQ.

"I totally did!" Cadet Zack Windham protested, shifting his notable heft in his chair as he turned from his station to bicker. "Okay, it wasn't in person, but the holo was--"

"A fake, man," Cadet Marcus Higgins, leaning back and smirking. "You can't believe everything you see in the Immortal Warrior vids."

Cadet Windham deflated. "It wasn't Immortal Warrior," he pouted. "It was Tales of the Bounty Hunter."

Lyons just scoffed in disgust, while Higgins did his best to not burst out laughing.

"Lieutenant, Cadets," the Colonel announced his presence, causing the communications team to nearly leap out of their seats in surprise. "I trust you've got the report on enemy comms and movements."

"Sir, yes sir!" Lt. Lyons snapped to attention, while Higgins rolled his eyes at her formality. "There's been a lot of chatter from the south, especially towards the city of Yuzhny Portveyn. We haven't been able to pinpoint the exact location of the Crimson Fists, because, well, modern comms don't allow for that without--"

"I'm aware, Lieutenant," the Colonel put a hand up to stop her from going into a technical lecture.

Modern battlefield communications equipment required sophisticated and robust computer systems on the ends of both the sender and receiver. Any message sent through comms, be it a Mechwarrior or an enlisted infantry grunt, would be thoroughly scrambled and encrypted before it was transmitted, and only other comms units with the same decryption key could unscramble the message. An enemy who intercepted a transmission would only get indecipherable noise, unless they either also had the decryption keys, or an expert codebreaker with hardware that hadn't been available for common use for centuries.

"Right, sir, sorry, sir," Lyons sputtered. "Given the density of comms traffic, we're able to tell where most of the Espian Guard forces are, at least their general location. More importantly, we've picked up plenty of second-line and auxiliary communications from the area, and lucky for us, they're just using old-fashioned radios. Which means we have an exact fix on the target locations. Cadet Windham?"

"Hm? Oh! Right," Windham answered, fumbling over the mess of empty chava cups, candy bar wrappers, and Battlemech action-figures as he searched. While the Lieutenant's station was always kept clean as if she were expecting a surprise inspection at any minute, Windham's station looked every bit like the 'man-cave' of a perpetually-single man-child, complete with a badly-edited deep-fake poster of a nearly-nude Natasha Kerensky striking a suggestive pose with the barrel of an autocannon.

The Colonel smirked when he saw the poster. He'd heard once that the real Natasha Kerensky had tracked down whoever was selling those fakes, and stomped him flat in her Warhammer. Though he'd also heard a different story that she'd only threatened to stomp him unless she got a cut of the profits.

"I've, ah, I've got it right here, sir," Windham said as he produced a rolled-up paper map, and rolled it out across the table in the center of the room. Once upon a time, that table contained an advanced holographic battle-map that could update in real-time to show information across an entire continent. Now it was little more than a heavy piece of furniture.

Colonel Wayne studied the map intently. "You're sure this information is accurate?"

Lt. Lyons nodded. "As of this morning, it's up-to-date, sir."

The Colonel returned the nod absently, and stared at the map for a few more minutes, the pieces starting to click together in his mind.

"Ummm, sir?" Cadet Higgins piped up. "Mission briefing is in less than a minute. All due respect, sir....do we have a plan?"

Gaius Wayne closed his eyes, nodded to himself, and rolled up the map.

"We do now."


Glory Road, en route to Castle Doom
Doomstadt
Latveria


"I must say," Prime Minister Klaus Limka of Symkaria commented, as the limousine carrying the visiting dignitaries turned onto the city's main thoroughfare, "Your workers have done a tremendous job in the reconstruction of Hassenstadt."

Indeed, the ride from the airport into the city had been remarkably smooth. There was not so much as a pothole or a patch of rough pavement along the Glory Road. Several of the buildings along the way sported brand new façades, fresh paint, and clean gleaming windows. One never would have guessed that only a few short months ago, this place was a war zone.

"Doomstadt," Prime Minister Lucia von Bardas corrected him. "Hassenstadt was the seat of power of a corrupt and incompetent regime. Doomstadt is the birthplace of the future."

"Hmph," scoffed Minister Vilmos Egans of Kaznia, a corpulent balding man whose jowls seemed to flap when he moved too much. "I have seen the 'future' you and your Legion offer. And in my opinion, it looks a bit too much like the past for my liking."

Von Bardas gave him a placating, even condescending smile, to assure him she could empathize. Kaznia had suffered long throughout the twentieth century, the political pendulum swinging back and forth from fascists to communists, with tens of thousands slaughtered each time power changed hands. Lucia had known that Egans would always be slow to accept the Way of Doom, given its superficial similarity to those old, backwards ways of thinking.

"I assure you, Minister Egans," she said with as smooth and warm a voice as she could manage, "We have no intention of making the same mistakes as the failed ideologs who came before us."

