Scorpio Ascendant

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Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-10 11:38pm

Something a little different I have been working on. Hope you like it!

Scorpio Ascendant

An Original Work of Fiction
Stephen T Bynum

All Rights Reserved


Temple of the Nine Muses
Roche, Clan Homeworlds
May 4, 3030

The flash of a bolt of lightning lit the dark sky, casting long shadows over the rocky wastelands of Roche. The massive fortress—carved from a granite mesa more than two centuries ago by the laborers of Clan Widowmaker and first named Spiderholm in their honor; the edifice sullenly brooded over the parched and barren landscape beneath it. Star Colonel Mikhail Kirov halted his climb along the long and winding path that led from the valley below to the entrance tunnel above. He looked out at the low hanging clouds that hid the stars from his sight, the glow of the night moon as well, and he nodded as another thundering crash from the heavens heralded a lightning strike in the distant wastes.

Roche herself will soon weep for my Scorpions, he thought, even as the first heavy drops of the storm began to plummet down around him. He ignored the warm rain that splattered from his ceremonial leathers, and he once more resumed his course towards the Temple of the Nine Muses. Cleansed of the taint of the Widowmakers, Spiderholm had been given to the Scorpions in appreciation for their defense of Khan Jerome Winson of the Wolves during that long ago War. Forty years of work by artisans and laborers had removed all symbols of the defunct Clan, and transformed the fat-bellied Spider that had once rested above the gates on eight slender legs into a rearing Scorpion, its obsidian sting poised to deliver death.

How prideful we are, Mikhail thought as he stared into the polished golden gemstones that served the eighty-meter wide statue of a Goliath Scorpion for eyes. This edifice is what we wasted our finest days upon, when we could—and should—have devoted our strength to making the Nest strong. You care not for such works, he directed towards the massive statue as he continued to climb the ramp. You care only with our devotion to your ideals; a devotion which has, of late, gone awry.

But the unmoving colossus of polished granite and obsidian and precious stones dug from the Wastes remained silent.

At long last, Mikhail reached the summit, and he nodded in approval as the Elemental Warriors on duty raised their weapons—and servo-mounted automatic cannons swiveled towards the approaching Warriors. While the old fortress was now a ‘temple’ in name, she had not been totally stripped of her claws.

“I am Star Colonel Mikhail Kirov, commander of the 24th Scorpion Cuirassier Cluster. I am expected this evening, Warriors.”

“Sir,” one barked, “if the Star Colonel would present his codex for confirmation.”

Mikhail removed one leather gauntlet and held out his clenched fist and bare forearm, a tight metal band fixed just below his wrist adorned with blinking lights. A second Elemental stepped forward and pressed an electronic reader to the codex, and then both the reader and codex beeped.

“Your identity has been confirmed, Star Colonel Kirov. You have full authorization to enter the Temple,” the commander of the Elemental Guards said in a much softer and restrained voice.

Kirov nodded as he tugged the gauntlet back on and he briskly moved forward, followed by each and every one of the Blood-named Warriors assigned to The Khan’s Own Cluster. Twenty-two pairs of steel-shod boots echoed down the long sloping tunnel as those Warriors moved downwards in Mikhail’s wake, passing by gun emplacements set in the walls, underneath murder holes in the ceiling, and through two more checkpoints before he finally entered the Scorpion Grand Cathedral itself.

The Chamber was filled by Scorpions dressed in their ceremonial leathers, gathered about the room; few looked up as Mikhail and his entourage entered. Ignoring the rest, Mikhail picked up his pace and he strode with purpose towards the bier set in the center of the Cathedral; the bier upon which rested the body of his Khan, surrounded by a Guard of Honor bearing long flickering torches.

Mikhail stood there for what seemed to be an eternity, staring at the waxen features of the corpse of Conner Yeh as he lay there, slowly decomposing. Finally Mikhail turned to one of the Guards of Honor.

“Where is he?”

The young Warrior’s eyes grew large, and he stared at Mikhail for a moment. But the veteran Star Colonel’s gaze was too fierce to ignore, and he swallowed. “In his private chambers, Star Colonel—but he commanded that he not be disturbed.”

Mikhail snorted and he turned on his right foot and set off for the guarded pair of high doors leading into the depths of the warren that honeycombed the mesa turned Temple. Another Star Colonel stood in front of the door, and he shook his head and held up one hand.

“He is resting, Kirov, and is not to be disTURB—AARGH!” the voice turned into a scream as Mikhail grabbed the protestor by the throat and slammed him back into the stone wall. Conversation in the Grand Cathedral drifted to a halt as everyone present turned to look.

Mikhail glared at the two armed guards. “Open those doors now, Warriors, or kill me. For I swear if they are not unsealed in the next fifteen seconds, then I will kill the both of you.” He dropped the gagging Star Colonel on the ground, and Mikhail’s solemn officers hauled him away, pushing him from his post and tossing him to the flagstones.

The guards unlocked the doors and opened them wide for the passage of Mikhail and his band of men and women. He pressed forward, and behind them came a flood of other Scorpions, many with grins of glee upon their faces; a sad few resigned to the necessity of what was occuring; a handful in shock that someone was actually daring to press the issue.

Mikhail’s boots rang from the flagstones as he crossed the extravagant office—an office larger than the ‘Mech bay on an Overlord, and he shook his head in disgust as the naked pleasure girls and boys scampered like rabbits out of his path. He pressed forward until he reached the doors of Gregor Lunde’s sleeping chambers, and he thrust them open with a loud BANG against the cold stone walls.

The saKhan of the Scorpions looked up in confusion, and then he smiled at Mikhail. “Kirov, you came. It is good of you to pay your respects to our fallen Khan.”

“You are using again, are you not, Gregor?” Mikhail asked softly.

The saKhan smiled, and he lifted an injector and pressed it against his own throat—the luminous green liquid plunging into his bloodstream. “Necrosia is the Scorpion’s gift to us, Mikhail—through it we see what he wants us to see. And you shall address me as Khan, Star Colonel.”

“Tell me, ‘Khan’, were you high when the Jaguars killed Yeh two days ago? When you abandoned him and his Star to pursue your own glory in individual combat?”

“I care not for your tone, or for your accusations, Star Colonel. I had imbibed the Gift to sharpen my senses and defeat the Jaguars—and defeat my opponent I did.”

“Yet, you lost the Trial and allowed the Khan to die.”

“Had he been a better Warrior, he would be alive today. I think that I shall instruct all of the Scorpions to inject the Gift before battle—it makes one fight better, sharper, clearer; and removes the distractions and discomforts of our daily drudge.’

Mikhail shook his head, a look of revulsion upon his face. “Our Clan has fallen enough, Gregor. I challenge you, here and now to a Trial of Grievance. You are not fit to be Khan. You are not fit to be a Warrior.”

“Ah, but to Challenge a Khan, one must be a Khan. Or have a Khan’s approval. Do you have the approval of a Khan, Mikhail?”

“No. But I have their approval,” the Star Colonel answered as he swept his hand towards the densely packed crowd of Blood Named Warriors who filled Lunde’s office and watched.

“Perhaps you do,” Lunde mused as he stood and stretched. “Shall we arrange for combat in ‘Mechs, or . . .” Lunde smiled. “No, I feel the rush of necrosia in my veins. Kirov, if you mean to challenge me, I shall meet you here and now. And I will defeat you.”

“Here? Now? With what the two of use have at our disposal, my Khan?”

“Was that not what I said?” Lunde asked as he picked up a knife, the light flickering from the keenly honed edge.

Mikhail smiled. “Bargained well and done,” he snapped as his left hand dropped down and he drew his slug-thrower and fired two shots into Lunde’s chest, and the saKhan collapsed to the floor, bleeding profusely.

“Or perhaps, saKhan Lunde, I should say that you bargained poorly,” he said as he raised the pistol and fired twice more into the man’s forehead.

Temple of the Nine Muses
Roche, Clan Homeworlds
May 6, 3030

Loremaster Angela Tazegul frowned from her appointed seat on the dais at the gathered Warriors of the Clan Council who were seated around the semi-circular auditorium. Many of her Seekers were still absent, far distant from the world of Roche on various quests—but far too many of the remainder of the Clans Bloodnamed were present. The other two thrones carved from living stone were empty, for both the Khan and saKhan were now dead. The Khan having died at the hands of the Jaguars; the saKhan murdered by one of his own officers.

At long last, the doors to the underground chamber were closed, the dull thud echoing through the auditorium, and Angela stood. She walked across to a pedestal set to one side of the dais. “On this, the Sixth day of May, in the year 3030, I hereby call to order this meeting of the Council of the Blood Named of Clan Goliath Scorpion.” She paused and took a deep breath. “Lacking a quorum, I hereby postpone the elections,” outraged shouts from the audience thundered down upon her, and scores of the assembled officers sprang to their feet, “for Khan and saKhan for a period of no more than sixty days!” She finished raising her voice to a shout.

One officer seated in on the front row stood, and slowly the noise abated as the Scorpion Warriors once again took their seats. “Point of order, Loremaster,” Mikhail said calmly. “I demand that the roster of the Blood Named be called to determine if a quorum is indeed present.”

“You have no right to demand anything, Star Colonel Kirov,” Angela snarled. “Only a Khan, the Clan Loremaster, a Galaxy Commander, or a Star Admiral may demand the roster called. There being none such here that will make that demand, this Council is hereby . . .”

“WAIT!” barked a voice as another Scorpion stood. “This Clan cannot go sixty days without a leader, Loremaster. I am David Ben-Shimon, Star Admiral of the Scorpion’s Destiny Naval Star, and I demand, as is my right under Clan law, that the roll be called.”

Angela glared at the old man, the oldest Warrior in the Clan toumen, who had challenged her. But Ben-Shimon defiantly met her gaze, and it was Angela who first looked away. "Fine,” she spat. “The roll will be called.”

She walked back over to her throne and she sat once more, as a Star Captain stood at the podium. “Brenda Arbuthnot,” he called out and a voice answered “Present.” “Crystal Arbuthnot . . .” and there was only silence. “Christopher Arbuthnot . . . Present.” One by one, the Star Captain called out the names of each Blood Named Warrior of the Clan until all four hundred and ninety eight names had been read.

The Warrior looked down at the computerized tally log, and he turned towards the Loremaster, and bowed. “Loremaster,” he said, “there being three hundred and seventy-four Blood Named Warriors present, a quorum is found to exist.”

Angela winced. If there had been just eight fewer Warriors in the room, there would be no quorum. Eight. She stood and walked back over to the podium. “A quorum being present, as revealed by a call of the roll of the Roster of the Blood Named, this Council of the Clan is now in session. We are here today to select a new Khan and a new saKhan. I submit to you that in these troubled times, the only choice for our Clan to elect a leader who is a proven Warrior, but also a Warrior who has proven her ability to command at the Galaxy and Clan level, one who is knowledgeable of Clan History and Law. I submit to the Council my own name for consideration, citing my service as Loremaster of the Clan as proof of my qualifications.”

The Loremaster raised her left arm and presented her codex and she transferred her service record from the device fixed to her forearm to the room’s computer network. “My qualifications are evident to any that examine the record. There can be no other choice—not if our Clan is to continue.”

“Continue? We will continue to be weak if you are elected Khan, Loremaster,” Mikhail said as he stood and ascended the risers to the dais. “For too long, have we Scorpions been laughed at by our brother Clans. We have stagnated, we have backslid, we have let the universe pass us by. All this, has happened under the leadership of you, and Gregor Lunde, and Conner Yeh; your predecessors as well. This must change.”

“How dare you, Star Colonel Kirov!” Angela snapped in a fury. “I should demand of you a Trial of Grievance—GUARDS! Remove this Warrior from these proceedings.”

“Stand your ground!” Mikhail barked. “In this Council, Angela Tazegul, your rank is meaningless. Once convened, the Council of the Blood Named offers every Warrior a single vote—neither the Khans nor the Loremaster have a greater say than any other who bears the honor of carrying the name of one of our Founders. I will be heard, Loremaster; you shall not silence me. Not here. Not in this sacred chamber, not under the Laws which govern the Scorpions.”

Murmurs and whispers rose from the serried ranks of the Warriors, and Angela shook her head. “Fine then—we will settle this later, Star Colonel. Speak your piece.”

“For too long, brothers and sisters of the Scorpion,” Mikhail continued as he walked to the edge of the stage, “we have surrendered the initiative. We have been complacent. We have not been willing to maintain our edge. Our leaders, in their blind obsession with the past, have given leave for a full third of our Warriors to Seek. A third, my brethren! Is there even one Cluster or Ship in our touman which is not at this moment understrength? Can even one of you here today, tell me in truth that your command does not need trained Warriors?”

“Instead, we waste our strength; we squander the most precious of resources our Clan has available: the Warriors who are our claws and our stinger.” Mikhail shook his head and he chuckled in bitter irony. “Scorpion Warriors are trained to a degree that other Clans cannot even imagine. You are no mindless Jaguars, nor haughty Falcons, nor trickster Coyotes, nor greedy Sharks. You, each of you, are Scorpions. We teach philosophy and history, alongside martial expertise—we demand that our Warriors prove themselves mentally as well as physically. Each of you know this, you have achieved what no other Clan demands.”

“And yet, since the development of necrosia, we have become less than we should be. Why is that? Not because we give our Sibkin this drug so that they may prove their will and their strength, their devotion to the Scorpion. No. We have become less because our Warriors, some of them, abuse this substance. Look no farther than former saKhan Gregor Lunde. Who abandoned our Khan to his death while under the influence of this drug in a pursuit for his own personal glory. Is that what our Clan has descended too?”

Angela snorted. “You killed Gregor Lunde in an illegal Trial of Grievance, Star Colonel Kirov. I intend to see you hang for that.”

Mikhail turned to face Angela Tazegul, and he smiled. “I stood with the courage of my convictions, Loremaster. That is the heart of what the Scorpion is—and I think you will find that there are ample witnesses to the legality of that Trial. Yes, I killed Gregor Lunde. Who allowed the Jaguars to slaughter our Khan. I shot him four times and I removed his misery from our Clan. I do not regret that deed; I exult in that deed.”

“Are you confident, Warriors of the Scorpion? Confident that our course is the right one . . . or do you fear that we are becoming a target for the next Absorption? That we have wasted our talents and our honor; and have forgotten what it means to be Scorpions. Ask yourself this: would Cyrus Elam look upon his Clan of today with pride . . . or with disgust. Would Jenna Scott? Would Naomi Djerassi? Would Ethan Moreau?”

Mikhail shook his head. “I believe that they would not be proud of us. We have expanded not one square meter of territory since the death of Ethan Moreau. Our touman is the smallest of all the Clans of Kerensky—and we cannot even produce the OmniMechs, and OmniFighters, and Battle Armor that we use. Most of Clusters use Star League ‘Mechs that have been repaired time and again; still more use recently produced BattleMechs instead of OmniMechs—because we cannot afford to give our Warriors, the finest Warriors in these Clans of Kerensky, the tools and equipment they need to make our Clan strong.”

“We cannot do this because of how many resources this Temple of the Nine Muses and the Seekers—a third of our Clan, I remind you—pull away for dusty pieces of antiquity that sit unused in storage. We are Scorpions, my brethren. And we shall always Seek. But like the drug necrosia, we should Seek in moderation, lest our visions become our poison.”

Mikhail looked out of the assembled Warriors and he nodded. “Our future is in your hands today, brothers and sisters of the Scorpion. Make your decision well.”

He then leapt down from the stage and he sat. Angela walked up and slowly clapped her hands. “Bravo, Star Colonel Kirov. Bravo. What a performance; of course you do not understand what this Clan represents. We discover the past and in doing so we open the door to the future. A future that will not have you as one of our leaders,” she smirked. “You did not even nominate yourself for Khan.”

“Nominating one’s own self is a sign of arrogance and a lack of trust in one’s brothers and sisters, Loremaster,” Mikhail answered. “I have faith that my Scorpions will make the correct decision.”

The aged David Ben-Shimon stood again. “And in any case, he does not have to nominate himself, Loremaster. I propose Mikhail Kirov for the post of Khan of Clan Goliath Scorpion!” he shouted. “Is there a second?”

“AYE!” thundered the crowd, and Angela’s eyes went wide.

“We are tired of being laughed at, Loremaster," Ben-Shimon continued. "We are hungry for a leader who actually leads and does not represent the status quo which has so failed us! I call for nominations to be closed and the vote held!”

One by one, the Scorpion Warriors began to chant, “Mikhail! Mikhail! Mikhail! MIKHAIL! MIKHAIL!”
Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-06-16 11:38pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-10 11:57pm

Clan Goliath Scorpion Headquarters Complex, Lieurus
Roche, Clan Homeworlds
June 17, 3030

“Nikolai,” Mikhail said as he rose from his seat and extended a hand towards the young ristar. “That was certainly prompt.”

“My Khan orders and I obey,” Star Captain Nikolai Djerassi said with a grin as he shook the Khan’s hand firmly.

Mikhail chuckled. “SaKhan David Ben-Shimon, I do not believe that you have been introduced to young Nikolai here. He tested out as a Star Captain three years ago and it was his Trinary that won two of three trials we Scorpions have successfully completed during that time.” And here, Mikhail’s mood shifted. Three successful Trials in three years—and twenty-eight more that the Clan had lost. It was good that the Clans did not often share information among each other, for the weakness the Scorpions had shown would have normally caused a deluge of trials as Clans began snapping up the limited Scorpion resources left and left.

“SaKhan,” Nikolai said, as he shook the older man’s hand as well.

“Star Captain Djerassi.”

“Chief Scientist Philip,” Mikhail continued, indicating one of three civilian caste members, before moving on to the others, “Merchant Factor Thomas, and Technical Master Olivia.”

“Sirs, and Madame,” Nikolai greeted each of the civilians gravely.

“Take a seat, Star Captain,” Mikhail said as he sat, followed his subordinates. “I have just returned from an inspection tour of all Scorpio facilities in the Pentagon and the Homeworlds, Star Captain Djerassi—and I am most distressed at our current state of affairs.”

Mikhail paused and he turned back to the three civilians. “And this budget you have given me to review; frankly I cannot make any sense of it, which is why I called you in here to explain to me exactly where our resources as a Clan are going?”

Merchant Factor Thomas smiled thinly, and he sat forward. “Technically, as you are well aware, my Khan, we do not have an official standard of currency in the Homeworlds. Money is, after all, one of the evils that Nicolas Kerensky, may be blessed in all that he wrought, sought to do away with. However, we have a de facto currency, which we in the Merchant Caste refer to as the kerensky, ironically enough. In the first days of the Clans, even while ilKhan Nicolas refused to accept printing or minting of a new monetary system, he realized that an intra-Clan system of resource transference would be needed. He didn’t like it, he recognized the importance. A kerensky, my Khan, is based upon the value of one standard burst of machine-gun ammunition; a full ton thus having the value of 100 kerenskys.”

“Having this unchanging standard as our basis, the Merchant Castes were able to estimate the value of all other items produced by our society, from food, fuel, munitions, OmniMechs, to construction projects, Orbital Stations, and WarShips. Accordingly, we can trade this de facto currency between Clans, bankers such as the Falcons can generate a profit on making loans available, and we can gauge how efficiently each Clan uses the raw resources at its disposal.”

Mikhail nodded. “I understand that, Thomas. I do not comprehend this budget document,” he flatly stated as he tapped the two-thousand plus bound pages of figures and percentiles. “The numbers do not add up; totaling all of the line item expenses listed here, we are missing 4.2% of our total revenues for the Clan. Factor Thomas, I need an explanation for this discrepancy.”

The Merchant squirmed, and the Scientist and Technician both edged away from him. “Ah, then you were not briefed on Operation Pathfinder, then? My Khan?”

“No. Pray tell, Factor Thomas, what is Pathfinder?”

“Fourteen years ago, Khan Yeh decided that the Dragoon reports from the Inner Sphere were . . . incomplete. There were gaps in the information that we received, gaps that appeared—to him—be deliberate. He decided to begin a clandestine project codenamed Pathfinder.”

Mikhail groaned, and he lowered his head into his hands, his elbows propped up on the desk; the saKhan looked absolutely furious. “I am not going to like this, am I?”

“I doubt that you will, my Khan. Pathfinder is a scouting expedition undertaken by certain . . . naval assets . . . assets that are not . . . officially part of our toumen. Supported by the Seekers and directed by the Loremaster.”

“A scouting expedition to where, exactly?” David Ben-Shimon growled. “And what naval assets that I, as the ranking Star Admiral of the Scorpion Fleet was unaware of?”

Thomas swallowed heavily. “We are scouting the Inner Sphere, my Khans. With three Tracker-class surveillance vessels mistakenly classified as Merchant-class JumpShips.”

Silence filled the office, and all three Scorpion officers stared at the merchant in abject horror. “Khan Yeh sent his own expedition to the Inner Sphere? Against the direct order of the Grand Council of Khans?” Nikolai blurted out, before he blushed and lowered his head. “My apologies, Khan Kirov.”

Mikhail waved it off. “Continue.”

“That missing part of the budget is why I am aware of the Project, my Khan. I was not the Clan’s Merchant Factor when Pathfinder was begun, but I was given need to know in order to conceal the loss of the revenue—at the direct order of Khan Yeh, saKhan Lunde, and Loremaster Tazegul. These ships cycle back and forth between the Homeworlds and the Inner Sphere, delivering Seekers searching for lost artifacts of the Star League, and collecting data on the Inner Sphere since the reports from the Dragoon Expedition ceased.”

“I want those ships—and Seekers—recalled immediately. Is that understood, Factor Thomas?”

“Only the Loremaster has the means to contact them, my Khan. And, if I may speak frankly, Sir, she has no great love of you or for your proposed reforms. My merchants have heard . . . chatter . . . from her agents in Gamma Galaxy. Nothing more than talk, perhaps, but the words chosen by these Warriors has given me pause.”

“I see,” Mikhail said and he exchanged a long look with his saKhan. “That matter will be corrected in very short order, Factor Thomas, I assure you. Along with the budget allotment that provides the Temple of the Nine Muses, the Loremaster, and her Seekers with the same proportion of the Clan’s resources as the entire fighting toumen of the Clan. Nikolai, you are probably wondering why I summoned you here to this meeting, and why I have permitted you to sit here and listen. It has been so that you might know my reasons for commanding this of you. I want you to challenge Angela Tazegul to a Trial of Grievance, Star Colonel Djerassi. You must recover the recall codes and HPG communications protocols to contact the various components of Pathfinder, and you must do so without raising the suspicions of the Watch or the Grand Council. And once you have those codes and protocols, Nikolai, I want Angela Tazegul dead. Can you do this, for the Clan?”

“Yes, my Khan,” the young Warrior answered in a confident voice. “She will not escape her crimes.”

“Good. I have recalled the 20th Cuirassier Cluster here to Roche, and through a judicious amount of reassignments, I have brought that Cluster up to 120% of TO&E strength—with the finest Warriors in our Clan. None of whom are necrosia abusers. That is your Cluster, Star Colonel. Go, gather your Warriors, bid well, and end this problem before it comes to the attention of the other Clans.”

Nikolai stood, and he bowed. “My sting shall strike true, Khan Kirov.” He then turned on his heel and left the office. The corner of Mikhail’s mouth twisted in a smile, and he focused his attention on the civilians once more. “And now, lady and gentlemen, we will go through this budget line-by-line and see what we can afford to cut and what we must, as a Clan, retain in order to become strong and proud once more.”

[bTemple of the Nine Muses
]Roche, Clan Homeworlds
June 18, 3030[/b]

“I do apologize, Star Colonel, but at the orders of the Loremaster, your troops cannot enter the Temple,” the Elemental stated as he held one out raised hand towards Nikolai.

“Understood, Warrior,” Nikolai said with a genial smile. “May I have your rank, name, and Blood Lineage?”

“Point Commander Marcus, of Demos, Star Colonel,” he answered . . . and then paused. “Why do you inquire as to my Blood Lineage, Sir?”

“To ensure that the Scientists remove the proper genetic legacy from our breeding program, of course,” Nikolai replied, his smile twisting to show his bare teeth. “Would you expect anything less of a Warrior who disobeys his Khan to follow the orders of a lower ranking officer?”

“The Khan? I have received no orders from the Khan, Star Colonel.”

“Ah, then we must remedy that forthwith, Point Commander Marcus. Here is an electronic copy of his orders for the 20th Cuirassier to enter the Temple on Clan business.”

Nikolai held out a data-pad, and the Elemental attached one lead to his arm mounted computer data-port. Nikolai watched as the information was downloaded, and then the Elemental stood straight. “I do not disobey my Khan, Star Colonel.”

“Of course not; such disobedience is a grave matter of dishonor, Point Commander. By the authority of the Khan, you and your men are relieved of duty—return to your barracks and await orders from your new commander. My men will assume responsibility for guarding the Temple.”

“My new commander, Star Colonel?”

“Khan Kirov is most . . . displeased with the bearing and attitude of Star Colonel Solheim—the 14th Grenadiers will be receiving a new commander within the next twenty-four hours. Until then, I have orders to take him into custody and confine him to his quarters.”

The Elemental didn’t move for several moments, and then he leaned forward, the mirror image of Nikolai in his visor distorting slightly. “Star Colonel, Gamma Galaxy has the right to select its new officers from within its own ranks—it is tradition. The other Clusters, they will not . . .”

“Matter, Point Commander Marcus. The 3rd Cuirassiers, 16th Dragoons, and 8th Uhlans are on field training exercises and are at least two days travel away. Should the commanders of those Clusters choose to disobey their Khan, the consequences for their legacy will be grim. Their Warriors as well will suffer. I do not believe they would risk such a schism for Andrei Solheim, or Angela Tazegul. We will take your warning under advisement, however.”

The Elemental saluted and then he led his point off into the Temple. “Post guards on all the choke-points and entrances, Randall,” Nikolai said to his second-in-command, Star Captain Randall Posavatz. “Has Epsilon and Zeta secured the airfield?”

“Two minutes ago, Star Colonel.”

“Very well, post the remaining ‘Mechs here to garrison the entrance, have the fighters land, refuel, and remain on standby; the Elementals are to accompany me. You are to assume command here—allow no one to pass without either my authorization or the Khan’s.”

“Understood, Sir.”

Nikolai began to descend the ramp into the Temple of the Nine Muses, with Battle Armor clad Elementals trailing behind him.


Angela Tazegul was still pulling on her field jacket as she exited her quarters. The sounds of gunfire—gunfire in the Temple—had awakened her, and no one was answering her calls! But the sight before her in the Grand Cathedral brought her to a halt. Several of the men and women most loyal to her lay bleeding out on the flagstones—and the massive hall was filled with Elementals whose armor was marked with a blue shield adorned by several stars, forming the ancient constellation of Scorpio, as seen from old Terra.

One young officer, clad not in armor, but in his field uniform smiled at her and he clicked his heels together and bowed slightly. “Loremaster Tazegul; how good of you to join us this evening.”

“What is the meaning of this? I will have you torn limb from limb for spilling blood in this sacred hall!”

“I bear a message for you, Loremaster, from our Khan—and these . . . former Warriors did not wish to allow me to present it to you.”

“Oh, he has sent a message. Invading the Temple, desecrating this shrine to our past; I shall shed his blood and his dishonor will be made manifest!”

“You sound more like a Cobra than a Scorpion, Loremaster,” the Star Colonel answered with a wry grin. “Our Khan is more than slightly displeased with you given that more than a month has passed since his election, and yet you have not met with him once, or answered his summons to meetings important to the Clan’s future. Are the broken artifacts of our past truly more important to you than the future of our Clan?”

“What is your name?” Angela snarled. “I will have your genes annihilated.”

“Nikolai Djerassi, commander of the 20th Cuirassier, Loremaster. I would say at your service, but I serve only the Scorpion and the Khans whom he deigns to place over us Warriors.”

“I am the Loremaster, Djerassi—my place was confirmed again by the Blood Named at the Council. Your insolence will be your undoing.”

“And your arrogance will be yours, Loremaster.”

Another Scorpion officer briskly walked up to Nikolai and saluted. “The Temple is secured, Star Colonel. Our pre-assault intelligence has been confirmed—there are no visitors from the other Clans present at this time.”

“Very good, Star Commander,” Nikolai answered and he turned back to face Angela. “We know about Pathfinder, Loremaster,” he said calmly, and Angela’s face drained of color. “We know of the funds that you have diverted—and your Khan demands an answer for both.”

Nikolai walked over to a display case and he opened it, and lifted an ancient pistol, encrusted with gemstones and gild with gold plate. He smiled and shook his head. “This is the very weapon that Stefan Amaris used to murder Richard Cameron. According to the diaries of General DeChevilier; of course, he could have lied or been mistaken. Does it still work, Loremaster?”

Nikolai turned back to face her, still holding the pistol, not quite directly pointed at—but neither was it pointed away.

“You cannot simply kill me, Star Colonel—that is against the Way of the Clans.”

“Well, I could quite easily simply kill you, Loremaster. And my troops would not give a damn in the slightest over the death of a traitor such as yourself. But I will not resort to killing you—not in this manner, at least, and not with this tainted weapon.”

Nikolai placed the laser back in its case and closed the lid. “Where are the recall codes and communication protocols for Pathfinder, Loremaster?”

She smirked. She actually smirked at Nikolai. “Your Khan will not issue those orders—that decision is mine alone.”

“I believe you, Loremaster. But let us test the resolve of that fiery spirit of yours.” Nikolai snapped his fingers and four Elementals entered the room, followed by a half-dozen technicians. Between them they carried an interrogation couch, the pharmaceuticals, the pain-inducing machines, and Angela blanched.

“I demand a Trial of Refusal!” she cried.

“Granted, and I shall face you—after we extract what we need, Loremaster.”

The Loremaster turned to run, but Elementals grabbed her arms and dragged her screaming towards the couch, where she was strapped down and needles shoved into her veins.

Nikolai stood over her. “One last chance to end this, Loremaster: where are the recall codes and communication protocols?”

She spat on him. “You will burn! The entire Clan will burn if you follow Kirov! He will break away from the tradition of Nicolas Kerensky, from the Path we Scorpions must follow!”

Nikolai nodded and he calmly wiped away the spittle from his face. “We do this the hard way then—never fear, Loremaster. I shall give you time to recover afterwards so that you may face me at your fullest strength and skill. Gentlemen, you may begin.”

Temple of the Nine Muses
Roche, Clan Homeworlds
June 19, 3030

Nikolai tried not to think about the tens of thousands of tons suspended over his head as he exited the open cage elevator into the vast cavern his men had reported. “How far down are we?” he asked the Archivist of the Temple.

“Not all that far, Star Colonel—only three hundred and forty-four meters below the surface. Although if you count from the top of the mesa upon which the Temple is constructed, that adds another one hundred and eighteen meters to the total,” the civilian replied in answer.

The Warrior shivered slightly—not from a chill, for it was actually quite warm in the vast cavern—but from a slight touch of claustrophobia. Nikolai shook his head, and sternly told his stomach to stop fluttering. “And the equipment?”

“All of it is original, Star Colonel. We discovered this series of caverns forty years ago after an accident revealed the elevator shaft. It appears that the Widowmakers sealed it away either just before or during their Absorption Trial. Quite a remarkable find, actually.”

Nikolai walked out across the uneven floor of the cavern until he reached the point where that first generation of Clansmen had smoothed away the granite to install row after row and bank after bank of complex manufacturing instruments. The Archivist—and his assistants—followed Nikolai, pointing out each of the complexes machines and what they were meant to produce.

The cavern stretched for nearly half a kilometer in length, and was close to two hundred meters in width, and almost every square millimeter was filled with machinery to produce or move equipment. Not all, certainly, and Nikolai looked into a gaping sheer pit in the floor that plunged into blackness, and his stomach lurched again.

“Ah, yes, Star Colonel. The Spider’s Pipe, we call it. It extends another two hundred meters in a nearly vertical shaft before reaching a small cavern that the Widowmakers used to discard refuse.”

“Shouldn’t there be safety rails or something?” Nikolai asked, and the Archivists looked at him askance.

“That would alter the condition of this find, Star Colonel! We would never dare to do that. We retain it all in pristine condition, as if the Widowmakers had sealed these chambers just yesterday and not more than a century ago.”


“Yes, Star Colonel. This is Manufacturing Complex Alpha. There is also Beta, Gamma, and Delta, plus the Assembly Cavern, which is truly magnificent—three times as large.”

Nikolai blinked and then he noticed something. All of the controls for the massive machinery were showing a yellow light indicating the systems were on standby mode. “This facility is operational?” he barked.

“Of course, Star Colonel. We restored everything to pristine condition as a means to discover the truth of our ancestors and determine what the Widowmakers were producing. These complexes can produce every single weapon, sensor, electronic device, power plant, and auxiliary systems required for combat vehicles and BattleMechs—with the exception of endo-steel internal structure which must be spun in zero-g conditions, of course.”

“And this was never reported to the Khan?”

“Well, we had to catalogue everything and establish the historical use, first Star Colonel. And then, the Loremasters instructed us not to inform the Khan. Did you know they implied that the Khan would remove this equipment and put it to use?”

Nikolai only stared at the civilian, and then he shook his head. “Can this machinery produce modern systems, or only Star League systems?”

The Chief Archivist frowned, but his assistant spoke up eagerly. “Much of the machinery is automated, although it requires supervision by the members of the Technical caste to operate, Star Colonel. Updating the database is easily accomplished and would provide a means of manufacturing modern weapons and equipment. That is,” he continued as the Chief Archivist glared at him, “we could if that did not entail altering this exhibit.”

“Exhibit?” Nikolai asked with one raised eyebrow.

“Yes, Star Colonel,” the Chief Archivist answered frostily. “This entire complex is a historical find of unique importance. It is worth far more to our Clan to be studied, not put into operation.”

“As a purely theoretical exercise, of course,” Nikolai continued, “exactly what could this facility produce in say . . . a month’s time if it were fully operational? BattleMechs? OmniMechs? Tanks? Battle Armor? Small arms?”

“Oh, all of the above, Star Colonel,” the assistant answered promptly. “We have estimated that between ten and fifteen BattleMechs—or OmniMechs, if the machinery was properly programmed and updated—could be produced each month, plus another ten Aerospace Fighters, ten combat vehicles, a hundred suits of Battle Armor, and tons of ordnance or replacement radars, radios, sensor arrays . . . it is a discovery that dwarfs all others. The limit on production is actually the Assembly area—that section is not fully automated and would require a sizeable number of Technicians and Laborers and Scientists working on an assembly line to complete a number of combat units. And, of course, the internal skeletal structures and armor would have to be shipped in from another location.”

That many . . .” Nikolai’s voice trailed off. “How did, in theory, the Widowmakers get this to the surface?”

The assistant opened his mouth, but the Chief slapped him on the back of his head. “We discovered another tunnel in the Assembly Chamber that slopes up to a hidden entrance fifteen kilometers away. There is a smaller underground fortification there which provided a means of protecting that entrance, and the tunnel was sealed. Of course, we discovered the perimeter fort when this section of Roche was given to our Clan, Star Colonel—the tunnel came as a more recent surprise.”

“Very well. On my own authority, I want this facility prepared to be handed over to the control of the Khan, who will determine whether or not it is to be brought back online. That means, I will need complete schematics and a concise report that details the potential of this facility.”

“Absolutely not, Star Colonel!” The Chief Archivist barked. “This is a historical dig site, not one of your warmongering factories! What can be learned here is priceless—absolutely priceless. This site will teach us of the earliest history of the Clans, and what we learn here will influence us forever more. Weapons will only serve for the transient present, Star Colonel. Knowledge is eternal.”

