Chapter VI – Forethought

In the Data Storage vault, Dr. Manning, Dr. Osborne, and Dr. Stone were crouched beneath desks as the marine continued to fire on the teleporting intruders.

“You’re sure that they’re coming?” Diane asks.

“All I could find out is that the station computer registered the arrival of the rescue team” Louis replies.

“Aren’t we able to monitor their progress?” she presses.

“I tried, I don’t have high enough authorization” he explains.

“We can’t tell if they’re in trouble?” Hugo asks.

“No, we can’t”

“This is bad! We’re stuck in here and the reactor is going to leak in a few hours, and finding a functional escape pod could take longer than we’d like” Hugo laments.

Shots continued to ring out as more aliens appeared from flashes of green energy. The Major’s pistol ammunition was soon spent as the flashes of portal energy began to ramp up. He drops the useless pistol. Looking away from the intruders only for a moment as he bent to reach for the chain-gun, he lifts the weapon as his eyes fell upon a sizeable mob of demons. The barrels of his chain-gun were turning. He fired a long stream, decimating the hoard, then rapidly shooting small bursts on each target as it teleported into the sealed chamber. Beads of sweat began to spill from his brow as he swung the armament from target to target. Blooms of erupting gore cascades through the air, the stench of death was overwhelming. Major Daniels let out an enraged chord when he saw the demons spawning ever faster.

Location: Phobos, Alpha Labs Division, Level 2 of Sector-D, Bio-Medical Laboratory R7

The lab was dark and silent with a large and spotless interior. Three examination tables filled the centre of the room, a wheeled scanning apparatus rests nearby, a pair of tall medical cabinets were against the walls. A sealed door led to a short junction ending in a secured observation room. Metallic tiles line the walls and floors of the modestly sized room, the ceiling was dotted with small lamps, and held a robotic arm. The walls housed a pair of monitors displaying the words “System Failure.” A large capsule sat in the centre of the room. A harshly emotionless voice of the Artificially Intelligent Automated Command System boomed.

“Subject stasis revival is now complete. Scanning”

The diagnosis system silently checks the subject’s vitals.

“Subject stasis: good Stasis procedure: successful. Pod opening”

A hermetic seal is released and a curtain of smokey condensed air drifts from the seam. The robotic arm came to life and locked into a port on the surface of the pod and lifts the lid away. He was wearing a special suit designed for subjects of artificial hibernation. He wakes from stasis, lifts himself from the capsule and examines his surroundings. Red lighting illuminated the room, emergency notifications scrolled across the wall-mounted monitors, he hears a distant station notification.

“Alarm: Critical. Reactor failure” it wailed.

The stasis pod dominated the room, it was sapphire, framed with chrome lining and had rounded edges. Thick tubes and cables converged on the pod leading from outside the walls. The marine could recall most of his memories, but couldn’t come up with his name, or any identity, nor could he recall how he came to be placed in the pod. Through an adjacent passage he sees a suit of space marine armour lying on the shelves of a wide open security locker. He walks over to it and picks up the helmet, he found it strikingly familiar. He examines the call number but finds that it had been removed, only the scratches from a crude grinding job remained. The marine takes the armour and slips it on, hiding behind was a pistol and magazine. He picks it up and looks it over, more waves of familiarity washed over him. This was his pistol, he was sure of it, but again, the sidearm’s serial number had been ground away.

The marine walks through the bio-med lab and into the adjoining hallway, where he stumbled upon what would be the first of many gruesome scenes. A trio of scientists were lying dead in pools of blood, huge claw wounds marred their still flesh. One scientist had been torn in half, the head and shoulders were lying at the far end of the short hall, the lower half rested on the floor beside the marine’s feet. Another scientist with a critical spinal injury was twitching horribly. Splashes of blood coated the walls and floor of the beige coloured hall. A over-turned sample cart sat nearby, its contents spilled upon the ground. The sounds of grunting and heavy-footed stomping in the distance was quickly noticed. Without any idea what he would encounter, the marine heads toward the sector’s main corridor.

On the CSV Navigator, the surviving top-level researchers from the doomed Demios base had rendezvoused with Dr. Allan Mason who was also roped into their secret mission. He was previously on a separate medical escape pod with Dr. Leonard Philips. The four of them were in a luxurious Spec-5 vessel in the Navigator’s hangar bay parked on a plasma docking field, they had little trouble obtaining it from the crew. Nexson was programming the auto-pilot while others performed equipment checks for a fifth time or explored the cramped cabin.

“Okay, the auto-map looks good. We’re locked in” Nexson announces.
“Undock vessel and fire maneuvering thrusters” Dr. Banks commands.

The ship’s clamps unlock and the thrusters lift the vessel above the plasma surface. Warning lights blazed as the ship slowly moves toward the widening airlock doors. It reaches open space and the main propulsion sails it into the star speckled darkness.