"Is that so?" asked Captain-General Tor Avruskin, the commander-in-chief of Pokolistan. "Thus far, all I have seen is the same kind of rhetoric, the same heavy-handed militarism, the same sort of Nietzschean will-to-power nonsense that fueled the rise of Hitler and Stalin. How is your regime any different?"

While Limka and Egans had both approached this proposed summit of nations carefully and diplomatically, Avruskin had made no secret that he considered Latveria and their "Legion of Doom" to be enemies of his people. While most of Eastern Europe had taken strides to modernize and leave behind the Cold War style of brinksmanship, Pokolistan and Latveria had remained bitter rivals over who was the dominant military power of the region. The Pokolistani military had never disarmed, had never stopped procuring and manufacturing weapons, and their soldiers were said to be on par with any of the first-world armies in terms of skill and discipline, if not in numbers or technology. There were even unconfirmed rumors that Pokolistan had secretly been operating a nuclear weapons program in spite of admonishment from the UN.

Historically, Symkaria and Kaznia would have never aligned with a nation as militant or as aggressive as Pokolistan. But the fall of Markovia had opened the eyes of their leaders. To counter the Latverian threat, they would need to combine their resources and their military might.

This summit was their chance to show a united front to the Legion of Doom. In their minds, it was likely their best chance to prevent a continent wide war....or even a world war.

"To claim that the way of Doom is inspired by Nietzsche or Marx," Von Bardas explained, "would be akin to saying the works of Mozart were inspired by the first cave-dweller to bang rocks together. They may have the same primordial origins, but are refined and advanced so far as to be unrecognizable. The Way of Doom does not fixate on some farcical supposition of racial superiority as the Nazis had done, nor do we blame the myriad failings of the old world on differences of class or economics as the communists do. While yes, we do require rapid and forceful expansion to take hold of the levers of power, afterward, the people who embrace the Way of Doom find themselves far better than they were before."

As the limousine rolled down the busy city street, Lucia rolled down her window and gestured to the citizens bustling about their jobs. While there were no smiles, no visible laughter, there was also no despair or hatred in their eyes. Each Latverian they passed carried themselves with a steely-eyed determination, a sense of purpose that none of the visiting dignitaries had seen in their own people.

"The Way of Doom gives these people something none of the old ways have ever managed: a purpose," Lucia continued. "It gives them not just a rose-colored vision of some distant future, but a plan of action for the here and now, a place and a function where they can truly make a difference in their community, in their country, and in the world. Every man and woman in Latveria knows the place where they belong, and knows how their duties will reap them lasting rewards, and every child is given the opportunity to shape themselves into the citizens they dream of becoming."

"And for those who don't fit into your grand plan?" Limka asked, the question heavy with grim implications.

"Contrary to the bloodthirsty dictators of the past, everyone fits into our plan," Von Bardas corrected him. "You will find no gulags, no death camps, no gas chambers or ovens, here nor anywhere else under our--"

"Good God!" Minister Egans cried out as the limousine approached Victory Square.

On either side of the road, spaced out in a regular grid pattern, were row upon row of four-meter-high metal poles, sharpened at the end to form tall stakes. While the street, sidewalks, and even the ground around these stakes were impeccably clean, the stakes themselves were stained a deep rusty brown-red. The color of dried blood.

Some, however, did not merely bear old stains, but had rivulets of fresh blood pouring down their shafts. Wriggling from the tops of these poles, impaled from pelvis to mouth, were dozens of men and women.

Egans turned his face away, while Limka looked for a bag to be sick into. Even the stern-faced Avruskin went pale as they drove amid the grisly scene.

Lucia von Bardas looked at the carnage with the casual half-interest as one might look at a new restaurant still under construction.

"This is barbaric!" Egans blustered, full of indignant outrage. "As if 'Doctor Doom' was not enough of a monster for you to cling to, now you draw inspiration from Vlad the Impaler?!"

"I agree," Avruskin said, trying to regain his composure, "What sort of 'purpose' to these poor souls serve?"

"Those 'poor souls,'" Lucia said with a sour expression, "are enemies of the Latverian people. The worst types of predators and degenerates that the old world creates and ignores. You call Viktor von Domashev a monster? I doubt you know what such a thing even is."

Lucia motioned for the driver to slow the limousine, and she pointed towards one of the bodies, a fat bearded man whose eyes had gone vacant after what must have been hours, if not days, of abject agony.

"Do you see that creature?" she said, not even addressing the victim as human. "That is Yvgeni Sokolov, a serial rapist and murderer. The Former Prime Minister of Latveria rerouted police forces to hunt down critics and dissidents of his own regime, while Sokolov brutally ravished and slaughtered over seventy innocents. His oldest victim was no more than fifteen."

The three foreign dignitaries' expressions turned, still revolted by the punishment, but any pity for the man flushed away.