Nikolai glared at the civilian. “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it, Chief Archivist. You have seen my orders from Khan Kirov placing me in command of the Temple. For the last time, Chief Archivist will you refuse this order?"

“I will fight such an abomination with all of my strength, Star Colonel!”

Nikolai's boot flashed out in snap-kick, and the Chief Archivist grunted as took one, two, and then a third step backwards. That third step however was into the entire air of the Spider’s Pit and the civilians screams rang out as he fell. His assistants and aides rushed to the edge, but he had already vanished into the dark with only his piercing wail as evidence—until it suddenly cut off with the echo of a dull thud.

Nikolai turned to the assistant. “Now, Chief Archivist, on my own authority, I want this facility prepared to be handed over to the control of the Khan, who will determine whether or not it is to be brought back online. Or will history repeat itself yet again?"

The new Chief Archivist looked down the yawning shaft of the Pipe, and he shuddered, but then he turned back to Nikolai. “It will be ready before your departure, Star Colonel.”

“Excellent, Chief Archivist. And install some safety rails here, or better yet, cap that shaft. It is clearly a safety hazard.”

Scorpion Trial Grounds
Roche, Clan Homeworlds
June 26, 3030

Angela Tazegul glared at Nikolai, ignoring the Clan’s saKhan who stood between them. Nikolai gave her smile and brief bow. “Loremaster, it is good to see that you have recovered your strength,” he said.

“I will kill you today, Djerassi,” she hissed.

“You are welcome to try, Loremaster. Need I remind you that over the last four years you have fought no Trials, except for your annual qualifications. I, on the other hand, have fought seven against Scorpion Warriors and four versus other Clans, outside of my qualifications testing, and I won them all, Loremaster. Today, you will remember why a Scorpion Warrior is the deadliest creature in all of creation, Loremaster.” Nikolai’s smile broadened to a grin. “And not the Scorpion bureaucrats.”

David Ben-Shimon cleared his throat. “Enough of this bickering, Warriors of the Scorpion. It is beneath you both. Angela Tazegul, Loremaster of the Goliath Scorpions; you have demanded a Trial of Refusal and Grievance against Nikolai Djerassi, who has accepted your bid. As is his right, he has chosen augmented combat. Star Colonel Djerassi, your Grizzly awaits you. Loremaster Tazegul, your Gargoyle likewise stands by. Have either of you any final words to say before you are escorted to you chosen vehicles?”

Both remained silent, and the saKhan nodded. “Then go. And let the Scorpion grant victory to he whose cause is favored in this Trial.”


The VTOL dropped Nikolai off beside his powered down Grizzly. He quickly climbed the rope ladder to the cockpit and hauled himself onboard, buckling the safety straps and powering up the 70-ton war machine where it stood. The dim red emergency lighting brightened as the fusion plant came to life, but the veteran warrior waited until his screens had stabilized. He ran through a hurried checklist, and when all systems had been confirmed as green, he retracted the ladder and lowered, then sealed, his cockpit.

He walked the Grizzly forward and examined the harsh and broken terrain closely. The Scorpion Trial Grounds encompassed nearly nine hundred square kilometers of waste lands, filled with steep-sided rocky gullies and treacherous shifting sands. Buttes and mesas reached towards the sky, but a few specks of green revealed precious water. Underground perhaps, but the trees and brushes didn’t lie about such things.

His master display showed a map image of the 30 kilometer by 30 kilometer box, divided into nine grid squares 10 kilometers to the side. Somewhere out there, in the Wastes, was Angela Tazegul. But before he could kill, first he had to find her. Many Clans of Kerensky considered it odd that the Scorpions would conduct such a Trial on an open field; the Jaguars especially preferred to land, deploy into a line, and then open fire on their chosen. But for the Goliath Scorpions, the hunt was as much part and parcel of the Trial as the kill.

Nikolai made certain his restraining harness was tight, and then moved the throttle forward, and the Grizzly began to eat up terrain.


The blazing heat of day had turned into a cold, bitter chill shortly after Roche’s golden sun dipped beneath the horizon. Nikolai's Grizzly stood motionless, almost powered down, the radars and active sensors off-line. Only his passive thermal sensors were sweeping the wastes from his perch against a massive obsidian boulder that still radiated the heat of the day.

The sensors beeped and Nikolai zoomed in. There you are, Loremaster, he thought with a tired grin as he made out the form of her Gargoyle moving across the landscape, her arms ready to fire, twisting left and right in search of Nikolai.

Nikolai carefully backed the heavy BattleMech up, never bringing his power plant above 10%, and then he dropped to the shelter of the rocks below. Bringing his engines and weapons fully on-line, he moved around the butte and into the narrow crevice of a shallow canyon. If the maps were right, this route should bring him out behind her.


Nikolai waited, and he could hear the thump, thump, thump of his opponents Gargoyle as it drew closer and closer to him. Sand and dirt and small debris rained down on his Grizzly from above as her foot impacts shook the very earth. And then she was past him. Nikolai turned his power back to full, and the stepped down upon the jump jet controls; the Grizzly soared out of the canyon on four blazing jets of fire, twisting around until Tazegul’s Gargoyle was centered in his targeting sights. The reticule turned green as the computer locked onto her back, but Tazegul had spotted him and was twisting wildly in an attempt to spoil Nikolai’s aim.

But the veteran Star Colonel anticipated her moves and he slowly squeezed first one trigger, and then the second and he pushed the throttle to the stops charging forward towards her.

With a shrill whine, the right arm Gauss Rifle spat an iridescent penetrator that connected solidly against her left rear armor, and it crashed through. Meanwhile the static electricity of a PPC buildup ionized the atmosphere in the cockpit, and then a blazing azure bolt tore through the night sky, removing the armor on the center torso’s rear—and Nikolai smiled as Tazegul’s OmniMech suddenly increased in temperature. He had caught the engine shielding with that blast.

He pressed down his thumb on the firing stud and four ER Small Lasers spat green lancelets of light that spattered off her right arm, right left, and right torso—but the fourth shot went home in the gaping hole the Gauss Rifle had gouged in the left torso. Her targeting computer blinked yellow as his combat computer estimated the damage. Good enough, Nikolai, thought.

But Angela Tazegul was no mere bandit—she was a Loremaster of Clan Goliath Scorpion. Fighting to keep her feet under the withering fire Nikolai had laid into her, she twisted around shot a ruby beam that hammered into his chest, followed by a series of cyan bolts, that raced along his arm. But Nikolai’s armor held.

He stood on the jump jet pedals again and the Grizzly flew past the Loremaster’s OmniMech, even as he spun around to stay in her rear; this time he didn’t wait for a computer lock, but squeezed first one and then the second trigger as he felt the shot line up. Another PPC bolt lit the night sky, and it tore through her (mostly) intact right torso rear armor, and then the crash of the Gauss Rifle as the slug broke through the sound barrier slammed into her center torso rear—and Angela Tazegul fell forward to land on the rim of the ravine. The ground began to crumble, and then slide, and her Gargoyle toppled the twenty meters to the bottom of the narrow ravine.

Nikolai froze as he heard Angela cry out in terror, and he fired his own jets again landing on the floor of the ravine. Her Gargoyle lay broken on the ground, one of its legs snapped in two (the weakest point of that design) and her cockpit was shattered open. But black shapes were moving on the floor of the ravine, and small arms fire lit her cockpit.

The Scorpion Warrior activated his floodlights, and he drew in a deep breath as he saw the mass of juvenile Goliath Scorpions leaving their nests in the walls and swarming over the downed OmniMech. In the flash of the laser light from within that broken cockpit, he could see stings dashing forward, and claws ripping away flesh.

Nikolai heard the rustling of claws on armor outside his own cockpit and he turned to look an adult Goliath Scorpion directly into its golden eyes. But the Scorpion didn’t strike at Nikolai; it met the Warriors gaze and then it turned back to the fallen Loremaster, who still wailed, and it flicked it's sting forward. Nikolai activated his targeting computer, and he trained his ER PPC on Tazegul’s cockpit. Then he pulled the trigger and ended her agony.
Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-06-16 11:40pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-11 12:14am

Clan Headquarters, Lieurus
Roche, Clan Homeworlds
June 30, 3030

David Ben-Shimon winced as he sat down opposite Mikhail Kirov in the Khan’s office. The Khan shook his head. “Your joints are bothering you again, quiaff?”

“Aff, my Khan. I have had too many years in zero-G—and I am getting rather too old for this. But fear not, I not yet decrepit, and we still have time to accomplish our goals.”

“Go sir, gallop, and don't forget that the world was made in six days. You can ask me for anything you like, except time,” quoted Mikhail.

David snorted. “Except unlike Napoleon, we have time to spare. Not a lot, Khan Kirov, but enough; especially since you released those Battle-ROMs of the Scorpions swarming over Angela’s cockpit. The discontent of the Seekers and our more conservative Warriors has ground to a halt.” David paused, and he looked down at the floor before raising his head again. “Although there are many who believe that your young Nikolai deliberately and knowingly broke zellbrigen, my Khan.”

“Of course, he did, David! But he won, and our totem not only acknowledged his victory but assisted him!”

“You do not believe such superstitions, quineg?”

“Neg. But does it matter what I believe? David, those very same Warriors who would howl for Nikolai to be declared dezgra are now faced with the reality that the totem in which they believe so much has endorsed his activities; and through him, our own reforms.”

Mikhail stood. “We must take the Clan to full crisis mentality, David. There is no other choice. Time is our enemy here, for eventually, the others will see our weakness. We must rebuild and we must improve . . . we must, as a Clan adapt to the world as it is, not how we wish it were.”

“Seyla, my Khan. All Pathfinder units have confirmed receipt of the new orders—they will return to Roche and Dagda within the year. The Seekers are reporting for duty as well. By the end of the month, our toumen will be at full strength; within three we will be able to expand.”

“And how will the new policy on Seekers be received, David? You are closer to the Warriors than I.”

The Scorpion Fleet Admiral and saKhan shrugged. “That will take time to determine. But by declaring that any with a Bloodname must gain the permission of his Cluster Commander, Galaxy Commander, and Khan in order to Seek, by providing for young Warriors to continue in their vision quests, you place the Warrior caste in a bind. Either they Seek, or they prove their genetic legacy in combat. They can either search for artifacts and relics or they can pursue a Bloodname—only a very few will achieve both.”

Mikhail smiled. “Of course, should they Seek and find a prize worthy of the Clan, then they may well earn their Bloodname regardless—but that happens only seldom. Still, by making Seeking the province of the young and eager, while keeping the Bloodnamed—the veteran, the elite—in service, we can begin shifting this Clan’s attitude, David. And what of the Widowmaker manufacturing complex—can we bring it online with all of our other reforms?”

“Yes, my Khan. It will strain us to the breaking point in terms of our resource usage, but the Scientists and Technicians believe that it will begin production in two years time, perhaps less.”

“Good. And since resources are one thing we desperately need, I want you to take the Scorpion’s Destiny Naval Star to Hector. The Ice Hellions will be, according to my sources, receiving a convoy of seventeen DropShips filled with raw ores and processed metal compounds, including several tons of harjel they have purchased from the Sharks. It has been too seldom that our Fleet has participated in Trials. We need those resources, David. Take them.”

“As my Khan commands,” the old man said with a grin as he stood, saluted, and left the office with a spry step that belied his age.

GSS Lei Kung
Nadir Point, Hector
July 18, 3030

“What did you just say,” the shocked Hellion officer asked over the video link.

David Ben-Shimon’s mouth twisted into a wry smile. “I said, Star Colonel Montose, that I challenge you to a Trial of Possession for the convoy that just arrived in-system—Hellion Alpha-Two-Three, to be exact—and all of the cargo and equipment carried aboard, to include the docked DropShips.”

The commander of the Ice Hellion Nadir recharge station swallowed, and then he lifted his chin. “This is most unusual, Star Admiral Ben-Shimon. For trials of this nature, it is customary to inform the target Clan in advance, quiaff?”

“Aff, Star Colonel Montose. I would note however, that on October 17, 2994, the Ice Hellions issued a batchall for a Clan Wolf supply convoy, a batchall which your Clan won. And on March 4, 3011, the Ice Hellions bid against a Clan Cloud Cobra convoy, and won. And on April 5, 3022, the Hellion bid against a Clan Diamond Shark convoy, and won. None of those trials, each of which was instituted by Naval Forces assigned to your Clan, went through these ‘normal’ channels, Star Colonel. No, those Trials were instituted on the spot by the ranking Hellion Naval officer—in much the same fashion as I am doing so today.”

Montose gritted his teeth in frustration. “I do not have the authority to negotiate such a . . .”

“Star Colonel,” David interrupted. “You are a Blood Named Warrior of the Hellions. You have been given the honor of commanding this station, and at the moment, the convoy is under your command. Either give me your bid, or I will assume that you intend to defend with everything and will act accordingly.” The Scorpion Fleet commander made a gesture with one hand.

“Sir! They are powering up their weapons and targeting the Station!” a voice cried out over the communications circuit, and Montose’s face drained of blood.

“The convoy is armed only for self-defense, Star Admiral! There are only a Star of Elementals onboard those ships! And this station is no match for your own ship, let alone your escorts . . .” he paused, and nodded, “you would not dare fire into us.”

“Star Captain Henriquez, fire a warning shot across their bow.”

“Aff, Star Admiral!” the officer assigned to Lei Kung’s tactical station answered smartly. David could feel the hum in the bones of the old ship as her Naval PPCs began to charge, and then two dozen brilliant bolts, glowing with the intensity of a thousand suns, streaked out from the Scorpion WarShip and passed within two hundred meters of the stations hull.

“Star Colonel Montose, do not presume to tell me what I will and will not dare. You have sixty seconds to tell me the forces which you are bidding to defend those ships: if you have not answered me in that time, I will destroy your station and I will seize those vessels by force.”

“I-I . . . I bid myself.”

“You bid one man, Star Colonel Montose? You are valorous, gallant, and honorable. You are the defender: augmented or unaugmented?”

“I accepted your Trial, Star Admiral, and I bid myself . . . unaugmented. I will transmit my codex and await your Warrior in Hanger Bay Two.”

The transmission cut off, and David shook his head. “Star Captain Henriquez, stand down the weapon systems—but keep a sharp eye on the sensors. And instruct Star Captain Mira Scott to take a shuttle across; she will fight our Trial.”

Gunthar Henriquez grinned. “Oh that poor, poor Hellion. He must have really upset you Star Admiral—assigning Mira Scott to fight unarmed.”

David grunted. “Hellions are pack fighters. I do not care for that, Star Captain—it is not the Clan way. And no, I do not particularly care for that insolent young surat one whit.”


Star Captain Mira Scott waited until the hatch of her shuttlecraft had fully cycled and then she swam out into the Hanger Bay aboard the station. Floating in zero-G, she saw the Hellion Star Colonel on the other side of the massive compartment.

“I am Star Captain Mira Scott,” she called out, her voice echoing from the distant bulkheads. “I am here to fight the Trial of Possession for Hellion Convoy Alpha-Two-Three in accordance with the batchall issued by Star Admiral David Ben-Shimon. Are you prepared to defend your claim, Ice Hellion?”

“I am Star Colonel Edward Montose, and I am ready to ruin the dreams of the Scorpion invaders into our space. Prepare yourself, Star Captain, for the Trial begins NOW.”

He launched himself from the bulkhead through the air towards her, but Mira merely waited—she did not take her hand from the shuttle or launch herself towards him, she watched as he zoomed across the open bay. Only it wasn’t quite so open, she saw. The dim light had concealed nearly translucent cables that were strung across the room and she saw the Hellion grab one and alter his vector, gaining velocity from a kick-thrust against a stanchion.

Tricky Hellions, she thought with a grin. But still she waited, keeping one hand secure on the hull of her shuttle’s wing. Hellions prefer fast slashing attacks—to win the victory before the battle even begins, she recited in her head. And they know that few Scorpions ever excel at zero-g unarmed combat—that particular brand of martial arts was practiced only by a handful. With no gravity, all of the advantages the Scorpions normally possessed waned, and those of the Hellions waxed.

Most of the time. For Mira was one of those rare few who had trained her entire life to fight in zero-g aboard ship.

She waited until the Hellion was almost atop of her, when he grabbed yet another cable spun, intending to slam his booted feet into her temple—but Mira was already moving inside his spin, using his momentum to accelerate away from her shuttle and her grip was tight against his belt and forearm. She snaked her legs around and put Montose’s neck within a lock, even as he hammered at her stomach and chest and throat with powerful fists. He croaked as she tightened her legs and he pulled another cable, slamming the both of them into the overhead, and then down onto the deck plating, but Mira hung on. She grunted as one of his hands caught her face and he started to dig one thumb into her eye, but jammed her own knife hand into his groin, and the Star Colonel whimpered in pain.

Releasing her legs, she spun backwards as the Hellion spun forwards and she landed on his back, wrapping her arms around his throat as he gasped for air. She squeezed as the Hellion squirmed, but he nothing to grab onto, no surface upon which to roll, and finally his body went limp. A bay door opened and two Hellion Elementals walked in, their magnetic boots clanging on the deck. Mira released Montose. “I have won the Trial, Warriors. Inform your commanders that the Scorpions will take possession of those ships and their cargo.”

GSS Lei Kung
Zenith Jump Point, Sheridan
July 18, 3030

“We thank you for your courtesy, Star Admiral da Silva. Rest assured that Clan Goliath Scorpion intends no aggression towards your Clan; once we recharge we will be continuing towards Roche,” David said to the image of the auburn haired woman warmly.

She smiled at him in return. “I could not help but notice that half of your convoy is adorned in Hellion colors, saKhan Ben-Shimon. Can I presume that they are rather furious at this moment?”

David grinned in reply. “They should be, Star Admiral da Silva. Their station commander bid poorly—and lost.”

“STATUS CHANGE!” barked out the rating manning the sensor console aboard David’s flagship. “Pre-emergence neutrino emissions have spiked! Emergence in five, four, three, two, one.”

Both David and the Star Adder looked down at their monitors as a Hellion WarShip blinked into existence, followed by a second, and third, and fourth, and fifth, a sixth, and then a seventh.

“Set Condition Two throughout the ship—pass that order to the rest of the Star immediately!” David barked. “Bring weapons on-line, but fire only on MY orders! Quiaff?”

“AFF!” shouted his officers.

“saKhan, aerospace fighters are manned and ready for launch,” his flight controller reported.

“Hold them in their bays on full alert,” David answered calmly.

The woman on the screen lifted her head and shook it ruefully. “Furious indeed, they are, saKhan Ben-Shimon. That must have been some Trial.”

“Star Admiral da Silva, we have no intention of involving your Clan in this dispute. But perhaps you should remove your ships to a safe distance.”

The woman laughed. “saKhan Ben-Shimon, Sheridan belongs to the Adders. Neither you nor the Hellions will be starting anything in this system; not today, not ever.”

The transmission cut off. David shook his head. “If I were thirty years younger, I would try to seize her as abtakha. She’s got spirit, my Scorpions.”

Laughter echoed across the bridge. “saKhan, I have a ship count now: seven vessels in total, one battleship, two cruisers, a carrier, and three destroyers,” Star Captain Henriquez calmly said from the tactical console.

David nodded with a frown as he considered the Hellion force just now beginning to recover from their jump. They must be absolutely furious, for that concentration of force represented better than half of their total Fleet—and probably three-quarters of their Fleet’s firepower.

“Have we been hailed?” he asked.

“Neg, saKhan, but . . .,” the comm rating said as he held his hand to his earpiece. “The Adders are hailing them . . . on broadcast, not tight-beam.”

“On speaker.”

“Ice Hellions. This Star Admiral Andrea da Silva, commanding Adder Naval Reserve Alpha. State your intentions immediately.”

“Star Adders. Our fight is not with you. We seek to reclaim our stolen property.”

“Hellions. This system belongs to the Adders. We have granted the Scorpions the right to recharge their drives—you will not initiate a confrontation here.”

“The cowards! They hide behind the skirts of the Adders! They fear to face us in a true Trial, one not filled with deceit and treachery!”

“Open mike,” David ordered with a set face. “The Scorpions won this convoy in a properly declared and fought Trial, Hellions. We acted with honor and courage—your commander bid poorly and he lost. Know that the Scorpions do not cower behind anyone, and if you permit us to recharge, we shall agree to take the battle elsewhere."

“Lies, Scorpion! You stole our property! Return our ships or we shall finish this here and now, with your death the only outcome!”

“Ice Hellions, you will not engage in the Sheridan system—not unless you seek to provoke a confrontation with Clan Star Adder!” da Silva barked. “We have granted the Scorpions safcon to recharge their drives, and no one—no one—will violate that which we have freely given!”

“Sir, the Hellions are launching fighters,” Star Captain Henriquez said softly.

“Damn prideful fools,” David lamented, and then he set his jaw and stood, ignoring the protest of his joints. “Ice Hellion Fleet: I, David Ben-Shimon, Star Admiral of the Goliath Scorpion Fleet, saKhan of the Clan Goliath Scorpion, commanding officer of the Scorpion Flagship Lei Kung, do hereby demand a Trial of Grievance against you for your insults against the Warriors under my command! For this I bid only my Flagship. I offer you, as prize upon your victory, if victory is yours, the possession of the convoy which my Clan has, under the Martial Code of Kerensky, honorably claimed! Further, as is my right as a Khan of Clan Goliath Scorpion, I demand from you, a prize of equal value should I prevail. Your battleship, Cage's Pride, is roughly equal in value to the convoy and its cargo. Either accept this Trial, or cease your claims of ownership over these Goliath Scorpion vessels. The Adders may bear witness to our actions today.”

Silence filled the airwaves and the Scorpion bridge was utterly still.

“You demand much, Scorpion,” the Hellion replied. “We offer no prize to you for reclaiming what is ours.”

“Then by the Martial Code of Kerensky, you forfeit that claim, Ice Hellion. Decide! I grow weary of your . . . caution.”

“The Adders will enforce the results of this Trial—on both parties. I swear by the Great Father himself,” da Silva added.

Second ticked past, and then minutes, before the unseen voice once again transmitted. “Done. I shall destroy your honorless ship, Scorpion.”

"Hellion, you are welcome to try," David snarled.

GSS Lei Kung
Zenith Jump Point, Sheridan
July 18, 3030

The two McKenna-class battleships thrusted in towards the star at the center of the Sheridan system, a half-dozen Adder ships providing escort, while the remainder of the Hellions and Scorpions sat at the Jump Point under the guns of the still more Adder WarShips. Perhaps thirty minutes had gone by since the challenge had been made and accepted, and a vast distance of open space put between the Adder’s Station and the two dreadnoughts, one in the dark green paint of the Scorpions, the second in the ice-blue of the Hellions.

“Have the Elementals acknowledged their orders, Gunthar?” David asked as the two massive ships drew closer and closer to the point in space where their duel would begin.

“Aff, saKhan,” answered Star Captain Henriquez. “Star Colonel Gorga requests permission to leave at least one star to provide security for Lei Kung,” the again went unsaid.

“Neg. This ship carries twice the number of Elementals that our brother and sister Clans normally assign to Marine details—three times those aboard Hellion ships. All of our Marines are to board shuttles and prepare to take that ship by storm.” The Star Admiral grinned. “If the Hellions try and board us, it will remain the duty of those Warriors remaining to repulse them.”

Gunthar only grunted in reply as he watched the icons on his screen steadily close the range. Six strobing signals suddenly broke off, keeping station relative to the star and the station. “The Adders have reached the observation point, saKhan and have ceased their advance; Star Admiral da Silva is requesting to speak with you.”

“On screen.”

The auburn haired woman’s face appeared in the midst of a communications screen. “You know both of you are probably going to take more damage than that convoy is worth, quiaff?”

“Aff. But not more damage than the honor of my Warriors is worth, Star Admiral.”

She snorted, and then slowly nodded. “Fight well, Scorpions. Whether you live or die, a true record of the events here today will be presented to the Grand Council. This I swear.”

The screen blanked, and David bared his teeth as Lei Kung slowly slid towards the initial point. “Bring all weapons on-line; prepare to launch all aerospace fighters and shuttles upon my command. Maneuvering, upon my order go to maximum military power on the drive—we will take these Hellions on the run.”

A chorus of voices answered the old man, who kept his eyes glued to his instruments. “NOW!” he barked as the icon of his flagship shifted from blue to green, and the icon representing Cage’s Pride began to strobe crimson.

The old battleship quivered as her port launch bays began spitting out aerospace fighters and boarding shuttles—but unlike the Hellions, the Scorpion fighters were only emerging on the far side of the battle, shielded by the bulk of Lei Kung.

“Trinarys Alpha, Gamma, and Delta are clear!”

“Roll ship 180-degrees to port, launch starboard Trinarys. Weapons free.”

On the monitor, David watched as Cage’s Pride altered vector away from him, trying to keep the range open as her sixty aerospace fighters bored in towards him. The Scorpion saKhan snorted in derision. “He thinks we are going to play his game, letting our fighters engage his—prepare the anti-fighter battery to engage that incoming strike! Alter heading 15-degrees to port, keep that ship in range, Maneuvering! Guns, load flak shells in the NAC-40s—target those fighters.”

“Secondary battery is on-line and tracking the fighter strike, saKhan,” Gunthar reported. “Flak loaded and ready to engage.”

The Clan WarShips were—for the most part—the same ships used so long ago by General Kerensky against Amaris in the Liberation of Terra. Oh, their armor had been replaced with more effective plating, and—on rare occasion—some weapons had been upgraded with newer modern systems, but by and large, many of the Clan capital ships retained the old paradigm of combat of the SLDF. But not the Scorpions. Each of their ships had added four twin turrets of large pulse lasers to each and every firing arc, with but one purpose in mind—to kill enemy aerospace fighters. And rather than keep the old armor plating at the specified levels, the Scorpions had decreased their cargo holds slightly to thicken their armor plating to the maximum the ship’s structure allowed.

Few other Clans had noticed—on a 1.95 million ton WarShip, these changes reflected less than a single percent of the total ship’s mass. But that lack of perception would cost the Hellion’s dearly today. As the Hellion fighters bored in on their attack runs, a score of pulse laser turrets opened fire, along with four AR-10 launchers spitting capital missiles. The unexpected hail of fire caught the Hellion pilots by surprise, and a dozen (twenty percent of their number) exploded immediately. The precise Star formations split into individual points as the Hellion pilots weaved and dodged, and their weapons spat flame and fury in reply, hammering the sides of the Lei Kung with a deluge of light weapons fire that should have penetrated. But the reinforced armor plating held, and then the big NAC-40s opened fire.

Normally pure anti-ship weapons, the big guns were firing special purpose flak shells instead. Of little use against capital vessels, the flak rounds were proximity fused and released a cluster of sub-munitions that tore through the heart of the Hellion fighters in a dazzling chain of explosions—even as the pulse lasers continued to swivel, track, and spit cyan bolts at the hapless aerospace pilots.

But none could deny the courage of the Hellion pilots as they bore in through that maelstrom of fire; shattered Stars and individual Points swarmed around the Scorpion ship, firing again and again into her thick armor plating, and the old ship shuddered under the impacts of their lasers, and missiles, and PPC bolts, and autocannon bursts, and gauss slugs. Then Lei Kung heaved, as two of the fighters plunged into her bridge, sacrificing themselves in an attempt to win the battle.

David smiled grimly. Fools, he thought, from the confines of the real bridge within the armored core of the battleship. They think we Scorpions do not read history? The original bridge was merely an observation deck—all actual ship operations had been transferred, decades ago, to the deeply buried former CIC at the ship’s core.

Cage’s Pride is coming back in, saKhan Ben-Shimon,” Gunthar reported.

Of course she is; her Warriors are dying and she thinks she has deprived me of command, David thought as beads of cold sweat began to emerge from his forehead.

“Release the fighters and Elementals, Gunthar,” he ordered, having to pause to catch his breath, wincing as he felt a deep stabbing pain in his left shoulder. “Secondary batteries remain focused on the remaining Hellion aerospace assets—bring the mains to bear on Cage’s Pride. Let us give our Warriors covering fire on their approach.”

“Aff, saKhan,” the tactical officer answered gamely. “Bring the N-PPCs on-line,” he repeated, “target the Cage’s Pride, and fire for effect.”

Twenty-four massive iridescent bolts streaked away from Lei Kung: half of them missed the Hellion battleship, but the rest went true. Cage’s Pride staggered as her nose armor shattered as the composites absorbed and dissipated the tremendous energy contained. Her own nose weapons, a bevy of naval lasers spat their fire in response, but it went wild other a than few shots that the Scorpion vessel easily absorbed.

With the order to engage now given, the Scorpion aerospace fighters exited the shadow of their mothership and streaked towards the Hellion vessel, their tightly spaced formations covering the vulnerable shuttles behind them.

David watched as they charged forward—and Cage’s Pride sent salvo after salvo of missiles into their formations, but the Scorpion fighters served their purpose and only a single shuttle died before its kin latched onto the sides of their foe. Fourteen Scorpion pilots perished to buy the Elementals their chance, but now the tide had shifted.

"Open the range and cease fire on the enemy, Gunthar," David forced himself to say. "Let's give Gorga a chance to seize that ship before we pound it into ruin."


The hull ruptured in an explosion of flame and steel, and a stream of Scorpion Elementals rushed onto the Hellion ship. Star Captain Mira Scott lifted her right arm AP Gauss Rifle and fired a short burst into three Hellion Warriors that were pointing SMGs in her general direction, and she began to advance through the corridors. “Gamma-Three, secure engineering! Gamma-Two, the armory! Gamma-One, our objective is the bridge! Follow me!” she bounded off down the wide corridor, twenty-four more Elementals following in her wake.

Her radio crackled. “Delta and Epsilon moving to secure weapons stations. Zeta,” minus the twenty-five Elementals of Zeta-Two, either dead or wounded in deep space, “is heading for CIC and communications.”

“Gamma elements,” she added, “don’t give them time to think—press the attack home!”

Her Elementals zoomed along the corridors, not pausing to check their flanks, instead throwing a few grenades to the left, a burst of Gauss slugs to the right. So far, her Warriors had not met any of the Hellion Marines; their only opposition had been the Warriors assigned to the crew—with pistols and perhaps an SMG against full-up battle armor: the lightly armed and completely unarmored Hellions had no chance against the fast-moving Scorpions.

But her instincts screamed a warning as she approached the corridor junction just outside of the main bridge, and Mira raised one armored gauntlet—her Elementals slowed and ground to a halt as she extended a sensor probe around the bend.

There they were, and a hail of gauss slugs tore apart the sensor head.

“Full Star of Hellion PA(L),” she informed her men. “Crew served weapons—I need a volunteer.”

Twenty-four voices barked out “AFF!” in reply, and Mira grinned. “Jean, missiles.”

“Aff, Star Captain,” the young warrior answered, and he gathered himself and threw himself forward, first one and then the second of his short-range missiles streaking away towards the Hellion, even as his APG barked flame and fury. But he wasn’t the only one firing and a hail of Hellion slugs shattered his armor, and his vital signs flat lined on Mira’s HUD.

Two massive explosions shook the corridor, and Mira yelled, “GO!” And her Elementals rounded the curve in the corridor and stormed the hard point, APGs ripping apart the Hellion infantry stunned by the concussion of warheads designed to tear apart BattleMechs. Mira moved quickly to the hatch that sealed off the bridge and she activated the cutting torch in her left arm. A second Elemental also began to work on cutting through the armored hatch, as the rest of her Elementals formed up into two security points and an assault team.

As her cutting torch exhausted its power cell, Mira stepped back, and another Warrior took over the task. She pressed the comm stud set beside the hatch. “We will be in there in a few moments, Hellions. Now is the time to request hegira, if you are willing to acknowledge your defeat.”

No answer. She shrugged inside her Elemental battle armor as the plasma torches drew completed the circle, and then she kick the door in and her Elementals swarmed the bridge of the Cage’s Pride.

The Hellion Warriors led by their Star Admiral fought ferociously, but none wore armor, and in short order the bridge was secured.


“SaKhan,” Gunthar reported from his station. “We have taken the ship. The surviving Hellion senior officers are requesting hegira.”

David nodded, but he couldn’t speak—his chest was tight and he had no breath.

Gunthar looked up at the saKhan of the Clan, and he cursed. “Get a medic to the bridge! NOW!” he yelled into the comm. He rushed to David’s side, and loosened the old man’s collar. “Help is on the way, Star Admiral. Take this,” the Star Captain said as he shook two pills into his hand and placed them on David’s tongue.

As the nitroglycerin tablets melted into David’s bloodstream, his chest suddenly relaxed, and he sat back. “Inform the Hellions, we grant their request for hegira, Star Captain,” he whispered.

“We can deal with that later, Sir,” Gunthar whispered.

“Now. Star Captain. Secure,” David winced again as he grabbed his chest against the sudden pain, “secure our victory!”

Gunthar stood back, and he nodded. “Aff, saKhan.” He turned away from David who still sat in his command chair, although his head was resting against his chest. “You heard his orders, Warriors. Secure his victory.”

David tried to nod his head, he tried to speak, even as the bridge hatch opened and a white-uniformed medical tech rushed to his side, but everything was going dark, fading from view. My life, he thought before his eyes closed, has not been wasted. My Scorpions, my Scorpions, they will regain the promise we once knew. And then the Star Admiral, the saKhan of Clan Goliath Scorpion slid into eternal night on the bridge of his victorious flagship.
Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-06-13 12:09pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-12 08:43pm

Chapter One

"Scorpions, we study history not to recall and recreate the exact specifics of our ancestors ways. We study to understand the reasons for their policies and the reasons for either the success or failure of those policies. Understand these reasons and you will understand when, if, and how to adapt successfully."

"The Clans began as the Star League Defense Force, Warriors. Their heritage is our heritage. We must never forget, however, that for all their valor, their courage, and their determination, the SLDF was not structured or equipped with deal with the conflicts of today here in the Homeworlds and the Pentagon. Our methods, our tactics, our equipment, our reasons for existing are different from that of the SLDF, and thus so must be our solutions to the crises that we face."

—Star Admiral David Ben-Shimon addressing Sibko Roche Alpha-Two on their graduation, June 4, 3030.

Hall of the Goliath Scorpion, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
September 30, 3036

“I fear, my Khan, that I must once again ask that you reconsider your decision to remove the aerospace phenotype from the Goliath Scorpion toumen. The progress that we are making every day in overcoming the flaws is staggering, and given a little more time we . . .” Philip, the Chief Scientist of the Scorpions was suddenly interrupted by the saKhan’s snort of derision.

“That entire aerospace phenotype has been an abject failure, Chief Scientist Philip,” Nikolai said. “The Bears never adopted the genotype, using instead those improvements you and your fellow scientists developed for the MechWarriors. Yet, their pilots are individually as capable as any of the other Clans—while being physically more robust, stronger, tougher, and aggressive. What use is a Warrior is he cannot contribute outside of his designed role? Warfare is not a game, Chief Scientist—although much can be anticipated and planned for, there are always surprises and a Warrior must be able to serve whether he sits in a cockpit or is forced to defend the Nest on foot with a knife.”

“I respectfully disagree, saKhan,” the Scientist said with a bowed head, before turning his gaze back on Mikhail Kirov. “For five years now, we have fallen behind the lead of the other Clans as we have left an entire generation of aerospace phenotypes sidelined. Nine full classes of sibkos have been decanted and started training missing a vital component of our comprehensive genetic engineering programs. I beg you, my Khan, do not let us fall further behind.”

Mikhail considered the Scientist very seriously for a moment, and then he shook his head. “I must agree with saKhan Djerassi, Chief Scientist Philip. We have tried what the Scientist caste wanted—and it failed. No, in this we will no longer follow the lead of other Clans—we will chart our own course.”

