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The Falcon's Cry

- Phalan, Lyran Alliance
- 5.12 am, 12 november 3061

A single cry broke the silence. Not a humans cry, but the high pitched cry of a bird ... a falcon. Instinctively Nova Commander Markus looked up from the cockpit of his 65-ton Hellbringer into the skies above. After waiting for his eyes to adjust to the light of the setting sun , Marcus peered along the open sky, until he found the originator of this oh so familiar cry. A Jade Falcon .... his Jade Falcon ......

Emerald -that was the birds name- and him had been together since the early days of mechwarrior training, when he was still a cadet on the planet of Ironhold. He used to think it was thanks to his bird that he had found the strength to survive the gruesome warrior training. Now he knew better, but his bond with the animal was still strong. He cared about Emerald, cared more about her then he did for any human. In fact, his love for Emerald was probably the only thing un-Clanlike about him.

Markus had no idea how the bird got here. True, he took Emerald with him wherever he went, but she was supposed to be locked up and cared after in the dropship. Somehow she must have escaped and searched her master. No matter, Markus was glad she was here now, the sigh of her gave him a new confidence. He would be victorious today, and go home a hero. Perhaps he would even be nominated for a Bloodname, the greatest price any warrior could win. With Emerald in the sky watching over him, he could not lose, would not lose ...

"Alright warriors", Markus announced over the com-channel, "lets move out !". He pulled the throttle and felt the mighty war-machine under him break into a run. Checking his radar, he saw the other mechs in his Star following his lead, with his five points of elementals just behind the mechs. The were all capable warriors, and knew what to do. Soon, they would gain themselves, and their commander great glory.

His mission was of key-importance to the entire Phalan-Operation. Not long ago, Jade Falcon intelligence learned of a hidden Star-League cache on this Steiner planet. Such a valuable price could not be ignored, and a raiding team was prepared to go claim it. He had fought long and hard to be part of this team, pitting his strength and skill against other warriors who, like him, coveted this chance for glory. In the end, he had not only won a place among the raiders, he had won the best place .... Because the planet was heavily garrisoned, this particular mission was divided in two parts. A large continent of mechs would land on planet and engage the garrison troops, allowing a small nova of mechs and elementals to sneak past and move towards the hidden cache. A small look-out post stood not far from the cache, but it was defended by only a lance of medium mechs. No match for his Star
of warriors. Once they found the cache, the mechs would stand guard and protect it while the elementals would find their way inside and salvage anything they could find ....

"Contact at 1.2 clicks. They haven't seen us yet commander." Mechwarrior Goerde frequently used contractions in his sentences. He had a defiant streak in him, and enjoyed trying to get some sort of reaction from his commander. Markus stopped caring a long time ago, and simply let it pass. "They will soon, prepare for combat warriors, this is the moment we have been waiting for... make me proud."

"For Clan Jade Falcon !" came the unified response, and with that, all the mechs of Bravo Beak went into a top-speed run ... The enemy barely had time to turn around before the first shots were fired. Mechwarrior Brene's shots were the first to hit -his Mad Dog, with its two Gauss Rifles having a range advantage over the rest of his star- , both shots rang true, and blew straight through the torso of a Steiner Vindicator. The pilot never even had a chance to eject. Determined not to be outdone by one of his mechwarriors, Markus fired both his PPC's at a Hermes II. The first shot went wide, but the second caught the Hermes in the left torso. Suddenly a massive explosion shook the mech, and the entire torso went up in a ball of fire ... The other two defender mechs, two Centurions, decided discretion was the better part of Valor and started fleeing ... only to be shot down by the faster Clan Mechs. After only fourty-five seconds, the battle was over. The inner-sphere defenders never even had a chance to fire a single shot. Markus halted his mech to regroup, and looked back towards the sky. There, circling over the wreckage of their enemies, was Emerald. For a moment -maybe it was a trick of the light-, it looked to Markus as if their eyes met, and at precisely
that moment, the falcon let out a long loud cry ... a cry of victory.

The next five kilometer walk to the Brain Cache passed quickly. Moral was high, thanks to the victory at the look-out post,
and glory was within reach. Soon, Markus' Nova came to the rocky formation that hid the their price. One could easily imagine how the cache had remained undisturbed even after all these years. The place was littered with rocks and small rocky hills, and the high-alloy concentration within them blocked sensor readings. If Falcon Intelligence had not found a map of the cache's precise location, Markus and his went could search this terrain for days, and probably still come up empty handed. Fortunately for Markus, he did have the map. And soon he and his men were marching their mechs through the tricky terrain, moving closer and closer to their objective.

