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Glory by Blood

"Know this, falcons, what I send you to do I would rather do in your stead. To sacrifice
my life, for my Clan, is the highest honor that can ever be served. Glory, bathed in the
blood of our brethren, shall strike fear into the Inner Sphere - for they shall know the
true might of the Falcon's Claws."
- saKhan Chistu, addressing the 4th Falcon Talon Cluster on Lost.


Falcon Command Center, Planet Lost JFOZ
22:34 GMT, June 6th 3069.

The planet of Lost hang in space.. neutral, uncaring. Could it care less which faction of humanity controlled? Not in the least. Yet a bloody war was soon to be fought on its soil for the second time. Strategically, the value for this planet was enormous, it laid just one jump away from Tharkad, and extended from the JFOZ hanging by a thread to another adjacent planet. News had come in that day, news that Fultz Hazen disliked. He was the Star Colonel of the 4th Falcon Talon Cluster, which was stationed on this fair-weathered planet to defend it at all costs, already 'mechs were being massed on the Jade Falcon borders, and in another month they would be ready to launch a galaxy's worth of front-line units to carve Tharkad from the Lyran Alliance. The delay was partially due to the previous supply problems which re-emerged due to the new amount of planets under falcon control.

Fultz looked at the holographic display of saKhan Chistu, who had just warned him of an impending attack by a sizable attack force of Blackstar Mercenaries being led by a contingent of Lyran 'mechs, due planetside within forty-eight ours. A hundred and twenty of them, to be precise. Against this lonesome cluster, the odds were staggering. He rubbed his fore-head, he knew what he had to do - he must sacrifice his cluster to these barbarians to keep their attack corridor clear. "Your goal is not to annihilate all the opposition, but to defend strategic targets as best you can as a delaying tactic. They may withdraw if we hit them hard enough.. or you may be able to delay them long enough until reinforcements can arrive."

The Star Colonel looked up to the saKhan, "Aff sir, overrun is however imminent." Slightly worried, his superior officer nodded. "Believe me I would be the first to volunteer to fight that rabble with you right this instant, understand I am stationed on Golandrinas trying to piece together the remnants of Vau, smashing it even more is not my desire." He looked away briefly, 'sure,' he thought, 'you can say that easily on the other side of the Occupation Zone..' the bitter thoughts were fleeting as he remembered how embattled all the falcons were at one point or another, and he supposed with the higher rank one often gained less liberty in personal freedom, as more and more was devoted to the overall good of the Clan. '...but tell that to my troops as we lay dying.'

The holographic display wavered slightly and the display of the saKhan was replaced with a planetary map of Lost, several installations were circled and labeled, "Falcon Base," "City," "Industrial Complex" and "HPG Router." White lines were drawn to show the fastest route between each of them taking the terrain into consideration, the voice-over briefing commenced, "The most important areas are obviously the Falcon Base and the HPG Router, but these are all viable targets for the mercenaries and the alliance. We suspect they know that the bulk of our ammunitions are stored in the Industrial Complex, so if this does turn into a prolonged engagement, which is what we are aiming for, then this is an area you will want to maintain control over this. The intricacies will be left to you."
"Aff, sir."
"Any questions?"
"Good. If there are any complications please contact me immediately."

saKhan Chistu's image which was once more present wavered slightly and blinked out. Fultz Hazen looked at the map and started to do calculations. He would need every resourceful tact he had to keep these barbarians at bay. Numerous they may be, he was confident that superior skill would prevail. 'And superior technology, of course.'


Jumpship "Slayer," Approaching JFOZ
08:23 Ship Time, June 7th 3069.

The Colonel fidgeted in his command seat, he was looking forward to this opportunity for a long time, and now it had arrived. He knew any opponent could be defeated, even the Clans, if one waited for the perfect moment to strike, and then stuck - and never let go. While this did not guarantee your own survival, he was pretty sure this theory worked out to the enemy's demise. So far it had served him well, he started out as a lowly corporal and now he commanded a regiment of his own, the "Mace of Light" newly formed of clan technology scavenged from the front-lines. He never would have thought he would be sitting here now when he was back training on New Avalon in his old wasp...

