31st Century

Chapter 2

Six months later —

Commander Banshee looked out of her scout 'Mech for anything unusual. Her pride and joy was fast, about 130 kph, but certainly not the fastest of the scout 'Mechs in the realm. Her past six months of scouting on her home world had been tiresome, yet she wondered why her leader, Khan Wild Dawg, had appointed her this task. Banshee was exceptionally good with scouting and uncovering where enemies were. She also recalled the time when she alone managed to prevent a wide-scale ambush under those of her command. She was highly commended for her actions and made field promotion to Galaxy Commander and a Council Member of Fierce Panthers. This was the highest honor in the Clan, where no Trial of Position[1] was required. Banshee shook her head, causing her ponytail to sway and hit her sides. Suddenly an explosion off in the distance of a communication array took place, followed by several more explosions.

Banshee gasped in shock, but didn't let herself stare, "All hands, engage in stealth mode towards the array! I'll scout the area!"

After several acknowledgments, she gunned the throttle to full speed directly at the explosion. She made sure to keep track of the radar, via several drones in the atmosphere. The home planet had drones flying about and the only purpose they had was to track all 'Mech movement, friendly and non-friendly. As she was well within 1000 miles of the array, nothing was showing up under the radar, yet she could see some kind of movement off in the distance. She knew very well her 'Mech had ECM[2] and a BAP[3], but it wasn't enough. She had to rely on visual confirmations, when she suddenly stopped dead in her tracks, as she was staring at a brigade of 'Mechs together, moving about in patrol. Thankfully, she hadn't been discovered and switched her radar mode into stealth mode.

She silently radioed her lance, "Guys, find a secure spot to hide; we have company, and none of us are fully equipped to battle them!"

"WHAT?!" came a voice over the comms. "How could that be? This planet is full of patrols, and no one is permitted in a 'Mech other than the Fierce Panthers!"

"I'm well aware of that, Laser, but the fact remains, they might have disabled our patrols and took over the 'Mech hangar there." She took a few moments of silence to think before continuing, "Air Fright isn't gunna like this."

Just then another voice sounded on the radio, "No... Wild Dawg won't like this at all."

The tone was flat out serious, and Banshee could tell something was wrong. Just how the hell did you get around to that side, Death?!"

"Well, I went for a stroll and got lost. But before you lose your temper, the explosion caught my attention, and I thought it was me being hit. Turns out it wasn't, and when I looked to see what happened, I saw more than ten 'Mechs scattered with no DropShip in sight, and our 'Mech hangar suffered a complete loss. I had to back up, jump out and scout on foot. My 'Mech is currently shut down, so no one could pick it up, and yes, it is behind a hill, well hidden, of course. And before I finish, just what the hell does the word W-O-B mean?"

Banshee's angered expression suddenly turned pale. For the first time in her life, she suddenly felt real fear. Not the kind of fear she faced when she went against Khan Wild Dawg in a coliseum battle for show, but real fear; that was far greater than such. She had heard of the term before and read up on the certain group of people who are behind the name. The things they do are universe-wide; they are everywhere. Their numbers exceed that of entire Clans.

There was a very long silence over comms before Death and Laser responded several times to get their Commander's attention. For the longest time, they almost believed she might have gotten caught. No one in their Clan had ever discovered Banshee's hiding spots. This was how good she was at concealing herself.

Finally there was a voice over the comms, but it was in a slight quivering tone. "Guys, meet me at Nav Epsilon in one hour on my mark... MARK! Death, get the hell outta there fast! I know you have a longer walk, but you have the time, and maintain radio silence! I will explain everything later!" With that, Banshee turned the comms off before anyone could acknowledge her orders and question them.

Off in the distance, further out, Laser had already turned to leave for the rendezvous point. He would be the first to arrive at the secure location.

Banshee somewhat felt pinned between a rock and a hard place to get out of. She knew how good this group was and she hoped she was better. She carefully turned her light 'Mech around and started for Nav Epsilon. She felt she had plenty of cover with all the buildings around, but once she was out in the open, it would be difficult to stay hidden. She had to use every trick in the book she knew, and all of her experience at not getting caught. Right before she rammed the throttle to full speed, a huge 'Mech suddenly appeared in front of her, stopping her dead in her tracks!

Death had been listening to the orders over comms when suddenly they went silent. He knew what radio silence was and he immediately shut it off, but not before scanning the area for possible escape routes. The only good route he saw was the same way he happened to arrive from, but he just couldn't remember. Turning quickly to return to his 'Mech, he spotted a DropShip off in the distance. At first he thought it was a speck of dust or tumbleweed, but closer inspection revealed it was indeed a DropShip. The area they were assigned to patrol in was a flat desert with high heat and dust storms. Somehow, there wasn't any dust storm in sight, which was very rare. On occasion, the storms would be violent with high winds. He failed to realize why their leader had picked this specific planet, but he figured it was because of the heat.

He pulled out his binoculars to get a better look at the Dropship; it seemed small, but he knew they were huge. He made sure to take a few pictures using a mini-camera built into the binoculars, which contained the location of the DropShip, and its distance. He thought for a moment, wondering if he would be rewarded for his performance, but now wasn't the time for such things. He had to get the information back to his leaders so they could analyze the situation.

It suddenly dawned on him that he felt he needed to leave the area. Call it instinct, or whatever, it was just a feeling and he wasn't about to ignore it. For a sixteen-year-old, he was of average height and strength, but extremely intelligent. He knew if it came to hand to hand combat, he'd lose for sure. No matter what training he underwent, it was always the physical exertions that exhausted him, but in the end he overcame that with his smarts. He had studied under Banshee for a year and winged with her for six months after she took him under her wing. This was his first mission and he didn't want to screw it up. Excitement and fear took over as he started to jog towards his 'Mech. Once he arrived, he climbed into the cockpit and powered it up. The first thing he did was to check his radar mode, and he was relieved to find it was in stealth mode, as well as the radio. Instead of the quicker way, which was straight towards the DropShip, he had to take the much longer way around and be quick about it.

He had the lightest 'Mech, a Flea. It was no more than 20 tons and could run at an extremely high speed when needed. At times, it wouldn't hold any weapons, but he was told one or two can be worth it. The Flea was very light on armor, almost paper-thin, and only about fifteen to twenty feet tall. The standard Flea was only 97 Kph and Death had it customized to go 155 Kph. No one really knew why he did that, but he wanted to be able to deliver information as fast and timely as possible.

Once Death navigated his 'Mech out of the hiding spot, he brought his speed up to half to clear the area, then once he felt he was in the clear, he hit full speed, heading away from the city, then slowly turning at several increments so that he could reach his destination without having to go in straight lines. As he looked in his rear view camera, he saw a huge, towering Assault 'Mech standing, looking in the opposite direction. He sighed, and then gasped as he looked closer. He really wanted to turn around and help his commander, but orders were orders and he quickly made adjustments in his course to head to the rendezvous point sooner.

Once he was more than 800 miles from the city, the tall 'Mech had turned around to look in his direction! At first it didn't look like it was doing anything. Death had to keep his eyes fixed on two things at once now, and it was proving to be very difficult, but he was in an open stretch of area with no cover in sight. Suddenly, he was spotted as the tall 'Mech let loose a pair of PPC's[4] in his direction. As soon as Death realized what was coming his way, he quickly turned his 'Mech to run parallel to the other, just as it fired.

