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One's Own Worst Enemy

Emotional turmoil clouded most of Star Captain Hannah's senses. She couldn't believe what was about to come. She had had a rich life, filled with glorious combat, and honorable victories. The transition had been a hard one. At the age of thirty, her life as a warrior had ended. The Clan, in all it's wisdom, had decided she could better serve as an instructor of cadets then a warrior on the front lines. The sheer enormity of that mental blow still woke her up from time to time, but as the years passed, she had accepted her new life, and even found a certain peace in it. She had made her mistakes, paid her dues, and had had a life of confrontation and struggle. At first, it had ben all she knew, but ... and perhaps it was old age speaking ... her new life had brought her a new sense of purpose, and rest.

She had been hard on the poor cadets at first, taking out her own anger and frustration on the soon-to-be warriors. That was the way of the clan, and it toughened her pupils into heartless warriors that would do what was necessary, no matter what cost. Determined, totally ruthless, ... soulless.

It had taken the death of her own instructor, whom she had not seen for years, that had brought a change. He had not been like the others. He was harsh, but just, and even the wisdom shining in his eyes never could conceal that he cared for his pupils. Even now, she did not know whether to love, or hate him for that. If she had been different, if she had been like the others, she would never have made the mistakes she had .... and she would never have known there was so much more then just the clan way.

Still, it had brought her where she was now, .... at the edge of desperation.

His Death had shocked her, jolted her awake. It made her realize there was another way, that she did not need to live the rest of her life in misery. And so, she had started to change. Slow at first, and prone to attacks of anger. But as time passed, she became comfortable in her job, and started taking a small measure of pride in the achievements of her pupils. The cadet-trainer relationship changed from being a struggle to that of a student-mentor one, and her training methods turned out the most gifted and talented Mech-pilots in the entire Academy.

And finally, after five years of hardship, she had begun to find content in her new position, and a measure of peace.

.... Until, one year later, the unthinkable had happened.

.... Her mistakes had caught up with her.

... And they had a name: Cadet Shaynna.

Hannah had realized who the new cadet was as soon as she had seen her, but nevertheless, did not want to believe it. It was not until she read the Cadet's personnel file that she could deny it no longer. Shaynna was a freebirth, considered all but worthless by the clans. And she was a typical freebirth at that. Fierce, temperamental, and with a rage burning inside her for all the hardships that had been forced on her. If normal clan children had a tough time, ... it was nothing compared to the struggles freebirths had to go through to make it in Clan society. Generally considered little more then cannon-fodder, the freebirths were treated with utter contempt by their Trueborn brethren. They always got the most menial jobs, the worst punishments, and the least respect. It was no wonder that most freebirths had an intense hatred against all Trueborns, and their arrogant ways. This particular freebirth, called Shaynna, and
abandoned by her parents at birth, was the offspring of two well known and decorated Clan Warriors. Star Captain Crest Pryde and Star Commander Hannah.

Shaynna was Hannah's daughter.

And so the struggle had began anew. Shaynna did not know who her real mother was, and probably did not care either. But Hannah knew, and with each day that passed, the knowledge got more profound, etched itself deeper into her soul. And eventually, that knowledge grew into caring ... and later ... love.

For two long years, Hannah watched her daughter grow, tutored her into the arts of Mech-piloting. Watched her evolve from an arrogant cadet to a formidable Mechwarrior. For two long years, Hannah was reunited with her daughter. And, even though she could not tell her daughter the truth, was still able to love her from afar.

Eventually, two years passed, and Shaynna faced her first real combat. Her first trial of Position. Like her mother, Shaynna was deadly in combat. Lightning fast, never hesitating, and completely ruthless. Unsurprisingly, she passed her trial with flying colors. Destroying all three of her opponents and gaining the rank of Star Captain.

... For the second time ever, Hannah cried.

... The first time had been at Crest's funeral.

And later that same day, Hannah made the second biggest mistake of her
life. She told Shaynna the truth ...

..........

And here she was, inside the cockpit of a Mech once again. She had not fought in eight years, but still, the controls came natural. The soft vibrations of the humming XL-engine permeated her entire body, and her heart started racing faster, adrenaline pumping. For the first time in eight years, she felt like a warrior again.

... Only, this time, she had to face her worst battle ever.

... She had to face her own daughter.

Shaynna had gone berserk when she heard the news. All her frustrations, all her anger, finally found a focus, someone to blame for all that she had been through. And that person was Hannah. Crying like a banshee, Shaynna had assaulter her own mother, and it was not until two elementals rushed in and pulled her away, several minutes
later, that she had calmed down. Leaving an unconscious and several wounded Hannah behind.

Hannah had spend the next week in a hospital, so badly beat up was she. Yet the physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional hurt she felt. Where Shaynna was able to blame someone else, Hannah had no one to blame but herself ...

But things had only gotten worse. When she was finally released from medical care, Shaynna had a new shock in store for her ... A Trial of Grievance .... in Mechs .... to the Death.

..........

