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Time Running Out

-Trell I, Jade Falcon Occupation Zone -
- January 27, 3069, Local Time 2.41 PM-

As he surveyed the canyon surrounding him, Nimare briefly wondered if the rocks under his feet held the corpses of the Falcon Guards that fought, and died here, so many years ago. He knew it could not possibly be, yet so many things reminded him of it. During the first invasion, back in 3050. The Falcon Guards had died here, destroyed be the cunning and skill of one single man. Buried beneath a rock slide, they had not received an honorable death in combat. Instead, they had been butchered by Inner Sphere soldiers that did not care about codes of conduct, and that stooped to anything, including lying, deceiving and cheating, to gain victory. 19 years had passed, and a lot had changed, yet somehow that Falcon Guards had once again ended up in this position ....

Three days ago an inbound dropship had been detected over Trell 1. The planet now belonged to the Jade Falcons, having been conquered by Clan Steel Viper after the Guard's defeat, and later turned over to Jade Falcon during the great Trial of Absorption. This time it were the Inner Sphere forces that had attacked the planet. A company of mechs of the dreaded Bloodhand mercenary unit had dropped on planet somewhere in the mesa and sandstorms that was Trell, and had started their march towards key Jade Falcon installations. As defenders of the planet, the Falcon Guards cluster, Pryde's Pride, had set out to intercept the enemy force. After three days of maneuvering and cat-and-mouse games, they had managed to push back the Bloodhand mercs in this canyon, just several hundred meters from the Bloodhand dropsite. The Bloodhand had only two options left now, pull back and retreat off planet. Or make their stand in this canyon against the Falcon forces. Unfortunately, it was exactly this canyon that was the problem.

"Star Colonel Nimare Pryde, those rocks look like they are about to fall." came the familiar voice of Mechwarrior Shocen Pryde over Nimare's radio, concern clearly present in his voice. 'Guess I am not the only one that has been thinking of the Guards in 3050', Nimare smiled to himself. "I noticed, Mechwarrior" Nimare replied in a strict tone, making it obvious he wanted to think this over and not be interrupted. The Falcon Guards had entered this canyon about one hour ago. At first, they had been glad to finally be out of the murderous winds and sandstorms that made sensors all but obsolete and made even a simple thing like Mech piloting tricky at best. But even though the Falcon forces were finally out of the wind, the canyon was not. Over a period of thousands of years, the winds had blasted the upper canyon walls with a barrage of sand and gravel, knocking loose stones and making cracks in the walls. The overall effect was that the canyon walls, especially the upper parts were highly unstable, and were prone to collapse. Add to that the chaos and nightmare of thunderous sounds and heavy vibrations that were Mech fights, and one could easily imagine the entire canyon caving in on itself, and burrying anyone unlucky enough to be in it. Which, at this point, was the entire Falcon Guard Alpha and Beta Trinaries, as well as the Bloodhand forces. About 60 mechs and pilots total. Nimare wanted to win, but not if it meant destroying the Falcon Guards in the process.

'Time for something different', he though to himself, 'Lets see if the InnerShpere forces can at least be honorable if it suits their
purpose', and with that he flicked on the external speakers. "Commander of the Bloodhand force" he began, trying to insert as much authority and sincerity as he could in his voice " This is Star Colonel Nimare Pryde, commander of Jade Falcon, Falcon Guards, also known as Pryde's Pride." A small stone rolled of the canyon wall, hitting a larger one and causing the both to crash harmlessly several meters away. " As you have undoubtedly seen by now, fighting in this canyon will more then likely cause the entire structure to collapse, and kill us all. Although I am willing to make that sacrifice if neccesary, there might be another way...."


