10/04/3050. Day 138, 06:00
14/04/3050. Day 142, 08:00
Plans to re-launch the former Draconis jumpship DCS Hi No Kaze were in full swing, with the intention this too would come under the Hauptmann’s command. Two rival plans were in place, each with their own risks. First was to attempt a KF-Jump from the planet’s surface despite the gravitational interference. Second was to attempt to lift the ship into orbit using booster rockets.
The handing over of the Draconis Combine captives was conducted, after Hauptmann Samara Hellstrom got the cooperative Draconis Combine communications officer from the dropship signed up with her Gray Death Legion allies. To preserve her family’s honour she hacked the records to fake her own death, before beginning her new life with the Gray Death Legion mercenary company.
15/04/3050. Day 143
Ingrid ‘Mouse’ Marsh conducted the first training session covering KF-Engine and HPC equipment, trying to spread her inside knowledge to the company’s leading scientific and technical experts; Professor Anna Morozov, Dmitri Radchenko, and CPO Lionel Barclay.
Adept VI-Iota Michelle Abnett began a program of additional training of PAL and Battle Armour cadets as part of Special Project 17. Over the following days she gave the cadets crash course in suit use, augmented-infantry tactics, ground operations and a crash course in space operations. Unlike the advanced class (now graduates) following Professor Anna Morozov and the Hellions, this was a larger class being trained for the AFFS.
Jacques Dubois decided against visiting his uncle Laurent and the family logging plantation.
Ruin Dmitar was not contacted by any of the factions of spies meddling with his life. One potential factor was that Adept IX-Epsilon Bryce Alexander had remained upon Atlantia to oversee the Strata led recommissioning of the HPG Station near Fort Vigilance.
Samara Hellstrom had possibly the strangest experience after returning to Strata with an earnest yet awkward invitation from Professor Anna Morozov to meet with her family. Over dinner she introduced her commanding officer to her ‘brother’ Doctor Cayden Morozov and ‘sister’ Engineer Vivian Morozov, but revealed that was only a cover story due to the unusually long lifespans of Trueborns. The truth was Anna was truly Star Commander Janice, a defector from Clan Jade Falcon, and that Cayden was formerly Scientist Cormac also of Clan Jade Falcon. Both had suffered misfortunes ending their careers in the warrior caste and then defected after forming an illicit romantic relationship. Vivian was really their daughter. The professor had moved her family to Strata because she thought it would be the safest place for them, wether the clan invasion succeeded or failed. The hidden purpose of the meeting was to impress upon the Hauptmann that she’d thrown her lot in fully with the Inner Sphere.
19/04/3050. Day 147
Balancing the risks of the two plans Samara Hellstrom eventually chose to attempt the surface-to-space jump as this would theoretically cause less risk to the solar sails of the jumpship. She took the Harbinger and a minimal compliment to attempt the KF-Jump operation without risking any additional lives. All personnel within 30 km of the ship were evacuated in preparation for the jump.
20/04/3050. Day 148
An urgent call came through from Hpt. General Lucius Morgan ordering the Hellions to investigate the Lyran world Malachite which had gone silent and was in the path of the Clan Occupation Zone. Samara Hellstrom accepted the orders but insisted she needed a minimum of two more days to prepare.
The Jumpship was capable of 30 lightyear jumps, and though each jump was effectively instantaneous the ship required six to nine days at each star to recharge the drive. The five jump passage would unfortunately necessitate a full month of travel.
Hauptmann Samara Hellstrom elected to launch the Harbinger and scout out the (presumed) hostile forces before committing the Asphodel or Charon and any Battlemech forces. Meanwhile the Erebus entered silent running.
24/05/3050. Day 182
The stealthy Harbinger landed undetected on Planet Malachite after evading the casual sensor measures of the garrison force. Setting out on foot, Samara Hellstrom, Ruin Dmitar, Jacques Dubois, Ingrid ‘Mouse’ Marsh, and a squad of PAL troopers under Sergeant Dirk Wolf set out through the forest to reconnoitre the city.
On the way to the city the augmented infantry team were dogged by an unusual battlemech with five strange battle armour troopers aboard. It was a heavy Battlemech with strong electronic warfare capabilities. Unfortunately they had neglected to bring Point Commander Michelle who could have identified them, but fortunately they did not for the hostile units were of Clan Jade Falcon to which Michelle of Clan Wolf had a bitter enmity towards, and vice versa. After two close misses the hostile ’mech moved out of the area, possibly seeking some other target or returning to a normal patrol route.
Ruin Dmitar snuck forward and discovered another enemy ’mech guarding the city, but had apparently deployed its contingent of Battle Armour troopers as a city garrison (and occupation force). This was an assault Battlemech but fortunately with less advanced electronic warfare capabilities. Ruin proceeded to the cities HPG Station and discovered a wrecked Com Guard Battlemech there and other signs of combat.
After Ruin Dmitar exfiltrated the city and reporting to Samara Hellstrom, the scouting force began to withdraw back to the Harbinger. As they did the assault battlemech moved out towards their position, but then veered off. Passing close by the concealed augmented infantry force allowed pursuit.
Ruin Dmitar took the lead, sneaking up behind the clan ’mech and scaled it using the hand-holds mounted on it to transport elementals, elementals it had left behind in the city. The ’mech pilot seemed unused to the danger of augmented infantry attack such as this, having relied upon his guard team of elementals for protection and allowing him to focus on ’mech to ’mech battles. He also appeared focused upon his quarry as Ruin hacked the electronic lock on the hatch and dropped an EMP grenade into the cockpit. As the ’mech lost control due to the grenade, Ruin subdued the pilot and awaited the arrival of the rest of the scouting party.
Once the ‘mech systems had re-initialised, Samara Hellstrom took control of the prize, only to discover an incoming hostile battlemech. This turned out to be Adept VII-Epsilon Yuuki Yamada and her Crab battlemech, who mistook Samara’s call to stand down as a trick and opened fire. Samara not returning fire convinced the Adept of Samara’s sincerity, however.
With the recon complete and two battlemechs in tow Samara led the force back to the Harbinger. The captive, Point Commander Ivan, proved unusually cooperative and used strange terms and ritualistic behaviour which Point Commander Michelle explained for her Inner Sphere allies. Among the clans, captured warriors would become bondsmen of the forces that captured them until they earned the trust of their captors and entered their ranks as a fellow warrior. He also detailed the Clan Jade Falcon personnel (but not equipment) on the planet, and the three leaders Star Captain Dayna Malthus, Nova Commander Silas Pryde and Star Commander Slade Thastus.
Adept VII-Epsilon Yuuki Yamada believed that two or three of her lance might still be active but she had not been able to establish communication since the invasion.