The Khan stood, his black ceremonial leather bodysuit adjusting itself to conform with his muscles as he stretched. His helmet remained sitting on the polished obsidian table. “And the production at Roche? You bear good news for me, I hope, Chief Scientist?”

Philip bowed low. “With the assistance of the Adder and Wolf engineers and technicians, we have managed to reach full production. Of course, those Clans each own a quarter of that production. At the moment, we have enough new OmniMechs on hand to refit an entire Galaxy, my Khan. The new Sidewinder and Death Stalker OmniMechs have been thoroughly tested on both Roche and Sheridan and proven very capable; the other designs are simply modifications to existing units.”

“And the OmniFighters?” asked Nikolai.

The Scientist winced slightly. “Behind schedule. Still, we have enough completed frames on hand to refit one full Galaxy. But the vehicles have proven far simpler—and the Adders report that they are working extremely well as part of their Garrison forces.”

“No plan survives contact with the enemy, Chief Scientist,” Mikhail said as he stared out the window at the calm city streets below. “After working together for six years now, you think I am going to have you purged for the delay? Do you mistake me for a Jaguar?”

“No, my Khan; my Khan is generous,” Philip said with a deep bow.

“Neg, Philip, your Khan is pragmatic. There is a difference. Ask the Seekers who still resent my budgetary reallocation if I am generous. Their answer might well surprise you. Was there anything else, Chief Scientist?”

“We have received the latest update from the Ravens on the status of the Requiem, my Khan. Her repairs have been fully completed; her armament and armor package now match that of the Lei Kung; she has passed her trials with flying colors. They should make delivery by the first of November.”

Mikhail smiled faintly. The Requiem, formerly known as the Cage’s Pride, had required extensive—and expensive—repairs. But as the final gift of David Ben-Shimon to his Clan, it was one that honored the Clan, and the sacrifice that David had made in obtaining it. It would be good to see that ship returned—in Scorpion colors—to active service.

“Very good, Philip; you have worked miracles these past six years—and I shall not forget your efforts. Nikolai, is the toumen ready for the Trials to come?”

“Indeed, my Khan. The lethargy and shame has been bled out of all the Clusters—and we have managed to add five new Clusters to the toumen. Alpha Galaxy—and our Knife Dance Keshik—have completed simulator training on the new OmniMechs and are ready to receive them at your command, with their old units being passed down to Beta, and Beta’s distributed throughout the remaining five Galaxies. All that is required is for you to give the word.”

Mikhail nodded again. “Today. It will be today, Nikolai; I can feel it. Send the order and distribute the OmniMechs. I want Alpha—and the Knife Dance—prepared for anything that comes of today.”

Nikolai grinned. “We are ready, my Khan. Not one hundred percent, but ready enough.”

The Khan turned back to his saKhan who stood. “Well then, shall we grace the Council of Khans with our presence, saKhan Djerassi?”

“I doubt that grace will be what they think, my Khan. Personally . . . I give us no more than one chance in three of avoiding being shot.”

Mikhail barked out a laugh. “You always were such an optimist!”

Hall of the Khans, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
September 30, 3036

Whispered conversation ground to a halt as Mikhail and Nikolai strode into the stone chamber. Thirty-two Khans and saKhans waited for them—the last of the Clan leaders to make an appearance here today. Behind the Scorpions, the double doors were slowly closed by Elementals of the Ebon Keshik, and those doors sealed with a resounding clang. Three tiers of stone benches formed semi-circular terraces surrounding the well of the chamber, and against the far wall, a raised dais sat, with the empty chair and desk of the ilKhan—vacant these past eighty-nine years since the criminal treason and execution of Tobias Khatib.

Once, forty thrones—benches in common vernacular, but thrones all the same—sat on these terraces behind forty desks, with twenty tapestries bearing the emblems of the Clans adorning the polished walls. But two of those Clans had been Absorbed, and the third Annihilated. Their thrones and desks and tapestries had been removed long ago. A visitor would have thought that power and ability would have been tied to whether a Khan sat near or far from the well; such an assumption would be easy to make given the nature of the Clans of Kerensky.

It would also be wrong. Tradition ruled here in this sacred chamber, and the arrangement of the Khans remained as Nikolas Kerensky, the first ilKhan had assigned them.

Fourteen benches for seven Clans rested on the upper tier, with only the perimeter walk of the Ebon Keshik terraced above: Blood Spirit, Burrock, Cloud Cobra, Coyote, Fire Mandrill, Ghost Bear, and Goliath Scorpion. The middle terrace held twelve more benches—thrones—for six Clans: Hell’s Horses, Ice Hellion, Jade Falcon, Nova Cat, Diamond Shark (once known as Sea Fox and seated accordingly), and Smoke Jaguar. The lowest tier, one level above the well and even with that of the ilKhan’s Dias, held the remaining eight Khans of the last four Clans: Snow Raven, Star Adder, Steel Viper, and Wolf.

A thirty-fifth man stood alone in the well: Loremaster Raphael Mendoza of Clan Hell’s Horses, the senior Loremaster of the Clans. In the absence of the ilKhan, it was his duty to preside—without a vote—over the Grand Council of Khans.

Mikhail, trailed by Nikolai, made his way through the Khans to his Clan’s assigned place at the far left of the upper terrace, even as Loremaster Mendoza called out for the Khans to take their seats and come to order.

Quickly, the Khans sat, and Mendoza nodded. “I call this session of the Grand Council of Khans to order. We are assembled today to discuss a grave charge made against Clan Goliath Scorpion: that they have knowingly, and willfully, violated the Martial Code as laid down by Nicolas Kerensky. That they have acted contrary to the orders of this very Council and dispatched an expedition to the Inner Sphere! That they use subterfuge and deceit to conceal the presence of an asset to the whole of the Clans, preventing others from bidding for its possession as if their right! That they no longer hold to the principles of zellbrigen, as given to the Clans by our Founders!”

Mendoza gazed at each of the assembled Khans, before he at last met Mikhail’s eyes. “These are serious charges which carry . . . irreversible consequences if found to be true. What does the Khan of the Goliath Scorpions say in answer? Are these charges against his Clan true or are they false?”

Mikhail stood and he removed his ceremonial mask, set it down upon his desk, and laid one hand atop of it. “I would know my accuser, Loremaster—as is my right under the Martial Code.”

Norman Rood, Khan of the Ice Hellions stood, removing his own mask. “I level these charges, you traitorous scum. See, my Khans, he denies his crimes here before you—he seeks to hide behind technicalities in the law while ignoring the spirit! He is an abomination to this Council and to the Clans, and I claim the right to end his treacherous and dishonorable Clan!”

“Like a poor marksman, Khan Rood continues to miss the target, my Khans,” Mikhail said with a laugh. “I deny nothing. Rogue Warriors, led by a rogue Loremaster, sent some few Scorpions against the will of the Council—decades ago. When this was discovered, my saKhan killed Angela Tazegul, as I slew Gregor Lunde. We ended this violation of the law and punished those responsible. To hold we, the ones who discovered this treachery of a few, the ones who corrected it with the blood of the dezgra faithless traitors, the ones who purged our Clan of those elements disloyal to this Council, is a travesty. And I shall present evidence before you today, my Khans, that we have—as other Clans before us—dealt with an internal matter according to the laws of our society.”

“My Clan does possess an asset, but it is not one unknown to the Clans of Kerensky. Two Clans, besides my own, at least know of it and of what it produces. And the Khans of Star Adder and Wolf will confirm that. Should we have told the rest of you of this facility? Are you children who need to be led around by an adult caretaker, or are you Warriors? You ignore the Scorpions, and then you accuse us of hiding secrets, concealing assets, violating the Law. All at the testimony of a Hellion! I relish proving the innocence of my Clan here today, Loremaster Mendoza, my fellow Khans! In fact, I demand the right to prove my Clan’s innocence, today!”

“And yet you do not answer the most serious of the charges, Khan Kirov,” Rood continued. “You have broken with zellbrigen, you seek to arm your civilian castes, you no longer conduct yourselves as one of the Clans of the Founder!”

Mikhail struck a pose of indignation, and shook his head. “Have we? Have we really? My Khans, I will present to this Council Battle-ROMs of every Trial that we have fought since I became Khan. Show me where my warriors have breached zellbrigen, you fool of a Hellion. It will be a fruitless endeavor for your attempt to show any such evidence; for we have not broken the sanctity of zellbrigen.”

Mikhail walked down the stone steps to the well and he turned to face the assembled Khans. “What my Scorpions have done—what the Hellions protest—is simply this: we changed our tactics, my Khans. Now, when we engage you in a Trial, we hold as strictly, or as loosely, to zellbrigen as does the opponent we face. We will fight you using your own rules for zell, be those rules strict adherence or tactics verging on the dishonorable. The Hellions accuse us of treachery because in their most recent Trial against us, our light BattleMechs and OmniMechs used their own pack tactics against them! There is an old saying, Khan Rood: what is good for the goose is good for the gander.” The Khan of the Scorpions laughed theatrically. “Of course, it was the Hellions who got plucked like a chicken on their last Trial on Roche—not my Scorpions. Stephan Cage must weep at the martial prowess of his descendents—if you had not already lost the vessel Cage’s Pride to us perhaps it would even now be renamed as Cage’s Shame.”

Norman Rood’s face drained of blood, and he lunged forward, stepping up on the back of the Snow Raven bench before him as he prepared to hurl himself into the well, but his saKhan and the Khan of Hell’s Horses restrained him.

Dozens of other Khans sprang to their feet as well, and Mendoza pounded the gavel and called for order.

Ghost Bear Khan Amanda Tseng turned to Nikolai and removed her mask. “Is he deliberately baiting the Khans?”

“Neg, Khan Tseng,” Nikolai answered. “He is showing the Hellion accusations for what they are—derived from the shame of a string of losses to a Clan the Hellions consider weak and beneath them.”

Lucien Moon removed his mask, and he snarled at the Khans until they quieted down, walking out onto the well alongside of Mikhail. “Your machinations of words will matter not at all here, Scorpion—what of the charge that you are arming your civilians? Answer this, or your Clan will answer to mine!”

“Khan Moon, the Scorpions are more than prepared to meet your Jaguars should you be willing to make good that threat. Be careful of how far you push, Jaguar; for our sting is fatal for those envenomed.”

Utter silence descended upon the Council Chamber as Moon’s jaw worked in rage, but then Mikhail held up one hand. “As to the charges—they are baseless. Nikolas Kerensky himself set forth rules and regulations on how one might change their assigned caste. It is true that in the recent decades, our Clans have let these laws wither; we have ignored them for too long. I have begun a program in which any Scorpion, of any caste, may be tested—according to the laws of Nikolas Kerensky—to determine whether or not he or she is qualified, be he true-born or free-birth, of claiming the title of Warrior!”

A dozen Khans jumped to their feet; still more only stared in abject shock, but Mikhail smiled. “This resource may be something that your Clans has chosen to ignore—until recently the Scorpions as well left the civilians to languish within the caste to which they were born, regardless of their ability. We will no longer do so—we will follow the tenets of Nicolas and allow those worthy and able to prove they have the heart of a Warrior to serve as one. To do otherwise, my Khans, would be a waste of valuable resources. Your Clans may be willing to squander such, but the Scorpions are not.”

Six Khans began shouting as Mikhail finished, and a flustered Loremaster Mendoza stood on the dais. “SILENCE!” he bellowed. And surprisingly enough the Chamber quieted.

“The accusations presented to the Grand Council by the Hellions, and the refuting evidence submitted by the Scorpions in their defense has been assembled into a report for each of you. I would suggest, my Khans that we recess for forty-eight hours to give each of you the time to go over this information in detail.” He paused, and then he slammed down the gavel. “Without objection, this session is hereby in recess. Khan Kirov—you and your saKhan are to remain within the confines of Katyusha City until this matter is resolved. We are adjourned.”

Hall of the Goliath Scorpion, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
October 1, 3036

“While the meal and the conversation both were rather enjoyable, Khan Kirov, I doubt that you invited me to dinner in this Hall for my company—and if you expect to couple than your sanity must be called into question,” Yvonne Hazen said dryly after she patted her lips on the spotless white linen napkin and folded into in the crumb-filled china plate sitting before her. “What is your real reason? You cannot have any expectation that I plan on supporting you and your Scorpions on the morrow, after all.”

The brunette woman dressed in the emerald green of a Jade Falcon leaned back and lifted a glass half-filled with a dark burgundy wine. Mikhail raised one hand, simultaneously acknowledging the Falcon’s point and summoning one of his servants to take away the dishes. He too lifted a wineglass, and he stood and gestured to a pair of comfortable recliners set before the roaring fireplace. Yvonne shook her head, but she too smiled, then stood, crossed the room, and sank down in the chair, as the last servant exited the room and closed the doors behind them.

“Tomorrow is precisely what I wished to discuss, Khan Hazen,” Mikhail said as he sat down in his chair. “I hope to persuade you to support my position.”

Yvonne laughed. “No offense, Khan Kirov, but the problems of the Goliath Scorpions are no concern of the Falcon. Your Clan, despite your . . . improvements . . . within your toumen is a third-rate Clan with negligible assets. I must admit that your handling of the difficult position that Lunde and Tazegul placed you in was quite decisive—and that will probably save your Warriors from a vote of Annihilation. Especially given that you removed both of their genetic legacies—and the legacies of their predecessors—from your genetics program. And it is to your credit that you have freely shared the information gathered from this Operation Pathfinder with the Khans,” she took another sip of wine, and then sighed.

“That information has only whet our appetites, however to begin the liberation of the Inner Sphere. NOW. This alliance between Steiner and Davion . . . if they can work together, it is a possibility that they may well force the rest into a new Star League. A false Star League. And no Falcon—no Crusader—can stand for that, Khan Kirov.”

“And your Warden allies know it; they blame you for giving us the weapon to force the issue in the very near future. The rest of the charges? I find your new taste for loosening your restrictions on zellbrigen distasteful, but it is your Clan. You do no more than what the Wolf and the Hellion and the Shark already employ. And your Battle-ROMs prove that your Scorpions fought with honor; that charge will not stick either.”

“But for the last, I cannot condone what you are doing to expand your toumen with this testing of the lower castes. And even if I could, Khan Kirov, it remains that you are a Warden and I am a Crusader. You would not have my vote regardless. I will watch your Trial of Refusal with interest, however.”

“Ah, but perhaps we can find that we agree on more than you believe, Khan Hazen.”

The Falcon took another small sip and smiled. “Converting to a Crusader are you? That will only cost you votes, for neither the Hellions nor the Jaguars will vote for you—and it would turn your Warden allies even further away.”

“I am not so much a Crusader or a Warden, as I am a pragmatist, Khan Hazen. I see the way that your faction is gaining strength, and whether the invasion occurs now or in a dozen years from now, it will make no difference in the long run—except for deepening the rifts between our two sides. Creating an even greater atmosphere of mistrust between Clans that must work together in order to bring out the vision of Nicolas Kerensky and restore order to the Inner Sphere of our fathers.”

Mikhail took a sip and Yvonne waited patiently, her eyes twinkling in curiosity at just what the Scorpion Khan might say next. He set down his glass on the same serving table between them and leaned forward.

“As you are well aware, my Clan acquired a third battleship several years ago, Khan Hazen.”

Yvonne grinned and then forced her smile away. “I should not rejoice at anything that makes the Crusaders and their supporters look incompetent—but since we are speaking of the Hellions, you sparked much anger among them, and a day of rejoicing amongst my Falcons.”

“That I am well aware, Khan Hazen,” Mikhail answered in a wry voice. “Three battleships are a . . . bit much for such a small Clan as the Goliath Scorpions however. The manpower requirements, the cost of maintaining such vessels . . . it is a grave burden. I mention this because I am also aware that the Snow Raven Khans have refused—three times now—to build the Falcons a third battleship of your own.”

Yvonne’s smile vanished and she sat perfectly still. “Now, having won Requiem in Trial, it would not be proper to just give away such a magnificent ship,” Mikhail continued, “and Lei Kung was awarded to our Clan by Nicolas Kerensky himself. It would be a grave dishonor to mothball or trade that ship as well. But our third battleship, Atropos, she is a modern Nightlord-class, much like your own Emerald Talon. Three years younger in fact, than your Emerald Talon. Your Falcon’s Nest is a far larger Texas-class. I believe that Atropos would serve well in Falcon Green.”

“Mikhail Kirov, are you bribing me?” Yvonne asked as she batted her eyes.

“By no means, Yvonne Hazen; I am proposing a trade. I have not the resources in training naval officers and crew to field three battleships. But I need an Aegis-class cruiser and a Congress-class frigate in order to bring my three Stars up to a uniform state of equipment. You have both; I have a spare battleship. And I will even throw in a Volga and a Carrack to sweeten the pot. Your Clan gains a battleship—which will cause consternation among the Ravens; your actual fleet numbers will increase with two transports you have great need of. And in return, the Scorpions will receive one of your cruisers and one of your frigates.”

“But?” Yvonne asked.

“Alas, Khan Hazen, it all depends upon how the vote tomorrow goes. Should the Scorpions be the target of an Absorption—or Annihilation—we cannot trade you those vessels.”

“Ah, Mikhail. Why trade what I can take?”

“You, my dear Yvonne, are smarter than Lucien Moon and Norman Rood combined. You will have to cut your bid to the bone to win against those two—and doing so you open yourself up to defeat by my reformed Scorpions in a Trial of Refusal. And if you do not gain the honor of fighting me, then those ships—whichever ones survive—will go the Clans who do fight. Not to you and your Falcons.”

“You speak the truth, Mikhail,” she said as she sat back and took a deep sip of the wine.

“Aff, Khan Hazen. And know this: if it comes to a vote on the invasion of the Inner Sphere, despite my Warden leanings and beliefs, both I and my saKhan will our votes ‘Aye’. In fact, I intend for my Scorpions to have a place within that Invasion. We are no longer slumbering in isolation, Yvonne. My Scorpions have woken.”

The senior Khan of the Falcons stood and so did Mikhail. “The dinner was quite enjoyable, Khan Kirov,” she said. “And the conversation was . . . breathtaking. As for tomorrow . . . let us see what comes to pass. Good evening, Mikhail Kirov,” and she started laughing.

“Something amusing cross your mind, Khan Hazen,” Mikhail asked as he buzzed his servants to open the doors.

“I have the sad suspicion that perhaps it would best for the Clans as a whole if you were to die tomorrow—with you around, I fear that perhaps we will suffer the ancient curse of living in interesting times. And I do not even believe in curses.” She walked across to the doors and then turned around again to face Mikhail. “Then again, I do like a good show. Sleep well tonight, Scorpion. Tomorrow will either be the end or the beginning.”

Hall of the Khans, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
October 2, 3036

“A word, if you will Khan Kirov before this Council comes to order,” the senior Wolf Khan said as he intercepted Mikhail just outside the door to the Hall of the Khans.

“Of course, Khan Ward,” Mikhail said and he nodded at Nikolai to go ahead then followed the Wolf into a small anteroom.

Kerlin Ward was already seated at a desk—there were no other chairs or benches present. “Close the door,” he ordered briskly as he removed his mask and smoothed down his hair. Mikhail stared at the Wolf for a moment, and then pushed the heavy door to a close and he removed his own ceremonial mask.

“You met with Khan Hazen last evening, Khan Kirov: I would like to know what the two of you discussed,” Kerlin said without looking up.

“I beg your pardon?” Mikhail asked.

Kerlin raised his head and he glared at the Scorpion. “You have already threatened every plan I have made to push this foolish invasion back! Now you will tell me what you discussed with Hazen!”

Mikhail stared down at the Wolf for a moment and then he leaned forward and placed his hands on the table. “What do you think gives you the right to issue orders to me, Kerlin?”

The Wolf tapped his fingers on the table. “The Scorpions have always followed the lead and orders of the Wolves—at least until you became Khan. Your rank stupidity has cost the Warden cause much in these last two days. How dare you release that information on Pathfinder! It should have been destroyed—you should have checked with me before you ever admitted possessing that information!”

Mikhail’s eyes narrowed, and then he stood straight and slowly nodded. “So, you see the Scorpions as no more than your servants, do you Kerlin Ward?”

“You are the ones who claim that you owe the Wolves a debt; and instead of making good on that debt, you hand the Wardens this crisis!”

“We Scorpions honor Nicholas Kerensky and we honor his decision to forgive Ethan Moreau, which then allowed him to become our First Loremaster—the first such Loremaster of ALL the Clans of Kerensky, Khan Ward. And yes, we acknowledge, that our debt—to Nicholas Kerensky—our surkairede, is now a debt of honor to Clan Wolf. But that debt of honor, Kerlin Ward, it is not meant to transform the Scorpions in a client of your Wolves. It is not meant to make us answer to you or any other Khan of Clan Wolf, be he of the Blood of Nicholas Kerensky or not!”

“You need to sit down and lis- . . .” Kerlin began to stand, but Mikhail interrupted him.

“SILENCE, Wolf—I am not finished,” Mikhail shouted. The door swung open as a member of the Ebon Keshik peered within, to see the source of the commotion, but he only bowed and closed it again behind him when he saw that all was well.

Mikhail took a deep breath, and he continued in a softer, calmer voice. “For too long, Clan Goliath Scorpion has aided Clan Wolf without exception, without question, without even being asked. We have protected you, we have shared with you the fruits of our labors, we have given unto your Clan access to our deepest secrets, we have shared with you in the spirit of surkairede; and for what? What have we gained out of it, Kerlin?”

“No longer does Clan Wolf even bother to thank us, they see this as a right due to them. You see it as your due to receive our subservience, our respect that you do not have to earn—because Nicholas earned it for you. Yet, when it is my Clan that needs help, where are the Wolves? No, they say. That is not the Way of the Clans. Each must stand strong on its own. And so the Scorpions have stood—wobbly at times, but we have stood. Alone. Always alone, for the Wolves whom we shed blood and treasure and the sweat of our brow in defense of consider it beneath them to aid us.”

“You steal from the Scorpions, without my Clan retaliating as the others would. You stole from us our own Deep-Sea Mining Suits, and only reluctantly did your predecessors show the grudging honor to share with us the Elemental Battle Armor you created without a batchall for the production rights! When your Dragoon Compromise was voted upon, it was Scorpions who trained them—and Scorpion volunteers who accompanied them into the Inner Sphere. And in return, instead of asking us for help, you once again took Star Colonel Dinour! When it was your harvests on Eden that were insufficient to feed your own people, did you ask the Scorpions for aid? Did you honor that surkairede? No! You fought a Trial, not against a Crusader Clan, but against us and left Scorpion civilian castes on Tokasha on emergency rations for three months.”

“Always, it is what is best for the Wolves, as though we are only your Reserve Clan. There for when you need us, but no, the mighty Wolves and the scions of Kerensky cannot be bothered with aiding the Scorpions when our Clan is in need. When our Clan requires a brother’s aid. And now, you have the temerity, to sit there and believe that you, Kerlin Ward, Khan of the Wolves, have the right to berate me, the Khan of Clan Goliath Scorpion?”

“Are you done?” snarled Kerlin.

“No, Khan Ward, I am far from done,” Mikhail snapped. “Understand this, Wolf! Our surkairede is complete! No more will the Scorpions grant your Clan amnesty from the crimes that they commit upon us—try and you will discover for yourself just how lethal my Clan has become.”

“And you have sealed your fate, Scorpion, for I will see it that the Jaguars or the Hellions or one of the other Clans will either Annihilate or Absorb you—and use that as the reason why it is necessary to postpone this Invasion yet again.”

Mikhail laughed. And Kerlin stood, his face tight with anger. The Scorpion Khan made a dismissive gesture. “No, Wolf, you will not. You will defend my Clan in the Grand Council today—or it will be the Wolves who are Annihilated because of your treason.”

“What? Have you lost your mind, Kirov?” Kerlin hissed.

“I did not turn over everything that Pathfinder discovered, Kerlin Ward. Oh, no. Not everything by far—though I should have.”

Mikhail took a small holoplayer from a pouch on his desk and he set it down on the desk, pressing the play button. A holographic image, small, but crystal clear snapped into view: it showed a younger Kerlin Ward, along with two Wolf officers—one a dark-haired man, and the second a red-headed woman.

“Am I to understand your orders to the Reconnaissance Force, Khan Ward? That we are to disregard all future commands from the Grand Council. We are not to spend further reports to the Homeworlds, and that you are instructing us to prepare the Inner Sphere to fight this invasion?”

“Aff, Colonel Wolf. The reports of your Dragoon’s have sparked a debate that threatens the status quo in the Homeworlds. The Grand Council may have dispatched your Dragoon’s, but you remain part of my Clan. And as Khan, I now issue those orders to you. I will fight to delay the Invasion as long as I can—and you will do what you must to make certain that when the Invasion finally comes, it will not succeed. These Crusaders do not want to liberate the Inner Sphere—they want to conqueror it. I will not watch as the Khans tear apart this society like a score of Warlords in the worst tradition of Stefan Amaris.”

Kerlin swallowed hard, and he sat down—fell, actually—into his chair. The recording continued, as Jamie Wolf slowly nodded. “We are Wolves, Khan Ward. Your orders will be obeyed.”

The projection ended and Mikhail placed the projector back within his pouch. “Scorpions were on that final supply run, Kerlin. Three Scorpions who survived their time amongst the Dragoons—and wondered why that the Khan of the Wolves, and not a representative of the Ground Council accompanied the ships. Why that the Khan of the Wolves demanded a secret meeting with Jamie Wolf and Natasha Kerensky. They recorded this in secret; spying upon you, at no small risk to themselves. And then two of them decided to remain in the Inner Sphere—in an attempt to confirm the . . . treason . . . they alone bore witness to. The third? He embarked aboard your ships—although he never arrived in the Homeworlds. I suspect that you murdered him, though I have no proof of that Kerlin Ward.”

The Wolf licked dry lips and he gazed at Mikhail in hate, as the Scorpion continued. “Pathfinder made contact with one of the two Scorpions in 3029. He returned four years ago, and he reported to me all that he had witnessed and gave me this recording. No, Khan Ward. Today, you will support my Scorpions. Today, the Wolf will repay its debt to my Clan. And I will allow you to choose the manner of your own death rather than see the Clan of Kerensky ripped asunder by your crimes against the Martial Code. You do not deserve the honor of having your name preserved in history, but as the final act of surkairede that my Clan owes to Nicholas Kerensky, I will allow you to keep your false honor intact. I will hide the depths of your betrayal and depravity and treason from future histories. I will give your progeny the opportunity to show that they are better men and women than you.”

“And for paying that price, Kerlin Ward, you will today protect and defend my Clan. And then, you may send yourself to Hell through which means you prefer. May God have mercy on your soul.”

Mikhail picked up his mask, and placed it back on his head. Then, without another word, he turned on his heel and left Kerlin Ward, Khan of the Wolves, sitting alone in the anteroom.
Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-06-12 11:27pm, edited 3 times in total.

Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-12 09:00pm

Hall of the Khans, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
October 2, 3036

“This session of the Grand Council is called to order,” Loremaster Mendoza intoned. “My Khans, you have reviewed the evidence both in support of the Ice Hellion claims against Goliath Scorpion, and the Scorpion defense. The floor is now open for debate upon the issue.”

Norman Rood quickly stood. “You have seen for yourselves now the perfidy of the Scorpions. Khans of the Clans of Kerensky! I call upon all those gathered today to sanction the Scorpions and deprive them of the right to be a Clan of Kerensky! I demand that we find them in violation of the Martial Code of Kerensky, and that they be Absorbed! And I submit to you that my Hellions, as the victims of their dishonorable and unClanlike behavior be given the right to conduct that Absorption!”

“While I agree with my Hellion comrade,” Lucien Moon said as he rose, “that the Scorpions should be Absorbed—allowing the Hellions that privilege is lunacy, my Khans! They have already shown that they have suffered defeat after defeat at the hands of the Scorpions—would an Absorption Trial be any different? No, I claim the right for my Clan—the Smoke Jaguars! We will put an end to the Scorpions for all time!”

Khan Hazen of the Falcons began to laugh, and Lucien turned to stare at her. “What is so funny, Falcon?”

“Khan Moon, Khan Rood, both of you seem to be overlooking something very important here,” she said as she stood. “Clan Goliath Scorpion has not, in the opinion of the Jade Falcons, broken the Martial Code of Kerensky! They have done no more and no less than the Hellions, Horses, Sharks, and Wolves have, over the past decades, done in regards to zellbrigen. As long as they retain their strict adherence to those codes in fights against my Clan, why should a Falcon care if they loosen their own internal rules in regards to match those of others?”

“It is an internal matter, one which this Council well knows that Nicholas Kerensky himself allowed for each Clan to determine—as best suited its needs. If this is a crime, then what shall come next, my Khans? Will the Jaguars submit when this Council admonishes them for their treatment of their Laborers and Merchants? Will the Sharks submit when this Council calls upon them to reduce their Merchant’s power? This matter is internal to their own Clan—and it has no bearing on the debate today. For it is legal, my Khans.”

“On the second charge, that the Scorpions did knowingly and willingly violate the directives of the Grand Council and send expeditions to the Inner Sphere—that is indeed a crime. A crime conducted by men and women who are now dead, who have been stripped of their genetic legacies, who were discovered in their treason by Scorpions, dealt with by Scorpions, and their course corrected by Scorpions. The current leadership of the Scorpions has not lied to us; they have not concealed this treason by a few from us; they admit the sins of their criminal leaders and show us the proof that they threw them down and ended this illegal program in compliance with the Grand Council!”

Lucien Moon simply stared at Yvonne Hazen as she continued in her defense of the Scorpions. “The industrial complex that many of you claim the Scorpions ‘hid’; my Khans, have your Clans no secrets of their own? Did the Coyotes freely distribute their OmniMechs to all of the Clans once they had built them? NO! They used them, and it was a surprise that gave them great strength and honor! We, all of our Clans, had to bid Trials against them in order to gain the technology for ourselves. The Scorpions have done no less—and no more—than those long-dead Coyote Khans. They, on their own soil, have restored a factory built by the Widowmakers! Of all of our Clans, only Clan Wolf might have the right to challenge their possession—for Wolf absorbed Widowmaker. Then again, Clan Wolf freely gave Spiderholm to the Scorpions, and the lands surrounding it. Whether or not they knew of that factory does not mean that now, more than century later, they can ask for their gift back.” Yvonne grinned as she peeled off her ceremonial mask. “I would also remind my fellow Khans, that the Scorpions did NOT conceal this factory—the Adders and the Wolves both were aware of it. They share in the production. And any Trial against the Scorpions for their ownership would certainly entail a Trial against those two as well!”

The senior of the Star Adders rose, and he too removed his mask. “The Falcon sees clearly; she perceives what should be obvious to all of you,” Marion Truscott said. “A few short years ago, I too believed that the Scorpions were a Clan on the decline—hedonists who used the drug necrosia in abandon, a Clan that wantonly squandered its gifts in pursuit of artificial highs and that rejected the ideals of Kerensky. I was wrong. I have seen for myself the honor of the Scorpions; my Warriors have told me of their dedication to the ideals of Nicholas Kerensky and to the Laws that he laid down. I have removed my blinders and seen for myself that such aspersions to their character are—by and large—in error. And for that reason, the Adders will vote NAY. And for those who wish to Trial for this factory, let them be aware that the Adders stand in its defense!”

Truscott sat back down and Yvonne nodded her approval. “No, my Khans, the Scorpions have done no more—and no less—than any of us would have done. If you want their factory, then Trial for it! In the Clan Way! But they have committed no crime, on these charges, that is worthy of Absorption!” Yvonne Hazen looked at each of her fellow Khans one after the next. “So say the Falcons. We as well will vote NAY.”

Jake Fletcher, Khan of the Hell’s Horses stood. “You have not spoken of the most serious charge against them, Khan Hazen; that of the Scorpions arming their lower castes. What of this matter?”

The Falcon nodded gravely. “I will allow the Scorpions to answer that question, Khan Fletcher.”

But, before Mikhail could stand, the junior Khan of the Wolves stood. “Nay, Khan Hazen. The Scorpions need not answer, for the Wolves shall in their stead.” Ulric Kerensky, saKhan of the Wolves removed his mask. “We too worried that such a program might shatter the caste laws which bind our Clans together in a society and a culture based upon the Primacy of the Warrior. I have, at the direction of my Khan, conducted a full investigation into the matter—with the cooperation of the Scorpions.”

“Clan Goliath Scorpion is not calling for the mass arming of the lower castes, my fellow Khans. They have chosen to allow civilians to Test themselves against the rigorous challenges required of all True-Born Warriors. We all do similar, with our Free-Born Warriors, although not quite to the same degree as what the Scorpions have proposed. The Free-Born are, usually, but not always, the offspring of Warriors, who Test as Warriors based upon their maternal rights. While each of our Clans uses them differently, we all have Free-Born in our ranks.”

“The Scorpions have proposed this: that any civilian may Test for the position of Warrior. This takes two parts: in the first, once a civilian expresses a desire, he is subjected to a battery of physical and mental examinations: a battery of tests that determine whether he has physical stamina, strength, and the mental fortitude to become a Warrior. He is given oral and written examinations that Test his knowledge of Clan law and history—philosophy, mathematics, the sciences, and the arts as well in the Scorpion Test.”

“These civilians must meet the same minimum standard as any Goliath Scorpion Warrior, my Khans. The few who pass these tests, progress to Stage II. Those who fail are either returned to their original caste, or based upon the test results are considered for a higher caste. This is mere common sense; a means that determines an individual’s worth by merit—not by birth. It is the cornerstone of Nicolas Kerensky's plans for our society as a meritocracy!”

Ulric smiled. “Stage II for the Scorpions lasts for six standard months. Six months during which time the testee is subjected to harsh training—six months to absorb and learn what takes our sibkin fifteen years. The trial program on Marshall instituted by the Scorpions had two hundred thousand candidates for Stage I. Twelve thousand three hundred and forty-two qualified for Stage II. Of those, only six hundred and seventeen successfully endured the training and the discipline—the remainder either dropping out or perishing. Of those six hundred and seventeen, a mere three hundred and nine passed their final Test as a Warrior. Those former civilians have passed all of the Tests that a Clan Warrior is expected; they have survived training; they have shown themselves to carry the same dignity and courage as any True-Born Warrior. My Khan's, those three hundred and nine, have earned the right to call themselves Warriors.”

“If any here consider arming three hundred former civilians who have passed through these Trials and proven their right to become a Warrior as ‘arming the lower castes en masse’, I find that I must question that Khan’s sanity.”

Amanda Tseng stood, and she nodded in agreement. “These charges cannot be sustained. They have not been proven. Loremaster, I submit that no more debate is needed on this issue—let us resolve this so that the Grand Council can consider more pressing matters.”

Mendoza stood and he gauged the wishes of the assembled Khans, and then he bowed slightly. “We will call the vote. Aye to find the Scorpions guilty, and Nay to acquit them of the charges leveled against them. How say you? Clan Blood Spirit?”

“Aye! Aye!” Two voices rang out.

“Clan Burrock?”

“Both Clans vote Aye. And we will bid for the right of Absorption as well.”

“Clan Cloud Cobra?”

“Two Nays, Loremaster.”

“Clan Coyote?”

“Nay and Nay.”

“Clan Diamond Shark?”

“Aye; Nay!”

“Clan Fire Mandrill?”

“The Kindraas are in rare agreement, Loremaster: Nay.”

“Clan Ghost Bear?”

“Nay twice.”

“Clan Hell’s Horse’s?”

