Copyright © 2016 by Hammy
24 hours later
Panthera staging zone
100km to target
Ten DropShips de-cloaked at the last minute to conduct what hoped to be a quiet landing in an isolated area, well away from any forms of civilization and sensors, a well known spot selected by Tommy. The ship launched drones in six locations, hoping to discover any enemy units. For light 'Mechs to travel a hundred kilometers would make the journey a good forty-five minutes or more of high speed travel going at least a hundred and forty kilometers an hour. In a fast paced drop, landing zones would normally have been placed much closer at three thousand meters. This however, was a recon to test enemy presence in the area.
It did not take long for the drones to report data back to the DropShips. Once they accomplished their tasks, they moved onto the next area and the DropShips shortly followed. The primary goal was to drop 'Mechs in groups of three, four thousand meters from target, and the DropShips were to wait farther away for safety. The drones relayed their data once more and the DropShips continued to follow. Once they accomplished their tasks, the ships made it to their drop zones and deployed six 'Mechs per ship.
During the drop sequence, a mission briefing was announced. Epi's voice was heard on radio as there could be no video communications due to the natural interference of the planet. "As you all know and learned from practice, all heavies and assaults are to group up at point Charlie, then commence attack from there. Us mediums and lights will re-group at point Beta to await the engagement of the assault force. Please note that those in the DropShip will remote control the 'Mechs with empty cockpits. There are six in total, let's keep them in one piece, shall we? Any changes in plan need to follow plan B and if that fails, we move to plan C. While our primary objective is to acquire the prisoners, there might be a time when we will have to engage in battle and that is secondary. If we manage to destroy all enemy 'Mechs, great, that will make our mission that much easier. Good luck!"
Yan looked over his controls and breathed a sigh. "I sure hope this works."
"Yan, if anything, the plan you guys cooked up sounds good on paper." Rampage(Chuck) replied to Yan, fully understanding the youngster was talking to himself.
"Yeah, dude, I really couldn't have come up with anything better myself." Cool-Hand replied.
Yan grunted in response as his 'Mech made contact with the ground from a fifty meter drop. "Thanks guys. See you at Beta."
Comms crackled to life with Banshee's high-pitched voice drowning out any cockpit noise, making Yan wince some. "Okay guys! Let's head out! Keep an eye on the horizons for any activity, we don't want our presence noticed till the last minute!"
There was a chorus of acknowledgments on comms at the same time causing Banshee to giggle. The moment her light 'Mech started moving forward at 50%, comms went silent as everyone followed.
1000 meters to the northwest
Wolf grunted as the mission briefing ended. "I still have my doubts."
"I'm sure you do, Ray. For once, quit being negative, maybe we'll end up proving you wrong," Rampage(Adam) responded sincerely.
Wolf grumbled. "That'll be the day."
Rampage chuckled, "Alright gents, move out!"
With their thoughts focused, radio silence was maintained till they reached their destination, some thirty minutes later.
"Nice of you guys to finally join us," StormCat spoke out of nowhere, causing some pilots to jump in their cockpits.
"Jeez Stormy, way to break silence," Blinker replied.
Rampage(Adam)—"Are we the last ones in?"
StormCat—"I scared ya, didn't I?
StormCat—"Ha-ha-ha-ha, guess I did."
Wolf growled in response as usual. He didn't like the plan one bit. He didn't like leaving his ship behind, but he knew he had a very good captain taking care of it and was very confident no one would find it, except for those who know about the ship.
Wolf—"Guys, I know the plan is to move in as one, but what if we moved as two groups of one? I want to be able to cover our asses since we don't know what kinda firepower they have."
Rampage(Adam)—"Well, I dunno..."
StormCat—"I think Wolf has a good idea. Let's give it a try. We'll be five hundred meters apart. Acceptable?"
Rampage(Adam)—"If you guys feel okay with it, I suppose I am too."
Blinker—"Good, let's go!"
