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The Quest

- Terra, The Inner Sphere
- The year 2785

The constant buzz of many voices could be heard all night and day over at the Terran Greenlands. People came and went, bringing with them equipment, families, and most of all ... hope. Trucks could be seen driving around, carefull not to hit any of the many people gathered here. They brought supplies to the still silent and waiting dropships. These were desperate people, ready to leave everything they know and loved behind, to set forth on an unknown path, in an unknown galaxy, all because of the courage and foresight of one man ... General Alexander Kerensky. Minutes turned into hours, hours into days, until finally the day
came, when all preparations were made, when everyone was secured aboard their dropship. Then, the Exodus began .....

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- Eden, Clan Jade Falcon Occupation Zone
- The year 3069

Commander Rafael looked around at his men. Everyone was up and about, running forth from one place to the next. To Rafael, it looked it bit like a giant ant hive. It was hard to find any order or even purpose in the many actions being undertaken by Mechwarriors, Techs and civilians alike. But Rafael knew all these men were trained proffesionals. They would get finished, and get finished well on time. The 13th Word of Blake Guard had taken this planet from Clan Steel Viper five days ago. The Clan was locked in combat with another Clan, and WoB intelligence had seen an opportunity to gain control of this planet. And a very important planet it was, for it was the Main planet of the Steel Vipers advance, which they had renamed Eden in honor of their homeworld. On it all the most important industry and data from the entire Clan Steel Viper Occupation Zone was kept. Taking over the planet had been an easy task, it had hardly been defended. Hanging on to it , however, was going to be something else entirely ......

WoB Intelligence had only learned of the absorbtion of Clan Steel Viper three days ago. Apparently, they had been entirely taken over by Clan Jade Falcon; their warriors, their assests, ... and their planets. Immediatly, Clan Jade Falcon had dispatched a force to take back Eden, the former clan's Capital and an important planet to any occupant. Their forces had landed barely 14 hours ago, but were already making good progress towards the main city, towards the 13th Blake Guard !

"Sir, ..." the familiar voice of his XO caught Rafael's attention.
"Yes ?" he asked, knowing his XO, named Derr would never drop protocol and speak before being told to. Many times he had wished Derr would lighten up a little.
"Preparations are almost finished , sir. I estimate another hour before we are fully prepared, which should give us plenty of time
before the Falcon forces arrive."
"Very good." Rafael was happy about that, it would give him a chance to talk to his men before sending them out to fight. "Thank you Derr, anything else ?"
"No sir, just thought you would like to know"
"Ok, carry on". With that Rafael dismissed his XO, and went back to his tent. 'Lets go over this battle plan one more time', he thought to himself , ' when dealing with Clan Warriors one can never be too careful '.

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- Dropship Baron, The Periphery
- The year 2785

Aboard the Dropship Baron, things were very quiet. The people were there, but almost everyone was immersed in their own thoughts. They were at the border now, behind them, that which they knew, had always known ... safety. Ahead, darkness and uncertainty, with only their hope to comfort them. They all knew dark times were ahead, and could only hope they would emerge unscathed to find a better life ....

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- Eden, Clan Jade Falcon Occupation Zone
- The year 3069

"Enemy contact detected, they will be upon us in T-14 minutes, look sharp guys, and stick to the plan." Rafael notified the rest of his command. The Jade Falcon force send to this planet was not as numerous as the 13th Blake Guard, but consisted of mostly heavy and assault mechs. Considering the Guard was mostly a medium Mech unit, this meant that they would be chewed up and spewed out if they tried to face them under normal circumstances. But since it was the Blake's force that held the planet, they had a pretty good say in were to meet the the Falcon forces, and under which circumstances. He had selected the city of Javoen. Mostly because it was a ghost town, and had already been abandoned in the first great Clan/IS war almost 20 years ago. Furthermore, its crisscross layout of aveneus and very small streets would negate most of the range advantage the Clan Mechs had, as well as give the Blake forces every opportunity at ambushes and Guerilla-like strikes. Nevertheless, this could at best only even the odds, or maybe put them slightly in favor of the Blake forces. The battle would be fierce and hard, and many would fall, on either side. Rafael knew that, he had no illusions about the outcome of this fight. His force would be decimated, even if he won, and his chances of survival were very low. Rafael looked up and watched the sun slowly set while he mentally prepared himself for the upcoming fight ..... "It is going to be a long night ! " He said to no one in particular.