A small breeze blew through the canyon, indicating the winds outside had picked up, almost in premonition of the fight that was to come. The 'All Systems Operational' message appeared on Nimare's computer readout, and a quick message to his wingman confirmed the same. Everything was set, they were ready to fight. "Stay away from the sides" Nimare warned to his wing, "If they want us dead, they had better do it themselves". Nimare had no intention to be crushed under a falling rock. 19 years ago, the commander of the Jade Falcon Guards, as well as his troops, had undergone that fate. Nimare was determined not to let the same thing happen to him. "Ok, lets go", he added, and with that both Jade Falcon Mechs came to life, walking cautiously amids the rubble and stones on the canyon ground. Their opponents, two Bloodhand mechs, were somewhere deep within that canyon, and the only way to defeat them would be to go there themselves.

Nimare's offer of a one-on-one proxy fight outside the canyon had been quickly rejected by the bloodhand commander. Nimare had not given up that easily though, and it the end they had settled for a two against two fight, the rest of the forces moving outside the canyon were they were waiting. However, the Bloodhand commander had been adamant that the fight be held within the canyon. Nimare did not like that at all, but in the end, had agreed, figuring that if the canyon collapsed it would only be two Mechs instead of 35 trapped beneath the rock slide. Victory conditions were simple, they fought till one side was destroyed. If the Bloodhand forces won, the Guards would retreat back to their main Headquarters, if not, they remaining Bloodhand forces would retreat off planet.

As the Mechs moved on, the booming sound of their footsteps sometimes caused small stones to slip free and fall down, but there were no serious problems yet. Nimare was sure that was to change as soon as they started firing. "Shocen, make your shots count, and try not to hit the walls if you can" he warned. He was sure his wing already knew that, but he felt better saying it anyway. After about 4 minutes, his Mechs radar picked up two enemy contacts. There were still out of sight, waiting. The canyon turned to the left about 500 meters away, and the enemy was beyond that turn, well out of sight, and probably in cover. Without visual, he could not identify the enemy Mechs. That could be a problem, he did not really like closing to point blank range against unknown mechs, but there was little choice, since he really did not want to play a waiting game. Not in these conditions.
He brought his Mech to a standstill, and opened a channel to his wing, as an idea formed into his mind .....