Luckily, the shot missed him by a mile and Death now had less than six seconds before it would fire again. He took the chance to run straight out, hoping to put more distance between the two and hopefully head out of range. Just as he did, and as soon as he was 930 miles away, the enemy fired again, barely missing him this time, only he was out of range. But then a huge complement of missiles followed, headed right in Death's direction.

155 Kph was fast, or so Death thought. The missiles barely hit him, but he did take some damage. As the first volley hit, he was at 990 miles away, but the second volley punctured his fuel tank, causing him to lose fuel, and he fell to the ground. He quickly up righted himself and continued on, after he ran past 1000 miles and completely out of range. Death was sweating bullets and continued to head in that direction a little longer, before heading to Nav Epsilon.

Meanwhile, back in the city, Banshee watched in horror as the Atlas hovered over her. She was wondering if she had been caught when she suddenly realized it had its back to her. Her quick thinking saved her life as she crouched her mech and shut it down, watching the Atlas closely. Suddenly it turned around facing her, but did nothing. She had to wonder if the pilot was dumb enough to not look down or was simply scanning the horizon, when suddenly she heard a weapon fire. Her heart was pounding so hard, it felt like it was going to leap out of her chest. She wasn't sure if she was spotted, but nothing was happening. She was also wondering what it was firing at, when she looked back at the direction it fired and barely saw a light 'Mech speeding off in the distance.

'Good god, kid!'she thought to herself through gritted teeth. 'You're bound to get yourself killed like that!' Banshee then watched as the enemy shot another round of its energy weapons toward her comrade, without any luck of hitting. She sighed, then suddenly it let loose a complement of missiles, and her relieved face quickly lost all color as she saw just how much was fired. She wasn't sure what to do as she felt helpless. All she could do was watch. The first volley hit, but the rest missed, causing her to sigh, but the smoke coming from Death's Flea raised concerns. She decided to sit and wait a while.

She was glad she did when the big 'Mech began to move back into the city. She tried opening the radio to any frequency, which might have picked up anything, but it appeared they were also running in radio silence. Once the thundering footsteps subsided, she powered up her Raven, and made the 'Mech stand from its crouched position, then smacked the throttle in full speed towards Nav Epsilon. Her last thoughts sort of distracted her from duty. She was still curious as to why an Atlas[5] would be in the pit with no way out. As she stopped her 'Mech to look back at the battlefield, she could have sworn she saw the Atlas jump, jetting up a hill!

Nav Epsilon, One Hour Later —

A light thumping on the ground woke Laser from his nap. He had dozed off after the excitement earlier, and he knew that dozing off could get him killed, or worse, demoted with punishment carried out by the Galaxy Commander. He decided to shake the remains of sleep off him before his wing arrived, which wasn't very long. As he watched the speeding Flea zoom past him, then come to a stop, he wondered why his wing was getting out. Reluctant to head in the heat, he slowly climbed out of his cockpit after the door had opened. Once on the ground, he met up with Death.

"What gives? Why not use comms?" Laser asked what the point was for meeting on ground in the heat. "You know very well I hate this weather."

"For starters, quit being a baby!" Death shot Laser an evil look as he could tell Laser looked slightly tired, but said nothing to the fourteen-year-old. "You know very well the Commander asked for complete radio silence, until further notice!"

"...But..." Laser wanted to protest, till Death cut him off, using his real name, "No buts, Zach."

Laser rolled his eyes when he heard his first name being used. "Oh, so we're being informal now, Adian?" Zach added sarcastically.

"Whatever, man. At least you're carrying a flare. I'll look for the Commander, and when I see her, I'll make sure she sees us, but don't use the flare, as it could alert the enemy to our position."

Zach nodded; he turned to look out in the same direction as the explosion, as he could still see some smoke off in the distance. While Zach was looking, Adian pulled his binoculars out to look in the distance for Banshee. While thirty minutes felt like hours in the scorching sun, Zach was starting to become impatient when he suddenly spotted a small figure approaching off in the distance. At first it looked like a person on foot, but he thought a person wouldn't be crazy enough to walk on foot in such a place. As the small figure approached, he called out to Adian to see who it was. After looking in the binoculars, his eyes widened.

"Shit! It's the Commander! She's a good thousand meters out there, and she doesn't look good! Zack, take your 'Mech and pick her up. Things like this can't wait, and it makes me wonder why she isn't in her 'Mech."

Without further hesitation, Zach nodded and quickly ran, then climbed up his mech, and finally jumped into the cockpit. He performed the start-up sequence, and when that was done, he headed out in Banshee's direction. Adian stayed behind to watch his progress, but he thought it would be better if he readied his 'Mech so they could simply take off. He was also somewhat suspicious that it took Banshee longer to arrive. Before Zach was 500 meters out, he pulled out a small portable radio and hoped Zach had his on. Sure enough, he did, and when he answered he was accusing Adian of breaking protocol.

"Dude, look, something isn't right here. I'm starting up my 'Mech and once you arrive, we will not stop; we'll just head back to base at full speed. I don't like this."

"Roger that, I'll use caution." Zach responded while turning the radio back in silent mode.

Once Adian climbed back into his 'Mech, he powered it up and sat at the ready, while still watching in the distance as Zach helped the Commander into his 'Mech. As he was putting his neurohelmet[6] on, he switched to zoom mode so he could see clearer. He was surprised to see how badly hurt she was. She had burns all over her, yet he was very surprised she managed to arrive in such extreme heat. 'Damn,' he thought. 'She needs medical treatment and fast!' In what seemed like an eternity, Zach finally managed to help Banshee in his cockpit and then jumped in to join her. Thirty seconds after the cockpit door closed, he was rushing back at max speed.

Adian turned just before Zach passed the 500 meter mark, and as he turned, he made sure to switch the rear camera on so he could watch. As soon as he turned it on, he spotted several 'Mechs directly behind Zach!

Going against orders, he turned his comms on, only to find them being jammed by the enemy. 'Shit, shit, shit!' He cursed in his thoughts. Then he suddenly thought about the portable radio. He knew that radio was on a completely secure and different frequency, so he turned it on to quickly warn his comrades.

"Dude, dodge! Don't run in a straight line! You have four on your six!" Adian shouted into the portable radio, almost damaging his vocal chords. His voice hurt, but he repeated till there was a response,

"Don't be silly, I checked and the radar is clear."

"What the..." was all Adian could let out as he watched one of the heavy 'Mech fire its lasers directly into the back of Zach's 'Mech, causing smoke to rise. He listened to the radio and he heard Zach panicking as he continued in a straight line till he heard the Commander shout, causing him to pull the radio away from his ears.

"Damnit, Zach, what the fuck did we train you to do?! Dodge those motherfuckers, or we will never get out of this!" Banshee screamed, causing Zach to snap out of it. He came to his senses, and Adian watched as Zach found a small hill to move behind, and still slightly zig-zag, hoping to throw the pilot's aim off. As he was getting closer, Adian realized that he was a target as well, so he gunned the throttle to max and sped to intercept his wing.

