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Unlike Tarak, Marit didn’t even bother stifling her laughter as she could practically see the steam shooting out of Ingrid’s ears. Despite her usual attitude, everyone had things that rubbed them the wrong way, and the Rasalhagenaar never kept her generally low opinions of nobility a secret. She would have even clapped following Ziska’s performance.

That said, she had seen enough barroom brawls before joining the Knights to see that Ingrid was about to blow a gasket for real. Swallowing a remark about Ingrid making mockery of herself and forcing on a neutral expression, she was about to try to douse the embers before something caught fire when the Colonel appeared like a specter and laid down the law. The man had ears everywhere. Marit would’ve suspected he had Huginn and Muninn on his payroll if it wasn’t verifiable that the Knights currently only had one Raven that saw everything in their ranks. All she could do was spare a look of pity for Ziska.

Some 250 km to target. The slowest vehicle they had was the Von Luckner at 50-odd km/h. In practice, it’d be less than that. It was looking like over five hours in the cockpit just to get there and another five plus to get back. Even more to get back if someone got their legs mangled in the fight or if the supply trucks had trouble with terrain. 15 minutes, give or take, according to the Colonel until problems started and who knew how long the fight would take when they did. The travel time meant waking up around midnight. At least the closest Crimson Fists Lance - she assumed - was just as far away according to the map. She found herself disagreeing with the senior MechWarrior though: Planning for success of this endeavor wasn’t foolish, it was the only thing they had left. In their situation, planning for failure might have as well included a shotgun with the trigger guard sawed off so you could pull the trigger with your toe. One of the tankers started talking shit. Morven, was it? ”Mate, WE are effectively guerilla layabouts. Or at least we will have to act the part if we want to live to see the end of the month.” Hiding between hit and run attacks was all they had left, their only hope being bringing down the opposition with bug bites.

”I wouldn’t be too worried about remaining loyal to house Liao. They probably have bigger fires to put out at the moment, otherwise they’d be here already. They’ll take Espia back eventually, but by then we’ll be gone, one way or another. Otherwise Mister Sameve makes a good point. And besides, who’s more likely to eventually help us storm a heavily guarded prison and then take over a spaceport: A loose alliance of guerilla groups or an organized force headed by actual leadership?” She opined.

”And speaking of ROE, what do we do if we can’t secure the supplies for ourselves? Deny them to the enemy?” She asked her own questions, still studying the map. According to the Colonel, the convoy would reach Yuzhny Portveyn in 24 hours. The shortest route that she could see was 12 hexes on the map. Roundabout 600 kilometers in 24 hours made for an average speed of 25 km/h, probably a bit faster in reality. Assuming a paved road, they could make 54 as a group. ”And if we’re delayed in arrival, do we pursue?”
The lingering sense of dread at their perceived impending execution had quickly faded. Now she was just confused. Confused by what was going on, why it was happening and how they were going to salvage this mess and get back on track. Fortunately, Edward started asking questions that could be safely answered, and whether he wanted answers or they were rhetorical, Yekaterina used the chance to regain some traction. “Our weapons aren’t directly related to our presence in your territory. However, it is true that we’ve been fed a series of apparent lies which, despite certain suspicions, we’ve had no way of verifying.” She tried to answer Edward’s questions. “You and your people took care of that, though you could’ve at least tried asking nicely first.” She knew there’d be a bloody big bruise on her right arm in the morning, and the others would no doubt have some souvenirs as well. “And what’s all this pish about ‘beast’ and ‘taint’? You sound like Gandalf’s better-dressed cousin.”

As if things weren’t difficult enough, all Hell broke loose outside, and by the looks of it, all over the city. Some of the images were dangerously similar to events that unfolded just three years ago: Open warfare in a shithole country, RPGs against soft targets and having no real clue what was happening beyond the immediate vicinity. All that was missing were tanks with ERA bricks filled with cardboard and some mass graves, and the latter was probably already there anyway. “Noise checks out.” She replied to Hayden asking about a war starting, “Best stay away from windows.”

Yekaterina wasted no time reclaiming her weapons. Pleased to see one of the kidnappers had the presence of mind to grab her sidearm after it got knocked out of her grip during the attack, she took care to move slowly as she checked over and holstered the weapons before pulling Bethan and Sean into a huddle once they had retrieved their gear, gesturing for Hayden to join. “By the sounds of what’s going on outside, getting out of the city would be some feat. Have to say you gents were right about Edik. If what we’re seeing here is true - and after the past thirty minutes I feel like it should be stressed that I’d second-guess if someone told me they breathe air - then taking up the offer to stay might not be that bad. If anything, if he’s not affiliated with either of the big companies like the situation implies, having a neutral ally can’t hurt.” She offered, pausing to ponder something before continuing. “Think we should bother asking about our goal here? If there’s no affiliation with either of the fighting sides, then what might he know about the Hyena and more importantly, does he want him or them around or not?”
Passing by the other ‘Mech bays wasn’t an optimistic sight. Not even two Lances when the medical casualties were taken into account. But passing Ziska’s bay revealed more than the usual gaggle of technicians around the Raven, and spotting at least two other MechWarriors in the group, Marit went to take a look to see if perhaps the upcoming briefing was being discussed. With Ziska present, betting on the mission objectives or outcome wouldn’t surprise her.