He put such memories on the back-burner and decided to re-check the plan of attack. He hated the Clans for what they did to the Inner Sphere, but he respected them - as warriors. But that is all he respected them for, he could never accept them as human. He was pretty sure that there was a large defense force on this vital planet, but intelligence reports only estimated forty or so units. 'Impossible!' he thought briefly, '..such a key target? So undermanned? Do they think us so stupid?' The Blackstar Mercenary commander walked into the room, breaking his concentration from the impossible feat of trying to reason out a clanner.

"Colonel Sanders, going over last-minute details I presume?"
"Yeah, still got a lot of facts and figures to balance. I joined the forces to be a pilot not an accountant," he chuckled to himself on his own remark, "but here I am."

The Blackstar Commander sat down opposite him on the table. "We should be approaching orbit within a few hours, several hundred kilometers from our first objective, where we should be engaging tomorrow. Intelligence still reports that this 'cluster' of theirs has not moved from the base, I suspect they want us to fight a frontal conflict abiding by their engagement rules.. what are they called again?"
The older Colonel looked up from his paperwork, absorbed in his work but still listening to the Mercenary rattle on. "The, ah, Clan Rules of Engagement. A strict honor code they fight by." The Mercenary could not help but find that amusing, in his line of work the dirtier the job the more he got paid. "Well if we can take advantage of it, let's do it - we won Tukayyid by it after all."
"I wouldn't be too quick to judge Bjorn, a lot of these falcons are dropping many of the rules of engagement along the borders, as are many of this so-called crusader factions. But enough talk of their methods, let's go over our objective list."

"Right," he leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes to better focus his concentration, "Objective Alpha would be to take the HPG, as far as we know they haven't even called reinforcements yet because they shouldn't know we're en-route.. Beta; we take the Industrial Complex with an air strike.. simultaneously with Alpha.. and cut off their ammunitions supply which we are aware of. Charlie would be to take the Base-" the Mercenary was cut off by the Colonel, "No, no no no - let's not take their base yet, if we attack the city and capture it it will stop them from using hostages - I doubt they'd do that but you never know. Then we take the Base after that, their last remnants should be holding down the fort, that will probably be our toughest objective because it calls for frontal assault.. but we got the 'mechs this time."

Nodding, the Blackstar Merc agreed, "The tech's the only thing separating us. Now that we got the goods, we should be able to take 'em down." Uneasily the Lyran Colonel had to nod. He knew there were generations of genetical engineering behind the scenes that made for superior pilots, but he didn't want to remind, or be reminded, of that anytime soon. He checked over the orders on his paper sheet again, this should be a milk-run, he tried to remind himself, superior numbers with equal technology. He kept saying that to himself repeatedly until it sank in so he could rest comfortably for the rest of the flight. Just combat jitters.



Somewhere on Planet Lost, JFOZ
01:28 GMT, June 8th 3069.

Fultz Hazen looked over his forces as he stood in his werewolf-iic, ready for combat, at the center of the city. The previous day he had deployed several decoys which stated all falcon forces were harbored in the base, he hoped the freebirths took the bait. He silently cursed the falcons generations past which sold so many jumpships in their arrogance, which would result in many a brave man's death on this day, and the next. And the next. And who knows how many other "Losts" there were in the Falcon Occupation Zone.

He suspected that they would either strike at the City, Industrial Complex or the HPG. Seeing the com-link with the saKhan the other night was on a secure, stealthed line the Inner Sphere probably never even knew one was held. Even Word of Blake would be hard-pressed to notice the transmission, which can bypass even other clan monitors. This indicated the HPG to him.. but he could not be sure.

On the previous day the civilians had been moved to a nearby shelter, he did know for a fact that they would either attack the city itself or reclaim it, and not altogether jokingly he said to a junior officer that if the Inner Sphere engaged within the city, all the buildings would be destroyed before a friendly 'mech would fall. He had several buildings hollowed out with assault 'mechs placed in them for ambushes, against the protests of several 'mechwarriors. That he had to fight like this angered him as much as it did the troops, he would rather die honorably on the field, but this time he had to die for the Clan, and anything that bettered the Clan came before himself and his personal honor.

"Star Captain Gunther, come in."
"Aff sir, reporting."
"What is your situation?"

The crackle of the intercom came intermittently, there was a storm a few kilometers away which was causing horrendous magnetic disturbance, but it looked like it would die down soon - he silently hoped that the storm would come full force, at least maybe it would drag the battle out somewhat. "Stationed at the HPG with assault binary, sir. Holding position."