Once he was alongside, he turned to face a slow moving heavy 'Mech just popping over the hill. Once it showed its head, Adian let a single medium laser fire at it, crippling its head as smoke began to rise with several sparks. 'That should slow 'im down for now,' Adian thought as he turned to catch up to Zach. It didn't take much time as Adian's 'Mech was far faster than Zach's, but when he caught up the rest of the squad was at least 700 meters behind them, and they weren't out of danger just yet. Adian also wondered how much further it was to the base, as he felt it shouldn't have been too much further, yet he couldn't see it. For the first time, he finally realized he understood Wild Dawg's decision in placing the Base in the middle of the desert. It was well hidden by the sand storm up ahead, and he also knew that radio contact was sketchy at best, even so, when it was still being jammed. The radar didn't show any friendlies up ahead, so he continued in that direction.

"Zach, what's our heading?" Adian asked causally, as if nothing had happened behind them, while he was continuing to not walk in a straight line.

"We should be arriving at base soon! Banshee is in terrible shape; she needs medical aid firsthand and fast! It looks like she's been in a battle, but she will have to tell us what happened later." Zach was sounding concerned, but not overly worried.

"Roger that!" Adian then looked behind and still saw his pursers. 'They don't know when to give up..." He thought as he looked ahead and saw the base. No one was outside, as he knew sandstorms did cause damage to 'Mechs. He was sure the chief engineer would have a fit after he had to maintain his and Zach's 'Mechs, but it couldn't be helped. Just as the entrance appeared in the clearing, the doors were shut, adding more frustration to the situation. Once again, Adian tried the Comms channel and it was still being jammed. 'SHIT!' He screamed in his thoughts and Zach finally spoke over the portable radio.

"Dude, it's not looking good. I had a thought; do you know who is on guard at this moment? I thought it would have been one of the new guys? If it is, we could somehow signal him to open the door. I know I have jets, but it wouldn't make it up there."

"Great idea! And good timing too! Do it, fast!"

Zach wasted no time after Adian told him to make contact. He knew the guard didn't have the same radio, but he was also an expert in hacking into portable radios. As they ran alongside the base, there was another opening coming up and Zack was ready to find their new friend. It didn't take very long as there was a faint response, but it was a response nonetheless.

"What the hell do you think you're doing? Do you realize that you could get in trouble for this? What prank are you..."

"Aw, zip it, man! We're in trouble! The base is being raided! Get help fast!" was all Zach could let out as they passed the gate. He hoped the message was carried on as the storm outside began picking up. He was at least glad that it did, since it masked their presence from the enemies.

Chris had been assigned to guard duty after finally showing some interest in becoming a 'Mechwarrior. He knew he had a long way to go, and this mission somehow didn't make much sense, but he figured he might be stuck there forever. He also dearly missed his dad during the past months of being there, but he also made a lot of new friends. He worried about those that went to battle as he was becoming close to them. He also knew of their habits, but wasn't sure why he did. Maybe it was something that he always did, observe. Maybe the post was given to him so he could learn by observing.

He sighed as he walked to the full-length mirror inside of his room. 'Hello, handsome.' He thought to himself, and then giggled. This was the first time he had tried on the uniform and he looked good in it. As he was buttoning his top, he felt a presence watching him, yet the door didn't make a sound when it opened, so he automatically knew who it was.

"Hello, Merlin!" He spoke to nothing in the room till a figure emerged from the door.

"Pfft, you are the only one I know who can do that." Merlin chuckled as he slowly became visible. He was wearing a full length jumpsuit, as if he was expecting to head into combat.

Once Chris looked over at him, his happy smile suddenly became a frown. "Are you heading into battle?"

Merlin smiled, "No, combat training. I've got supervision to do, yes, it is dull, but duty is duty."

The boy grinned at this. "When do you think I can become a warrior?"

"Patience, young one, there will be plenty of time for that." Chris's smile faded as he began to wonder. Merlin continued when he noticed this, "Trust me, you do not want to rush things. It takes time."

"But it didn't for him." Chris responded, speaking of Hammur.

Merlin let out a small laugh. "He's special. I can see him being on the Council one of these days. The one thing preventing that needs changed, and you know what it is." Merlin stepped closer, till he was standing right behind Chris. He ruffled the boy's hair and fixed his collar before actually walking out the door, causing Chris to give him a weird look. Chris knew Merlin never had a use for doors, but it was a nice change. Little did he know, Merlin had troubled thoughts about something, but couldn't figure out what.

Once the doors closed, Chris sighed, then headed out; after giving himself a once-over look in the mirror. It took Chris a while to arrive to his post, but once he was there, he had relieved the current guard standing on duty, when his radio suddenly went off, causing the guard to stop and turn to look.

"What the hell do you think you're doing? Do you realize that you could get in trouble for this? What prank are you..." Chris responded to the noise as he immediately knew who it was from. Before he could continue, he got cut off with a partial message with lots of static.

"Aw, zip it, man! ...in trouble! ...is being ...! Get help fast!"

The line went dead as the sound of static filled the air. Chris tried to check other frequencies, but nothing was working. As he was putting the radio away, the relieved guard walked over, and starting mouthing off at Chris, causing a scene.

"Do you realize that the punishment for this is ten days in a holding cell? For answering such a radio for personal use only, which we all know is strictly forbidden outside of this area, and can only work within 500 meters, and you very well know that your so-called friends are out on a mission. There's no way in hell they would be back this soon, and this planet is damn well protected!" The guard huffed, and was about to grab Chris when Merlin suddenly appeared from behind, causing the guard to spin around.

Chris looked up in almost tears, but held them back. Merlin was looking back and forth between the two. He scowled at the guard, then walked to Chris. "Is that true?"

Chris nodded his head, causing the guard to start yelling profanities, but Merlin quickly hushed him. "If Chris does not see anything in the next few minutes, then you may take him to the holding area. But if he proves you wrong, HE will decide your fate."

The guard turned pale as he heard Merlin's words. He knew very well Merlin wasn't one to be messed with. He also remembered the last person to cross the line ended up trying to survive the dust storms as punishment. He was never the same after that incident. The guard looked down, and apologized to Merlin for his actions, but Merlin had other ideas.

"You should be apologizing to the young man instead of me." Merlin spoke with a straight face, still bothered by his thoughts.

The guard was feeling bad at the situation, yet wondered if Merlin was playing favorites. As he slowly walked towards Chris, he looked out the window and saw nothing, but he quickly apologized.

As he turned to leave, Chris spoke up, "Apology accepted, but before you leave, what's that out there?"

The guard swiftly turned to see what Chris was looking at. Off in the distance were two light 'Mechs, followed by several more big ones. The heavies were firing at the light 'Mechs with great difficulty, due to the intensity of the storm. Somehow, they hadn't discovered the base just yet, and the guard turned around with a paled expression, and looked at Merlin, then gulped. Chris did the same as he just realized he might not see his friends again. Merlin quickly looked out, and with one swift move, he sounded the alarms.

"Dawg, Hammur, Rampage, AirBoy, Coolio, git your asses in gear! Gail is in trouble right outside the south end of the base!" Merlin spoke with a booming voice. Just before Merlin turned to leave towards the hangar, he grinned, then spoke to Chris, "Good job, mate! This means all comms are down, and as big as this base is, everyone can hear me."