"And that one," she said, pointing to a middle-aged woman whose face was a mask of horror, "is Katrina Zeitel. She was a former KGB agent, and later the head of Minister Fortunov's secret police. The things she had her men do to the people who displeased Fortunov are the stuff of nightmares. And that is to say nothing of the fortunes she made using her thugs to carry out human-trafficking, abducting innocents and selling them to rich and powerful foreigners to fulfill their perverted desires."

She listed a handful more and their horrific deeds, before deciding the point had been made.

"Each of these creatures was either ignored or even encouraged by the previous regime, and each of them now serves as a warning to anyone who has such vile urges themselves. The Ministry of Medicine is willing and ready to provide the necessary corrections for those whose mental sicknesses cannot be solved with simple therapy."

None of the three foreign leaders followed up on her comment; the surgical scars across Lucia's face and neck, the quiet whirr and buzz of cybernetic servos beneath her skin, answered any questions they might have.

"I realize that some of our practices may seem distasteful, even outrageous, to outsiders," she said as the limousine accelerated, suddenly turning a corner away from Castle Doom, "but I assure you, the Legion of Doom will in time build a better world. A world where the predations of corrupt old men and rich degenerates will be nothing but a distant memory. A world where every citizen can carry out their purpose with dignity and honor. A world where the 'super-heroes' of the west will be an amusing distraction, rather than an unaccountable ruling class. And if we must take drastic steps to bring that world about, then so be it. We will take whatever means necessary to see the Way of Doom done."

After the limo had driven another block or so, it reached what appeared to be a vacant lot, in which stood three Legion soldiers. Each of them stood before a neatly-dug trench, approximately two meters long and two meters deep. Each of them had left a shovel sticking up out of the earth by the trenches they had dug. And as the limo came to a halt, each of the soldiers leveled their rifles and surrounded the car.

"What--...what are you doing?!" Prime Minister Klaus Limka sputtered. "This was supposed to be a peace summit!"

The doors to the limousine swung open, and the soldiers pulled the three dignitaries out.

"Y-you can't do this!" Minister Vilmos Egans protested.

"As I said, whatever means necessary," Lucia von Bardas said as she casually strolled towards the three fresh graves. "Your nations believed you could form an alliance to oppose us, to stop the Legion of Doom before it could break out across Europe. Every man and woman in Latveria has a purpose, my friends. And now, your purpose will be to show the world that the Legion of Doom cannot and will not be stopped."

"Do you even know what you're saying?!" Avruskin bellowed defiantly as the soldiers forced him to his knees. "Pokolistan will never stand for this! If you do this, we will declare war on--"

The sound of Lucia's laughter was like a slap across the Captain-General's face.

"Ohhh, my dear, simple man," she smiled coldly, "Latveria declared war on all three of your nations the moment you touched down at the airport. READY!"

The three soldiers shoved the foreign leaders face-down into the dirt.

"AIM!"

The soldiers raised their rifles and disengaged the safeties.

"W-wait!" Karl Limka pleaded. "Symkaria can b-be a valuable ally! P-p-please, just listen, I beg you--"

"Doom does not beg," Lucia von Bardas sneered. "FIRE!"

With a trio of muzzle flashes and an instant of pain, Prime Minister Karl Limka of Symkaria, Minister Vilmos Egans of Kaznia, and Captain-General Tor Avruskin of Pokolistan were plunged into oblivion.
ATTENTION, MECHWARRIORS, I-C IS LIVE! THIS IS NOT A DRILL, REPEAT, I-C IS LIVE!

Also, Desperado is APPROVED


E P I S O D E I:
B O R N T O L O S E


PROLOGUE:
TWO YEARS AGO


DropShip No Leaf Clover
En route from Espia System zenith Jump Point to planet Espia 4
Andurien Commonality, Capellan Confederation
February 23rd, 3028


“Anyone got a pencil I can borrow?” asked Bobby Taggart, callsign ‘Golden Boy,’ as he slouched in his chair.

“The hell do you need a pencil for?” Lena von Kemp, callsign ‘Wrathchild,’ asked from behind him, arms crossed.

“Just want to keep my tally going,” Bobby grinned. “The bossman loves to make his speeches, so I like to keep track of how many times I’ve heard his favorite catch phrases.”

He held up a small notepad, on which were written a handful of phrases. “We do the job and we do it right,” “Trust your training, trust your lancemates,” “Information is ammunition,” and so on. Next to each phrase was a row of tick marks.

Lena rolled her eyes. Golden Boy had been given his callsign due to how quickly he had shot up the ranks. 21, and already a lance commander. A lot of the other Mechwarriors in Gawain’s Green Knights grumbled and said he was too big for his breeches, but none of them could come close to his scores in the sim pods. And with three confirmed ‘Mech kills during the last campaign, he could back up his boasting.

That didn’t make him less of an asshole, though.

“All right, boys and girls, on your feet!” came the voice of Captain Sally Roth, the platinum-haired Dropship captain making her presence known as she strode into the crowded briefing room of her ship. “Commanding officer on deck!”