Fultz nodded to himself, "Any signs of enemies?" Even as the words left his lips they sounded redundant, 'of course he has not spotted enemies, if he had of done he would have let me know and engaged.' Predictably the Star Captain reported negative and said he would keep monitoring for signs of hostile incursions. He returned to his battle computer and looked it over again.. assault binary at HPG... heavy trinary at city.. two recon stars at the Industrial Complex and the rest of his forces back at base. His reasoning behind the firemoths were simple, they had aerotech support and were close enough to the base to warrant a low garrison. He was pleased with the plans and was confident it would work effectively, for an instant he forgot he was facing over a hundred and twenty 'mechs of equal tech.



Somewhere on Planet Lost, JFOZ
05:12 GMT, June 8th 3069.

The dropships landed on the plains with a thunderous noise, there over a regiment would retake what was rightfully the Inner Sphere's, something the Clans had taken from them many times already. Pride. Dignity. Force of Arms. And planets. There what the clans had taken away was being retaken, not since Tukayyid have they had this chance, and while the clans advanced steadily on into the Inner Sphere and nothing seemed to stop them, maybe this would halt them. Just for a bit, and make them think next time.

The omnimechs left the dropships in single-file, almost ceremoniously. Now would be the time for glory! And they knew it, every single pilot knew it. The pride was like an aura in the air, surrounding the whole force, morale had never been so high since the Clan invasion. Colonel Sanders keyed in his com-link, trying to suppress his emotions of assumed victory, "Forces ready for the pronged attack?"

"Yep to that, aerotechs gearing up on a patrol route which will synch the attack."
"Roger that, keep 'em in line. Our troops that is, we don't want the confidence in a bad way."

Laughter could be heard from the other side of the transmission, " know we're cocky SOB's, I wouldn't worry too much about it, when it comes down to brass tacks it's not the Blackstar Mercenaries you need to worry about." Vaguely he felt insulted by the remark but knew it was not intended in that manner, he had half a mind to reprimand him on that, but decided not to bother now that the invasion actually began, he could always sort it out back on Tharkad. There. That was positive.


Somewhere on Planet Lost, JFOZ
15:00 GMT, June 8th 3069.

The falcon 'mechs wandered back and forth in front of the HPG, awaiting the attack that was about to take place. Star Captain Gunther just could not sit right. Here they were, outnumbered two- and three-to-one and they were still trying to hold this ball of dirt. Not that he disrespected authority, he felt honored that he should be chosen to give his life for his Clan - but he always wanted to live to see the day that Jade Falcon should invade Terra. And seeing the 4th Falcon Talon was the highest prized cluster in the Peregrine Galaxy, which would probably invade Terra seeing the saKhan personally commanded the galaxy, he would have an extremely high chance of seeing the day. To kneel down after the invasion, and grasp the earth in his hands, to see the beautiful skies overhead, to finally be able to liberate that which is unique among the stars...

"Contact! 034 degrees, two kilometers and approaching, assault omnimechs."

The intercom transmission had broken his chain-of-thought. So this was it. He quickly alerted the Star Colonel and prepared his forces. But no, he would not go silently into the night. Maybe his name would never be remembered in the Remembrance, maybe his name would not be chanted in the Halls of the Falcon, but he would make sure at least one Inner Sphere warrior would dread his name, if not for a few seconds.. for the rest of their lives..

"Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the light brigade!
Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of death
Rode the six hundred."

The clan 'mechs marched steadily on, an even match to be sure, outnumbered two-to-one with their own technology, the falcons opened fire at long range with their particle projection cannons and various gauss rifles filled the air with their shots. Ignoring cover which favored short-ranged-combat, their assault 'mechs worked best in the open plains surrounding the HPG to the east, as opposed to the thick forests and mountainous regions to the west. "Engage them, falcons!" came the cry, and the 'mechs throttled up to engage, already lightening was streaking pas them, some finding their mark but most missing. An arm was wrenched from an executioner not seconds after it got a lethal shot of its own embedded into the cockpit of a Blackstar sunder.