...........

As the first of the Clan Mechs came in range, they were immediatly peppered by long range missile fire, but to their great annoyance, the Blake Mechs quickly retreated further into the city, giving the enemy no chance to fire back. This angered the Clan Warriors, which pursued their targets deeper into the city, only to come under attack from the sides as well as the front. It was a basic military tactic, Rafael knew, but effective. Clan warriors were not exactly known for their patience. His targeting computer locking on to an enemy Phantom, he quickly triggered the release for both his missile launchers and watched as a volley of ten Long Range Missiles slammed into the Phantom from the side, then he quickly ducked his Mech behind a house as medium pulse lasers seared through the spot he had just been standing in.

Moving behind the cover of some more Buildings, Rafael checked his battle computer, which gave him an overview of the entire battle. The first Falcon Mechs were in the city, and the rest were entering it. They had also stopped their bold march and were more cautious now. 'Too soon' Rafael cursed to himself, he had hoped they would have kept their angry charge a bit longer. The Falcon forces had obviously learned from their previous fights with IS forces. No longer did simple ambushes or 'dishonorable' tactics work on them, which just made them all the more dangerous. 'Well, time to change the rules on them' Rafael smiled, then opened his comm channel " Ok Blake's Guard, time to Execute Battle plan Alpha. On my mark, ... go".

Derr and Fredrick, his two selected wingmen joined Rafael and together they headed out deeper into the city. Rafael's battle plan was a daring one. Instead of giving the Falcons a straight up, line to line fight, which they would certainly win, he had selected to divide his forces in small groups and split them up all over the city, changing this from a front line battle to a skirmish. Each group consisted of three mechs, and each group had a partner group. One group would strike at the enemy forces and quickly retreat, then when they enemy pursued the other group would sneak up on them and attack them in the rear, before retreating themselves. 'That ....' he had thought to himself ' should leave the falcon forces angered and confused enough to give us a good shot at winning this battle.' As he watched small groups of Mechs split off from the main group, he thought one more time about his battle plan, it was daring and contrary to everything he had learned as a cadet, it was also their best chance of staying alive throughout this fight, he added, and not to mention, it is too late to change it now. And with that, he put all his doubts to rest
and walked away into the unlit streets of Javion.

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- The Exodus Road, Unknown Space
- The Year 2786

Aboard the Dropship Baron, things were going from bad to worse. Hope had left them, and now all people had was uncertainty and fear. They had been in this dropship for months, with nothing but blackness outside. After nine months, some people had tried to rebel and split off from the group. They had been executed, every single one of them. At that time, people had thought it was justice, now, they were not so sure. But they knew they would not be able to turn back now, or they would suffer the same fate their predecessors had before them.

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- Eden, Clan Jade Falcon Occupation Zone,
- The Year 3069

Rafael carefully stepped his Mech over the wreckage of a Vindicator. One of his Vindicator's. As he scanned around the place, he saw more wreckage scattered about. Some were enemy, some were his. They had all died ....