Chris smiled, then looked at the guard. He wore a guilty expression, but Chris placed his hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry about it. Looks like you'll be working a bit of overtime with me here. I could use some help with the doors."

The guard weakly smiled, "Thanks, I'll manage the doors; how are your gunnery skills?"

Chris looked at the guard confused, "Gunnery skills? What are you talkin' about?"

The guard chuckled, "There's a laser turret built into the walls surrounding the base. It's a great defense backup, but not all that good sometimes. Come, I'll show ya!" The guard left, jogging to the turret, when Chris looked at him with disbelief. Part of him was excited, and another part of him was nervous. He began to daydream, but was quickly snapped out of it when the guard was shouting for him to hurry up. Chris shook his head and ran after him.

Once Chris caught up to the guard, he was showing him how to operate the controls. Chris caught on, and then asked, "Would you get in trouble for being away from your post?"

"Nah, it takes ten minutes for those guys to get ready, even in an emergency. You are their only closest backup we have! This is a dual large laser turret and it does get hot, so try not to overload it!"

Chris smiled, and then nodded before turning his attention to the attackers. The guard immediately left him so he could handle the main door for his superiors. Chris had trouble taking aim as the wind was rocking the huge cannons on the outside. It took Chris a few attempts to get a lock and when he did, he fired a pair of lasers towards the head of what looked like a MadCat with a very big, open cockpit. His first hit was a miss, causing the laser to burn a hole in the side armor. Chris muttered to himself, when suddenly the wind started becoming less violent. He immediately used this to his advantage as he fired another pair of lasers towards the cockpit. It was a sure shot; the first laser melted the armor and glass. The second laser immediately fried everything inside, including the pilot, causing the 'Mech to immediately power down. He half expected a blast of explosion coming from it, and when nothing happened, he wanted to fire another shot, but held back as he thought the Clan could benefit from the salvage.

When the turret cooled down some, his next target became the most dangerous 'Mech on the field: The Supernova. Never in his life had he thought it was possible to see one on the field, but it was a rare sight, and Chris really wanted that 'Mech. As he was aiming for it, he decided to try the legs. Once he fired, it hit the foot actuator, disabling the 'Mech's ability to walk in an instant. It was still a dangerous 'Mech as he noticed how it began searching for the source of the lasers. It continued scanning, and there wasn't much Chris could do, but not give his position away. This took a lot of patience for Chris, as he was normally trigger-happy. In what felt like forever, the doors were finally opening, causing a great blast of wind and sand to enter. Seconds later, six Assault 'Mechs rushed out the hangar doors in such speed; he didn't think it was possible for them to move that fast. This also distracted the Supernova pilot, as he watched in fear for his life as the Assaults made their way towards his group. He fired all his lasers at the first incoming 'Mech, then immediately shut down. This was the chance Chris was looking for. He lined up his gun towards the cockpit, and then fired, hitting it square on. This caused the massive 'Mech to remain still as smoke came pouring out. The pilot was still alive as he was seen putting out fires in his cockpit, but it was too late.

Hammur was always the first one out of the Base, and this time was no exception. He was also the first one to be hit by the Supernova, but it didn't falter him. He kept charging at the 'Mech with all his speed. For the first time, everyone rushing out the door was in a Warthog, but Hammur had the fastest 'Mech. While everyone else was 10 Kph slower, they were still deadly and fast. As small as it appeared, the Warthog wasn't to be underestimated. When properly equipped, it could knock down other 'Mechs with a single shot, and take much damage before it would finally explode, and stay on its feet under the heaviest firepower. The only drawback was its limited range, 300 miles of range didn't seem like much, but it worked extremely well when it came to surprise attacks when the enemy wasn't expecting it. The Warthog was a 95-Ton Assault 'Mech that looked like it had a wide chest and small guns with quick legs. The cockpit was in the center of the 'Mech, just several meters directly above the bottom of its center torso[7].

As Hammur was rushing, it had appeared the enemy hadn't noticed the incoming surprise attack, and the rest of the lance continued to try and kill the two light 'Mechs. Ignoring the disabled Supernova, the next 'Mech closest to Hammur was the dreaded Atlas. This one wasn't the same one as before, as it contained a different type of weaponry. Immediately after Hammur fired, the shot rocked the Atlas, but didn't fall to the ground. The Tall Assault 'Mech tuned to face the incoming assaults and made an attempt to fire, but the next shot that hit the Atlas came from Merlin's 'Mech. Immediately after the shot was fired, the Atlas fired its shot into the ground.

This gave Hammur the chance for the final blow, but he was dangerously close, as were his comrades. Instead of taking the kill shot, his next shot, combined with Rampage's, hit the opposite torso, knocking it to the ground and causing the arm to be ripped off in the process. The rest of the division split up, surrounded the remaining 'Mechs, and annihilated them easily. Hammur's 'Mech had shut down due to over-heating, and he watched as the fallen Atlas began to stand up. Hammur was sweating bullets while it fixed its aim on him. Suddenly, as an explosion filled the air, comms started working again and he immediately heard Adain over comms.

"Finish him! We're clear! Salvage the rest; we have important information for the council!"

Dawg's voice came up over comms after hearing this. "Just what is so important that it demands the council?"

Much to everyone's surprise, Banshee was faintly heard over comms, but she did manage to utter three letters that sent chills down everyone's spines, "W-O-B."

There was a very long pause on comms, but Hammur was too distracted to pay attention as his 'Mech finally powered up after having cooled down. He had taken a direct hit from the Atlas, but it didn't seem to do much damage. Obviously, the Atlas had been stripped of its biggest guns and Hammur was grateful, as his next shot finished off the Atlas, sending a massive shockwave, followed by an explosion. What happened next surprised everyone. Just as the Light 'Mechs made their way into base, the storm finally started to clear, opening up the visibility some. There stood not only one, but two, of the number one Assault 'Mechs, the 100-ton Behemoth II. It was a very tall 'Mech, about as tall as the Atlas, but what was scary was the huge gun mounted on top of its head. They called it the railgun, a weapon capable of causing massive damage in a single shot.

Wild Dawg wasted no time calling for extra help. Little did he know, help was readily available, and the next 'Mech coming out of base was another 100-tonner joining the field, but only smaller. It had huge arms, a round body and well-armored legs. It was known as the Daishi, or Dire Wolf.

"Sorry I'm late, guys!" Simon cheerfully spoke over comms. "Keep them busy till I get in range! I'm working on an experiment, Hammur, and I were testing."

"NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR THIS!" Dawg screamed over comms, making the others cringe at his sudden outburst.

"Don't worry; when it gets in position, let it finish those two. Those guys are close enough for Simon; all we have to do is tough it out! Trust me, please!" Hammur pleaded to Dawg, hoping he would go with the decision.

"I make all calls, and an experiment has no position being here! It better not be what I think it is! There's no way..." Dawg's lecture was interrupted by the railgun hitting his mech and taking out an arm. He immediately turned his attention to the Assault 'Mech and fired with what little he now had. Everyone else who was within range joined in the battle. For such a huge 'Mech, it sure absorbed a lot of damage. Several shots seemed to just roll off it, yet some parts were sparking a great deal. And yet it still fired the main weapon, trying to lessen their targets. After a while, when Simon had arrived in position within 300 meters, he didn't bother warning anyone as he steadied his aim for the damaged torso, then fired. The initial shot sounded like a thunderous bang, as did the hit on the Behemoth. This sent the 'Mech's torso into a slow turn, then it fell to the ground. The intensity of the impact was so great, its right torso was completely exposed, with numerous sparks and smoke flying. Some parts of the armor were melted from the purple laser mounted on the Daishi.