Suddenly, from the rear darted numerous firemoths from the Blackstar Mercs, attacking from the cover of forest to engage the falcons' flank, the tactic worked well at first, but many of the shorter-ranged 'mechs were located in the rear of the formation blunting the offensive. Light 'mechs were ripped to shreds in seconds against the more powerful autocannons and machine guns of heavy and assault 'mechs, this did slow down the overall progress of the falcons and divided them into two sections, long- and short-range. This would ultimately work against them as the Blackstar and Falcon forces clashed at the battle-front, instead of being able to melt into the rear and let the ballistically laden 'mechs engage, who were tied up with the firemoths, had to engage at a range unsuitable to their payload.

Star Captain Gunther moved his own executioner closer to the enemy, surely the Blackstar Commander would be here somewhere! In this overrun though, every hand was needed, and he was quickly surrounded in the middle between the long and short ranged stars. All of these 'mechs were siona-iics and pyro XLs, with only one or two Lyran Warhammers mixed in. He group fired his laser compliment, shearing the arm off of one of the five 'mechs that surrounded him, and then fired his PPC damaging its leg. He keyed in the jets to try and break free of the circle, as lasers lanced out coloring his own damage display.

He jumped behind the damaged 'mech and fired his lasers again, melting more armor off the leg and exposing internals, he fired his PPC and watched as the lightning struck the leg, sending blue flames deep in the internals. From this vantage point two of the enemies could not engage him, which would buy him some time. The damaged 'mech fell over, and with no hand actuators on this particular design it would probably stay out of action for a few minutes, but this resulted in the two hidden 'mechs becoming visible again. 'Stravag!' he cried out as grouped laser and missile barrages assaulted his 'mech, peppering the damage all over and severely damaging his arms.

From behind came two falcons in a summoner and a werewolf-iic, both opened fire on one of the rear-most 'mechs back armor, melting through it and blowing out the engine, the ejecting pilot shot high into the air for a spectacular vantage point of the battle, though the pilot probably did not appreciate it much. All the 'mechs turned to see this new threat, which made a convenient time for Gunther to shoot the other rear 'mech, which turned to face him again, almost laughing to himself as he watched the new falcons on the scene merely blew his torso out also, and jetted out of the way before retaliation could ensue.

Walking in reverse he engaged the prone 'mech, who's pilot managed to bring its gauss rifle up and level it with Gunther's chest, he twisted to the side but the huge kinetic ball slammed into his right torso spinning the 'mech and knocking it off balance, seeing their opportunity two of the Inner Sphere 'mechs tried to hit the same spot with their lasers and missiles. The shots peppered the torso sending the right section into the red and forced the executioner to fall over. Satisfied with their victory over the goliath, they turned to engage the twin falcon intruders. The prone 'mech tried to lower the gauss cannon for a second shot, but seeing it fell on its front it was very hard to attain at such close range, Gunther keyed in his jets and slid down to meet the pilot at close range - he fell on his back and had an excellent position to fire upon the enemy's cockpit.

An enemy hatchet-man walked over and stood above him, he identified it as Commander Bjorn Talsen, this must be their commander, he thought, and raised his arm up to fire a shot at the 'mech. The axe swiped down at the executioner at lightning speed and accurate aim, embedding itself into the cockpit. Glass shards flew inside, a number of them hitting Gunther and several pinning him to his seat. He briefly wondered if he was lucky that death did not come quickly. With the right arm still raised over himself, he grabbed onto the axe with his hand and squeezed as hard as the myomers would allow, and then ripped it from his executioner, trying to snap it in two with his powerful actuators. Taken aback, the lighter hatchet-man stepped back a pace but refused to let go of the axe, instead firing twin clan pulse lasers at the 'mech narrowly missing the cockpit. He keyed in his legs and deftly swept the hatchet-man off his feet and caused him to collapse. He grinned to himself, tonnage he liked. He brought his leg up and crashed it downward onto the legs of Bjorn's black 'mech, damaging the legs harshly. Before he had time to enjoy his advantage, a siona-iic appeared behind him, 'they just keep coming...'



Industrial Complexes on Planet Lost, JFOZ
15:02 GMT, June 8th 3069.

Falcon firemoths darted between the silos of valuable munitions, appearing to take great joy in seeing how many centimeters they could come close to the walls without actually impacting upon them, and at 200kph that was a feat all in itself. They had just been alerted of an attack on the HPG when enemy aerotechs were spotted not a minute later, and already the falcons were locked with the Blackstar/Lyran fighters, neither side gaining the upper-hand.

