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Full Circle

- Trell I, Jade Falcon Occupation Zone -
- 12 Februari, 3069. 5.58 AM local time -

As the sandstorm broke, a single phantom could be seen darting from rock to rock. It was painted in a ghostly white, and showed a hand painted in red on its right leg. With a rythmic "boom" from every step it took, it dashed forward at an almost unbelievable speed, covering mile after mile and coming closer to it's target objective with each minute that passed. It's movement and appearance made it look like a giant armored man, .. cold ... indifferent .... uncaring. It betrayed none of the feelings felt by the pilot inside ....

'Well, at least I'm still alive' Lieutenant Sasha Tyvan thought to herself. She had objected heavily against this mission. It was a
suicide run, chances of succes were so low it seemed almost cruel to send them out, yet that is exactly what their commander had done. Sasha felt helpless, she had no choice but to follow orders, even if she knew better herself.

..........

The mission had been a standard recon mission into Jade Falcon territory. The target was the well known planet Trell I. Raids and
Recons, especially against the Clans, were always high risk, but the Bloodhand Mercenary unit was considered one of the best, and they had done this sort of thing before. They were ready, it wouldn't be easy, but they knew they could do it. After nearly two weeks of space travel, being locked away in the very small confines of their dropship the 'Orpheus', they had finally arrived at their destination. The Orpheus had quickly disconnected from the main jumpship, and had started it's trek towards the planet-surface. Time had passed quickly then, as everything was being made ready for their mission. It was also during that time that the first warning of troubles had come ....

After the last raid on this planet, the Jade Falcons had fortified their defenses, and installed a super high tech detection grid which
could only have been made with cutting edge clan technology. Almost immediatly, the Orhpeus had been spotted. Only skill and luck had kept them from running into the many Aerospace patrols that had been send out to intercept them. Luck, more then skill, really. Several of the other dropships, headed for different points on the planet, had been intercepted and shot down. All those aboard had died before they even had a chance to start their mission. As if that wasn't enough, analysis of the detection grid had confirmed that the Falcons would be able to read signatures from even Mechs if they came within a certain range. Recons missions were based on stealth and speed, hitting the enemy and getting out again before they even knew what had happened. Not only did the Falcons already know their enemies were coming, they would also be able to pick up on radar any enemy mech that came too close, and intercept it. The way most of the Bloodhand members saw it, their mission had failed before it had
even started.

But not their commander, Colonel Shamon. He had insisted they continued with the mission as planned, threatening to execute for
mutiny anyone that refused. He had ordered the few clan mechs they had to be configured without any weapons at all, to maximalize their speed. The final result was a Mech that was faster than even the well-known Clan firemoth. But that brought with it another problem. Piloting a Mech at 80 kph was one thing, piloting one at 180 kph was something else entirely. One mistake, no matter how small, would have disastrous consequences as the Mech lost its balance and crashed into a nearby rock. So the remainder of the time had been spend training the pilots for exactly this sort of thing. The Bloodhand pilots were elite, the best the InnerSphere had to offer, but it would still be tricky.

Sasha, and several of the other officers, had objected heavily, calling to abort to mission. But Shamon wouldn't hear of it, the
mission would go on, end of discussion. After that, a sense of dread had settled over the crewmen on the ship, and moral had plumeted to an all time low. Pilots would spend most of their free time writing messages to their family and friends, whom they would probably never see again.

.........

Sasha felt pretty much the same right now. At first, she had thought maybe the speed of her Mech would enable her to complete this mission after all, but after no more then a minute on this planet, a Jade Falcon sentry drone had spotted her. With no weapons to speak off, she had been unable to destroy it before it could transmit her coordinates to the main Falcon base. Any moment now, she would be intercepted, and it would all be over. Sasha just hoped the Falcons would kill her rather than take her as a bondsman. She feared the idea of dying, but she feared the idea of slavery even more.

Suddenly, a blue blip appeared at the outer edge of her radar readout. Blue meant some sort of structure, which, in this desert wasteland of Trell I, could only mean she was picking up the Falcon base, her recon objective. The base was located in a small valley, keeping it out of the terrible sandstorms that were common on this planet. As she neared the structure, she noticed her distance-to-target meter counting down rapidly. Less then two kilometres now. 'Maybe ?' she thought to herself, 'Just maybe !'. She kept checking the radar for enemy contacts, but there were none. Could it be that somehow the Falcons had messed up ? Perhaps the detection grid had malfunctioned and put her enemies on a wild goose chase ?

One kilometer to target, still no contacts. If there were any, she would have picked them up by now. The base was undefended !!

Sasha felt all her previous emotions fall away, and couldn't help smiling. Her smile quickly turned into a full out laugh. She would
make it out of here afterall. After all this worrying, the base was actually undefended.

Not quite undefended. As she neared within 500 metres of the base, it's automated laser turrets picked her up and started firing at the phantom. But the Mech was much to fast for computers to track, and the shots all fell short, blasting nothing but the air behind her.