Hammur took advantage of the situation and fired a shot at the exposed armor, instantly destroying the 'Mech, just as it was attempting to stand up. There was enough distance between him and the explosion, yet he felt the force of it. Several shards hit his 'Mech, weakening the armor in several spots. The rest of those out on the field had surrounded the remaining 'Mech, yet it showed no signs of giving up. Its next shot was a direct shot to Coolio's center torso, setting off all alarms in his 'Mech.

"Guyz! I'm ejecting! I'm too close!" Coolio shouted over comms.

"No! Don't! They're too valuable!" Hammur cried in response. "Simon has a shot! Everyone, clear the area! This will finish it!"

As soon as Hammur spoke it, everyone started fleeing from the area. Coolio had kept track of how much time went past since the Behemoth fired its weapons, and it was dangerously close to firing again. With his torso turned to the right, he moved his arm, like one would when wanting to shoot from the side. Just as Coolio fired his weapons, the Behemoth fired, but its shot hit the ground, and the railgun hit Coolio's leg, causing him to fall to the ground. Immediately after Coolio fell, the Behemoth crouched, and then jumped forward into the sky, hoping to land directly on Coolio. Simon had his shot lined up, then fired. Time seemed to slow down as everyone watched the scene. It looked like something you'd see out of the Matrix movies. Everyone held their breath. Coolio had his hand directly on the eject button, nearly pressing it, when he heard the massive explosion in the sky. The battle was over as the final enemy 'Mech was destroyed. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and Coolio got his Warthog back on its feet, but since his leg was no longer functioning properly, his 'Mech was forced to drag it at a slow pace back into base. It took him a while to accomplish his task and when everyone was back in base and the doors closed, Dawg had said for everyone to leave their 'Mechs as they were and called a Clan-wide meeting.

Chris had been watching everything that was happening outside the base, and he was hoping they would salvage the downed Supernova outside. He ran to Merlin just after Dawg made his announcement.

"Merlin, could you salvage those 'Mechs out there?" Chris asked hopefully.

Merlin nodded and he immediately spotted the chief engineer running towards their group with another group of technicians in tow.

The lead engineer stopped in time to survey the damage before shouting at the top of his lungs. "Holy hell! What in the name of Kerensky has happened to these?! This is going to take all our resources to repair them, and a few days' time to boot!" What the engineer failed to realize was his leader was also listening.

He continued to survey the damage when Coolio spoke up. "We have salvage outside, and plenty of it. I'd like to know exactly what was on the Atlas that we just destroyed as well as the Behemoths." The chief engineer's eyes lit up like Christmas trees at the mention of the destroyed 'Mechs. Coolio withheld his giggles, but barely and continued, "By the way, we will also have a live prisoner in the Supernova, so take security with you. Do not underestimate W-O-B."

With that, the lead engineer paled at the mention of WOB. 'Just what the hell is World Of Blake doing here on this planet?!' The engineer thought to himself. He was also a 'Mech pilot with years of experience, and had almost seen it all. His wavy red hair and emerald eyes stood out to everyone, as if he was the only red-head in the Clan. The truth is, he was and no one really realized it. His name was plastered slightly above his right side on his chest that said 'Scott Hellboy Thompson' and his rank of Star Captain on the opposite. He appeared to be somewhat Irish and Scottish in origin and Chris immediately picked this up. As Scott was surveying the damage, still in shock, his eyes finally met Dawg's. He let out a sigh, then nodded to him, as if there were some unspoken words between the two.

Dawg looked over the crowd. He knew what he was seeing, and he had to admit the very name of the unit that had invaded them was indeed fearsome. He was half excited, and half scared, with the excited part of him wanting to test his skill on their pilots. The fear came for his Clan, on what would happen should an all-out war rage between the two. He had to give this a lot of thought, and before he did, he held up his hands to quiet the crowd.

"We will all meet in the Clan Hall in one hour! But first, I must address the council, and then some." Dawg turned to leave just as the crowd began to start chattering again. He spotted his council members and walked up to them. Hammur and Rampage were among them, as was Simon, yet he didn't say anything about excluding them. Just then the group was joined by Chris, Zach, and Adian carrying Gail in his arms. Dawg gasped as he saw the shape Gail was in and dropped formality. "Damnit, Gail, why'd you have to be the one to go out there yourself?" He was sure she didn't hear him. He softly caressed her face and quietly said something inaudible as the medics approached with a stretcher. Adian carefully placed Gail on the stretcher and they hooked her up to an IV pack, and then wheeled her off to the hospital. As Sam regained his composure, he looked at the two boys, who saluted him. He returned the salute, then spoke with a soft voice, "I need you two to come with me, as well as the rest of everyone standing with me, and this means everyone who joined me in battle, including you, Chris."

This was a surprise on Sam's part. Merlin wondered why, but he would soon find out. Just as Sam began to walk towards the main building, everyone had followed after exchanging looks with one another. Merlin saw this, and then simply shook his head as if to say 'later'.

Fifteen Minutes Later, Council Chambers —

As everyone entered the room, followed by Sam, the doors were immediately closed. Sam sat down, as did everyone who was a council member; the rest remained standing. While there were plenty of seats in the room for everyone else, they choose to remain standing; as it was customary within the Clan. Sam motioned for them to have a seat by the wave of his hand; they were hesitant to do so, but found a chair and sat.

Sam sighed, as he got straight to business. "First, what information has been uncovered in the light of recent events?"

Adian spoke up first and held a small, thin, square-like disc on his left hand. "All information has been recorded on this. While the Commander had ordered us immediate evacuation of the area, when we first discovered who this group was, she made it very clear we were to immediately report to a rendezvous point, and then head back to base. As soon as the order was given, I scouted a bit more, uncovering more information. What started all this was an explosion of a hangar outside of town, about 3000 meters south of Nav Epsilon. I was the closest to respond, but I didn't dare give myself away. Even with active radar, I picked up nothing. They probably hacked into the droids which transmit radar data to our 'Mechs and other equipment. Also in that area is one of our communication arrays. We currently have three, and there is a chance they might destroy this one as well. They also have jamming capabilities which jams our comms, preventing any communication between 'Mechs or the base."

Dawg pressed a button A small slot appeared directly in front of Adian, and Dawg motioned for him to put the small disc he was holding in his hand into it. Once that was done, an image popped up directly over the table, revealing what had transpired.

Adian continued, "As you can see, I managed to take a picture of a jumping Atlas. I think it's a completely new 'Mech that we haven't encountered before." This had caused several murmurs around the room. Some were in agreement that it had been a new 'Mech, while others were trying to figure out how to research it. The next image of the DropShip popped up, causing Sam to gasp, as well as the rest of the council. Adian didn't see this and continued, "This was taken approximately 1500 meters from the explosion. Sorry for the quality; I felt I was compromised and had to leave the area, and I'm glad I did; otherwise this information would not have been here. Secondly, the rest of the data was radio static, but I did hear some voices and it needs decrypted somehow."