Enemy 'mechs were also spotted, two lances, most of them heavy Lyran warhammers with superb close-range capabilities, just the kind you would want in a tight-knit industrial complex. The order came from the commanders to engage, and engage they did. The Falcons, still enjoying how close they could come to a silo without slamming into it in a lightly armored 'mech at 200kph, darted in between the buildings firing various weapons off at the enemy. A few daring 'moths even sported a PPC as the main weapon or an erllas, which took several warhammers by surprise.

"Forward, the light brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred."

Aerotech in the hands of the Falcons is an attractive idea, depending which side of the fence you sit. And it was not long before the odds were evened in the air from two-to-one to one-on-one. A stray blast of a PPC annihilated a passing firemoth in a single shot, limbs went flying in all directions. The task-force of warhammers steadily advanced, firing on the firemoths every chance they had. Deep in the heart of the complexes, firemoths dashed about, running in circles and causing general havoc on the warhammer's radar displays, another firemoth exploded as a mis-calculated turn slammed it into an enemy 'mech, knocking it over and lining up a shot for an un-engaged aerotech.

It was not long before the order to withdraw came. Constantly harassed until three more firemoths were destroyed, the warhammers moved out and away from the complex, where the fighters loitered. As a last-ditch attempt, the warhammers engaged the complexes themselves with PPCs, destroying silos and munitions in hopes of taking a major source of ammunition away from the 4th Talon Cluster. The firemoths charged into the enemy ranks to stop this at all costs, and the fighters dive-bombed the warhammers with everything they had. By now severely outnumbered, the inferior firemoths were destroyed almost instantly, and the fighters did minimal damage as the warhammers took cover in surrounding foliage. Soon, the Industrial Complex was reduced to rubble. Squads of Lyran Recovery units descended into the un-guarded facility as the warhammers claimed it for themselves.



Command Center on Planet Lost, JFOZ
21:31 GMT, June 8th 3069.

Fultz Hazen rubbed his eyes with despair and fatigue. He had to hold his position, and he couldn't do that with half his forces in the city. He reluctantly ordered them to withdraw to the base, along with any surviving units from the HPG or Industrial Complex. This would be it, the final fight. He took a depressing tally of damages, so far he lost almost half the cluster and only managed to kill twenty enemy 'mechs. Better then a 1:1 ratio to be sure, but not satisfying enough. Honor was at stake and he had to claim it! Such a low ratio was intolerable. He had already lost far too many men.


Industrial Complex on Planet Lost, JFOZ
23:58 GMT, June 8th 3069.

The Lyran Colonel Sanders moved his warhammer over, they were only three kilometers away from the Falcon Base, but before they engaged they needed to regroup and take the city, which was apparently deserted, and deeper recons confirmed such. The Falcons were probably regrouping too, after the fierce fighting both sides need a rest. "Status report?"

"Thirty dead... twenty falcons destroyed. Including the 'moths."
"Very well.. out."

He sighed, discluding the firemoths it was a bad ratio indeed, considering they outnumbered the falcons so highly. He wondered if this had to do with the overconfidence on the day of the landing. He pulled his forces from the city, seeing no reason to hold it, and made camp. So far only two of the friendly losses were Lyran warhammers.. why take losses when you have mercs to absorb the impact? Well, while casualties were higher than expected... the objectives had been successful so far. The HPG was destroyed, how he regretted destroying the superior technology, and the Industrial Complex was destroyed. It too he wanted to capture, but had to annihilate in the end. The City was cleared. Now for the base.



Command Center on Planet Lost, JFOZ
17:26 GMT, June 11th 3069.

For the past three days the falcons had not been allowed to rest easy. Enemy recon 'mechs would tear through the camp, trying to make them waste their ammunition - instead they just used lasers to keep the harassing 'mechs at bay, and placed a mine-field in the center of the base which blew up an entire lance of Blackstar firemoths that morning, probably the last of the enemy's light 'mechs.

Today would be the attack, they could feel it. Fultz looked at his own cockpit, and did another systems check and regrouped his weapons. Again. This would be it. He opened a com-link to his remaining Star Commander, Cedric. "Everything in place, Cedric?"