The briefing room filled with the sounds of rustling uniforms and scuffing boots. Some of the more professional soldiers, like the longtime Knights original Raven “Family Man” Rivers, or the new recruit Ingrid “Ramrod” Daschke, snapped to quick attention. Others, like Golden Boy or the often languid Emma “Alleycat” Ziska, took their time rising from their seats, with little regard for military decorum. The murmurs and grumbles, however, came to a stop when the Colonel entered.

“Ladies…gentlemen…Mechwarriors,” he began, as Golden Boy added a mental tick to the list, “much of the information we’ll be going over in today’s briefing we already discussed when you signed on. However, to make sure there are no misunderstandings, no miscommunications, and no misinformation, I will be treating you as if today is your very first day in the Inner Sphere.”

Colonel Gaius Wayne, callsign “Gawain,” paced back and forth in front of the briefing room with a deliberate gait, giving an appraising look to the Green Knights. Golden Boy had never been particularly close with the Colonel, but he’d seen him sit in on the occasional poker night in the galley. Some of Golden Boy’s fellow Knights, like Wrathchild or Reya the weapons engineer, saw him as a mentor or father-figure. Some of the older folks, like Family Man or Master Sergeant Dalton, looked at him as an old friend. Today, though, he was all business, which honestly made it that much harder for Golden Boy to take him seriously.

“As you know,” Colonel Wayne continued, “our client for this contract is the Capellan Confederation. House Liao is paying us a significant amount to reinforce their garrison on the border world of Espia. Breathable atmosphere, gravity within 0.1 of standard G, day-night cycle is 36 standard hours broken up into four 9-hour shifts. The water on Espia is extremely salty, with no natural freshwater on-planet. Because of this, the citizens are dependent on a series of offshore desalination platforms for usable water. The high value and possibly catastrophic consequences of damage to these targets is why the Cappies are willing to shell out big bills for ‘Mech support on a border world.”

“Right,” scoffed Freddie ‘Breezy’ Johansen, a new hire to the Knightsbut longtime freelancer, “because everyone knows the Capellans care so much about civilian life.”

“Breezy, you now owe me two hundred push-ups for interrupting,” the Colonel remarked, drawing a few chuckles from the other Knights. “But you are partially correct; the Liaos do have another vested interest on Espia: deposits of a rare-earth mineral called Neodymium. It’s most commonly found in magnets, but it’s also a component in advanced electronics. Potentially worth an awful lot of C-Bills, and the Capellans want to protect their investment. And if they’re willing to pay for the job, then we’re willing to get the job done.”

Golden Boy smirked, and made another tick on his list.

A hand shot up. “What kind of potential threats are we expecting, sir?”

Colonel Wayne nodded, and drew his attention to the map on the far wall. The planet Espia was displayed as a small dot in the center of the map, barely on the right side of a jagged line. To the right of the line, the space was filled with light green, and to its left, the region was purple. Slightly beneath that was a third region, colored in teal.



“As you can see,” the Colonel stated, “Espia is located on the border of the Capellan Confederation and the Free Worlds League. Historically, the Free Worlders have been the biggest threat to the Capellan border, but with the signing of the Concord of Kapetyn, the Mariks and Liaos, as well as the Kuritas, are notionally all on the same side.”

“In theory, at least,” Captain Roth added.

“Yeah, you know how Free Worlders are,” Golden Boy said, his remark aimed at Aroxty Sameve, trying to rile up the tank commander who had originally hailed from the League. “Ask two Mariks a question, you’ll get three answers.”

“You stow that shit, Golden Boy,” Master Sergeant Dalton glared with a look that could peel the paint off of an Atlas’s faceplate. Golden Boy raised his hands in mock surrender, and the Colonel fixed him with a stare that let him know he’d be joining Breezy doing push-ups later.

“As I was saying,” Colonel Wayne continued, “the chances of Marik making a move on Liao are slim to none, not with the two Houses signing a non-aggression pact to counter the alliance between Davion and Steiner. Officially, the Third Succession War is over, so for the time being the Marik border is considered relatively safe.”

He then motioned further down on the map, to the area in teal.

“The other major player in the region is the Magistracy of Canopus. While I’m sure many of you have heard of them by reputation, there is more to the Magistracy than pleasure-circuses and hard drugs. The Canopians have a significant military force, one that can rival a House army in both size and skill. And unlike the Mariks, they did not sign the Concord, so they aren’t beholden to any non-aggression pact. However, historically the Magistracy has avoided the worst of the Succession Wars specifically by not getting involved in heavy fighting, so again, the chances of them rolling in on Espia are slim.”

“Then why bring in a company of ‘Mechs, sir?” Wrathchild asked.

“Because of the third potential threat to the planet’s stability,” Gawain answered, “which, unfortunately, are the people of Espia themselves. The citizens here have little loyalty to the Confederation, if any, and there have been quite a few demonstrations and protests against House Liao’s leadership. A growing political movement in the government, the so-called “Espian Free People’s Movement,” has been openly talking about secession. There hasn’t been any actual violence…yet…but the Capellans want to make a show of force to keep any of these protests from getting out of hand.”