The stampede of 'Mechs moved out, a healthy mix of some mediums, heavies and assaults. While the assaults were slow, most were outfitted with JD's configuration, a fast moving brawler capable of hard hitting, so the group did not have to worry about keeping up with everyone else. The drone overhead moved forward, providing real time data as well as acting like a radar. Time was running out as the drone was soon to run out of fuel and crash to the ground. That gave them fifteen to twenty minutes of radar activity, unless the enemy was using ECM.
After five minutes of travel, the group finally saw the outskirts of several buildings. A sudden light sandstorm started with wind howling, blowing sand and making visibility slightly difficult. The drone in the sky struggled to maintain its course, but with the storm, it was using fuel at a much faster pace. When it dropped to the ground, a second drone took its place and continued on in the same direction.
The entire group stopped as a few 'blips' were heard on radar as the drone picked up something.
Blinker—"Anyone have sights on the targets?"
Firewolf—"Yep. Normal patrols. There is a 'Mech hangar that could come in handy for us 'cause I see activity inside."
Striker—"I'm sure Hellboy has brought some extra remote controllers with him. I mean, why not."
Wolf—"I don't like this. There should be more patrols than those two up front. There has to be hidden snipers somewhere or a shit ton of turrets hiding."
Rampage(Adam)—"Really Wolf, don't you think you are over thinking things?"
StormCat—"No, Wolf is right. I can spot a sniper or two plus some turrets."
Wolf—"So who brought range besides me?"
Av—"I always do."
Raz—"Glad I brought them."
StormCat—"Same. This storm is shielding us for the time being, but if we can see their snipers, they can surely see us."
Firewolf—"No, they are looking the other way for now. I have eyes on them, we need to go now."
Without delay, the group began moving as one and slowly splitting. One group was heading for the 'Mech hangar and the other group moved away to distract snipers, since they would surely hit the group heading for the 'Mech hangar.
As soon as the snipers were within range, they all opened fire at the 'Mech on lookout.
Seconds later, two explosions were spotted where the sitting sniper was.
Firewolf—"What the hell was that?"
StormCat—"Double headshot kill?"
Raz—"No time to chitchat, we have their attention. Missiles incoming! Take out the missile turrets!"
Wolf and Av—"On it."
Wolf and Av fired a full alpha of weapons directly at the missile platform, doing minor damage as it let loose another volley of missiles at different targets. Raz felt a slight bit of relief due to the sheer amount of missiles being unloaded onto the others... and not all on him. Raz did not have as much armor as everyone else did, but he was thankful he brought extra armor however, another two hits of the same thing and he would have been out of action.
Just before the missile turret had a chance to unleash another round of missiles, Wolf and AV fired yet another alpha shot at the turret tower, destroying it completely. They both then were forced to shutdown to cool off their overheating 'Mechs.
Firewolf—"We'll cover ya."
StormCat—"No we won't. Wolf can cover himself while he's shutdown."
Wolf—"Bite me, Stormy!"
StormCat—"You need new material, Wolf."
Wolf—"Whatever. Get that damn laser turret off me!"
StormCat giggled then twisted his 'Mech's torso towards the laser turret on the ground next to the building on both sides. He did note how only one of the turrets was targeting Wolf. Without hesitation, he fired a partial shot in hopes to distract the turret, but it continued to fire on Wolfs' still shutdown 'Mech. StormCat growled and fired another grouping of lasers at the turret, destroying it just as Wolf was powering back up. Av followed shortly thereafter.
Av—"StormCat, whats up?"
StormCat—"I'm not sure. These turrets seem slightly upgraded."
Firewolf—"There's no time for that, double team the turrets and take them out as soon as possible."
Rampage(Adam)—"Less talking, more shooting. Us brawlers are almost in range!"