"Aff, sir."
"Good... good." He activated his scanners and searched the horizon, and there he saw in the distance Lyran and Blackstar 'mechs - typical Inner Sphere freebirths, he silently cursed them. Even hiring mercenaries is one thing, but to hire them and then steal the glory at the end? Typical. He would make the Lyrans his primary target for this skirmish, if they wanted glory they would be stung. "Hostiles, at 220 degrees, engage at will - hold position within base until .6 kilometers."

"Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred."

The Lyrans held back slightly, allowing the Blackstars to engage first, the PPCs fried the surrounding air as they either hit or missed their target, one in particular scorched Fultz's own werewolf-iic, the 95 ton version of the Wolves in Exile's 90 ton version. He took a step back behind some cover - this particular setup was for a close-up engagement, with an ultra autocannon 20, not much could match his firepower. He returned fire with his PPC and moved back into the shadows, just in case anyone was watching.

As expected, the storm had dissipated over the last few days, but a new one had come unexpectedly - severely limiting missile usage as the warheads were unstable in this extreme atmospheric condition - Lost may be a scenic planet, but the storms could be very demanding and harsh. The remaining Falcon aerotechs soared overhead, loosing their lasers and assorted weapons at the enemy ranks, knocking some 'mechs over who were paying too much attention to their reticle and not enough to their surroundings. At six-hundred meters, they engaged fiercely. Every falcon was fighting for their life.

Star Commander Cedric moved his summoner to the side and fired a PPC at an enemy siona iic, grabbing its attention. LRMs streaked from his missile pod and peppered the enemy's torso, who decided to close in. Jumping high overhead the summoner closed the range-gap considerably, and lasers lanced from the enemy 'mech trying to pin him down. He twisted in the air, avoiding most of them, and landed with expert skill lining up his autocannon and looked on as the slugs buried themselves deeply into the enemy's armor, which melted off into hot slag as the temperature increased - to help it along Cedric overrode the computer systems and fired his PPC. 'Computers are well and good, but nothing tops intuition,' he thought to himself.
His commander, Fultz Hazen, was occupying two pyro XLs, within seconds a leg was sheared off of one as his own powerful AC/20 ripped into the armor, tearing at the leg like a ravenous predator. His PPC grouped with lasers in a devastating alpha-strike fired at the other pyro XL who was turning around to assist his wing, the arms of the 'mech flew off in unison as the torso was scarred horribly.

The legged pyro looked up and crawled closer to the werewolf iic, using its very long arms as physical tripping poles, trying to knock the 'mech off balance. Tired of the nuisance, the Star Colonel stepped on one of the gun-pods with his foot and twisted, popping off the already damaged arm. He lowered the AC/20 to the general cockpit region of the prone pyro and squeezed the trigger, it ripped at the torso but a stray bullet flew into the cockpit killing the pilot instantly.

He turned to the armless pyro he was dealing with earlier and fired a PPC at it as it attempted to retreat and find easier prey, it caught the 'mech full force in the rear torso which was already damaged, sending blue flames deep into the armor. Without ejecting the pilot was probably dead as the flames engulfed the fusion reactor and gripped it in its deadly fingers, first crushing it then expanding so large that the torso was forced open to let the flames escape.

Casualties were running high on all sides, and the attacking 'mechs were forced to consider if their pay was worth the duty as the falcons fought with a beserker aggression that would impress a viking. Autocannons spewed forth deadly slugs of lead, shredding armor and shearing limbs, PPCs fired from all angles scorched and melted everything in their path, and lasers lanced about and danced with death constantly.

From the smoke of the den came a solitary hatchet-man, the only Inner Sphere 'mech present, and even it had clan tech fitted to it. The Star Colonel recognized him immediately from the briefing he had with the saKhan just days earlier, it seemed a lifetime ago. "Commander Bjorn, I, Star Colonel Fultz Hazen in the green and black werewolf iic, challenge you and your black hatchet-man to single combat - this is a solemn matter, let no one interfere!"

The hatchet-man turned to look at its new opponent, the axe was broken off the top, as if something had ripped it from the shaft as a last-ditch attempt at destroying the 'mech, or died while gripping it tightly, it had relatively little damage save for some marred paint on the thin legs. Fultz's own werewolf iic was another matter, already missing an arm and a severely damaged leg from several engagements, all on the left side. They closed to a respectable distance, and the werewolf was the first to engage, firing his PPC and grouped lasers at the torso of the hatchet-man, who deftly sidestepped it with a jet-assisted dodge.