“So we’re the bad guys on this job?” asked Reya Wyatt.

“We’re keeping the peace, that’s all,” the Colonel responded. “The Green Knights will be operating independently of the Espian Guard, but I have received full authorization from the local Governor to maintain law and order by any means necessary. Let me repeat that: I have full authorization. You do not. Our job is to convince any potential rioters or insurgents to disperse by looking impressive and scary, but you will not make any direct action against the local population without my explicit orders, is that clear?”

“Sir, yes sir!” the Green Knights answered in unison.

“I said is that clear?

“SIR, YES SIR!”

“Good,” he stated. “We are not a House army, but we are professional soldiers. And I expect you to behave as such. Those of you who know me, know that I judge disciplinary action based on a complex and robust equation based around five variable factors. Captain Roth, what are those factors?”

Captain Sally Roth looked across the Green Knights and gave them a switchblade smirk as she listed them off. ”How many bystanders you hurt, how much you cost the company in damages, how many local laws you broke, how many MRB regulations you broke, and how much you pissed the Colonel off.”

”That is correct,” he said, his own taciturn demeanor contrasting the Captain’s almost playful tone. ”Based on the results of that equation, I will administer one of four levels of disciplinary action. Level One, I dock your pay 25 percent, and you spend a week in the brig. Level Two, I dock your pay 50 percent, you spend a month in the brig, and you get ten lashes in front of the Knights at the end, just to give you something to look forward to. Level Three, I dock your pay 75 percent, you spend the rest of the contract in the brig, and you get ten lashes at the end of every month. And Level Four, I dock your pay 100 percent, and I shoot you in the head. I’ve been in the mercenary game for twelve years, I have only had to administer a Level Four disciplinary action twice. Do not be the third.

A few people shuddered. Some nodded grimly. Golden Boy made another tick on his list.

”We are not here to be the ‘bad guys’ or the ‘good guys,’” Colonel Wayne said, approaching the wrap-up of his speech. ”We are here to be professionals. We are here because there is work that needs doing, and because there are standards to be met. The Green Knights do the job, and we do it right, is that clear?”

“SIR, YES SIR!” the Knights answered as one.

Golden Boy jotted down the biggest tick he could on his list.

”Now let’s open up the floor for some questions…”




SIX MONTHS AGO


Byeong-Ho Square
Balya Gora, capital city of Espia
September 14th, 3029


”For too long, the people of Espia have suffered under the yoke of the Capellan Confederation!” a young woman bellowed into a megaphone over the roar of the crowd. ”For generation after generation, House Liao has fed us nothing but lies and fear-mongering, all while propping up a regime that is corrupt, callous, cruel, and incompetent! How many Espians have to die in the mines every year before the Liaos are satisfied? How many of our sick, our elderly, our disabled die of thirst because Governor Xiu considers them a ‘drain’ on water rations, while the Aqua Vitae Corporation rakes in record profits?! And now after promising us ‘security’ and ‘safety’ in exchange for all this suffering, the Capellan Confederation abandons us, leaving our lives in the hands of money-grubbing mercenaries!”

Around her, the crowd bellowed with rage. In front of them, lines of Espian Guards armed with riot shields, tear gas, and batons struggled to hold back the mass of fuming humanity. Behind the first line, a second line of Guards waited with assault rifles at the ready.

From behind the lines of riot guards, Golden Boy whistled inside the cockpit of his Vindicator. ”Hooo-ee, they are all kinds of pissed off.”

”Hate to say it,” Breezy’s voice crackled over the comms from his Locust, ”but the lady has a point.”

”Ehhh, I don’t have time for all that ‘power to the people’ jazz,” Bigtime said dismissively, his Urbanmech sweeping the barrel of its autocannon back and forth over the angry crowd. ”People like this are gonna bellyache no matter who’s in charge.”

”Just keep focused,” Wrathchild chided her lancemates. ”We don’t have to be friends with these people; we just need to keep them from doing something stupid.”

”And how are we gonna do that?” Golden Boy complained, as a glass bottle shattered against the cockpit of his ‘Mech. ”Colonel says we can’t open up on these whiners without his express permission. And there ain’t exactly a non-lethal way to use these things. We might as well be out here with squirt guns.”

”WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH!” The woman with the megaphone shouted. ”If House Liao will not protect us, then the time has come to protect ourselves! From outsiders, from oppressors, and from our own corrupt and broken puppet government! The time has come to join up and shout, FREE ESPIA!”

With a surge of anger that can only come from a population that’s had all it can stand, the crowd rushed forward and began bowling over the riot guards. Pops of smoke grenades rang out, and shouts of rage and pain filled the air.