Taking place on the planet Ironhold, this series begins with fresh recruits to the Jade Falcon military clan. The youthful hopefuls were bred through scientific methods meant to make genetically superior warriors. They’re known as Trueborn. The story follows Aidan, a Trueborn recruit and his group of trainees as they advance through the path to becoming Mechwarriors. Unfortunately for Aidan, his instructor is the demanding and cruel Falconer Joanna who takes an immediate dislike to him and takes delight in making his training as unpleasant as possible. As the trainees progress, inferior recruits are flushed out of the training program, pitting them against each other.

The Jade Phoenix clan is portrayed as being relentlessly aggressive in even the most relaxed moments. Major disagreements within the clan are settled in the ‘Circle of Equals’ where warriors would fight to decide an outcome. This book doesn’t have as much action as other Battletech titles, focusing more on clan attitudes and procedures and Aidan’s experience as he goes through clan training.

After training is complete, the remaining recruits face the six ritual combat trials. Succeeding will grant the trainees a position within the clan. During the Trial of Position, Aiden uses bold and risky tactics which almost pays off, but his battle mech is disabled at the crucial moment, ending his chance of joining the clan. He is flushed out of Mechwarrior training and begins a new career path, but it won’t be long before destiny brings him back into the cockpit of a battlemech.

Overall, I wish I started reading Battletech much sooner. I can’t recommend it enough. There is a great blend of technology, action and clan culture. The book also has some artwork tucked into the pages, a glossary of terms used and schematic drawings for each battlmech type. If you like action, science fiction, or just a great story, you can’t go wrong.

This book is a great introduction to the “Clans” but if you’re interested in reading details about the Inner Sphere or want a bit more history of the Battletech Universe as a whole you should check out Scribd. 

As mentioned in previous posts, Scribd has an excellent selection of Battletech novels. However they are somewhat out of sequence as I’ve discussed earlier and this book is considered #2 in the Legends imprint. This simply wouldn’t make any sense so I strongly urge you to read Decision at Thunder Rift by William H. Keith Jr. first.

Chapter 5 – The Fall

AUTOMATED EMERGENCY COMMAND IS NOW ONLINE
POWER INTERRUPTION DETECTED
EMERGENCY POWER STATUS: ONLINE
SENDING REQUEST TO CENTRAL COMPUTER
REQUEST:0Z01329 APPROVED
COMMAND: LAUNCH SEQUENCE 0090
SEQUENCE HAS BEGUN; ALL SYSTEMS OK
SCANNING MODE IN PROGRESS
SUBJECT STATUS: NORMAL
SUSPENDED ANIMATION STATUS: STABLE
EVALUATING
COMMAND: LAUNCH SEQUENCE 0099
SUBJECT REVIVAL IS NOW IN PROGRESS

Aboard the CSV Navigator, William Banks and Rupert Nexson were entering the spacious atrium, coming back from the Sub-Space Parlour. Several store fronts managed by holographic staff lined the curved walls, offering cuisine and entertainment. The centre of the area had a large, bustling seating area. Quiet, casual chatter accompanied by light violin music filled the air. The two men strode at a brisk pace.

“Those repulsive, treacherous cockroaches! Their insanity is going to get us all killed” Nexson growls, exclaiming his indignation.

“I’m sorry, Rupert. They have an airtight case” comments Banks with a sunken expression.

They enter the spacious seating area and join Kronos and Carmichael at a table hugged with booth seating.

“What’s happening? Did you reach them?” Carmichael asks as they sank into the chestnut coloured cushions.

“Yes, we are protected for now. However, the Paranormal Division has issued us an assignment” William Banks begins to explain with chords of renewed distress in his voice. “They want us to head to Phobos, back into the hornets nest, and secure specimens of the alien intruders for scientific study” he explains quietly.

“Is that even possible?” queries Carmichael.

“I’m sure that your estimation is as good as mine” Banks replies.

“It’s suicide” exclaims Kronos.

“If we refuse to cooperate, then our colleagues will throw us to the wolves. This is the only way for the Paranormal Division to save face with its private investors” explains Rupert.

Kronos runs his palm along his face.

“When do we leave?” asks Susan.

“Immediately” states Nexson. “We have been authorized to requisition a ship from the Navigator. We are to rendezvous with another vessel where we will get more information” he explains.

“Indeed. We have to get our affairs settled and leave at once” adds Banks.

Kronos and Carmichael shared the same look of concern.

“This is going to be extremely dangerous, as you’ve no doubt gathered, says Nexson, but we’re going to be far better equipped this time around”

“Emergency alert: reactor core failure” wailed the station’s public address system.

The marines were in the Computer Lab junction, getting close the Central Processing Facility.