"You are skilled, warrior, but there is no hope for you now."

The hatchet-man fired a few pulse lasers which scarred his undamaged torso. He fired with his autocannon in frustration, all the shots went wide save for a few on the arm. "You know there is no hope, you fight for the sake of wasting your own lives. Like your Star Captain."

"You know nothing of the Clan Ways, you mock our entire Warrior Caste by piloting a 'mech!" he clicked off the inter-com and tried to focus. He knew this opponent was both skilled and worthy, and he had the upper hand so far. He fired his PPC which only marginally hit the swift-footed hatchet-man as it danced seemingly on air with its jets. All of a sudden it raised its right arm and flung the beheaded hatchet at Fultz's werewolf iic, it embedded itself into the knee-joint of the damaged leg, freezing the actuators in a stunning move. He tried to twist his hips to hide the damaged leg, and the hatchet-man jumped in close and grabbed a hold of the metal bar and started to twist it, trying to dislodge it and use it against him.

He punched with his right hand but missed, he tried to grab the hatchet-man and squeeze him but it was too swift, pulling the broken hatchet from the leg he jumped back a few meters and swung it at the werewolf iic, knocking the side of the cockpit and cracking the glass. The left leg gave out, and Fultz was hard pressed to keep the 'mech upright with his masterful piloting. He focused, everything he ever knew, or learned, or did in his entire life - he tried to bring it all back. 'I have been through far too much to die like this... now...' he leveled his arm and alpha-striked everything he had at the hatchet-man, who was less then thirty meters from his own 'mech.

The PPC splashed against his own armor, removing his leg totally, and started to further crack the cockpit canopy - it blasted his own arm into critical damage disabling his projection cannon that he loved so much as the electric streamed through his 'mech due to the short range discharge. The hatchet-man reeled from the blow, being knocked on its back and having its right arm severed completely and its left arm removed from below the elbow. It's head turned to look at Fultz, who switched on radio communications, "Now who bears hope?" he fired all his remaining weapons into the torso of the hatchet-man, the metal melted and popping sounds could be heard, but he payed those no heed.

Suddenly the hatchet-man started firing all its remaining weapons repeatedly, disobeying his heat-scale, the damage done to the barely-balanced werewolf was incredible, severing its other leg and remaining arm and doing massive amounts of damage to the torso before the hatchet-man literally steamed at the seams. The head of the hatchet-man shuddered slightly, then violently, and pulled free of the 'mech. The head/pod ejection system worked smoothly as it jetted high into the air as the 'mech tore itself apart from the intense heat.

Fultz's own 'mech toppled over on it's back, with no arms or legs to move it, it was effectively disabled.

 "Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging and army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke:
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not,
Not the six hundred."

The enemy started to withdraw and further casualties were inflicted. Finally, when they retreated to a safe distance, Fultz Hazen ordered an immediate report of statistics, twenty enemies destroyed and ten more units lost. This left them with little under a binary, nine to be precise, 'mechs left. He sighed and leaned back in his cockpit, feeling a slight humid breeze come through the cracks in his cockpit canopy.

His intercom crackled to life, half of the words barely understandable due to the extensive systems damage, "Star Colonel Fultz Hazen, please come in. This is Dropship Talon ready for extraction." He was taken aback at first, "Talon I am here, what are you speaking of? Where are our reinforcements?"

"There are no reinforcements, they are being gathered at an adjacent planet for a full-scale deep-penetration raid. There are not enough to take this planet yet. We have orders to extract any surviving falcons."

"Withdraw.. we will fight to the death." He bowed his head down, knowing he would either be the first to die, or be tortured if captured, in his disabled 'mech. The thought was repulsive, but he had a duty to fulfill. Almost as if reading his mind, the dropship crew chimed in, "Your duty is with the Falcon, not with defending a planet and bleeding our forced dry. Get over here and extract, these orders came from the Khan himself." He had to think about that, from the Khan himself? Well.. far be it for him to go against the will of the Clan..

"Very well, all active forces withdraw to the Falcon Dropship for Extraction." The Dropship Talon crew replied, "The co-ordinates are 043 degrees from your position, four kilometers. Make it if you can. We are aware only nine units have survived."