Then another person showed up, and as the first words were spoken, she felt like she might owe Reya an apology. Between the blue bloods of the Green Knights, Reya had moments when she wasn’t bearable. Ingrid, on the other hand, seemed to have moments when she was, and it didn’t look like this was one of them.

”Acceptable morning everyone.” She greeted the group, figuring that was as good as it was going to get in the coming weeks, leaning over for Kerensky’s required daily scratch. ”What’s wrong with being a taxi driver? First ‘Mechs were construction equipment, their pilots were little more than crane operators, a cabbie is still a step up from that. Besides, everyone whose ‘Mech has hands will probably be carrying supplies on the way back from this run. Ready to add ‘lowly freight hauler’ to your resume?” She ribbed the deposed duchess with lighthearted irreverence.
The mood in the cave was dour, and even Marit was feeling a little down that day. First it was the unrest. Not bad, but hard to police with a BattleMech. While they still had access to the local HPG station, she’d at least been able to keep up with the Sons of Kalev on a regular basis. Knowing all was well back home had at least been a comfort, but now she could only take solace on that front from having remembered to point out that the riots might prevent outgoing communication - either through actions of the rioters, lack of time or deliberate attempts by the government to keep the trouble in house - so no one back home had any reason to take her silence for her death.

Then the local force pulled their power play stunt and casualties went through the roof hatch out of nowhere. Freddie and Lena were especially hard to swallow. A small cynical voice in her head might’ve said the lack of a Golden Boy around was a plus, but being an asshole wasn’t a valid reason to die and a skilled MechWarrior was always good to have, especially in their predicament. But as they say: The show must go on. She could only chalk her own survival and successful escape to luck in the form of being in the right place at the wrong time. When the order came to get out of the city, the lance she’d been assigned to was on the outskirts. They could’ve simply turned around and walked into the woods were it not for a platoon of mechanized infantry and some attached tanks.

The supply situation was another thing eroding the morale like rain on a badly planted field. Food and water were bad enough, but a lack of medical supplies and ammo would be putting a damper on the mood even if they weren’t needed, and though she personally didn’t mind cold all that much yet, a lifetime spent mostly aboard a Buccaneer did her no favors in this situation.

The last straw was the now empty flask of walnut rum in her pocket, having shared the last of its contents with Minhas and Ziska the previous day, the latter for letting her borrow the former for an hour to get Archie’s right elbow actuator working properly after an unfortunate brush against a particularly stubborn building during the desperate flight from Balya Gora.

Marit was jolted out of her musings by the Colonel’s voice calling them to arms. Normally a briefing was a trailer for an event that had the potential to be the end of you, and itself could be anything ranging from a routine to an annoyance and, as she had learned the hard way on multiple occasions, a chance to do some pushups, but now she was just glad something would be happening. The rookie MechWarrior excused herself from the group of technicians and civilians who were moving some boxes and tarps around in an attempt to improve privacy in the bunks and set out toward the ‘Mechbay that held her assigned Archer, the 70 ton machine slumped over as if asleep, looking almost peaceful were it not for the dents and scorch marks in several places. Marit figured she had ten minutes to make sure everything that was supposed to be there was there and how much - well, how little - ammunition she’d have to work with in the anticipated upcoming outing, ten minutes to get her personal gear ready, thirty minutes to wait out of sight if Reya happened to be near Archie and in a sour mood and was still left with ten to get to the briefing. She ignored the grumbling of her stomach, mustering up an encouraging smile for a few kids as she passed them along the way.

Marit wondered what they would be doing. Gathering intelligence? Getting supplies? Whatever the away team brought back, one thing was almost certain: If successful, they’d bring some hope. They’d complained about their shitty lot in life for long enough, and now the Colonel has decided that the time has come to do something about it

Deeds, not words.
Who are we waiting for? I think everyone who's still in has posted, no?
All aboard the Oneshot train! Great idea @Bork Lazer.

Edit 13/06/2022 - Fixed a typo.
Edit 17/06/2022 - Bio adjustment to make more sense within the game's timeline.
Inheriting a Catapult when her mother transitions to the Marauder. In the meantime, she wants to prove she can be trusted with it and won't screw up on day 1 and and ruin the 'Mech that has been passed down the family for generations. Trying to "earn it" so to speak.

That, and I thought rare 'Mechs had to be rolled for.

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