Another bottle soared through the air, arcing towards Bigtime’s Urbanmech. This bottle, however, had a flaming rag sticking out of the top, and when it shattered, it covered the short squat ‘Mech in fiery liquid.

”Aw, to hell with this,” the Mechwarrior said, taking a step forward and aiming his cannon toward the crowd, ”You saw them provoke me, right?”

The city square echoed with the sudden crash and shrieking of metal-on-metal, as the fist of Wrathchild’s Wolverine slammed into the Urbanmech’s side, sending the smaller ‘Mech stumbling back.

”You’re not wasting these people just because you’re mad that one of them ruined your paint job, Bigshot,” Wrathchild snarled.

”Hey, what the hell are you two doing?” Breezy demanded, but kept his Locust away from the two ‘Mechs. Between the size of the Wolverine and the Urbanmech’s cannon, there was little his insect-like 20-ton scout ‘Mech could do.

”Back off, Wrathchild,” Golden Boy warned, a dangerous edge to his voice as he leveled his Particle Projector Cannon at the Wolverine, ”Don’t side with a random mob over your lancemate.”

Between the Green Knights’ feet, the mob broke through the first line of riot guards.

”You heard the Colonel’s orders,” she demanded. ”No firing on–”

”The Colonel ain’t out here,” Bigshot said as he turned his own gun on her. ”These ain’t our people, Wrathchild. Hell, they don’t even like us. You really feel like getting popped today because you wanted to play hero?”

”FREE ESPIA!”

”Guys…” Breezy tried to cut in, but was ignored.

”You pull that trigger, Bigshot, and it’s the last thing you’ll ever do.”

”You open up on your lancemate, Wrathchild, and I’ll cut you down here and now.”

Wrathchild turned her arm, aiming her autocannon at Golden Boy’s Vindicator while keeping her laser and short-range missiles trained on the Urbanmech.

”Guys…”

”You’re an asshole, Golden Boy,” she snarled.

”And you’re nowhere near as good as you think you are, Wrathchild.”

”GUYS!”

The square erupted with the chatter of gun fire, followed immediately with screams.

The gunfire didn’t come from the Urbanmech the Wolverine, or the Vindicator. It came from beneath them, from the Espian Guards and their TK Assault Rifles. By the end of their second volley, dozens of protestors were dead. The nameless hundreds or thousands more began stampeding in all directions, some trampling each other while trying to flee, others charging forward with righteous indignation.

”Awww, fuck,” Golden Boy groaned. ”The Colonel’s going to have our hides for this…”




ONE WEEK AGO


Streets of Balya Gora
March 15th, 3030
Day Four of Military Coup


”PEOPLE OF ESPIA,” the automated recording sounded from the megaphone of the Scorpion Light Tank as it rumbled through the city streets. ”REMAIN IN YOUR HOMES. THE ESPIAN GUARD HAS ASSUMED POLITICAL CONTROL UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. ANYONE OUTSIDE OF THEIR HOMES DURING THE TRANSITION OF POWER WILL BE CONSIDERED AN ENEMY COMBATANT. ANYONE FOUND GIVING SHELTER OR AID TO GOVERNOR XIU'S REGIME OR TO THE OFF-WORLD MERCENARIES WILL BE CONSIDERED AN ENEMY COMBATANT. FOR YOUR SAFETY AND SECURITY, REMAIN IN YOUR HOMES UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. MESSAGE REPEATS. PEOPLE OF–”

With a thunder-crack of man-made lightning and a flash of bright cerulean, the Scorpion erupted. From the cockpit of his Vindicator, Golden Boy scowled.

”Ungrateful assholes,” he spat.

”Come on,” Wrathchild chided him. ”Let’s get this sector clear, so we can link up with Alpha and Bravo Lance.”

”That Scorpion was the only thing in two kliks of us making any kind of noise,” Bigshot said, ”I think it’s safe to call this sector cl–”

His last words were cut short by the thunderous blast of a massive autocannon. Before anyone could realize what happened, the torso of the Urbanmech collapsed in on itself, and the squat ‘Mech crumpled to the pavement in a heap.

”Shit!” Golden boy swore as the remaining three ‘Mechs broke formation, scattering for what cover they could find. ENEMY ‘MECH DETECTED, his Vindicator’s computer warned him too late.

”Getting sensor lock,” Breezy said, the antennae of his Locust twitching. ”Seismic sensors are reading it as a fifty-tonner….hell, it’s a Hunchback! Enemy Hunchback!

Sure enough, striding from the smoke and dust down the ruined city street was a short but powerfully built medium ‘Mech, humanoid in shape, its arms bowed out like a bodybuilder, and an absolutely enormous autocannon on its right shoulder.

”What the hell?” Golden Boy asked, more to himself than to his lancemates. ”I thought we were the only ‘Mech force on the planet!”