Just then, a massive Supernova jumped in the air from behind a building, clipping StormCat's right leg. It didn't do much damage as it fired a partial shot however, the pilot of the assault 'Mech stayed in the air a bit too long as three of the guys fired upon it, doing massive damage to it's left side and destroying an arm. Another series of explosions followed from somewhere within the city limits.
Rampage(Adam)—"Whoooooo! Holy shit! JD wasn't joking about the firepower on these!"
Raz—"Keep your eyes on that sniper over there!"
Just before the unsuspecting Supernova jumped, he was instantly destroyed by the rapidly approaching brawler assault 'Mechs.
Rampage(Adam)—"Shit, I don't think we'll get salvage!"
Wolf growled, "Never mind that, just leg them fuckers!"
Epi was deep in thought thinking over the plans in his head. He could see no flaws as they had practiced for 24 hours, on and off. Sure, by the end of it all, everyone was worn out and tired, but there was also a sense of accomplishment about everyone involved, except for Wolf. Epi began to think other thoughts of the possibilities that no one else took into account. The first was hearing of the "upgraded" turrets. He had heard of those before, but he tried to remember when he ran into those types of heavily armored turrets. He shook his head and thought of the second item, which was the nearly empty 'Mech hangar.
Speaking to himself, Epi sighed. "I wonder if they're walking into a trap."
Banshee—"You could be right, but how would you really know?"
Epi—"Oh, hey Banshee, how far out are you?"
Banshee—"We'll be seeing you in five minutes. Did I make you jump?"
Epi—"Ehhh, somewhat. I was trying to think of why those turrets Wolf is facing are heavily armored with little resistance and a near empty 'Mech bay."
Coyote—"Armored turrets? Epi, could you possibly be referring to the battle of Siege Point on Cavanaugh II?"
Epi—"Could be, why? I've totally forgot about that battle as there are so many..."
Grey—"It was one of those battles when we were faced with armored up turrets and best laid traps. I got a feeling Wolf and the others are walking into a trap."
Epi wasted no time giving the order and slamming the throttle to max speed, "Everyone, get a move on! Banshee, you will have to meet us on the way! Wolf will need our help!"
Adler—"Already on the way."
Sonix—"Try and keep up, old man."
Coolhand—"Armored turrets you say? I think Sam did an upgrade on those, except there are hiding places where no one would look to. Wolf, did you get all that?"
Static and a faint crackle on comms was all Coolhand heard.
Banshee—"We've gotta hurry, there's some extra interference somewhere."
Epi—"I hope five minutes will be enough!"
Yan—"I'm sorry I got you guys into this plan. If..."
Banshee cut Yan off before he could finish that line, "Young man, chill. It isn't your fault. These things happen to the best of us and the worst we'd ever hear is Wolf constantly grumbling and growling, but that's normal, even for him on either good or bad days!"
Epi—"Banshee! How many 'Mechs can that hangar hold in that city?"
Banshee—"Twenty, but Sam downgraded it and added hiding spots where no one would look! Except, they already destroyed at least a few already and they were all assaults."
Epi—"You mean to tell me there are at least twenty assaults?!"
Banshee—"THAT was Sam's plan. I have no idea what the hell the enemy's plan was. I'm sending the drones to the well known places. This is either a trap or it's been abandoned and we've been had!"
Epi—"Great, just great."
Adler—"Wolf's group is fine for now. They see the drones in the area searching for something. Will keep you posted."
Epi—"Adler, how the hell did you get comms with them and not us?"
Adler—"Told ya I had a head start."
Coyote—"Damn creepy ass old man and his 6th sense. Almost like Hammer's..."
Epi laughed, "Yes well, that's why he is our best midfielder."
Banshee—"Drones report nothing. As far as I can tell, there are no heat signatures or shutdown 'Mechs."
Coolhand—"What about underground? Surely Sam must have done something to create an underground 'Mechbay or something?"