A cloud of dust announced the arrival of the two Jade Falcon Mechs, a Werewolf and an Executioner. But instead of rounding the corner at ground level, the two Mechs appeared at about 10 meters from the ground, one after another, throwing off their enemies targeting systems. As expected, both enemy Mechs, now identified as Sionna IIC's were hiding behind large boulders, in cover from their Falcon opponents. Nimare had expected this though, and as his Werewolf hit the ground, he broke into a run and fire a salvo of missiles straight at a boulder one of the two Sionna's was hiding behind. The warheads detonated against the rock, smashing it to pieces with a loud explosion. Just then, Shocen's Executioner landed and followed up with a barrage of medium pulse lasers. Several beams of superheated light shot out from his mech and struck the crouching Sionna, now no longer protected, square into the torso, arms and legs, making a crisscross of scars, and blowing of one of its massive arms. Nimare quickly adjusted
his targeting systems to target the other boulder, but the pilot hiding behind it was obviously an experienced warrior himself, his
Mech already standing up and breaking into a run as Nimare's warheads hit the other boulder and blasted it to bits as well. Several small stones fell off the canyon walls, but fell to the ground harmlessly, or deflected off of the Mech's massive armor. The enemy pilots returned fire, and Nimare watched in shock as salvo after salvo of missiles burst forth. Peppering both his and his wings Mech, as well as exploding against the cannon sides and grounds. More stones fell down, one hitting Nimare's left arm and shearing off almost all its armor. The walls were quickly collapsing under the combined explosions of so many missiles, and the Bloodhand pilots were either ignorant of this, or they did not care. If this did not end quickly, no one would make it out alive.
Not wanting to risk anymore missile detonations just yet, Nimare switched to lasers and fired several bursts at his the undamaged enemy mech. His aim was true, but the lasers hardly seemed to faze the Sionna, which just kept running and fired his missile launchers again, several off which hit Nimare's Werewolf, but most of which just aggravated the canyon's bad condition. In the meantime, Shocen was beating back the other Mech, hitting it again and again with grouped laser fire. The enemy pilot was firing back with his own lasers, perhaps having realized the danger of firing so many missiles. A few medium to large boulders lay around that Mech, probably having hit him and jolted him aware of the imminent danger. The other Mech was maneuvering behind some fallen stones, trying to place itself in cover again. Nimare switched on his jumpjets and flew straight over and past the stones, position himself so that he had a clear line of sight to the enemy Sionna, then, with the loose stones at his enemies back, he triggered his own missile launchers, secure in the knowledge that any missile that missed its target would impact against the boulders behind it rather then the canyon walls. As it was, most of the missiles did hit the enemy Mech, tearing away armor on its torso and legs. He followed up with his lasers but most missed as the enemy ducked behind a massive gray stone again. Checking on his wing, he saw the other Sionna was down on one leg, but was still firing back, now with both lasers and missiles again. Shocen took several hits, but most fire missed the Mech completely and flew past it to impact on the canyon wall. Nimare checked up and noticed small stones beginning to roll down, knocking loose a few larger stones ... slowly, a rock slide was forming. Frantically, Nimare pressed the button for his comm-channel and yelled: "Shocen, get out of there, get away from the wall". To his credit, Shocen reacted immediately, turning his Mech around to face the wall and the enemy Mech and stumbling
backwards as fast as he could. With a sound like rolling thunder, the remaining loose stones above him came free and plummeted downwards, burrying the enemy Sionna as well as created a massive dustcloud blocking Nimare's view. Quickly checking his radar, Nimare noticed that his wing's Mech was still giving off an IR signature. Several milli-seconds later, the Falcon Executioner stumbled backwards out of the dust, barely able to keep its footing, but appearing to be largely undamaged.
Relief turned into agony as Nimare suddenly saw the other enemy Sionna move away from its cover and trigger every weapon he had at his friends unprotected back. Nimare triggered his own weapons, hitting the enemy Sionna squarely in the legs and ripping away most of the armor there, but it was already too late. Missile after missile slammed into the Executioner's back, burrowing their way their the armor plater and into the internal structure, until they were finally stopped by the Mechs large XL engine. A thunderous explosion filled the Canyon as the Executioner tore itself apart from the inside-out, scattering all over the place. Shocen never had a chance to eject .... just as the sounds of the explosion finally stopped, another, more omnious sound started, as the canyon started to collapse in on itself. Angry that is should end this way, Nimare turned his Mech around fired everything he had at his last opponent. Missiles and lasers both hit and blasted great gaps in the enemy Mech. Internal structure gave way as one of its legs stopped working, and the Mech toppled over on his front. Not caring, Nimare kept on shooting, firing at the prone Mech in front of him. Laser and missile fire slammed into the Mech, and crushed its cockpit as well as upper torso. Then, the walls collapsed and massive blocks of stone came down upon both Mechs, burrying the entire canyon floor into a grave of gray and brown rock.


gray-Green Mechs, showing the insignia of the elite Jade Falcon Falcon Guards were moving slowly atop the new canyon floor, searching for any survivors. The Bloodhand forces had kept their word and had retreated off the planet about an hour earlier, after the entire canyon had collapsed. A small Firemoth made its way through the rubble in one of the many narrow straights, careful not to trip on any loose rocks. As it rounded a corner, its pilot saw the most peculiar thing, out of the collection of rocks that made up the new floor, several meters away, rose a single Mech's arm, point straight toward the sky. The arm was had once been painted in green, but most of that had been scraped off now. But what really made the sight strange was the hand, which was
opening and closing at regular intervals, too structured to be any sort of computer malfunction. A smile appeared on the pilots face as realization dawned on him, then he send out a general communique "This is Bravo Talon Point Five, I found him ... repeat ... I found him. "

- MechWarrior Wight Pryde


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