Chris perked up at this, then asked for Adian to replay the transmission again, with nods of approval from Sam. He listened closely to only pick out a word, but wasn't clear on it and Sam noted that. Sam pressed a few buttons on the table and suddenly the sound became clearer as Adian replayed it once more. The sound was barely audible but there was more than enough information.

"Clear the area and destroy everything. This includes resistance. After this, we move on to the next Comm array point...."

Sam growled just as the doors burst open with Scott and a prisoner in tow. Sam had, long ago, made sure everyone knew that meetings behind closed doors were private and involved Clan business with the council. He decided, this time, he would get an immediate explanation after seeing who was with Scott. Everyone in the room turned their attention to him and Scott smiled, knowing he had the attention he wanted. He looked at the prisoner and kicked him in the shins, causing him to fall to his knees. "Tell them what you told me!"

The charred prisoner spat to the floor, "And if I refuse?"

Scott growled, "Same thing applies here as when you were found, and then some more."

"I was only following orders..." He started as Sam stood and made his way towards the prisoner.

Once Sam arrived directly in front of him, he knelt and smiled, "You are very lucky or unlucky to be alive, depending on how you look at the situation you're in. First, you were taken down by a kid who has very little training on how to use weapons, yet had quite an impressive shot, especially in a sand storm. Now tell me this; before I let my engineer have his way with you, why the hell would you be a part of WOB?"

"How did you know?!" The prisoner shouted in surprise.

Sam smiled, "Two things: First, you are currently a member of Clan Star Adder, the crest on your jumpsuit and your 'Mech showed that. Next, since the dropship had the WOB crest on it, it was pretty easy to spot. The thing that surprises me is how you are also part of WOB at the same time. I should have expected the third in command of SA to be part of WOB. I'm considering letting your leader know, but what good will that do when he is also involved with WOB." To say the prisoner was shocked to hear Dawg speak as if he knew a lot was an understatement. Dawg continued after noting the shocked expression, "Second, WOB consists of elite members of almost every Clan and house there is out there and I wonder who the leader is. I wouldn't be surprised if I guessed correctly."

The prisoner knew he had been had. How much Sam knew was even more surprising. He had hoped to delay and buy his mates some time, but Sam had other plans.

"So, who is the traitor?" Sam stated with his eyes narrowing, as he looked into the prisoner's eyes. Sam could tell who was telling the truth and who was lying.

The prisoner stuttered at first, but he broke down and started talking. "First, by now, they should be making their move to take out all arrays on every planet there is that has communications." This caused a gasp among the chambers and Sam held his hand up to silence everyone so the prisoner could continue, "Second, even you have a traitor. He is in this very room, and it's your job to figure out who it is."

Sam wasn't too happy with this new information. He immediately stood, then looked down at the prisoner. "What purpose does WOB have to knock out all comm arrays? Are they trying to send us into the dark ages or something?"

The prisoner simply smiled, and Sam had his response. Sam sighed, then returned to his seat. He nodded at Scott and as Scott turned, he yanked the chain, causing the prisoner to tumble backwards and wither in pain as he dragged him out of the room. As soon as the doors closed, Sam looked carefully around the room. Almost everyone was nervous and no one showed signs of being found out. Just as Sam looked at JD, he simply nodded and JD stood, pulling something off his back. Once it was in view, Merlin's eyes immediately went wide. Sam saw the reaction and shook his head as Merlin had turned to look at him. Merlin sighed, then watched as the small concealed weapon transform into a much larger one.

The weapon looked like a hammer, only it was really big and looked like it weighed a ton. It was a special forged weapon designed to remain hidden until the user pulled it out of its hiding place. The only drawback was the weapon had a mind of its own. For centuries, many warriors had tried to wield such a weapon and many failed. That was until one day, a young boy simply picked it up as if it was a feather. The boy had now grown, and he was standing in this very room, holding it as if it were his most prized possession. Everyone watched in awe as the weapon ballooned, and then a clank sounded in the air as the handle grew in a telescoping fashion. Just as it was done, JD tossed it over his shoulder, then looked at Sam for further orders.

Sam continued to look around and then smiled. He stared at Roger, and then his smile faded. Roger didn't see this, but he was staring intently at the hammer as if it struck fear. The ancient weapon was infused with the very same hammer of the Norse God of thunder, Thor, had once wielded. How it was done, no one really knew, but it had chosen a perfect host to wield it. JD knew how to use it and he was looking at everyone, watching their expression. The hammer somehow had a way of causing anyone to speak up against it, revealing their true colors. Some of the members in the room stared and blinked, but remained calm while others just looked at Sam.

Only one person in the room was fighting it, and JD immediately knew who it was. In an instant, he just flipped the hammer in Roger's direction, causing his eyes to nearly jump out of their sockets. When Roger stood to catch the hammer, he was immediately hit with a force unlike anything he had ever experienced. It felt like he had been hit by an elephant as the hammer still had momentum; he was being driven backwards and then towards the ground with a deep rumble. This caused everyone to jump out of their seats, except for Sam and Merlin. They knew exactly what to expect. When anyone else, other than JD, tried to lift the hammer it felt like trying to lift something that is bolted to the floor. An android might have been able to lift it, but only barely.

JD walked around the table towards Roger and knelt next to him. "What do you have to say for yourself? I suppose you let them in, undetected, and then had them attack your personal 'Mech hangar to make it look like they were really after our 'Mechs when we finally discovered they weren't." Roger groaned in pain under the massive weight, yet wasn't able to speak, so JD continued to torment him some more, "Maybe I should press down with my weight and see how you like it, but I'm afraid I could crush you as the hammer sometimes doubles itself when I either jump out of the cockpit and smash the enemy out of their cockpit or when I want to kill someone."

Roger's eyes widened, then immediately shook his head frantically as if he feared for his life. JD stood, then placed a foot on top of the hammer in attempt to make Roger squirm some more. "Are you ready to talk?"

Roger nodded quickly, and then JD lifted the hammer off him as if it weighed next to nothing. When the weight was lifted off Roger's chest, he began to breathe a little better, but his bones were crushed and he couldn't move. He now required medical attention, depending on Sam's decision.

"I'd start talkin' now if I were you." JD said as he looked down at him with the hammer swinging in his hand.

"Fine!" Roger spat hoarsely, "I'll talk! I thought it would be cool to wear the WOB colors for a change, when no one was looking. It's too bad they have every single piece of information on each and every one of you, including all your favorite 'Mechs of choice. We came well prepared for this invasion. The only drawback was the unexpected ambush from Simon." Roger growled, then coughed and continued, "WOB paid me a great deal of C-Bills and would have rewarded me even more should I kill Sam. It took many months for me to build my way up the ranks in FP. All I had to do was earn the trust of everyone here; that was until the traitor outed me."

As Sam was listening, he became more and more pissed with his most trusted council member. Trust was beginning to be hard to find these days, even with legitimate proof. Sam felt he had heard enough and stood. "Then you know the price for being the traitorous scum that you are. I'll stop the destruction of the arrays myself if I have to! The only thing I can't figure out is why."