Banshee—"There have been times when Sam kept things from the council and even Merlin. He was right not to trust anyone. If there's something underground, the only person who had access to it is, or rather was, Sam himself. If WOB felt the defenses of this place was more than good enough, they're so dead wrong... unless they installed some sort of motion sensors to alert someone of trespassers then... we best haul ass!"
Wolf—"Nothing is this easy. Just get here fast. The rest of us are going to secure this place."
Banshee—"Wolf, be careful."
Wolf—"Always, my dear."
Rampage(Adam)—"My, my someone has the hots for Gail."
The silence was deafening, even if it lasted for a minute. Adam knew very well Wolf had him and chose to stay silent throughout the searching. The rest of their backup was no more than a full minute away when Blinker confirmed of an entrance of sorts, but it was well hidden, except for the clanking noise one would hear while walking over something metallic versus walking over solid ground.
Wolf had guards posted along the perimeter of the city where Banshee said were the best hiding places with a wide range of visibility. They were to remain powered down, except for comms. Once the massive group of lights arrived Epi also had his best remain on patrol while he assisted Gail, Chuck, and Tommy with finding the entrance.
As everyone met at the cryogenics plant, they pried open the bolted doors and entered the cold, yet somewhat operational building. It showed of very recent use, but appeared to be abandoned. Once they approached a corridor that split off, Banshee suggested they split into 2 groups.
"Guys, I'm very unsure of this place, but I'm vaguely aware of the founders being in here." Gail spoke in hushed tones. "Coolio, I know you have had painful memories of this place, but do you remember anything?"
"Very little." Coolhand started, but a sudden flash of memory came to the surface as he looked at something very familiar. "Never mind splitting up, I think this is the way. That symbol on the wall, I drew that." Everyone looked to see a child-like symbol that showed a panther drawn in blue lines with a red cross-hair target tilted some thirty degrees. The Clan Panther Force was originally founded by Coolhand and he was the one to draw the logo, till the council overthrew him and the current Khan all but put him in deep sleep, that is till Sam took over.
Tommy sighed heavily after removing his hand from the wall. "Lets just get this over with."
The walls were a dull gray, all bare with nothing to direct them. It seemed like an endless maze of corridors, yet Tommy seemed to knew where he was going. Finally they came to another spot where the corridors split. One going to their left and the other to the right.
"The right corridor will take you to what I think is a 'Mech bay. I don't think I have access to it, but I really never went down there. To the left, it isn't much further," Tommy spoke, looking to his right first, then focused his attention to the left. Before he could start walking, Gail placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Tommy, I'll understand if you don't want to go in there."
"No..." Tommy smiled weakly. "I think I need to do this."
"Dude, I'm here for ya. Ya know that, right?" Chuck smiled at him, hoping to give him some support and comfort.
"Right. Let's do this." Tommy began walking towards that corridor as everyone followed.
At the bend, there was an eerie bluish glow that looked like there was water underground, except when they entered the expanse of the cryogenics room, they not only found the founders, but to their great surprise, they saw an empty tank that once contained their former Khan.
Gail gasped in fear, not only for herself, but everyone. She didn't stop there. As soon she looked left, she spotted their next surprise, which put smiles on everyone's faces.
Several tense silent minutes have gone by, but the silence was finally broken by Epi. "Guys, I know this place is creepy enough, but we have wasted enough time here already. Gail, are you able to revive those people?"
"Yes and no. I can only do so much here and there needs to be a transport carrier for these, the reviving process takes 4 hours, and we are running out of time. That flying fortress of yours, Ray, is more than capable to handle this, but if there is a transport here, we need to find it. Speaking of finding, where is Yan?"
A sudden loud noise of running footsteps slightly startled the group as they quickly drew their laser pistols, only to discover it was Yan running towards them. He seemed to be running hard as he was out of breath.
"Guys!... You... gotta... check... this... out!"
Tommy placed both hands on Yan's shoulders to calm him down. "Dude, breathe. Take a few deep breaths."