“We are divided, Loremaster. One aye, one nay.”

“Clan Ice Hellion?”

“AYE! They must pay for their crimes!”

“Clan Jade Falcon?”

“Nay!” called Yvonne Hazen, but her saKhan Elias Crichell answered “Aye!”

“Clan Nova Cat?”

“One Nay; one aye, Loremaster.”

“Clan Smoke Jaguar?”

“AYE!” both Khans roared.

“Clan Snow Raven?”

“Nay, twice.”

“Clan Star Adder?”

“Nay and nay.”

“Clan Steel Viper?”

“Aye. They violate the will of the Great Father.”

“Clan Wolf?”

Khan War stood, and he looked sourly at Mikhail, and then at the Loremaster. “One Nay, from saKhan Kerensky—I abstain.”

“There being fifteen votes of Aye, seventeen Nay, with one abstention, the Grand Council finds that Clan Goliath Scorpion has NOT violated the Martial Code of Kerensky. Is there a call for a Trial of Refusal—the odds will be 1.2 against the Clans calling for a Trial.”

No one answered.

“Very well,” said Mendoza. “There is another matter before the Grand Council, brought by Khans Moon and Hazen; the mat-. . .”

“One moment, Loremaster Mendoza,” Khan Kerlin Ward said. “Before we begin debate on what shall be a contentious issue, there is another matter—one that cannot wait.”

“Proceed, Khan Ward,” the Loremaster said as he sat down his tablet.

“I abstained in the vote against the Goliath Scorpions for one reason, and one reason only—I declare a Trial of Grievance against Khan Mikhail Kirov! Earlier today, he informed me that Clan Goliath Scorpion deems that its surkairede to Clan Wolf is finished. My Khans, the holder of surkairede cannot simply declare that his service to that rite is done! He cannot declare that the oaths taken by his forefathers are in abeyance! But I will not make this a matter that will weaken our Clans by claiming a Trial of Refusal that would turn into a War! I claim against Mikhail Kirov a Trial of Grievance for the dishonor he shows to both his predecessors and my own! Here and now, let the Blood of a Khans be spilled to show who is in the right—and who has failed in his duty.”

Mikhail stood and he grinned as he slowly nodded his head at Kerlin. “If the Grand Council will grant us leave, then I accept your challenge, Kerlin Ward of the Wolves. By all means, Wolf, let us put an end to this . . . disagreement. And if you demand blood before you acknowledge our surkairede is at long last ended, I can promise you that blood you shall have in full measure.”

Kerensky Trial Ground, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
October 2, 3036

“Kerlin, why are you forcing this issue?” Ulric asked as he tightened the sword belt around his Khan’s waist. “You are no swordsman—the Scorpion is going to kill you out there.”

Kerlin Ward tugged on the thick leather gauntlet he wore on his right hand, seating the fingers tighter against the fabric. He glanced around, but no one was close enough to hear; still he leaned in close to Ulric and whispered his answer. “He has evidence of my final orders to Jamie and the Dragoons. Evidence enough to have the Wolves Annihilated, Ulric.”

“Then why did you provoke him?” hissed Ulric in alarm.

“Provoke him, saKhan? He provoked me,” Kerlin answered setting the gauntlet-clad hand on Ulric’s shoulder. “You need not fear—Kirov is a honorable fool. He will abide with his bargain, and upon my death the Clan will be safe. You, Ulric Kerensky must now lead the Clans away from this folly of an Invasion.”

Ulric shook his head sadly. “With the strength Mikhail Kirov gains here today, the Council will follow him—not me.”

Kerlin smiled. “That has been arranged for—though, perhaps you do not need the details, Ulric. You would disapprove of the tactics in question.”

“Kerlin,” Ulric growled, “what have you done now?”

“I’ve given the Clans a chance to live, Ulric. I've given the Inner Sphere time to prepare for our coming. That is all that you need to know.”

Loremaster Mendoza walked over and cleared his throat. “Khan Ward, the circle is prepared. Are you?”

“Aff, Loremaster,” the Wolf answered as he drew a basket-hilted rapier in his right hand and a main-gauche in his left.

Ulric stood back as he watched Kerlin Ward cross into the Circle of Equals behind the Loremaster. On the far side, Mikhail Kirov entered as well, with a curved saber in one hand and his Clan’s customary zulkari in the other.

“Khan Kirov, Khan Ward,” the Horse spoke, “we are here for a Trial of Grievance this day. I implore you both to set aside this issue between you, and not to shed the blood of a fellow Khan. “

He paused, looking first at Ward, and then at Kirov. Both of the Khans shook their head, and so the Loremaster nodded. “Very well. You may begin upon my command.”

The Loremaster walked away, he turned around and nodded once; then he simply said, “Begin.”

Kerlin and Mikhail circled each other warily, their weapons held low; neither Khan uttering a word. Then the Wolf launched himself forward in a blur, and steel clanged upon steel. Mikhail sprang back, then he rolled to the side as Kerlin rushed in and saber met rapier, main-gauche parried zulkari as the two whirled like dervishes, blades flashing on the sandy floor of the Trial Grounds. Kerlin—two decades older than Mikhail—began to slow and falter as the Scorpion pressed him relentlessly. Blood splattered across the sand as the saber tore through Kerlin’s upper arm, and now he was fighting completely on the defensive parrying blow after blow—but several more from the long saber and the short zulkari left crimson slashes in their wake.

Kerlin stumbled and fell to one knee—he raised his rapier, but the blade snapped in half as Mikhail threw his weight behind the curved saber. The Scorpion made a back-hand slash with the zulkari, but Kerlin ducked under the slash and he thrust his main-gauche into the Scorpion Khan’s thigh. Mikhail grunted in pain but swung down his saber’s basket hilt and caught Kerlin in the jaw, knocking him back onto the sand. The Scorpion paused and he examined his wound, but the blade had missed the artery, and he left the main-gauche to plug the hole.

The Wolf sat on his knees and he panted heavily, bleeding from a dozen wounds to the Scorpion’s one. But he held his chin high as Mikhail took two steps towards him, swung the saber, and severed his head from his body.
Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-06-12 11:18pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-12 09:24pm

Hall of the Goliath Scorpion, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
October 11, 3036

Nikolai stood as the physician exited the Khan’s personal chamber. The elderly doctor shook his head. “He was poisoned with polonium-210; a radioactive isotope that is normally harmless unless ingested, saKhan. The low levels of radiation cannot normally penetrate the skins epidermis, but it appears to have introduced into his blood through the wound on his leg.”

Nikolai stared in horror, and he clenched a fist tightly against the anger that he was feeling. “Poison? Kerlin Ward sank so low?”

The civilian shook his head. “I, of course, know not who introduced the isotope to Khan Ward’s blade—I can only tell you that we must prepare for the funeral of Khan Kirov.”

The saKhan’s mouth gaped open. “You must treat this—he was poisoned just eight days ago! We have anti-radiation medications!”

“Which are effective against large doses of radiation; but the polonium has travelled throughout his body. There are molecules in every part of his muscle tissue, his liver, his lungs, his kidneys, his heart. Each emitting alpha particles that kill the cells surrounding it. There is no cure for this . . . vile weapon of assassination, saKhan. I have given him drugs for the pain—others that will alleviate some of the worst symptoms, for a short while. But he will be dead in two weeks time, perhaps sooner. He has asked to see you.”

Nikolai lowered his head, and then he nodded and stepped into the Khan’s bed-chamber, where Mikhail was sitting up, struggling with an attempt to stand. Nikolai rushed to his side, but Mikhail waved him off. He blinked at seeing the bald head—Mikhail’s full head of hair was gone.

“I had them shave it off, Nikolai,” the Khan said with a weary laugh. “It was falling out anyway. I need you, saKhan Djerassi to call an emergency meeting of the Grand Council. There is one final thing I must do as Khan before my time ends.”

“They will not act against the Wolves without more proof, my Khan,” Nikolai warned.

Mikhail laughed again. “You will not accuse the Wolves. That is my last order to you. I know who was behind this, and he is dead. I even know why he did this—it no longer matters. You must stand ready to lead our Clan, Nikolai Djerassi. Our future will now be in your hands. You must make certain that the Khans hold to our agreement for Silver Sable II. We must have those three years to gather information on our target worlds—we must, Nikolai,” Mikhail retched and coughed heavily, and spat up bloody phlegm. “You, and Khan Truscott, must hold them to that. We cannot go in blind with no planning at all besides ‘a race to Terra’. Promise me, Nikolai.”

“I swear it, my Khan,” Nikolai said softly and Mikhail nodded.

“Go then, Khan of the Goliath Scorpions, go and tell my servants I need my ceremonial uniform—and to prepare my OmniMech and DropShip and one of the JumpShips in orbit for my use. I will meet with you one last time at the Hall of the Khans.”

Hall of the Khans, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
October 11, 3036

“Why have you summoned us here for this emergency session, Kirov?” snapped Lucien Moon as the final Khans sat. “At this time of the night, as well. Is it not enough that you and Truscott and the Wardens hound us day-in and day-out on the need to postpone yet again?”

“If the Smoke Jaguar Khan would care to notice, it was my vote that gave him the possibility of invading the Inner Sphere in his lifetime. Perhaps he should rest his tongue before I decide to remove it,” Mikhail grunted harshly as he sat, clenching his left hand to keep it from trembling.

“By Kerensky’s Seed, Scorpion, you are begging me to declare a Trial against you,” Lucien Moon said in a furor, pounding his desk with his gloved fist.

“And I shall grant you that Trial,” Mikhail said as he laid one hand on Nikolai’s shoulder. “My Khans, I asked to here this evening to witness a challenge. As we are discussing the Invasion of the Inner Sphere, I have taken stock of Scorpion assets. I believe that my Clan needs more. Therefore, I issue a Trial of Possession for the Jaguar OmniMech Production Centers on Huntress!”

No Khan made a single sound for one heartbeat, and then two. Finally, saKhan Leo Showers of the Jaguars barked out an unbelieving bark of laughter. “Are you insane, Scorpion? You bid a Trial for all of our production centers?”

“Such is my right under the Martial Code, Jaguar. Do you accept my Trial? Or is your Khan as craven and afraid of a real fight as a bandit?”

Lucien Moon blinked twice, and then he released a yell of rage and leapt forward, but six Khans restrained him from committing murder within the Great Hall—it took six Khans to hold back the furious Jaguar. “I will meet you myself, Mikhail Kirov! And I shall eat your heart!”

“I would not recommend that, Khan Moon. In that case, my Khans, I am leaving Strana Mechty tonight—and will land on Huntress in four days time. I hereby request safcon—unless the thought of fighting a true Scorpion on the surface of Huntress terrifies you, Lucien?”

“Your Clan will be crushed, Mikhail Kirov! I shall shatter what you send against me, and rend the remainder apart piece by piece!”

“Deeds . . .,” Mikhail began, before he doubled over in pain, and slammed his own fist into desk before forcing himself back up right. He stood, and none save Nikolai saw the trembling in the Khan's legs. “Deeds, not words are the Clan way, Khan Moon. Prove your strength in action, in four days time. I bid all of you a fair evening.”

And Mikhail turned and walked out from the Hall, leaving Nikolai to answer a barrage of questions in his wake.

Smoke Jaguar Spaceport, Lootera City
Huntress, Clan Homeworlds
October 15, 3036

The lone Union-C DropShip landed on the tarmac of the spaceport outside of the Jaguar capital. One bay door opened, and a ramp deployed, down which walked a single OmniMech clad in Goliath Scorpion colors. One single Scorpion OmniMech, facing more than five hundred Jaguar OmniMechs and almost a thousand Elemental Warriors. Not to mention the hundreds of OmniFighters circling the spaceport.

“What is this,” broadcast Lucien Moon from the cockpit of his Dire Wolf. “Where are your Clusters, Khan Kirov?”

“I bid no Clusters, Khan Moon. Only myself.”

Nervous laughter filled the radio channels, and Jaguars Warriors began to look at each other in shock.

“One Warrior. I bid three Galaxies in defense of my Capital and my Production Facilities, Scorpion!” Moon roared. “Three Galaxies! And you insult them by landing one Warrior!”

“It was the lowest bid I could make. If the odds are too much for your liking, Jaguar, I will bid away some weapons.”

Leo Shower’s voice cut in on the transmission. “You are committing suicide, Scorpion. You cannot prevail—request hegira, and I as saKhan will accept it—you have proven your bravery today.”

“NO.” Two voices—one that of the sick Scorpion Khan and the second that of Lucien Moon—barked at the same time. Mikhail remained silent, but Moon at last continued. “No, I will see this Scorpion finished.” And he charged his Dire Wolf forward.

Mikhail accelerated his own Death Stalker in return and the distance between the two Khans closed rapidly as each OmniMech began spitting out fire—but Nikolai’s Death Stalker pivoted and the Jaguar’s shots mostly went wide. Three powerful PPC bolts spat out in answer, and Moon’s Dire Wolf staggered as nearly a ton of armor evaporated. The two continued to close and now Mikhail’s OmniMech was wreathed in a halo of fire as Moon cycled his weapons, pouring lasers, and missiles, and autocannon burst after burst into the lighter Scorpion OmniMech. But Kirov kept coming and his PPCs stabbed out again and again and again; some shots missing, but ALL of those successful ones eating through the assault OmniMech’s center torso armor at a frightening pace.

At last, Lucien Moon seemed to realize the danger, and he shifted his chest away from Mikhail, shielding it with one arm as the second kept pouring fire—but the ranged had closed enough for the Scorpion to use his jump jets. Jets of flame lit in the rear torso of the Scorpion Death Stalker and it flew up towards the Jaguar Dire Wolf—and too late Moon realized what Kirov was doing. He fired every weapon he had, and the Scorpion's OmniMech staggered in mid-air, then the 90-ton war machine crashed down atop the head and shoulders of the Jaguar OmniMech, and both Khans fell to the ground.

Leo Showers moved his own Dire Wolf forward in shock, along with the OmniMechs of the Jaguars Den; the personal guard of the Jaguar Khan; but then there was movement on the tarmac. And it was Mikhail Kirov who stood, his Death Stalker broken and battered, but still functioning. “Scratch one Jaguar Khan,” Mikhail broadcast as he deliberately fired his right arm PPC into Moon’s already crushed cockpit. “Now for the second!” he finished with a ragged cough as he began to charge towards the Jaguar lines, but he did not fire.

A furious Jaguar Warrior from Khan Moon's own Star, sent flying into an unthinking rage at the death of his Khan jumped his light Mist Lynx out to meet Mikhail, but the Scorpion OmniMech salvoed all three PPCs into its chest, and the twenty-five ton design crumpled. One-by-one, the Jaguars of Moon's guard charged forward, and Showers just stood there, staring in horror as Kirov kept coming. Finally, the fifth Jaguar OmniMech fell, but still Kirov advanced! His armor was in tatters; he dragged one useless leg behind him; both of his arms had been shorn clean of the torso of the OmniMech. But still he came. Another Jaguar Warrior began to move out, but Showers screamed at him in fury and aimed both his weapon pods at his underling. The Hellbringer pilot bowed his 'Mech low and backed up into formation, and Showers turned his Dire Wolf to face off against Kirov.

Showers advanced at a walking pace and he unleashed a full barrage from his (mostly) fresh Dire Wolf, a barrage that ripped away one leg and tore through his torsos; the heat sensors spiked indicating the radiation and thermal shielding of the reactor was damaged, and Mikhail fell to the ground, his return PPC bolt shattering some of the thick plating on the Jaguar saKhan's right arm. It wasn't enough, and Leo Showers came to a halt. Still, the Death Stalker moved forward a meter a time, one leg pushing against the tarmac.

“Ask for hegira, Khan Kirov,” Showers pleaded as the Jaguars stood in mute witness. The Scorpion’s only answer was another shot from Mikhail's final PPC that went wild. At last Showers stepped forward and leveled his arm mounted weapon pods; the Death Stalker ceased its advance and remained still as Showers lowered the targeting reticule directly over Mikhail's cockpit. Steam clouds rose from the Dire Wolf as the Jaguar Khan salvoed all of his guns, his lasers, and his missiles, and the Scorpion’s OmniMech exploded. There was no ejection.

Showers stepped back. "JAGUARS!" he broadcast. "We are victorious, although our Khan has fallen. Here, on Huntress, Khan Moon fell in defense of our world. In defense of our Clan! Warriors! We honor our Khan . . . and we honor the one who challenged us. Who came here only to die with honor! Who fought despite impossible odds, and who still took with him our Khan into the grave! This Trial, Jaguars. This Trial. WE WILL REMEMBER. FOREVER!"

"SEYLA!" Nearly two thousand Jaguar Warriors roared in answer. "SEYLA! SELYA!"
Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-06-16 11:48pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-13 12:44pm

Chapter Two

“The greatest failure of the Clans is also our greater strength, my brother Scorpions. We wage Trials, not Wars. We fight with limited forces for limited objectives that are defined well in advance of any conflict. Because of our traditions laid down by Nicolas Kerensky, we waste precious little in resources and preserve our industry and civilian castes to serve the whole of the Clans, no matter which Clan reigns over them. This is something that has never before been achieved by any military arm of any branch of humanity—but achieve it we have.”

“It is our greatest weakness, our greatest failure, however, in that many of our brothers and sisters do not seem to remember that War is Hell. And when we return to the Inner Sphere, my Scorpions, we must be prepared for they will not fight Trials against us. Their response to the Invasion will be total War. And we will be fighting in Hell.”

—Khan Mikhail Kirov, addressing the Goliath Scorpion Council of the Bloodnamed, August 6 3035

Watch Headquarters, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
December 4, 3040

The bustling movements of the free-birth and true-born Warriors, Scientists, Merchants, and Technicians did not slow when the Khans entered; in fact, none of those engaged in the work here even seemed to take notice. That fact did not escape any of Nikolai’s guests, judging by the crimson flushing of Yvonne Hazen’s cheeks, or the pinched lips of Marion Truscott, or the exasperated sigh of Jake Fletcher, and the clenched fist of Amanda Tseng. Only Ulric Kerensky seemed unfazed. Nikolai Djerassi smiled.

“They are under strict orders, my Khans, not to pause their work when a higher ranking officer—even a Khan—enters this chamber,” he said. “Otherwise, their efforts would grind to a halt every single time a Star Colonel or Galaxy Commander comes in here and demands to know when they will be finished! And that is something which occurs at least twice a day, on average.”

“Yes, I can see where that might slow things down,” Yvonne said at last. She leaned against the railing on the third story level where the doors had led the Khans. The massive chamber was the size of two adjacent football fields, with the ceilings stretching close to twenty-meters. From their lofty perch, the Khans could see row after row of desks, with analysts hard at work—but it was the thirty-six meter wide and eighteen meter tall screen on one wall that caught their attention.

On that screen was projected a map of the Northern Quadrant of the Inner Sphere. At the top of the screen were Manaringaine and Von Strang's World in the Periphery; at the bottom was Terra. To the left, the Lyran world of Viborg sat on the edge of map (although several Periphery micro-states were also included), while to the right the map extended to the pirate haven of Antallos, beyond the borders of the Draconis Combine. The worlds of the periphery we given a light grey back drop, but those of belonging to the House of Steiner were drenched in royal blue; those of Kurita in crimson; while the Free Rasalhague Republic that separated the two giants was a sky-blue. Only at the bottom of the screen was the bright sand yellow of House Davion represented, with a just a hint of Marik purple showing the borders of the Free Worlds League. But the world at the very bottom, Terra, the space around it was adorned with no color save white.

Every claimed system—and many more that the Star League had known well—was represented on the screen by either a green dot, a black dot, or a grey skull.

“The culmination of four years work, my Khans,” Nikolai said as he waved a hand towards the map screen. “It took a year to mobilize the Trackers, gather enough Scouts and Hunters, convince the Clans to work together and contribute their Fredasas, and send them all into the Inner Sphere with orders to gather information, but not to engage. But for three years now, we have collected data on our targets in quantities undreamed of. My Khans, Silver Sable II has achieved far more than we ever thought possible.”

“What do the symbols represent?” asked Ulric. “The ones on the individual systems?”

“Systems marked with a skull have been abandoned or otherwise been rendered lifeless by the Succession Wars—there are far too many of those, as you can see, my Khans,” Nikolai answered bleakly. “The ones that remain black we have not yet been able to gather enough information on to make a tactical and strategic analysis, whereas the ones in green have a complete and up-to-date report on military targets and defenses, civilian infrastructure and industry, weather patterns, socio-economic and cultural differences from our own, and other pertinent information.”

“Can you overlay the current Invasion routes?” asked Yvonne.

Nikolai nodded and he whistled down to the floor and made four signs with his hands to an alert supervisor, who began to key in commands to his workstation. Eight golden lines dots strobed at the northern edge of the map, and then long lines began to form, angling their way towards a convergence point at Terra herself. The background of the space in each of these invasion zones shifted to match the colors of one of the Clans of Kerensky.

“From west-to-east—Lyran Commonwealth to Draconis Combine—my Khans, the invading Clans will be assigned to one of these corridors. It is, of course, subject to change as the Khans continue to debate our exact plans for carrying out Revival.” Nikolai frowned; already the plan had changed eleven times—and still saKhan Crichell, Khan Showers, and their supporters pressed for more reductions. But he and Marion Truscott had almost completed finalizing two versions of Revival—one being what they actually wanted, and the second representing what the Clans truely needed to carry through. By pushing for the larger, more robust plan, they might be able to get the Khans to compromise with the second plan.

The Scorpion Khan sighed. And these plans would have to be revised again, he thought to himself as he brought his mind back to the real reason he had asked these five Khans here today. Nikolai led the Khans down the stairs and across the floor to a guarded door. The Scorpions standing post beside the door came to attention and saluted, and Nikolai held it open for his guests.

The noise level immediately abated as the Scorpion Khan closed and sealed the door behind him, and he crossed around the round briefing table to stand beside a chair. “I believe, my Khans, that you all know my saKhan, Randall Posavatz. saKhan Posavatz has had full operational control of the Watch and is responsible for many of our successes.”

The Khans greeted the younger man and each slowly found a seat; Nikolai joined them. “As you are all aware,” he began, “when the Grand Council approved the plan for Silver Sable II, the Watch was merely a shell organization. Each Clan had its own Watch, and only seldom were those intelligence assets and the information that they gathered shared. However, with Revival now on the horizon, the Grand Council directed that I reorganize our assets to gather information on our target worlds.”

Amanda Tseng chuckled. “You were the only Khan who volunteered for the task, Nikolai. Most see this task as beneath a true Warrior.”

“Aff, Khan Tseng,” Nikolai replied with a smile. “But it is a task that I think I can take pride in. Excepting only a few, the Watch has taken elements from every Clan and forged them into a whole far greater than the sum of their parts; they are now operating in a manner that ALL of us can be proud of. However,” and Nikolai’s smile faded, “the sheer distances involved meant that not all of our assets could be focused on Revival. Over ninety percent of our resources are concentrating on that task, but for the remaining ten percent, I have increased intelligence operations here in the Homeworlds.”

“That was not within your purview!” Yvonne Hazen barked, as the rest of the Khans glared at Nikolai. “You exceeded the authority granted by the Grand Council—this is the entire reason that many Khans did not want the Watch consolidated in the first place!”

Nikolai held up a placating hand. “I realize that, Khan Hazen. These operations were not directed at the Clans—but against the Dark Caste bandits who continue to plague us. Three months ago, we achieved a major intelligence coup against them . . . one that has serious implications for the Clans as a whole.”

The Scorpion nodded at Randall who stood and unlock a case; he extracted seven bound reports and he gave a copy to each of the Khans seated at a table before he sat once again, the final copy before him.

“If you read what I have prepared, my Khans, I think you will understand why I asked each of you here today. This entire matter will have to be presented to the Grand Council, but the consequences, my Khans, this could derail Revival. Or postpone it indefinitely.”

Five very uneasy Khans broke the seal on the report and opened it; each slowly began to read. And as they flipped through page after page, the blood drained from their faces. Amanda looked up in shock at Nikolai, but the Scorpion only nodded yes. It is the truth, Ghost Bear. And she turned her gaze back to the report and kept reading.

One-by-one, each Khan reached the last page. Marion Truscott turned back and the Adder reread sections, while Yvonne Hazen and Ulric Kerensky only sat there waiting. Jake Fletcher slammed his fist into the table. “How dare they? They are Clan! How could they?”

And Amanda Tseng looked as if she was about to be physically ill.

“We have since concentrated our assets here in the Homeworlds on confirming this information, confirming that the Burrocks are working hand-in-glove with the Dark Caste. It has been confirmed that Clan Burrock is arming them and supplying them and receiving a share of the stolen goods from them. The interrogations of the bandits we have captured—and their contacts among our civilian castes—show clearly that they know what is happening on our enclaves.”

“It would be folly to presume that the Burrocks are their only source of information, but so far we have identified no other Clan involved with the Dark Caste. There are indications, however, that members of the civilian castes—of several Clans—are conspiring against us, my Khans.”

“Unconfirmed indications, Khan Djerassi,” Ulric pointed out.

Nikolai nodded. “As of this moment, yes.”

“Why did you ask us here, Scorpion?” Jake Fletcher asked. “Why not surprise us along with the rest of the Grand Council?”

“I do not like you, Horse, and I do not care for the Wolf either. But I trust each of you to a far greater degree than I trust the other Khans. None of you would have anything to do with this . . . treason. I could have presented it to the Grand Council and let it simply play out, but the consequences for getting this wrong; my Khans, they are staggering. And that is not even considering the ongoing feud between the Burrocks and the Spirits.”

“Oh, by the Great Father,” Marion said as he laid his face down in his open palms. “They will demand the right to Absorb the Burrocks. Do they have the ability?”

“They and the Burrocks are evenly matched,” Nikolai answered. “But consider this: if the Burrocks defeat the Spirits, then they cannot be held guilty under Nicholas Kerensky’s own laws—despite the evidence, they will have cleared their name and proven their innocence in the matter.”

No one said a word around the table. “On the bright side, I have managed to uncover a star system with two semi-habitable planetary bodies where the Dark Caste base their operations in the Homeworlds. Now, if a force from our Clans was to suddenly arrive there and take those facilities by storm, we might well uncover additional information. Unfortunately, I must inform the Council at our next session—in ten days time. If we launch this strike against the Dark Caste, it must be done immediately, otherwise it become part of the Trial against the Burrocks.”

“There is another facet to this,” Yvonne said firmly. “You are speaking of a Crusader Clan—and eliminating their vote might well put a halt to Revival. There are some Crusaders who will accuse you personally, Nikolai, of engineering this simply to stop the Invasion.” She smiled. “And having Ulric Kerensky sit at this table, will only add to their conspiracy theories on that regard.”

“That is one of the reasons, other than her impeccable sense of honor and devotion to her duty, I requested Amanda Tseng to join us today. The Ghost Bears originally voted against the Invasion, Khan Tseng. But your Clan is poised to serve as one of the key components of Revival. If the Burrocks fall, and their vote is eliminated, will the Bears shift their position and allow the Invasion to proceed?”

“We will. The problem arises in that you might well lose votes—the Spirits at the least will threaten to withdraw their support if they do not receive the right to act against the Burrocks.”

Ulric Kerensky raised an eyebrow, but Nikolai laughed. “Do not worry yourself, Wolf. I know better than to even ask you.”

There was mild laughter around the table, and Nikolai continued. “We will cross that bridge when it becomes necessary. In the meantime, do I have your support to commit troops against these Dark Caste bandits, my Khans?”

“AFF!” all five answered in unison.

Clan Central Spaceport, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
December 5, 3040

Nikolai shielded his eyes as he watched the last of the DropShips lift off in a glare that nearly blinded him. Oh, how he wanted to be leading them, his Scorpions, on this strike against the Dark Caste, but he dare not leave Strana Mechty, not while the Burrock treachery remained unrevealed. He had no doubt that Randall Posavatz would deal with the bandits; and that appraisal did not even include the Jade Falcon Cluster assigned to the same target.

Yvonne Hazen as well had chosen to remain behind—but she had not dispatched her saKhan from his assigned post of Ironhold. Instead, she had a chosen a ristar—Star Colonel Timur Malthus—to lead her Turkina Keshik into battle. The Wolves and the Horses were departing for the second target, as were the Bears and Adders for the third. His fellow Khans, agreeing that time was of the essence, had dispatched their own command units and sundry other formations directly from Strana Mechty—none had wasted time to divert their normal combat Clusters into the action.

Nikolai looked at Yvonne, and he wondered if the rumors were true that relations between her and Elias Crichell were growing strained. The Falcon saKhan was closely aligned with the Jaguars, and he was a vocal opponent of Yvonne’s growing alliance with the Scorpions. He smiled as he thought of the saKhan challenging Yvonne—the upstart was good, but he was no match for Hazen in her prime. Still that haughty Falcon pride was surely pushing Elias into a confrontation that he must know he could not win—and that worried Nikolai. He worried because Elias struck him as too . . . Machiavellian and convoluted for the powerful Jade Falcons. He wasn’t a hunting raptor who soared through the sky, King of all that surveyed; no, Elias Crichell was a weasel who harassed around the edges and gnawed away at his opponents before moving in for the kill.

Yvonne finally turned away her eyes from the now vanished DropShips, as the exhaust of their engines evaporated into the cloudy sky. And she raised an eyebrow as she saw Nikolai staring at her.

“Something attract your attention, Khan Djerassi?” she asked in amusement.

“My dear Yvonne; you always attract my attention,” Nikolai replied with a slight bow and a smile.

She laughed, and then her laugh turned into a sigh and she looked skyward again. “I do not care for dispatching my Warriors when I cannot accompany them, Nikolai. I do not care for it one whit. I shudder to think of what the Great Father felt seeing his legions thrown against Terra and knowing that he could not be there to share in their hardships.”

“He wrote many passages, Yvonne, about just that. How he watched the youth of the Star League throw themselves selfishly against Amaris; how they would not allow him to hazard himself until the final moments of the campaign when he led the assault against Unity City and the Usurper. He spoke thus to General DeChevilier: ‘General, soldiering has one great trap: to be a good soldier you must love the army. To be a good commander, you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love. We do not fear our own death you and I. But there comes a time . . . We are never quite prepared for so many to die. Oh, we do expect the occasional empty chair. A salute to fallen comrades. But this war goes on and on and the men die and the price gets ever higher. We are prepared to lose some of us, but we are never prepared to lose all of us. And there is the great trap, General. When you attack, you must hold nothing back. You must commit yourself totally. We are adrift in a sea of blood and I want it to end. I want this to be the final battle.’ Of course, he was quoting a leader of a war nine centuries before his time, but it held true for Him, and it holds true for us, Yvonne.”

“You Scorpions continue to surprise me, Nikolai. How do you remember such?”

“It is important to remember who and what we are, Yvonne. Without knowing ourselves, we are not Warriors; we are nothing more than killers adrift in a sea of blood, without higher purpose.”

The Falcon nodded and she turned on her heel and headed back towards the ground car waiting for the two Khans. Nikolai followed her.

When the two were seated and the car began to slowly carry them back to their respective halls, Nikolai finally nodded to himself. “Khan Hazen,” he said, “can you attend a small event at the Trial Grounds this evening? A believe that I have a gift for you and your gallant Falcons.”

“A Gift, Nikolai? I adore gifts,” she said as she batted her eyebrows at him, and both Khans chuckled. “Seriously, I would be honored to attend.”

“Eighteen hundred hours, then?”

“I shall be there.”

“And Yvonne? Bring your Chief Scientist and your personal Technician.”

Kerensky Trial Ground, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
December 5, 3040

‘There, my Khan,” Nikolai said as he extended his arm. “There is our gift to you—what do you see, Khan Yvonne Hazen?”

The Falcon snorted. “It is a Hellbringer, Khan Djerassi. I have seen . . . a few . . . in my lifetime.”

“Ah,” the Scorpion answered. “This is no ordinary Hellbringer, Khan Hazen. What is the greatest weakness of the design?”

She shook her head. “The armor is too weak. But to add more armor will reduce the available pod space—and what is an OmniMech with no weapons, Nikolai.”

The Scientist at her side nodded. “The Hellbringer, Khan Djerassi is a perfect blend of speed and firepower. There is simply no room to add anything else without raising the cost considerably.”

Nikolai snorted. “Khan Hazen, your scientist is an idiot. That Hellbringer carries the exact same pod space as the Hellbringers fielded by the Jade Falcons today; yet it also has increased armor protection by 64.8%; a feat that has been accomplished by raising the construction cost by less than 1.9%. My scientists developed this prototype when they were researching our new Scorpion OmniMechs—to date I have shared it with the Adders and Horse’s. The Wolves turned us down, relying on their own Timber Wolf design.”

Yvonne frowned. “What have you done?”

“We replaced the original internal skeletal structure with endo-steel, Yvonne. That saved enough weight to thicken the armor protection to eleven full tons of ferro-fibrous, instead of the eight tons of standard armor the design normally carries. Although the bulk of the components caused some initial problems, we managed to shift most of that bulk to the left side of our new Hellbringer, allowing for all existing configurations to be replicated nearly exactly.”

The Falcon scientist shook his head. “He admits it consumes more resources, my Khan. The Hellbringer is a delicate design that has been tested and tried throughout these past years—Warriors do not realize what compromises must be made in order to provide the finest equipment for the Clans! Simply changing the armor and internal skeleton throws the entire balance off; it is not as simple as he suggests."

“You are wrong again, Scientist,” Nikolai replied solemnly. “It was a simple matter to adjust the gyro control program to accommodate the off-center weight. The OmniMech control computers themselves house a similar adjustment program that compensates for weight changes—it was a matter of simply calibrating the new weight distribution. This Hellbringer is my gift to you, Khan Hazen; to your Clan I give the schematics so that you might produce more.”

“Why are doing this, Nikolai,” the Falcon asked.

“When we Invade, Yvonne, we must not fight with one hand tied behind our backs. The Hellbringer brings tremendous firepower to the battlefield—but that matters not if it is disabled or destroyed in the first engagement when you have to fight four or five or six or seven to complete the conquest of a world. Yes, it consumes more resources: 1.88% more resources. But answer me this, Khan Hazen: is it worth this pittance to increase your Clan’s chances of winning a trial? Is it worth this pittance to avoid having to replace a damaged or destroyed engine? Or leg? Or arm? Or gyro? Because of the thin armor plating more appropriate for a 40-ton Viper, not a 65-ton heavy line-of-battle OmniMech?”

“Vincent, your thoughts?” the Falcon Khan asked her Tech, who shrugged in answer.

“I’ve pleaded with the Scientists for years to do exactly this modification, my Khan. It is always the same answer—keep to my place; they design and I repair . . . and the Warriors fight.”

Yvonne turned her cold blue eyes to the Scientist. “You still object, Gunthar?”

“The design must be studied, my Khan. We cannot trust what this Scorpion says without extensive field tests! Such changes in traditional armaments cannot be simply dictated.”

Yvonne Hazen nodded. "Vincent, would you be so good as to fetch my cooling suit and neuro-helmet? I believe that I will give this war-machine it's field testing—and if it proves acceptable, than we will place it within production Gunthar."

"My Khan," the true-born Scientist protested, "there may be flaws within the design. It takes years to bring a modified OmniMech on-line; oftentimes it is simpler to just build a new chassis. I cannot endorse your request."

The Jade Falcon Khan frowned. "My request, Chief Scientist? It was not a request. If this machine handles as Khan Djerassi claims, if I, as a Khan and an experienced MechWarrior can detect no difference when piloting it; then it will be placed in immediate production: is that understood, Chief Scientist?"

