25/05/3050. Day 183
The group rested before Samara Hellstrom started organising her forces to draw out and defeat the other Clan Jade Falcon ‘mech. Her plan was to attempt to challenge the clan pilot using the newly captured Gargoyle, with Adept VII-Epsilon Yuuki Yamada’s Crab hidden nearby incase it was needed. Samara chose a flooded marsh, which was currently dry and mostly clear of trees, located roughly 80km from Peridot city.
The clan pilot, Point Commander June, responded to the communication from the formerly allied battlemech and headed to the coordinates Samara had provided. Unbeknownst to the Hellions, June had contacted her commander Star Captain Dayna Malthus to inform her of the challenge and that she would contact again following her victory.
Point Commander June arrived in her Hellbringer and carrying five Elemental warriors in Elemental Medium Battle Armour. Samara and June bargained, which June referred to as “batchall” and determining the terms of the fight and the prize for the winner. This turned out to be the loser’s ‘mech and the defeated pilot would become the other’s bondsman (like Point Commander Ivan had). The Elementals started to spread out around the edge of the flooded marsh, the “Circle of Equals” for this “Trial of Possession”.
It turned out that Samara’s tactics and skill were enough to win the day without the intervention of the Crab, the terrain she had chosen and the size of the field of engagement advantaged the heavy hitting but closer-ranged weapons of her Gargoyle, nicknamed the “Fugly” and disadvantaged the long-range weaponry of the Hellbringer. Point Commander June had been foolish to assume she was more skilled than the freebirth challenger and that her skill would overcome this disadvantage.
In the final moment of the duel Samara got behind her opponent, finishing her with one shot into the back of the ’mech and then a final blow deliberately to the back of the knee, felling the Hellbringer. The Gargoyle had only suffered armour damage, but more critically Samara had used most of its small load of SRMs.
The bodyguard of Elementals looked on with confusion, not having expected their assigned mechwarrior to be defeated and for their ride back to the city to be felled and claimed by the enemy. Samara ordered them over and narrowly avoided landing herself in a challenge to the lead elemental, but managed to prompt a challenge between Jacques Dubois and the Elemental leader Point Commander James.
James and Jacque dismounted their battle armour and negotiated, as they sized each other up. James read that Jacque wasn’t going to use his cybernetic hand (as a unfair advantage) and prepared to also refrain from using his own right hand (in the spirit of equality and fairness) then Jacque came up with an idea to try a modified Dual au Mouchier where each would hold one end of the bondcord with their right hand and the loser would be the first to lose hold of the cord.
The fight was a good one, with both trying to learn the style of fighting and manoeuvring with the cord connecting them. Most of the fight was spent brawling on the ground and trying to push one another to the limit. Finally Jacque’s skill (and the guidance of the moose) let him lay low the bigger and stronger Elemental trooper. Once he came to, James accepted his defeat with good grace and sportsmanship, accepting the bondcord and Jacque as his bondholder. James’ squad of elementals would follow his lead, in a limbo-area where they were not defeated and not acting like they needed to become bonsdmen but were now loyal to Jacques Dubois and the Hellions.
The captured Clan Jade Falcon personnel at this stage were:
- Gargoyle pilot Point Commander Ivan, captured by Ruin Dmitar.
- Hellbringer pilot Point Commander June, captured by Samara Hellstrom.
- Elemental trooper Point Commander James, captured by Jacques Dubois.
- Elemental trooper Snow, following Point Commander James.
- Elemental trooper Michael, following Point Commander James.
- Elemental trooper Amy, following Point Commander James.
- Elemental trooper Phillip, following Point Commander James.
Of the Elementals, Snow appeared to be a replacement, she was younger than the others and the others bore the familial similarities of being of the same ‘sibko’ of trueborns.
Samara Hellstrom had Ruin Dmitar organise the withdrawal of the still undetected Crab then Ruin returned to Samara. Meanwhile Samara ordered the captured clan personnel to repair the Hellbringer sufficiently for it to be walked back to the Harbinger, which would take roughly 90 minutes.
The clan personnel were helpful and un-trecherous, and got put to work patching up the Gargoyle and starting repairs on the Hellbringer. Unfortunately the Hellions had a severe shortage of ’mech parts on Malachite, their battlemechs and battlemech supplies were in space still with the warship and dropships.
Point Commander Ivan reported to his bondholder Ruin Dmitar to inform him that they could patch the Gargoyle‘s armour well (by scavenging the Hellbringer’s), that it had plenty of remaining autocannon ammunition, but the main problem was they couldn’t re-load the SRM launchers which were nearly out. A total of three reloads were transferred from the Hellbringer’s remaining SRM load but that only brought the two SRMs of the Gargoyle to roughly half capacity.
Point Commander June reported to her bondholder Samara Hellstrom to inform her that the Hellbringer was repairable but would need spare parts, bringing up the point that the nearby clan dropship had such supplies and repair facilities. Samara began working on plans to capture the Clan Jade Falcon dropship.