Roger smiled, "For the fun of it. Ah yes, weren't you going to brag how you picked this planet and why? Don't worry, I already know and I'll tell you: it wasn't to work on your tan lines. The dust storms conceal a great deal and this year is the only year when the storms are low. This was another part of my research. All I needed was access to the planet's history and the rest was easy. Did you really think this planet would be all that much more difficult for any of us? We are the elite of the elite and I'm sure Mavarick would be pleased to have you out of the way."

Sam's frown immediately turned into a smile. "As expected, I already knew this first-hand information; you were just re-stating the facts. What you didn't know was this planet creates an illusion of images during the years when there aren't many storms. Gail is very lucky to be back with us. I'm sure Adian knows why. You have to experience the desert and six months was more than enough. I knew by initial reports that someone had arrived here, but didn't stir up trouble. My reasoning is simple: you just blew up what you thought was a comm array. Sure, the bursts of energy coming from it are the same, but that was an illusion, a fake. Merlin and I know where it is, but since the traitor has been weeded out, everyone in this room but you will discover its true location. It's too bad jamming frequencies only work planetside, unless you did expect us to send a transmission, then I'll admit you are that good. The fading smile on your face tells me only that much. Oh, and one other thing, may Valhalla be merciful on your soul."

Just as Sam turned his back, everyone followed suit except JD. JD's grin became bigger, and then he just shrugged. He held out the hammer and let it drop without a single thought in his head. Roger's eyes lit up as he was able to let a few final words escape his mouth, "YOU WON'T WIN!"

*BOOM!* The room shook as the thunderous rumble spread throughout the base. JD was busy wiping the splatter of blood off his face as he knelt to pick up his hammer. Just as it had transformed to grow, it shrunk in the same manner, and took less time doing so. Once it was small again, JD wiped it off with a rag he pulled out of his back pocket, then placed it on his back, then looked at the lifeless form of Roger. "No wonder he didn't fire a single shot in that battle. I thought it was quite remarkable his 'Mech didn't take any damage."

At that, Sam had a thought. 'Merlin, we need to search for bugs that might have been implanted. I'll leave this to you then we will address the Clan.'

Merlin caught this and nodded. He exited the room by simply walking out the doors, then disappearing from the corridors as he wanted to make it look like he was normally heading out. Merlin's plan was to fake the bug into believing what Merlin did so he wouldn't tip them off. This took several minutes and for Merlin, Sam wondered just how many there were. Merlin searched everywhere, in a plane that enabled him to work ten times faster than normal time. When he was done, Merlin emerged right in front of Sam with a handful of bugs. "They are disabled. WOB will not see, nor hear, of our plans any longer. Unless we transmit to another world, we might have to break formation and head to our allies by ship carrying this information. To do this, only JD and I are to go, alone."

JD looked up in surprise, "Why me? Why not anyone else in here?"

Sam turned, and then smiled, "You are now the Galaxy Commander of Roger's galaxy. For this to work there has to be two people from the Council for this trip, and both of you are more than qualified." JD was about to protest, but Merlin and Sam stopped him by holding up their hands. Sam continued, "Further, we'll have to change the way we fight. I suppose using our favorites won't work, but that latest surprise you sprung earlier was indeed, a surprise. Forgive me for doubting you, but I'd like to know what else you have in store for us: you and Simon, both. Furthermore, it wouldn't do us much good to send a whole lot of warriors in a DropShip. This will lead to WOB trying to overpower us when communications are down. Our nearest help is a good day or two away, and you know exactly who I have in mind to help us."

JD grinned, "Before we leave, I'll have that ready. I'd also like that supernova with me on this trip. It can be quite useful. Something they won't expect. I'd also like Hellboy to join us. I could use his skill for much needed repairs. He has plenty of help here on this planet or I wouldn't recommend otherwise. Finally, I'm changing the name of the galaxy to Blood Angels."

Sam nodded, as did Merlin. Everyone in the room congratulated JD as a pair of security guards entered the room to remove Roger's body. Once done, housekeeping entered and cleaned up the mess. It didn't take long and the room was left looking as it did before.

Sam was about to close the meeting when he suddenly realized he forgot something. "Before I forget, I'd like to also do a field promotion. This is something I normally don't do every day as Clan protocol simply states one must enter facing a council member or me. His actions today proved to be brave, and his quick thinking probably saved those who wouldn't have been here. This also earned us salvage, which we really need, and hopefully more information. I am promoting Chris to Mechwarrior as of today. You enter the payroll with a pay raise from your last duty. I fully expect you to begin training with your peers first, before you decide to ask any of us."

Chris had a mile-wide grin plastered on his face as he was listening to Sam. He had never had this much praise, not even from his dad. He was content and happy, but there was something that was causing him to feel incomplete. He wasn't sure what it was, but his thoughts were interrupted by everyone coming over to pat him on the back and shaking his hand.

As the excitement died down, Sam had to call the meeting he was dreading. "Okay, guys; meet me in the Clan Hall in ten minutes. I need to collect my thoughts before I address the Clan. It's almost time and I'm sure the masses are assembled."

Everyone but Merlin and JD nodded, and left the room. Sam sighed as he looked at Merlin. "You do realize we now have to be at our very best and nothing less? Even if it means you have to go all out in a battle, I know you well enough to know you are holding back. I suppose you saw this coming somehow."

Merlin shrugged, causing Sam to chuckle. "No, but something was troubling me during the time I rescued Chris. Something was off and didn't feel right. This was just it, a presence that I haven't felt before. It is still on the planet and I cannot help but wonder if it is who I think it is. Time will tell."

Sam smiled, and then patted the wizard on his shoulder. "Tell me, were you surprised to find out who the leader was behind this?"

Merlin shook his head, "Not at all. When it came to him, you can expect others equal to his skill level or slightly better. That is what scares me. Other than you, I really do not think anyone else here can measure up to the unknowns we would be facing. We need an ace in the hole to pull this off, and there are only two units in the universe who have accomplished this in the past, but the losses were high on both sides. As you said, we need all the allies we can get."

JD jumped in the conversation, making Sam wonder why he was still there. "Just wondering, how good are they really?"

Sam sighed. He normally didn't like bragging about his skill level, but since JD had to ask, Sam's response somewhat surprised him. "About the same level of skill as me. Do not underestimate them. I know you hold back, don't look so surprised about that either. I expect nothing but the best from both of you."

JD and Merlin nodded, however JD continued, "What of Chris? I saw him eyeing the Supernova quite well, as if he had a few thoughts in mind. I was wondering if... he could join us on this trip."

Merlin was about to protest, but Sam beat him to it. "Absolutely not! While he has plenty of natural ability, probably a lot higher than yours, JD, it's too dangerous! I know he worships you, I've seen it. I'm sure he will request to be in your Galaxy, under your command and I am fine with that, but a Mechwarrior traveling into a possible battle that could happen any time is just too dangerous. You need to make sure he understands why he has to remain here. We will undoubtedly protect him and this base."

JD sighed. "I guess nothing will change your mind then. About the arrays, did you really build those for situations like this?"

Sam smiled. "Oh yes. If you had to guess, I'm sure you know where the real one is. You've been there a few times."

JD was lost in thought when it suddenly hit him, causing Sam to smile. "Your secret is safe with me."

"Good." Sam responded with an assuring look. "Anyway, I'm sorry I had to send you both off world. I think it might have been safer. If we encounter such a person of skill on this planet, we will find a way to get rid of him before he ever makes a move. Once the Clan meeting is over, draw out your plans; then you leave tomorrow. I want to see your outline of actions and call to arms."