Gunthar frowned, but he at last nodded his head. "It will be as my Khan orders," he at last said.

“Good.” She turned back to face Nikolai. “The Falcons thank the Scorpions for their gift—it will be put to good use.”

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-13 01:02pm

Hall of the Khans, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
December 14, 3040

“Khan Djerassi; you have requested to address the Grand Council before this vote scheduled for today,” the Loremaster of Clan Diamond Shark, Melissa Hawker said after the Khans were seated.

“Aff, Loremaster. Thank you. My Khans, it is with much regret that I must ask you—again—to postpone the Go-No Go vote on Revi-. . .”

A thunderous explosion of raised voices drowned out Nikolai’s words as many of the Khans present jumped to their feet and began shouting in a chaotic din that bruised the ears of all present. Loremaster Hawker pounded her gavel and her voice gradually cut through the cacophony; “Order! We will have Order!”

Finally, the shouts dwindled away and the Khans sat once more, leaving only Nikolai and one other on his feet.

Khan Leo Showers sneered at Nikolai, as his jaw worked. “Delay? No, Scorpion, there will be no more delays. We are prepared! We are strong! Your Silver Sable II has gathered information in such depth that makes Klondike look ill-prepared in comparison. For what possible reason do you have for asking this Council for such yet again?”

“Treason, Khan Showers, bloody treason on the part of two of the Khans sitting here amongst us today!” Nikolai answered calmly, and the chamber went absolutely still. “Before we can undertake this effort to reclaim the Star League as the Great Father intended, we must first set our own house in order, my Khans. We cannot allow those who plot against us, who betray us, who dishonor the Code which Nicolas Kerensky instruct us to live our lives, to hold a dagger against our back while our toumans are engaged against the Inner Sphere thousands of light-years away!”

“My Khans, in our preparations for Revival, those of the Watch here in the Homeworlds discovered a plot of heinous proportions. We have discovered that one of our Clans does not fight the bandits which plague us; one of our Clans does not condemn the Dark Caste to a swift death; no, my Khans, one of the Clans seated here today has made accommodations with the Dark Caste. They have provided them with supplies, with medicines, with munitions, with intelligence on the state of your toumans and your enclaves, and they have done this . . .” Nikolai paused, and he glared at Khan Henry De Leon and saKhan Paulina Holliday of Clan Burrock, “they have done this in exchange for a share of the stolen spoils that the bandits have taken from you. They have done this so that they might bypass the Laws of Nicolas Kerensky and use the Dark Caste to further their own ambitions; relying on men and women who reject the Clans in order to build the power of their Clan!”

“My Khans, I name Clan Burrock as this treacherous cancer in our midst! And I am here today to demand of you that they pay for their crimes!”

“LIES!” thundered Khan De Leon as he surged forward. “We Burrocks are Crusaders, and we follow the will and law of the Clans! This . . . this Scorpion lies today, my Khans, he seeks to delay us once again! To sow discord among us! I will have your life in a Circle of Equals, Scorpion!”

Someone is lying, Khan De Leon,” Ulric Kerensky said smoothly as he stood. “But today, it is not the Scorpion. My Khans, ten days ago, the Wolves and the Scorpions; the Falcons and the Horses; the Adders and the Bears; each of us dispatched our Keshiks to an uninhabited system designated TZB-427. There, we discovered two planetary bodies marginally capable of sustaining life—and a Dark Caste enclave upon each. Today, we have received reports that our Warriors have killed more than two thousand of these bandits—and captured six hundred more for future trial. We have searched their hidden caves, and we have recovered evidence that supports the accusations of the Scorpions.”

Marion Truscott also rose, and he nodded. “And in orbit of one of those worlds, our Keshiks captured a Clan Burrock Odyssey, manned by Warriors and civilian technicians of Clan Burrock. On the surface, our Keshiks captured four DropShips in the colors of Clan Burrock, manned by members of their touman. DropShips filled to the brim with food, medicines, small arms, munitions, and even fifteen old BattleMechs! While on the tarmac of the same makeshift space-port, crates of stolen goods from all of our Clans waited for the Burrocks to take possession of. We have interrogated your Warriors, Khans of Clan Burrock; we have interrogated your allies amongst the bandits. And we will make those interrogations and the evidence they have provided available to any Khan who wishes to view them!”

Paulina Holliday swayed and she nearly fainted, while Henry De Leon only stared at first the Scorpion, then the Wolf, and finally the Adder in shock.

No one in the chamber spoke, until one more voice arose.

Khan Andrew McFadden stood. “We claim the honor of Absorbing the Burrocks; the Spirits have long contested with this dezgra Clan; we claim the right of being the instrument of their destruction!”

Nikolai clapped, slowly and theatrically. “Such courage, the Blood Spirits display. My Khans, were the Burrocks accused of a lesser crime than they are, I would second a call for Absorption. But they are not, my brothers and sisters of Kerensky. They have committed TREASON against all of the Clans, against all which Nicolas Kerensky decreed. You would absorb them? Take into your own Clan their . . . taint? No, my Khans, for what the Burrocks have done, there is but one penalty—Annihilation. They must be destroyed utterly, their civilians sterilized, their possessions melted down into the furnace until they are purged of all the contamination that this act of treachery has infected them with. All Burrock Warriors must die; their Bloodnames must be destroyed; their genetic legacies must be Annihilated.”

Khan McFadden glared at Nikolai. “It is our right! We can purge this from them, and by absorbing them . . .”

“You endanger us all,” Nikolai interrupted. “They cannot survive, their crime is too great to be taken as abtakha. We all desire the isorla, my Khans. We desire their WarShips, and JumpShips, and DropShips, and OmniMechs, and OmniFighters, and their factories. But no, the risk is too great. Their crimes too grave. Annihilation is the only answer.”

Khan Pavel Kerensky of Clan Coyote stood. “And do the Scorpions claim the right of Annihilation then? Khan Djerassi, will you bleed your touman white in such a fight on the very eve of our return to the Inner Sphere?”

“If necessary, yes, the Scorpions will volunteer for such a task. But perhaps a single Clan does not need to Annihilate the Burrocks alone. There are some who will volunteer alongside me to take up that task; a task that is necessary and proper under our laws. A Task that we will share so that no one Clan is weakened prior to the launch of Revival.”

One by one, Ulric Kerensky, Yvonne Hazen, Marion Truscott, Amanda Tseng, and Jake Fletcher stood. Along with Pavel Kerensky, and then Jillian Andrews of the Steel Vipers and Peter McKenna of the Snow Ravens, until one by one at last every Khan and saKhan stood.

Nikolai nodded. “Loremaster, I call for the vote on the Annihilation of Clan Burrock by the combined forces of the loyal Clans of Kerensky.”

Kilbourne Heights, Rose Peninsula, Dratha Continent
Dagda, The Pentagon, Clan Homeworlds
December 25, 3040

Nikolai gazed through the binoculars from his perch atop the high ridge overlooking the Rose Peninsula. The Burrock defenders had pulled back into the port city of Folke—and they were well dug in.

“An Absorption would have been less costly,” his fellow Khan said as Ulric lowered his own binoculars and turned his attention towards Nikolai. “But you had to drive the Clans into a frenzy over Annihilation, didn’t you?”

“Such language, Khan Kerensky!” Nikolai chided with a chuckle as he lowered the viewing glasses. “In fact, I tried my best to whip the Clans into a feeding frenzy for this occasion—and I wasn’t entirely successfully. You will note that, upon the insistence of the Spirits, the Adders, and the Jaguars, Burrock equipment—properly cleansed of their warrior taint, of course—is allowed to be captured as isorla. Along with their industry.” Nikolai laughed. “Assuming that their industry survives this Trial, that is.”

“So far, Khan Djerassi, the Scorpions are the only Clan to profit from that. If I am not mistaken, you seized two Burrock WarShips on the same day as the vote—in a surprise Elemental assault while they were docked at the Dagda Zenith station. An assault without a batchall.”

“Ulric, Ulric, Ulric . . . a Trial of Annihilation has been declared by the Grand Council. All Burrock assets are now legitimate targets to any of us—and a dezgra, corrupt Clan as they deserve no batchall.”

“I agree . . . but it was odd that your troops were already on the station, just waiting for a transmission that you knew would arrive. The Burrock crews had no idea that a Trial of Annihilation had been declared—until your Elementals gunned them down where they stood and took their ships.”

Nikolai smiled at Ulric as he turned slightly to face him. “I believe that you want to ask me a question, Ulric—why did I press so hard for this Annihilation? Quiaff?”

“Aff. I deserve an answer, Nikolai.”

The Scorpion extended his hand towards the three Clusters of Burrocks manning the defenses of Folke far, far below. “I care not one whit for the Burrocks, Ulric Kerensky. Yes, they committed crimes against the Clans for which they deserve so richly this Annihilation. But now their sole purpose is to teach the rest of our Clans the true meaning of war. We have forgotten what it is like to wage war, Khan Kerensky. But now we will see the true horrors; the Burrocks will not hold back in trying to save their own lives—which can now only be accomplished by killing all of the rest of us.” Nikolai’s mouth twisted. “Or by making this War of Annihilation so costly that we give up and leave them alone. Not that I think our fellow Clans will do that; not yet. They believe they are invincible and they have fire in their bellies, Ulric Kerensky, Khan of the Wolves. Let them experience war, at its worst, before we commit to Revival.”

“This is all just a training exercise to you?” The Wolf spat. “Warriors, our warriors, will spill their blood down there and it will not just stop at the Burrock Warrior Caste, Khan Djerassi. They have armed their civilians; that entire city is filled with partisans and insurgents.”

“As it will be in the Inner Sphere, Khan Kerensky; it is for the best if our Warriors learn here, learn now, what the future holds for them. Those who shed their blood for their Clan today—Scorpion, Wolf, or Burrock—they do not do so in vain. Yes, Ulric. This is a training exercise, albeit one on a grand scale. And it will have lessons that all of our Clans must learn from and adapt to—else Revival will be doomed from the very start.”

Nikolai raised the glasses again. “I make out the insignia of four separate units: their Gamma Galaxy Command Trinary, the 8th Battle Cluster, the 78th Burrock Guards, and . . .”

Ulric snorted. “Their 82nd Burrock Guards. You should have your eyes checked, Nikolai.”

“Thank you. My officers reported that at least half of the Dagda garrison withdrew off-planet before the two of us arrived, Ulric; probably to reinforce Albion. That fight will prove a blood-bath and I am not sad that my Clan does not have an enclave there.”

“So how would you suggest that we proceed, Khan Djerassi?”

Nikolai grinned. “First of all, Khan Kerensky, we should offer them terms of surrender.”

Terms of surrender?” Ulric looked at the Scorpion as if he were mad. “This is a Trial of Annihilation, Nikolai!”

“And even so, we are the Clans. We will abide by our own laws and customs, Ulric. We will parley with them under a flag of truce and ask them to lay down their arms and accept the ruling of the Grand Council. They will, of course, refuse. But we will have made the attempt. That is what is important here.”

Ulric stared at his fellow Khan. “Our etiquette is important, quineg?”

Nikolai shook his head. “Not our etiquette, Khan Kerensky; it is our devotion to our own laws and customs which is important. If we, even amidst the horrors of total war allow ourselves to forget that, we become no better than the worst bandit. We lose our honor, and our sense of conscience, Ulric. And if we travel down that road, we will fall into madness and ruin.”


Three hours later, Nikolai and Ulric emerged from a ground car near a small Burrock APC on the outskirts of Folke—beyond the range of even artillery. Clan Wolf forces surrounded the two Khans, making any last-minute Burrock airstrike a forlorn hope. A single Burrock Galaxy Commander awaited them, his APC behind him—an APC already searched, as the Burrock officer himself had been patted down to ensure that he carried neither pistol, knife, nor bomb.

“I am Matt Hutchinson, commander of the Burrock Gamma Galaxy. You requested this parley, gentlemen; for what reason?”

“I, Nikolai Djerassi, Khan of Clan Goliath Scorpion, in conjunction with Khan Ulric Kerensky of Clan Wolf, ask that your Warriors lay down their arms and surrender in accordance with the Grand Council ruling of Annihilation. I give you my word, their deaths will be quick and painless. Your civilian castes will be treated with dignity and will suffer no harm other than sterilization. Your city will remain intact.”

“I cannot do that, Khan Djerassi. My Khan has ordered that we extract a heavy toll in Scorpion and Wolf blood over this Annihilation—and I intend to do just that.”

Nikolai nodded. “Then know this, Galaxy Commander Hutchinson; any civilian caught bearing arms will be subject to summary execution. The collateral damage to your civilian castes—of all ages—will not give us pause. We will burn Folke to the ground and remove it from our histories. Meet us in open and honorable combat, outside of your fortifications; and none of this will come to pass.”

“Neg, Khan Djerassi. If you want the Burrocks dead, you will have to pry us from our chosen ground. The blood of these innocents will be on your hands.”

“Bargained well and done, Galaxy Commander Hutchinson. I will give you, your Warriors, and your civilians two hours to make their peace with what is to come—and then there shall be no quarter.”

Nikolai turned and he returned to the scout car, trailed by Ulric Kerensky, as Hutchinson boarded his APC.

Kilbourne Heights, Rose Peninsula, Dratha Continent
Dagda, The Pentagon, Clan Homeworlds
December 25, 3040

Nikolai watched without any expression on his face as the clock on the field desk ticked closer and closer to noon. He did not watch the clock; his gaze was directed on the distant city far, far below, and Ulric Kerensky shook his head.

“Shouldn’t we be moving out, Khan Djerassi? You have nothing in range to attack with just . . . seventeen seconds remaining to your deadline, after all?”

Nikolai did not answer . . . he only watched the distant city with his hands folded behind his back.

The Wolf Khan shrugged as the seconds slowly ticked away and then, in the distance, Ulric heard the faint scream of aerospace fighter engines in the atmosphere. The scream rapidly crescendoed in volume, and Ulric glanced skyward and he blanched at the sight. More than four hundred Scorpion fighters tore past high overhead and precisely as the clock ticked over to show 12:00:00, the first bombs exploded just within the perimeter of the Burrocks below.

“Eta Galaxy move out and secure a breach—Alpha and Beta follow and exploit. Reserve Artillery Trinarys, begin your bombardment in fifteen seconds from . . . MARK!” Nikolai barked into the radio he held.

“You are committing three Galaxies? In addition to this . . . atrocity of an aerial bombardment?” Ulric gasped, as fasting moving Scorpion ‘Mechs appeared on the plains below, moving at flank speeds to reach the Burrock perimeter still reeling under a curtain of explosions.

“As you yourself said, Khan Kerensky . . . this is a Trial of Annihilation. I offered the Burrock commander the means to end this as honorably as possible. He refused. And I fully accept the consequences of this, Wolf. This is what war is, after all.”

More than four hundred aerospace fighters had now passed by, each laden with—at a minimum—five tons of bombs, some carrying as heavy a load as fifteen tons. And as the final high altitude flight streaked pass, releasing their gifts of death and destruction, forty-five Artillery BattleMechs in the rear began to fire salvo after salvo of artillery rockets. Twenty savloes in all streaked out in a curtain of steel rain that detonated in explosions on the forward Burrock positions as the second-line Warriors of Eta Galaxy closed the distance.

The final salvo went home just scant seconds before the Scorpions Warriors tore into the stunned and stumbling defenders, ripping a gap in their lines over a kilometer in length. And through that breach poured the fresh OmniMechs—the elite OmniMechs—of Alpha and Beta Galaxies.

“Reserve Artillery Trinarys reload and prepare to provide fire support on call,” Nikolai said into the radio. He took his eyes from the burning city below and turned to face Ulric. “Unless your Wolves prefer to observe, Ulric, I would suggest that you order them into the fray,” and he passed the radio phone to the Wolf Khan with an absolutely emotionless face.

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-13 01:37pm

Hall of the Khans, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
July 2, 3041

“And I say the Scorpions deliberately violated the Martial Code of Kerensky in their assault against the Burrocks on Dagda!” Norman Rood shouted out immediately after Loremaster Hawker announced an official end of the Burrock Annihilation War. “They used artillery; they used bombs; they attacked en masse; they showed no concern for collateral damage! My Khans, today is the day that the Scorpions will finally face justice in this sacred hall!”

Nikolai stood. “Come now, Khan Rood,” he said lightly. “You left many charges from your litany: Clan Goliath Scorpion and Clan Wolf accomplished the Annihilation of Clan Burrock on Dagda on the twenty-third day of January, of this year. Less than one standard month of combat operations, my Khans; and the majority of that was running down insurgent and partisan civilians. The Battle of Folke ended in three days of fighting with the complete Annihilation of all members of the Burrock military caste on Dagda.”

The Scorpion descended from his third-tier seat to the well of the Hall and he turned to face all of his fellows. “In comparison, it took almost six months for this Grand Council to declare combat operations on Albion at an end—and that discounts that there are still daily attacks by militant members of the civilian castes that once belonged to Clan Burrock. I need remind no Khan here that this Council of Khans declared the Burrocks as dezgra and criminals, leading to their Annihilation. I need remind none of you of the type of war that the Burrocks engaged in from the start.”

“They hid behind civilians,” Nikolai said quietly. “They refused to fight us in the open and forced our Clans to hunt them down amongst the urban sprawl they had created. They opened their Caches and they gave weapons to every civilian who could carry them, and the most cunning and effective of their civilians did not fight honorably—they planted hidden bombs capable of tearing the legs off a Dire Wolf and gutting a heavy tank! They used napalm and inferno gel like common bandits to burn our Warriors alive. On Paxon, and on Hoard, and on Priori, and on Albion, the Burrocks—one Clan, my Khan—tied us down for months with their dezgra tactics!”

“We all suffered losses during this War, but I will add this: between Clan Goliath Scorpion and Clan Wolf, we suffered a grand total of two hundred and forty-seven dead Warriors with an additional five hundred injured over the entire course of the Second Dagda Campaign. The city fighting in Folke was the source of most of those casualties . . . but what of your losses?”

Nikolai looked out over the assembled Khans. “Khan McFadden, you lost two full Clusters to a single ambush on Albion! There were no survivors. Khan Showers, the Mistweavers of your Beta Galaxy had to rotate off-world when they reported thirty percent killed in action to this Council; my reports indicate it was closer to fifty percent! They rotated out thirty days into the campaign, my Khans! You all have similar losses to your toumans, and each of you know it.”

“And why did we suffer those losses? Because many of you, even though we were fighting an opponent declared as dezgra by this very council chose to engage the Burrocks with zellbrigen remaining in full force. At first, that is. For each of you gradually overcame that, and you adapted your tactics. You used massed aerospace fighter attacks, as did the Scorpions. You used artillery barrages, as did the Scorpions. You did not grant your foe the honor of zellbrigen, as did the Scorpions! You massed your forces and you overwhelmed your enemy, as did the Scorpions!”

“The only difference, my Khans is that we Scorpions did so from the start! And because we did, our losses were far fewer; our objectives were taken faster, fewer resources were laid to waste. Khan Rood calls for Justice to be mete out here today, and I second that call, my Khans! Let us realize what we have learned about fighting a real war and how it differs from our normal set-piece Trials with all of their rules and rituals. By all means, let us seek Justice, my Khans! But let us seek Justice for the Warriors who pay for our mistakes with their lives!”

Murmurs of whispers carried through the Hall as Nikolai climbed the steps and sat once more; and then Norman Rood stood again. “The difference, Khan Djerassi, is that we attempted to fight in an honorable fashion until our opponents proved they were unworthy. You did not wait. Your Clan abandoned honorable combat from the start.”

Ulric Kerensky winced and he stood to face Norman Rood. “Khan Rood, you are mistaken. Khan Djerassi gave the Burrocks an honorable way to avoid the fate they suffered—he called upon them to lay down their arms and surrender, and the city would have been spared. The Burrocks refused. He called upon them to meet our forces in open battle, without their fortifications and civilian auxiliary. The Burrocks refused again. He gave them two opportunities to behave in an honorable fashion—opportunities that the Burrocks chose to ignore.”

The Wolf Khan shook his head, carefully considering his words. “While I cannot, and will not, condone the actions ordered by the Khan of the Scorpions, I agree with him that the measures he took to quickly end our campaign on Dagda spared the lives of many of my Warriors. Should he have waited until one or two or three Clusters had been bled white before he resorted to such tactics? Perhaps, but we did declare the Burrocks dezgra. And his tactics, while repulsive on their face, are certainly allowed against bandits. And I will mention this: that while he decided to employ aerial bombardment and artillery strikes, he did not resort to orbital bombardment from WarShips, as the Hellions were forced to engage in on Priori in order to claim victory!”

“That was after they assassinated my saKhan!” Norman Rood screamed, as two more Khans restrained him. “I turned that city into a pyre fit for a Khan, after the Burrocks used a sniper to murder him away from the field of battle!”

“And yet, you consider that action, while provoked, to be less against the Will of Kerensky than what the Scorpions did on Dagda, Khan Rood?” Ulric continued calmly. “My Khans, we have much to absorb from this . . . Annihilation War . . . I suggest that the Council postpone further debate on Revival until we are all able to bring our toumans back to full strength.”

Khan Amanda Tseng shook her head sadly. “I concur with the Wolf. We must, for the moment, rebuild our strength—and study these actions in detail. Can we presume that those in the Inner Sphere will not fight as fanatically in defense of their homes and their realms, quiaff?”

“They have lesser weapons, Khan Tseng,” Leo Showers said glumly, but he held up a placating hand. “Still, your point is taken. We need time to rebuild, and to integrate what little isorla we captured into our own ranks—and the former Burrock civilians on Albion need to be quashed.”

“Very well,” said the Loremaster and she slammed down her gavel. “We will reconvene six months from this day to discuss the vote on Operation Revival. We are adjourned.”

Hall of the Khans, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
June 6, 3042

“The Khans of the Clans of Kerensky, having voted in unanimity . . .” Melissa Hawker had to stop and get her breathing under control before she could continue. “I hereby declare that Operation Revival is authorized! The word GO has been spoken for the Invasion of the Inner Sphere!”

Uncharacteristically for the Clans, the emotion of the moment was far above what these assembled men and women normally allowed themselves to show. The Ghost Bear Khan was weeping—weeping—in joy, and on this occasion, even the Jaguar and Raven Khans clasped their forearms as brother Warriors, not as the heads of rival Clans. Mark Steiner, the saKhan of the Cloud Cobras was on his knees and he crossed himself in the symbol of his faith, his head lowered in prayer. The Khans of Clan Nova Cat danced, and even Nikolai felt his heart lurch as those long-awaited—half-dreaded—words were finally spoken.

It took the Khans twenty minutes to pull themselves back from that emotional high and finally, an elated Melissa Hawker gaveled the assembly to order. “My Khans, I summon Khan Nikolai Djerassi of Clan Goliath Scorpion and Khan Marion Truscott of Clan Star Adder to brief us on the details of Operation Revival.”

The two Khans stood and made their way to the well, where they halted and then turned to face the assembled Khans of the Clans.

“It has been a long road, my Khans,” Nikolai said, “but soon enough our Warriors will begin liberating the Inner Sphere. There remains only a single task which must be performed before the Invasion itself can be launched.”

Nikolai lifted a remote and the lights of the Hall dimmed and a holographic projection sprang into existence from a projector built into the floor. The projection showed the outer edge of the near Periphery, and a small collection of systems united together.

“These are the Chainelaine Isles, my Khans.”

Rumbles of laughter rose up from the Smoke Jaguar Khan. “You are not suggesting that we whet our claws on Chainelaine, quineg? Sibkin could put up more of a defense!”

“Neg, Khan Showers,” Nikolai answered with bow. “Chainelaine poses no military threat to the invasion. But they are key to the Invasion’s success!”

“Explain yourself, Scorpion,” growled the Jaguar.

“My Khans, when we launch Revival our fighting toumans will be six months distance from the Homeworlds. From our factories that produce spare parts, OmniMechs, aerospace fighters, munitions; six months from the farms which produce our food. We will have to bring everything we require with us—and we must predict a half-year in advance exactly what parts and supplies we will need! We all know from the War of Burrock Annihilation how even here, amidst our homes, we suffered problems with our logistical supply lines in supporting such an intensive operation.”

Nikolai put his arms behind his back and he paced forward. “Those problems will be magnified a hundred-fold in Revival, my Khans.”

Marion Truscott stepped up and he nodded in agreement. “We propose that the Grand Council authorize an immediate Expeditionary Force from our Clans to set forth at once and seize the Isles, my Khans! Among their number, this Expedition will include tens of thousands of Scientists, Merchants, Technicians, and Laborers, and will bear with them pre-fabricated factories AND orbital manufacturing stations which they will establish upon these worlds.”

“There are ten systems in the Isles,” Nikolai continued. “With perhaps a single Brigade of troops—conventional infantry and armor for the most part, with no more than a Battalion of BattleMechs in support—to defend them. Seizing them will be child’s play. Once they are taken, we will indoctrinate these outsiders into the Ways of the Clans—we will use the Chainelaine Isles to learn the best methods for doing so—and we will transform this minor Periphery State from a back-water of isolation into our depot worlds!”

“My Khans!” Nikolai thundered. “Our supplies will not have to be transported from the Homeworlds tying up a majority of our merchant fleets. NO! Our munitions, our spare parts, replacement OmniMechs, aerospace fighters, combat vehicles, Elemental battle armor, even DropShips and JumpShips will be manufactured here! In these blessed Isle that lie just weeks from your fighting toumans during the Invasion. And along with those factories, those mines, those orbital manufacturing centers, those shipyards in orbit, the fuel processing facilities, we will warehouse millions of tons of war material to ensure that our toumans have all that they need to make Revival a success!”

Khan Raymond Tanaga stood. “This will require time, Khan Djerassi; Khan Truscott. A year, perhaps even two to bring those pre-fabricated facilities on-line. How can we tell our Warriors to delay in sight of the very rim of the Inner Sphere?”

“Yes,” Khan Showers said as he stood. “They will strain at the leash, my Khans. I agree that these depots must be built—but build them as we drive for Terra! Lest our Warriors take it upon themselves to show you the right course of action!”

Nikolai smiled. “Khan Showers, my old friend, are you suggesting that the Jaguar leadership has lost control of its Warriors? That you are unable to make them obey your commands?”

Not a breath was drawn and silence grew across the Hall as the Jaguar and Scorpion glared at each other. “My Warriors will obey my orders, Scorpion—will yours?”

“Aff. And so long as we, the Khans, hold firm, there will be no Warriors leaping forward to ‘show us the right course of action’. We will need the Isles to serve as our depot, and I would request that the Khans confirm this step in our plans.” Nikolai paused and then Marion cleared his throat, and then added. “In addition, we ask that the Ravens be allowed to remove the two Newgrange-class yard-ships from the Clan caches and restore them to service; once they are fit for duty, we ask the Grand Council that these yard-ships be stationed in the Isles to service any damaged JumpShips or WarShips during the Invasion.”

Peter McKenna stared at the two standing in the well for several moments before he blinked and then stood. “We can restore those ships in six months, my Khans. Less would take a miracle.”

Nikolai nodded. “That is sufficient, Khan McKenna.”

“If there is no more debate,” started Melissa Hawker, “then perh- . . .”

“Wait!” shouted Stephen Devalis, saKhan of Clan Nova Cat. “Before we decide upon this, we must first have an ilKhan. I call for the election of an ilKhan to lead the Warriors of Kerensky!”

Approving mutters whispered across the well and seeing how the Khans were reacting, Nikolai nodded as well. “I second the motion, Loremaster. Perhaps if we might have a recess to confer with each other, then we can reconvene to vote on the election of an ilKhan and to approve the Chainelaine Expedition.”

“Without objection,” the Diamond Shark Loremaster proclaimed; and before any Khan could object, she slammed the gavel, “so ordered! We stand in recess until 1000 hours tomorrow morning.”

Hall of the Goliath Scorpion, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
June 6, 3042

Amanda Tseng sighed as sank into one of the overstuffed chairs surrounded the crackling fireplace. “It is, upon occasion, good to be feted by such an unrepentant hedonist, Nikolai,” she said as she swirled her brandy gently. A statement which caused the Scorpion’s other four guests to chuckle.

Jake Fletcher, Marion Truscott, Ulric Kerensky, and Yvonne Hazen each had a seat for themselves, with Nikolai in the final one. He raised his own glass in salute to the Ghost Bear, and softly said, “To our fallen brothers and sisters,” before the others responded with “Seyla!” and each took a sip.

“The excellence of the dinner aside—and the delight of the company—I think we now have business to discuss,” the Khan of Hell’s Horses said as he sat down his snifter. He did take up one of the hand-rolled cigars from Nikolai’s humidor, which he placed within his mouth and brought to life from a glowing ember he extracted from the fire.

Ulric waved away the smoke and scowled at the Horse in distaste, but he nodded his head. “The Wardens—most of the Wardens,” he corrected as he stared at Nikolai, “have pledged to nominate and support me as ilKhan. Your fellow Crusaders—with your own saKhan leading the charge, Yvonne—are squarely behind Leo Showers. Showers will be an unmitigated . . . disaster,” Ulric said as he shook his head, “if he is elected. The man has no strategic sensibilities at all.”

“And you cannot secure enough votes to win, Ulric,” Nikolai said. “Even if I and every Khan in this room supported you, you would need two more votes just to tie the Jaguar. We need another candidate.”

Ulric snorted. “You?

“No,” Nikolai answered. “I have angered too many Khans over the years—the Wardens and some Crusaders might support me, but not the majority. Nor, I am sad to say, will they cast their ballot for Marion—although his work on Revival has convinced me that he would make an outstanding ilKhan. Your Adders are just too conservative in battle, my friend; the Crusaders fear that you would hobble them as much as Ulric there.”

“I take no offense, Nikolai,” the Adder said. “And I agree—I cannot gain the votes. Nor can Jake, despite his skill, or Amanda.” Marion Truscott’s voice trailed off and now everyone was staring at Yvonne Hazen—except Ulric Kerensky who just kept glaring at Nikolai.

“You cannot be serious!” the Falcon Khan exclaimed. “I am the oldest of the Khans; my saKhan disagrees with me on most issues; I do not want the damn job!”

“Since when has what we wanted actually meant anything, Khan Hazen?” asked Nikolai. “We have our duty—Ulric has not the votes to win and Showers does. But, if Showers wins, he will rush; he will throw your Clan into the fire without support, without the supplies you need, he will be the disaster that Ulric claims in truth. For all our Clans, Yvonne.”

“But you,” Nikolai continued in that soft voice. “You are a Khan of the Jade Falcons; a Crusader whose honors in battle surpass that of the Jaguar. If you are on the ballot, Ulric and I can convince a number of Wardens to throw their support to you—rather than see a brutal Smoke Jaguar put in command of us all. And the Crusaders—many of them—will flock to you, Yvonne. For they well know your cunning, your intelligence, your skill in a cockpit of an OmniMech. Our lives have never been about want; they have all revolved around our duty. And ilKhan Yvonne Hazen, tonight your duty calls you to wage one final campaign.”

Amanda Tseng nodded, and she whispered, “Seyla.”

One by one, the rest of the fireside council, as the six Khans had named these meetings, nodded in agreement until Yvonne at last surrendered and added her own. And then she laughed. “Elias Crichell will be torn between fury at my interference with his campaign to get Showers elected and the joy over his possibility of becoming the Khan of the Falcons in my stead. He will not like the Turkina Keshik being removed the Falcon touman, however.”

“Perhaps we can avoid that, Yvonne,” Marion Truscott said with slight smile.

“How? Are you suggesting that the ilKhan have no escort?”

“Neg. We intend—after your election—to propose that every Clan gift our new ilKhan with a Star of Warriors to be added to the Ebon Keshik. Sixteen stars of Warriors, Yvonne, to add to the three already assigned.”

Nikolai nodded in agreement. “And not just Elementals, Khan Hazen. We are calling for a balanced contribution of volunteers—OmniMechs, OmniFighters, combat vehicles, and Elementals. Enough to expand the Ebon Keshik to a reinforced Cluster of six Trinary formations and a Star of the ilKhan’s Guard. The Ebon Keshik Cluster will accompany you into the Inner Sphere.”

“What of their duties here?”

“We will make a second call for an expansion of the Katyusha Keshik by the same amount—sixteen Stars. They will assume the duties of the Ebon Keshik here on Strana Mechty—and aboard Prinz Eugen—in the absence of the ilKhan gone to lead the Invasion.”

“Warriors from every Clan—how will they not hold their Clan first?”

“We will select only the finest of volunteers—Warriors who are willing to put their Clan behind them to serve their ilKhan, Yvonne,” Jake Fletcher added. “No Khan will want to be seen as sending the ilKhan second-rate Warriors, and you can always reject the ones they send and demand others. That is a prerogative of the ilKhan, I believe.”

Yvonne nodded her head, and she slowly smiled. “Why yes, Jake, I believe that it is. I will have to dig through the archives and find those powers given to the ilKhan . . .” she stopped and began to laugh as Nikolai, Jake, and Marion extended datapads with the information already downloaded.

Then her laugh came to an end. “Understand this . . . I will be no puppet and I will tolerate no insubordination.”

Ulric laughed. “Yvonne, although surprised at the turn of events tonight, I believe that I can safely say you will never be a puppet. And I pity the Warrior or Khan who shows his insolence to you.”

“In that case, my Khans, your ilKhan demands another round of desert. That cake was positively divine, Nikolai!”

And all six Khans began to laugh.

Jedi Master
Posts: 1039
Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm

Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-13 02:04pm

Hall of the Khans, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
June 7, 3042

The last of the Khans slowly made their way to their seats as Loremaster Hawker emerged on the dais. There was an . . . electricity in the room, a palatable sense of elation and confidence among the thirty-two surviving Khans of the Clans of Kerensky. Today, for the first time in ninety-four years, an ilKhan would be elected to lead the Combined Clans to Glory. Even those of the most ardent Warden Clan could taste the elation.

The final Khan sat and Loremaster Hawker nodded. “I open the floor for nominations to the office of ilKhan,” she said simply. Elias Crichell began to stand, but then she continued speaking. “Khan Jake Fletcher of Hell’s Horses, the floor is yours.”

The saKhan of the Jade Falcons glared at the Shark Loremaster, but she ignored him, and Crichell sat as the Horse Khan stood. “It has been almost ninety-four years to the day since Tobias Khatib was stripped of his title and executed for his crimes. Throughout the century since, we have held the office of ilKhan as vacant . . . until now. Now comes the time when we are preparing to unleash our might and restore that which has fallen. The Star League of our Great Father, Aleksandyr Kerensky is on the verge of being renewed from the ashes, like the Phoenix of old.”

“And so it is that in this time, we require one leader from the Khans, one voice with which to direct our efforts. We need an ilKhan. I submit to you, trothkin, there is but one among us who has earned the right to this high office. Who possesses the character and the intelligence and the skill as a Warrior to lead us into Victory. There is one Khan seated here today, who can unite our Clans into an unstoppable juggernaut that will not pause until we have Liberated all of Humanity from their Oppressors!”

“That Khan, our future ilKhan, sits here among us today, trothkin,” Jake lowered his voice to a whisper, and he turned to face the Khan of the Smoke Jaguars, who smiled at his fellow Crusader. Jake smiled back in reply. “She has proven her worth in a hundred battles. She has earned the most prestigious Blood Name of her Clan. She has given to all of us her counsel through the years and though she is a Crusader, she does not ignore the Warden Clans among us. She listens and she debates and she fights as the purest avatar of a true Khan of Nicolas Kerensky’s vision.”

Leo Showers smile began to fade at the word she, and as Jake Fletcher continued, his face began to flush with a hot rage.