Checking with the Harbinger’s crew, Samara found that the orbiting clan dropship and its aerospace fighter compliment would be passing to the far side of the planet in twelve hours and that would be the best time to launch an operation. That gave time to patch up the Gargoyle and for the team to get rest.
26/05/3050. Day 184
Twelve hours later but still in the same ‘day’ (local time) as the Hellbringer challenge, Samara Hellstrom led her forces to the Dropship. Strangely, the Clan Jade Falcon personnel could be entrusted with defence of the Hellbringer under command of Sergeant Dirk Wolf and his power armour platoon.
Michelle’s advice was spot on, Star Captain Dayna Malthus was present in her Summoner. Samara Hellstrom drew out the batchall process as much as she could to give Ruin Dmitar as much time as possible to infiltrate the dropship.
Equipped with his stealth enhanced Nighthawk Mk3 power armour, Ruin Dmitar warily and carefully approached the dropship and found two of its five ramps (on the far side from where Star Captain Dayna Malthus was making her stand) were open and each led to a double ’mech bay. He spotted a new type of Clan Battle Armour, massive Gnome suit troopers were on-guard (but casual). Luckily for Ruin these elementals were on-guard for forces of battlemechs and battle suits, not lightly armoured covert operatives. The Gnome Elementals were also distracted by the imminent duel, and since the hostile forces had announced themselves they were on lower alert.
Hauptmann Samara Hellstrom trashed talked Star Captain Dayna Malthus, reinforcing Malthus’ assumption this was an upstart Inner Sphere barbarian. The two bargained that the winner would win the other’s ‘mech, but though the defeated pilot becoming a bondsman was standard practice that wasn’t spelt out. Unbeknownst to the Hellions, Malthus had some contingency orders in place in the Dropship.
The dual began, with Malthus and Hellstrom being equally matched as pilots. Malthus manoeuvred her Summoner away, trying to keep range on the Gargoyle so its close range arsenal would be disadvantaged and her mixed arsenal including longer ranged weapons would have an edge. Samara advancer her Gargoyle resolutely, under cover of its anti-missile systems, to bring her heavy autocannons to bear. Both pilots exchanged fire, blasting through the other ’mechs armour at roughly the same time. The brutal dual raged on, with the Gargoyle gaining the upper hand as it closed to optimal range for its autocannons. Malthus tried to charge to bring some of her support-weapons to bear, but her Summonerwas cored by two final autocannon shells and fell backward to the ground.
The moment she fell, the dropship prepared to lift off.
Meanwhile Ruin Dmitar hot-wired the security system of one of the lifts and headed for the bridge. The dropship engines were powering up. He reached the bridge, to discover a third phenotype of clan trueborns, the as-yet unseen aerospace pilots. These warriors were wiry and child-sized, with disproportionately large eyes. As their leader went for his sidearm, Ruin used his power armour to spring forward and subdue him with a flurry of precision blows. The remaining crew looked on, stunned. Ruin ordered them to cut the engines and they obeyed, then Ruin noticed blinking red lights of a silent alarm.
Expecting the gnome troopers to storm the bridge, Ruin ordered the dropship bridge crew out, occupying the lifts and blocking the elemental troopers access, temporarily. On the way out one gestured to the unconscious form of Star Captain Declan and mouthed ‘run’ to Ruin, motivated by gratitude that this Inner Sphere barbarian hadn’t just opened fire and killed them all with the power armour scale weapon he was carrying.
Samara Hellstrom pulled back her forces away from the dropship, knowing the damage that would inflict on nearby units. Star Captain Dayna Malthus’s retinue of Gnome elementals withdrew from the ship toward their fallen leader, and once there it appeared Samara had chosen not to claim Malthus as a bondsmen. After a moment of confusion the gnomes helped Malthus out of the cockpit and the group of six withdrew toward the tree line.
Battle Suit weapon fire started sounding within the dropship, as Ruin Dmitar exfiltrated via an emergency escape hatch, carrying the unconscious Star Captain. A crowd of sixty people in clan uniforms fled the dropship, followed by ten Gnome troopers who (once the crowd were clear) opened fire on Samara Hellstrom’s Gargoyle. After an exchange of fire, with the Gnomes LRMs proving ineffective and a careful demonstration of the ’mechs autocannons, Samara was able to order their surrender. The elementals complied and saw to their wounded companion. The dropship crew fell into line, which military force they were supporting made no difference to them, and went a long way to explaining how clan society managed to function.
It turned out the Gnomes had scuttled the dropship by blasting its fusion reactor, leaving it immobilised (and unpowered). Ironically this suited the Hellions needs perfectly as all the supplies were captured intact, along with the (unpowered) repair facilities. This left neither side with ’mech transport capabilities on the planet.
Samara Hellstrom ordered the Harbinger to relocate there and planned to try to use the smaller vessel’s power plan to partially re-power the dropship’s facilities. The plan was to get the Gargoyle repaired first while the Crab stood guard, followed by the Hellbringer and finally the newly captured Summoner.
This left the Hellions with the task of liberating the city, and its garrison force of elementals.