Suddenly, the long range com-channel came to life. "Nova Commander Markus, this is Star Colonel Fernin Hazen, there are no mechs here, just holographic decoys, we have been tricked, repeat, we have been ..." And Markus' radio went dead ...
His warrior-instincts razor sharp, Markus barely had time to sidestep the PPC bolt which would have taken his head off if he had received no advanced warning. In the second, which seemed to last forever, Markus' world changed radically ... the ambush was sprung.

"CONTACT !!!" Mechwarrior Drevek shouted over the inner-com system, "I count ten, no twelve, no fifteen mechs, we are surrounded !!!" Markus barely had time to verify that before all hell broke loose. It seemed to him that both sides opened fire simultaneously, and the calm silent air transformed into a nightmare of missiles, lasers and autocannon rounds. Markus' damage readout went from blue to yellow as his mech got blasted by enemy fire all around. Quickly, his Star took positions back-to-back, while his elementals took to the cover of the rocks to engage enemy mechs at point blank range. Simultaneously, the Jade Falcon mechs fired everything they had at the enemies around them. Two enemy mechs, a Phoenix Hawk and a Thunderbolt fell to this
concentrated fire, but two new mechs stepped into their place. Markus had no way of knowing how many enemies there were, but he knew there were too many to fight. Scanning his surrounding for a way out of this trap, he suddenly noted Emerald flying preciously close to their opponents 'Mechs, and then he noticed the three light mechs standing side to side. A weak point in the circle. Wasting no time, he quickly ordered his men to fire all weapons at those three mechs, while silently thanking Emerald for this lucky break. The five clan mechs turned around as one, and fired everything they had at their small opponents. The three mechs, a locust and two stingers, fell down in a rain of death, leaving a small clearing through which Markus and his men could escape, if they were fast enough....

"Go, I will cover you!" Markus ordered the rest while firing his PPCs at either side of the clearing, to prevent the enemy from closing ranks. His starmates broke into a run, but continued firing all the way, felling two more innersphere mechs who tried to block their way. Markus came last, his back armor getting shredded millimeter by millimeter by his pursuers. He knew the inevitable had to happen, someone had to stay behind and stall the enemy mechs, so that the rest could escape. Then, disaster struck. Autocannon fire from one of his opponents went wide and went up into the air. Time seemed to stop for Markus, and with a sense of foreboding, he tracked round after round of autocannon fire, each one coming closer and closer to his beloved Falcon Emerald. A tear welled up into his eye as the last one struck the bird, which let out an agonizing cry and plummeted down, eventually falling out of sight behind a small hill ...

Barely able to see or think straight, Markus let his instinct take over. He halted his mech, and turned it around. "Commander ?" he heard Goerde stammer over his com-channel, but it did not matter, Goerde, and the rest of his men, knew what would happen next, they would understand Markus' sacrifice, and follow orders rather then try to help their commander fight a hopeless battle. The hellbringer raised its arms in a challenge, and waded straight into the group of mechs that pursued him, weapons firing. All the while, his mind was occupied with only one thing. Did he truly do this because of wanted to save the warriors under his command, or did he do this because he did not want to live anymore ....

Markus' vision changed to an apocalyptic nightmare of enemies, both real and imagined, mechs spewing forth flames of death and
throwing bolts of lighting. He felt himself become part of his mech, his body its armor, he spirit the fusion reactor. Lights, metal and wreckage filled the viewscreen of his cockpit, but on top of all of that he saw his Falcon Emerald get shot down, again and again, each time the vision grew bigger and bigger, more and more detailed, until it was all he saw. His mech waded through his enemies, almost as if it was protected by Markus' burning need for vengeance as much as its armor. Mech after mech fell, but more kept taking their place. Eventually, like a giant driven to his knees, Markus' hellbringer toppled over. Its heat-scale long past maximum. Once again, time seemed to stop, and as an explosion erupted in the mechs inner core, Markus' vision cleared up. His mech was lying on its back, and Markus looked up at the now clear and beautiful sky ... There, in the radiance of the sun, was the falcon ... his falcon .. Emerald. And as the mech finally exploded into a ball of light, the Falcon let out one long final cry of defiance ....

- Mechwarrior Wight Pryde  


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