Trothkin,” the Horses Khan finished, “I place before you in nomination for this high office, the name of Yvonne Hazen, the Khan of Clan Jade Falcon.” And then he sat, as frenzied whispers began to circle the chamber. Elias Crichell looked stunned and his mouth gaped open as he simply stared at his Khan, as Melissa Hawker banged her gavel.

“Khan Ulric Kerensky, of Clan Wolf, the floor is yours,” she said. And the whispers vanished as Ulric stood and he gravely nodded.

“To hold the office of ilKhan, one must be a Warrior. None here can deny that Yvonne Hazen is a Warrior true-born and an exemplary one at that. One must have wisdom, and all Khans here who have spoken with her know that Yvonne Hazen is wise. One must be a proven leader who has managed to preserve her Clan through times of crisis! She has done so. Through the long years of our exile, trothkin, it is no secret that my Wolves and Yvonne Hazen’s Falcons have contended with each other—some days with words, some days with OmniMechs! We disagree on much; she is a Crusader, whereas I am a Warden. But despite all of that, my Khans, she possesses the final requirement of an ilKhan. Yvonne Hazen knows honor. She lives her life and conducts herself in all things with true honor. As all but one ilKhan before her have done.”

Ulric paused and he turned his gaze over his brother and sister Khans one by one. “I second the nomination of Yvonne Hazen, Loremaster. And I pledge to her the support of Clan Wolf! And I would ask my Warden trothkin who believe that I may stand in nomination for this office to lay aside their hopes at seeing a Warden take the office; for I will decline any such nomination to the rank of ilKhan. I ask that they consider my own choice in the matter, and vote to confirm Yvonne Hazen of Clan Jade Falcon as the Seventh ilKhan of the Clans; the successor to Nicolas Kerensky and our leader.”

Ulric took his seat once more, as Leo Showers stared at the Khans in dawning horror at how his foes had conspired to rob him of his rightful office.

“Are there any other names to placed in nomination?” the Loremaster asked, and still Elias Crichell appeared stunned and unable to speak. But then Jillian Andrews, Khan of the Steel Vipers, and bitter foe of the Falcons stood. “We cannot follow a Falcon, my Khans! Let alone one so old! We need new leadership, strong leadership, for this time of renewal! I submit to you the name of Leo Showers in nomination for ilKhan—he will lead us to Glory!”

“Is there a second?”

Elias Crichell began to rise, but then he shook his head and he remained sitting, and Leo Showers face darkened still more into a deep shade of puce. Finally, his own saKhan, Brandon Howell, stood. “I second the nomination of Leo Showers!”

“Are there further nominations?”

Marion Truscott stood. “Loremaster I move that the nominations be closed and the matter carried to a vote.”

“Seconded,” said Amanda Tseng.

“Without objection, so ordered,” the Loremaster said with a quick strike of her gavel. “I call the vote: Clan Blood Spirit?”

“We . . . abstain,” said Khan Andrew McFadden, and her saKhan Helen Schmidt nodded agreement.

“Clan Cloud Cobra?”

saKhan Mark Steiner whispered in the ear of his Khan, and then Karen Telinov stood. “Cloud Cobra casts both ballots for Yvonne Hazen.”

“Clan Coyote?”

Pavel Kerensky, Khan of the Coyotes stood; his saKhan Zachariah Koga remained sitting. “The Coyote honors Yvonne Hazen with our votes.”

“Clan Diamond Shark?”

Khan Olivia Sutherland stood after a brief whispered conversation with her saKhan, Daniel Clarke. “The Sharks cast one ballot each for Yvonne Hazen and Leo Showers, Loremaster.”

“Clan Fire Mandrill?”

Raymond Tanaga did not wait for his saKhan (Jorge Payne) as he stood. “We stand behind Yvonne Hazen,” but true to the factious nature of the Mandrills, Payne too stood! “He stands behind the Falcon; I cast my ballot for Leo Showers!”

“Clan Ghost Bear?”

Amanda Tseng stood, while Eric Jorgensson just smiled. “The Ghost Bears are united in support of Yvonne Hazen! Long may our ilKhan reign over our Victories yet to come!”

“Clan Goliath Scorpion?”

“We cast our ballots in support of Yvonne Hazen, Loremaster,” Nikolai said, and Randall Posavatz nodded in agreement.

“Clan Hell’s Horses?”

Jake Fletcher stood, and his saKhan, Raphael Mendoza nodded approval. “Tally two more votes for Yvonne Hazen, Loremaster. The Herd has spoken.”

“Clan Ice Hellion?”

Norman Rood jumped to his feet, but his saKhan Bridgette Bragg remained seated. “We vote for Leo Showers!”

“Clan Jade Falcon?”

Yvonne laughed. “I cast my ballot for myself, of course, Loremaster. How say you Elias?” she asked her saKhan, and the junior Falcon at last stood. “Loremaster, I-I . . . vote for my Khan, Yvonne Hazen, to be elected as ilKhan of the Clans.”

“Clan Nova Cat?”

Marius West and Stephen Devalis, Khan and saKhan stood. “Yvonne Hazen will lead our Clans well; she has our votes and our full support.”

“Clan Smoke Jaguar?”

A rather furious Leo Showers stood, and his saKhan Brandon Howell just shook his head in disbelief. “The Jaguars support me—they will always support me.”

“Clan Snow Raven?”

Khan Peter McKenna nodded sharply as he stood, his saKhan Damien Crow at his side. “Our ballots are cast for Yvonne Hazen, Loremaster.”

“Clan Star Adder?”

Marion Truscott shook his head, and Jean N’Buta chuckled from her seat. “Does it matter, Loremaster? But for the record, Clan Star Adder casts its ballots for Yvonne Hazen.”

“Clan Steel Viper?”

Jillian Andrews did not bother standing, nor did her saKhan Ian Monet. “The Viper stands for Leo Showers!”

“Clan Wolf?”

“For Yvonne Hazen, of course,” answered Ulric Kerensky, and Garth Radick nodded his affirmation.

“My Khans having voted, the tally is 22 votes for Yvonne Hazen, 8 for Leo Showers, and two abstentions. Khan Showers, if you wish to call for a Trial of Refusal over this vote, the odds will be 2.75 against 1.”

Leo Showers slowly stood. “I will not contest the will of my fellow Khans in this matter—there will be no Trial of Refusal.”

Melissa Hawker nodded. “There being no Trial of Refusal called, I hereby declare that the Grand Council has elected Yvonne Hazen as ilKhan! Long may she reign over our Glory! Seyla!”


Clan Goliath Scorpion Field Headquarters, Elamport
Dagda, Pentagon Cluster, Clan Homeworlds
August 17, 3042

“Warriors, we have obtained the exclusive rights to the world of Rondane in the Chainelaine Isles through your efforts in these Trials,” Nikolai paused and he smiled as three dimensional holographic map of Rondane appeared in the briefing room. On the wall monitor, a star chart of the Isles and surrounding space also appeared—showing Rondane as the farthest of the Isles from the Inner Sphere.

“That is correct, Warriors,” Nikolai continued as the men and women of his Beta Galaxy, the Sand Runners shook their heads. “Rondane is on the very outskirts of the Chainelaine worlds—and our trothkin in the other Clans spent their time and energy on worlds closer to the Inner Sphere. We were the only Clan to submit a bid for Rondane in the first round—and even when the Nova Cats chose this world in the second round, you prevailed. The other Khans ignored the data our scouts have acquired on the these worlds, it seems. Rondane is the farthest of the Isles, but it is also the richest in mineral wealth. Wealth that has not been efficiently extracted, my Warriors. That is an oversight we Scorpions will soon correct,” he finished with a chuckle, and genuine laughter rang out among the officers of Beta Galaxy. Even the free-birth Warriors who commanded the four Provisional Garrison Clusters Nikolai had assigned to the Expedition smiled.

“Many of you,” the Khan continued, “are asking why I would possibly assign an entire Galaxy of front-line troops, augmented by four Provisional Garrison Clusters to seize this world. It is a reasonable question, Warriors—because three Trinary could take this planet. You are assigned to the Chainelaine Expedition because I expect you to defend Rondane against our fellow Clans! By and large, many are not taking our purpose here seriously. Other than we Scorpions and the Star Adders, the largest force of civilians being sent is 50,000 from Clan Diamond Shark. The Jaguars are sending just a tithe of that amount, planning on stocking their factories with laborers culled from the existing population. They think all they need are overseers and guards. They are wrong, my Scorpions.”

“Your eight Clusters will garrison Rondane and incorporate the population of that world into our Clan. In addition to the sixteen Odyssey-class JumpShips assigned to your units directly, you will be escorting thirty-two more; with those ships carrying supplies and cargo and no fewer than two hundred thousand Scorpion civilians. The Fire Wheel, Wild Hunt, and Far Seeker Naval Stars will also be part of this mission, carrying a further three hundred thousand civilians and their supplies! Warriors! We will colonize Rondane with a half million Scorpions in this first wave.”

Nikolai waited and then Galaxy Commander Hans Myers stood. “My Khan, did you say the first wave?”

“Aff, Galaxy Commander,” the Khan answered. “Naval Stars Fire Wheel and Wild Hunt, in company with the thirty-two JumpShips mobilized from our Merchant Fleet will return to the Pentagon and return in six months with a second wave. We have made plans for four waves in total—two million civilians from our lower Castes will transform this world into part of the Nest.”

“This effort will tax our Clan to the upmost, but in the end we will have a new world, with new resources, and fresh factories that will supply us during Revival. Now, shall we discuss the nature of your new world, my Scorpions?”

“Rondane,” he said as he pointed to the revolving map, “is a world slightly cooler than normal Scorpion preferences. Orbiting its star at 1.2 AU, the planet is temperate on the equator, and the far southern and northern latitudes are frozen. The world is geologically active and there are numerous mountain ranges—and abundant supplies of fresh water. Of the five continents, only the three mid-latitude are inhabited, each of which we will seize from the Rondanites. The original settlers of this world were Norwegian, and they speak Norwegian predominately, although most have English as a second language. Total population of the entire planet is just sixteen million—although that should increase dramatically very shortly,” Nikolai chuckled again, and this time his entire audience laughed.

“Galaxy Commander Myers has your exact assignments, and he will rule over Rondane until Operation Revival begins in full. He has a complete briefing for you Warriors, your exact targets, expected opposition, and your garrison assignments. But before he begins, I will have a word with you.”

Nikolai looked out over the assembled officers even as the first of many DropShips settled down on the nearby spaceport tarmac.

“We are not Jaguars. We are not Falcons. We are not Horses, nor are we Wolves. We are Scorpions! And those civilians on Rondane, they will become Scorpions. We will treat them with respect; we will give them time to adapt to our ways and our customs—and we too must adapt to them. If we do not, there will come a day when our cultures clash and blood will be spilled. It is beneath you, Scorpion Warriors, to spill the blood of civilians without cause. It is criminal to deliberately provoke civilians into giving you that cause.”

“The people of Rondane are joining the Nest. We will treat them as we treat all of our civilians. On the subject of bondsmen; they may be free-birth, but we Scorpions are no strangers to free-birth within our ranks. Any who you believe will make a good Warrior for the Clan, we will test and we will train and we will adopt as Warriors.”

“Bear in mind, that these people are lacking many of the technologies we take for granted. Many still mine ores with picks and shovels—hand-powered picks and shovels, my Scorpions. It is a very different place where you are going. And you, the first Scorpion expedition to ever officially leave the Homeworlds, you will show these outsiders, for the first time in history, who we Scorpions are. I expect each of you, be he a front-line Warrior or an infantryman in the 104th Provisional Garrison Cluster, to show them the Scorpion at his finest.”

“I leave you now—but I will join you on Rondane in three years. And then, we will turn our sights on the Inner Sphere. Prove to me, Scorpions of Rondane, that we are doing the task that the Great Father set before us. Prove that to the Universe.”

Nikolai snapped to attention and he locked his arm across his chest in the Scorpion salute. “SEYLA, WARRIORS!”

Each Star Commander, Star Captain, Star Colonel, and Galaxy Commander leapt to his feet and returned the salute. “SEYLA!”

Hall of the Khans, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
September 1, 3042

“This plan devised by the Adders and Scorpions is a travesty, ilKhan Hazen!” thundered Leo Showers from the well. “The force these two Khans advocate bringing against the Inner Sphere is far too excessive; all sixteen Clans operating on a broad front from Newtown Square in the Lyran Commonwealth to Bjarred in the Draconis Combine. Sixteen Clans! The plan originally advocated by Elias Crichell and myself called for FOUR Clans in the same space!” The Jaguar paused and he glared at Nikolai who sat calmly at his desk.

“Tell me Khan of the Scorpions, are you that great a coward that you feel you must have overwhelming force to achieve your objectives!”

The Scorpion stood amid an absolutely silent Hall. No one even dared to draw a breath.

“If the Khan of the Jaguars believes his accusation to be true, he is welcome to test that assertion on the field of battle,” Nikolai said in a clipped voice. “But perhaps he should do well to remember instead the last time a Scorpion Khan faced the Jaguars in direct battle? Who needed the overwhelming force on that occasion?” The corner of Nikolai’s mouth curved into a smile that revealed his teeth. “Of course, that same overwhelming force did not prevent Mikhail Kirov from killing Lucien Moon, quiaff?”

A soprano voice cut into the debate before Showers could respond. “Enough! Both of you! This is the Great Hall of the Khans, not some hastily drawn Circle of Equals!” Yvonne Hazen stood and she walked to interpose herself between the two men. Nikolai nodded and he sat, and then Leo Showers found his seat as well.

“Khan Showers, the plan you and the Khan of the Jade Falcons propose is too . . . constricted. In this, the arguments made by the Goliath Scorpion and Star Adder Khans are correct. It is folly to propose that the governments of the Inner Sphere will fold in the face of our superior technology . . . remember the Taurian Campaign of the Reunification War? They did not. Remember the Rim Worlds Army that held the Hegemony against the Great Father? They did not. We cannot depend upon these modern powers to collapse either.”

“And yet, I cannot endorse what Khans Truscott and Djerassi have presented to us: sixteen Clans, each committing no less than three-quarters of its touman! No, that would too much of our resources dedicated to this Invasion. Such a force would denude the Homeworlds of virtually every Merchant caste JumpShip just to remain supplied. Commerce and trade amongst our enclaves would crawl to a halt and then die. No, we cannot sustain such an effort.”

She paused and looked out over the assembled Khans. “Therefore, I suggest a compromise. We will retain the assigned corridors, but instead of sixteen lanes, we will consolidate to eight. Eight Clans will have the honor of assaulting the Inner Sphere—and we will determine those eight in a series of Trials.” She lifted a remote and the image shifted, the sixteen invasion corridors merging into eight. “Corridor Alpha in the Lyran Commonwealth,” and the western most invasion route lit, followed by each succeeding lane in sequence until the final one illuminated and shone a brilliant gold, “to Corridor Eta in the Draconis Combine. The Clan who performs best in the Trials will choose one of these Invasion Corridors, with the next seven finishers behind him. For this Trial, I am limiting each Clan to one Cluster of troops—no more than eighteen Stars in total strength. Not, I am certain, that any of the Khans here today would even consider building a new Cluster to greater strength, quineg?”

A few of the Khans answered the ilKhan, “Neg.”

Yvonne frowned. “I cannot hear you, my Khans. Quineg?”

“NEG!” the Khans roared back and she nodded, smiling slightly. “The eight Clans who prove their prowess in battle will be given the honor of assigned an Invasion Corridor as an active participant. But, not with three-quarters of our touman—nor with the lowest possible bid against the cutdown. Each active Clan will be asked to assign three Galaxies of troops, plus any command Keshiks, of their touman. There will also be a call for Provisional Garrison Clusters, and I agree with the Adder and Scorpion Khans on this point—active Clans will contribute one-half of their total PGC strength to garrison the worlds that they seize.”

“As for the remaining eight Clans of Kerensky, you are not forgotten. Each Invasion Corridor will have an Active Clan and a Reserve Clan. Each Reserve Clan may commit two Galaxies to the Invasion, which may be activated by Khan of the Clan that shares their invasion lane. In addition, each Reserve Clan will also commit one-half of their total PGC strength to this operation—and reserve PGCs may be activated separately from the Reserve Clans front-line forces.” Yvonne held up a hand to forestall the protests. “If they are so activated, the world which they garrison will be deemed as belonging to the Reserve Clan.”

The mumbled whispers died away as each of the Khans began to calculate—the active Clans would need the Reserve, that much was clearly evident in the scale of the attack. And if they were then given the worlds they were charged with holding—without suffering the casualties of battle to begin with . . . several Khans slowly nodded their agreement.

“Of course,” Yvonne smiled as she spoke directly to Leo Showers. “Any Clan that does not wish to use their Reserves does not have to activate them. I have no intention of forcing any Khan to do so.”

She ascended the dais again and took her seat. “Since it is imperative that the Clans operating together, Active and Reserve alike, in a single lane do so with one purpose; there will be no bidding by the eight Reserve Clans for a lane. Each Active Clan may request a Clan of the Reserve to join in their Corridor—the Khan of the Reserve Clan may select which offer he feels best suits his Clan. In the event that no Active Clan selects a Reserve Clan, that Reserve Clan will be assigned by ME and my staff.”

“There are more details, of course, but my Khans,” Yvonne said with a coquettish smile as folded her hands together in her lap. “I believe this compromise is most fair. The architects of our original two plans are all displeased with it—which leads me to believe that we can reach a consensus. Now, as soon as this plan is approved, we can start arranging for the multiple Trials that will undertaken here on Strana Mechty to determine your status as either an Active Clan or a Reserve Clan.”

“Shall we call the vote, my Khans?”

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-13 02:33pm

Interlude: Clan Goliath Scorpion

Here are my thoughts on the Scorpion touman for this AU; there are some quite large changes as compared to canon.

In the decade since Khan Kirov began his reorganization of the Clan, the Scorpion’s touman has expanded and adopted a new organizational scheme. There are now just three types of Scorpion Clusters: Cuirassier (assault, heavy, and medium ‘Mechs), Dragoons (heavy, medium, and light ‘Mechs), and Hussars (medium and light ‘Mechs). Each consists of six (6) Trinary formations, arranged as shown below:

Command Trinary: 12 ‘Mechs, 10 Elementals, 2 Aerospace Fighters.
1st Assault Trinary: 10 ‘Mechs; 25 Elementals
2nd Assault Trinary: 10 ‘Mechs; 25 Elementals
Battle Trinary: 5 ‘Mechs; 25 Elementals; 10 Aerospace Fighters
Striker Trinary: 10 ‘Mechs; 10 Aerospace Fighters
Reserve Trinary: 50 Elementals; 10 Aerospace Fighters

This gives the total (book) strength of a Cluster 47 ‘Mechs, 135 Elementals, and 32 Aerospace Fighters, transported by two Odyssey-class JumpShips, six Scorpion-class DropShips, and supported by one Death Dancer-class Assault DropShip, and one Auroch-class Cargo/Repair DropShip (with one of its cargo hold converted into a repair facility).

You will notice that there has been a renumbering of certain Clusters. Khan Kirov decreed that each Cluster number (i.e. 24th Scorpion Cuirassier, 1st Scorpion Dragoon, etc.) would not be duplicated. This caused certain units to be renumbered. Also, the Uhlan and Grenadier Clusters have been converted into one of the three standard formations.

Total Strength as of January 1, 3041, at 100% of book value (which almost NO unit, especially in the wake of the Burrock Annihilation will be), is as follows: 1,363 ‘Mechs, 4,915 Elementals, 1,228 Aerospace Fighters, 24 WarShips, 80 Odyssey-class JumpShips, and 423 DropShips. These numbers include 1,000 Marine Elementals, 300 Aerospace Fighters, 45 Assault DropShips, and 132 Cargo DropShips assigned to the Clan’s WarShips (each Potemkin normally carries 2 Death Dancers and 23 other DropShips). Nor does this include the Scorpion Merchant Fleet, which consists of an additional 100 Odyssey-class JumpShips (twenty of which are in mothballs) and four hundred cargo DropShips.

Scorpion Table of Organization and Equipment (3041)

Knife Dance Keshik (Scorpion’s Destiny) (Elite)
Note: The Knife Dance Keshik is a full Cluster, classified as a Cuirassier unit. It is the premier unit of Clan Goliath Scorpion.

Alpha Galaxy (The Rock Minders)
24th Scorpion Cuirassier (The Khan's Own) (Elite)
25th Scorpion Cuirassier (The Scorpions of the Veil) (Elite)
8th Scorpion Dragoons (The Whip-Tail Brigade) (Elite)
14th Scorpion Hussars (Swift Retribution) (Elite)

Beta Galaxy (Sand Runners)
21st Scorpion Cuirassiers (Black Sun) (Elite)
23rd Scorpion Cuirassiers (The Ironshell Irregulars) (Elite)
1st Scorpion Dragoon Cluster (Heartvenom) (Elite)
6th Scorpion Hussars (Desert Wind) (Elite)

Gamma Galaxy (The Cave Dwellers)*
3rd Scorpion Cuirassiers (Kerensky's Covenant) (Veteran)*
17th Scorpion Cuirassiers (The Golden Horde) (Regular)*
16th Scorpion Dragoons (The Gate Crashers) (Regular)*
9th Scorpion Hussars (The Crimson Legion) (Regular)*

Delta Galaxy (Swift Strikers)
20th Scorpion Cuirassiers (Scorpion Ascendant) (Veteran)
26th Scorpion Cuirassiers (The Dark Sting) (Veteran)
7th Scorpion Dragoons (The Din of Battle) (Veteran)
22nd Scorpion Hussars (Eye of the Storm) (Veteran)

Epsilon Galaxy (Nightcrawlers)
18th Scorpion Cuirassiers (The Khan's Castle) (Veteran)
28th Scorpion Cuirassiers (Death Stalkers) (Veteran)
10th Scorpion Dragoons (Poisoned Gambit) (Veteran)
19th Scorpion Hussars (Untamed Will) (Veteran)

Zeta Galaxy (Sting of the Sun)*
4th Scorpion Cuirassiers (Adamantine Hearts) (Regular)*
15th Scorpion Cuirassiers (Burning Sting) (Green)*
5th Scorpion Dragoons (Forked Ambition) (Regular)*
2nd Scorpion Hussars (Blinding Stare) (Regular)*

Eta Galaxy (Protectors of the Nest)*
12th Scorpion Cuirassiers (The Highwaymen) (Regular)*
27th Scorpion Cuirassiers (Obsidian Claws) (Green)*
11th Scorpion Dragoons (The Devil's Tail) (Regular)*
26th Scorpion Hussars (The Fire Scorpions) (Regular)*

Elite: 9
Veteran: 9
Regular: 9
Green: 2
Total: 29 clusters
Second-line Galaxies and Clusters are designated by an asterisk (*). Gamma Galaxy is assigned to Roche; Zeta to Tokasha; Eta to Dagda; Epsilon (a front-line Galaxy) to Marshall, and Delta (another front-line unit) to Strana Mechty. This leaves Alpha and Beta Galaxies free to conduct Trials and respond to other Clans, while keeping a strong defense in place against the aggression of others.

Clan Naval Reserve (22 ships)

Clan Flagship
Sovetskii Soyuz-class CA (Serket)

Scorpion’s Destiny Naval Star
McKenna-class BB (Lei Kung); Aegis-class CA (Corona Austrina); Congress-class FF (Bernlad); Lola III-class (Auriga)

Striking Claw Naval Star
McKenna-class BB (Requiem); Aegis-class CA (Corona Borealis); Congress-class FF (Garlon); Lola III-class (Sagitta)

Burning Sting Naval Star
Cameron-class BC (Hephaestus); Aegis-class CA (Coma Bernices, formerly CJFS Blue Talon); Congress-class FF (Fornax, formerly CJFS Green Lantern); Lola III-class DD (Scorpius, formerly CBS Cameron's Flame)

Fire Wheel Naval Star
Potemkin-class Troop Cruiser (Enceladus; Epimetheus), Essex-class DD (Aquila, formerly CBS Eagle)

Wild Hunt Naval Star
Potemkin-class Troop Cruiser (Karttikeya; Prometheus); Essex-class DD (Orpheus)

Far Seeker Naval Star
Jenna Scott-class Surveillance Vessels (Naomi Djerassi; Cyrus Elam; Jenna Scott)

Fleet Train
22 x Odyssey-class Jump Ships

In addition, in 3039, Khan Djerassi requested that the Scorpions be allowed to refit and return to service two Naga-class DD mothballed in the Clan Naval Caches. However, intense pressure from Clan Snow Raven has so far prevented this. If these ships are removed, refitted, and returned to service, they will be assigned one each to the Fire Wheel and Wild Hunt Naval Stars.

The Scorpions have retired, traded, or sold their older JumpShips to the other Clans, and currently their touman includes only Odyssey-class ships. This is for several reasons: the Odysseys are newer, they have lithium-fusion batteries, they are lightly armed and armored, and they carry an HPG. Plus, with four collars each, they are adequete at meeting the needs of the Clan. Cargo ships consist of Auroch- and Mastodon[/]-class vessels. These are upgraded versions of the [i]Mule and Mammoth vessels, with light armor and armament suitable for the Clans.

The Death Dancer is a heavily armed, 3,300-ton aerodyne assault ship with a maximum thrust of 7-g's! (That is a move of 9/14, by the way!) But it is the Scorpion that has transformed the Goliath Scorpion touman. This 6,600-ton spheroid design is a troop carrier, but a semi-modular troop carrier. The basic design has six seperate configurations, one for each type of Goliath Scorpion Trinary formation, and a sixth for cargo (which includes a 'Mech repair facility!). This DropShip has replaced all Broadswords, Union-Cs, Lion-Cs, and Overlord-Cs in Goliath Scorpion service.

Clan Goliath Scorpion Provisional Garrison Clusters

In canon, the Scorpions did not field any paramilitary PGCs, which strikes me as a little bit odd. PGCs, in my view of the BattleTech universe, aren't 'Mech forces. They have conventional vehicles and conventional infantry, and they serve as an armed constabulary that has a secondary role as a para-military defense force against hostiles. PGCs are the police and law enforcement agencies of the Clans! So every Clan should have them.

But, I started from canon and then diverged. Over the past twelve years (from 3030 to 3042), the Scorpions have managed to form a total of twenty-four garrison clusters, which they designate as Scorpion Constabulary. These PGCs start with the numerical designation of 101st and go through 124th. Each consists of fifteen stars of second-line (usually free-birth) Warriors, equipped with combat vehicles and conventional infantry. No 'Mechs. No 'Elementals. No Aerospace Fighters. At full strength a Scorpion Constabulary Cluster can field 100 vehicles and 625 conventional infantry, in a mix of tracked, hover, and VTOL units.

Vehicles assigned to the Scorpion Constabulary seldom exceed 50 tons in weight, saving space on transport and increasing speed and mobility on the battlefield. A typical Scorpion Constabulary Cluster will have 60 tracked vehicles (45 tanks and 15 infantry carriers), 20 hover vehicles (15 tanks and 5 infantry carriers), and 20 VTOLs (15 gunships and 5 infantry carriers), plus their infantry contingent. These garrison forces do not have DropShips and JumpShips assigned to them on a regular basis. When they must be transported, they are normally loaded on cargo ships requisitioned from the Merchant Fleet.

Currently, Khan Djerassi is hoping to build up four more Scorpion Constabulary Clusters before the launch of Operation Revival, although it is unlikely that he will succeed given the many diversions his resources are facing.

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-13 06:26pm

Hall of the Khans, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
September 3, 3042

Yvonne stood at the podium, but two tables, one each on her right and left, had been moved on the dais as well. Each table held a single opaque ceramic basin with a narrow mouth barely larger in diameter than Yvonne’s forearms. “The Trials of Position will be determined randomly, my Khans. In this container are eight tiles, marked with the designations of the eight Clans who as of today field the largest touman.” She tapped the second basin. “Eight more tiles, representing the remaining Clans are within the second container. I will draw one tile from each—and those Clans shall meet to determine whether or not they will be an Active Clan or a Reserve Clan.”

She paused and looked out over the assembled Khans. “Unless, that is, one of you wishes to challenge me to a Trial of Refusal over this method of selection?”

No one voiced any objection, and Yvonne nodded gravely. She unbuttoned her jacket, and a servant took it away; she then rolled up both sleeves of her blouse to her elbow and showed the Khans her bare hands and forearms—bare except for the codex the encircled her right forearm. She lifted one container and shook it hard; everyone could hear the tiles bouncing around; then she did the same for the second.

And then she placed her right arm in the first container, and extracted a single tile. “Clan Steel Viper.” She plunged her left arm into the other container and glanced down at the tile in her hand. “Your opponent is Clan Cloud Cobra.”

“Clan Star Adder shall face off against Clan Nova Cat.”

“Clan Ghost Bear will fight Clan Diamond Shark.”

“Clan Jade Falcon, your opponents are . . . Clan Ice Hellion.”

“Clan Coyote will trial against Clan Hell’s Horses.”

“Clan Fire Mandrill your opponent is Clan Blood Spirit.”

“Clan Smoke Jaguar will face Clan Snow Raven.”

“And finally, Clan Wolf will meet Clan Goliath Scorpion in battle.”

The Great Hall was still as each Khan digested this, and Yvonne nodded. “These Trials will begin seven days from today. You have a week to bring to Strana Mechty the Cluster you have chosen to fight for your honor in securing a place in the Invasion. Then, these Trials will occur one per day, until all eight have been fought and won, my Khans. The Ebon Keshik will preside over each Trial in turn.”

Yvonne paused. “Fight well; fight with honor—and may victory show the truth; and yield unto the victor the prize.”

Brandt Alpine Trail Grounds
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
September 18, 3042

“Khan Kerensky, your 3rd Battle Cluster has been chosen to represent Clan Wolf in this Trial, are you prepared?” Yvonne asked.

“The Wolves of Kerensky are always prepared, ilKhan,” Ulric answered. Star Colonel Conal Ward grinned broadly as he stood beside the Khan.

Yvonne nodded. “Khan Djerassi, you have chosen your 25th Scorpion Cuirassier to fight for Clan Goliath Scorpion today . . . but Star Colonel LeClair is not present? Can you explain?”

Nikolai winced. “ilKhan Hazen, Star Colonel LeClair was admitted to surgery last night for an emergency appendectomy. saKhan Posavatz is ready and willing to assume command of her Cluster in her absence.”

Yvonne frowned. “If Clan Wolf agrees, it will be permitted.”

Ulric Kerensky bared his teeth, and his eyes were as hard as flint in the early morning light amid the high alpine valley selected for this Trial. “No other Clan has permitted its Khan or saKhan to fight in this Trial, ilKhan; by a strict reading of the regulations you set forth for this series of Trials, saKhan Posavatz is not assigned to the 25th Cuirassier—and thus cannot participate. To ensure that the fight is fair, I will remove one Warrior from the Silver Devils to match your own loss, Khan Djerassi. Star Colonel LeClair piloted one of your Summoner II heavy OmniMechs, quiaff?”

“Aff,” answered Nikolai.

“Well then. I will withdraw Warrior Gregor and his Line Backer. A fair trade, quiaff?”

“Aff,” Nikolai said once again, but the word left a sour taste in his mouth. The Line Backer was five tons lighter than LeClair's Summoner II, and devoted much of its tonnage to a powerful engine that granted it speed, but left little room for weapons. It looked fair, but in reality it was far from it . . . and Ulric well knew that.

“Then this combat will begin in one hours time. Khans Kerensky and Djerassi, you may join me in the observation bunker for this Trial.” Yvonne paused. “If you have any words for the Star Captain that will command your Cluster, Khan Djerassi, now is the time.”

Nikolai bowed low.


“Star Captain Nelson Elam, reporting as ordered, my Khan!” the commander of Trinary Beta barked as he came to attention in the presence of his Khan and saKhan.

“Star Captain Elam,” Nikolai said, “there is no delay for the Trial—you will command the 25th Cuirassier during this contest. Answer me truthfully, Nelson—are you ready to accept this responsibility?”

“I am, Khan Djerassi,” the twenty-three year old warrior answered in a solemn voice. “I have performed as Star Colonel LeClair’s tactical deputy for the past six months.”

Nikolai nodded and he stepped close to Nelson. “Then I will remind only of this, Scorpion Warrior: trust your instincts, listen to the Scorpion within you. And fight well.”

“Aff, my Khan!”


The two Clusters entered the Trial Grounds and each cautiously moved over the rocky and heavily wooded alpine terrain, searching for their opponent. Overhead, the aerospace fighters of both sides opened the engagement in a furball that pitted forty-two modern OmniFighters against each other. Laser beams cut through the sky; PPC bolts illuminated the hanging clouds like artificial lightning; missiles crossed each other’s paths and slammed home, trailing smoke and flame, as rapid-fire autocannons barked out their fury. Within minutes, neither Wolf nor Scorpion had air cover, as less than a dozen survivors broke away, hoping to reach a friendly airbase while fuel remained in their tanks.

But the clash of fighters was not in vain; for each side had spotted the other below—and they had radioed the locations of the other force to their commanders.

The Wolves and the Scorpions moved to contact, the lighter elements probing towards each other, finding their foes in the dim woods and dozens of separate battles erupted. Both commanders urged their main forces onward and the two Clusters slammed together in the primeval mountain forest. Among the best Warriors of their respective Clans, neither Scorpion nor Wolf granted quarter—nor asked for it. And amidst the ancient trees, now scarred by weapons fire, a long and bitter feud was resolved.


Nelson swallowed heavily as the Ice Ferret he faced collapsed; his Mongrel IIs lasers having cored out the engine of the Clan Wolf design. Both OmniMechs had massed 45-tons, but the Ice Ferret was slightly faster, whereas his own Mongrel II featured jump jets. Nelson knew the constricting nature of the forest in which they would fight; and he had outfitted the design in Configuration D: four ER Medium Lasers and ten ER Small Lasers; all tied into a targeting computer.

The towering trunk beside him exploded as another opponent fired an Ultra AC-20 at Nelson and missed! The young warrior stood on his jump jet pedals and his OmniMech lifted into the air, twisting around to land behind the 80-ton Gargoyle. Nelson easily kept the medium-weight war machine on its feet, and his thumb slid the selector switch forward as he squeezed the trigger. Ten small lasers spat out emerald beams, each bearing as much energy as a standard Inner Sphere medium laser. The rear armor of the Clan Wolf assault Omni before him began to melt as the beams cut through—and then its autocannon magazine exploded!

The Gargoyle staggered under the force of the munitions lighting off, even though most of the blast was directed away from the vulnerable internal components. Still, the pilot slammed like a pinball into three different trees before he came to a halt, leaning against one—and Nelson advanced directly behind him, sending another fusillade of laser beams burning deep into the back of the Wolf before him. The Gargoyle crumpled to the ground as its reactor core went dead.

Nelson took a moment to wipe away the sweat and he looked down at the display—and he blanched. Out of the two Clusters who began this fight, only four icons remained. Four! And three of those were the gleaming crimson of Clan Wolf, converging on his location.

“Scorpions of the Veil, report,” Nelson broadcast . . . but only silence greeted him. He grimaced and adjusted his display to a higher resolution. The OmniMech’s command computer reset the screen, and analyzed their signatures—and Nelson at last what they were. A Pouncer, a Line Backer, and a Timber Wolf.

Stravag!” he cursed. But his OmniMech had now shed its excess heat and he had taken relatively light damage to his armor. He pushed the throttle forward and began to sway side-to-side as he darted in and out of the towering forest, pushing towards a ravine nearby—if he could get to the far side, the Line Backer and Timber Wolf would have to go around; only the Pouncer had jump jets to match his own.