"Still no contact with the main group, sir !" Fredrick reported. Rafael looked at his comm readout and confirmed that. They had been without any contact for an hour now, and had been in various small skirmishes. Derr had already fallen to a well placed Laser shot, melting off most of the back armor on his mech and causing the engine to explode. Both Fredrick and Rafael's Mech's had taken extensive damage, they were low on ammo, and to top if off, one of their retreats had taken them well behind enemy lines. 'Maybe I should have stuck to normal tactical doctrine. ' Rafael blamed himself again. "Fredrick, lets move. If we sit thight too long the Falcons will find us. " He ordered, then he turned his Mech and marched on, back to Nav point Alpha, and hopefully safer territory. Fredrick followed him, but his reactions were just a bit slower then usual. It was apparent that he had his own doubts about this entire fight. 'Well ' Rafael figured ' if I cannot fight my own doubts, maybe I can at least help him fight his', and opened a channel to Fredricks Vindicator. "Don't worry Fredrick, we knew this could, nay ... would happen. It was part of the plan. That is why we carefully selected all those Nav points in the city, so that all split of groups could orient themselves again. Don't worry ..." he concluded , wondering how his words sounded like to Fredrick, cause he already knew how they sounded like to him, and
it was not what he had hoped for. Yes, it was true they had known situations like this would happen. They just had not known they would be so damn scary !

..........

The two Mechs were making good time, having covered almost 20 kilometers in less then half an hour. The Nav point was only 5 more kilometers away. They would be there soon, Rafael rejoiced, and meet up with some of the others. There had still been no contact, but that would change soon enough as they neared the Nav point. 'Yep, things are definatly going better' Rafael smiled. As he looked over at his wing, he noticed no more of the disturbing reaction delays he had detected earlier. His wing was feeling it too, .... hope.

And then, ...... all hope was snatched away in an instant as suddenly three Jade Falcon Mechs burst out of a large container to their left.....

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- The Exodus Road, unknown space
- The year 2786

After almost ten months, what little positive feelings the people aboard the Dropship Baron had had were now totally gone. Fights had broken out, doomsayers were everywhere, and already there were at least fifteen reported suicides. One of the military barracks had been converted into a prison, where the troublemakers, as well as those who had gone insane had been stored. To make up for the lost space, the Militia aboard the dropship now worked in shifts, which meant there were Military men patrolling the decks at all times. The ship that had once represented the people's hopes and dreams had become a prison, lost in a sea of blackness .....

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- Eden, Clan Jade Falcon Occupation Zone
- The year 3069

Rafael barely had time to react before the first shots were fired. He sidestepped his Mech to the right, evading several of the large lasers directed at him, but one still managed to catch him in the right arm and melted off the remaining armor on that arm. Fredrick had not been so luck and was caught in a crisscross of lightbeams as armor exploded off his Mech. He survived that assault, but his Mech was hanging on by threads more then anything else. " Break right ", Rafael yelled at his wing, took a few steps forwards and trained his weapon sights on an advancing Falcon Executioner. His LRM's spat out, causing explosions on the executioner's torso which were quickly followed by several laser pulses, ... but the executioner seemed to just shrug off the damage. 'Well, ' Rafael thought grimly ' at least that should get their attention and give Fredrick a chance to get into a better position'. The Executioner and another Falcon Mech, a Pyro, turned ever so slightly to engage Rafael's Mech, but the thirth enemy, a
Summoner, continued to push for Fredrick's Mech. Rafael engaged his jumpjets to throw of his opponents aim, then manouvered his Mech to land inbetween Fredrick and his assailant. He had to give Fredrick time to recover and enter the fight. Several laser fire sped by Rafael's Mech, hitting nothing but air. His Vindicator almost made it, but was suddenly rocked back and forth by a hit from the Executioner's deadly Gauss rifle. The hit totally destroyed the Mech's left arm, and caused the Mech to spin. Rafael screamed as he lost control of his Mech and crashed it on top of a small fountain.