"Aff, we are on our way.."

He opened a comlink with a surviving werewolf iic to act as a passenger on the two-seat design for the extraction. They watched on radar as the Lyran/Blackstar 'mechs turned to watch the falcons walk away.

"Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred."

Colonel Sanders ordered over the com-link, "Advance." Only silence followed. Not a single 'mech moved. "I said, advance!"

"No.. sir." Came a hesitant voice over the intercom. "What do you mean no sir?" Sanders was outraged at this insolence! How dare they refuse? The com-link opened up with the same shaky voice, trying to muster up courage, "They're retreating.. we don't want to waste lives.. please.."

"We can cut them all off now, they're demoralized and weak, trying to flee!"
"But we're demoralized too, sir - and we're not budging."

'Enough of this,' he thought to himself, 'I'll get them to move!' He turned his 'mech to face Filturn, the warrior who refused his orders and spoke out for the allied forces, and leveled a cockpit shot and squeezed the trigger on his lasers, and watched the shocked expression on the young mechwarrior's face as the lasers lanced out into the canopy.

"I will kill you all if I have to, but treason among the ranks will not be tolerated!!! Now advance!"

Slowly the 'mechs started moving towards the falcon base, reluctant of either fate. The heavy 'mechs moved slowly, so the mediums were sent ahead to harass the falcons. A small skirmish engaged and the task force lance was destroyed after felling two more falcon 'mechs, but by this time the bulk of the Lyran/Blackstar forces had just reached the Falcon base and were too far away to catch up in time, save maybe to get shot at by the falcon's dropship. Almost as a relief, Colonel Sanders called a halt to the troop. They would fight no more for this planet. Not today.

The falcons approached the lone dropship, the leader of the falcons being Star Commander Cedric in his battered summoner, proudly displaying the 4th Falcon Talon logo on his 'mech, which was marred by the smoke and damage. A blood-red kite flying in front of a brilliant star. The seven remaining 'mechs boarded the dropship and were greeted by the crew, the ten pilots filed into the station, and four of them received medical assistance.


Ceremonial Gathering, Golandrinas JFOZ
15:00 GMT, June 24th 3069.

"When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

The above speech, falcons, was made on ancient Terra by Lord Alfred Tennyson, and it will be scribed in memory of the 4th Falcon Talon Cluster onto the side of each and every 'mech within the Peregrine Galaxy as a constant reminder of their sacrifice. They held an impressive forty-nine enemies destroyed to twenty-eight deaths sustained by the 4th Falcon Talon Cluster. Forget not, that the Clan Tech which the Inner Sphere sacrificed to smash our Cluster is exceedingly rare to them, so they did not only hold their own and excel in adverse conditions, but deprived the Inner Sphere of that which is rare to them.

Do not disdain or think dishonor of these ten brave pilots, for they have not failed us, but succeeded us despite all the odds. While the 4th Falcon Talon Cluster has been destroyed, they will attain very honorable and respected positions within the Clan. They are the survivors, the best of the 4th Falcon Talon Cluster.. they are the 'Noble six hundred' which shall live in our hearts for centuries to come.

I claim honor to them, and honor to you also - for Turkina shall fly above Terra's blue skies once more!"
- saKhan Chistu, in Ceremonial Remembrance of the 4th Talon Cluster.

Fultz Hazen bowed gracefully as he was awarded numerous medals for valor in combat, as did the other nine falcons. Lost went to the hands of the Lyran Alliance, after the Blackstar Mercenaries suffered approximately 50% casualties of their seventy-five 'mech incursion force, these rare and expensive clan-tech omnimechs will be harder to replace then the twenty-eight lost by Jade Falcon. Of the forty 'mechs that the Lyran Alliance attacked with, only five were confirmed destroyed. There were forty-nine total confirmed kills.

Since the battle, Commander Bjorn has never been recovered and is assumed deceased. Colonel Sanders still serves with the Lyran Alliance and has replaced the five missing warhammers. While inspecting the HPG to recover technology, several hidden charges were activated engulfing a technological research task-force, which made the head-lines for several weeks. Lost remains a vital link to Tharkad although alternative routes are being researched. The 4th Falcon Velites now serve directly under PCom, replacing the 4th Talon Cluster.

- GCmd. Dragonfly Chistu


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