But the Wolves were cutting in ahead of him—they were closer to the ravine than he was. But he could see no other option; well, he could run, but that wasn’t an option. Not really.

Then his radio crackled. “Alpha Five Lead to Beta One. Inbound on your position—request target information.”

Nelson smiled. One of the Scorpion OmniFighters—the sole surviving Visigoth of the Command Trinary—had gotten back into the air. “Three Wolf OmniMechs at grid 14-37-12, Alpha Five Lead. I’ll draw them into the open.”

The radio clicked twice in reply and Nelson pressed his Mongrel II forward through the forest. He broke into the clearing approaching the ravine, and immediately came under missile fire from the Pouncer. Thirty LRMs streaked out towards him—seven contacted against the side of his OmniMech. The Pouncer had already crossed the ravine, and prowled the other side, and from the north and south the remaining two Wolf OmniMechs rapidly approached.

Nelson pressed the throttle to the stops and he zigzagged across the clearing, returning fire towards the Pouncer with a quartet of medium lasers—three contacted with the lighter OmniMech, which once again flushed another thirty missiles and salvoed its own four lasers in reply. Nelson staggered as twenty missiles slammed home, and two lasers burnt deep into his right arm, tearing through the armor and into the vulnerable myomer strands and internal structure beneath.

He managed to keep his OmniMech standing, however, as his threat display lit up—Alpha Five Lead was inbound. The Wolf OmniMechs stopped, their torsos swiveled and then the Timber Wolf salvoed every weapon he had—because he was the Visigoth’s target. OmniFighter and OmniMech released their weapons at the same instant, and the fire converged in mid-air, then struck both. The Scorpion fighter lost control and he pancaked into the ground and Conal Ward screamed as the disintegrating OmniFighter rolled into him and the fuel tanks erupted. Neither the Scorpion pilot, nor the Wolf Cluster Commander emerged from the fireball.

Nelson whispered, “Thank you,” and he jumped across the ravine, triggering his small laser battery in mid-flight. The barrage of energy tore through the Pouncer and it staggered as one of the missile magazines erupted; tearing away the left arm and sending the Warrior inside off-balance; the Wolf scrambled, but the slippery rocks afforded his metal feet no purchase, and the OmniMech plunged down into the ravine to shatter on the rocks eighty meters below.

The Scorpion turned towards his final opponent as a pair of PPC bolts ripped into his hip, and he heard a sharp CRACK as the actuator separated from the torso. The Mongrel II fell hard, but Nelson managed to stay away from the brink of the ravine. He shook his head as red lights flashed in the cockpit—the leg was ruined. He raised both arms and fired his medium lasers into the distant Line Backer, but although three hit, he wasn’t able to burn through the heavy OmniMech’s armor.

The Wolf Warrior fired his twin PPCs again, and Nelson’s helpless OmniMech rocked, more red lights appeared and his engine showed heavy damage. He pushed the war machine into a sitting position, but two more PPC bolts slammed into him, and his auto-eject system threw him clear of his OmniMech as sensors detected a core breach. His Trial was over . . . and he had lost.

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-13 06:35pm

And now we are totally caught up to where I have written in this story. I will try to post one or more new snippets each day.


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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-13 07:36pm

Hall of the Khans, Katyusha City
Strana Mechty, Clan Homeworlds
September 20, 3042

“We can demand a Trial of Refusal,” Randall Posavatz whispered. “We only lost by ONE warrior.”

Nikolai shook his head. “No, saKhan. We fought our Trial, and we lost. We will abide by the results of combat. It was not Nelson Elam’s fault—it was mine. I . . . underestimated the Wolves and their displeasure with our Clan. That will not happen again. Still, the results do change things—when this council is done, I want to adjust our touman slightly. Transfer the 18th Cuirassier from Epsilon to Beta Galaxy and send them to Chainelaine. And likewise, the 20th Cuirassier from Delta to Alpha. That will bring the two Galaxies we are now entitled to bring up to a strength of five Clusters each, plus the Knife Dance Keshik. And on the bright side, Randall? We have time to rebuild the 25th back up to a fighting formation instead of a paper one.”

The Scorpion saKhan winced, but he nodded his agreement. The Trial had bled the Scorpion Cluster white—half of its warriors were dead, and nearly every surviving one was injured. In consolation, the Wolf’s 3rd Battle Cluster had suffered nearly equal losses, and though they had won, they would secure the least sought after Invasion lane.

The whispers of the Khans ended as Yvonne stepped forth onto the dais below. “My Khans, the Trials were well-fought, hard-fought, and they have given us our Active and Reserve Clans for Revival. Clan Smoke Jaguar: you have your choice of invasion corridors—which do you choose?”

Leo Showers, looking smug at this showing of excellence stood. “ilKhan Hazen, the Jaguars select Corridor Eta.”

“Clan Jade Falcon?”

“Corridor Alpha,” answered Khan Elias Crichell as his new saKhan—Timur Malthus—sat beside him.

“Clan Star Adder?”

“Corridor Zeta.”

“Clan Steel Viper?”

“Corridor Gamma.”

“Clan Hell’s Horses?”

“Corridor Beta.”

“Clan Fire Mandrill?”

“Corridor Theta.”

“Clan Ghost Bear?”

“Corridor Epsilon.”

“Which leaves Corridor Delta for Clan Wolf,” Yvonne continued. “Now, as to the Reserve Clans. Clan Wolf?”

Ulric Kerensky stood. “The Wolves would be honored to share our corridor with Clan Coyote.”

Khan Pavel Kerensky of Clan Coyote looked up in surprise, and then he slowly nodded. “Clan Coyote will accept the offer of Clan Wolf. As Nicholas and Andrei were brothers, so too shall be our Clans.”

“Clan Ghost Bear?”

Amanda Tseng stood. “Clan Ghost Bear honors the Clan that came within one Warrior of earning an active role in the Invasion. Clan Goliath Scorpion, would you act as our Reserve in Revival?”

Nikolai stood and he solemnly nodded. “If by sting or by claw, I might protect your back, I shall, Ghost Bear.”

“Clan Fire Mandrill?”

Khan Tanaga stood and laughed. “No other Clan will choose them, ilKhan—but the Spirits have always cooperated with the Mandrills. We would ask for them to support us, so that together we might seize Terra and vie for the ilClan between us.”

“Bargained well and done!” snapped Khan McFadden.

“Clan Hell’s Horses?”

Jake Fletcher considered for a moment, and he conferred with his saKhan, the former Loremaster Raphael Mendoza. “ilKhan, the Herd would ask Clan Snow Raven to join with us, so that their command of the air and space will complement our reign over the land.”

“The Ravens will point you to good pastures, Khan Fletcher,” Khan McKenna replied. “We accept.”

“Clan Steel Viper?”

Jillian Andrews stood. “Clan Steel Viper is not weak enough to need a Reserve Clan—nor do we wish one.”

Yvonne stared at the Viper and then she nodded. “That is your right—but I will assign you a Reserve, Khan Andrews if you do not now select one—and have their Khan accept your invitation.”

“It matters not, ilKhan, since the Vipers will not activate any such Reserve,” and the Viper sat.

“Clan Star Adder,” the ilKhan continued.

Marion Truscott stood. “The Adders are strong, ilKhan. But we are not fools. We would request that our allies, the Cloud Cobras join with us so that we might fufill the purpose of the Clans of Kerensky.”

“With faith and honor, the Cobras will defend the Adders,” Karen Telinov answered.

“Clan Jade Falcon?”

Elias Crichell frowned and then he stood. “Of the Clans that remain, the Sharks are least disagreeable to us.”

Olivia Sutherland snorted as she stood. “Khan Crichell certainly knows how to sweep a lady off her feet,” and chuckles arose from the assembly. “However, the Falcons are more palatable to the Sharks then either of the remaining choices. We accept.”

“Clan Smoke Jaguar?”

Leo Showers stood. “We choose the Cats—do not expect to see combat, Khan West.”

“Not until the last drop of Jaguar blood has been spilled, I am sure. The Cats will be prepared to take your place once your arrogance causes you to fall—but at a high price, Khan Showers.”

“And my Khans having spoken, I hereby assign Clan Ice Hellion to be the Reserve Clan of the Steel Vipers,” Yvonne said; then before anyone could say another word. “This meeting is hereby adjourned!”

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-14 08:52pm

Shuttle IKSC-001
Strana Mechty Orbitals, Clan Homeworlds
December 8, 3042

“Now, if my Khans would stop grinning like a herd of young surats,” Yvonne spat, “perhaps someone could tell me why I am not getting my work done? Why I am sitting in aboard this luxuriously appointed shuttlecraft that is heading for the middle of nowhere.”

“Blame the Scorpion for the hedonism, ilKhan,” said Peter McKenna with a smile. “He insisted.”

Nikolai bowed his head low. “Everyone needs a little comfort upon occasion, my ilKhan.”

“That does not explain why we are here!” the ilKhan snapped.

“Oh, calm yourself, Yvonne. The work you are doing can wait for a day; but our gift to you cannot,” said Amanda Tseng.

Yvonne started to say something to the Ghost Bear Khan and then she forced her jaws closed. She smiled. “A gift? Now I am beginning to worry.”

My gift!” growled Leo Showers. “Although the other Clans paid the Ravens to restore her to full service—and upgraded her in process," he admitted grudgingly.

Peter McKenna smiled again and he leaned down next to Yvonne and pointed out the starboard porthole. “There she is, ilKhan Hazen—your new Flagship for the Invasion.”

“My new . . . Flagship?” Yvonne leaned close against the small round window . . . and then a glorious sight came into sight.

From the loneliness of the void, a great ship slowly entered her field of view. Her hull was a polished sable, adorned with lines of crimson and gold. Stretching nine hundred meters in length, the cylindrical WarShip had deployed a jump sail twelve hundred meters in diameter, and the reflected light of the star at the heart of the Strana Mechty system illuminated the ship at the center of sail, as the light danced its shimmery reflection across thick hull plates broken only by protruding snouts of weapon emplacements. Slowly, the shuttle flew a parabola, allowing the ilKhan to see her newest prize, and she gasped in pleasure as the small craft flew past the nose. A nose where tradition required the Clan’s to paint their namesake in stunning color, but for this ship, the only adornment was a single Dagger-Star. And her name, printed in golden letters ten meters tall.

Victory,” Yvonne whispered. “You named her Victory.”

“I suggested Our Silver Lady of Pain and Suffering,” Nikolai said with a grin, “but the others overruled me. I cannot imagine why.”

Something clicked in Yvonne’s head and her eyes grew wide. Peter McKenna nodded, and he said, sotte voce, to the other Khans, “She’s just figured out what ship this is.”

“That is the Quicksilver Mongoose! She’s not operational!”

“Please, my dear Yvonne,” Peter said dryly. “As Khan Showers said, we have fully restored her, and indeed made her stronger. She’s a little light for a battleship, but she is more than a match for any battlecruiser in the Clan inventory. We increased her docking collars to six, expanded her flight deck to accommodate an entire OmniFighter Trinary from the Ebon Keshik, she carries a Trinary of Marine Elementals—in addition to the Elemental of the Ebon Keshik—as well. We even added five small craft, of which this shuttle is but one.”

“Her original armor package was completely removed, replaced with twice the tonnage of lamellar ferro-carbide, and we installed a new, fully functional, and highly efficient cooling and power distribution system—Victory will have few problems keeping her guns in action, ilKhan. Speaking of guns, we gutted the original armament package; she now carries fifty-eight Medium-class Naval PPCs, in twelve four-gun and two five-gun batteries, that serve as her long-range bite; in close she has eight Class 20 Naval Autocannon. For anti-fighter work, she has thirty-two twin Large Pulse Laser turrets spaced across the ship.”

“Her fuel tankage was tripled and she has full quarters aboard for your staff—including an Operations Center to coordinate the Invasion and an HPG. We added Lithium-Fusion batteries, and despite all of that, she still carries a sizable amount of free space for cargo, my ilKhan.” Peter chuckled. “She is not really a Du Shi Wang-class anymore; especially since we lengthened her hull by fifty-one meters and added a hundred thousand tons of mass. Oh, and do not worry—we did not cut her thrust. She will still outrun most cruisers in service and she maneuvers like a dream. No, ilKhan, Victory is no old SLDF hand-me-down of a Capellan toy; she is a very capable and lethal ship.”

“And since she is technically a battleship,” Nikolai said, “that will make you the only Khan to fly his or flag aboard a dreadnought during the Invasion.”

The ilKhan remained at the window until the shuttle slide within one of the cavernous flight decks. “Well, then. Shall we take a tour, my Khans?” she asked with a smile.

ilKhan’s Stateroom, CIKS Victory
Strana Mechty Orbitals, Clan Homeworlds
December 8, 3042

“And now that everyone else has departed, you two wished to speak with me in private?” Yvonne said as the stars slowly rotated outside her bay windows that provided a spectacular view of the planet. Housed within one of the ship’s four Grav Decks, her palatial quarters were fit for any ilKhan—but her Khans well knew of her tastes and it was decorated in a rather . . . spartan fashion.

“We wish to inform the ilKhan that there will be a change in status for Rondane,” Nikolai said as Amanda sipped a tall golden lager.

“A change in status?”

“Yes, ilKhan Hazen. The Ghost Bears will be joining the Scorpions on Rondane—we have provided them with one of the three habitable continents to serve as an enclave.”

“Fredotto was not to your liking after all, Khan Tseng?”

“Four Clans share Fredotto—and between the quarrelling that is happening, our factories are woefully behind schedule. I have already ordered my Clan to evacuate to Rondane and we will let the Spirits, Cats, and Mandrills fight for what is left.”

“Very well, this is an internal matter, but I will note that you have both informed me.” Yvonne paused and shook her head. “But that cannot be the only reason you asked to see me.”

“The ilKhan’s eyes are keen. As you know, Clan Ghost Bear has been assigned Crellacor, Gustrel, and Star's End in the Bandit Kingdoms to pacify before the Invasion. We . . . have an unorthodox solution that you need to be aware of before another Clan decides to surprise you with it.”

“Destroying them from orbit is not an option, I should not have to remind you, quineg?”

“Neg,” answered Nikolai. “We propose nothing so radical. Once the Ghost Bears have eliminated the bandits and pirates that call these worlds home, we will be removing and relocating the remaining population. After all, there are only fifty thousand men, women, and children spread across all three of these worlds—we intend to ship them back to Rondane. When they have been removed, we will remove all trace of human settlement and restore these worlds to their original pristine conditions, retaining any useful equipment. Once the civilians have adjusted to life on Rondane, they will find they are in a . . . far better condition. And it will keep all of our eggs in a single Periphery basket, my ilKhan.”

Yvonne smiled. “Why do I feel that no other Khan will come to me with such a measure. Bravo, Khan of the Ghost Bears. You and Nikolai have discovered a means to reduce your pre-Invasion Garrisons, without diminishing your wealth at all. You will still lay claim to these systems?”

“Aff. And they will be patrolled, although such patrols will also be supply convoys en route from Rondane to Corridor Epsilon,” the Ghost Bear answered. “But there is one final matter, a most grave one.”

“And that is?”

Amanda and Nikolai looked at each other. “ilKhan,” Nikolai began. “We will be using the third continent of Rondane, whose very small population is currently being moved to one of our enclaves, as a training grounds for the forces of our two Clans assigned to the Invasion.”

“I see no problem with that, Khan Djerassi.”

“ilKhan Hazen, we are suspending the use of live munitions during these training exercises, and will be making extensive use of simulators as well to create environmental conditions not present on Rondane. My Scorpions will be played the OpFor for Amanda's Bears, and we will operating, in simulation, as SLDF units with their doctrine, weapons, and regulations.”

“And that is a bird of a different feather,” Yvonne’s face pinched and she rubbed her temples. “I hope you realize, Nikolai, in many ways I preferred the old predictable Scorpions. Some days I just want to shoot you. Why?”

The Ghost Bear Khan adjusted in her seat. “I too was not convinced until Nikolai and I spoke at length. ilKhan, it makes no sense to subject our Warriors who have already proved their courage and skill in battle to death or dismemberment in training exercises where we can avoid it. And by having my Clan's Warriors fight against opponents that are not heeding the Clan way, they will become accustomed to the stiff fighting they can expect in the Inner Sphere. But this is the matter that, if they find out, will cause certain other Clans to race immediately to your desk, demanding our heads.”

“For good reason—Nicholas shunned the use of simulators for eliminating the danger inherent in actual live combat. Simulators are not our way. And you are proposing to act as if you were not Clan. That alone is damning, Nikolai.”

Nikolai nodded. “Yet, the Founder did not eliminate all simulators—and formations on long-duration assignments where it is impracticable for live-fire exercises can use simulators. My Loremaster has checked, and there is no actual regulation against the use of simulators in the Martial Code, ilKhan. There is only a very strong cultural bias that Nicholas Kerensky fostered. And we will act in our role as faux Inner Sphere forces only in simulation, ilKhan Hazen.”

“Both of you support this?”

“Aff,” each Khan answered, and Yvonne nodded. “Very well. You have informed me as ilKhan of how your training regime on Rondane is operating. In the event that any Khan discovers this, I will inform the Grand Council of Khans that both of you, prior to this training regime, informed me personally. And that having examined the Martial Code, I am in agreement with your Loremaster. She is correct, Nikolai, quiaff?”


“Good. I will verify that reading of the Martial Code myself. In the meantime . . . do not speak of this to anyone else. That is an order, my Khans. Train your Warriors in the methods you trust—but do not push other Clans to do the same. Is that understood?”


“Good. And Nikolai, your Scorpions had best be acting in this fashion in simulators only. Because I cannot and I will not save you if I discover they are doing so against live Clan opponents. Now, I have work to get to—more work, thanks to the two of you; and each of you have a Clan to run. Good night, my Khans.”

The Scorpion and the Bear bowed lowed. “Rest well, my ilKhan,” each answered.

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-14 11:49pm

Part II

“I know well my orders from Kerlin . . . but the pain and wounds of Misery is too raw. Too bitter. How can I help these Lords who do not even honor their own Warriors? How I can give them the tools to fight the Clans, when all they would do is turn them on each other? My spies within the NAIS have told me of the discovery of the Helm Memory Core. Good. At least now they will begin redeveloping on their own, without my input. I could go to Hanse Davion tomorrow. Share with him everything; and lead the Federated Suns assault that would utterly destroy the House of Kurita. But would it end there? For now, I do nothing; nothing but rebuild my shattered Dragoons. And I pray to a God I do not believe in, that Kerlin manages to hold them back.”

—Jamie Wolf, private journal entry, October 14, 3031

Chapter Three

Wolf’s Dragoons Headquarters, Harlech
Outreach, Federated Suns
October 17, 3037

“Jamie Wolf,” the holographic image of Kerlin War began, “it has been long since you heard my voice. And now you hear the voice of a man who will have been dead for more than a year. I have sent to you the Warriors whose absence I can conceal; they are now assigned to you and bear with them a limited amount of supplies, new war material, and a complete technological database. Events here in the Homeworlds have taken a turn for the worse; I can no longer delay the Invasion. It will happen and it will happen soon.”

“Perhaps not this year, nor the next; the Trial I fight tomorrow may suffice to buy you a few more years, but not many. To protect the people of the Inner Sphere, we must take action. It is time. We are coming. There will be no succor; the Wardens have proven to be as . . . enthusiastic as Crusaders. The Inner Sphere must now defend itself, with your aid and support. You must prepare them, Jamie Wolf. I wish you success.”

The recording ended and the holoprojector cut off. Six officers of the Wolf’s Dragoons sat around the table, and none made a single sound to break the silence. Jamie Wolf sat the head of the table, with Kelly Yukinov to his right and Natasha Kerensky to his left. Followed by Irwin Tyrell, Jason Carmody, and last, but not least, J. Elliot Jamison sat at the foot, facing his old friend and commander. Anton Rand, the officer appointed to command Beta Regiment, was currently off Outreach on assignment with his troops.

Only a handful of men and women seated at the table were part of the original Dragoons, but all had been thoroughly briefed on the capabilities of the Clans—and their goals. Now, they looked at one another in stunned silence.

“Star Captain Gregor was dispatched with an old Invader-class JumpShip. In addition to one cargo dropper, his vessel carried two Union-Cs, each with Trinary of Free-birth Warriors and their BattleMechs—second-line BattleMechs. According to his report, Kerlin informed him that the Scorpions had their own recon force in the Inner Sphere since our reports ceased. And when it was discovered, they saved their own hides by killing the leaders responsible and released the information they had assembled. That very information has sparked a frenzy among the Clans, and they will be coming soon,” said Jamie Wolf without any expression on his face.

“The question today, Dragoons, is how do we respond?”

Kelly Yukinov cleared his throat. “Alpha Regiment is at 100%, as is Beta although they are on contract at the moment. In addition, we have the Black Widow Battalion and Zeta Battalion on-line and ready. Gamma is in the process of reforming, but we haven't even started with Delta or Epsilon yet.”

“I can have Gamma ready in two weeks, Colonel,” spat Irwin Tyrell. “I’ll step up the training schedule and we will get it done.”

Jamie held up a hand. “We will probably have a few years yet to finish restoring the Dragoons to fighting trim. That wasn’t what I meant.”

Natasha nodded. “It depends, Jamie,” she said bluntly. “Kerlin’s dead—he said so himself. We can pretend we never got his order about sharing tech with the Inner Sphere, wait, and return to the Clans when the recall order arrives. Or, we quit pussy-footing around and go all in. You can’t have it both ways anymore.”

Wolf slowly nodded. “This decision is too important for me to make alone. Do we return to the Clans or do we fufill Kerlin’s final orders?”

For several long seconds no one spoke and then Kelly Yukinov nodded his head. “The Inner Sphere is my home now, Colonel. I’ll go back if you order it; but not otherwise.”

“I was born here, Colonel," growled Tyrell. "I say we get the rest of the team up and running and then kick some Clanner ass."

“Easier said than done, Irwin,” added Commodore Carmody another of the original Dragoons. “I can’t say that I want to see Clan castes imposed over Inner Sphere, Colonel.”

“J. Elliot?” Jamie whispered.

“I want to see the Homeworlds again before I die, Jamie. That being said, I do not want to see these worlds transformed into the Homeworlds.”


“Just give me a target, Jamie. Clan or Inner Sphere it makes no difference.”

Jamie stared at the table for several minutes and then he nodded. “Jas—take whatever technicians and engineers you need; if we do not have enough JumpShips on station hire some. Return to our cache and recover the WarShips and all remaining supplies. Kelly, I want 7th Kommando assigned to Carmody as marines and give him an aerospace fighter group.”

Both men nodded.

“And I need one JumpShip and a Dropper for myself—and Natasha.”

“Yes, sir. Will you need an escort?”


“Where are we going, Jamie?” the Black Widow asked coquettishly.

“To see Hanse Davion about stopping a war before it starts.”
Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-06-19 08:22pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-15 03:37pm

The Fox’s Den, Palace of the First Prince, Avalon City
New Avalon, Federated Suns
October 28, 3037

Hanse and Melissa stood as members of the 1st Royal Guards and the 1st Davion Guards ushered Jamie Wolf and Natasha Kerensky into the opulent office buried deep beneath the New Avalon palace. “Colonel Wolf,” the First Prince said as he extended his hand. “I understand that you made the journey from Outreach to here in just eleven days over my command circuit to Tikonov.” He smiled. “Some of my officers resent you commandeering an asset of the AFFS without any explanation—I trust that you had a good reason, however.”

“I do, Your Highness,” Jamie said with bow. “Madame, you are as lovely today as you were on your wedding day,” he continued to Melissa, who just smiled and extended her hand towards a pair of seats—the guards did not leave the room, but the armed Guards remained at the door. Jamie frowned, then he extended his hand to the remaining two men in the room. “Quintus, Morgan. Your Highness, I will need the guards to exit.”

Hanse cocked one eyebrow in surprise, and he glanced over at Morgan Hasek-Davion, the Marshall of the Federated Suns who shrugged in turn. “If they meant to kill you, the guards would only manage to avenge you, Hanse. And I doubt that is the reason Jamie Wolf has journeyed here.”

“Out,” Hanse ordered, and the two guards bowed and exited the office, closing the door behind them.

“Now what exactly is this about, Colonel Wolf?”

“On April 11th, 3005, the Wolf’s Dragoons jumped into the Delos system of the Federated Suns. At the time, rumors were rife that we were not from the Inner Sphere. People claimed that my boys and girls were the remnants of the SLDF, or were an expedition from a Periphery power, and those rumors persisted for years. Over time, they gradually became less hysterical and today only a few people even remember the consternation the appearance of my five Regiments caused.”

Jamie paused and then he looked Hanse Davion directly in the eyes. “Those rumors were true, Your Highness.”

Melissa leaned forward, eager to hear more about this mystery that had always intrigued her, but Hanse, Quintus, and Morgan had faces which were all but unreadable. “Go on,” Hanse finally said.

“Far beyond the borders of the most distant known Periphery state, General Kerensky led the SLDF into exile. At long last, he found a group of worlds which were marginally habitable and he founded the Star League in Exile. I won’t bore you with the comprehensive history of my people,” and Melissa frowned, which caused Jamie to chuckle. “I will provide Her Highness with a full download of that history, however.”

Hanse smiled as he lifted Melissa’s hand and placed it gently within his own grip.

“The Star League in Exile did not last long—the same pressures that caused your Succession Wars ripped through Kerensky’s exiles. General DeChavilier was killed in an uprising by former soldiers discharged from the SLDF, and soon thereafter General Kerensky died of a heart attack.”

Jamie’s eyes misted and grew distant. “The Pentagon Civil War was fought with such a ferocity that its makes the First Succession War pale in comparison; my people only survived because General Kerensky’s son Nicholas—oh, yes, he had a wife and two children that he kept hidden—took the forces loyal to him on a Second Exodus to a nearby cluster of worlds not involved in the fighting. And there, while the old SLDF burnt itself out, Nicholas Kerensky forged a new society.”

“He reordered our culture and he instituted a meritocracy based upon skill and knowledge, and on Strana Mechty he founded the Clans. Twenty strong we once were, although two have been absorbed by other more powerful Clans, and one was Annihilated, its name stricken from our histories for treason. After years of making preparations, the Clans returned to the Pentagon worlds and we conquered what was left of the Star League in Exile. In general, the people were so happy that someone was ending the wars that they followed Nicholas without question. And the Clans began to change. The society of merit originally envisioned became one of castes—oh, it was possible to change the caste based on trials and tests, but as time passed it became more and more difficult. Our scientists and engineers developed weapons technology that makes the Star League equipment you are rediscovering from the Helm Core look like children’s play-toys. And we engineered our own genes.”

At this, Morgan jumped. “Genetic engineering? You have altered DNA?”

“Aff,” replied Jamie Wolf, before he grimaced. “That is, affirmative, Marshall Hasek-Davion. We also developed technology that allowed for embryos to be . . . grown . . . in artificial wombs. Such individuals, like Colonel Kerensky here, are known as True-born. I am a free-birth, born of woman, although my genes have been improved as well.”

“Our society has divorced so much that is important—there is no love, no marriage, only duty to the Clan. Everything is oriented to supporting the Warriors who are the highest of castes. It is a society that has no use for the weak, no use for those who cannot produce. We euthanize those who are too sick, to infirm, who cannot contribute. The lowest castes live on rations, permitted no literature, no art, no history.”

“Our society is an abomination, Your Highness.”

“You and your men fled then?” Hanse asked.

“No,” Jamie answered as he shook his head sadly. “You see, my people believe that the Great Father promised us that when we grew strong, we—the Clans—the chosen people of Aleksandyr Kerensky and his son Nicholas, would return here. And we would reform the Star League and rule forever over those who cast us out. My Dragoon’s were sent here to conduct reconnaissance.”

“I see,” whispered the First Prince of the Federated Suns, and Jamie shook his head.

“We stopped sending reports back in 3020, on our second so-called ‘supply run’, Your Highness. My Khan—as the head of a Clan is known—at the time ordered that we stand ready to defend the Inner Sphere against a future invasion. We have had no further contact with the Clans, until less than three weeks ago.”

Quintus sat up. “Are you saying that we can expect an invasion in the Outback, Colonel Wolf?”

“Neg-, ah, no, Minister Allard. The Dragoon’s took a circuitous route to disguise our point of origin. When the Invasion comes, there will be no such duplicity. They will strike directly at the shortest distance between our worlds; they will strike the Lyran Commonwealth and the Draconis Combine.”

The antique clock on the mantle slowly ticked and tocked as the seconds passed with no one saying a word. “Why are you telling me this?” asked the Fox.

“The time has come for me to get skin in the game, Your Highness. I will not allow the Clans to conquer the Inner Sphere and establish their hegemony over all its peoples. Therefore, I am offering you access to our technological databases and our historical knowledge of the Clans, how they form their units, how they fight, how they conduct themselves. On one condition.”

“Which is?”

“You must abort your planned offensive against the Draconis Combine,” Jamie answered quietly.

“You have helped plan this operation, Jamie!” Hanse thundered. “Now, you demand we just stop? We have a chance to eliminate the Kuritas once and for all, and then with the resources at our disposal, the Federated Commonwealth can defend the Inner Sphere!”

“Your Highness, the Invasion is coming. It might happen in two short years; it might not occur for another decade. What if they launch their attack when you and Takashi are bleeding each other white? Who then will defend the Inner Sphere?”

Morgan shook his head. “You have seventeen of these Clans, Colonel Wolf. How much military force can they really project—operating at the end of a supply line a year or more in length?”

“Marshall Hasek-Davion, as of 1 January of this year, the seventeen Clans of Kerensky, according to the transmission I received, can field in excess of four hundred Clusters—a unit smaller than your Regiments, but with the firepower to defeat an entire RCT or two by themselves. And the Clans never lost WarShip technology, Morgan. There are at least two hundred on active duty in the Clans, with perhaps another hundred in mothball reserves.”

Hanse’s jaw dropped, and Morgan sat back, while Quintus slowly nodded. “But they cannot deploy all of that, can they Colonel Wolf?”

“Do they need to, Minister Allard?” Jamie asked, then he shook his head. “But Quintus is right, Your Highness. They will commit four-to-six Clans on a broad front. Perhaps seventy-to-one hundred Clusters in total. And you will need two hundred Regiments and RCTs to stop them.”

“I see your point, Colonel Wolf,” Hanse answered. “What exactly can you provide us with—technically speaking?”

“I can solve your current problems with replicating Star League technology, Hanse. There are . . . certain manufacturing techniques that remain beyond you, but my people can help the NAIS develop their prototypes into working components for field units very quickly. And I have six WarShips of my own.”

Morgan’s eyes bulged. “You . . . have . . . SIX WARSHIPS?”

“They are en route to Outreach as we speak. But Hanse Davion, for this to work, we must pool our efforts. And that means we must speak with not only Katrina Steiner, but . . .” and Jamie winced as he considered what he was about to say, “but we must also include Takashi Kurita and Thomas Marik. And Candace Liao.”

“Candace? I love my daughter-in-law, Colonel Wolf,” said Quintus, “but she rules only the St. Ives Compact. Don’t you mean Romano?”

“No. Romano will never help you, Hanse. NEVER. It is time to end her rule once and for all—and allow Candace to reform a friendly Capellan Confederation that can send troops to defend humanity.”

The Fox slowly nodded. “I would ask you to remain my guest, Colonel Wolf, for a few days while we discuss this. It is safe to say that you have turned our worlds completely upside down, after all.”

Natasha Kerensky laughed. “Hanse Davion, this is far less upsetting than seeing your wife’s realm; well, your mother-in-law’s realm, lose a hundred worlds and three dozen RCTs and THEN finding out we knew what was coming all along. Why just think, your sons and daughter might have been old enough to be posted to some detachment that got overrun. Think about how unnerving THAT might have been.”

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-15 09:47pm

AFFS Headquarters Complex, Mount Baden
New Avalon, Federated Suns
October 30, 3037

“Colonel Kerensky, are all Clan true-born Warriors as good at piloting a ‘Mech as you?” Morgan asked the woman who was swearing at a reluctant holoprojector.

“They wish, Morgan,” she said with a yelp as there was a sudden buzz of electricity and a sharp smell of ozone. “I am exceptional even among the Clans—and I thought I told you to call me Natasha.”

“My apologies, Natasha.”

“Seriously, there are plenty of Clan Warriors who are almost as good as I am—the problem being most of them don’t have nearly enough experience.” She shook her head and laughed. “I am far past my prime amongst the Clans; they would have sent me into a suicide Solahma unit years ago.” She stopped and sat up and shook her head. “Which, from a certain point of view, is exactly where I have been assigned since Anton killed . . . never mind. I’ve searched for Death all these years and have never been able to make him ask me out—but I’ve given him plenty of business all the same.”

Morgan paused for a moment, and then he finally asked the question. “Just how old are you, Natasha?”

The Black Widow blinked her auburn eye lashes. “Didn’t your mother tell you never to ask a woman her age, Morgan?” But then she laughed. “I was decanted in 2973. By 3003, at the age of 30 I was a Star Colonel commanding a Cluster of 45 BattleMechs, 75 Elementals, and 30 Aerospace Fighters. I just turned 64 this year. How old did you think I am?”

Morgan considered her and then he nodded. “Early forties—at the most.”

“You sweet flatterer,” she chuckled while making the final adjustments to the holographic projector. “There, that’s got it.”

The projector whined for a moment, and Natasha frowned; she stepped back and kicked the unit, and its diagnostic lights went crazy, and then it began to hum to life, and started to project an image. “It’s all in knowing how to talk to the damn things, Morgan.”

The holographic image stabilized and Morgan whistled. “I think your scale is off a bit, Natasha.”

The Black Widow frowned and then she laughed. “No, Morgan. That is Glen Fetladral; now, talk about stamina! He was selected for this database because he is average in height and weight for a Warrior of the Elemental phenotype.”

“Average?” Morgan gasped. “Natasha, he’s standing seven feet with no footwear!”

“Seven feet, two inches,” she answered with a snort. “Some Elementals have been known to reach 7’6” and massed over two hundred kilograms, Morgan. We bred the Elemental phenotype to serve as infantry, and they do that very, very well.” She clicked the remote and the image shifted to hard angles of metal and composites, a mirrored visor, and blacked snouts of weapon systems. “And this is the Elemental battle armor that they wear in combat—top speed of thirty two point four kilometers per hour, 90 meter jump capacity, two launch tubes for SRM missiles, each with a single reload, an anti-personnel gauss rifle in either the right or left fore-arm that replaces the battle claw, forty shots stored in a magazine pack attached to his back, while the other arm carries a battle claw, a cutting torch, and a laser carbine. The armor is solid enough to take a PPC hit, although the Warrior within will probably suffer grievous bodily damage. The integral pharmacopeia will feed coagulants and painkillers and stimulants into his system to keep him functioning even after taking such extreme levels of damage. The armor is sealed with a substance we call HarJel, which seals the Warrior within from leaks in aquatic or vacuum environments—and prevents the penetration of war gasses.” Natasha smiled. “You have absolutely no experience with Clan infantry, Morgan, so you better learn quick or they will kill you dead.”

“Natasha,” the Marshall of the AFFS said slowly, “what exactly is an anti-personnel gauss rifle?”

She laughed again. “Picture a weapon that masses a half-ton, Morgan. It deals the same damage to ‘Mechs and vehicles as a Small Laser and is approximately half as effective against infantry as machine-guns. Now give it the range of a medium laser. And the ammunition is not explosive. That’s an APG, Morgan.” She paused as the Marshall and his subordinates simply stared at her. “The weapon itself will detonate if damaged, but for a pittance of damage; and it tends to burn through ammunition quickly with only 20% the capacity per ton vis-a-vis MG ammo. Clan ‘Mechs tend to mount them in pairs for anti-personnel work—and every Elemental carries one.”