Yan rolled his eyes and cracked a smile. "I found the 'Mech bay. It looks like no one's been there in ages. I think I saw a hyper speed transport carrier too. And some.... beast-like 'Mechs, scary looking too."
"Damn. Perfect salvage too," Wolf spoke after staring at one of the cryo units then shook his head. "Okay decision time. Gail, prep those units for transport, there is a cart to transport these and seems they can be battery operated for a set time. I'll stay here and the rest of you decide on who stays and who goes to get that bay operational. I want to set up a base of operations right here in the future, but for now, the longer we spend here, the further out of reach JD becomes."
Epi nodded in agreement. "Good, I'll stay as well."
Fifteen minutes later, all cryo units were brought into the bay by Wolf, Epi, and Banshee. As soon as they had a real look around, Wolf whistled at the sights before him.
There in the massive 'Mech bay stood six massive bear-like beasts of 'Mechs. They appeared to look like the Innersphere's Atlas, but these were Clan variants. The distinctive differences were the claws on the ends of the hands as well as a massive torso with a wide array of weapons. Not only that, but they appeared to be attached to a platform that thrust them onto the surface at moment's notice.
"Oh Jesus, just what the hell are those?" Epi exclaimed at the sights before him.
Banshee giggled, "Those, are Kodiaks. They are a hundred tons of death and destruction and each one of those compliments each of the founders' top skills. I mean that's what I would imagine them to be. I can easily recognize some of the name plates of the founders' as well as what type of weapons they have. I mean, I've known some of the founders as well as their history and their fighting styles."
"Would those beasts be slow?" Wolf and Epi asked at the same time.
Banshee smiled, "No way, they were modified to be agile to their top speed of seventy kph."
Wolf grunted as Tommy approached the group. "Guys, I've got everything operational, including those. They are outfitted with Hellboy's remote transmitters and will be operational once they reach surface. The transport is ready and while you three were drooling over those sexy looking beasts, we got everything loaded. This place will go into full lock-down until we return, but for now, it can serve as a great base of operations on this planet, should we lose Outreach."
Wolf nodded his approval and just as they were boarding the hyper transport, they got an urgent message from above.
Blinker—"Wolf, we got company."
Ray growled. "How long do we have?"
Blinker—"Fire says less than ten minutes."
Wolf—"Get the drop ships here in three! We are coming topside with prizes. We need to be out of here in six!"
Blinker—"They're already here. We're waiting for you. It was a ghost town after all, with only four guards and a handful of people in that topside hangar."
Epi—"Someone must have radioed for help. Let's get the hell outta here!"
Wolf—"Coolio, let's get a move on. Hellboy, I hope you can handle these six!"
Hellboy—"Damn boy, there ain't nothin' I can't handle! I got some of the pups here helpin' me, so we're good to go."
At that final word, Tommy pressed a button that sent the six massive 'Mechs to the surface with a growling sound that reverberated off the walls making everyone in the hyper transport shudder. The transport was the first to reach the surface, followed by the six 'Mechs. The 'Mechs breached the surface as if nothing could hold them down. Sand was ejected high into the air to at least a hundred meters. Those six Kodiaks began their power up sequence and Hellboy established full control of them and piloted them to the empty DropShip. A second DropShip was used for the hyper transport and they began cloaking while taking off, as the concealed hangar began to close up and re-seal itself for later use.
A massive squadron of 'Mechs were approaching the base, only to discover they all stepped on cleverly placed land mines that disabled their legs, thanks to Firewolf. The force of the wave pushed their DropShips somewhat, causing some gasps.
Epi—"The hell was that?"
Firewolf—"Landmines. I laid a trap."
Blinker—"A beautiful trap I might add."
Dragon—"They'll never reach that new base."
Wolf—"Good. Hellboy, ready the medics. We have precious cargo."
Hellboy—"What the hell happened down there?"
Banshee—"Scott, we have the founders... and Sam."
Hammy would love to get your thoughtss on this story. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org