”Well, you thought wrong,” Wrathchild said, triggering her jump jets as her Wolverine rose into the air. It slammed down on the roof of a nearby building, kicking up a huge cloud of dust as the building’s structure somehow managed to hold the ‘Mech’s mass. ”Doesn’t change the plan. We clear the sector of hostiles, ‘Mechs or not.”

”Easy for you to say!” Breezy called out, his Locust bobbing and weaving to make himself as difficult a target as possible for the Hunchback. ”That thing hits me, I’m a ghost!!”

”Then don’t let it hit you!” Wrathchild shouted before firing off a burst of cannon fire and a volley of short-range missiles at the enemy ‘Mech. High-velocity shells and warheads gouged pockmarks out of the Hunchback’s armor, but did very little else.

”I’ve got him,” Golden Boy said, triggering his own jump jets as he and Wrathchild tried to surround the ‘Mech. Triggering the Vindicator’s PPC in mid-jump, the sudden spike of heat in his cockpit made him hiss through his teeth, but the bright blue beam struck the Hunchback in the chest, forcing it to stagger backwards into an apartment block. With a thunderous crash, the building collapsed, burying the Hunchback under rubble and dust.

”Good shot, Golden Boy,” Wrathchild admitted with grudging respect, ”But stay sharp, chances are he’s still–”

”Multiple contacts incoming!” Breezy called out. ”Reading three, no, for–wait…sensors have gone dead. What the hell? I’m being jammed!”

Golden Boy frowned, and checked his own sensors. Sure enough, his screen was blank, which could only mean either the coast was clear–which it plainly wasn’t– or they were being hit with some major electronic interference.

”Heads on a swivel, Knights,” Wrathchild said, sweeping her gun back and forth from her elevated position. ”Call targets when you see them. We need to–”

Two fiery streaks rushed through the air, one from in front of Wrathchild, the other behind, sticking into the leg and back of her Wolverine. There was no explosion, no alarms. Dud rounds, maybe?

”What the hell?”

Golden Boy caught movement in his peripheral vision, and turned to see a small, bird-like ‘Mech disappearing behind a corner.

”Got an enemy Raven, two o’clock,” he called to his lancemates. ”That’s gotta be what’s screwing with our sensors.”

”Another one, seven o’clock,” Breezy called out, wheeling his Locust around to pursue.

Ravens? Then that means…shit, I’m Narced!”

The Raven, a top-of-the-line scout ‘Mech from House Liao, was equipped with an incredibly advanced electronic warfare package. In addition to its ECM capabilities, it boasted a particularly nasty piece of support equipment: a Narc missile beacon. And Wrathchild had just been tagged with two of them.

”Wrathchild, bug out!” Breezy shouted. ”They’ve got you scouted for–”

At that point, though, it was too late. From beyond the city skyline, Golden Boy watched a flight of long-range missiles reaching up into the sky. Then another. Then two more. Then four more. Their contrails criss-crossed through the sky towards them. As Golden Boy watched them, he found them almost beautiful.

Then all at once, they came down on Wrathchild’s Wolverine enveloping the 50-ton ‘Mech in a maelstrom of explosions.

”Wrathchild!” he called to his lancemate. ”Talk to me.”

No response.

Moments later, the charred husk of an eviscerated ‘Mech tilted forward through the smoke, toppling off of the rooftop and crumbling on the ground.

”Hell with this!” Breezy said, ”I’m bugging out. We’re not getting paid to–”

Another thundercrack and flash of lightning, and the Locust hit the pavement hard, its left leg snapped completely off at the knee. The ‘Mech’s momentum kept the torso moving forward, tumbling over itself again and again in a series of vicious snap-rolls before it came to a stop in a smoking heap.

”Breezy, punch out! Breezy!”

The Locust’s pilot never had the chance to respond, as a massive foot came crashing down on the small ‘Mech’s cockpit. Golden Boy’s blood ran cold as he saw the ‘Mech that had killed Breezy. Standing over the wreckage was the imposing frame of a Battlemaster.

Weighing in at 85 tons, the Battlemaster was nearly twice the size of Golden Boy’s Vindicator. Mostly humanoid with a large, almost airplane-like cockpit assembly for a head, its right arm carried the same type of PPC as his own ‘Mech, but whereas the Vindicator only had a 5-shot rack of LRMs and a medium laser to back it up, the Battlemaster carried a devastating array of short-range weapons. Colonel Wayne used to pilot one just like it before he lost his arm, and Golden Boy was always glad to see it on his side.

This, however, was not Colonel Wayne’s ride. The Battlemaster that bore down on him was painted a deep red, slashed with white trim. On its breast was an emblem of a skeletal fist.

”Know this, mercenary scum,” the enemy Mechwarrior addressed him on an open channel. ”Today the people of Espia have new leaders. And today, you die to the Crimson Fists.”

The Battlemaster strode forward, a half-dozen beams of blinding light erupting from its torso. Six medium lasers raked across the Vindicator, reducing armor in its torso to molten slag, before a flight of SRMs blasted more of it away. Readouts told him that in that salvo alone, most of the armor on his left side had been taken.