She paused to give Morgan and his staff time to absorb the information. “Elementals operate in five-man units we call Points. And they are far more mobile their own speed and jump jets indicate. All Clan OmniMechs include equipment on their outer surface for a point of Elementals to ride them into combat. A favorite tactic is to close with your opponent and let your Elementals jump across to him—where they cut their way into her cockpit with battle claws and cutting torches. Even without missiles or the APG, Elementals can rip their way through ‘Mech armor like a hot knife through butter.”

She clicked the remote again. “And this, ladies and gentlemen, is a Timber Wolf: seventy-five tons of death and destruction with the speed of a Dragon, the range of a Blackjack, the firepower of an Atlas, and the armor of an Orion. You children might want to take notes, because there will be a quiz at the end of class—and be grateful this isn’t a Homeworlds sibko: they train with live fire and average 50% of the class killed before graduation.”

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-16 02:28pm

The Fox’s Den, Palace of the First Prince, Avalon City
New Avalon, Federated Suns
December 17, 3037

The Den was rather crowded today, with not only Hanse and Melissa, but also Quintus, his son Justin and daughter-in-law Candace Allard-Liao (the sovereign ruler of the St. Ives Compact), Morgan Hasek-Davion, Jamie Wolf, and Colonel Sean Campbell, the senior officer of the Northwind Highlanders, along with the senior Elder of Northwind, Colonel Fiona Chattan. Hanse’s cousin—and one of his most loyal officers—Stephen Davion was also present.

All of those present had been briefed by Jamie Wolf, and a pall hung over the room. “So this is why you want to me to overthrow Romano and her spawn, and take back the Celestial Throne for myself,” Candace said softly. “So that you might remove a thorn in your side that you can ill afford—and gain some of my troops, Capellan troops, to defend Katrina Steiner’s realm.”

“It is, Duchess Liao,” Hanse answered her calmly. “And for doing this, I will restore our borders to the pre-4th War status, in part. Your northern border will be on the line of Styk-Shensi-Hunan-Menkar. We will keep the remainder of your former worlds.”

Candace answered, “I recognize that your Federated Commonwealth has an interest in retaining the Terran Corridor, and I will respect that interest, Prince Davion. Your territorial claims, however, go far beyond keeping the Corridor intact. I will consider nothing less than a new border on the line of Tall Trees-Hsien-Nanking, Arboris-Azha-Hamal-Yangtze- . . . and Tikonov.”

Hanse actually blinked. Then he leaned forward. “I would be glad to draw the line just south of those Federated Commonwealth worlds, Candace,” he said softly and with more than hint of menace in his voice.

“I was thinking more along the lines of the border being north of those systems. Hanse,” she answered, omitting his honorific as he had hers. "It will not be enough for me just to depose Romano and her children; I must show the Capellan people that I, not my father, not my sister, not all the warring generations that have feuded with your House back to Elias Liao, but I have accomplish a deed through diplomacy that could not be done through force of arms. I will require that you transfer New Aragon, Algot, Halloran V, Demeter, Almach, Mesartim, Mira, and Chesterton from the Federated Suns to the Capellan Confederation and foreswear any claim on these systems forever more!”

The room stood still, even as Hanse worked his jaw, his face flushing red, and he shook his head. “I hope that I did not hear you correctly, Candace? Those systems were not part of the Confederation pre-war; those are Federated Suns worlds!”

“Worlds that your ancestors took by force, Hanse. You want a peaceful border with the Confederation—then give back what your ancestors seized. We will have peace when these Chesterton worlds become part of the Capellan people once again!”

“Who the Hell do you thi-“ Hanse Davion exploded and started to stand, but he stopped at a single word from wife. “Hanse!” she snapped.

Melissa waited until her husband sat once again and she nodded. “Go on, Candace,” she said calmly.

Duchess Liao nodded at Melissa. “I can give you a peaceful and secure border, Prince Davion,” she continued. “But I will not be your puppet—no more than I would the puppet of Father. If I am to be Chancellor, then I will be Chancellor and I must give my people a symbol that shows them they are not defeated.”

She paused and gripped her husband’s hand tightly, and her face twisted in pain momentarily, but then the stoic façade she wore rose again. “And to prove that, I will bind together our Houses in blood, Hanse Davion: I pledge that my son, Kai Allard-Liao, will take as his bride your daughter Katherine Steiner-Davion, uniting once and for all our peoples. And that upon the day of his ascension to the Celestial Throne, the Capellan Confederation will officially join with the Federated Commonwealth as an associated power.”

Melissa jerked, her face turning white with shock. “She’s FIVE!” she wailed.

“And Kai is but seven. We have years yet before they will be wed, Melissa. And do not forget that all of this began with a promise of your hand in marriage to Hanse Davion.” Candace said calmly.

Hanse slowly nodded. “Anything else? You want me to conqueror the Taurian Concordat and give those worlds to you as well?”

Candace smiled. “Nothing of the sort. But there is one more matter before I will agree, Prince Davion.”

“And that is?”

“Give Northwind her independence.”

Fiona Chattan and Sean Campbell jerked, and Candace’s grin grew broader. “Your Highlanders never gained their freedom while in service to my predecessors, Colonels. But I remember well their promises to you. When I am Chancellor, I hope that you might consider serving once again the House of Liao; until then I wish to see you chart your own course separate and independent. Much like Outreach is technically no longer part of your realm, Prince Davion. These gallant warriors and their world will belong to no one other than themselves. Colonel Campbell,” she continued, “even if you choose never to accept another contract with the Confederation, I will have need of your Highlanders to remove Romano—and you might exact a small measure of revenge for all that she has done against you and your Elders. And should the First Prince agree, I will offer to rebuild the Stuart Highlanders, if he restores the 3rd Kearny; so that your roster is once again complete.”

Hanse winced. But he nodded. "On the priviso that the Highlanders accept no contract pitting them against the Federated Commonwealth."

"On the proviso that the Highlanders accept no contract to assault, raid, or invade a Federated Commonwealth world; they will be free to accept any defensive assignments from whomever they wish," Candace added, smiling at Hanse.

The First Prince's skin flushed again, but he nodded. "Acceptable."

“Aye,” the mustached Colonel answered. “Lass, I cannae answer for the Regiments, not on this issue, not with nary a meeting of the Clan Elders and the officers. But as for putting paid to that black-hearted woman on Sian, aye; that we can do.”

Hanse looked at his advisors, and one by one each nodded their—grudging—agreement. At last he looked to his wife, and she too nodded. “Fine. We will hammer out a formal agreement to be signed, but you have a deal, Candace Allard-Liao. On one condition.”

Everyone winced, but Candace only smiled. “And that is?” she echoed the First Prince.

“The Federated Commonwealth will receive 50% of the total production from Tikonov, including at least one-half of the BattleMech production.”

The Duchess of St. Ives inhaled sharply, but then she slowly nodded her head. “Done.”

Hanse stood, and everyone else came to their feet as well. “In that case, we will let you start your discussions on what you will need, Chancellor Liao, in order to liberate your throne. I have contracted with Colonel Wolf for his available units—they are at your disposal. Good day,” he finished as he extended his arm to his wife and the two of them exited the room.

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-16 08:25pm

Imperial Palace, Imperial City
Luthien, Draconis Combine
December 20, 3037

“Ah, Theodore,” Takashi Kurita growled as he rose from his seat behind the polished desk of teak, trimmed in jade. “My Gunji-no-Kanrei answers my summons swiftly.”

Theodore bowed low. “As Lord Kurita commands, I obey, Father.”

“It was not always so, my son,” Takashi whispered. And then he sat back down at his desk, gesturing towards a chair. “I have received a . . . most unusual communication, and I would have your thoughts on it.”

The younger samurai did not speak, but he only bowed his slightly, and Takashi nodded. “Would that you always had the sense to realize that sometimes words only get in the way of more important matters.” The Coordinator of the Draconis Combine pressed a button hidden beneath the edge of the desk and dark blinders lowered over the windows, the lights growing dim; a holographic projection shimmered into existence and froze.

Theodore Kurita swallowed heavily, because the figure depicted within that hologram was none other than Jamie Wolf—the man who had provoked the Dragon into ruinous action at Misery, Glenmora, Harrow’s Sun, Wapakoneta, and Crossing. The man his father hated above all others in the entire universe—even above Hanse Davion.

Hai!” chuckled Takashi. “You see now why I asked you here. ComStar delivered this message in less than twenty-four hours. Our friend has also informed me that a similar message was sent to Atreus. Observe, my son.”

The projection began to play and Wolf’s image bowed low—a perfect and precise bow held for exactly the correct amount of time. “Lord Kurita,” the image said, “I once swore that the next time I spoke to you would be at the moment of your death; I am casting that now aside. Not because I do not hate you for what you did to Minobu Tetsuhara, or what you tried to do to my Dragoon’s, but because I find that I . . . must request your assistance, Lord Kurita.”

Theodore sucked in his breath, but he didn’t say a word.

“A storm is rising, Lord Kurita. It is a storm which threatens not only your realm, but all of the Inner Sphere. Kerensky’s children are coming home.” Jamie paused and he nodded sharply. “I am one of them, sent here to provide recon data for my people prior to their Invasion. I long since changed my allegiances to that of the Inner Sphere, but my people are coming, Lord Kurita. With might of arms not seen since the Fall of the Star League.”

“I have information to share with you, with First Prince Davion, with Archon Steiner, with Captain-General Marik, and with Chancellor Liao. Alone, none of us will survive the coming tsunami; together we might prevail.” The holographic image knelt before the camera recording this. “My people have a custom called surkairede, the rite of forgiveness. I put aside my hatred, my oath of vengeance against you, Lord Kurita, and I ask that we might forgive each other. If the Dragon stands with us in defense of the Inner Sphere, we may prevail. If not, we are each destined to become slaves to their might.”

“On March 30th of 3038, I hope that you and your son Theodore will meet with me, the Primus of ComStar, and the other four leaders of the Great Houses of the Inner Sphere on the planet Northwind, Lore Kurita. I beg of you to lay aside, for now, your anger; because we need you and we need your samurai to have a fighting chance at life and freedom. I have included in this transmission a small briefing paper on the Clans of Kerensky, as my former people are known.” Jamie Wolf stood.

“I grant you my word, that you, your son, and your retinue will have safe conduct to this meeting of the Great Houses, and on your return home.”

The transmission ended.

Theodore considered the information given in the transmission; he collected and ordered his thoughts and Takashi remained silent until his son looked up. “It could be a trap, Father, but what if it is not?”

Hai. Walk with me in the gardens, my son.” Takashi said as he stood and slowly walked to the door. Theodore followed the old man out into the corridor and down a flight of stairs, then through a pair of double doors that opened upon a serene garden, filled with cherry trees full of blossoms, the gurgling of running water, the chirps of birds in all their varied splendor of plumage. The son followed the father in silence as Takashi ambled through the garden slowly, listening and inhaling the scents, enjoying the sight of the blossoms set loose upon the wind as a breeze wafted down past the stone walls.

“How many Coordinators have walked in this garden, seeking answers to questions of honor and giri, my son? It was giri, duty, which kept me focused on being a Coordinator instead of a husband, a father. And in the process, I did not see the boy become a man. A fine, fine man,” Takashi said as he laid one hand on Theodore’s shoulder.

“If it is a trap, we will face it as Kuritas,” the Coordinator said with conviction. “If Wolf speaks the truth, however, we must prepare for in that case, all the conflicts we have waged in the past will be that of children playing at being soldier.”

“Regardless, Theodore, you and I must come to terms. If there is war coming, I cannot fight it. I cannot lead our armies into battle. That role will fall to you. I will unite the Combine and exhort them to remember our honor and our history—but it must you who wields my sword.”

Takashi paused. “Could this be another scheme by the Fox to draw our attention away? Another wedding on Terra?”

“I do not believe so, Father,” answered Theodore. “There have no movements of troops towards our borders—either in the Suns or the Commonwealth. Our agents have reported no increase in logistical efforts—if it is a scheme, it is a bold one.”

Hai. The Fox has always been bold and he has been a gambler upon occasion. No, if he were aiming a blow at us, there would be units already in motion. We shall attend this gathering on Northwind—convey that response to Jamie Wolf with my voice. We will depart in a few weeks time—make what preparations you need, my son.”

Theodore bowed low and he turned to leave his father as the old man reached out his hand plucked a cherry blossom from the closest tree.

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-16 09:55pm

ComStar First Circuit
Hilton Head, Terra
December 20, 3037

Myndo Waterly’s eyes narrowed as the transmission from Hanse Davion came to an end. “He is calling for a meeting with every House Lord? Has this been confirmed?”

Charles Seneca shook his head. “So far, there has been no reported transmission to Sian, Primus. We have confirmed the contents of the messages sent to Atreus, Tharkad, Rasalhague, and Luthien, however. The Luthien message was sent by Jamie Wolf . . . and might prove interesting for your viewing, Primus.”

Precentor ROM pressed a stud on a remote and the stored transmission of Jamie Wolf played in the dimly lit chamber of the First Circuit. Several of the Precentors present gasped when Wolf revealed his origins—and when he spoke of the threat of the returning Star League.

“So here too, did Julian fail,” the Primus whispered.

“If the Star League returns, how can we . . . our Blessed Order . . . we cannot fight them!”

“Be silent you fool before I have you sent for reeducation!” Myndo snapped. “The Star League Defense Force voluntarily left—they abandoned us. They have no claim on Terra or the Inner Sphere any longer—and if they do not know the Word of Blake, then they are heretics and apostates as well. Your thoughts, Precentor Martial?”

“I have only questions, Primus,” answered Anastasius Focht.

“You were appointed as the commander of the ComGuards two years ago! I expect more than questions from you!”

Focht bowed his head. “Primus, if I may suggest, perhaps we should attend this conference. To gain more information; although I believe that Precentor ROM has already downloaded the briefing material Wolf sent to Luthien.”

“And that material said what, Precentor ROM?” Myndo asked acidly.

“My analysts are pouring over it in detail now, Primus,” Seneca answered. “We should be ready to brief you in the morning, Primus.”

The nostrils of the Primus of ComStar flared as she inhaled deeply. “I need not remind any of you that our goal is to prevent the unification of the Inner Sphere behind Hanse Davion and his bride. Redouble your efforts, Precentor ROM—we must have reliable information before we act. In the meantime, Precentor Martial, step up your training cycles for the ComGuard and prepare to accompany me to Northwind in three months time.”

“It will be done, Primus,” Focht answered. “If I may make a suggestion?”


“These . . . remnants of the SLDF might well have Star League technology long extinct in the Inner Sphere—except for our own Blessed Forces, praise Blake. If they do, they may well possess WarShips, Primus. I would request that we begin to restore our own Fleet and see to our defenses; as a precautionary measure.”

“Do you realize the cost of such an effort!” Precentor Bryant screamed.

“Yes, Precentor, I am quite aware of the fiscal cost . . . are you aware of the military and political cost of having a WarShip in orbit with nothing to fight it with? I believe that cost is even higher, one might say total.”

“You have three WarShips, Precentor Martial,” the Primus began, but she stopped in shock as Focht interrupted her.

“And the SLDF left the Inner Sphere with four hundred, if I might remind the Primus. Now, I certainly do not suggest that this force that sent the Wolf’s Dragoons—with ‘Mechs no one alive could identify within their ranks—possesses all of those ships that departed. It is likely that they suffered losses over the years, even if they did not fight anyone. And given the combat prowess of Jamie Wolf and his Dragoon’s, I would imagine they did fight wars out there. But even if they lost ninety percent of what left on the Exodus, that still leaves thirty-six WarShips, Primus. Which could be pitted against your three.”

“I see,” Myndo said even as she seethed. “Open the naval depots and begin the reactivation of every ship contained within, Precentor Martial. But I think you would best be served by devoting your attention to the ComGuards. I shall be appointing a Precentor Naval to oversee our ships.”

And he will be loyal to me, she thought. And Myndo smiled.

“As the Primus commands,” Focht answered.

“This is not the end, brethren in Blake,” Myndo intoned from her podium. “This is perhaps the greatest opportunity ComStar has ever had to end the abomination of the Federated Commonwealth. It is an opportunity that we shall seize. The Inner Sphere will only be united under our rule, in the name and at the Word of Blake.”

“Blessed be Blake!”

And the Precentors answered her. “Blessed be Blake!”
Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-06-19 08:29pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-17 06:43pm

War Room, Celestial Palace, The Forbidden City
Sian, Capellan Confederation
January 17, 3038

“What is so urgent it could not wait until morning?” Romano Liao asked as she stormed into the deeply buried bunker under the Palace Complex.

Senior Colonel Martin Golan bowed deeply. “I beg your forgiveness, Celestial Wisdom. Hostile forces have entered the Sian system and will in position to begin landing operations in forty-two minutes.”

“WHAT FORCES?” Romano thundered.

“We have confirmation on the 1st and 2nd Kearny Highlanders, Marion’s Highlanders, and McCormack’s Fusiliers—it appears that all four Regiments of the Northwind Highlanders have returned, Celestial Wisdom.”

“New transponder identities confirmed,” announced one of the technicians. “Alpha Regiment of Wolf’s Dragoons; Black Widow Battalion, Wolf’s Dragoons; Zeta Battalion, Wolf’s Dragoons; 1st St. Ives Lancers; 2nd St. Ives Lancers; St. Ives Cheveau Legers; Devon’s Armored Cavalry; Shepard’s Mounted Fusiliers; the Blackwind Lancers; Justina’s Cuirassiers,” the technician ended and he noted the stunned silence in the room and added just two words, “Celestial Wisdom.”

Romano looked over the frightened men and women within the room with disgust. “So, my sister has decided to try and take away my throne, has she?” she whispered. “Colonel Golan; you will send the planetary defense forces to their highest state of alert. I want these traitors under fire from the moment they arrive in orbit to the time they draw their final breath.”

“I have already sent the alert on my own initiative, Celestial Wisdom,” he said with a deep bow.

“Did you?” the Chancellor purred. “Perhaps I will let you live after all, Colonel Golan. Now defend my capital.”

She turned on her heel and exited to where her paramour Tsen Shang waited. He fell in lockstep with her as she pressed on into the palace complex. “That fool will never hold Candace back,” she whispered.

“Shall I remove him?”

“No. Candace is a whore but she is no fool. She has stripped her realm bare to bring this much force against me—Sian cannot hold. We will utilize the final solution.”

Tseng grinned as kept pace with her. “I have experts who will swear upon their last that it was Candace who detonated the device.”

“Good. Let us gather the children and board the DropShip. When these troops take Sian we will destroy them and the capital—and then we can rebuild. Fire cleanses all, Tseng.”

“Yes, Celestial Wisdom,” he said as the two of them reached the nursery. Romano gasped, and then she smiled at the sight which awaited. Her daughter’s latest puppy swayed back and forth on the end of long wire attached to the ceiling; one paw kicking reflexively, although it was certainly dead.

“KALI!” she screeched, and the little girl came running; she stopped before her mother and curtseyed, as her older brother—all of six—followed at a safe distance. “Kali, did you hang your bitch Candace again?”

“Yes, Mother,” she answered. And Romano smiled. “Good girl,” she said and she hugged her daughter. “Come children, we must make haste.”


Adjacent to the palace there was a hidden silo, and within that silo a fast Seeker-class DropShip. The faceless guards with their mirrored visors snapped to attention as Romano, Shang, and the children passed. This ship was kept here, ready to launch on a moment’s notice at her command; it waited for precisely this event. The ramp retracted and the doors sealed behind the Chancellor as she boarded and she crossed over the elevator that led to her mobile command center.

In seconds the car halted and the doors opened; she stepped out onto the tiles of polished wood that covered the deck surface and keyed the intercom. “This is the Chancellor. Lift off and take us to the rendezvous, Captain.”

But there was no answer. Romano frowned, and then her chair—her throne—slowly turned around to reveal Candace Liao sitting there, holding a sub-machine gun in her lap.

“Hello, sister,” Candace said.

“So, the invasion is a distraction—while you crawl in like a thief to assassinate me,” Romano spat.

“Surrender, Romano; you cannot win.”

“But I can, dear sister. I am willing to die for my beliefs,” she said as one hand darted out and hit a hidden button—but nothing happened.

“I disconnected your detonator to the suicide nuke you had stashed away, Romano,” Candace quietly said. “And there are no intact comms aboard this ship for you transmit your command for The Forbidden City to burn.”

“I have only but to yell, and my guards will be here atop of you, Candace.”

“Really? Please yell, Romano.”

Romano’s consort gave an inarticulate cry and he clawed for his holster, but a ruby beam of laser energy tore through his chest from behind a screen. And Justin Xiang Allard-Liao stepped into the light.

“Do you spread your legs for Hanse Davion as well, Candace?” Romano spat, fingering the hilt of the dagger hidden up her sleeve.

“It is good to see you, Romano,” Justin said. “Don’t worry; this will all be over very shortly. And your children will be raised by proper human beings instead of soulless monsters.”

“My children, Justin? You will never corrupt my innocent children,” Romano spat and the knife slid into her hand, slicing Sun-Tzu along the forearm as the Chancellor grabbed Kali and held the blade at her throat. She smiled as she slit her daughter’s throat from ear-to-ear, as Justin stared in horror, shock keeping him from firing. Candace noticed that young Sun Tzu was frothing at the mouth, and he started going into convulsions on the floor.

“Poison. How so like you Romano; if you cannot win you will destroy the game.”

“They were my brats—I have the right to determine their fate.”

Candace raised the SMG and slid off the safety. “Not anymore, sister. Good bye,” she finished as she tightened her finger on the trigger and the weapon barked, dozens of bullets riddling Romano Liao until she lay in a pool of blood.

The new Chancellor dropped the weapon and she thumbed a switch on her chair. “Establish communications with Colonel Golan, Captain. Let’s see if they still want a fight. I will be ont he bridge momentarily.”

“By your command, Celestial Wisdom,” her commando’s voice came back from the bridge of the ship.

Candace sat back, and she gazed upon the bodies of her dead sister, her dead nephew, her dead niece. “Justin, make certain the guards take proper care of the bodies,” she said as she stood.

“Of course, Candace,” he whispered as his wife, the Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation walked out through the hatch and made her way towards the bridge.

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-17 08:51pm

ComStar First Circuit
Hilton Head, Terra
January 23, 3038

It was late in the evening, well past midnight in fact, but Gregory Zwick had been summoned here, to the First Circuit itself. Gregory didn’t question the order—one didn’t do that in Myndo Waterly’s ComStar—but he was not surprised to find the First Circuit empty, cold, and dim.

“Demi-Precentor Gregory Zwick, reporting as ordered!” he snapped anyway.

“Excellent,” purred a voice hidden in the darkness. And the Primus brought up the lights to reveal the chamber empty except for her and Zwick.

“Primus,” Gregory said with a bow.

“Demi-Precentor Zwick, I understand that you have a fascination for ancient ships?”

“I served aboard Narbonne once, Primus. I yearn to one day command such a grand vessel.”

Myndo nodded. Her ROM files indicated the man before her was utterly loyal, a dedicated follower of Blake, and next in line for command of an independent exploration JumpShip. She nodded to herself, and motioned for Zwick to accompany her as she turned to leave the First Circuit behind.

Gregory did so—of course!—and he trailed behind her without a word as she led him through empty offices and waiting rooms, and then finally into a well-appointed parlor. “Do you drink, Demi-Precentor?” she asked as she poured herself a small glass.

“In moderation only, Primus; and only when I am not on duty. I am technically still on duty this evening,” he answered. The Primus smiled again as she sat and motioned for Gregory to take a seat for himself.

“Demi-Precentor Zwick, I am concerned that our Precentor Martial is becoming too diverted to concentrate upon what should be his steadfast focus on my ComGuards. The rigors of the naval environment are something which he never trained for—and he has not the love of the ships in his blood. But you do.” She smiled, and Gregory sat very, very still.

“I am thinking of appointing you as Precentor Naval, Gregory Zwick, with orders to prepare the Fleets of ComStar. I want all of our ships ready for service as quickly as humanly possible.”

Gregory’s jaw dropped. “ALL of our ships, Primus?”

“Is there a problem with, Precentor Naval?”

The newly promoted naval officer nodded his head slowly. “Primus, we have three actual WarShips on active duty, all Dante-class frigates, plus another six Faslane-class Mobile Repair Yards. Four of those yards are deployed on distant stations. Titan is . . . Primus, the Titan Yards are ninety percent inactive at the moment. There simply hasn’t been a reason to run them at anything approaching normal level of operation, Star Level normal levels.”

He paused and he considered. “We have two Faslanes in the reserve Fleet Yards at Luyten 68-28 and Ross 248. Those ships are operational, and our first priority will be to reactive the two Newgrange-class Mobile Repair Yards while bringing Titan fully back on-line. This will take at least a year to assemble the manpower and complete the work. Only then can we start activating the ships.” He paused and considered again, nodding his head.

“At the moment, we have one battleship, one troop cruiser, five battle cruisers, three heavy cruisers, five cruisers, four frigates, twenty-seven destroyers, and seven corvettes at the two Reserve Yards and in other caches. Our next step will be to active the last Dante-class we have in the Reserve and convert all four of these ships into training vessels as we begin reactivation.” He shook his head. “Primus we can pull many engineers and technicians from our JumpShip Fleet, but there are multiple roles aboard a WarShip that must be filled by specialized personnel. We will require time to train them.”

Myndo smiled and she nodded. “How long?”

“Two years, perhaps three before we can even think about activating additional WarShips. By then, we will have run four, maybe six classes through the Dantes, and our Mobile Repair Yards will have finished their refit on the next four ships—I would recommend cruisers or heavy cruisers, so that our personnel can start getting experience. By that time, our remaining Faslanes will have returned Terra, and we can start to restore eight ships at a time, getting their K/F drives working so that Titan can do the real hard labor. Five years from now, we might have twelve or fourteen ships in service—give me a decade and I can restore and man thirty or thirty-five ships. Fifteen years and everything we have will be on active duty.”

“But it will be very expensive, Primus,” Gregory finished.

“Yes. It will, Precentor Naval. That is not your concern, for the First Circuit has already authorized me to appoint you and reactivate our Fleet. I will give you a decade Precentor Naval, a decade to have all of our ships restored. Do not fail me.”

“Primus, it will be all but impossible to res-. . .”

“All things are possible with sufficient faith in Blake, Precentor Naval. Should I rethink my decision to appoint you?”

Gregory stood and he bowed low. “I will have your ships available within the decade, Primus,” he said.

“Good. And if you do not, Precentor Naval, remember there are ambitious young Adepts and Demi-Precentors and Precentors out there looking for your job. Do not give me a reason to have you sent to Tierra del Fuego for reeducation, Precentor Naval. You may depart and get to work on your assigned tasks. Now, Precentor Naval.”

Gregory bowed his way out of the door, and then he started walking for the exit. Time to get off Hilton Head and back in space, he thought! And even if I can’t make the horse sing, I’ve got ten years to play with honest to God WarShips!

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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-18 02:08pm

JumpShip Chrysanthemum
Zenith Jump Point, Northwind
March 24, 3038

“Jump complete, Lord Kurita,” the commander of the JumpShip said with a slight bow towards the Coordinator and his son. Takashi nodded his head in answer—he had chosen the Monolith-class Chrysanthemum to show his fellow Lords the strength of the Dragon; after all such rare ships were devoted to only the largest of military operations. And the fact that his ship had nine docking collars had allowed him to bring along his entire Otomo, two full DEST commando teams, two battalions of the 2nd Sword of Light Regiment, an entire aerospace fighter wing and its Vengeance-class carrier, and two assault DropShips (both Achilles)—in addition to his personal Command DropShip.

The corner of the Dragon’s mouth lifted in a smirk. If Hanse Davion was laying a trap, he would quickly find that Takashi was not so easily ensnared. Then he frowned. The ship’s command staff had suddenly stiffed, with officers rushing around to various stations, almost in a state of panic. The commander’s eyes grew wild and he quietly—but urgently—barked out commands into his headset.

Theodore cleared his throat, drawing the attention of the ship's commander, for he as well noted the change in demeanor.

“Lord Kurita, Gunji-no-kanrei; we are being informed by Northwind Zenith Control that our DropShips will have an escort to the planetary surface; an escort provided by the Wolf’s Dragoons. I-I,” the man stammered and he shook his head, “if my Lords would observe for themselves.” He finished with a bowed head.

Curiosity raised, Takashi walked over to a monitor screen, his son at his side. The crewman seated there pulled up a visual image of the escort as it closed on the Jump Point—and Takashi’s blood ran cold, even as his son spat out a curse.

Chikushoume,” his son whispered. “That’s a Sovetskii Soyuz heavy cruiser!”

Takashi grunted. “I will take your word for it, Theodore. You built enough models of the old Fleets of the Inner Sphere as a child to know better than I. And control your language—your time among the criminals is showing through, my son,” he whispered. And nodded his head in thought. The WarShip on the screen was painted a flat black, adorned only with a slavering wolf’s jaws emblem of the Dragoons. So you were speaking the truth, Jaime, he thought to himself.

“My Lord Kurita,” the commander interrupted. “The vessel is hailing us; they have identified themselves as the Wolf’s Dragoons Ship Athena, and are ready to escort your DropShip to Northwind at your convenience.”

“Send my compliments to Athena, Commander and inform them that will be disengage from our JumpShip in thirty minutes. Gunji-no-kanrei, I believe that our escorts will not be needed. Have both DEST teams transferred to my DropShip; they and the Otomo will accompany you and I; the remainder will remain aboard this ship until our return.”

“Hai, father,” his son answered. Then he stepped close. “And if Jaime Wolf decides to end this feud once and for all?”

Takashi snorted. “Then the rest of ships would just add to the number of targets for that vessel. At least he has not painted a yellow bird on the nose of that monster. Go, and make certain all in readiness; it appears that we will have much to discuss with the Wolf and the Fox at this conference.”

Theodore Kurita snapped to attention and then he quickly left the bridge of the Monolith, but his father kept staring at the screen. Staring at a ship long thought extinct and wondering what new revelations would be found on the planet far below.
Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-06-19 08:32pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jedi Master
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Re: Scorpio Ascendant

Postby masterarminas » 2012-06-18 08:50pm

The Chamber of Elders, Tara
March 30, 3038

Colonel Fiona Chattan, the senior Elder of the assembled Clans of Northwind stood as the last of her invited guests entered the room. Behind her there hung six banners on the stone wall; each bearing the emblem of one of Regiments of the Northwind Highlanders. And in the exact center of those six banners marching across the blocks of granite stood an oak stand, holding six scabbards, each with a sheathed Claymore.

“As Speaker of the Elders of Northwind, the spokesman for all which live and work upon this world, I bid you welcome,” she said to the assembly seated at the round table before her. Hanse Davion and his wife Melissa to her left, followed by Candace Liao and her husband Justin. Then Thomas Marik, who sat alone, followed by Katrina Steiner—also without a companion. Haakon Magnusson, the Elected Prince of Rasalhague was next, followed by Takashi Kurita and his son Theodore. And then, to Fiona’s right sat the Primus of ComStar, accompanied by two of her acolytes, theirs faces shielded behind mirrored visors.

“What is this nonsense?” snarled Myndo Waterly. “Where is the Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation? I see the Duchess of St. Ives, but where is her sister?”

“Dead, Primus,” answered Candace, “my sister, her consort, and her children lie dead—and it is my St. Ives Lancers who today guard my capital of Sian.”

Murmurs rose around the table, and Thomas Marik slowly nodded his appreciation; Romano had proven to be more of thorn to him than any other except Hanse Davion, after all; especially when she had encouraged and then actively aided the Andurien worlds to once again secede from his realm. Of course, that had backfired on her when Canopian and Andurien troops invaded Capellan space; but her hand had been behind, Thomas was certain.

Meanwhile, Myndo Waterly had grown red-faced with anger, as she whispered too loudly to her subordinates, demanding to know why she had not been told. Several of the Lords seated at the table smiled broadly; seeing the Primus of ComStar embarrass herself in public was a rare treat—and slowly Myndo’s voice trailed off and she grew quiet once more.

“I claim the title of Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation by right of blood ties to the House of Liao which rules it; my brother Tormano has already accepted me as his sovereign and pledged his allegiance. As have the Warrior Houses of Sian and the Red Lancers. Further, my Lords and Ladies, I have entered into a peace treaty with the Federated Suns, ending officially our conflict begun in the Fourth Succession War. As part of the terms of that treaty, the Federated Commonwealth will return the Confederation to its pre-war borders, excep-. . .”

Whispers of excitement arose as those staff not seated at the table allowed their voices to carry too high, but Candace raised her own in irritation, “excepting only the worlds closer to Terra than a line extending from Tall Trees to Tikonov, through the systems of Hsien, Nanking, Arboris, Azha, Hamal, and Yangtze. In exchange, Prince Davion will transfer the following systems back to the Capellan Confederation: New Aragon, Algot, Halloran V, Demeter, Almach, Mesartim, Mira, and Chesterton. As an additional part of this Treaty, Prince Davion has declared Northwind an independent world—and the four currently existing Regiments of Northwind Highlanders have returned to the service of the Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation. For my part, I have pledged to officially join the Federated Com-“

Once again voices arose, and Myndo Waterly looked absolutely furious as her face drained of all color.

TO OFFICALLY JOIN,” Candace shouted, and the noise ebbed, “the Federated Commonwealth as an autonomous associated power. I could have told each of you this over the HPG, but since we were meeting anyway,” she shrugged. And then she sat.

Takashi Kurita’s face was motionless; there was no outward sign of his emotions. But his keen mind quickly ran through the permutations, and he slowly nodded in a silent salute. Well played, Fox, he thought. If it were not for these Clans and their soon to arrive invasion, you would have the forces you need to deal with me and Thomas once and for all time. That is if Myndo doesn’t unleash what my son fears that she harbors on veiled Terra.

“Well,” continued Fiona. “With that out of the way, I shall now depart from your deliberations, my Lords. But first, allow me to introduce the one who will preside over this assembly: Jaime Wolf.”

She stepped back, and Hanse Davion along with his wife rose, followed by Candace and Justine, Katrina and Thomas, Haakon Magnusson, and then at last Takashi and his son. Even Myndo stood, and the Coordinator silently tsked at her expression. Player’s in the Great Game, Myndo Waterly, he thought to himself, they must control events around them—but before they can do that, they must first control themselves. You are a poor player upon this stage, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.

The Coordinator of the Draconis Combine turned his eyes upon his most hated of foes, Jamie Wolf, as the bearded man shook hands with Colonel Chattan, and then stood at her podium between Myndo and Hanse. But when the Primus flinched, the Coordinator turned back to her once more, and he could see that she hated Wolf far more than he did—and Takashi Kurita frowned.

The Lords of the Inner Sphere sat once more as Wolf stood there. “The reason you were all called here today is a simple one at its heart: Kerensky’s Army is returning home.” Jaime Wolf held up one hand to stop the questions. “The story is a long one, and I must ask for your patience. In 2784, General Aleksandyr Kerensky led the remnants of the Star League Defense Forces away from the Inner in an attempt to keep those units from joining in the madness of the Succession Wars. No one here knew the true story of what happened once he disappeared into the Deep Periphery. Until today. Today, I will relate that tale to you, and present you with the proof that you need to accept that his descendants—my brothers and sisters who call themselves the Clans of Kerensky—are returning to conqueror us all. It all began . . .”

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