Merlin smiled. "Saw that coming and the outline is on the table." Just as Merlin spoke, the small hand-held pad appeared out of nowhere on the table with a bit of flashing sparks around it, as if it was magically being powdered with glitter. Sam rolled his eyes, then chuckled and shook his head.

"I'll read it later. Come, old friend, we have a meeting to take care of."

With that, Sam stood to join JD and Merlin, and then left the room.

FP Clan Hall, five minutes later —

Sam, Merlin, and JD entered the Great Hall that opened to at least a thousand people. The Clan Hall had been used for many things, from meetings to shelters. It could hold more than 1,000 people and this was one of the rare times when it was almost filled. The Hall looked like a huge auditorium or movie theater, but without the seats. The room had their Clan insignia plastered all over the beige colored walls. The insignia had a black background, representing a moonlit night with a Wild Dawg emerging into the foreground. As they joined the rest of the council, who was standing and waiting for their arrival, Sam took a look at their faces and smiled inwardly to himself. Once Sam stood in front of the large black podium with a microphone, the noise started to quiet down.

Sam let out a small sigh. "As everyone knows, we fell under attack to a group calling themselves W-O-B." Sam paused to let the crowd murmur some before continuing, "The information is one hundred percent correct. Their intentions are to completely send us and everyone else out there into the dark ages. For what purpose, we don't know, but 'fun' doesn't come to mind when they told me so. I'm sure some of you already know who they are and some of you don't. The name stands for World of Blake. Their members consist of members of quite a lot of Clans and Houses who lead double roles. I'm pretty sure their leader is the same, but it would surprise me if he wasn't. Before everyone starts getting nervous, we must eliminate the current threat on this planet. I realize some of you may lose your lives in battle. Such is the way of the warrior, but I will personally see to it that our losses remain small. I am calling a 'Call to Arms' to every warrior out in the audience. Everyone will be called to battle, and hopefully we all can work together with ease. Before we head out and meet the enemy, I am going to request you to train for one full day under the toughest situations. We will engage the enemy in two days; as I already know their destinations. This base will remain hidden due to the sand storms, as will several other places on this planet. As I close this meeting, nothing is up for debate and you will find your lance assignments on your hand-helds by the end of tomorrow. Good luck."

As Sam cleared his throat to moisten it some after giving quite a speech, he turned to his council and asked for them to follow him by a simple hand movement. Once everyone had left, the crowd noise was slightly louder than when Sam first entered.

Once Sam was satisfied he was far enough from the Clan Hall, he stopped and turned to face his council. "Guys, Merlin and JD are going off world to gather the alliance. I wouldn't do this if I didn't think it was this serious. Merlin left me a Call to Arms roster and lance assignments. Someone will have to remain here at base. I'm not going to risk having a skeleton crew managing things here. I'll remain here, along with a small squadron of warriors whom I think are good. Everyone else will be leading big groups of warriors out to three separate points. The largest group will intercept the DropShip and raid it if possible. I want to be able to salvage it, but experience tells me that will be next to impossible, as their DropShips are heavily fortified. The communication array is important for several reasons. I'm not going to go over them, but the primary reason is for off-world communications. The secondary reason is this communication array is one of the more powerful arrays ever built. It not only handles the communications we do here, but also acts like an anchor for other comm arrays. Destroy this one, the rest go down. Sure, there are others, but they are quite far, about ten days travel by DropShip at max speed. Finally, I want you," Sam pointed at Merlin and JD as he spoke, "to not raise suspicion by traveling at max speed. WOB will be watching carefully. The dropship you will take is no match for theirs. Should they attempt to stop you or fire upon you; take immediate action and destroy them."

As soon as he received their 'affirmatives', Sam left to return to the council chambers to go over the Call to Arms on his pad. Everyone stood there, having a silent moment, till Chris walked into them on his way to the Clan Hall.

"Oh, there you are!" Chris piped up cheerily as he walked to JD. "I wanted to ask if I could join you on the trip."

This startled JD somewhat, but before Merlin could speak, JD was first to disappoint him. "I'm sorry, kiddo, it's too dangerous. It's not a pleasure trip. It's a real mission with real threats and there's a chance we could end up dead."

"But..." Chris was about to protest but Merlin had to chuckle.

"Ah, young one, while JD is exaggerating a little, I can safely teleport us out of danger and before you ask about planet to planet teleportation, I am just too old to do such things. The DropShip will have to do these days. Sam made it clear you cannot accompany us on this trip. Sorry." Merlin ruffled Chris's hair a little before he made a pouting expression, as if it would change Merlin's mind. Merlin and JD simply chuckled, as did the rest of the guys.

To be continued...


[1] Trial of Position (ToP) — This varies in Clans across the universe. Some Clans have a wait time of two weeks, where others have a wait time of one month or more between ranks. Ranks are earned through Trials of Position where the Challenger must face a Council member or a high-ranking leader within a Clan. Other times, Trails of Position are not needed when one's own performance exceeds the Khan's expectations or his or her own skills.

[2] Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) — This component reduces radar lock on a 'Mech by 'hiding it' till a 'Mech without BAP sees it at 500 meters. With BAP only, 600 meters. BAP and ECM, 800 meters. For example, a normal 'Mech with active radar will spot anyone at 1000 m. If an enemy has ECM, it would be spotted at 500M. If two 'Mechs had the same ECM, it's still 500m. If a mech had BAP + ECM, and an enemy had ECM, it would be spotted at 600m. If both 'Mechs had ECM + BAP, both will see each other at 800m.

[3] Beagle Active Probe (BAP) — Extends radar range on a 'Mech by an additional 200m. Normal radar is 1000M. BAP extends range to 1200M.

[4] Particle Projection Cannon (PPC) — An Energy weapon consisting of high firepower and emits high heat on the user and some heat on the intended target when hit. This is a travel-time weapon as it takes a bit of time to hit its target compared to lasers. This weapon has a recycle time of six seconds and is quite popular on the field. The cannon, when fired, makes a lightning strike noise and it's blue in color when fired. It has a range of 925m.

[5] Atlas — a 100 Ton Assault Clan OmniMech. Normally, it is not jumpjet capable, as its designers never had jetting in mind for it. Standard weapons include a mix of missiles and several direct fire plus travel time weapons of choice. The armor is very high on such a 'Mech; it takes a long time to bring it down. The Atlas is supposedly one of the most feared 'Mechs on the battlefield.

[6] Neurohelmet — a special helmet which links directly to the brain of a warrior for faster response time. The 'Mechs needed a 'brain' to balance and power the 'Mech. Sure, it could stand up on its own when not powered up, but the limited intelligence of BattleMechs and natural conservatism of their control computers means they often need to be told when it is acceptable to be off balance, which may be helpful in battle as MechWarriors push their machines.
Quoted from  http://www.sarna.net/wiki/Neurohelmet

[7] Center torso (ct) — On the damage scale, damage reports have sections of armor. This was so the 'Mech wouldn't become too critical if a shot was fired and the whole 'Mech would be destroyed. The armor is divided into numerous sections of armor hard points: Head, right arm, right torso, center torso, rear torso, left torso, left arm, left leg and right leg.