”Oh shit, oh shit,” Golden Boy panted, fighting hard to keep the ‘Mech upright. He then suddenly felt himself thrown against the restraints of his command couch. His ears rang and his eyes blurred, and the cockpit of his Vindicator flashed red with a hundred warning lights. CRITICAL DAMAGE. RIGHT ARM DESTROYED.

Behind him, the Hunchback had risen from the rubble of the collapsed apartment building, and was advancing from behind. On either side, Golden Boy saw the two Ravens stalking between buildings, ready to add their own lasers and missiles to the fight.

”P-please, wait,” he began to sputter as his enemies encircled him. ”I-I-I can help! I’m the b-best shot in my lance! I d-don’t even like these guys! Don’t–”

The Battlemaster leveled its PPC at the Vindicator’s head.

For a split second, Bobby “Golden Boy” Taggart’s world was filled with blinding light, deafening thunder, and searing pain.

Then Bobby “Golden Boy” Taggard never saw, heard, nor felt anything ever again.




NOW


Abandoned Neodymium Mine
Eunsan Mountain Range
250 Kilometers Southwest of Balya Gora
March 22nd, 3030


Colonel Gaius Wayne woke up miserable, after a night of fitful sleep. He kept running the situation through his head again and again. How the hell did it happen so quickly?

Bigshot, KIA.

Breezy, KIA.

Golden Boy, KIA.

Wrathchild, MIA….presumed KIA.

More Mechwarriors wounded in the coup, out of action for the foreseeable future.

Three of his four tank crews, both of his VTOLs pilots, and half of his infantry lost.

And worst of all, most of the civilian contingent was now in enemy hands.

Including the families, the children, of the surviving Green Knights.

Including Sally Roth.

He looked down at his left hand, the prosthetic bundle of plastic, metal, and myomer fibers that the doctors had fitten him with three years ago, and a wave of disgust washed over him. If he still had his hand, the prosthetic wouldn’t interfere with his neurohelmet. He could have still piloted his ‘Mech. He could have taken that enemy Battlemaster ‘Mech for ‘Mech.

I could’ve saved them, he thought bitterly.

Around him, the makeshift headquarters they had thrown together buzzed with activity. The cavern was large enough to fit the surviving Knights and their equipment, deep enough in the mountain that they wouldn’t be detected from above by spotter planes or drones, and the old mining scaffolds functioned decently as jury-rigged ‘Mech bays.

It was enough to keep them going, for a time. But only for a time.

Gaius saw some of the kids, the few they had managed to get out before the Espian Guards and their new allies, the so-called ‘Crimson Fists,’ overran the Clover and the Dittohead. Some of them were playing, trying to keep their spirits up. Others clearly had tear stains around their eyes. All were getting worryingly thin.

They’re going to starve, he thought to himself. Because you couldn’t be there to save them. Now all you can do is sit and hide and watch your them waste away. They took their parents from them. They took their friends. They took her.

Gaius’s self-pity froze into steely determination at that thought.

And you’re going to get them all back.

Shaking his head and clearing the intrusive thoughts from his head, he cupped his hands to his mouth and called out to everyone in the camp.

”Attention, Green Knights!” he shouted. ”Mission briefing in one hour! I repeat, mission briefing in six-zero minutes! We’ve been knocked on our asses, people. Now we go over how we get back on our feet…and how we get our payback.”

Do the job, he thought to himself. And do it right.


G A W A I N ' S G R E E N K N I G H T S


C O M M A N D S T A F F


Colonel Gaius "Gawain" Wayne
Mobile Headquarters
AndyC

Captain Sally Roth
Captain, Union-Class DropShip No Leaf Clover (NPC)

Deck Chief Solomon Aadil
Chief Technician (NPC)

Master Sergeant Roger Dalton
Infantry Commander (NPC)

First-Sergeant Doctor Yuri Nakajima
Chief Medical Officer (NPC)

Lieutenant Cynthia Roth
Quartermaster (NPC)

M E C H W A R R I O R S


Raven "Family Man" Rivers
Shadow Hawk SDH-2H
Letter Bee

Marit "Giggles" Saarinen
Archer ARC-2R (Custom)
Starlance

Emma "Alleycat" Ziska
Raven RVN-3L
Abstract Proxy

Ingrid "Ramrod" Daschke
Ostroc OSR-2C
wikkit

S U P P O R T C H A R A C T E R S


Aroxty "Steel Rain" Sameve
Von Luckner Heavy Tank
Bork Lazer

Reya Wyatt
Weapons Engineer
Pilatus

Andrew "Hope-1" Rivers
Guerilla/Civilian
Letter Bee
Character: Col Gaius Wayne



Battlemech or Vehicle:





Supporting Characters:

All right, grunts, meet the boss!

Character: Col Gaius Wayne



Battlemech or Vehicle:





Supporting Characters:

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