“Well, that’s a bloody peach! What are we doing now?” asks a marine, as they stood in glow of the red emergency lights.

“Dammit! This mission is falling apart!” Martinez states, he removes his holo-disc and accesses the base’s reactor maintenance monitor. The disc obediently displayed the maintenance monitor for the MCR-700 reactor. The core was glowing red, notifications showed damage reports to critical hardware and core temperature warnings. He takes a moment to take in the exact extent of the damages.

“The reactor is finished. We have to complete what we can of this mission and abort, because the radiation will eventually leak” he explained. “We need to pick up the pace, let’s move”

They came to a sealed air-lock door, Martinez passes his armour’s embedded ID chip over the scanning plate.

“Authorization accepted. Welcome to the Central Processing Facility” the terminal chirps as the huge doors split and disappeared into the floor and ceiling.

The beams of their flashlights reveal a dark wide hallway with private offices along the walls. The offices had glass walls and doors, holding a couple chairs, a spotless desk and a cabinet, the office walls were creamy white. The hall had a long carpet with white trimmed edges and a blue pigment between. Continuing their way to the Data Storage Vault, they travelled the hall for some time when a shadowy form wearing a lab coat emerged from a office and quickly disappeared into a wide intersecting passage.

“Hey, you! Stop!” Martinez shouts into the distance, but a vacuum of silence was the only reply.

Martinez broke the eerie silence, “I’m not seeing things, am I?” he asks.

“Negative, sir. I saw it, too” replies a marine.

The marines pursue the figure and stop at the passage. Martinez grabs a electronic flare, switches it on and arcs it into the dark area before them. The brilliant illumination of the flare reveals several figures stalking the spacious area. The darkened figures slowly turn their heads toward the squad, revealing their pitch black eyes.

“What in tarnation?” Martinez exclaims with notes of disbelief in his voice.

A whizzing piece of metal flies past Martinez’s head. The former humans stepped towards the marines, they were wielding glistening surgical knives. Another thrown knife spins towards them and Martinez shoots it out of the air with a quick burst, which also strikes a former human. The other possessed scientists made no reaction to their colleague’s demise. The plasma burned through its skull and it collapsed to the ground.

“Sarge, they’re all fucked up” a marine exclaims in disbelief.

“Stop! Drop your weapons, now!” Martinez commands.

The former humans staggered closer.

“This is a rescue operation” Martinez shouts, alien groaning emerged from the group.

“Mortals” came a dry, tortured voice.

Alarm grips Martinez’s mind as a former humans full grotesque facade breaks the red coloured emergency lights. Its face was a warped menacing satire, madness was bursting from its eyes.

“Alright, forget this, these freaks are toast. Open fire” he says coldly.

His squad voiced no protest. Plasma illuminated the wide corridor, the flashes of light reveals blood splatter dripping from the walls and torn corpses bleeding out on the floor. They burned gaping smouldering wounds into the former scientists and they collapsed into smoking twisted heaps.

Martinez reaches for his ultra-frequency transmitter and finds the display black and unresponsive. He stared dumbstruck at the broken transmitter. This was never supposed to be a possibility, not with present-day military hardware. A marine screams and hits the floor, then is dragged into the darkness by an invisible force. Green energy erupts and a horde of tall, hulking aliens teleport around the marines. Time seemed to slow as Martinez took in the malevolent sight. Aliens surrounded them, and they were much larger than any they had encountered before.

“Fire” he commands loudly, more aliens were teleporting into the area before he could finish voicing the single-syllable command.

The marines devastated the first wave and blobs of acid were hurled by the next. Another wave of teleporting demons arrives, the rasping energetic sound was like that of a nail in their coffins, a sinister moaning voice is heard over the deadly exchange.

“Spread out” Martinez commands.

The marines spring to evade and quickly resume firing. A blob of searing acid smacks into a squad mate’s helmet and begins devouring the surface and burns straight through the marine’s skull. The screaming was horrific, but the rest of the marines would face the same fate if they dared yield from their combat. The station’s module sector began groaning from some force applying stress to the structure. The demons drew closer, a perimeter of smoking charred pieces and ash were all that separated them from the marines. Large jawed demons charged from the latest teleporting arrivals and demanded priority as their sharp fangs drew closer. They fired straight through the demons and burned through the Hell Knights behind them.

“Throw your grenades” Martinez commands.

Holding their triggers, they each threw a grenade into the air, followed by another volley. Loud blasts sends severed alien limbs sailing. The area was clearing, but more demons were charging. Behind them, a completely foreign abomination appeared from the green energy. Two tall skeletal demons with shoulder-mounted hardware spawned, they lock their eyes on the squad of marines and screech loudly. They fired a dual projectile from their shoulder-mounts, the last thing Martinez would remember is being caught in the explosion when the rockets struck their streams of plasma.