A loud explosion woke Rafael. It took him a few seconds to recognize his surroundings, then remembered what had just happened, and where he was .... face down on the ground !! Quickly, he gripped his controls and jerked them hard, hoping his sense of balance and long-life experience would hold the Mech upright. He barely made it before he was pushed hard against the straps of his Mechs chair, then knocked back as his Mech rocked from one side to another. Vital cockpit components shorted out in a flash of light and spark, and left Rafael without any sensors at all. Sweat and blood dripping down his head, he desperatly tried to turn his Mech around, realising he must have been hit in the back. Any more shots in that location would surely destroy
his Mech. As he turned around, he saw the three Jade Falcon Mechs standing near the wreckage of a fourth Mech. Fredrick !! His sight was cut off quickly though as several flashes of light travelled from the three enemy Mechs and hit him all over. Once again gravity pushed him around in his chair, as the Mech was pushed backward like it was a small playball. Rafael felt the Mech toppling backwards again, and in a fraction of a second he panicked, then his Piloting reflexes kicked in and he manouvered one leg to brace him, then fired his jump jets again, hoping they were still functional .....

they were not.

BLAM .... Rafael was temporarily deafened as another Gauss rifle round found its mark on the upper right torso, close to his cockpit. The Metal ball burrowed itself into the inner structure and hit the ammo contained within. The resulting explosion pushed the Vindicator to the left as the CASE system ejected what was left of the right torso up and away from the Mech. Once again Rafael was pushed around violently, and felt his head connect with one of the panels on his right. Rafael noticed a familiar blackness closing in from the corners of his eyes, but fought to remain conscious, and to keep his Mech upright. Somehow,
he managed both ....

Peering out through the viewscreen, Rafael quickly scanned for the nearest exit, in this case a small alley leading away from this rather wide street, and headed his Mech in that direction, pulling the throttle as far as he could. With shock, he watched his speed-o-meter. It never went above 32 kph. Which meant either one or both of his legs had received damaged, or
his engine had been hit. Feeling none of the usual heat wave associated with an engine hit, Rafael decided it was the former. Not
that it mattered much. 'So this is it ' he almost grinned ' I can't fight, and I can't run away. And I have no more options.' Quickly, he
made his peace and then turned his Mech back towards his opponents, firing all of his weapons as he did so .....

The first missiles and lasers had barely hit before Rafael's barrage was stopped cold, laser fire slicing through one of his leg and causing his Mech to fall down again. More violent pangs of pain of Rafael was slammed into his straps again, then even more Blackness as he tried to regain his focus. 'No ' , Rafael noted ' no sense in fighting it anymore '. As the darkness fell over his eyes, Rafael thought he detected movement coming from the right .... perhaps it was just a dream. Then he passed out .....

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- The Pentagon Worlds, Unknown space
- The year 2786

Suddenly, there was a light in the darkness. Or rather, five lights. People scattered about at the viewscreens as the captain announced the Exodus fleet had finally reached its destination. Up in the sky, the light of Five planets burned brightly, illumination the blackness, and rekindling the hope in people's heart. The long night was over .... and daybreak was almost there. An awe settled over the dropship as it detached itself from the jumpship it had been clinging on all these months, and set a course towards one of the five planets ... their new home ... their new hope .... Eden.

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- Eden, Clan Jade Falcon Occupation Zone
- The year 3069

Rafael had not expected to ever see anything again, so when the first lights hit him, he was totally confused and unsure of where exactly he was. Slowly, the lights turned into a blur, then into distorted images, until finally they came together and formed some sort of hospital room. It dawned on Rafael that he must have involuntary oppened his eyes ... ' Wait ' he thought, with sudden shock ' I'm still alive '. He closed his eyes again and waited for his body to stop trembling, then he heard a voice.

Later that day he learned all about how the Blake's Guard had finally located him and managed to defeat the clan's assault, which had been destroyed down to the last Mech. Many of his men had died, in this fight of hellish proportions, but in the end they had been victorious, just at dawn the last of the enemy Mechs had been destroyed. A feeling of kinship and renewed hope ran through his troops. They had all been through a night of doubt and fear, and only now these feelings were beginning to give way to more enjoyable emotions. As far Rafael himself, all throughout that day, and in fact for the rest of his life, he never forgot those first words spoken to him that day ....

"Welcome to another beautiful morning on Eden!"

- MechWarrior Wight Pryde

 

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