Finding herself slightly amused by this, Sasha quickly run her Phantom up to the base and keyed in her external sensors for identification, meanwhile keeping her Mech running in circles around the base to prevent the turrets from gaining a lock on her. "Data downloaded in T minus 5 seconds" the computerized voice of her Mech warned her " 4 ... 3 ... 2 ...1 ... Data download complete."
"Gotcha" Sasha yelled out, and quickly set course towards the pick-up point. The turrets fired out behind her, but she keyed the jumpjets and with one great leap manouvered the Phantom out of range. Her radar picked up a group of elementals exiting from the base, but they would never be able to catch up with her. She was home-free!! "Wooohoooo!" she yelled out, besides herself as all her earlier fears melted away like snow in the sun.

Three more kilometres to the dropship pickup point, and she would be going home again. She planned on taking a long holliday after this. She needed some time to recover her nerves.

Because of the detection grid, the Orpheus had been forced to drop her off, lift off again and pick her up at a different place. The dropship needed to remain moving to prevent it from being intercepted by enemy Aerospace fighters. It should now be landing at way point Echo, and in a few minutes, take off again, with Sasha on board.

Sasha was just checking the data she had downloaded when her comm channel came to life. Nothing but static at first, then, barely audible, people talking: " ...pheus ....... picked up ... Mechs ...... Summoners. .... under attack .... get over here as ...... as possible."

What was going on, quickly, Sasha started tuning the comm channel, hoping to be able to cut through the interference. After about ten seconds, she succeeded. The message repeated over and over: "This is the dropship Orpheus to Aplha-one. Radar picked up enemy Mechs. Two unidentified Summoners. We are under attack, repeat, we are under attack. Alpha One, get over here as fast as possible. Departure in 4 minutes. "

"This can't be happening " Sasha said, her voice subdued, and clearly showing the desperation she was again beginning to feel. Only four minutes left ! She checked her computer. After what seemed like an eternity, the computer finally responded ... ETA to Orpheus: 205 seconds.

She could make it! It would be close, but she could make it. Determination kicking in, she wiped the computer screen of all none
relevant information and concentrated on piloting her Mech. If she slipped up even once, she would be too late and the Orpheus will have left. Nothing could go wrong now ....

Unfortunatly Sasha found concentrating on nothing but piloting very hard to do. Instead her mind wandered at what would happen when she finally made it to the dropship. She would have to run past two hostile Mechs to get to the Orpheus, and she only had a few seconds to spare. Any movement she made to dodge or evade enemy fire would bring her closer to failure. Things were not looking good...

'But not impossible' Sasha reminded herself. She had seen the effect her Phantom's speed had on computer tracking systems when the turrets failed to even come close to hitting her near the base. True, Clan Mechwarriors were some of the most amazing enemies to face, but even they would have a hard time hitting her, and it would only take her a few seconds to board the dropship and find safety under it's guns.

Her comm channel switched on again: "Alpha One, we are taking heavy fire, what's your ETA? Please respond ". Sasha checked her on board computer, then hit the switch to send a transmission back to the Orpheus: "45 seconds, wait for me Orhpeus!" she said, slightly worried they might take off without her and leave her to the mercy of the Falcons.

"Hurry" was the Orpheus' only response.

..........

As the Phantom cleared the last hill between it and the dropship, Sasha could clearly make out the scene before her. Two Emerald Green Summoners were circling the dropship, firing at it with massed laser fire the likes of which Sasha had never seen before. The Orhpeus was firing back, but was taking a beating, small explosions going off now and then along it's hull. It's armor had been penetrated and it was taking damage to it's internal systems. 'Hang in there' Sasha all but prayed, as she directed her Phantom towards the dropship. One last run over clear ground and she would be safe.

300 metres ... the summoners kept up their deadly barrage of grouped laser fire, explosions were going off inside the Orhpeus.

150 metres ... armor melted off the Orpheus like running water, shrapnel and smoke blasted it's way to the outside from the many
wounds on the dropship's body.

50 metres ... Sasha could see the open bay door waiting for her. 'I'm gonna make it' she thought.

BBBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM

First there was a bright white light, as the Orhpeus' internal engine finally exploded and teared the ship apart. Then there was a deafening sound which caused Sasha to reach for her ears, even though they were inside her neurohelmet. A shockwave came next, hitting the light Mech and picking it up, throwing it backwards and clear of the Dropship.

As Sasha regained her senses, the dropship was no more. Only a burnt out shell of the once mighty spaceship remained. Metal sheets littered the place, and small fires were burning among them.

"NOOOOOOOO" Sasha cried out. Tears were forming in her eyes. This had been her only chance.

Suddenly, a male voice interrupted her cry. "Phantom Pilot, this is Star Commander Drew. Shut down your Mech and surrender, or you will be destroyed."

Sasha, who had by now, without knowing it herself, brought her Phantom back onto it's two feet, couldn't help but laugh. It wasn't a happy laugh, instead, it was laughter made of desperation. It was all over. This planet was were her life ended. She just had one more choice to make, would it end in Death, or Slavery ? The choice was simple, really ....

Laughing even though her eyes were filled with tears, Sasha pulled the throttle and charged her Phantom straight at the two enemy Summoners.......

 - MechWarrior Wight Pryde

 

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