"Star Captain Hannah. " It was Shaynna's voice she heard over her com-radio, but the hate behind it sounded almost alien to her. "... Prepare to die." With that, the dark green Hellbringer at the end of the long road raised it's arms to engage.

Two bolts of lightning shot out from the Mech's PPCs and blasted Hanah's Summoner right arm, melting down armor and burning out the internal mechanics, before finally severing the arm completely.

Hannah was barely able to keep her Mech upright from the impact, and could do nothing but watch as the large autocannon on her arm was knocked out. Immediately after her first volley, Shaynna opened up with lasers and missiles, but Hannah pushed the button to her jumpjets and strafed sidewards, causing the second attack to miss completely. Hoping her opponent's heat levels would give her some respite, Hannah broke her mech in a full run towards her daughter and fired her own ppc and lrm10. Both weapons hit, the ppc tearing a gap in the Hellbringer's armor on it's left leg, and the lrm10 peppering the Hellbringer's torso with small explosions. But Hannah did not get the respite she had hoped for. Like a berserk warrior, Shaynna disregarded the rapidly rising heat levels in her Mech and fired both PPC's again. The Summoner's speed saved it from the first bolt of lightning, but the second impacted against her right torso and blew off chunks of armor. And still, Shaynna kept up her relentless assault and fired the
rest of her weapons as well. Lasers and missiles blasted more armor off the 70 ton Summoner and laid bare the internals on it's right torso.

Hannah fired back with her two remaining weapons, the Particle cannon on her left arm, and the long range missile launcher on her right torso. Her shots rang true and melted more armor off of her daughter's Hellbringer, but even though both weapons did lots of damage, without her autocannon, Hannah lacked the firepower to keep this up for long. In an exchange of firepower like this one, her summoner would come out second best for sure.

Which meant she had to try another option ...

Hannah pushed hard on the jumpjet controls, using their forward thrust to add to her own speed and causing the summoner to glide over the ground. This way, Hannah hoped to throw off her opponent's aiming, as well as getting the speed necessary to pass the Hellbringer and then turn around to fire at it's back. It meant coming really close to her daughters Mech, but Hannah hoped the Hellbringers heat, as well as the Summoner's now boosted speed would be enough to let her survive the close encounter.

Just before she passed the enemy Hellbringer, Hannah fired her missile launcher again, more to distract her opponent then to actually do any damage. Then she concentrated fully on her dangerous maneuver. If it worked, she would have to use her jumpjets to turn 180 degrees and use her own sense of balance to keep the Mech from toppling over as she did so. Then she could bring her PPC to bear on the Hellbringer's back, and hopefully end this battle right then and there.

As she passed the Hellbringer, Shaynna opened up with every single weapon she had. The speed, explosions from the long range missiles and the heat from her Mech made the shot almost impossible to make, ... but Shaynna made it. PPC fire, laser fire, missile explosions, every single shot hit Hannah's summoner and did massive damage. The Summoner's right torso was blasted to bits, causing the long range ammo to explode and the CASE system to eject the entire torso so that it's explosion would not consume the rest of the mech. The summoner's center and left torso were hit also, and concentrated laser fire melted off all of the armor, before missile explosions did tremendous damage in the Mech's inside's. An engine hit, combined with the destruction of several heat sinks resulted in a wave of heat going outward from the Mech's center and almost cooking Hannah in her cockpit. Even worse then that, the rising heat and damage to various computer circuits jinxed the PPC's targeting system, and jammed Hannah's last remaining weapon.

Hannah's maneuver succeeded, but it was too late now. Having no weapons left to fire with, the entire movement was futile, and it would only take one more shot to finish her off. Hannah knew her daughter would probably blast her out of the sky if she tried to eject, and frankly, she would rather die as a warrior in her cockpit then as a coward in the air.

... And then it happened ...

... Shaynna's Mech shut down.

As soon as she saw the Hellbringer's heat signature go down, Hannah's warrior instincts kicked in. She jumped her damaged Summoner towards her opponent, and prepared to smash the Mech's giant fist into the helpless Hellbringer. Shaynna was already powering up, but it was too late for her.

Hannah's Mech came to a stop right in front of the enemy Hellbringer, and without thinking, Hannah raised it's left arm to smash her opponent's cockpit to pieces. Yet as she did so, an image flooded her mind. That of her daughter right after her Trial of Position, beaming with pride, and maybe for the first time ever, letting go of all the hate she carried around. Another image followed the first, that of Shaynna's body crushed inside the cockpit of her Hellbringer, her eyes still open, forever reflecting that last moment of terror as the sky darkened overhead.

... No, it could not end like this.

Hannah let her left arm glide down again, and prepared for the inevitable. A fraction of a moment later, the Hellbringer came to life, and fired both it's ppc's straight at the Summoner's chest from point blank range.

... As her last act, Hanna opened her comm-channel, and spoke to her daughter: "I love you."

... Then the Summoner exploded in a massive fireball as the internal engine ripped itself to pieces.

 

- Star Colonel Loremaster Wight Pryde

 

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